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A Guide to the Best IRA Accounts for 2020

Do you want to start saving for retirement? We suggest you start exploring your options as soon as possible. A flexible investment account is a great place to start.

An individual retirement account (IRA) is a type of investment account set up in a financial institution, such as a bank, a brokerage company, or a federally insured credit union, that lets you save money for retirement in a tax-advantaged way. Depending on your employment status, IRAs can have different tax liabilities; the options include saving on a tax-deferred basis or with tax-free growth.

Thanks to the tax benefits of the best IRA accounts, your savings will probably compound much quicker than in a taxable account, no matter which type you decide to go for.

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Fortunly’s Top 3 Picks for the Best IRA Accounts

Top 3 Picks

Fidelity IRA

Large selection of retirement planning tools

Excellent research and asset screeners

24/7 phone support

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Betterment IRA

Same-day funding

Large loan amounts

Simple application process

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Ally Invest IRA

No penalties for early payment

No time-in-business requirements

Business and financial resources

VISIT SITE READ REVIEW

6 Best Companies for IRA Accounts

1. Fidelity IRA

Large selection of retirement planning tools

Excellent research and asset screeners

24/7 phone support

Trading fees starting from

$0

VISIT SITE

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Founded in 1946, Fidelity is a multinational financial services corporation designed to serve all types of traders, individual retirement investors included. The company is well known for its long history of service, financial stability, and rich assortment of financial planning tools and investment options.

Read full review

Commission and fees

Trading technology

Retirement planning tools

Customer service

2. Betterment IRA

Automatic portfolio rebalancing

Useful goal-based tools

Fast and simple account setup

Trading fees starting from

$0

VISIT SITE

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Established in 2008 on the premise that investing should be made simple, easy, and widely accessible, Betterment has become one of the industry's biggest robo-advisors and most popular IRA companies. The company is also well-known for offering goal-based investing strategies and comprehensive financial planning advisory services.

Read full review

Commission and fees

Trading technology

Retirement planning tools

Customer service

3. Ally Invest IRA

No account minimums

Low-trading commissions

Robust web-based platform

Trading fees starting from

$0

VISIT SITE

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Founded in 2017 as a division of Ally Financial, Ally Invest has quickly established itself as a low-cost broker that offers competitive pricing, easy-to-use web-based and mobile-trading platforms, and a good range of tradable securities. It appeals to retirement investors.

Read full review

Commission and fees

Trading technology

Retirement planning tools

Customer service

4. Vanguard IRA

Commission-free trades

Broad selection of mutual funds and ETFs

Comprehensive library of retirement planning tools and resources

Trading fees starting from

$0

VISIT SITE

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One of the low-cost investing pioneers, Vanguard is another great choice for retirement savers and overall buy-and-hold investing strategies. The broker is well-known for its ease of use, huge selections of tradable assets, and in-depth financial planning advisory.

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Commission and fees

Trading technology

Retirement planning tools

Customer service

5. Charles Schwab IRA

Commision-free trades

Robust online and mobile trading platforms

Excellent customer service

Trading fees starting from

$0

VISIT SITE

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With almost 50 years of experience, Charles Schwab is one of the most popular discount brokers in the United States. Given its wide range of tools and services as well as mobile, web-based, and desktop platforms, it's understandable how Schwab has become a go-to broker for clients of all backgrounds and levels.

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Commission and fees

Trading technology

Retirement planning tools

Customer service

6. Wealthfront IRA

Flat monthly fees

Algorithmic portfolio management

Exceptional retirement planning tools

Trading fees starting from

$0

VISIT SITE

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As one of the first brokers to automate the investment process, Wealthfront is still one of the largest and most popular robo-advisors nowadays. Retirement investors especially appreciate its streamlined in-depth financial advice, diversified portfolios, and automated account rebalancing.

