Fidelity is a value-driven online broker offering $0 trades, industry-leading research, excellent trading tools, an easy-to-use mobile app, and comprehensive retirement services. Serving over 32 million customers, Fidelity is a winner for everyday investors.
Top Takeaways for 2021
After spending three months testing 11 of the best online brokers for our 11th Annual Review, here are our top findings on Fidelity Investments:
- Fidelity delivers value across its entire client experience. The Fidelity website and mobile app both breezed through our rigorous usability assessments, resulting in a perfect five-star rating for Ease of Use. Furthermore, thanks to a plethora of educational resources, Fidelity is a winner for beginners.
- Fidelity shines for research, whether you're viewing stock, ETF, and mutual fund quotes or running through a screener to find investment ideas. Investors with IRA accounts will also be left impressed.
- Beyond everyday investors, Fidelity's Active Trader Pro desktop platform is excellent for active trading, including day trading.
|Commissions & Fees|
|Platforms & Tools|
|Offering of Investments|
|Ease of Use|
Commissions and Fees
After factoring in order execution, where Fidelity reigns supreme, Fidelity’s $0 stock and ETF trades consistently yield additional value for customers.
Does Fidelity offer crypto?
No, Fidelity does not offer cryptocurrency trading to retail investors.
Penny stocks: Unlike many brokers, Fidelity charges no additional fees for trading penny stocks.
No PFOF: Rare in the industry, Fidelity does not accept payment for order flow (PFOF), which results in cost savings for customers when placing stock trades. In fact, alongside Charles Schwab, Fidelity is the only broker to show customers the price improvement received on eligible orders.
Zero Expense Ratio Mutual Funds: Fidelity distinguishes its offering with the addition of several zero expense-ratio mutual funds, helping investors save on costs, compared to funds available from Vanguard. For example, the symbols FNILX, FZIPX, FZROX, and FZILX offered at Fidelity come with no minimum deposit and a zero expense ratio.
Fidelity pricing summary:
|ETF Trade Fee||$0.00|
|Options (Base Fee)||$0.00|
|Options (Per Contract)||$0.65|
|Futures (Per Contract)||N/A|
|Mutual Fund Trade Fee||$49.95|
|Broker Assisted Trade Fee||$32.95|
Platforms and Tools
Fidelity’s website provides everything an everyday investor needs to manage a portfolio. For active traders, Active Trader Pro is Fidelity’s flagship desktop platform, which is loaded with trading tools.
Website watch lists: Fidelity’s website watch list tool is my personal favorite among all the brokers I’ve tested in our annual review. Streaming quotes are included as well as 48 total columns of data to choose from. Furthermore, the workflow is seamless, making it a breeze to transition into equity research or into the docked order ticket to place a trade.
Charting: In Active Trader Pro, charting is cleanly laid out and includes 22 different drawing tools, 166 optional studies, custom user profiles, chart trading, alerts, notes, and more. Trading Central (Recognia) is also incorporated to automate the identification of common technical patterns.
Active Trader Pro includes several unique, in-house brewed tools, including Real-Time Analytics (streaming trade signals) and Trade Armor (real-time position analysis). Options trading with Active Trader Pro is also impressive and includes a variety of analysis tools. Overall, Fidelity competes among the best brokers for day trading.
Fidelity’s shining star is research. The entire website experience is meticulously laid out, clients can access portfolio updates via Google Assistant, and the broker provides terrific in-house market commentary.
Screening for trade ideas: Fidelity’s stock, ETF, and mutual fund screeners are easy to use, rich in data, and set the benchmark for the industry. Thematic investing, ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) data, Morningstar ratings, the list of unique features are extensive.
Stock research: When pulling quotes, Fidelity provides 16 third-party research reports for stocks and five for ETFs, the largest of any broker. Is that information overload? Perhaps. But it illustrates how thorough Fidelity is when it comes to research. However, surprisingly, no third-party research reports are offered for mutual funds, despite Fidelity offering both Lipper rankings and Morningstar ratings.
Market commentary: Fidelity’s leadership in research also extends to market commentary with Fidelity Viewpoints. Only Schwab, with its Insights articles, can go toe to toe with Fidelity’s market analysis. As a regular reader myself, my favorite Viewpoint article is the annual sector outlook report, which highlights key trends to watch and includes detailed sector analysis. Viewpoints aside, there is also streaming Bloomberg TV available within Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro desktop platform.
Fidelity offers three mobile applications, its flagship mobile trading app, NetBenefits for payroll, and Fidelity Spire, which is designed to help you financially plan and set goals. For this review, we focused on the trading app where Fidelity’s mobile experience is cleanly designed, bug-free, and delivers a phenomenal experience for investors. While active traders may be left wanting more, for the majority, Fidelity delivers, winning our award, No. 1 Investor App, in 2021.
Customizable dashboard: Upon logging in, a unique, customizable dashboard experience, displayed as a personalized feed, greets you. Market cards float on top of varying scenery images that rotate after each login in your personalized feed, creating an experience found nowhere else. Cards cover everything, from market news to portfolio and watch list insights. As far as customizable dashboards go, Fidelity’s is my favorite.
Other unique features: Research is robust and exactly what one would expect to find after using the website. Among many other highlights of the mobile app is the note-taking functionality, which allows you to log personal thoughts on individual stocks and the broader markets. There is also live streaming TV from Bloomberg within the mobile app, matching the Active Trader Pro desktop platform.
