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Best Brokers for Free Stock Trading of April 2024

March 18, 2024

When it comes to free stock trading in 2024, investors need to look beyond the price of stock and ETF trades. Why? Because all brokers offer free trades.

Where brokerages differ is in their services, tools, investor support, and what they charge for additional features beyond simply buying and selling stocks without paying a commission. Some brokers lack quality investor education, a great trading platform or robust market research. Most brokers also accept payment for order flow, or PFOF, a hidden fee that generates over $1 billion each year in profits for the industry.

For our guide, we used and scored 17 online brokers that offer free trading. To assess each platform, we tested well over 100 features and broke down a mountain of miscellaneous account fees. We evaluated brokers for their ease of use, the quality of research and news provided, and the design of their mobile app, website and, if offered, downloadable trading platforms.

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Since 2009, we've helped over 20 million visitors research, compare, and choose an online broker. Our writers have collectively placed thousands of trades over their careers. Here's how we test.

Best Brokers for Free Stock Trading 2024

Here's a breakdown of the best online brokers for free trading.

  • Interactive Brokers
    - Best for free stock trading
  • Charles Schwab - Best platforms and tools
  • Fidelity
    - Best for most stock investors
  • Merrill Edge - Best user experience
  • E*TRADE
    - Best dedicated trading app
Interactive Brokers
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best for free stock trading

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

Traditionally known for its leading offering of platforms, tools, and pricing for professionals, Interactive Brokers has made significant strides in recent years and today also appeals to casual investors, thanks to $0 trades and its Client Portal web platform. Read full review

Pros
  • Astounding array of customizable tools
  • Allows trading in foreign markets
  • Convenient apps for individual investors
Cons
  • Restrictive trading permissions
  • Main platforms might feel cold
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New clients, special margin rates.

Charles Schwab
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best platforms and tools

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

Charles Schwab delivers $0 trades, fantastic trading platforms (including thinkorswim, following its acquisition of TD Ameritrade), excellent market research and industry-leading education for beginners. Read full review

Pros
  • TD Ameritrade’s excellent thinkorswim trading platforms now available
  • Trading-friendly app and browser enhancements
  • Exceptional high net worth services
Cons
  • No cryptocurrency trading
  • Mutual fund fees are complex
Fidelity
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best for most stock investors

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

Fidelity offers $0 trades while not accepting payment for order flow, or PFOF, which guarantees customers get the best price on every stock and ETF trade. Pricing aside, Fidelity offers industry-leading research, excellent trading tools and a feature-rich trading app built for everyday investors. Read full review

Pros
  • Excellent research and mobile app
  • Top-notch education
  • Decades of reliable client service
Cons
  • No dedicated mobile app for active trading
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Trade at Fidelity. 1

Merrill Edge
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best user experience

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

Merrill Edge offers customers a well-rounded offering. Investors will appreciate the broker’s $0 trades, robust research and reliable customer service. Some tools, such as Stock Stories, are game changers, and the banking rewards system through parent Bank of America is the best we’ve seen. 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
E*TRADE
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best dedicated trading app

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

E*TRADE provides a well-rounded offering that will satisfy the majority of investors. Regardless of your investing style, E*TRADE is a reliable, full-service broker. Regular stock and ETF trades are $0 and option trades run $0 + $0.65 per contract. 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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Open and fund & get up to $1,000.

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Winners Summary

Best for free stock trading - Interactive Brokers

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
Interactive Brokers logoInteractive Brokers $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 New clients, special margin rates. Visit Site

Interactive Brokers has long been known for its attractive pricing, international reach, extensive data, and pro-quality tools. But now it’s aggressively courting novice and everyday investors. There are two novice-friendly mobile apps, an easily navigated web portal, paper trading, and fractional shares. My big gripe is its restrictive trading permissions for leveraged ETFs, but if you don’t trade them, don’t worry about it. Read review.

Best platforms and tools - Charles Schwab

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
Charles Schwab logoCharles Schwab $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Read Review

With its acquisition of TD Ameritrade, Schwab's new crown jewel is the trader-focused thinkorswim suite of platforms, available on mobile, browser, and desktop app. They have sophisticated features, but it was their ease of use that elevates them above Interactive Brokers. Yes, the desktop application still has a learning curve, but I’ve found it to be a much shorter one than IBKR’s Trader Workstation. Read review.

Best for most stock investors - Fidelity

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
Fidelity logoFidelity $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Trade at Fidelity. 1 Visit Site

Fidelity took top honors overall in the StockBrokers.com 2024 Annual Awards because it does almost everything and does it well. That includes free stock trading. Few companies offer the bucketloads of free research clients can pull out of the Big Green Machine. Fido is also one of a few brokers that we review that refuses payment for order flow (PFOF), which should lead to better executions for clients. Read review.