Read full review

Commission and fees

Trading technology

Retirement planning tools

Customer service

Fortunly's IRA Guide

Before we dive into the IRA provider reviews, here’s an overview of all the tax-saving and money-growing benefits that determine the most popular individual retirement account types:

  • Traditional IRA. This investment tool lets you make contributions with money you may be able to deduct on your tax return. The best traditional IRA options can grow more valuable as the stocks in it rise in price, and you don’t pay any taxes on that growth. You only pay taxes on the amounts you withdraw once you are retired. Note that early withdrawals (before the account holder’s age of 60) are subject to penalties. Considering that many retirees find themselves in a lower tax bracket in comparison with their pre-retirement, the tax-deferral benefits means the savings may be taxed at a lower rate. This type of IRA also makes a good choice for individuals who don’t have access to workplace-sponsored retirement plans.
  • Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA, contributions can be made with money you’ve already paid taxes on, and the funds may potentially grow tax-free. Provided that all conditions are met, with the best Roth IRA account options, you’ll be eligible for tax-free withdrawals in retirement.  A Roth IRA is a smart choice for savers who expect that they’ll be in a higher tax bracket in retirement, so that they can take advantage of those tax-free withdrawals. Given that there are no early withdrawal penalties, a Roth is also a good option for those who might need to access the funds before retirement.
  • Rollover IRA. This account type lets you move the money from your old employer-sponsored retirement plan – 401(k) or 403(b) – into an IRA. With the best IRA rollover accounts, you can preserve the tax-deferred status of your accumulated retirement assets, without having to pay early withdrawal penalties or current taxes at the time of the transfer.

Other less popular options include Spousal, SIMPLE, SEP nondeductible, and self-directed IRAs.

Choosing an IRA – Our Methodology

Here’s an overview of the most important criteria we took into account – and suggest you consider – when choosing an individual retirement account provider.

Commissions and Fees

Having a retirement investment account isn’t free. Even the best self-directed IRA accounts come with certain charges. Account maintenance fees, fund management fees, trading commissions, advisory fees, expense ratios – the costs can add up very quickly. Even a small difference in fees – sometimes a fraction of a percent – can dramatically affect the size of your nest egg. That’s why it’s important to understand what type of fees your IRA will be subject to before opening an account with a certain provider.

Trading Technology

While commissions, fees, and IRA rates can make or break the amount of your savings, it’s the quality of a broker’s trading platform that plays a crucial role when it comes to making smart investments. When comparing different providers’ trading platforms, you should evaluate not only its stability and range of tradable securities but also technical strength, research capability, innovation, and versatility. In our reviews, we also made sure to take a look at each company’s web-based and mobile options, in addition to downloadable software.

Retirement Planning Tools

Unless you are a financial expert, you’ll probably need help determining your retirement savings goal and designing a strategy on how to reach it. That’s where retirement planning tools come in handy. The best Roth IRA accounts (along with other retirement account types) come equipped with calculators, tools, and comprehensive educational resources that can help you not only choose the right path to retirement but also understand the journey.

Customer Experience

A company may offer low fees, an excellent trading platform, and comprehensive retirement planning resources, but all these features can be overshadowed by a lack of decent customer support. The quality of customer service provided by a financial institution is equally as important as any other aspect of the best Roth IRA, traditional, or a rollover IRA provider.

Companies with knowledgeable and quick-to-respond customer service agents that can be contacted via multiple avenues of support get higher marks in our reviews. As a part of the customer experience sections, we also made sure to evaluate the registration process (both online and on mobile devices) and to share our thoughts on the overall user experience.

6 Best IRA Account Providers

  • Fidelity

  • Betterment

  • Ally Invest

  • Vanguard

  • Charles Schwab

  • Wealthfront

Reviews of the Best IRA Providers

As one of America’s best investment companies, Fidelity is designed to serve the vast majority of individual traders, retirement investors included. The company gets high marks for its financial stability, long history of service, and wide range of financial products and investment options. In addition to some of the best IRA plans, Fidelity also administers 401(k) accounts, 529 college savings plans, brokerage accounts, and much more.

All that experience has helped the provider assemble an impressive portfolio of online financial planning tools that can especially benefit IRA holders. Additionally, for those who prefer face-to-face service, Fidelity operates numerous branch locations across the country.

Account Types and Fees

Fidelity’s IRA products include all the most popular options – traditional, rollover, and Roth individual retirement accounts.

There are no minimum balance requirements, opening fees, or annual charges, regardless of the IRA type that you decide to open. Additionally, there are no fees for inactivity, account transfer or closure, sending checks, sending and receiving wires, paper statements, and trade confirmations.

Fidelity offers its clients access to more than 10,000 mutual funds – many come free of charge, while the funds outside of the no-transaction-fee program incur a $49.95 commission. US stocks and ETFs can be traded online for free, while international trade fees are dependent on the market and can vary widely.

