Trader.Online Review 2020

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Contents

Best Online Brokers 2020

The StockBrokers.com best online brokers 2020 review (10th annual) took five months to complete and produced over 30,000 words of research. Here’s how we tested.

Want to buy shares of stocks like Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), Disney (DIS), or Uber (UBER)? If so, you will need an online broker account.

Choosing an online stock broker is one of the most important decisions you will make as an investor. This guide aims to introduce online trading and break down the best online brokers available today.

As a previous full-time trader turned hobby enthusiast, since 2001, I have completed over 1,000 trades in my personal portfolio, finishing 2020 with a total 2,574 individual buys and sells.

While the markets are anything but certain, you can feel confident StockBrokers.com has your back in 2020 to help you choose the best broker.

Best Online Brokers 2020

  • TD Ameritrade – Best for overall and beginners
  • Fidelity – Best research experience
  • Charles Schwab – Best for IRA accounts
  • E*TRADE – Best web platform
  • Interactive Brokers – Best for professionals
  • Merrill Edge – Best rewards program
  • TradeStation – Best platform technology

1. TD Ameritrade

Overall | Open Account

Exclusive Offer: Get up to $600 and trade commission-free with TD Ameritrade.

TD Ameritrade delivers the ultimate package for investors, including $0 trades, fantastic trading platforms, excellent market research, industry-leading education for beginners, and reliable customer service. This outstanding all-round experience makes TD Ameritrade our top overall broker in 2020.

Why Choose TD Ameritrade:

  • Excellent trading platform thinkorswim. After spending hundreds of hours testing desktop platforms, I give thinkorswim my top recommendation, thanks to its modern feel and outstanding trader tools. That includes the mobile app, which is my favorite for active traders.
  • Great for beginner investors. TD Ameritrade has the largest selection of educational materials in the industry by far, with over 200 instructional videos covering every investment topic imaginable. Furthermore, the whole learning center is gamified, tracking your progress as you go with quizzes bringing concepts together at the end of each course.
  • Robust research. TD Ameritrade provides customers access to its own TV Network and trader magazine. Depth is across the board, as TD Ameritrade also uses proprietary data to analyze millions of tweets to power its Social Signals tool.
  • Industry-leading technology. TD Ameritrade is the only broker to offer customers the ability to access their accounts from Twitter, Apple Chat, Facebook, and Alexa. Technology and innovation are core parts of TD Ameritrade’s DNA.
Feature TD Ameritrade
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0 + $0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform thinkorswim

2. Fidelity

Overall | Open Account

Trade Commission-Free: No commissions to trade online U.S. stocks, ETFs, and options. 1

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Fidelity is a value-driven online broker offering $0 stock trades, industry-leading research, excellent trading tools, an easy-to-use mobile app, and comprehensive retirement services. Serving over 30 million customers, Fidelity is a winner for everyday investors.

Why Choose Fidelity:

  • Terrific for investment research. Research at Fidelity stands out for its 16 equity research reports, excellent in-house market analysis, and quotes experience that is meticulously crafted for maximum usability.
  • Great for new investors. Behind TD Ameritrade, Fidelity is my second broker recommendation for beginner stock traders. Fidelity offers investors the perfect blend of ease of use, excellent research tools, as well as a great education center.
  • Excellent mobile app for everyday investors. The Fidelity mobile app is a winner for investors because it is easy to use, packed full of market research, and includes a wide variety of trading tools.
Feature Fidelity
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform Active Trader Pro

3. Charles Schwab

Overall | Open Account

Current Offer: $0 online stock, ETF, and options commissions at Schwab.

Founded in 1973, Charles Schwab is a full-service brokerage with over $3 trillion in total client assets. As a low-cost leader offering $0 stock trades, Charles Schwab provides investors excellent stock research, quality trade tools, and professional planning for the future.

Why Choose Charles Schwab:

  • Excellent market research. Schwab boasts a full lineup of 26 in-house experts who provide numerous articles, known as Schwab Insights, on a variety of market topics throughout each week.
  • Leader in retirement services. Charles Schwab shines with its Schwab Intelligent Portfolios (robo-advisor) and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium (human advisor) services.
Feature Charles Schwab
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform StreetSmart Edge

4. E*TRADE

Overall | Open Account

Promo Offer: Get $100 when you deposit just $5,000 into a new E*TRADE account!

Founded in 1982 as one of the first online brokerages in the United States, E*TRADE understands what investors need to succeed in the market. E*TRADE highlights include $0 trades, two excellent mobile apps, and the Power E*TRADE platform, which is great for options trading.

Why Choose E*TRADE:

  • Excellent web platform that is a winner for options trading. Our favorite web-platform again this year, Power E*TRADE, combines the best of both worlds: ease of use with fantastic trading tools. While just decent for stock trading, Power E*TRADE is terrific for options trading.
  • Full-featured mobile apps. Among all the online brokers we track on StockBrokers.com, E*TRADE offers the most mobile app features in a well-designed, easy to use experience.
Feature E*TRADE
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform Power E*TRADE

5. Interactive Brokers

Overall | Open Account

Exclusive Offer: New clients that open an account today receive a special margin rate.

