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Trading Basics

6 Best Brokers for Stock Trading 2024

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT

Written by Sam Levine, CFA, CMT
Fact-checked by Steven Hatzakis
Edited by Carolyn Kimball

March 13, 2024

This trading broker comparison is for individual traders who place a few dozen trades a month and beginning traders who want to get to that level. Every stock trader has different needs, so there are several “Best for” brokers. I prioritized tools, workflow, responsiveness, customizability, presentation, and, of course, price.

Over my professional and personal trading career I've placed thousands of trades on at least 25 trading platforms. While I focus primarily on stock and ETF trading, I’ve also traded options, fixed income, mutual funds, futures, and crypto. My goal with this guide is to highlight some of the best brokers available today with tips and advice for choosing an online broker.

In my analysis, the seven brokers that rose to the top are also some of the biggest brokers in the United States. That’s not surprising; they have ample resources to build or license whatever they think will make their clients the happiest.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use broker, you may find what you’re looking for on our sister site, StockBrokers.com. Some of the brokers here are very easy to use, but I’m paying more attention to features and how easy it is to make complicated trades quickly.

Best Brokers for Stock Trading 2024

  • Interactive Brokers
    - Best overall
  • Charles Schwab - Best trading platform
  • E*TRADE
    - Easy-to-use web-based trading platform
  • TradeStation
    - Best for algorithmic trading
  • Fidelity
    - Outstanding chart interface
  • eToro - Best investor community
Interactive Brokers
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best overall

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

Interactive Brokers is a go-to choice for professionals because of its institutional-grade desktop trading platform, high-quality trade executions and rock-bottom margin rates.

Pros
  • Astounding array of customizable tools
  • Allows trading in foreign markets
  • Convenient apps for individual investors
Cons
  • Restrictive trading permissions
Visit Site

New clients, special margin rates.

Charles Schwab
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best trading platform

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

With the addition of TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim platforms and the enhancement of several features, Schwab is now a vigorous competitor with thought-provoking research and commentary and a client experience to fit any preference.

Pros
  • Now has TD Ameritrade’s excellent thinkorswim trading platforms
  • Trading-friendly app and browser enhancements
Cons
  • No cryptocurrency trading
  • Mutual fund fees are complex
E*TRADE
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Easy-to-use web-based trading platform

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

E*TRADE is a top-performing broker whose highlights include $0 trades, two excellent mobile apps and the Power E*TRADE platform. Crypto, however, is not available.

Pros
  • Watch lists are the best in the business
  • Smooth mobile navigation
Cons
  • No cryptocurrencies
  • Margin rates are high compared to other brokers
Visit Site

Open and fund & get up to $1,000.

TradeStation
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best for algorithmic trading

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

TradeStation supports casual traders through its web-based platform and active traders through its desktop platform. We like the web-based platform and mobile app, but the flagship desktop platform could use a refresh.

Pros
  • Web trading platform is well thought-out
  • TradeStation Crypto is powerful and intuitive
Cons
  • User experience can be frustrating
  • No third-party fundamental research
Visit Site

Trade commission-free

Fidelity
4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

Outstanding chart interface

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

Fidelity is a value-driven online broker offering $0 trades, industry-leading research, excellent trading tools and an easy-to-use mobile app.

Pros
  • Excellent research and mobile app
  • Top-notch education
  • Decades of reliable client service
Cons
  • No dedicated mobile app for active trading
Visit Site

Trade commission-free.

eToro
4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

Best investor community

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

Though its offerings have some limitations, eToro's approach will appeal to those interested in learning how to trade crypto or joining a crypto-focused community. The scope currently is limited in the U.S., so those looking for more advanced trading or trading a variety of underlyings will want to look elsewhere.

