The Best Online Stock Brokers For Beginners in 2023
You might have been dissuaded from investing in stocks. “Brokerage is not for everyone,” you might have told yourself. But, in today’s day and age, you should definitely start somewhere. That’s why there are so many companies nowadays dedicated to helping beginners dive into the exciting world of investing. There are tons of sites ready to educate you and give you the tools you need to start trading.
If you’re looking for online stock brokers for beginners, look no further! We have tested pretty much everything out there. In the years of trying out different types of platforms, we’ve come up with the ultimate list.
Top-Rated Stock Brokers for Beginners in October 2023
Online Stock Trading for Beginners: 2023 Summary
- M1 Finance - Automated investment process
Public.com - Fractional share investment opportunities
- Robinhood - Fee-free platform
- TD Ameritrade - Workshop & educational tools
- E-Trade Financial - Lower fees for regular traders
- Fidelity - No fees for a number of services
- Interactive Brokers - Best mobile platform
- Merrill Edge - Rewards program with great incentives
Acorns - Options for automated investing
Vanguard - Advanced trading technologies
Detailed Reviews of Online Stock Brokerages for Beginners
M1 Finance Review
Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.
M1 Finance is a Chicago-based financial service that has been in operation since 2015. The goal of M1 Finance founder, Brian Barnes, was to create an app that would make personal finances easier to manage. With that in mind, Barnes devised an all-in-one solution for portfolio building, money-management, and robo-advising. In other words, M1 Finance is a unique personal finance umbrella product.
M1 Finance combines automated investment features with other useful financial products. You will have both a checking and brokerage account, a tailor-made portfolio, as well as the option to borrow money using your securities as collateral and open a retirement account.
At the moment of writing our M1 Finance review, this company had over $5 billion in assets and more than 500,000 clients.
Commissions & Fees
M1 Finance doesn’t charge monthly maintenance or trading fees. When a client deposits or withdraws from their M1 bank account, they don’t need to pay any transaction fees. However, the minimum deposit amount is $100 ($500 for retirement accounts).
M1 Finance does charge regulatory fees, but they are nothing to worry about. For example, if you sell stocks or ETFs, you will need to pay a regulatory fee that’s usually only a couple of cents.
When it comes to other account fees, they are among the highest we’ve seen so far, unfortunately. For documents sent by domestic overnight mail, you will need to pay $125 per request, while for international overnight mail, the price per request is $100. For tax documents, you’ll be charged $50, and you’ll need to pay an inactivity fee of $20 if your account is inactive for 90 days or more.
After you open an account with M1 Finance, you’ll need to create an investment portfolio. Luckily, this process is streamlined, as your portfolio comes in the form of a pie with various security-based slices. The only thing you’ll need to do is deposit funds and section the pie any way you want it. Each portion represents a security you want to invest in, and can be anything from stocks to ETFs.
Once you set up your portfolio, M1 Finance will continue to manage it. The platform offers a fintech approach to trading, so you won’t need to do anything manually. In other words, the primary purpose of M1 Finance is to automate your trading according to your financial goals.
If you want to open an account at M1, go to the company’s website and tap on the “Get Started” button in the top-right corner of the screen. During the registration process, you’ll need to provide basic information, like your name, email, driver’s license number, etc. The company allows you to choose between individual and joint investment accounts. Also, you can opt for a margin account.
Depending on the type of mobile device you use, you can download the Android or iOS M1 Finance mobile app. The app is easy to use, even if you haven’t used similar products before. Alternatively, you can access your portfolio through a web browser.
If you don’t have time to build your investment portfolio manually, you will be content with what M1 Finance has to offer. You just need to create an account, download the app, deposit money, and create a pie-based portfolio.
Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.
Open to the Public Investing, Inc. is a registered broker dealer regulated by the SEC and FINRA. It offers protection on securities up to $500,000 (and $250,000 in cash claims).
With a wide selection of stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, alternative assets, and an option to invest in fractional shares, Public.com is an excellent option for first-time investors.
Commissions & Fees
If you decide to open your account with Public.com,you’ll appreciate the brokerage’s zero-commissions* on stocks and ETFs. Plus, if you’re transferring your account from another brokerage, a promotional cash bonus of up to $10,000 will apply, while any previously charged account fees will be reimbursed**. Public will cover transfer fees on account transfers of above $500.
Public.com doesn’t charge commissions on trading stocks and ETFs during regular market hours (from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST), while trading after hours will cost you $2.99 (without a Premium account). Even though the platform doesn’t charge a commission fee for cryptocurrency trading, crypto enthusiasts will have to pay a 1% to 2% markup on each transaction, a standard in the industry. Trading alternative assets will cost you 2.5% per transaction***. On the plus side, Public.com doesn’t participate in the payment-for-order-flow business model, which means it doesn’t work with market makers and other third parties to profit off your trades.