While Interactive Brokers is not well known for its casual investor offering, it leads the industry with low-cost trading for professionals. Through the Trader Workstation (TWS) platform, Interactive Brokers offers excellent tools and an extensive selection of tradeable securities.

Why Choose Interactive Brokers:

  • Excellent for professional traders. Interactive Brokers offers customers an arsenal of 63 different order types, the most in the industry by a landslide. Margin rates are also the lowest in the industry, across the board.
  • Great for day trading. Interactive Brokers does not accept payment for order flow (IBKR Pro only). This makes it’s already low pricing even better because there are no hidden execution costs.
  • Global access. The most diverse offering by a landslide, Interactive Brokers offers trading in 26 countries and over 125 market centers.
Feature Interactive Brokers
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $.005 per share (IBKR Pro) // $0 (IBKR Lite)
Option Trades $0.65 per contract (IBKR Pro) // $0 (IBKR Lite)
Commission-Free ETFs 48 (IBKR Pro) // all (IBKR Lite)
Trading Platform Trader Workstation (TWS)

6. Merrill Edge

Overall | Open Account

Current Offer: Invest in a new account and get up to $600.

Backed by parent company Bank of America, Merrill Edge delivers $0 stock and ETF trades with fantastic research and customer service. Better yet, for current banking customers, Merrill Edge’s Preferred Rewards program offers the best rewards benefits across the industry.

Why Choose Merrill Edge:

  • Preferred Rewards. To open an account with Merrill Edge, you do not have to be a Bank of America customer. That said, it is far easier to reach the minimum combined account balance to earn all sorts of perks under the Preferred Rewards program. Here’s a list.
  • Excellent ESG (environmental, social, and governance) research. Merrill Edge offers Stock Story, Fund Story, and Portfolio Story, which makes conducting market research both educational and insightful. Full ESG Reports are also included.
  • Great customer service. In our national testing, Merrill Edge consistently delivered agent connection times under one minute.
Feature Merrill Edge
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform Merrill Edge MarketPro

7. TradeStation

Overall | Open Account

Promo Offer: Commission-Free Trades on Stocks, ETFs & Options Trades.

As a trading technology leader, TradeStation supports casual traders through its web-based platform and active traders through its award-winning desktop platform, all with $0 stock and ETF trades.

Why Choose TradeStation:

  • Excellent trading platform. TradeStation 10 is a desktop-based, downloadable trading platform for online trading that is robust and full of trading tools. In our testing, TradeStation 10 is rivaled only by TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform.
  • Great mobile app for stocks and options trading. From monitoring multiple watch lists and setting price alerts, to analyzing stock charts and placing trades, TradeStation Mobile provides a fantastic all-around experience for traders.
Feature TradeStation
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0.50 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform TradeStation 10

More Online Brokers

Outside of our top seven online brokers for 2020, there are eight other brokerages we reviewed: Ally Invest, Firstrade, Chase You Invest Trade, SogoTrade, Robinhood, ChoiceTrade, Lightspeed, and Cobra Trading. Here’s our high-level takeaways for each broker. To dive deeper, read our full review.

8. Ally Invest, “Backed by Ally Financial, Ally Invest is a low-cost broker providing $0 stock and ETF trades. Ally’s complete universal-account management experience and easy to use website makes the brokerage great for current Ally Bank customers and everyday investors alike.” Read full review

9. Firstrade, “Firstrade offers $0 stock, ETF, and options trades, and is best known for its easy-to-use website, alongside its Chinese language services. While Firstrade offers Morningstar research and a variety of tools, its overall offering struggles to stand out against household name brands who are also priced at $0.” Read full review

10. Chase You Invest Trade, “Chase You Invest Trade provides current Chase Bank customers a convenient way to invest in the stock market. While Chase doesn’t provide all the bells and whistles like some of its non-bank competitors, our testing found the site to be easy to use and reliable overall.” Read full review

11. SogoTrade, “SogoTrade is an online discount brokerage that charges $4.88 base commissions and supports Chinese-speaking customers. Unfortunately, in a world where $0 trades are the baseline, despite offering five trading platforms for stocks and options, SogoTrade struggles to stand out.” Read full review

12. Robinhood, “Robinhood used to shine thanks to its easy-to-use mobile app and $0 trades. However, today, all of the largest online brokers offer free stock and ETF trades. As a result, it is much more difficult for Robinhood to outduel the competition.” Read full review

13. ChoiceTrade, “While ChoiceTrade advertises free stock trades, unfortunately, monthly costs add up, and, overall, ChoiceTrade provides customers an online investing experience not worth the hassle.” Read full review

14. Lightspeed, “Lightspeed is a direct-access online brokerage that focuses on serving active and professional traders through its in-house and third-party trading platforms. Casual traders beware, not trading enough means paying high monthly platform fees.” Read full review

15. Cobra Trading, “Cobra Trading was founded in 2003 by Chadd Hessing as a direct-access, low-cost online brokerage for professional stock traders. While Cobra Trading offers multiple trading platforms and personalized service, trading costs are more expensive than leader Interactive Brokers.” Read full review

2020 Category Winners

For the StockBrokers.com 2020 Online Broker Review, all online broker participants were assessed on 236 different variables across eight Core categories. 3,540 data points were collected in total. Here are the 2020 Core category winners. Here’s how we tested.