Should you decide to use the company’s automated phone advisory service, you’ll be charged a $12.95 fee per trade for ETFs and stocks. For a certified broker’s live assistance, you’ll have to pay $32.95 per trade.

Trading Technology

Given its incredible financial strength and long history in the business, it comes as no surprise that Fidelity offers some of the most advanced online investment tools. Its research offerings include multiple flexible screeners for mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, and fixed income, plus a variety of planning tools and calculators.

Fidelity’s IRA investment options can be divided into two categories – hands-off investing and hands-on investing. If you don’t have the time and knowledge to create and manage your own mix of assets, we suggest you opt for a single-fund strategy or a professionally managed solution.

However, if you’d much prefer choosing and managing the investments by yourself, Fidelity also lets you pick individual securities, such as mutual funds, stocks, ETFs, annuities, bonds and US treasuries, and FDIC-insured CDs, to create your own portfolio.

Platform-wise, Fidelity lets you trade via its website and mobile apps. Additionally, active traders also have the option of downloading the provider’s desktop platform. Although the online and mobile platforms are easy to get around and fairly comprehensive, a hands-on investor will probably prefer the downloadable option.

If you are an active investor, which isn’t that typical for IRA owners, we suggest you explore Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro platform (the company’s flagship product offered free of charge to all investors) and the Wealth-Lab Pro software (a premium desktop-strategy-testing service available only to clients who trade at least 36 times over a 12-month period and keep a minimum of $25,000 in assets in Fidelity accounts).

Retirement Planning Tools

Well-known for offering top-notch research and education resources to its clients, Fidelity has built a comprehensive planning and guidance center with more than 600 pieces of educational content and a dozen useful retirement calculators and tools.

The Financial Health Assessment feature analyzes your level of preparedness for retirement and suggests where you should make some adjustments to your financial plan. The IRA Contribution Calculator helps you figure out whether a traditional or Roth IRA could be right for you, taking into account how much you’ll be able to contribute and deduct on your taxes.

Fidelity also offers a required minimum distribution (RMD) calculator, a feature that determines the demanded retirement account withdrawal amounts (after the age of 72), while with the Retirement Income Calculator you can get a quick estimate of how much you would have to spend every month and explore ways to improve your cash flow in retirement.

The Roth conversion calculator is another great feature that can help you understand the potential outcomes Roth Conversion could have on your financial outlook, so you can decide whether one is right for you.

The planning and guidance tool offers a holistic view of your retirement plan and lets you explore changes that may positively affect your retirement plan. Other useful feature retirement investors should also include the Roth Conversion calculator, the Savings Planner, and the Social Security Benefits Calculator.

Customer Experience

Considering its aim to offer a smooth experience to traders of all levels of expertise, Fidelity’s dedication toward top-notch customer support and impeccable reputation for its easy-to-use platforms come as no surprise. Although the website design could do with a bit of an update, everything from opening an IRA to managing the account can be done quickly and easily.

Large amounts of trading-related information can be found on the website. Additionally, should you have a specific question or run into an issue, you can rely on Fidelity’s round-the-clock phone support for assistance. Live chat hours are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, and response times are unmatched.

If you prefer getting the answers to your questions in person, you’d be happy to hear that the company has almost 200 physical locations around the United States. Finally, unlike most of its competitors, Fidelity also offers customer support via platforms such as Google Assistant, Facebook Messenger, and Amazon Alexa.

The Bottom Line

Fidelity offers some of the most competitive options when it comes to choosing the best IRA accounts. Given its stellar research, educational support, and investor-friendly costs ($0 commissions, low fees, and lack of account minimums), it’s easy to understand how this provider thrives offering excellent value to both active traders and retirement investors.

From single-fund strategies to professionally managed solutions to comprehensive resources for those who prefer doing their own research, Fidelity is a smart choice for hands-on and hands-off investors alike. Add the company’s aim to further improve customer experience and ease of use to the mix, and you’ll understand why we consider Fidelity to be one of the best IRA companies.

Reasons to Buy

Large selection of retirement planning tools

Excellent research and asset screeners

24/7 phone support

Launched in 2008 with a mission to make investing simple, easy, and widely accessible, Betterment has quickly established itself as one of the market’s biggest automated investing platforms and one of the best IRA companies; however, this low-cost robo-advisor isn’t just a cold algorithm – Betterment prides itself on its impeccable customer service record.