Public.com doesn’t have any account minimums or maintenance fees. However, it charges a $5 inactivity fee every six months, an SEC regulatory fee of $5.10 per $1 million on sell transactions, and fees for domestic wire transfers, outgoing ACAT, and other services***.
Public.com offers its Premium account for $10 per month. Account holders get Morningstar-powered research access, analytics, and market metrics, and don’t have to pay for trading during extended hours (8:00 a.m. EST - 9:29:59 a.m. EST and 4:00:01 p.m. EST - 8:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.
Investors looking for a mobile-first brokerage will be thrilled to know that Public.com has one of the top trading apps on the market. The user-friendly platform is available for both Android and iOS devices, while the web-based platform can be accessed from any browser.
Once you open your account, you’ll get access to over 9,000 ETFs and stocks, 25-plus cryptocurrencies, and a list of collectibles and fine artworks, with fractional investment opportunities. Public.com is also planning to add music royalties, real estate, and more alternative assets to its offering in the future.
If you go Premium, you’ll be able to segment your portfolio into custom groups and compare how each is performing, set price alerts so you can take immediate action when an asset reaches your goal price, and partake in Town Hall Q&As with industry giants, allowing you to learn the ropes much faster.
The company also allows recurring crypto investment, enabling you to set up weekly, biweekly, or monthly deposits. Finally, you can access ESG scores, revenue segmentation, and detailed reports from experienced financial experts and improve your investment strategies for Premium members only.
Although the company is fairly new to the industry, it has managed to put together a comprehensive customer service support package with a team of FINRA-associated specialists. The company’s FAQ and Learn sections are very detailed and informative, while the support email is active and responsive.
If you need urgent assistance, Public.com will review your questions through in-app or web chat. You can also seek support through Instagram and Twitter.
Public also produces daily live shows where you can tune in and learn about the latest market trends, investing strategies, and financial education.
Public.com is a commission-free* social investment platform that offers trading via its robust mobile app or the web. It’s a great choice for those looking for an easy-to-use platform with no account minimums.
You can trade stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, and alternative assets at a relatively low cost***. The company also allows fractional shares**** for those with limited capital. All in all, Public.com has everything you need to start investing.
- Fractional investing
- Alternative assets
- SEC- and FINRA-regulated
Disclosures: This does not constitute investment advice. Investing involves the risk of loss, including the potential loss of principal. Public.com launched in October 2019. Brokerage accounts opened on Public.com are held through the registered broker dealer, Open to the Public Investing, Inc. (Public), a member of FINRA and SIPC. Public provides brokerage services for US listed and registered securities only. Cryptocurrency trading on Public.com is conducted through Apex Crypto LLC(NMLS ID 1828849). Apex Crypto is licensed to engage in virtual currency business activity by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Brokerage services for alternative assets on Public.com are offered through Dalmore Group LLC, a registered broker dealer and a member FINRA and SIPC. Alternative assets and cryptocurrency investments are not covered by SIPC and are not held in a brokerage account.
Full terms, conditions and disclosures including fractional share disclosure and fee schedule at www.public.com/disclosures. New customers of Public receive free stock valued between $3 - $1,000 (0.3% receive the maximum value).
*$0 commission applies to US-listed securities trading during regular market hours.
**Full terms and conditions of the offer at public.com/transfer-account. For a breakdown of all fees, see Public’s Fee Schedule at public.com/disclosures/fee-schedule
***For a breakdown of all fees, see Public’s Fee Schedule at public.com/disclosures/fee-schedule
****Fractional shares are illiquid outside of Public and not transferable. For a complete explanation of conditions, restrictions and limitations associated with fractional shares, see Public.com’s Fractional Share Disclosure.
Fortunly's Rating: Our editorial team determines the rating based on a set of evaluation criteria developed for each product and service category.
Acorns is a company with a decade long experience in the field of investing, as it was founded in 2012. Its easy-to-use platforms for desktop and mobile are well-suited for beginner online trading. What’s more, Acorns’ educational resources explain all the basics of stock trading and include other relevant topics.
The platform offers a $5 referral bonus for those who get a friend to sign up. There are also offers and rewards that are frequently updated.
Commissions & Fees
Acorns doesn’t charge any commissions for trading stocks and bonds, which makes it one of the best online stock brokers for beginners. However, you do have to subscribe to a plan to be able to open an account. There is no minimum amount to open an account, but keep in mind that, in order to start investing, you should have a minimum balance of $5.
There are two pricing tiers, Personal and Family. The Personal plan costs $3 per month, while if you opt for the Family plan, you’ll need to pay $5 on a monthly basis. The Personal bundle lets you open an investment account and a retirement account, while the Family option includes an early investment account for children, as well.
Acorns enables its users to invest in ETFs (stocks and bonds). Its main selling point is that the platform allows you to automate your investing and build savings. To start your beginner’s online investing, you may use their web-based platform. For those who are keen on trading on the go, there is an Acorns native mobile app, available for both iOS and Android.
Options that let you automate the investing process include the round-up feature, round-up multiplier, and recurring investment option.
