Fortunly's Guide
Advertiser Disclosure

Best Online Brokerage Accounts and Trading Platforms For 2023

Written By
I. Mitic
Updated
December 20,2022
Some or all of the products/services listed on this page are from our affiliate partners from which we receive commissions. This, however, does not influence the evaluations in our reviews. Learn more by reading our Advertiser Disclosure.

Online stock brokerages have quickly taken the world of investing by storm. While this market was once only available to those wealthy enough to hire a personal broker, the internet and advanced technologies have opened the gate for anyone wily enough to become an investor.

Online stock brokers can now bring the financial world to your fingertips, and the healthy competition among companies is both driving prices down and improving the overall quality of services. But there are also some adverse effects, and the gap between good and exceptional products has never been wider. 

That’s why we’re here to help you find exemplary service for your needs.

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Oanda Logo

Oanda

4.5 stars Our Rating

Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.

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ACCOUNT MINIMUM: $0
COMMISSIONS: $50 commissions per 1M
TRADING PLATFORM: MetaTrader 4, desktop, web and mobile, fxTrade Mobile, TradingView
MOBILE APP: Android and iOS
SUMMARY
REVIEW
PROS & CONS

If you're looking to get into forex trading, Oanda is a great option. The company boasts regulation by top-tier authorities, low spreads, high leverage, and an excellent customer service team. Plus, their user-friendly platform makes it easy to get started.

Robinhood Logo

Robinhood

4.5 stars Our Rating

Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.

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ACCOUNT MINIMUM: $0
COMMISSIONS: $0
TRADING PLATFORM: Mobile and web-based trading platform
MOBILE APP: Android and iOS
SUMMARY
REVIEW
PROS & CONS

Robinhood is an investing app that allows users to trade stocks and cryptocurrency without paying any commissions or fees. It’s a great option for investors who want to get started with trading without incurring any fees. Owing to its slick and easy-to-use interface, it’s also a great platform for beginners. 

More experienced investors may find the lack of some advanced trading features to be a drawback. Overall, Robinhood is a solid choice for commission-free trading.

Moomoo Logo

Moomoo

4 stars Our Rating

Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.

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ACCOUNT MINIMUM: $0
COMMISSIONS: $0
TRADING PLATFORM: Web-based and app
MOBILE APP: Android and iOS
SUMMARY
REVIEW
PROS & CONS

Moomoo is a great choice for mobile-first investors, offering a commission-free brokerage platform with no account minimums. With advanced analytical tools that let you screen stocks in real-time, Moomoo is a good choice for experienced investors. However, its user-friendly dashboard and lucrative welcome bonus make it a great option for beginner investors as well.

TD Ameritrade Logo

TD Ameritrade

4.5 stars Our Rating

Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.

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ACCOUNT MINIMUM: $0
COMMISSIONS: $0; $25 for broker assisted
TRADING PLATFORM: TD Ameritrade web and Thinkorswim desktop
MOBILE APP: iOS and Android
SUMMARY
REVIEW
PROS & CONS

Perfectly suitable for beginners and experienced investors alike, TD Ameritrade offers something for everyone. With a treasure trove of information and feature-heavy, modern trading platforms, it really is the complete package. Add the 2019 shift to a $0-fee policy, and you get a powerful, user-friendly online brokerage.

Fidelity Logo

Fidelity

4.5 stars Our Rating

Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.

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ACCOUNT MINIMUM: $0
COMMISSIONS: $0
TRADING PLATFORM: Fidelity.com and Active Trader Pro
MOBILE APP: Fidelity app (available for iOS and Android)
SUMMARY
REVIEW
PROS & CONS

Fidelity Investments has long been the industry leader against whom all other online brokerages are measured. This established company not only adapts and grows with the technology but leads the way in innovation with features like voice-activated support across all platforms. 

Because of its thorough approach and a long history of user-friendly practices, Fidelity remains one of the top online brokerages.

Merrill Edge Logo

Merrill Edge

4 stars Our Rating

Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.