Alongside Core categories, StockBrokers.com ranks brokers by the most popular Investor categories. Here are the 2020 Investor category winners.

Finally, each year StockBrokers.com honors the brokerages who go above and beyond in the areas that matter most to investors. Here are the 2020 industry award winners.

2020 Overall Ranking

Here’s the Overall rankings for the 15 online brokers who participated in our 2020 Broker Review, sorted by Overall ranking.

Note: Robinhood does not offer phone support for customers. As a result, Robinhood shows “Not Rated” for Customer Service. To calculate an Overall rating, the points allocated to Customer Service were proportionally allocated to the remaining categories.

How do I choose an online brokerage?

When selecting a new online broker, the first step is to read reviews and see what features matter most to you. Are low-cost trade commissions most important? What about customer service, the trading platform, mobile app, investment research, ease of use, or education? With many brokers specializing in different areas, it is crucial to evaluate all categories by reading full-length broker reviews.

How do I assess trading costs?

When trading stocks online, it is essential to understand what the costs are to buy and sell shares. Fortunately, today in 2020, most online brokers charge $0 to trade shares of stocks. That said, if day trading, additional costs come into play, including routing fees, market data fees, and platform fees.

What trading tools do online brokers offer?

To trade stocks online successfully, some stock traders rely purely on their trading tools. Trading platforms come in one of three forms: desktop, web (browser), or mobile. Advanced charting, scanning, hotkeys, virtual trading, watch lists, ladder trading, Level II quotes, and backtesting are just a sampling of the features some brokers offer. To compare trading platform features, use the online brokerage comparison tool.

Do online brokers offer more than just stocks and options trading?

Are you only trading stocks online, or are you interested in ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, and forex too? In the United States, different regulations are required for brokers who support more complex asset classes. For example, stocks, ETFs, and options are the most commonly offered, while forex trading is the least commonly offered.

Does every online broker provide a mobile app?

While every online broker offers a mobile app, quality varies widely. Managing a stock brokerage account on the go is certainly important for investors who travel and frequently use their smartphones. To find the best app for stock trading, we scored broker apps on 42 individual features.

Should I care about customer service?

It depends. 24/7 support is essential to some investors, while others may be completely fine using online chat during regular market hours or receiving an email back within one business day. That said, most investors neglect to think about a market crisis like a flash crash. In our experience, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have reliable customer service available for whenever the need may arise.

How important is stock research?

There are two types of stock research: fundamental and technical. Fundamental research explores company metrics such as earnings growth, earnings per share (EPS), debt, sales growth, and market capitalization. Meanwhile, technical analysis is all about learning how to read a stock chart and use historical price performance to help you predict future price direction. The best online brokerages offer tools to cover both types thoroughly, and we checked for 54 individual features during our 2020 Review. To compare research features, use the online brokerage comparison tool.

How can I verify if my online broker is regulated?

Online stock brokers operating in the United States and governed by US law are regulated by the SEC and must be members of FINRA and SIPC. To verify whether your online brokerage is regulated, scroll to the footer of their homepage, then read their disclosures. Using the FINRA broker check tool is another easy way to verify compliance.

Do online brokerages also offer banking services?

Many online brokerages do not limit their customers to just online stock trading. Full-service brokerages offer banking services including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and more with deposits of up to $250,000 backed by the FDIC. Bank of America (Merrill Edge) and Chase (Chase You Invest Trade) are two examples of banks that also offer online trading.

Should I worry about security?

Fortunately, at least in the United States, investors do not have too much to worry about when it comes to account security. This is especially true when choosing a brokerage that is large, well known, and properly regulated. Every website should be secured with SSL encryption, and client data should be stored in secure servers. Dual-factor authentication and Face ID are other security protocols quickly growing in popularity.

With $0 trades, how important is order execution?

It is important to understand how your orders are routed and executed. There is a wide variation between quality and poor order execution. Unfortunately, most online stock traders can’t tell the difference. To help investors out, we tested brokers and wrote a complete guide to understanding order execution.

Can I trade internationally with my online broker?

While most online brokers do not offer international trading, some do. Nearly every broker supports trading American depositary receipts (ADRs), which offers US investors an easy, simple way to invest in foreign companies. However, if you want to buy physical shares of an international company, then you need to do your research. Interactive Brokers is the leader in this space but is built for professionals. For casual investing, both Fidelity and Charles Schwab offer international stock trading.