If you turn on the round-up option, when you make a purchase with the card you linked, Acorns rounds up the amount you spent, and that difference gets invested. For example, let’s say you spent $1.7 on a chocolate bar. Acorns would round that up to $2, and in that case, you’d have invested $0.3 automatically.
Round-up multiplier works on that same principle. The only difference is that you set how many times you want the spare change to be multiplied. You may multiply it two, three, or ten times.
Finally, the recurring investments feature allows you to choose the amount you would like to invest and how frequently. You get to choose if you want to make daily, monthly, or weekly investments.
Acorns’ investing platforms for beginners, both for desktop and mobile, provide a seamless user experience owing to an extremely intuitive user interface.
The Acorns’ knowledgable and helpful customer support is easily reachable through the live chat available on the website. There’s also a comprehensive FAQ section and educational content that will help you find what you’re looking for.
All in all, Acorns enables you to open investing accounts suitable for beginners. The easy-to-use and elegantly designed platform makes for a pleasant user experience. The features that make automated investing possible are great for those who lead busy lives but would still like to be consistent with their investment habits.
Launched in 2013, Robinhood is an online trading platform designed for people with a small budget who want to try their luck on the stock market. Unlike most online brokerages, Robinhood doesn’t charge a trading commission.
In addition, Robinhood has an intuitive interface that makes the otherwise complicated trading experience more approachable for ordinary people. If you haven’t used similar platforms before, Robinhood is the right place to start. Many trading functions are automated and easy to use.
Thanks to its cost-free service and consumer-oriented platform, Robinhood has an extensive user network, mostly people in their 20s and 30s. At the moment of writing, over 13 million people were using Robinhood to trade traditional securities - stocks, options, gold, as well as various cryptocurrencies.
Commissions & Fees
As we already mentioned, Robinhood is a fee-free trading platform. You won’t pay anything to open an account and won’t incur any maintenance costs, either.
Moreover, you won’t be obligated to maintain a minimum account balance, nor pay any closing fees if you want to terminate your Robinhood account. Finally, unlike many other online brokerage services, Robinhood will not charge you inactivity fees.
As a cost-free trading service, Robinhood’s main advantage is that its price doesn’t change depending on the securities you choose to trade. Whether you want to buy or sell stocks or ETFs, Robinhood won’t charge you trading fees. Even options trading is commission-free at Robinhood, which is uncommon, to say the least. Usually, you would be required to pay fees for options trading, but Robinhood doesn’t charge for this service.
If you are keen on crypto trading, Robinhood is the right place for you. Again, there are no fees for those who want to buy, sell, or trade cryptocurrencies.
Robinhood doesn’t charge anything for ACH transfers, domestic or international wire transfers, and stop payments. One of the few fees that Robinhood does charge is for ACAT outgoing transfers, which cost $75. Other costs related to the platform’s services include domestic overnight check delivery ($20), domestic overnight mail ($20), and international overnight mail ($50).
Robinhood is a beginner-friendly platform, so many experienced traders will notice that some important trading tools are missing. For instance, you won’t be able to trade directly from the charts or set up order size. On the other hand, you will get all basic trading platform features, including stock quotes followed by charts, recent trading news, stop-limit orders, and similar.
Robinhood’s main imperfection is the lack of trading statistics. In the summer of 2020, the platform shut down its public feeds of the most popular securities. This was done under the guise of streamlining procedures.
However, considering the recent happenings connected to Robinhood’s trading restrictions and the lack of trading statistics for various markets, we can ask ourselves: “Is Robinhood acting in our best interest?” It seems that you will have to be the judge of that.
As we already mentioned, Robinhood’s main selling point is ease of use. The app is designed for small screens and has a game-like interface. Of course, you can also use its web-based platform and have the same investing experience as with the app.
Recently, the platform launched a new feature named “recurring investments.” With this feature, you can schedule automatic investments to repeat regularly. It is available for thousands of securities, but is primarily used for stocks and ETF trades.
Robinhood’s trading actions are simplified to suit beginners. However, if you still have problems with Robinhood’s trading platform, the site’s help section does offer plenty of resources that explain everything about the platform’s functions.
In our opinion, Robinhood is a good solution for first-time traders. Although the platform doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles its more advanced counterparts include, it still has all the essential features new traders need. On top of that, Robinhood is an excellent place to start if your budget is limited, as there are no costs for account maintenance or trading, whether it’s for stocks, ETFs, options, or cryptocurrencies.
However, BBB rates Robinhood with an F score, and there are many complaints caused by freezing clients’ trading for GameStop.
TD Ameritrade Review
TD Ameritrade has been around for decades, as it was established in 1975. This Omaha-based company is considered one of the best, if not the best, in the business. It is known for its easy-to-use online brokerage platform and hundreds of educational centers across the US. You simply can’t talk about trading stocks without mentioning TD Ameritrade. But, enough about its popularity, let’s see whether it’s a good choice for a beginner or not.
