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Best Online Brokers 2019

Blain Reinkensmeyer

Published by Blain Reinkensmeyer


Monday, February 18th, 2019

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The StockBrokers.com Annual Review (9 years running) sets the official industry benchmarks. Our Head of Research, Blain Reinkensmeyer, is respected by executives as the leading analyst covering online brokers. Learn more.

Choosing an online stock broker is one of the most important decisions you will make as an investor. Every trader has a different investment style of stock and options trading, and the variety of services brokers offer allows individual traders to be highly selective in determining which online broker best fits their needs.

To help investors, this guide aims to introduce online trading and offer indispensable advice relating to unique and helpful aspects of these online brokers, the way they function, and how they can best be utilized.

As the head of research here at StockBrokers.com, I have been an online stock trader since 2001, placing over 1,000 stock, options, forex, and crypto trades and counting. To complete our 2019 Review, we spent six months and collected 4,544 data points.

Best Online Brokers 2019

Here is a summary of the best brokers for stock and options trading, scored on 4,544 data points.

  • TD Ameritrade - Scored 86.98%
  • Fidelity - Scored 86.62%
  • Charles Schwab - Scored 84.06%
  • E*TRADE - Scored 83.68%
  • Interactive Brokers - Scored 80.99%
  • Merrill Edge - Scored 77.93%
  • TradeStation - Scored 71.75%

Other Rankings: Firstrade (67.10% / 8th), Ally Invest (62.44% / 9th), SogoTrade (57.71% / 10th), Lightspeed (51.80% / 11th), SpeedTrader (51.25% / 12th), Cobra Trading (49.66% / 13th), Just2Trade (47.55% / 14th), Robinhood (46.99% / 15th), ChoiceTrade (45.72% / 16th).


TD Ameritrade Logo
Exclusive Offer Trade free for 90 days + get up to $600 cash. Learn More
Fidelity Investments Logo
Current Offer Get 300 commission-free trades and 2 years to use them. Learn More
Charles Schwab Logo
Current Offer Earn 500 commission-free online trades at Schwab. Learn More
E*TRADE Logo
Current Offer Trade Free for 60 Days & Get Up to $600. Learn More
Interactive Brokers Logo
Exclusive Offer New clients that open an account today receive a special margin rate. Learn More
Merrill Edge Logo
Current Offer Invest in a new account and get up to $600. Learn More
TradeStation Logo
Current Offer Low Fees and Free Market Data. Trade with TradeStation. Learn More

Best Trading Platforms 2019

Here is a summary of the best brokers for stock trading tools and trade platforms, scored on 944 data points.

  • TD Ameritrade - Scored 98%
  • TradeStation - Scored 94%
  • Interactive Brokers - Scored 90%
  • Fidelity - Scored 89%
  • Charles Schwab - Scored 89%
  • Compare Category Winners
TD Ameritrade Logo
Exclusive Offer Trade free for 90 days + get up to $600 cash. Learn More

Lowest Trading Costs 2019

Here is a summary of the best brokers for commissions and fees, scored on 528 data points.

  • Interactive Brokers - Scored 89%
  • Robinhood - Scored 88%
  • Firstrade - Scored 83%
  • Fidelity - Scored 77%
  • SpeedTrader - Scored 76%
  • Compare Category Winners
Interactive Brokers Logo
Exclusive Offer New clients that open an account today receive a special margin rate. Learn More

Best Brokers for Investment Research 2019

Here is a summary of the best brokers for investment research, scored on 960 data points.

  • Fidelity - Scored 98%
  • Charles Schwab - Scored 97%
  • TD Ameritrade - Scored 97%
  • E*TRADE - Scored 92%
  • Merrill Edge - Scored 90%
  • Compare Category Winners
Fidelity Investments Logo
Current Offer Get 300 commission-free trades and 2 years to use them. Learn More

Best Brokers for Investment Products 2019

Here is a summary of the best brokers for investment products, scored on 640 data points.

  • Interactive Brokers - Scored 96%
  • TD Ameritrade - Scored 93%
  • Charles Schwab - Scored 91%
  • Fidelity - Scored 87%
  • E*TRADE - Scored 85%
  • Compare Category Winners
Interactive Brokers Logo
Exclusive Offer New clients that open an account today receive a special margin rate. Learn More

Best Brokers for Mobile Trading 2019

Here is a summary of the best brokers for mobile trading, scored on 800 data points.

  • E*TRADE - Scored 96%
  • Fidelity - Scored 95%
  • TD Ameritrade - Scored 94%
  • Interactive Brokers - Scored 93%
  • TradeStation - Scored 87%
  • Compare Category Winners
E*TRADE Logo
Current Offer Trade Free for 60 Days & Get Up to $600. Learn More

Best Brokers for Banking Services 2019

Here is a summary of the best brokers for online banking services, scored on 208 data points.

  • Merrill Edge - Scored 99%
  • Charles Schwab - Scored 94%
  • Ally Invest - Scored 82%
  • Fidelity - Scored 77%
  • E*TRADE - Scored 76%
  • Compare Category Winners
Merrill Edge Logo
Current Offer Invest in a new account and get up to $600. Learn More

Best Brokers for Customer Service 2019

Here is a summary of the best brokers for customer service, scored on 300 phone calls (view infographic).

  • TD Ameritrade - Scored 90%
  • Charles Schwab - Scored 89%
  • E*TRADE - Scored 88%
  • Fidelity - Scored 87%
  • Merrill Edge - Scored 86%
  • Compare Category Winners

How to Choose an Online Brokerage

When looking for a new online broker, make sure you meet your most important needs as an investor. Are low-cost trade commissions most important? What about customer service, the trade platform, mobile trading, active trading, or a community to trade alongside? With many brokers specializing in different areas, it is vital to evaluate and compare all the possibilities.