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ACCOUNT MINIMUM: $0
COMMISSIONS: $0; $29.95 (broker-assisted trades)
TRADING PLATFORM: MerillEdge.com and Merrill Edge MarketPro
MOBILE APP: Merrill Edge Mobile App (for iOS and Android)
SUMMARY
REVIEW
PROS & CONS

Merrill Edge is an easy choice for both beginners and experienced investors, especially those who are already clients of Bank of America. With powerful research tools and a world-class proprietary trading platform supported by an impressive live chat service and an impressive number of branches across the US, Merrill is one of the industry’s best choices.

E*Trade Logo

E*Trade

4.2 stars Our Rating

Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.

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ACCOUNT MINIMUM: $0
COMMISSIONS: $0 for stocks and ETFs
TRADING PLATFORM: E*Trade Web and Power E*Trade
MOBILE APP: E*Trade mobile and Power E*Trade, two mobile platforms
SUMMARY
REVIEW
PROS & CONS

E*Trade remains among the most prominent online brokerages in the US, especially for active traders that are seeking the lowest commissions for per-contract trades. The E*Trade mobile trading platform is among the best the industry has to offer. Its top-quality research and analysis tools make it an especially powerful option that will surely satisfy even the most demanding users.

Interactive Brokers Logo

Interactive Brokers

4.5 stars Our Rating

Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.

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ACCOUNT MINIMUM: $0
COMMISSIONS: $0 for stocks and ETFs
TRADING PLATFORM: Client Portal trading platform and Trader Workstation platform
MOBILE APP: iOS and Android
SUMMARY
REVIEW
PROS & CONS

Interactive Brokers is known for focusing on professional traders. Recently, they released the IBK Lite payment package, which will make the brokerage platform much more appealing to people who don't trade professionally. This international firm trades in more than 120 markets around the world, and its commission rates are among the lowest the industry has to offer.

Charles Schwab Corporation Logo

Charles Schwab Corporation

5 stars Our Rating

Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.

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ACCOUNT MINIMUM: $0
COMMISSIONS: $0; $25 (broker-assisted trades)
TRADING PLATFORM: Schwab.com, StreetSmart Edge (desktop platform), and StreetSmart Central
MOBILE APP: Schwab Mobile and StreetSmart Mobile
SUMMARY
REVIEW
PROS & CONS

Charles Schwab Corporation is the perfect example of a successful investment platform. The veteran brokerage is still as much of a trendsetter as ever; it’s leading the way in artificial intelligence and integrations with virtual assistants like Alexa. This feature-heavy service has never been cheaper or more satisfying to use.

TradeStation Logo

TradeStation

4.5 stars Our Rating

Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.

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ACCOUNT MINIMUM: $0
COMMISSIONS: $0
TRADING PLATFORM: Desktop and browser-based
MOBILE APP: iOS and Android
SUMMARY
REVIEW
PROS & CONS

TradeStation is a solid online brokerage platform that’s especially suitable for active traders. It caters to military personnel and first responders through its TradeStation Salutes program. Now, the company has started reaching out to more casual traders with the TS GO free trading plan, making it one of the most well-rounded and feature-heavy brokerages these days.

Evaluation Criteria

How Do We Determine the Best Online Brokerage Account?

The team at Fortunly believes in transparency and openness, which is why we want to share our review methodology with you. It’s important to us that the standards and key features we value when reviewing online brokerages are here for all to see. 

It doesn’t matter whether you are at the beginning of your investing journey or you already know how to buy stocks using an online platform, choosing the right service provider is vital.

That’s why we made sure to include not only the industry’s largest players but also emerging brokerage companies.

To narrow down the list of the best providers, we used the following criteria:

Commissions & Fees

This is the most important feature we examine. After all, the commission model is crucial to traders - it’s how they make money. These costs used to be much higher, but in today’s market, strong competition has made it the perfect time to find an inexpensive yet trustworthy broker. 

Stock brokerage firms are now offering premium packages with discounted commission costs, either by directly cutting the costs by a fixed percentage or by doing so after a certain number of trades. These cuts might not seem much at first, but they can save an active trader thousands of dollars a year.

Trading Technology

While pricing and fees play a big part in how we rate online brokerage providers, the quality of the broker’s technology and research tools is the true foundation of our reviews. We believe that the true value of a brokerage lies in the quality of the product itself. 