The company offers a number of special features, including goal-based investing and financial planning tools which provide financial guidance not only before but also after retirement. For an additional fee, IRA owners can get unlimited video call access to a financial advisor.

Account Types and Fees

As far as Betterment’s selection of retirement accounts goes, the company offers traditional, Roth, SEP, and rollover IRAs.

Considering that fees can gobble up your returns in the long run, it’s important to consider the ongoing charges when evaluating retirement investment companies and their IRA account offerings. Betterment offers two plans for all of its investment account types and is considered one of the industry’s most affordable robo-advisors.

The Betterment Digital plan comes with a 0.25% annual management fee and has no minimum deposit requirements. Should you decide to go for the Betterment Premium plan, you’ll face a 0.40% fund management fee and a $100,000 minimum balance requirement.

On the plus side, this plan comes with the perk of unlimited phone access to certified financial planners, while basic account owners will have to pay a fee of between $199 and $299 for the same service. There are no account charges such as annual, transfer, closing, or inactivity fees.

Trading Technology

By employing the Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT), Betterment achieves the goal of maximizing your return while minimizing your risk on IRA accounts. Much like many other robo-advisors, the provider bases its investment philosophy on the benefits of diversification. In other words, investing in a diverse pool of assets collectively lowers the risk but also stabilizes the return in the long run.

Betterment uses ETFs that make for about a dozen asset classes for investors’ different goals and levels of risk tolerance. Clients who prefer having a little more control over their investment portfolio can use Betterment’s flexible portfolios tool which lets you adjust the percentage of the money you invest in any specific ETF.

You can also opt for a socially responsible portfolio, an income portfolio that only includes bonds, or a smart beta portfolio that embraces systematic risks while seeking for higher-than-average returns.

All accounts are periodically evaluated and automatically rebalanced if the algorithms find that they’ve shifted from their goal allocation. Also given that the company buys fractional shares, there’s no need to worry about any uninvested cash left in your portfolio.

Retirement Planning Tools

When looking for the best IRA provider, you should always consider the company’s retirement planning tools. As a goal-based platform, Betterment offers multiple tools along with plenty of advice to its users. If you need help figuring out how much you need to save for retirement and how to get there, we suggest you start with Betterment’s retirement savings calculator.

Here’s how it works. First, you’ll be asked to provide some basic information about yourself and your household’s financial situation. Second, as a part of the company’s holistic approach, Betterment will offer the option to link up your existing employer plans and retirement assets. By analyzing your external accounts, the company helps you get a clearer, more complete picture of where you stand in reaching your goal.

Designed to help you save more money than you could on your own, Betterment’s retirement planning tools are especially useful when it comes to keeping track of your savings progress and choosing the most tax-efficient accounts for your situation.

Customer Experience

Opening an IRA with Betterment is quick and easy – all you have to do is enter your age, annual income, and a goal. Instead of the standard risk-related questions, the site presents you with a suggestion for asset allocation and the associated risk, which you can adjust to your liking. To make money deposits into your investment portfolio easier, you’ll also be prompted to link your external bank and brokerage accounts with your Betterment account.

Once you set up your online IRA and start trading, you’ll be able to see a snapshot of your current holdings, the average performance of your portfolio, your investment strategy, and the analysis of your retirement goals on the account homepage. Greater details such as your investment allocations and earnings, along with the options to adjust your target allocation and make the most of the planning tools will be accessible to you from the portfolio page.

Another great thing about this IRA investment provider is that account opening, account management, and direct deposits can all be done using the Betterment app for Android and iPhone.

Betterment’s investment platform is quite easy to get around; however, should you have any questions or run into any issues, you can get in touch with the company’s customer service department. Support agents are available via phone and email from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. The live chat option is offered only to the company’s existing clients (not the prospective ones) on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

The Bottom Line

A clear leader among automated investing platforms, Betterment imposes much lower fees on IRA plans than you’d face if you were to hire a traditional financial advisor or almost any other robo-advisor. Equally a good starting point for those who have just entered the world of investments and a competitive choice for those with lots of experience, Betterment makes a great fit for anyone looking for strategies on portfolio improvements.

Given its goal-oriented tools and features, it comes as no surprise that the company manages to attract more and more retirement investors.