Commissions & Fees
TD Ameritrade may have been around since the last century, but its pricing has kept up with the times. This beginner broker features $0 fees on certain trades, a considerable shift from the previously pricy business model. Many wouldn’t even have regarded it as a good choice for beginners just a year ago.
So, what happened exactly? In the fourth quarter of 2019, its business model underwent a complete change. Today, a new trader can trade through TD Ameritrade without breaking the bank.
Let’s start with the most interesting stuff - its free services. Here there are no fees for ETF, option trades, and online stock, while the per-contract options fee is just $0.65. If you need a broker’s guidance, that bumps the price up to $25, while using the interactive assistant over the phone costs $5. Refreshing its business model has secured it a spot at the top among the best online stock brokers for beginners.
TD Ameritrade has been a leader among stock trading companies due to the powerful technology it uses for its services. Its best-known platform is Thinkorswim, previously a standalone platform that anyone could purchase a license for, but now an integral part of this online broker. Granted, it is on the more advanced side, providing hundreds upon hundreds of studies it can quickly produce for each chart or real-time data.
Beginners, don’t fret. There is a platform for you, too. The second platform is called TDAmeritrade.com, and it is, without a doubt, the best trading platform for beginners. It works as a gateway of sorts for a selection of third-party software like CRFA, Market Edge, Morningstar, as well as a portfolio tool with pre-built models. Of course, once you master this tool, you can hop on a more complex one without losing your work.
If you prefer smartphones over desktops and laptops, there are also apps for iOS and Android. These work on tablets, too, and even on smart watches, so you can quite literally take the app with you on a run. And the trading platform we mentioned before, Thinkorswim? It works on mobile devices, too, and takes full advantage of their touch screen capabilities.
Not only is TD Ameritrade dedicated to providing a world-class toolset, but it also educates its customers. On the website, you can engage with livestream seminars and presentations, read helpful articles, and test your knowledge with fun quizzes. Immersive courses teach you the fundamentals of online trading, with a deep dive into a variety of categories. You won’t have to follow a predetermined curriculum, instead choosing to learn exactly what you want, when you want.
Online lessons aren’t the only thing that makes this online broker best for beginners. A feature called PaperMoney works as a sort of sandbox for trying out the tools, using $100,000 in “practice funds” to go wild and explore different options and strategies. Best of all, this tool doesn’t even require an account since it’s available through the 60-day trial.
Don’t like the digital stuff and prefer a more in-person experience? There are nearly 300 education centers across the US where TD Ameritrade hosts panels, runs one-day crash courses called Market Drive, and organizes workshops where rookies can learn how to invest online.
Of course, this wouldn’t be the best stock trading site for beginners if it didn’t have amazing customer support. Whether you contact them via phone, email, chat, Facebook Messenger, or even Amazon Alexa, all of your inquiries will get a quick, precise answer or resolution. This is how great customer service should be.
TD Ameritrade continues to be the industry leader, not just for experienced and veteran traders but for beginners, too. One of the company’s decisions to drop certain fees to $0 proved highly successful. Education-wise, it’s unmatched and its world-class tools firmly place it at the number one spot on our list.
E*Trade, another top stock trading site for beginners, is one of the oldest trading companies in the United States, and the first of its kind to process electronic trades. For decades, E*Trade has led technology forward, always staying in the lead. Today, it is a company every respectable stock trader is familiar with. But how is it for an absolute beginner? Is the experience equally great? Let’s find out.
Commissions & Fees
This is, unsurprisingly, another big name company that entered the 2019 price war and came out victorious. Just like some of its competitors, E*Trade charges $0 on stock trading, ETF, equities, and options. However, there is a tiny ECN fee of $0.005 per share, a fee other online brokers have managed to avoid.
The good news is that the fee can be avoided if you trade during the market hours, even though that means putting some unneeded pressure on yourself. For options, there is a standard $0.65 per-contract fee, while trading penny stocks incurs a $6.95 fee.
If you become a regular trader, meaning you get $250,000 or more into your stock account or trade more than 30 times during a single quarter, E*Trade will lower the per-contract fee to $0.50. Beginner traders that are in it for options should definitely pick this site over the others.
The best online trading sites should be exactly that, websites, not apps that you spend way too long installing, setting up, and then finally giving up on after wasting your whole afternoon. E*Trade is completely web-based. If you have a device that connects to the internet, you’re all set and ready to buy stocks online.
The platform is called Power E*Trade, runs on HTML 5, and is compatible with both computers and smartphones. Even if you don’t use a native mobile app, the web one performs amazingly well and is actually a good choice for a beginner to learn on.
Although it’s mostly a beginner broker platform, Power E*Trade reveals a lot of powerful features once you scratch the surface. There are dozens of drawing tools, real-time screening options, support for custom grouping, and an integrated TradeLab tool for deep analytics and research. New traders are encouraged to explore the possibilities of this application and are never met with confusing or unfriendly interfaces.