Mobile app drawbacks: While Fidelity thrives in its offering of mobile research, it struggles in the active trader department. For example, charting is clean and includes after-hours charts, which is nice; however, only seven indicators (two in Android) are available – well below the industry average of over 30. The app experience is also built primarily around investors. To better serve active traders, Fidelity should consider a separate dedicated app, a strategy employed by both TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE.
Offering of Investments
Fidelity provides all the benefits of what an investor would expect of a full-service brokerage, including the entire spectrum of investment services, from stock trading to retirement guidance.
Fractional shares: Fractional shares trading enables investors to buy a fraction of a share instead of a whole share. For example, with Netflix (NFLX) costing nearly $500 per share, investors can buy 1/10th a share for $50. In 2021, Fidelity is our favorite broker for fractional shares trading thanks to its meticulously designed order ticket and dedication to providing customers the lowest cost executions.
Other investments: While futures, forex trading, and crypto (bitcoin) trading are not offered, international trading is, which enables customers to trade in 25 countries and exchange between 16 currencies. In the international trading department, only Interactive Brokers, which is built for professionals, offers more global access.
Looking at Fidelity’s educational offering as a whole, there’s something for everyone. Fidelity does a great job of organizing content into roadmaps with progress tracking, as well as sorting by experience level, category, and content type. Articles, videos, webinars, infographics, courses, and even podcasts are made available to customers. For example, Fidelity’s “In The Money” podcast is a series geared towards helping options traders with strategies for finding trading opportunities.
Learning Center: Fidelity’s Learning Center brings educational content in one place, such as archived webinars, classes for beginners, and a large variety of categories that each contain numerous articles. There is even an AI-driven recommendation engine to suggest educational content to you. Finally, Fidelity’s YouTube channel provides a library of archived videos organized by playlist with related educational content published throughout the week.
Retirement education: Fidelity really stands out with its retirement education. Over the years, I have compiled an entire folder of bookmarked Fidelity Viewpoint articles on money-related topics. Fidelity also offers a variety of in-house tools to provide you with a proper diagnosis of your financial position. The primary tool lineup, which all offer unique insights, includes Financial Checkup, Retirement Score, Income Strategy Evaluator, and Guided Portfolio Summary.
Fidelity truly embraces no-fee banking, offering 203 retail service centers and delivering a reliable experience. The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature credit card offers 2% cashback on all purchases, with rewards deposited directly into any of your Fidelity accounts. That said, Fidelity offers no loyalty rewards for using multiple products, an area in which Bank of America Merrill Edge reigns supreme.
Having reviewed Fidelity Investments for the past ten years and being a client myself, what impresses me most is the drive to provide the best possible customer experience year after year.
Overall, Fidelity delivers value for investors. While Fidelity shines across the board, the backbone of Fidelity’s success, research and retirement, will undoubtedly continue to be front and center for years to come.
Is Fidelity a safe company to invest with?
Fidelity is one of the largest brokerages in the world, making it a safe company to invest with. It’s fully regulated in the U.S. with the SEC and FINRA, is trusted by over 32 million investors and holds over $8.3 trillion in assets under administration.
Money held in an investment account with Fidelity is protected by SIPC insurance, which covers up to $500,000 in securities and up to $250,000 in cash (up to a total of $750,000 per customer). Funds held in Fidelity’s cash management account are swept to partner banks and protected by FDIC insurance.
Finally, Fidelity provides additional coverage in excess of SIPC limits, for up to $1 billion across all customer accounts, and with up to $1.9 million per customer for cash and no limit for securities.
Is Fidelity good for beginners?
Yes, Fidelity is a top choice for everyday investors, including beginners, thanks to a solid combination of educational content and a robust mobile app.
The Fidelity website platform is well-organized and not overly complex, making it a great place for beginners to fast-track their financial education and gain investing expertise; beginners can also trade fractional shares at Fidelity.
Does Fidelity have hidden fees?
There are virtually no account service fees or other hidden fees at Fidelity when you hold a self-directed brokerage account (robo-advisor and wealth management accounts do incur management and/or advisory fees, along with other specific actions). Fidelity is fully transparent with its pricing across its platforms. Options trading costs $0.65 per contract, and new bond issues are $1 per bond; there is a flat fee of $19.95 for broker-assisted trades.
In addition, with no minimum investment and zero-dollar commissions for trading stocks, ETFs, and Fidelity mutual funds, you can start with any trading budget at Fidelity without concern over trading costs. The exception is if you trade non-Fidelity mutual funds, for which there is a $49.95 fee held on the opening of the trade. If it’s a No Transaction Fee (NTF) mutual fund, the fee applies only if you close the trade within 60 days.
There are few other fees: a foreign exchange wire fee (up to 3%), a foreign dividends fee (1%), $100 per stock certificate transfer, and $32.95 per margin liquidation and broker-assisted trades.
Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Fidelity was founded in 1946 and is one of the largest asset managers in the world (1). As of July 2020, Fidelity is home to over 32 million individual customers (more than 75 million total customer accounts) and $8.3 trillion in total customer assets under administration (2).
2021 Review Methodology
For the StockBrokers.com 11th annual best trading platforms review published in January 2021, a total of 2,816 data points were collected over three 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 offered executive time (live in person or over the web) 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.