The online broker account should not only be stable and have features like real-time streaming of prices and updates of buying power but also possess quality research capabilities.

As such, our reviews place great significance on technical strength, innovation, and versatility as we look for brokers that really stand above the rest.

Customer Experience

The quality of customer service and support is essential to how we rate all online stock trading companies you’ll find on our list.

We look for a user-friendly interface on both the desktop and mobile versions of the product, a smooth and stable experience, and support staff who are helpful and attentive when you need them. This is equally important to skilled customers as it is for beginner traders.

Companies that answer quickly have multiple contact options and knowledgeable staff get higher ratings, while those that offer a subpar service don’t rate as high.

Quick Breakdown

The Best Brokerage Accounts - 2023 Summary:

  • OANDA - No maintenance or transaction fees

  • Robinhood - Best for no fees

  • Moomoo - Best for advanced traders in need of powerful analytics

  • TD Ameritrade - Powerful mobile and desktop platforms
  • Fidelity Investments - Lowest prices on the market
  • Merrill Edge - Robust trading and research tools
  • E*Trade - Low per-trade commissions for active traders
  • Interactive Brokers - Lowest commission rates
  • Charles Schwab - Thousands of no-fee mutual funds
  • TradeStation - Best option for military personnel and first responders

Fortunly’s Guide to Online Brokerage

Before you decide to dive into the exciting world of online investing sites, we advise you to familiarize yourself with the concept and rules of internet brokerage.

Our detailed guide was created to provide everything you need to know, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced user seeking some nuggets of knowledge. So let’s begin. 

Opening a Brokerage Account

The process of starting your own online brokerage account is really quite simple. The whole thing takes about 10-15 minutes and will require personal information.

In addition to your basic personal data, the brokerage firm of your choice will most likely ask you for your bank account, Social Security number, and driver’s license or state ID card. 

This information is needed for funding your brokerage account, making sure that your year-end tax forms are correct, and in case the brokerage can’t confirm your identity through a database check.

Brokerage Account Options

Brokerage firms come in one of three forms. You will usually be asked to pick the type you want to open as you are signing up. 

Cash Account

The most common and most conservative of the three, a cash broker account has investors paying the full amount for any investment while not permitting any money borrowing from the broker or financial institution.

Cash accounts are sometimes set by the broker as an automatic choice for the customer, who can then upgrade the account to another type if requested. 

Cash accounts have their advantages, as investors who use them are never subject to a margin call within their account and thus avoid the risk of losing assets due to collateral rehypothecation.

This option is common for a reason, as it’s the surest way to protect you from potential financial disaster, which is why we recommend it for those just starting their journey into the investment world.

Margin Account 

For more experienced customers or those who want to take bigger risks, margin stock accounts are the ideal choice, as they can bring you serious profit. However, by letting you use borrowed money to invest, typically up to 50% of the investment value, these high-risk accounts may lead to substantial financial loss. 

Therefore, beginners should be wary, seeing as numerous inexperienced investors have lost money due to their inadequate grasp of a volatile market.

Discretionary Account

Sometimes referred to as a managed account, this option allows authorized stock brokers to buy and sell securities without the client’s consent for each trade. These accounts are most commonly used by people who hire a registered investment advisor to manage their portfolios for them.

Thanks to AI advisors, discretionary accounts are becoming more and more popular. 

There are certain advantages to having a managed account that allows you to execute trades quickly, but they can be risky as there’s the possibility of negative performance. Discretionary accounts are also more expensive and have higher fees than other account types.

Types of Internet Brokers

Online stock brokers themselves are split into three groups, so it’s best to become acquainted with them. When choosing where to open a brokerage account, determining which category a brokerage company belongs to can only be helpful. 

Full-Service Brokerages

A good choice for those who are just starting their investment journey, full-service brokers are licensed broker-dealer firms that provide a variety of services and tools to clients. 

Because full-service brokers provide guidance, expertise, and advice on things like investing and retirement planning, they are also the most expensive option on the market. Generally, the top companies charge 1-2% on the assets managed while also charging annual maintenance fees, which can add up in the long run.

