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Best Bank Brokerages of June 2024

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT

Written by Sam Levine, CFA, CMT
Edited by Carolyn Kimball
Fact-checked by Steven Hatzakis
Reviewed by Blain Reinkensmeyer

March 20, 2024

I have to juggle usernames and passwords for accounts with probably two dozen financial services firms because I test them for a living. But, lucky you, you can keep all your finances with one or two firms if you want. I am jelly, dear reader. Very, very jelly.

To determine which online brokerage offers the best bank broker experience, I evaluated and tested (when appropriate) cash management tools across 17 brokers, starting with traditional banking products — e.g., checking accounts, savings accounts, debit cards, credit cards, and mortgages. Then I looked for other features such as mobile check deposit, debit card ATM fee reimbursement, no-fee banking, and access to local branch offices. Here are my findings.

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Best Bank Brokerages

Here are the best online brokers for banking services in 2024.

Merrill Edge
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best overall

Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.65

Merrill Edge, part of Bank of America, kept up its yearslong streak as our top pick for brokerages with banking services for 2024, thanks to $0 trades, thousands of retail locations, seamless universal account management and its Preferred Rewards program, which offers the best rewards of any bank broker we tested. Read full review

Pros
  • Portfolio Story, Dynamic Insights, and the Stock and Fund Stories are groundbreaking features
  • High-quality proprietary research
Cons
  • Some site elements slow to load
  • No crypto, futures, forex or penny stocks
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

Best financial planning tool

Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.65

J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing’s all-in-one platform makes money and asset management simple and straightforward for customers of Chase Bank, the largest bank in the U.S. Multi-account benefits include instant transfers, mobile check deposit, universal login and high-quality proprietary J.P. Morgan research. Read full review

Pros
  • Among our best brokers for banking services
  • Multi-account benefits
  • Mobile app provides clean access to investing, education and market news
Cons
  • Platforms are very basic
  • Educational content is hard to browse
Visit Site

Get up to $700 when you open and fund.

Ally Invest
4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

Best for starting out

Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.50

Among the bank and brokerage combinations, Ally shines and competes with the best in the industry. As with Merrill Edge, bank and brokerage accounts are managed under one login, and transferring money between accounts is a breeze. Read full review

Pros
  • Excellent banking via Ally Bank
  • Universal account management
  • $0 stock and ETF trades alongside a $0 minimum deposit
Cons
  • Trails industry leaders in areas including platforms, tools, research, and education
SoFi Invest
3.5/5 Stars 3.5 Overall

Best for social investing

Minimum Deposit$5.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.00

SoFi offers a wide range of banking services, including personal loans, home loans and the company’s flagship student loans, as well as credit cards and a cash management account that can be linked to a SoFi Invest account for funding. Read full review

Pros
  • Many popular investment options
  • Low margin rates
  • Strong crypto game
Cons
  • No open-end funds or individual bonds
  • Charts are very basic
  • Limited educational content
Visit Site

Get yourself up to $1,000 in stock.

E*TRADE
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best for beginner traders

Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.65

Though its features trail those of leader Merrill Edge, E*TRADE offers essential banking services with 29 branch office locations across the U.S. Banking services include checking accounts with no ATM fees, high-yield savings accounts, and debit cards. Read full review

Pros
  • Watch lists are the best in the business
  • Smooth mobile navigation
  • High-quality high-net-worth Morgan Stanley proprietary research
Cons
  • Cryptocurrencies not currently available
  • Margin rates are high compared to other brokers

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Winners Summary

Best overall - Merrill Edge/Bank of America

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
Merrill Edge logoMerrill Edge $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Read Review

Merrill Edge, a business unit of Bank of America, is my numero uno fave for brokerages with banking services for 2024, thanks to $0 trades, thousands of retail locations, seamless universal account management and a compelling Preferred Rewards program. Read review.

Bank of America Preferred Rewards tiers

Merrill Edge broker research

Best financial planning tool - J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing/Chase Bank

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing logoJ.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Get up to $700 when you open and fund. Visit Site

J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing’s all-in-one platform makes money and asset management simple and straightforward for customers of Chase Bank, the largest bank in the U.S. Multi-account benefits include instant transfers, mobile check deposit, universal login and high-quality proprietary J.P. Morgan research. It also won our 2024 Best New Tool for its Wealth Plan feature, which helps clients prioritize financial goals and put together a budget and investing plan to achieve them. I took a deep dive into Wealth Plan’s underlying assumptions and am impressed with the care put into building it. Read review.

J.P. Morgan broker research

Best for starting out - Ally Invest/Ally Bank

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
Ally Invest logoAlly Invest $0.00 $0.00 $0.50 Read Review

Among the bank and brokerage combinations, Ally shines and competes with the best in the industry. As with Merrill Edge, bank and brokerage accounts are managed under one login, and transferring money between accounts is a breeze. Ally's high-yield savings account is a historically strong one, too, with clever tools to encourage saving. Read review.

Ally Invest broker research

Bank Broker Pricing and Features Comparison

Here's a pricing and features comparison of the best bank brokers side by side. To compare brokers in other areas, see our online brokerage comparison tool.

Feature Merrill Edge logoMerrill Edge J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing logoJ.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing Ally Invest logoAlly Invest SoFi Invest logoSoFi Invest E*TRADE logoE*TRADE
Minimum Deposit $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $5.00 $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
ETF Trade Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Mutual Fund Trade Fee Varies info $0 $0.00 $0 $0.00
Options (Base Fee) $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.65 $0.65 $0.50 $0.00 $0.65
Futures (Per Contract) (Not offered) (Not offered) (Not offered) $0.00 $1.50
Broker Assisted Trade Fee $29.95 Varies $20 N/A $25
Visit Site Visit Site
Visit Site

Here is a comparison of the various banking products each broker offers.

