Other brokers tested
In addition to our top five trading platforms for banking in 2024, we reviewed 12 others: Charles Schwab, eToro, Fidelity, Firstrade, Interactive Brokers, TD Ameritrade, TradeStation, Tradier, Robinhood, Vanguard, tastytrade, and Webull. To dive deeper, read our reviews.
Is a brokerage account the same as a bank account?
No. A brokerage account is used to buy and sell securities (stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, and other assets) and is SIPC insured, protecting up to $500,000 per customer, of which $250,000 can be cash. Many brokers offer “bank-like” services in their brokerage accounts, but they operate a bit differently under the hood than traditional bank accounts.
A true bank account is used for banking (e.g., savings, checking, bill payments) and is FDIC insured, providing up to $250,000 in protection per individual. Some brokers can automatically roll your cash balances into several banks to provide more FDIC insurance coverage beyond the individual bank limit of $250,000, which is crafty, but perfectly legal.
StockBrokers.com co-founder Blain Reinkensmeyer breaks down how a bank-brokerage works.
Which bank broker is best?
Merrill Edge, part of Bank of America, is the best broker for banking services in our annual review of stockbrokers. Whether you’re a student or an entrepreneur bringing your stock public, Bank of America and its subsidiaries offer solid resources. Aside from the industry standard $0 stock and exchange-traded fund (ETF) commissions, Merrill Edge has 3,900 retail locations and seamless universal account management. Higher- balance savers and investors will appreciate its Preferred Rewards program, which offers the best rewards of any bank broker we tested.
What is a bank brokerage?
A bank broker provides both banking services (FDIC insured) as well as stock brokerage services (SIPC protected). This combination allows you to easily move money between accounts and consolidate your finances with a single provider. Besides investing capabilities, when you open a bank brokerage account you have the benefits of a brokerage checking account and other banking capabilities, such as money transfers and debit cards.
What is a brokerage account at a bank?
A brokerage account at a bank allows you to invest where you take care of traditional banking transactions, like taking out a car loan or paying bills. Financial services holding companies such as JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America can own both FDIC-insured banks and security brokers, which have different rules and different regulators than banks. Bank-owned brokers usually make it very simple to bank and invest at the same firm.
What banks offer brokerage accounts?
Many of the largest banks in the U.S. offer online brokerage accounts through their brokerage subsidiaries. For example, Bank of America offers online investing through Merrill Edge, Chase Bank lets you manage your portfolio at J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing, and Ally offers online investments through Ally. All of these brokers let you sign on with one login and password.
Which bank has the best brokerage account?
Based on our research, Bank of America has the best bank-brokerage account offering, via Merrill Edge. Merrill Edge offers $0 stock and ETF trades, excellent bank-broker universal account management, the best rewards program of the bank-brokerages we analyzed, and outstanding customer service.
Can you use a brokerage account as a checking account?
Yes, a brokerage checking account typically allows you to write and deposit checks. There are a number of banks with brokerage accounts offered that provide checkwriting capabilities. Check to see if there are fees associated with how you intend to use the account.
More details: If you decide to write checks from your brokerage account, be sure to monitor your account balance to maintain a proper cash allocation. Some brokers can link your checkwriting to borrowing on margin. The good news is that you can access cash very quickly if you need it and, because your investments are collateral for the loan, the interest rates can be much lower than credit cards.
The bad news is that margin is a loan that has to be repaid. Just as it can be easy to max out a credit card, it can also be easy to spend down your investment account. Always monitor your checkwriting on a margin account. Most brokers offer instant transfers between accounts for convenience.
What is the difference between a brokerage account and a cash management account?
Think of a cash management account as a brokerage account with a debit card. The cash management feature enables you to use a debit card to spend any uninvested cash in your brokerage account. Your debit card can be used for everyday purchases such as groceries, dining, entertainment, and leisure. As always, be careful not to spend money you don’t have.
Is a brokerage account better than a bank account?
One is not better than the other; they are simply different vehicles for your money. A brokerage account is necessary for investing and trading in stocks, ETFs, options and futures, whereas a bank account is meant for handling your day-to-day saving and spending. Banks are slightly safer than brokerages because of gold-plated FDIC insurance, but the risk of a U.S.-regulated broker going under is low, and it’s even less likely you won’t be made whole in the event of a brokerage failure.
Is a brokerage account safer than a bank account?
Both your brokerage account and your bank account typically carry insurance, the former through the SIPC and the latter through the FDIC. In that sense, both are safe. But investing or trading through a brokerage account carries market risk: Losses due to market movement are not protected by insurance.