Reasons to Buy

Automatic portfolio rebalancing

Useful goal-based tools

Fast and simple account setup

A relative newcomer to the investment services industry, Ally Invest was launched in 2017 by its parent company, Ally Financial. As a low-cost broker offering $0 stock and ETF trades, an easy-to-use website, and a universal-account management experience, Ally Invest has established itself as a great choice for retirement savers that already have Ally bank accounts and other hands-on and hands-off investors alike.

Account Types and Fees

Ally Invest is considered one of the best Roth IRA providers, but the company also offers traditional and SEP IRA options. Another thing to love about Ally’s investment product is that its fee structure is completely transparent and easy to understand. There are no commissions to trade stocks and ETFs, but there is a $9.95 mutual fund trade fee. Options trades are subject to a $0.50/contract fee.

As one of the banks with IRA accounts, Ally does not charge annual maintenance fees on IRAs. However, there is a $25 termination fee (charged when the client removes all funds from its IRA) and a $50 transfer fee. Ally does not impose inactivity charges. Receiving wires doesn’t incur a fee, while sending a wire costs $30 per item. Sending a check will cost you $5, while paper confirmations and statements cost $2 each and are only available upon request.

Trading Technology

Ally Invest lets its IRA owners trade stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, options, and fixed income products such as bonds or CDs. The company offers both self-directed trading and managed portfolio options. Ally certainly is one of the best banks for IRA accounts and has the trading platforms to prove it. The company’s trading tools will satisfy almost any retirement investor or trader with a similar passive investing strategy.

Both browser-based and mobile trading platforms are nicely laid out and easy to use and navigate. The browser-based platform comes with a customizable dashboard, free screening and research tools, and real-time data. Ally Invest’s mobile app is available for Android and iOS and offers access to core account functions including trading, tracking, and quotes.

Retirement Planning Tools

Ally’s site features the “Your Financial Life” page which provides tips and tools for managing everyday finances. It has plenty of useful information and education resources covering online trading and retirement. To help you choose the right financial products and reach your goals, not only does Ally let you compare IRA interest rates, but also the site offers a detailed guide on how to choose the most appropriate account type.

However, although Ally offers detailed IRA comparison, it does not provide tax advice and therefore encourages its clients to consult with their tax professionals before making a final decision.

Customer Experience

Ally Invest’s website is relatively user-friendly, especially for clients coming from its banking arm. If you already use Ally’s banking services, the process of getting started with an Ally Invest IRA retirement plan should be quick and easy.

As you’d expect, the registration process takes place online, and while the application process takes less than 20 minutes, the company can take up to three business days to verify a new client’s account. It’s also important to mention that only US residents are allowed to open IRAs at Ally Invest.

Should you have any questions or stumble upon any issues, there are multiple ways to get in touch with Ally’s customer service. Phone support and live brokers are available from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. ET. The live chat option is available both for current and prospective investors. If you don’t need an answer immediately, you can send your questions via email or snail mail. The site also has a help center page that offers in-depth answers on some questions but most aren’t very detailed.

The Bottom Line

Ally Invest’s $0 trading commissions on eligible US assets and $0 account minimums make it one of the best investment firms and a strong choice for retirement savers. In addition to competitive pricing, this broker offers easy-to-use browser-based and mobile trading platforms and lots of helpful trading tools. Ally Invest’s range of tradable securities is wide – the company provides more than 8,000 mutual funds; however, they all incur transaction fees.

If you are looking to invest in no-transaction-fee mutual funds, you’d be better off with almost any other broker listed in this review.

Reasons to Buy

No account minimums

Low trading commissions

Robust web-based platform

With trillions of dollars in funds it manages, Vanguard Asset Management is both a funds behemoth and a brokerage.

A pioneer in low-cost investing, this company is a great choice for retirement savers and buy-and-hold investors. If your aim is to pair a buy-and-hold strategy with some of the industry’s lowest-cost investment offerings, look no further. Well-known for offering some of the best-rated IRA accounts, Vanguard is popular with retirement investors who invest primarily in the company’s own funds.

Account Types and Fees

Investing fees and commissions can make or break your retirement savings. While Vanguard’s robust array of low-cost funds is hard to beat, it’s still important to be fully aware of all costs associated with your Roth, SEP, simple, or traditional IRA.