Explore our other online trading guides:

Methodology

For the StockBrokers.com tenth annual best online brokers review published in January 2020, a total of 3,540 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

Participation is required to be included. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and provided executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.

More from the editor

Alongside the StockBrokers.com annual review, our fourth annual international forex brokers review, which includes 30 forex brokers, was also published on our sister site, ForexBrokers.com. Finally, be sure to check the latest financial advisor ratings, which you can view on investor.com.

Still aren’t sure which online broker to choose? Email us a question! Whether you are a beginner investor learning the ropes or a professional trader, we are here to help. Email us your online broker specific question and we will respond within one business day.

About the author: Blain Reinkensmeyer As Head of Research at StockBrokers.com, Blain Reinkensmeyer has 18 years of trading experience with over 1,000 trades placed during that time. Referenced as a leading expert on the US online brokerage industry, Blain has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.

All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 01/20/2020 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. For stock trade rates, advertised pricing is for a standard order size of 500 shares of stock priced at $30 per share. For options orders, an options regulatory fee per contract may apply.

TD Ameritrade, Inc. and StockBrokers.com are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other’s services and products. View terms.

1 $0.00 commission applies to online U.S. equity trades, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and options (+ $0.65 per contract fee) in a Fidelity retail account only for Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC retail clients. Sell orders are subject to an activity assessment fee (from $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of principal). There is an Options Regulatory Fee (from $0.03 to $0.05 per contract), which applies to both option buy and sell transactions. The fee is subject to change. Other exclusions and conditions may apply. See Fidelity.com/commissions for details. Employee equity compensation transactions and accounts managed by advisors or intermediaries through Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions® are subject to different commission schedules.

Options trading entails significant risk and is not appropriate for all investors. Certain complex options strategies carry additional risk. Before trading options, please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options. Supporting documentation for any claims, if applicable, will be furnished upon request.

Advertiser Disclosure: StockBrokers.com helps investors across the globe by spending over 1,000 hours each year testing and researching online brokers. How do we make money? Our partners compensate us through paid advertising. While partners may pay to provide offers or be featured, e.g. exclusive offers, they cannot pay to alter our recommendations, advice, ratings, or any other content throughout the site. Furthermore, our content and research teams do not participate in any advertising planning nor are they permitted access to advertising campaign data. Here is a list of our partners.

Disclaimer: It is our organization’s primary mission to provide reviews, commentary, and analysis that are unbiased and objective. While StockBrokers.com has all data verified by industry participants, it can vary from time to time. Operating as an online business, this site may be compensated through third party advertisers. Our receipt of such compensation shall not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation by StockBrokers.com, nor shall it bias our reviews, analysis, and opinions. Please see our General Disclaimers for more information.

© 2020 Reink Media Group LLC.
All rights reserved.

11 Best Online Brokers for Stock Trading of April 2020

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Want to trade stocks? You’re going to need an online broker, and that broker should offer a reasonable investment minimum, high-quality trading tools, robust access to customer service and no hidden account fees. On these measures, the brokerage firms below earned their place on our list of the best online brokers for stock trading.

We evaluated brokerage firms and investment companies on the services that matter most to different types of investors. For example, for active traders, we’ve noted online brokers with low or no commissions and robust mobile trading platforms. For people venturing into investing for the first time, we’ve included the best online brokers for educational resources (including webinars, video tutorials and in-person seminars) and on-call chat or phone support.

Read on to see our picks for the best brokers, alongside links to our investing experts’ in-depth reviews on each.

Best Online Brokers

Find and compare the best online trading platforms for every kind of investor

With so many different types of online stock brokers available to investors, it can be tough to choose one that works best for you. That’s why we put these U.S.-based online brokers through a comprehensive review process that included hands-on research to determine the best in the industry.

When we started our 2020 online broker reviews six months ago, no one knew how the world would change. We recognize that we all are living through a particularly volatile time as we deal with this global crisis, and financial markets have also seen unprecedented change, impacting all investors. Our analysis of the online brokerage industry is, “Commission Cuts, Consolidation, and a Coronavirus Crash.”

Our mission has always been to help people make the most informed decisions about how, when and where to invest. Given recent market volatility, and the changes in the online brokerage industry, we are more committed than ever to providing our readers with unbiased and expert reviews of the top investing platforms for investors of all levels, for every kind of market.

Best Online Brokers and Trading Platforms for April 2020:

  • Fidelity Investments: Best Online Broker
  • TD Ameritrade: Best Broker for Beginners
  • tastyworks: Best Broker for Options
  • Interactive Brokers: Best Broker for Advanced Traders
  • TD Ameritrade: Best Broker for Mobile
  • Interactive Brokers: Best Broker for International Trading
  • tastyworks: Best Broker for Low Costs
  • Charles Schwab: Best Broker for ETFs

Best Overall: Fidelity Investments

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0 for stock/ETF trades, $0 plus $0.65/contract for options trade

Fidelity earned our top spot for the second year running by offering clients a well-rounded package of investing tools and excellent order executions. It has continued to quietly enhance key pieces of its mobile-responsive website while committing itself to lowering the cost of investing for its clients. Fidelity joined in the rush to cut equity and base options commissions to zero in October 2020 but remains devoted to offering top-quality research and education offerings to its clients. The firm also makes it easy for clients to earn interest by sweeping uninvested cash into a money market fund. Fidelity also shares the revenue it generates from its stock loan program, and allows clients to choose which stocks in their portfolios can be loaned out.