Can I buy stocks through my bank?
Banks do not offer the ability to buy and sell stocks in checking or savings accounts. However, many large bank holding companies have a brokerage arm through which they offer online trading. For example, Bank of America offers trading through its discount brokerage, Merrill Edge, as does Chase through its wholly-owned J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing.
Can I get a debit card for my brokerage account?
Brokerages that offer banking services often include use of a debit card with your associated banking product, such as a cash management account or checking account. Our top pick this year among brokerages with banking services is Merrill Edge, which is affiliated with Bank of America and offers B of A's full suite of bank accounts and features.
Which brokerages have debit cards?
Two highly rated bank-owned brokers, Merrill Edge and E*TRADE, offer debit cards and don’t require an account at their bank. Though not owned by banks, the brokerages Fidelity, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Interactive Brokers, Robinhood, Vanguard, eToro and Firstrade offer debit cards. Firstrade requires a $20,000 minimum.
Can you buy stocks with a debit card?
No, you cannot use a debit card to buy stocks, at least not directly. Some brokers will allow you to use a debit card to fund your account with cash; then you can buy stock within the account. We don’t recommend choosing a broker based on whether it accepts debit card funds, because almost all will accept ACH deposits, which only require your checking account and routing numbers.
Bank Broker Pricing and Features Comparison
Broker Banking Features List
On a feature by feature basis, our top five finishers this year offer a combination of the following features to their banking customers.
|Member of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) - fdic.gov.
|Offers formal checking accounts and checking services. To qualify, checking services must be marketed on the website as a client service. Basic checking through the clearing firm does not count.
|Offers savings accounts.
|Offers debit cards as part of a formal banking service.
|Offers credit cards.
|Offers mortgage loans.
|Mobile Check Deposit
|Check deposits can be made through the mobile app.
|Online Bill Pay
|Ability for clients to add and pay bills using the website.
|Mobile Bill Pay
|Ability for clients to add and pay bills using the mobile app.
|ATM Fee Reimbursement
|Are debit card ATM fees reimbursed?
|No Fee Banking
|Offers no fee banking. Requirements: no minimum balance required, no monthly maintenance fees, no debit card fees, no annual fees.
|Total retail locations. Company HQ or similar corporate offices do not count. Must be a formally branded, publicly accessible branch office marketed on the public website.
StockBrokers.com 2024 Overall Ranking
Here are the Overall rankings for the 17 online brokers whose offerings we analyze and test, sorted by Overall ranking.
Popular stock broker reviews
At StockBrokers.com, our evaluations of online brokers and their products and services are based on our collected quantitative data as well as the qualitative observations and qualified opinions of our expert researchers. Thousands of data points are collected and used to score U.S. brokers and their offerings.
As a rapidly expanding area of brokerage services, banking features have grown in importance to stock traders who value ease of money transfer and keeping their investing and banking under one roof. Our research team evaluates each broker’s offerings, such as cash management tools, debit cards and credit cards, traditional bank accounts, mobile deposits, no-fee banking and branch accessibility. Additionally, we evaluate the commissions and fees charged by the brokerage for many popular features. In total, we evaluate more than 200 variables for each broker.
As part of our process, all brokers had the annual opportunity to provide updates and key milestones and complete an in-depth data profile, which we hand-checked for accuracy. Brokers also were offered the opportunity to provide executive time for an annual update meeting.
Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test. All research, writing and data collection at StockBrokers.com is done by humans, for humans. Read our generative AI policy here.
About the Editorial Team
1 Fidelity Sell orders are subject to an activity assessment fee from $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of principal. Options trading entails significant risk and is not appropriate for all investors. Certain complex options strategies carry additional risk. Before trading options, please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options. Supporting documentation for any claims, if applicable, will be furnished upon request.
Disclosure: *The $4,000 bonus offer is available with a $500,000 to $999,999 deposit. Visit info.tastytrade.com/tasty-offer for full details, terms, conditions, and restrictions. Offer expires 03/31/2024. tastytrade, Inc. is a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA, NFA, and SIPC.
*Webull Disclaimer View Disclaimer.
Securities trading offered by eToro USA Securities, Inc. (“the BD”), member of FINRA and SIPC. Cryptocurrency offered by eToro USA LLC (“the MSB”) (NMLS: 1769299) and is not FDIC or SIPC insured. Investing involves risk, and content is provided for educational purposes only, does not imply a recommendation, and is not a guarantee of future performance. StockBrokers.com is not an affiliate and may be compensated if you access certain products or services offered by the MSB and/or the BD.