There are even smiley faces representing risk/reward factors, followed by carefully selected key events. It’s effortless to get information at a glance with this kind of tool.
Another reason why E*Trade is among the best online stock brokers for beginners is how easy and fast it is to set up your account - it only takes four steps. Before you know it, you’ll have already prepared your strategy for trading and investing online.
While this process is streamlined, the site is somewhat lacking in explanations, especially in the ‘requirements’ section. For many, the mobile application is a better choice. It sports a modern design that’s easy to follow, and works with all kinds of Android and iOS devices.
Education-wise, E*Trade is setting a great example. Its video lessons and articles cover all topics imaginable. Looking for the best stocks for beginners? There’s an article on that. Stuck with creating custom views? A two-minute video lesson will help you out.
The company also organizes 12 free web seminars per month, providing even more opportunities to learn.
On the side of direct support for its customers, E*Trade offers all of the expected channels - email, phone, and live chat. Since you can’t run a stock brokerage without a presence on social media, the company can be reached through all of the popular platforms, too. For customers who invest a lot through their online brokerage account, the priority customer support option becomes available.
E*Trade is among the top stock brokers for beginners. Its no fee stock trading, amazing customer service, and sleek trading platform are all reasons why so many beginner traders choose this platform. Even better, once you’ve become an experienced trader, the tools and some extra features will prove beneficial. It’s a great broker all around.
Fidelity Investments carries a lot of badges on its chest, not just for being a top trading platform for beginners. It’s one of the oldest brokerages in the United States, having started computerized stock trading in 1984, but it’s also one of the biggest.
Today, there are more than 30 million people who trade stocks through Fidelity’s platform. It has always been a groundbreaker, so let’s see how it fares in modern times and, especially, after the recent price wars.
Commissions & Fees
So many users wouldn’t have stayed all these years with Fidelity if it wasn’t affordable. Another reason for investors to be happy with this firm is that it’s among the many beginner broker platforms that slashed their prices in early October 2019. Not only did it get rid of trading stock, options, and ETF fees, but it also lowered the costs for transfers and account closures.
But this is all standard now for different stock platforms. What sets Fidelity Investments apart is reducing costs for customers by not asking for any payments for order flow (PFOF) and even showing the improved price on eligible orders. Per-contract fee is at $0.65, though, so no competition there.
Fidelity is also good for cash management, something we see more and more among the best online stock brokers for beginners. If any money is left in your portfolio, the system automatically puts it into a high yielding asset.
The rate is 0.01%. The interest rate is as high as 1.58%, one of the highest in the industry. And the fee for broker-assisted trades is a bit higher than that of other companies, sitting at $32.95. Most companies set this price just under $30, so if you request this service often, it can rack up a much higher bill.
With so many years of experience under its belt, it comes as no surprise that Fidelity runs on a highly sophisticated platform. Many consider it one of the best online brokers for beginner stock traders looking for comprehensive research tools. The platform is web-based and can be connected to your Google Assistant to remind you about any portfolio updates.
Fidelity’s screeners are some of the best in the industry, combining ease of use with rich data display, while stock research can be done through nearly 20 third-party reports. We also recommend Fidelity Viewpoints as one of the best features of this platform, providing all the necessary market commentary.
Online investing is also streamlined through Active Trader Pro, a desktop platform for creating watch lists with 48 columns and managing portfolios with more than 160 studies and other tools. It’s the best trading platform for stocks, although it is free for only a year, but it will pay off quickly.
We also can’t forget traders who prefer having a mobile office. Fidelity’s mobile app is on par with the desktop one, providing almost the same level of customization and research, although it’s mostly practical for investors. Still, it’s a must if you decide to go with Fidelity Investments, proving to be a great addition to the big screen one.
Fidelity Investments combines a powerful platform with an easy-to-use interface. Its similar approach to educational tools makes this the best online stock broker when it comes to a customer’s learning process. It links with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and other voice-activated apps, so the experience is fun and fluid.
Of course, you can join an online seminar, learn through customized courses, or watch videos on specific topics. Tracking the progress of each lesson is easy with the provided roadmaps, so you always know exactly where you stand.
However, customer support is not available 24/7. Representatives are there for you Monday through Friday via phone and live chat, as well as in nearly 200 offices across the country.
Fidelity scores high in our beginner broker comparison for many reasons. The experience is just the tip of the iceberg, as the company proved time and time again that it can create feature-rich software, remain highly competitive in the current market, and plan for the future with the integration of voice assistants in its services. The elimination of certain fees is the cherry on top.
Interactive Brokers Review
Founded in 1978, Interactive Brokers is one of the best online stock trading places for experienced traders and beginners alike. This is a big international company connected to all electronic exchanges through its global network and regulated by the FCA and the SEC. With continual support for its trading tools and a price matching its competitors, the company has earned a top spot in this highly competitive market.