Discount Brokerages

For those with more experience and less need for investment advice, discount brokers represent a much cheaper, less service-oriented option.

Some of these brokerages provide superior investing tools and charge higher fees, but in general, you won’t have access to investment advice, research, retirement, estate, and tax planning. 

However, each order to buy or sell will cost just a fraction of what you would have to pay to a full-service broker, making it possible for almost anyone to gain access to the stock market.

This was previously unattainable for anyone who wasn’t wealthy enough to afford a broker, but the internet has allowed even individuals with smaller capital to trade. Discount brokerages have since become synonymous with online brokerages, as most of them operate through online platforms.

Robo-Advisors

The latest advances in technology have made stock trading for beginners and experienced users alike much easier, as robo-advisors can be a great choice for almost anyone

Robo-advisors can automatically select investments and build diversified portfolios, with some even automatically making trades to help reduce your tax bill through a process called tax-loss harvesting. What’s more, they minimize possible mistakes that are common when using other types of online brokerage services.

The fees for using a robo-advisor are also quite reasonable and can be structured as a fixed monthly fee or as a percentage of assets. A typical fixed monthly fee ranges from $15 to $200 per month depending on portfolio size, while annual fees for a percentage of assets structure are between 0.15% and 0.50% of your account. 

You also pay expenses associated with the investments used by the robo-advisors, like mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are online brokers safe?

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While there is still a prevalent belief that online stock broking is somehow less safe than offline stock trade, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The leading brokers have a lot to lose if even a single hole appears in their security, which is why industry leaders now use high-end 128-bit encryption to protect user data and privacy. 

This is the highest level of security currently allowed by US law, and it makes the theft of information virtually impossible.

What’s more, online brokerage companies employ a range of methods to further increase security, like using secured servers and sorting data behind monitored firewalls. There is also a two-step authentication option that is often found among industry leaders. Additionally, the automatic logout feature logs you out after 10 minutes of inactivity. 

To feel even safer, make sure you always use the services of a firm insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which provides up to $500,000 of coverage. 

What are the risks of online stock trading?

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Even though online brokerage is generally safe, there are certain risks that everyone should be aware of. The most common is probably identity theft, as there is always the potential for someone to compromise your information and your assets, whether they are a friend or a stranger. 

This is also an important issue because of the increasing number of data breaches, as financial institutions are the primary target of serious attacks.

On a personal level, it’s key to understand that your device or the computer you’re using your online broker service from needs to be as clean and as safe as possible. Viruses and malware can install spyware on them and allow scammers to gain access to your personal information by tracking your keystrokes. 

The other way these fraudsters target consumers is through phishing scams. You can receive a convincing-looking email from what appears to be your broker but is, in fact, just a copy that redirects you to a website designed to steal your login data. To be safe, make sure to read your emails carefully and look for suspicious signs that may indicate it is, in fact, a fake.

What is the best online brokerage?

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The competition among online brokers has never been this fierce, which means that the market selection is more packed than ever. Different online brokerage companies provide diverse types of services, which means that picking the one best suited to you is a highly subjective experience. 

Some providers like TD Ameritrade may be better suited for beginners, while others like Interactive Brokers may be better for those focusing on international trading. Our advice is to stay informed about the market and go with the online brokerage that will be of the best service to you, whatever your goals are.

Is investing in the stock market worth it?

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There are certainly many potential pitfalls in online trading, but that’s not to say that it’s not worth it. On the contrary, investing is the perfect way to diversify your income, and an educated investor can ensure that their financial situation remains healthy for a long time. 

How do beginners invest in stocks with little money?

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The stock market of the 21st century has never been as affordable as it is today. Thanks to growing competition and the advance of technology, many of the best online brokerage accounts come with low trading fees and plenty of consumer-oriented discounts and benefits. 

That’s why it is now incredibly easy to invest in stocks, even as a beginner with a low budget and not much in your savings account. 

If you’re just getting started, we recommend you invest in stocks or exchange-traded funds. Unlike mutual funds, where you usually need at least $1,000 before you can open an account, ETF and stock trading only requires a few dollars to get started.