Fidelity provides excellent trade executions for investors. On average, over 96% of orders for Fidelity customers are executed at a price better than the national best bid or offer.

Fidelity offers a wealth of research and extensive pre-set and customizable asset screeners.

Your uninvested cash is automatically swept into a money market fund to help contribute to overall portfolio returns.

Some traders and sophisticated investors may have to use Fidelity’s web platform in addition to Active Trader Pro to access all the tools and research they require.

Non-U.S. citizens or residents cannot open an account.

Traders and investors must manually refresh the data when using the website.

Fidelity has a wide offering of securities, but no commodities or options on futures.

Best for Beginners: TD Ameritrade

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Free stock, ETF, and per-leg options trading commissions in the U.S., as of October 3rd, 2020. $0.65 per options contract.

Financial markets can be intimidating the first time you try to put your money to work, so it helps to have an online broker that understands that and puts in an effort to help. To determine the best broker for beginners, we focused on the features that help new investors learn as they are starting their investing journey. Brokers were selected based on top-notch educational resources, easy navigation, clear commission and pricing structures, and the overall quality of their portfolio construction tools. We also looked for low minimum account balances, as these can be a barrier for new investors with limited capital. Finally, we put an emphasis on the availability of demo accounts so new investors can practice using the platform and placing trades.

TD Ameritrade, one of the largest online brokers, has made significant efforts to market itself to beginner investors through social media. Work is still being done to further streamline its web and mobile experiences and make them more accessible to new users, but the resources new investors can already access are exceptional. Education is a key component of TD Ameritrade’s offerings. You’ll find expanded learning pathways, ranging from beginner to advanced, to help clients understand everything from basic investing concepts to extremely advanced derivatives strategies. You can open an account and poke around without making a deposit, and take advantage of all the learning opportunities until you’re comfortable. TD Ameritrade wants new investors to become more confident, and to trade additional asset classes as their skills grow.

The education offerings are designed to make novice investors more comfortable.

TD Ameritrade offers in-person education at more than 280 offices as well as multiple training pathways available on its website and mobile apps.

The TD Ameritrade Network offers nine hours of live programming in addition to on-demand content, viewable on mobile devices.

The well-designed mobile apps are intended to give customers a simple one-page experience.

Some investors may have to use multiple platforms to utilize preferred tools.

TD Ameritrade offers one of the widest selections of account types, so new investors may be unsure of which account type to choose when opening an account. More support is needed to ensure customers are starting out with the correct account type.

Investors are paid a tiny rate of interest on uninvested cash (0.01-0.05%) unless they take action to move cash into money market funds.

Best for Options: tastyworks

  • AccountMinimum: $0
  • Fees: $0.00 stock trades, $1.00 to open options trades $0.00 to close

Options trading has become extremely popular with retail investors since the turn of the 21st century. Our best options brokers have a wealth of tools that help you measure and manage risk as you determine which trades to place. They also include valuable education that helps you grow in sophistication as an options trader.

The commission structure for options trades tends to be more complicated than its equivalent for stock trades. Until the commission cuts that swept the industry in the fall of 2020, most brokers charged a fee for each leg of an options spread, plus a commission per contract being traded. The per-leg fees, which made 2- and 4-legged spreads expensive, have been eliminated for the most part. We are seeing some brokers place caps on commissions charged for certain trading scenarios.

Investors with fairly large portfolios can take advantage of portfolio margining at certain brokers, a practice that assesses the total risk inherent in a portfolio that contains stocks and derivatives, and can reduce the size of your margin loan.

Tastyworks officers say that more than 90% of the trades placed by their customers are derivatives, so there are a lot of tools for options and futures traders. Everything is designed to help the trader evaluate volatility and the probability of profit. It’s all about making decisions and taking action. Executions are fast and the costs are low, capping commissions for opening orders for options on equities and futures at $10 per leg. As you build a position from a chart or from a volatility screener, a trade ticket is populated for you. There’s a video viewer embedded so you can keep an eye on the tastytrade network. Though a newcomer to options trading might be initially uncomfortable, those who understand the basic concepts will appreciate the content and features.

All of the tools you’ll need for analyzing and trading derivatives are built into the tastyworks platform.

The charting capabilities are uniquely tuned for the options trader. If you have multiple positions on a particular underlying, you can analyze the risk profiles of the combined position.

There are hours of original video from tastytrade every weekday, offering up-to-the-minute trading ideas, plus a huge library of pre-recorded videos and shows.

Newcomers to trading and investing may be overwhelmed by the platform at first. There’s a learning curve to climb.