Commissions & Fees
Like the other platforms on this list, Interactive Brokers also reduced its fees for ETF and options to $0. It also recently introduced the IBKR Lite pricing plan aimed at beginner and casual traders that answers the question: “How can I buy stocks for free?”
This comes with unlimited free trades on US-based exchanges, and no inactivity and maintenance fees, while option trades cost as much as in the Professional plan. However, Lite account users won’t have access to the Trader Workstation, and instead will have to settle with the mobile app and website for trading - not a terrible downside to saving a lot of money.
If you upgrade your brokerage account to IBKR Pro, expect a $0.005 fee per share, with $1 or 1% of trade value as a minimal fee charged. But there are no limits on what and when you can trade, so it balances itself out. Once you manage to pass 300,000 traded shares in a month, the fees will drop significantly.
Customers looking for the best online stock broker for beginners will most likely be satisfied with the Lite plan and trade online through the website. That doesn’t mean the web app is inadequate. Quite contrary, it offers a plethora of analytics tools, especially for portfolios, as well as watchlist creation with real-time updates.
You can also get a debit card and pay your bills through this platform, so it doubles up in functionality without sacrificing much. Granted the research provider list is limited to 30; even the Pro plan barely sits at over a hundred, while competitors offer nearly double that number of providers.
Of course, if you want the best online broker, you’ll need to spend a little money for the Pro account. In turn, you’ll get access to the desktop version of Trader Workstation, which many consider to be the best choice for experienced traders. The application goes even further, with heatmaps, more real-time monitoring, and the ability to submit complex options. You can also set up notifications, so you won’t have to track everything at once.
On the mobile side of things, the same platform shows 50 columns, a news feed, charting, and scanners, also allowing preset creation for faster workflow. Additionally, you can request the robo-advisor, which does incur a small fee but provides even more options.
Compared to the best investing sites, Interactive Brokers lacks in user-friendliness and navigation ease. Beginners will have a hard time figuring out exactly how much they’ll get charged for certain services, and that’s not painting a particularly great picture. The mobile app is, therefore, a much better choice, as it’s easier to navigate and presents all the information in a clear format.
To learn about online investing, new users can create a demo account with $100,000 in virtual money. The virtual classroom includes webinars, online courses and short videos, as well as a glossary of terms.
Customer support is available 24/7 via phone, live chat, and email. Representatives respond fast to any beginner brokerage questions you might have. They speak several languages, and the waiting time is usually around one minute. The company doesn’t have any offices you can visit for in-person support, though.
With the introduction of IBKR Lite, what used to be perceived as an exclusive club for experienced traders is now more welcoming to rookies. Waving fees is exactly what Interactive Brokers needed to do to make a grand entrance last year alongside its amazing platform and mobile app.
Merrill Edge Review
Merrill Edge might be among the youngest brokerages we’re looking at today. Launched in 2010 as part of the Bank of America, it’s constantly evolving to keep its status as the best online brokerage firm. In fact, it’s undoubtedly one of the best stock brokers for beginners if you’re already a Bank of America client since opening and connecting the account will cost you absolutely nothing.
More than half a million traders joined the platform the moment it launched, and the user base kept growing. In recent years, Merrill Edge introduced some of the biggest changes, bringing in even more clients as a result.
Commissions & Fees
A Merrill Edge account, once again, will cost you $0 if you’re already with the Bank of America. But that’s not where the free stuff ends. This company joined other online brokers in the business during the late 2019 reforms and the biggest price war of the past decade.
That means the company has taken commissions out of the equation, introducing free unlimited trading of ETF, penny stocks, and equities. Per-contract options commission is now at the industry-standard rate of $0.65. If you need a broker’s assistance, this will cost you $29.95 per trade.
Another great incentive is the so-called Preferred Rewards program. This is beneficial if you have a Bank of America checking account, as it can reduce or even eliminate certain fees for Merrill investing, as well as other banking services. No other company in our online brokerage comparison offers such a program, so this is a big plus for Merrill.
There are conditions, though, as you’ll need to meet certain thresholds during three-month periods, with the minimum being a $20,000 average combined balance in the deposit account. But once you qualify, you can strive to reach higher tiers with even bigger gains.
Many consider Merrill Edge’s platform to be one of the best choices for beginner and intermediate traders. It’s called Merrill Edge MarketPro, or MEMP for short, and works as an active trader platform. In the past, many did not perceive it as the best place to buy stocks, due to some steep requirements new clients had to meet, as well as slower trade processing. But in the spring of 2020, the company opened up this app to all of its clients.
The MEMP application is highly customizable, with widgets and filters that let you sort all of the data to your liking. Merrill Edge even plans to introduce AI learning as a way to make everyday use even easier for its customers.
For traders who prefer mobile platforms, all of the features of the web version are available on the go. The integrated popular research tools make this one of the best investing websites available today. These tools include Lipper, Morningstar, Recognia, Trefis, and MSCI ESG.
Working with this platform is a treat. Everything is accessible and visually appealing, with interactive charts to boot. Creating watchlists couldn’t be simpler, so you can get a quick glance at your portfolio, with real-time updates. Compared to other web platforms, MEMP is leagues ahead.