As far as investment costs go, there are no commissions for online trading of ETFs, stocks, and more than 3,400 mutual funds (assets invested in Vanguard ETFs and mutual funds). For the mutual funds outside the no-transaction-fees program, the commission equals $20 per trade online or $50 per trade over the phone.

Additionally, there are no investment minimums, no fees for account transfer of closure, no inactivity charges, and no fees for receiving wires, sending checks, exercise/assignment, trade confirmations, or paper statements. There’s a $10 charge per ongoing wire transfer. Depending on the asset class, live broker consultations cost between $20 and $50 per trade, while clients who have more than $1,000,000 in their accounts have the benefit of accessing live brokers free of charge.

Trading Technology

Providing some of the market’s best IRA accounts, Vanguard lets its clients trade a decent range of assets. Options include stocks, ETFs, OTCBBs (penny stocks), mutual funds, and bonds (Treasury, municipal, corporate, and CDs). Note that online orders can be placed only for certain assets such as ETFs, stocks, and a few fixed-income securities. All other options require a broker’s assistance.

Vanguard’s trading platform offers very few analytical tools, especially compared to its competitors that also support stock trading. Active traders will probably be disappointed with the company’s basic platform, which is not very extensive; however, they are not necessarily this broker’s target audience.

Retirement Planning Tools

One of the best retirement investment companies, Vanguard hosts several retirement planning tools and educational resources on its website. One of the broker’s priorities is educating its clients on how to set their financial goals and helping them figure out how to reach them.

By using Vanguard’s tools and calculator, investors are able to determine how much they need to save for retirement. They can also set monthly savings goals, find out the features of Roth and traditional IRAs, do IRA comparisons, create realistic retirement budgets, and calculate their estimated required minimum distribution withdrawals (RMD).

Customer Experience

Getting started at Vanguard is a relatively lengthy procedure. Although the process of account opening can be initiated online, prospective account owners have to wait several days before logging in for the first time.

When compared to other individual retirement account providers on our list, Vanguard’s website design has a bit of an outdated feel; however, all features are easily navigable. The provider lets you trade ETFs, stocks, and certain fixed income products online; to place an order on any other asset class, you’ll have to get in touch with your broker.

The Vanguard mobile app is easy to use – buying and selling couldn’t be more straightforward. On the down side, the app has a limited choice of resources for doing research on investments.

As far as customer service goes, Vanguard offers phone support (available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.) and a few online solutions. Unfortunately, there are no live chat capabilities; however, you can send short, secured messages via the site’s support page. Vanguard also maintains an active Twitter account, and its support agents are happy to provide assistance via this social platform.

The Bottom Line

Vanguard lets IRA account owners trade a relatively wide range of securities; however, it doesn’t provide a type of platform that suits particularly active traders. On the plus side, the platform works very well for long-term investors – such as those saving for retirement – who make just a few trades each month and don’t need dynamic charts and streaming data to make their investment decisions.

The long list of educational resources and financial planning tools available on Vanguard’s website can be very useful if your aim is to build and maintain a diversified but easy-to-manage portfolio. In conclusion, we recommend Vanguard’s option as one of the best IRA accounts to open if you’re fine with investing in the company’s own low-cost mutual funds and ETFs and don’t mind the lack of comprehensive research tools.

Reasons to Buy

Comprehensive library of retirement planning tools and resources

Broad selection of mutual funds and ETFs

Commission-free trades

Often referred to as a trendsetter when it comes to trading, Charles Schwab is one of America’s most popular discount brokerage companies with almost 50 years of experience. Thanks to its large assortment of tools and services created to appeal to hands-off and hands-on investors alike, Charles Schwab has become a go-to broker for clients of all experience levels.

Account Types and Fees

Charles Schwab offers one of the best Roth IRA accounts for beginners. Other retirement account options provided by this company include traditional, rollover, and Roth conversion IRAs. None of the IRA account types have minimum deposit requirements.

Schwab is well-known for offering competitive prices for trading online. Much like most of its competitors, the company has recently joined the no-trading-fee movement and now offers commission-free trades of ETFs, stocks, and options. Keep in mind that options trades are subject to a $0.65 per-contract fee.

