Trading stocks and other securities can be a great way to reach your short and long-term financial goals, and investing is even easier when you've found the best stock broker for you needs. Fortunately, we’ve done the research to bring you the best platforms available in 2023.
We looked at several factors — specifically cost, available assets, investors resources, and customer services — to weigh how the top options were compared. This list of U.S.-based brokers includes the best stock trading platforms for beginners to advanced traders. There’s a choice for everyone.
5 Best Online Stock Brokers for 2023
$0 commissions for stock, ETF, and per-leg options trading commissions; $0.65 per options contract
$0 commissions for stock, ETF, and per-leg options trading commissions; $0.65 per options contract
$0 commissions with IBKR Lite; Maximum $0.005 per share for IBKR Pro or $1 minimum
$0 commission for stock and ETFs; $0.65 per options contract
$0 commissions for stock, ETFs, and options trades; 1% spread on cryptocurrency trades
Fidelity is widely considered one of the most well-rounded online stock brokers today. There are no commissions on stocks, ETFs, or options. Fidelity also has a decent selection of no-expense-ratio index funds and more than 3,700 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
Why we choose Fidelity
The vast selection of investments and $0 trading commissions definitely make Fidelity one of the best online stock brokers. But, Fidelity’s intuitive trading platform and educational resources push it to the top of the list. There are strong trading tools and information for stock traders of all levels, from beginners who are looking to fund their retirement to active stock traders.
Fidelity is also one of only a handful of trading platforms that do not accept payment for order flow on equity orders. Between that and their commitment to lowering costs for customers while also improving returns (as much as possible), Fidelity gives you a very customer-first approach.
Fidelity is best for new investors, those wanting retirement planning advice, and frequent traders.
2. TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade has stellar features for investors, including multiple trading platforms, including its top-rated thinkorswim platform. They also offer strong customer service, a large investment selection, and commission-free stock, ETF, and options trades. It’s no wonder TD Ameritrade consistently ranks as one of the best online stock brokers.
Why we choose TD Ameritrade
One of the main reasons this online brokerage stands out is because investors can access several high-quality trading platforms depending on their needs. For example, thinkorswim shows more than 400 charting patterns. And the basic TD Ameritrade platform includes third-party research, educational resources, and planning tools.
Besides the trading platforms, TD Ameritrade has a variety of tradeable securities, from more than 3,7000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds to futures and forex trading. They can also try their hand with paper trades with zero commitment. Overall, TD Ameritrade has a robust platform built to engage active traders and teach new investors.
TD Ameritrade is best for beginning investors, advanced traders, investors who want education and guidance, and fund investors.
3. Interactive Brokers
For advanced traders, Interactive Brokers is one of the best online stock brokers with incredibly low margin rates, low per-share pricing, an advanced trading platform, and a large selection of tradable securities. However, even casual stock traders can benefit from Interactive Brokers’ low prices and strong trading platform.
Why we choose Interactive Brokers
When you look at Interactive Brokers’ strongest features, it’s no wonder so many active traders choose it. Take margin lending— Interactive Brokers has some of the lowest rates out there, from around 1% to 1.5%. Or, there’s the fact that Interactive Brokers offers access to more than 120 global markets.
Interactive Brokers has two different trading platforms: IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro. Lite is better suited for casual investors, and you get unlimited free stock trades and ETFs. Pro is geared towards advanced traders and charges per-share pricing of $0.005 per share ($1 minimum). IBKR Pro comes with access to more securities and the lowest margin rates.
Interactive Brokers is best for active traders, margin traders, casual traders, options traders, and day traders.
4. Charles Schwab
If you want outstanding customer service, $0 trade commissions, and a large selection of mutual funds, Charles Schwab is one of the best online brokers right now. It’s one of the most affordable trading platforms and offers robust features for nearly any kind of investor.
Why we choose Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab has the name recognition you’d expect to see on a list like this, but Schwab’s ability to adapt to current market trends makes it a very strong contender. One of the most notable changes is that Schwab has been lowering or removing many of its fees, which is what you should expect from major discount brokers.
You can also expect one of the widest arrays of account types, banking and cash management services, managed portfolios, access to more than 30 global markets, and even branch access with Charles Schwab.
Charles Schwab is best for beginner investors, retirement investors, active traders, and investors who want premium research.