Being a Bank of America company, Merrill Edge upholds high customer service standards. New traders love this platform for all the educational and planning tools that are included. Once you open your brokerage account for beginners, a question pops up - “How do you like to learn?” Then you can choose the expertise level, and the exact topic you’d like to learn more about.
While the company doesn’t organize livestreamed webinars or integrate discussion boards into its website, the toolbox it provides is still quite rich. You can choose to learn through short courses, read articles, watch videos, and finally test your knowledge in fun quizzes.
These are also available through the mobile app, so you can learn while you’re on vacation or on your daily commute.
Customer support is available 24/7 over the phone, email, and live chat, providing quick answers to any questions you might have. For the live chat option, wait times are usually under a minute, so even the most pressing matters get resolved in a flash. And don’t forget, this is part of Bank of America, after all. That means you can visit any of the 2,000 locations around the United States and get face-to-face support.
There’s no doubt Merrill Edge is one of the top stock brokers for beginners, providing an easy-to-use trading platform and slew of educational tools for users. With so many great incentives, especially for existing Bank of America customers, it’s easy to understand why so many people have put their trust in this company. It is truly one of the best choices for beginners, but is also useful for seasoned professionals.
Vanguard offers investing in mutual funds, ETFs, 401(k) plans, and more, all with lower fees and commissions than you would with other investment companies, due to the company’s business philosophy of providing best possible return on investment to their investors in the long run.
Commissions & Fees
Unlike other financial firms that charge hidden fees or offer complicated commission structures, Vanguard believes in full transparency. That’s why its fees are clear and easy to understand.
If you’re interested in investing and you’re looking for one of the most affordable online stock brokers, you should know that the average Vanguard mutual fund and ETF expense ratio is 83% lower in comparison to the industry average.
Vanguard also offers a $0 commission on trading stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs. Users can enjoy more than 160 mutual funds with no transaction fees and over 3,000 mutual funds from other providers.
All Vanguard brokerage and mutual fund accounts have a $20 annual fee. And if you wish to obtain expert advice and opt for the Vanguard Personal Advisor Service, be prepared to pay the annual fee that equals 0.30% of your assets. Vanguard also offers the Digital Advisor Service, with an annual fee of only 0.15% of assets under management.
For most mutual funds, the minimum investment is $3,000, while the minimum investment for Vanguard’s ETFs and individual securities is the price of one share.Trading
Vanguard offers a robust and reliable platform tailored for both novice and experienced traders. The platform's user interface is intuitively designed, ensuring a smooth navigation experience.
Vanguard offers a robust and reliable platform tailored for both novice and experienced traders.
The platform's user interface is intuitively designed, ensuring a smooth navigation experience.
Access to features like real-time market data and analytical tools and charts is essential for making informed trading decisions, and what's offered here is on par with what the industry leading online brokers have to offer.Additionally, Vanguard doesn't just stop at desktop accessibility; it extends its platform to mobile devices. With its full-featured mobile apps, traders can execute trades, monitor their portfolios, and access market insights on the go.
Beyond trading capabilities, Vanguard offers automated portfolio rebalancing. This feature ensures that your asset allocation remains aligned with your investment goals, without requiring manual intervention. The platform also delivers regular performance reports and market insights, enabling you to stay abreast of your investments and market trends.
Vanguard is dedicated to providing an excellent customer experience. From its award-winning customer service to its user-friendly platform, Vanguard goes above and beyond to make sure its clients are happy.
You can contact Vanguard's support team via phone or email. The website itself offers a comprehensive support center with FAQs and how-to guides.
With low fees, great customer service, and powerful trading technology, Vanguard has everything you need as a beginner stock broker.
Reasons to Buy
- Commission-free trading
- Great selection of mutual funds
- No-minimum accounts
What to Look For When Choosing Beginner Stock Brokers
Trading stocks used to be such a complicated matter. The lingo was hard to understand for beginners, the digital trading platforms looked incomprehensible to the untrained eye, not to mention how expensive the whole ordeal was.
For many years, brokerages took a hefty cut out of every transaction, every stock bought or sold, offering little incentive to the customer to stay with a company for a longer period.
But the industry did a 180 in October 2019, with companies launching a massive price war and, ultimately, benefiting the little guy. Today, it’s actually hard to determine which trading site is best for beginners as, at a glance, everyone is offering an equally good deal. Or are they? We’ve determined specific criteria for picking the top stock brokers. Here’s how we did it.
Short and sweet. Is the broker well-known? Have they been in the business long enough? Have they gathered a large customer base that’s been growing throughout the years? In a never ending sea of mediocre stockbrokers, the ones with either decades of experience or a lot of happy customers proved to be the best choice for experts and beginners alike.
Is “Free” Really Free?
Beginner brokerages should be affordable and be less of a monetary risk for the new user. As the trading itself is already daunting enough, a typical beginner will look for cheaper or, even better, free platforms to get their feet wet.