There is no fixed income trading (outside of ETFs that contain bonds) for those who want to allocate some of their assets to a more conservative asset class.

Besides profit and loss, any additional portfolio analysis requires setting up a login on a separate site, The Quiet Foundation, which is also part of the tastytrade empire.

Best for Advanced Traders: Interactive Brokers

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Maximum $0.005 per share for Pro platform or 1% of trade value, $0 for IBKR Lite

Advanced traders need fast, high quality executions, reliable data, sophisticated order types, and access to the asset classes they want to trade. We also looked for portfolio margining and top-notch portfolio analysis.

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) earns this award due to its wealth of tools for sophisticated investors and its wide pool of assets and markets. The firm makes a point of connecting to as many electronic exchanges as possible. You can trade equities, options, and futures around the world and around the clock. Interactive Brokers’ order execution engine stays on top of changes in market conditions to re-route all or parts of your order to achieve optimal execution, attain price improvement, and maximize any possible rebate. The order routing algorithms seek out a speedy execution and can access hidden institutional order flows (dark pools) to execute large block orders. The wide array of order types include a variety of algorithms as well as conditional orders such as one-cancels-another and one-triggers-another. You can also set up conditional orders based on price, volume, daily P&L, margin cushion, number of shortable shares available, rebate available from the trading venue, and other factors.

IBKR’s order execution engine has what could be the smartest order router in the business.

Interactive Brokers connects clients to 125 markets in 31 countries and enables clients to trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds from a single integrated account.

Algorithmic order types include VWAP (volume-weighted average price) and TWAP (time-weighted average price) as well as order types designed to minimize the trader’s impact on the price of a particular stock.

You can only have streaming data on one device at a time. This could be an issue for traders with a multi-device workflow.

The most advanced capabilities are restricted to IBKR Pro clients and trades on that plan are not commission free.

Best for Mobile: TD Ameritrade

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Free stock, ETF, and per-leg options trading commissions in the U.S., as of October 3rd, 2020. $0.65 per options contract.

Over the last few years, online brokers have increasingly adopted the mantra “mobile-first.” As more investors and traders use tablets or smartphones as their primary platform, online brokers have made efforts to improve their mobile apps.

Streaming data has made its way to mobile apps along with complex options analysis and trading, advanced charting, and educational offerings. With the availability of computers in our pockets, the way people interact with their trading and investment accounts have forced brokers to offer mobile apps along with their traditional desktop platforms.

TD Ameritrade focused its 2020 development efforts on its most active clients, who are mobile-first – and in many cases, mobile-only. TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim mobile platform has extensive features for active traders and investors alike. The workflow for options, stocks, and futures is intuitive and powerful. You’ll find lots of bells and whistles that make the mobile app a complete solution for most trading purposes, including streaming real-time data and the ability to trade from charts. The regular mobile platform is almost identical in features to the website, so it’s an easy transition. TD Ameritrade clients can trade all asset classes offered by the firm on the mobile apps.

TD Ameritrade optimized its traditional website for mobile browsers with a dashboard where clients can quickly access account details, balances, balance history, positions, news, and more.

The well-designed mobile apps are intended to give customers a simple one-page experience where they can quickly check in on the markets and their account.

The TD Ameritrade Network offers nine hours of live programming in addition to on-demand content, viewable on mobile devices.

Streaming real-time data on thinkorswim’s mobile app is unlimited.

Customers may have to use multiple platforms to utilize preferred tools. Options-specific tools abound on thinkorswim and its associated mobile app, but fundamental research for equities and fixed income tools are mostly available only on the website.

Over-the-counter (penny stock) trades are subject to a commission of $6.95 per trade.

Clients are paid a tiny rate of interest on uninvested cash (0.01-0.05%) unless they take action to move cash into money market funds.

Best for International Trading: Interactive Brokers

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Maximum $0.005 per share for Pro platform or 1% of trade value, $0 for IBKR Lite

For the international trading category, category weightings for the range of offerings were adjusted upwards to measure which broker offered the largest selection of assets across international markets. After that, overall platform functionality and variety of orders types were also measured as these are important to successful trading when undertaking position management in markets that span the globe. These adjustments revealed a clear winner for international trading in the 2020 review.

Interactive Brokers is the best broker for international trading by a significant margin. Interactive Brokers allows investors to access 125 exchanges in 31 countries across the globe. This reach is combined with a massive inventory of assets and 60 different order types to plan your entry and exit from a position. Investors can also fund their account in their domestic currency and IBKR will handle the conversion at market rates when you want to buy assets denominated in a non-domestic currency. And, if all that were not enough, the quality of trading tools available through Traders Workstation (TWS) make it easy to execute multi-layered trades across international borders. Interactive Brokers has won this category two years running, and there is no sign of that changing in the near future.

No broker can match Interactive Brokers in terms of asset inventory or international markets.

If an exchange enables a particular order type, IBKR offers it you. For example, very specific limit-on-close orders on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and pegged-to-primary orders on the London Stock Exchange.