For funds outside the no-transaction-fee program, mutual fund commissions equal $49.95. Currency exchange fees range from 0.2% to 1%, while live broker costs amount to $25 per trade. As far as account charges go, there are no fees for account closure or transfer, inactivity, exercise/assignment, sending checks, and sending or receiving wire transfers. As an IRA account owner, you also won’t be charged for paper statements and trade confirmations.

Trading Technology

Schwab offers a wide range of tradable securities. These include stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options, and futures. Should you decide to trade via Schwab.com, the site will let you monitor the markets and your portfolio, access research tools, and view technical data. The broker’s website also features an intuitive trade ticket for ETF, stock, and options orders, along with current market information.

In addition to the basic trading services offered on Schwab’s website that could probably satisfy the owners of traditional, rollover, or Roth IRA accounts, the broker offers a few more advanced platforms. Both StreetSmart Edge and StreetSmart Central are free to use and come with no trade minimums. For those who prefer trading on the go, the company offers two apps – Schwab Mobile and StreetSmart Mobile.

Overall, all of the aforementioned platforms are easy to use, and you can expect an above-average trading experience with any of them. Note that a robo-advisor feature is integrated with all of Schwab’s trading platforms.

Retirement Planning Tools

Another thing to consider when comparing the best online IRA accounts is the offering of retirement planning tools a particular company provides. Schwab’s retirement services go well beyond offering IRA account options for self-directed investors.

Instead, clients can opt to have their assets managed through Intelligent Portfolios, Schwab’s robo-advisor service. Additionally, thanks to the broker’s digital tools and educational resources, you can determine how much you need to save for retirement, how to reach your goal, and how to make your savings last in retirement.

Customer Experience

As far as usability goes, it’s clear that Schwab struggles to pack everything into a single platform. The site’s navigation involves a two-level top menu with dozens of expandable choices that can sometimes cause confusion. But, on the plus side, getting started is fairly easy. New clients can open any of the IRA account types on offer and even fund the account using a computer or mobile device.

Customer service is also one of the company’s strong points. In addition to round-the-clock support offered via phone, email, and life chat, Charles Schwab has more than 300 physical locations that clients can visit. The company’s support agents are also quick to respond if you get in touch with them via Twitter.

The company’s customer satisfaction policy guarantees a refund of any commissions or fees paid for services that clients end up being unhappy with. However, considering that most trades come with zero fees nowadays, this benefit can be seen by some as redundant.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to IRA options, Schwab is getting more competitive by the day. Given its size, reach, investment selection, research tools, and $0 commissions, it’s safe to say that Charles Schwab delivers for both self-directed and hands-off investors – those saving for retirement included. The company also gets high marks for its sophisticated trading platforms (both online and mobile) and comprehensive library of educational resources.

A downside of its no-fee IRA to watch out for is that Schwab doesn’t sweep uninvested cash into a money market fund automatically, and its base rate is below 0.50%.

Reasons to Buy

Robust online and mobile trading platforms

Excellent customer service

Commision-free trades

As one of the first brokers to automate the investment process, Wealthfront remains one of the largest and most popular robo-advisors nowadays. Its holistic financial advice, diversified portfolios, and automated account rebalancing check all the boxes for those investing toward retirement.

Account Types and Fees

Wealthfront offers some of the best traditional IRA accounts and excellent Roth IRA options, both of which can help your retirement savings compound much faster than if you were to use a regular taxable investing account.

As far as fees and commission go, the deal is as simple as it is competitive. Wealthfront charges a flat 0.25% account management fee that is assessed every month. Most of the portfolios are made up of ETFs that come with annual management fees ranging from 0.07% to 0.16%.

There are no account-related charges such as annual maintenance, inactivity, transfer, or closing fees.

Trading Technology

Much like most of its close competitors, Wealthfront offers IRA options that are perfect for hands-off investors who’d rather not commit to managing and adjusting their portfolios over time. Using the Modern Portfolio Theory, the broker’s powerful algorithms custom-design a perfect portfolio in line with your investing needs, financial goals, and risk tolerance. From there, your portfolio will be automatically rebalanced to stay in line with your preferred asset allocation.

The best IRAs come with diversified portfolios, and Wealthfront’s options are no different. If you decide to open a retirement account with this provider, your portfolio will consist of ETFs in three categories of asset classes – bonds, stocks, and alternative types of securities such as real estate REITs.