Here is a list of the most important factors to remember when selecting an online brokerage:

  • Trading Costs - When trading stocks online, it is important to understand what the costs are to place buy or sell orders. Most online brokers charge a flat rate to buy and sell. That said, other miscellaneous day trading costs can be incurred for direct routing fees or accessing market data. If you are investing in a IRA account, it is important to avoid choosing a broker that charges annual IRA fees.
  • Trading Tools - One of the most common misconceptions newer investors have is that low trading costs are the most important consideration. This couldn't be further from the truth. Having access to a fully featured desktop-based or web-based trading platform can make a big difference, especially when conducting technical analysis.
  • Investment Products - Are you only trading stocks online, or are you interested in ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, and forex too? In the United States, different regulations are required for brokers who support more complex asset classes. Beyond trading different assets classes, having access to online banking and advanced order types, such as conditional orders, are also considerations.
  • Mobile Trading - Managing a stock brokerage account on the go is certainly important for traders who travel and frequently use their smartphones. While nearly all online brokerages offer mobile trading apps, not all are created equal. Features can vary dramatically.
  • Customer Service - 24/7 support is important to some investors, while others may just want to use online chat during regular market hours or receive an email back within one business day. Having access to quality customer support can really be the cherry on the top of a great client experience, especially during market crises like a flash crash.
  • Stock Analysis - Conducting fundamental research is critical to successful long-term investing. SEC filings, short interest, corporate debt levels, earnings growth, and more are all examples of important criteria to be investigated during fundamental investment research.
  • Regulation - Stock brokers based in the United States and governed by US law will be regulated by the SEC and must be members of FINRA and SIPC. The easiest way to verify whether your online brokerage is regulated is to scroll to the footer of their homepage and read their disclosures. Using the FINRA broker check tool is another easy way to verify proper compliance.
  • Banking Services - Online brokerage accounts are not limited to just stock trading. Instead, customers can take advantage of banking services offered by full-service brokerages (this is where Merrill Edge shines). Some online brokers offer checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, and more with deposits of up to $250,000 backed by the FDIC.
  • Account Security - Fortunately, today’s investors don’t have much to worry about when it comes to account security as long they choose a brokerage that is large, well known, and properly regulated. Reference our list above or below for a sampling. Every website should be secured with SSL encryption, and client data should be stored in secure servers. Dual-factor authentication and Touch ID are other security protocols quickly growing in popularity.
  • Order Execution - It is important to understand how your order is routed and executed. Make no mistake, there is a wide variation between quality execution and poor execution. Unfortunately, most online stock traders can't tell the difference.
  • International Trading - The US stock market is the most respected in the world. If you are living in the US and want to trade internationally, or are living abroad and want to trade stocks online with a US-regulated brokerage, you must do your research beforehand and find a broker that supports your requirements.

What is the best online stock broker?

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

Best Online Brokerages 2019 Summary


Online Broker Best For Minimum Deposit Commissions Overall Rating
TD Ameritrade Best broker overall $0 $6.95 4.5 Stars
Fidelity Best for investors $0 $4.95 4.5 Stars
Charles Schwab Well-rounded broker $1,000 $4.95 4 Stars
E*TRADE Best web platform $500 $6.95 4 Stars
Interactive Brokers Best for Professionals $0 $.005 per share 4 Stars
Merrill Edge Best rewards program $0 $6.95 4 Stars
TradeStation Best platform technology $500 $5.00 3.5 Stars

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All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 02/18/2019 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. The StockBrokers.com staff is constantly working with its online broker representatives to obtain the latest pricing data. If you believe any data listed above is inaccurate, please contact us using the link at the bottom of this page. 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.

TD Ameritrade, Inc. and StockBrokers.com are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other’s services and products. Options are not suitable for all investors as the special risks inherent to options trading may expose investors to potentially rapid and substantial losses. Options trading privileges subject to TD Ameritrade review and approval. Please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options before investing in options. Offer valid for one new Individual, Joint or IRA TD Ameritrade account opened by 9/30/2019 and funded within 60 calendar days of account opening with $3,000 or more. To receive $100 bonus, account must be funded with $25,000-$99,999. To receive $300 bonus, account must be funded with $100,000-$249,999. To receive $600 bonus, account must be funded with $250,000 or more. Offer is not valid on tax-exempt trusts, 401k accounts, Keogh plans, Profit Sharing Plan, or Money Purchase Plan. Offer is not transferable and not valid with internal transfers, accounts managed by TD Ameritrade Investment Management, LLC, TD Ameritrade Institutional accounts, and current TD Ameritrade accounts or with other offers. Qualified commission-free Internet equity, ETF or options orders will be limited to a maximum of 250 and must execute within 90 calendar days of account funding. No credit will be given for unexecuted trades. Contract, exercise, and assignment fees still apply. Limit one offer per client. Account value of the qualifying account must remain equal to, or greater than, the value after the net deposit was made (minus any losses due to trading or market volatility or margin debit balances) for 12 months, or TD Ameritrade may charge the account for the cost of the offer at its sole discretion. TD Ameritrade reserves the right to restrict or revoke this offer at any time. This is not an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction where we are not authorized to do business. Please allow 3-5 business days for any cash deposits to post to account. Taxes related to TD Ameritrade offers are your responsibility. Retail values totaling $600 or more during the calendar year will be included in your consolidated Form 1099. Please consult a legal or tax advisor for the most recent changes to the U.S. tax code and for rollover eligibility rules. (Offer Code 264) TD Ameritrade Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. TD Ameritrade is a trademark jointly owned by TD Ameritrade IP Company, Inc. and The Toronto-Dominion Bank. © 2019 TD Ameritrade.

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