You can trade non-U.S. dollar assets on margin without having to have the local currency in your account.

Most non-U.S. exchanges charge additional data fees that increase your trading costs.

All non-U.S. transactions incur trading commissions, some of which are not completely transparent.

Small or inactive accounts may be subject to maintenance fees or data charges, and interest is not paid on cash unless you have a substantial balance.

Investopedia’s 2020 Best Online Brokers Awards

The definitive list of the best online brokers

When we started our 2020 online broker reviews six months ago, no one knew how the world would change. We recognize that we all are living through a particularly volatile time as we deal with this global crisis, and financial markets have also seen unprecedented change, impacting all investors. Our mission has always been to help people make the most informed decisions about how, when and where to invest.

Given recent market volatility, and the changes in the online brokerage industry, we are more committed than ever to providing our readers with unbiased and expert reviews of the top investing platforms for investors of all levels, for every kind of market.

Here are our picks for the Best Online Brokers of 2020:

Best Overall: Fidelity Investments

Fidelity earned our top spot for the second year running by offering clients a well-rounded package of investing tools and excellent order executions. In 2020, Fidelity continued to enhance key pieces of its mobile-responsive website while committing itself to lowering the cost of investing for its clients. Read Full Review

Best for Beginners: TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade wins our best for beginners by having the features that help new investors learn as they are starting their investing journey. It has top-notch educational resources, easy navigation, clear commission and pricing structures, and portfolio construction tools. Read Full Review

Best for Options Traders: tastyworks

tastyworks is our best broker for options trading in 2020. It has a wide range of tools that help you measure and manage risk as you determine which trades to place. It also includes valuable education that helps you grow in sophistication as an options trader. Read Full Review

Best for Advanced Traders: Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) earns this award due to its comprehensive set of tools for sophisticated investors and its wide pool of assets and markets. The firm makes a point of connecting to as many electronic exchanges as possible and you can trade equities, options, and futures around the world and around the clock. Read Full Review

Best for ETFs: Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab is the best broker for ETFS in large part thanks to their ETF screener on the StreetSmart Edge platform, which is extremely customizable and can be saved for future re-use. They also offer particularly high-quality streaming data and the ability to find ETFs that are optionable. Read Full Review

Best for Mobile: TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade is the best broker for mobile experience with the combination of the thinkorswim mobile platform along with the regular mobile app. TD Ameritrade’s regular mobile platform is almost identical in features to the website, so it’s an easy transition. With thinkorswim, there are additional extensive features for active traders and investors alike. Read Full Review

Best for International Trading: Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is the best broker for international trading by a significant margin. Interactive Brokers allows investors to access 125 exchanges in 31 countries across the globe. This reach is combined with a massive inventory of assets and 60 different order types to plan your trade entries and exits. Read Full Review

Best for Low Costs: tastyworks

tastyworks scored well on 16 different cost categories and, combined with our overall rating of the platform, it’s our best broker for low costs. Read Full Review

Finding the right online broker that integrates your financial goals is more challenging than ever given the abundance of products available today. The explosion of new fintech companies and growth in the variety of simplified investments like ETFs and index funds can create a dizzying array of choices for the individual investor.

To find out more about how we picked our top brokers, see our methodology.

– Caleb Silver, Editor in Chief & Theresa W. Carey, Investopedia Brokerage and Investing Expert

E*TRADE Review 2020

Easy to Use and Extensive Research Options

Commissions & Fees – 9.5
Customer Service – 9
Ease of Use – 9.5
Tools & Resources – 8
Investment Options – 9
Account Options – 8

E*TRADE, the granddaddy of online discount brokers, is still a good choice for active investors. Its platforms are easy to use, customer service is responsive, and trades execute quickly. Plus, it now charges no commissions on online stock, ETF and options trades.

I signed up with E*TRADE because I wanted the ability to make stock trades online and to do online stock research without interacting with a broker. E*TRADE pioneered this with its low flat-pricing structure. Of all of the brokerage firms I have used over the years, I find E*TRADE’s website has the best user interface.

E*TRADE is easy to use, offers lots of research, and makes it a pleasure to place trades. Also, I have never had any problems when I had to call customer service. The staff has always been prompt and helpful and have solved my questions quickly.

E*TRADE has evolved from a discount investment broker to a full-service investment platform with every conceivable tool. Here’s a summary of just some of them.