Retirement Planning Tools

Regardless of the Wealthfront account type you decide to go for, one of the biggest benefits that you’ll receive is free access to the provider’s financial planning tools.

Known as the Path, this robo-advisor’s proprietary computer algorithm helps you set your retirement savings goals by linking your external financial accounts, analyzing your financial habits, and updating your plan as time goes by and your situation changes.

Instead of relying on your own assumptions, you can let Wealthfront’s financial experts determine how much money you’ll need in retirement and advise you on how to reach that goal. As soon as you’re ready to take action, Wealthfront will help you decide on an investment strategy.

Customer Experience

The process of opening an account with Wealthfront is quick and easy. To start with your investment in an IRA, all you need to do is choose either a traditional or a Roth IRA and answer a few questions about your retirement goals, financial needs, and risk tolerance. After completing the registration process, you’ll need to make a minimum investment of $500.

Alternatively, if you already have an IRA managed by another provider, you can transfer the account to Wealthfront. If you decide to switch over, the broker will sell your current portfolio holdings and use the funds to invest in its own offerings. According to Wealthfront, this process can take anywhere between five and 10 business days. On the plus side, you will not be taxed on the transfer.

In line with its non-human approach, Wealthfront does not offer a live chat feature on its website or in its mobile apps. There isn’t a phone line for prospective clients, while the company’s current account holders can get in touch with Wealthfront’s licensed professionals via phone. There’s also the option to ask for help via Twitter. However, the best place to get your questions answered is the site’s help center.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, Wealthfront is an excellent robo advisor with a top-notch investment service and some of the industry’s best IRA rates. Considering that its portfolio diversification and rebalancing services are among the strongest available from an online advisor, Wealthfront’s platform is a superior vehicle for passive investors and goal-setters such as retirement savers.

Reasons to Buy

Algorithmic portfolio management

Exceptional retirement planning tools

Flat monthly fees

FAQ

Can you have multiple Roth IRAs?

Yes, you can. However, regardless of the number of Roth IRA accounts you maintain, the total amount of contributions must not exceed the maximum contributions for any given year. Here are the 2020 limits for Roth IRA contributions – if you are under the age of 50, you can contribute a maximum of $6,000 per year, while those aged 50 or older can contribute $7,000 annually using catch-up contributions.

Is an IRA a good investment?

In most cases, investing in an IRA can prove very helpful for those saving for retirement. The money you invest in an individual retirement account can grow tax-deferred until the day of your retirement comes. Additionally, if you opt for a traditional IRA, you may get a tax deduction upon making a contribution, while a Roth IRA comes with a benefit of withdrawing money tax-free once you retire.

However, much like any other financial product, IRAs come with risks and limitations that you should learn about before making a commitment.

Can you lose all your money in an IRA?

An IRA is a type of tax advantaged account designed to help you save for retirement. Considering that these accounts can be held in many different types of investments, it’s possible for some of these investments to lose value. Losing the entire balance of your IRA account is possible hypothetically; however, that scenario is highly unlikely.

Which bank has the best IRA rates?

Fidelity, Betterment, Ally Invest, Vanguard, Charles Schwab, and Wealthfront are among the providers offering the best IRA rates and overall top-notch investing services. When evaluating the best investment accounts, we suggest you also compare different providers’ commissions and fees, trading technology, retirement planning tools, and customer service.

What are the 3 types of IRA?

Here are the three most common IRA types:

  • Traditional IRA: Lets individuals direct their pre-tax income toward investments that won’t be taxed until withdrawal.
  • Roth IRA: With this IRA type, you pay taxes on money going into your investment account, so that you can have tax-free withdrawals in retirement.
  • Rollover IRA: This account allows you to move eligible assets from your old employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b) into an IRA.

What are the disadvantages of an IRA?

Some of the downsides of an IRA account (regardless of its type) include penalties for early withdrawals, contribution limits, mandatory withdrawals (required minimum distributions), and limited types of investments.

Should I convert my 401k to an IRA?

Each time you start working for a different employer, you’ll be presented with different ways to deal with your 401(k) plan account. The possibilities include cashing it out, leaving it where it is, transferring it into your new employer’s 401(k) plan, and rolling it over into an IRA.

There are quite a few good reasons to roll over your 401(k) into one of the best IRA accounts. These include lower fees, more investment options, better communication, fewer rules, and access to financial planning tools.