Feature Merrill Edge logoMerrill Edge J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing logoJ.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing Ally Invest logoAlly Invest SoFi Invest logoSoFi Invest E*TRADE logoE*TRADE
Bank (Member FDIC) info Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Checking Accounts info Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Savings Accounts info Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit Cards info Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Debit Cards info Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mortgage Loans info Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Visit Site Visit Site
Visit Site

FAQs

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, such as checking, bill pay, and debit cards, but assets in those accounts are not FDIC insured.

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.


StockBrokers.com co-founder Blain Reinkensmeyer breaks down how a bank-brokerage works.


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 J.P. 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 is a brokerage checking account?

A brokerage checking account typically allows you to write and deposit checks. There are a number of banks with brokerage accounts that provide check writing and/or debit cards. Check to see if there are fees associated with how you intend to use the account.

If you decide to write checks or charge from your brokerage account, be sure to monitor your account balance to maintain a proper cash allocation. Some brokers can link your check writing 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 spending.

What are the best banks with brokerage accounts?

Our testing and long personal experience puts Merrill Edge, a part of Bank of America, as the best broker/bank combo for clients who have roughly equal banking and brokerage needs. Chase, along with its J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing, is another fine choice. Chase has an innovative financial planning tool, Wealth Plan, that earned our Best New Tool award in 2024. Ally and its broker arm, Ally Invest, offer services and content that will appeal to savers and investors who are just getting started.

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 and other bank-like features. 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 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 FDIC insurance is considered a stronger guarantee than the industry-backed SIPC. Banks do not offer the ability to buy and sell stocks in checking or savings accounts, so, if you want to invest, you’ll have to open a broker account.

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 brokers accept ACH deposits, which is just as easy, and a few brokers give instant credit once the deposit is entered. Banks do not offer the ability to buy and sell stocks in checking or savings accounts.

Our Research

Why you should trust us

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT, the lead writer for StockBrokers.com, has over 30 years of investing experience and actively trades stocks, ETFs, options, futures, and options on futures. He's held roles as a portfolio manager, financial consultant, investment strategist and journalist. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) designations and served on the board of directors of the CMT Association.

Blain Reinkensmeyer, head of research at StockBrokers.com, has been investing and trading for over 25 years. After having placed over 2,000 trades in his late teens and early 20s, he became one of the first in digital media to review online brokerages. Blain created the original scoring rubric for StockBrokers.com and oversees all testing and rating methodologies.

For this guide:

  • Whenever possible, we used our own brokerage accounts for testing. For several brokers, we used a test account that was provided to us.
  • Whenever possible, we used our own brokerage accounts for testing. For several brokers, we used a test account that was provided to us.
  • We evaluated the availability of bank-like features in brokerage accounts.
  • We considered the size and services of banks associated with brokers that we actively test.
  • We considered firsthand experience with banks and their associated brokers.

How we tested

As a rapidly expanding area of brokerage services, banking features have grown in importance to investors 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.

StockBrokers.com uses a variety of computing devices to evaluate trading platforms. Our reviews were conducted using the following devices: iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, MacBook Pro M1 with 8 GB RAM running the current MacOS, and a Dell Vostro 5402 laptop i5 with 8 GB RAM running Windows 11 Pro. In testing platforms and apps, our reviewers place actual trades for a variety of instruments.

As part of our data check process, we sent a data profile link to each broker summarizing the data we had on file and the data they provided us last year, with a field for entering any data that had since changed. For the brokers that filled out these profiles, we audited the information for any discrepancies between our data and the broker’s data to ensure accuracy.

As part of our review process, all brokers had the opportunity to provide updates and key milestones in a live meeting that took place in the fall. Meetings with broker teams also took place throughout the year as new products rolled out. Insights gathered from these calls helped steer our testing efforts to ensure every feature and tool was assessed.

Trading platforms tested

We tested 17 online trading platforms for this guide:

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About the Editorial Team

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT
Sam Levine, CFA, CMT

Sam Levine has over 30 years of experience in the investing field as a portfolio manager, financial consultant, investment strategist and writer. He also taught investing as an adjunct professor of finance at Wayne State University. Sam holds the Chartered Financial Analyst and the Chartered Market Technician designations and is pursuing a master's in personal financial planning at the College for Financial Planning. Previously, he was a contributing editor at BetterInvesting Magazine and a contributor to The Penny Hoarder and other media outlets.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is managing editor for Reink Media and the lead editor for the StockBrokers.com Annual Review. Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.

Steven Hatzakis
Steven Hatzakis

Steven Hatzakis is the Global Director of Research for ForexBrokers.com. Steven previously served as an Editor for Finance Magnates, where he authored over 1,000 published articles about the online finance industry. Steven is an active fintech and crypto industry researcher and advises blockchain companies at the board level. Over the past 20 years, Steven has held numerous positions within the international forex markets, from writing to consulting to serving as a registered commodity futures representative.

Blain Reinkensmeyer
Blain Reinkensmeyer

Blain Reinkensmeyer has 20 years of trading experience with over 2,500 trades placed during that time. He heads research for all U.S.-based brokerages on StockBrokers.com and is respected by executives as the leading expert covering the online broker industry. Blain’s insights have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among other media outlets.

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