  • Allows Trading in 77 international markets
  • No minimum account balances
  • No transaction fees on more than 1,300 no-load mutual funds
  • Integrated checking account from E*TRADE Bank

E*TRADE Features

Minimum Investment $0
Stock Trades $0
Options Trades $0/trade + $0.65/contract ($0.50/contract for 30+ trades/quarter)
Mutual Funds $19.99
Investment Types Stocks , OTC/Penny Stocks , ETFs , Mutual Funds , Bonds , Options , Forex , Cryptocurrencies , Futures
Accounts Types
  • Taxable
  • Joint
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Rollover IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • SIMPLE IRA
  • 401(k)
  • Solo 401(k)
  • Trusts
  • Limited Partnerships
  • Partnerships
  • Coverdell
  • 529
  • Custodial
  • Non-Profit
  • Annuities
  • Checking
  • Savings
  • Money Market
  • CDs
Access Web Based , iPhone App , Apple Watch , Android App , BlackBerry App
Broker Assisted Trade $25
Virtual Trades
No Fee ETFs 108
Customer Service Phone: 24/7; Live Chat: 24.7; Email; Branch Office

E*TRADE Account Types for Investments

E*TRADE is a full-service brokerage, offering investments in stocks, bonds, and other fixed-income assets, more than 8,000 mutual funds, as well as exchange-traded funds (ETFs), target-date funds, options, and futures.

  1. In addition to regular, taxable brokerage accounts, you can also have a traditional or Roth IRA or a rollover IRA (from an employer-sponsored plan). Add to that a small business IRA, such as a SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA, an Individual 401(k), a Roth Individual 401(k), or a Profit Sharing Plan.
  2. Custodial Account— You can open a custodial account for a minor, as well as a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA).
  3. Investment Accounts for Businesses — E*TRADE also offers investment accounts for businesses. Your business can be a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. You can even open an account for an investment club. E*TRADE uses its own clearing agency, E*TRADE Clearing LLC, to settle investment transactions.

Investment Assistance by E*TRADE

E*TRADE provides financial consultants through its Securities, LLC, who can help you create an investment plan, choose investments, and manage portfolio risk.

  • Capital Management — If you’re looking for active and ongoing portfolio management, E*TRADE Capital Management is available to work with you.
  • Managed Accounts — If you don’t want to deal with the responsibilities of day-to-day portfolio management, E*TRADE has you covered through its Capital Management’s Managed Accounts. You must have a minimum of $25,000 to take advantage of this option, but it will entitle you to an actively managed portfolio of mutual funds and ETFs. The goal is to create and maintain a balanced portfolio that’s consistent with your goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance. The service will also handle rebalancing and tax management of your portfolio.

Commission-Free Trading

In October 2020, E*TRADE joined a growing list of online brokers who have eliminated commissions on stock, ETF, and options trades. (However, keep in mind there’s still a 65-cent contract fee for options).

E*TRADE Mobile App

Complementary to the Power E*TRADE Pro service, E*TRADE excels in mobile device support. Trade anywhere at any time. The app currently supports these devices:

  • Apple iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch
  • Android Phone and Tablet
  • Amazon Fire Phone
  • Kindle Fire
  • Windows Phone

If you want market information at a moment’s notice, E*TRADE has capitalized on the new functionality available in the second iteration of the Apple Watch software, which provides you with the ability to integrate E*TRADE Apple Watch app data directly into your watch face — a first for the industry.

Pretty much all of the functionality of the website is available on the mobile application. When I tested the iPad version, I couldn’t find any reason I would be forced to use their traditional website. This is nice if you are an active trader who needs access to your account anywhere you go.

Apple Pay Functionality (New)

E*TRADE now offers Apple Pay functionality for E*TRADE debit cardholders. The simple, efficient payment option caps off an end-to-end experience for their customers. You can now use the cash in your account for daily purchases, and you can now link E*TRADE debit cards directly to Apple Pay and enjoy safe, secure, card-free payment.

Power E*TRADE Pro

To make advanced trading software more understandable and relevant to regular Main Street investors, the E*TRADE Pro function has been upgraded. E*TRADE Pro is perfect for active traders, and the app for it is second to none. There’s no additional charge to use this service. It’s available to any customer who executes at least 30 stock or options trades per calendar quarter or maintains a minimum brokerage account balance of $250,000. Power E*TRADE Pro comes with:

  • Point-and-click order entry — just click the security symbol from the panel you’re in and the trade happens
  • Professional-grade advanced trading tools — advanced options screener, analytics, strategy optimizer, and margin analyzer give you some of the best tools in the business
  • Real-time technology — track the markets with live streaming watch lists, straight-off-the-wire market news, sector, and industry tracker, and on-air CNBC TV
  • Sector & Industry Tracker — a bird’s-eye view of the market and sectors
  • Scan the market for trading ideas — using built-in backtesting, as well as a probability calculator to evaluate the likelihood of an investment hitting a certain price

While viewing the orientation videos, the customer can launch a suggested layout. The E*TRADE Pro user orientation has been updated for a more seamless experience. The feature also provides at least two screens for personalization, including a total of six customized screens (up from four).

Not only is the design more streamlined, but the revamped tool allows you to:

  1. Build multiple options strategies
  2. Run through various scenarios based on expiration dates and price points
  3. Easily customize graphing features
  4. Seamlessly send any strategy directly for trade execution.
Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
  • Binarium
    Binarium

    Best Binary Broker!
    Perfect for beginners!
    Free Demo Account! Free Trading Education!

  • Binomo
    Binomo

    Only for experienced traders!

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