Best user experience - Merrill Edge

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

If you’re less interested in shaving nanoseconds off your trade executions and much more interested in getting to know the companies you’re thinking of investing in and how they fit in your portfolio, Merrill Edge is my top recommendation. It presents risks and upside in the exact thoughtful way that I, as a former wealth manager, would present them to my clients. Merrill’s rich, colorful client experience sometimes comes at the cost of slow page load times, but I think the occasional wait is worth it. The proprietary Bank of America Securities research is often deeper than the generic third-party research licensed by other brokers. Read review.

Trading fees comparison

Using our online brokerage comparison tool, here's a comparison of the trading fees for the best free trading platforms.

Feature Interactive Brokers logoInteractive Brokers Charles Schwab logoCharles Schwab Fidelity logoFidelity Merrill Edge logoMerrill Edge E*TRADE logoE*TRADE
Minimum Deposit $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $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 $14.95 Varies $49.95 $19.95 $0.00
Options (Base Fee) $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.65 $0.65 $0.65 $0.65 $0.65
Futures (Per Contract) $0.85 $2.25 (Not offered) (Not offered) $1.50
Broker Assisted Trade Fee $30 $25 $32.95 $29.95 $25
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Here's a comparison of the account fees for the best free trading platforms.

Feature Interactive Brokers logoInteractive Brokers Charles Schwab logoCharles Schwab Fidelity logoFidelity Merrill Edge logoMerrill Edge E*TRADE logoE*TRADE
IRA Annual Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
IRA Closure Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $49.95 $0.00
Account Transfer Out (Partial) info $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Account Transfer Out (Full) info $0.00 $50.00 $0.00 $49.95 $75.00
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FAQs

What is commission-free trading?

Commission-free trading means the broker does not charge a fee for buying or selling a stock or exchange-traded fund (ETF). Brokers have other ways of making money, though. Most free stockbrokers make money via a practice called payment for order flow, or PFOF, a fee that generates over $1 billion each year in revenue for the industry.

Can you trade stocks for free?

Yes, you can now trade stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for free with most online brokers. Brokers are competing hard for your investing dollars. A pricing war in 2019 led to full-service brokerages cutting their commissions to $0 to compete with free trading platforms such as Robinhood. Don’t worry about them making money, though: Instead of charging commissions, almost all accept payment for order flow (PFOF), loan money and securities, earn interest on idle cash balances, and charge incidental fees.

How can I trade without fees?

It’s not difficult to trade fee-free. In our analysis, we conducted comprehensive tests on 17 online brokers, all of whom offer “free” stock and ETF trades. By free, they mean that they don’t charge any cost per share to trade. Brokers do pass along some trade fees charged by regulatory bodies and exchanges, but they are almost always miniscule and measured by fractions of a cent per share. Brokers may charge fees for other products and services, such as trading options, mutual funds, robo-advising, or transferring your money in or out. Some brokers also charge for penny stocks. Confused? We assess those costs in our reviews, guides, and comparisons.

Are trading platforms free?

Yes, trading platforms with features once only available to investing professionals are now offered to investors for free. Most of the online brokers that cater to individual investors make their trading platforms available for free simply by opening an account. There’s rarely a minimum investment required, which means you can have a zero balance and still use many of the broker’s tools. You may even be able to test-drive the trading platform with paper trading, which allows you to practice trading with pretend money.

What is the best free trading platform?

The best free trading platforms offer $0 stock and ETF trades, easy-to-use trading apps, quality market research and education, and a diverse selection of trading tools. Our top picks for free stock trading in 2024 are Interactive Brokers, Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Merrill Edge, and E*TRADE.

What are the best free stock trading apps?

Most online brokers now offer commission-free stock trading. The brokers with the best trading apps are:

  • Interactive Brokers - Best overall
  • E*TRADE - Best for casual traders
  • Fidelity - Best app for investors and beginners
  • Charles Schwab - Best for traders
  • Merrill Edge - Best app for stock research

phone_iphone Learn more

If you prefer trading on the go, see our picks for best mobile apps for stock trading.

How do brokers make money on commission-free trades?

For startup brokers such as Robinhood and Webull, payment for order flow (PFOF) is the primary way of making money. With larger full-service brokers such as Fidelity and Schwab, the largest revenue source comes from sweeping the idle cash sitting in customer accounts into subsidiary banks each night. They also loan money to margin investors and charge incidental fees. Brokers also hope to upsell their commission-free stock investors into advisory services or other managed products.

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.
  • We evaluated the features, tools, research, education, and data commonly used by stock investors and traders.
  • We tested brokers for their ease of use and overall design.

How we tested

For this guide to the best brokers for free stock trading, our research team looked closely at all costs incurred by investors, including payment for order flow and miscellaneous account fees; and rigorously tested key features such as platform usability, app ease of use, educational resources and market research. In all, we tested more than 100 features. All research, writing and data collection at StockBrokers.com is done by humans, for humans. Read our generative AI policy here.

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.

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.

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.

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