Webull is a newer online stock broker (it launched in 2017), but it’s gaining a reputation for incredibly low fees and advanced trading tools. The trading platform has a broad range of services for free, and it’s a great fit for investors who are interested in cryptocurrency.
Why we choose Webull
Webull is an appealing pick for investors who want a slick interface. The desktop and mobile apps include an array of tools for active traders, while also being intuitive enough for newer investors.
Beyond the tech, Webull doesn’t charge commissions on stock, ETFs, options trades, or cryptocurrency. While they don’t have the widest range of asset classes, being able to trade cryptocurrency will be a strong draw for some. And while there are $0 commissions on crypto, Webull does charge 1% of the spread as a transaction fee. Investors can also access extended hours and pre-market trading and get free real-time streaming quotes.
Webull is best for intermediate investors, cryptocurrency traders, active traders, and options traders
What is an online stock broker?
Online stockbrokers are financial institutions that let you buy, sell, and trade stocks and other securities through an online platform. They are usually less expensive than full-service brokerages that offer additional tax tips and financial planning services.
Because they don’t have costly planning services, online stock brokers are sometimes referred to as discount brokers, generally offering $0 commissions on tradeable securities. But don’t let the word “discount” fool you — the best online stock brokers have robust trading tools, stellar customer support, and low fees overall.
When selecting a broker, the best trading platform for you is based on your needs. You’ll want to think about the cost, available assets, customer service, and investor resources. We factored all of those points into this list, and here’s a breakdown of each of them:
- Cost: Fortunately most online brokerages have adapted a commission-free model for stock and ETF trades, but some go beyond with commission-free options and crypto trades. Thinks like no-transaction-fee mutual funds and no-expense ratio ETFs may be important too, depending on your strategy.
- Available assets: Advanced traders may want options, forex, and a wide range of foreign stocks. New investors may only want stocks and ETFs now, but consider what’s available as you expand your knowledge and skill.
- Customer service: Having a swift and reliable customer service center is becoming increasingly important, even when we’re talking about online brokerages. We like 24/7 support that goes beyond chat and email.
- Investor resources: Multiple trading platforms, charts, educational content — those are just a few resources that can enhance your experience and help you create an investment experience tailored to your needs.
How to start trading stocks
Online brokerages like the ones above make it easier than ever to start trading stocks. It can be a surprisingly quick and painless process, and here’s a rundown of the steps you’ll need to get started:
- Step 1: Research your first trade. Research should be part of your investment strategy, which is why we recommend starting before you ever make your first trade. Most brokerages have some research tools available for free.
- Step 2: Gather your personal information first. You’ll need your name, Social Security number, address, and other basic personal information to set up your account. Having it ready streamlines the setup process.
- Step 3: Link your bank account. The easiest way to fund your investment account is by linking your bank account information.
- Step 4: Stay focused on the future. To build wealth and secure your future, investing is best approached as a long-term strategy. The market is constantly fluctuating, and focusing on the future will help you drown out that noise.
The final word on best online stock brokers
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to trading, the best stock trading platforms on this list offer something for everyone. Look for a brokerage that has low costs, robust resources, the assets you want to trade, and solid customer service.
Active stock trading, even it’s only casual, can be a great way to build wealth, but don’t forget about the power of a long-term investing plan. Investing, as in buying and holding, can be a great way to build long-term wealth and plan for retirement. If you need help gettings started, check out Investing for Beginners: Step-By-Step Guide & Best Investments.
Most online brokerage, especially those who offer fractional shares, only require as little as $5 to start investing.
Micro-investing is the practice of buying fractional shares of stocks or ETFs with small amounts of money. Most online stock brokers offering fractional shares only require $5 to get started. You can learn more in 5 Best Micro-Investment Apps & What Beginners Need to Know.
There’s no guarantee with your investments, meaning it’s possible to lose money. You can lose money buying a bad investment or if the market drops and you sell early. Most investors feel like the rewards far outweigh the risk, and you can help protect your investments by diversifying your accounts and focusing on long-term strategy.
Robinhood is one of my top picks for beginner investors because it has an easy-to-use platform and $0 commissions. The only reason I didn’t include it on this list because it doesn’t have as many features as other great beginner-friendly brokerages like Fidelity or TD Ameritrade.