Luckily, thanks to the already mentioned price war, most platforms dropped some of their fees to $0, but some have gone a step further and reduced even more prices. Look for those kinds of deals, check for any of the expenses that might appear along the way, like tiny per-share costs that add up over time. If the site has a demo or test account, that’s even better.
Ease of Use and Available Tools
You’ve registered for your best brokerage account, so you expect the platform to be easy to understand, customizable, and available on desktop and mobile. Take a look at all the features, how many tools are available, but also what the beginner experience looks like.
Many brokers have introduced beginner-friendly versions of their popular apps or created better integration with popular services like Google Assistant. A good platform should therefore be versatile, but it should not overwhelm someone who has just gotten into stock trading. Offering an optimized mobile app is a big plus here.
It’s not only about getting a customer to start trading through investing platforms, but to help them learn and take on even bigger tasks. The best investment sites offer plenty of educational materials, from articles and videos to live and online seminars. What’s even better is if the learning tools can be tailored to the customer’s previous experience, with ways to track progress through each lesson, and finally, test their knowledge through quizzes.
Learning to trade stocks isn’t always smooth sailing. Therefore, online investment companies should be available to help you along the way. Email, phone support, and live chat are a must, but you should also check if the company has a social media presence. Finally, 24/7 support and longer working hours are a big plus. Not everyone’s nine-to-five workday is in the same time zone.
How We Evaluate Stock Brokerages for Beginners
Our policy is to be transparent about what we do and how we pick the services we write about. Therefore, we’ll be guiding you through our review methodology, pointing out key features that we look for when it comes to various stock brokers. Here are the three key criteria we take into account for our reviews of the best online brokerages for beginners:
Commissions & Fees
Everyone likes to save a pretty penny here and there. But traders want to earn some money for their services through commissions. This can be a hard balancing act, so we first take into account the beginner broker pricing model. Many firms are now undercutting each other to stay competitive, which in turn proves beneficial for new traders.
Sometimes the commission gets dropped to zero after a certain number of trades, or the customer can get a free brokerage account to try out the system. Whatever the case, it all serves to save quite a lot of money in the long run for the trader.
It’s not all about the money, though. If the service is feature-rich and runs on newer technology than its competitors, it still has better value than a poorly constructed but cheap platform. Of course, the best stock broker for beginners should check both of these boxes.
So, what makes online trading platforms good? A new trader would need a way to research and learn more about stocks, get real-time, or fast enough updates on prices, and the platform itself needs to be fast and run without a hitch. This is where we grade the technical strength of the platform along with ease of use and any additional, unique features.
A company that takes good care of its customers is always going to score high in our book. It may not be the cheapest stock trading platform, but if it treats its customers poorly we can’t recommend it with a clean conscience.
We look for companies with knowledgeable support teams and multiple contact options that don’t take too long to resolve customer issues or answer questions. The better the customer experience, the higher the rating.
What is the best online brokerage for beginners?
Many, including us, consider TD Ameritrade as the best possible option, whether you’re a beginner or have some experience with stock trading. This is a company with decades in the business, a highly developed trading toolset, and one of the rare ones that has education centers across the United States.
While it hasn’t done away with all of its fees, it’s obvious that your money goes to improving the service and towards developing your personal education in becoming a top stock trader. The platform is easy to use and customizable, and it works on smartphones. You can even get a free demo account with this option, so give it a shot.
What are the best online stock brokers?
Five companies proved themselves to be the absolute best in this business after the great price war in late 2019. These are TD Ameritrade, E*Trade, Fidelity, Merrill Edge, and Interactive Brokers. They all have $0 fees on trading stocks, ETF, and options, with minimal fees on other services that will not break the bank.
If you are looking for the best provider to help you learn how to buy stocks online, any of these stock trading platforms would be an excellent choice. Even if you’re an experienced trader, you’ll find plenty to like with any of these brokers.
What are the best stocks to buy right now?
Starting a portfolio today couldn’t be easier. Amazon, VISA, Microsoft, and Alphabet are the most obvious choice and, more importantly, they’re all very stable or on the rise.
Which online broker has the lowest fees?
There are many affordable stock brokers for beginners today. Compared to the situation from just a year ago, most of them can fall under the category of free or at least nearly free. All of the companies we have reviewed today don’t charge any fees for trading stocks, so it’s mostly a matter of choosing which has the tools that most suit your needs and experience.
What is the cheapest way to buy stock?
The pros in the business would most likely tell you to go DSPP, as in buy stocks directly by yourself. Of course, in order to do so, you have to possess a lot of experience to easily determine what to buy without the help of a broker. Or you can pick one of the best online stock brokers for beginners, use their highly sophisticated tools and mobile apps, and start trading like a pro.
Most of them don’t even cost a dime, so the risk factors are very low, not to mention you’ll end up learning more through a platform like that than just jumping into the pool full of sharks.