The StockBrokers.com annual review (9 years running) takes six months to complete and produces over 30,000 words of research each year. Here's how we test.
Investors seeking convenience can combine banking and brokerage to trade stocks and manage a checking account all under one roof. With features such as FDIC insurance, universal login, and mobile bill pay, the full-service brokerage industry has done a terrific job adding banking services to their offerings.
To determine which online broker is the best for banking, we dove in head first and explored all the potential services: checking accounts, savings accounts, debit cards, credit cards, and mortgages. We then looked at specialty offerings such as mobile check deposit, debit card ATM fee reimbursement, and no-fee banking. Lastly, the total number of branch offices was factored in, as access to local branch offices is just as important as managing an account online.
Best Brokers for Banking
Here's a breakdown of the best online brokers that offer banking services.
- Merrill Edge - Scored 99%, FDIC-insured banking
- Charles Schwab - Scored 94%, FDIC-insured banking
- Ally Invest - Scored 82%, FDIC-insured banking
- Fidelity - Scored 77%
- E*TRADE - Scored 76%, FDIC-insured banking
Best rewards program - Open Account
Current Offer: Invest in a new account and get up to $600.
Merrill Edge offers investors an excellent rewards program and a well-rounded package worth being a customer for, especially Bank of America clients. When it comes to banking and brokerage, Merrill Edge takes the crown. Read full review
Best for IRA accounts overall - Open Account
Current Offer: $4.95 online equity trades + $0.65 per options contract.
Among the bank and brokerage combinations in our annual review, Charles Schwab offers a full suite of services, and competes with the best in the industry. Read full review
Best for IRA accounts overall - Open Account
Special Offer: up to $3,500 cash bonus + 90 Days Commission-Free Trades
Among the bank and brokerage combinations, Ally shines and competes with the best in the industry. Ally’s high-yield savings account is easy to use and offers competitive annual yields above 2%. Also, Ally does not nickel and dime its customers; it embraces no-fee banking. Read full review
Scored 77% - Open Account
Exclusive Offer: Get 300 commission-free trades and 2 years to use them.
Customers who bank with Fidelity are not protected by FDIC insurance; however, the broker delivers a consistent and reliable experience. Read full review
Best Banking Services
It should be no surprise that our #1 choice is Merrill Edge, whose parent company is Bank of America. With a Financial Solutions Advisor (FSA) located in 2,167 out of a total 4,480 locations, Bank of America has, by far, the largest network.
Bank of America really shines with its rewards program, Preferred Rewards, which offers customers with certain account thresholds a range of benefits. The first tier, Gold, requires at least $20,000 in combined assets between Bank of America and Merrill Edge, while the top tier, Platinum Plus, requires at least $100,000 in total assets. Benefits include boosts to money-market savings, credit card cash back bonuses, free trades with Merrill Edge, and more. All in all, there isn’t a better marriage of brokerage and banking than Merrill Edge and Bank of America.
Together with our ranking, we present highlights from the rest of the full-service brokers. Fidelity has one of the best cash rewards credit cards on the market, with its 2% Fidelity Investment Rewards Visa Card. Of the remaining brokers, Charles Schwab is the only one to offer home mortgages. The list goes on and on.
When it comes to banking and brokers, the great news is that investors have multiple options from which to choose. Full-service brokerages generally do a very good job of catering to the specific needs of their customers, and provide a well-rounded offering. This is especially true for customers who already do their banking with Bank of America, Ally, or Chase; the move to add investing as an additional service is just a few clicks away.
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 FDIC||Member of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) - fdic.gov.|
|Checking Accounts||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.|
|Savings Accounts||Offers savings accounts.|
|Debit Cards||Offers debit cards as part of a formal banking service.|
|Credit Cards||Offers credit cards.|
|Mortgage Loans||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.|
|Retail Locations||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.|
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For the StockBrokers.com ninth annual review published in February 2019, a total of 4,544 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.
Participation is required to be included. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and provided executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. We take pride in StockBrokers.com data quality because it is 100% verified by the industry itself. As part of our process, we hand check and validate each data point to ensure its accuracy.
This 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.
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