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Best Brokers for Free Stock Trading 2022

Blain Reinkensmeyer

Chris McKhann

May 16, 2022

The StockBrokers.com best online brokers 2022 review, our 12th annual, took three months to complete and produced over 40,000 words of research. Here's how we tested.

When it comes to free stock trading in 2022, investors need to look beyond the price of stock and ETF trades. Why? Because all brokers offer free trades. However, not all brokers have excellent 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 2022 Annual Review, we scored 15 different online brokers that offer free trading. To assess each platform, we tested well over 100 features, broke down miscellaneous account fees and researched each firm's order execution practices.

Best Brokers for Free Stock Trading 2022

StockBrokers.com 2022 Review

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

Fidelity
Overall

Best free trading platform

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

Fidelity is our 2022 pick for best free trading platform because it 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 mobile app for investors
  • Our top pick for order execution, no payment for order flow (PFOF)

Cons

  • Margin rates can be higher than those of peers
  • Mobile app may fall short for active traders
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Trade at Fidelity.1

Interactive Brokers
Overall

Free trading, best pro tools

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

  • Web-based client portal great for casual investors
  • Offers access to global markets
  • Robust mobile app

Cons

  • Trader Workstation (TWS) desktop platform best suited for professionals, not beginners
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EXCLUSIVE: New clients, special margin rates.

Charles Schwab
Overall

Free trading, best research

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

With more than $8 trillion in client assets, Charles Schwab understands how to consistently deliver value to its customers. Highlights include $0 trades, excellent stock research, a diverse selection of trading tools and an industry-leading offering of financial planning services. Read full review

Pros

  • Multiple financial planning services
  • Our top pick for IRA accounts
  • Fractional shares available

Cons

  • Mobile app lacks alerts and real-time streaming quotes
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$0 Online Trade Commissions. Advertisement

TradeStation
Overall

Free trading, best tools

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.60

As a trading technology leader, TradeStation supports casual traders through its web-based platform and active traders through its award-winning desktop platform, all with $0 stock and ETF trades. Read full review

Pros

  • Excellent desktop and web-based trading platforms
  • Great for professionals
  • Offers cryptocurrency trading

Cons

  • Research trails industry leaders
  • Educational content split between two sites
  • Scored poorly for customer service
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Trade Stocks, Options, Futures, & Crypto. Advertisement

TD Ameritrade
Overall

Free trading, best education

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

TD Ameritrade delivers $0 trades, fantastic trading platforms, excellent market research, industry-leading education for beginners, and reliable customer service. This outstanding all-around experience puts TD Ameritrade among our top overall brokers in 2022. Read full review

Pros

  • Excellent education for beginners
  • thinkorswim platform suite is our top desktop platform for 2022
  • Futures and forex trading available

Cons

  • $6.95 fee per trade for penny stocks
  • No access to international stock markets
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Other brokers tested

In addition to our top five trading platforms for free stock trading in 2022, we reviewed 10 others: Ally Invest, E*TRADE, Firstrade, J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing, Merrill Edge, SoFi Invest, Tradier, Robinhood, Vanguard and Webull. To dive deeper, read our reviews.

Trading fees comparison

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

Feature Fidelity
Visit Site
Interactive Brokers
Visit Site
Charles Schwab
Visit Site
Minimum Deposit $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
ETF Trade Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Mutual Fund Trade Fee $49.95 $14.95 $49.95
Options (Base Fee) $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.65 $0.65 $0.65
Futures (Per Contract) N/A $0.85 $2.25
Broker Assisted Trade Fee $32.95 $30.00 $25.00

Feature Fidelity
Visit Site
Interactive Brokers
Visit Site
Charles Schwab
Visit Site
IRA Annual Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
IRA Closure Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Account Transfer Out (Partial) $0.00 $0.00 $25.00
Account Transfer Out (Full) $0.00 $0.00 $50.00

What is commission-free trading?

Commission-free trading means the broker does not charge a separate fee for placing a stock or ETF trade. Note, however, that other fees may be charged; and most online brokers make money via a practice called payment for order flow, or PFOF, a hidden fee that generates over $1 billion each year in profits for the industry.

Can you trade stocks for free?

Yes, you can now trade stocks and ETFs for free with most online brokers. This formerly was not the case; a pricing war in 2019 led to full-service brokerages cutting their commissions to $0 to compete with free trading platforms such as Robinhood.

What are the best free stock trading apps?

Most online brokers now offer commission-free stock trading. In our 2022 Annual Review, the brokers with the best trading apps are:

  • E*TRADE - Best App for Options
  • TD Ameritrade - Best Stock App for Traders
  • Fidelity - Best Stock App for Investors
  • Interactive Brokers - Best Stock App for Professionals
  • TradeStation - Great for Tools and Technology

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.

More details: When online brokers sweep uninvested cash overnight into their subsidiary banks, they earn a tiny bit of interest. Brokers claim they share this with their customers, but the reality is, most keep the majority of interest for themselves. While it may not seem like much, earned interest adds up when conducted across millions of accounts and billions in idle cash.

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 2022 are Fidelity, Interactive Brokers, Charles Schwab, TradeStation and TD Ameritrade.

StockBrokers.com 2022 Overall Ranking

Here are the Overall rankings for the 15 online brokers who participated in our 2022 Review, sorted by Overall ranking.

Read Next

Explore our other online trading guides:

Methodology

For the StockBrokers.com 12th Annual Review published in January 2022, a total of 3,075 data points were collected over three months and used to score 15 top brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

As part of our annual review process, all brokers had the 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.


About the Author

Blain Reinkensmeyer

As Head of Research at StockBrokers.com, Blain Reinkensmeyer has 20 years of trading experience with over 1,000 trades placed during that time. Referenced as a leading expert on the US online brokerage industry, Blain has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and Fast Company, among others.


Chris McKhann

Chris McKhann has been in the industry for more than 20 years. He has worked for many of the top names in the online trading space, including TD Ameritrade and optionMONSTER, which later became part of E*TRADE. His work has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Financial Times, Forbes, CNBC, Nasdaq.com and Nikkei. He has also been an advisor and outside trader for several hedge funds. He was one of the first traders to delve into the VIX tradable products and to write about them (back in 2006). Chris is also an educator who teaches high school statistics, finance and computer science.



All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 01/10/2022 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. For stock trade rates, advertised pricing is for a standard order size of 500 shares of stock priced at $30 per share. For options orders, an options regulatory fee per contract may apply.

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.

TD Ameritrade, Inc. and StockBrokers.com are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other’s services and products. View terms.

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