Pros
  • Takes social investing to the next level
  • 26 coins to choose from
  • User-friendly website and app
Cons
  • Limited investment choices
  • You can't go short or borrow on margin

Interactive Brokers

This broker has low prices, an overflowing list of investment options, tools, and the ability to trade in 33 countries. In a nutshell, if IBKR doesn’t have something you want, there’s probably a team working on rolling the feature out in the next two weeks. The two gripes I have are, first, its desktop platform, Trader Workstation, is fussy and the user experience is a bit dated; and second, IBKR has taller financial requirements than usual to trade leveraged ETFs. The good news is there’s a new platform rolling out, IBKR Desktop, and it looks very promising.

currency_poundInvesting in the U.K.

Interactive Brokers also made our top picks for trading apps in the United Kingdom. Read more on our sister site, UK.StockBrokers.com.

Charles Schwab

Schwab’s purchase of TD Ameritrade transformed my opinion of Schwab. It’s no longer your aunt’s buy-and-hold broker. It’s the new home of thinkorswim, one of the industry’s best suites of trading platforms. There’s live trader coaching, a streaming video channel, and a mountain range-sized pile of market commentary and educational content.

E*TRADE

E*TRADE’s strengths – aside from some amazingly funny talking baby commercials – are its browser-based web trading platform, specialized mobile trading app, and access to Morgan Stanley’s stock research. Both the mobile app and the browser based Power E*TRADE branded platforms are responsive and straightforward. I like how they label everything clearly so you’re not guessing what “NLV” stands for. Bring your love of the color purple with you when you try E*TRADE, because you’re going to see a lot of it.

TradeStation

TradeStation was offering trading systems before Microsoft Windows became a thing. It’s still among the best desktop platforms for its tweakability and third party add-ons (Interactive Brokers also has a marketplace). Its best use is for backtesting and implementing automatic trading strategies, provided you’re patient enough to learn how to do it. Luckily, TradeStation has a full library of tutorials to go with its platforms.

Fidelity

Fido knocks it out of the park with its stock charts. Look for “Chart+” at the top of a stock quote page. The user interface on Chart+ is super well organized, and there are some unusual chart types, such as point-and-figure, that are hard to find elsewhere. The quick technical summary is a handy feature, too. Active investors might miss the trading-friendly mobile apps available at E*TRADE, Charles Schwab, TradeStation and tastytrade. Also, its desktop platform, Active Trader Pro, isn’t very attractive and it’s clunky to use. My testing left me frustrated with how the widgets didn’t keep up with my mouse movements.

eToro

EToro is very easy to use and has good charts. Its real appeal, though, is its user social feed. Users post frequently, hoping to gain followers on the platform who will copy their trades and earn the author some revenue. Thanks to that monetary incentive, there’s less of the “Stonks always go up,” and more insightful, or at least thought-provoking, analyses and commentary. If you prefer reading the hot takes of your fellow investors over formal Wall Street research, then eToro is well worth a try.

How to choose an online broker

It’s hard to trade successfully when you have the wrong broker for your needs. Consider these key factors to find the best broker for you.

1. Trading tools

Trading is a lot easier when you have the right tools. A top stockbroker should offer access to a wide variety of trade tools to help make the most of each and every trade. Some examples of valuable tools include real-time streaming quotes, quality stock scanners, dedicated mobile trading apps, ladder trading, chart trading and options analytics.

2. Speed and order execution

While stock and ETF trades are all $0 these days, order execution speed and fill price are very important for day trading. I won't get too in-depth here, but I have tested many of these brokers and there can be noticeable differences in trade execution times and quality. For the majority of investors, saving a fraction of a penny per share isn't the end of the world, but for day traders it might mean the difference between a profit or loss. To learn more, read this guide to order execution on our sister site, StockBrokers.com.

3. Stock research tools

The best broker for you will provide a variety of market research tools without being overwhelming or distracting. My testing has found time and time again that full-service brokerages offer better market research (both fundamental and technical) than the newer stock apps that focus on just basic trading.

4. Investment options

An online stockbroker should offer access to not only trading stocks, but also a strong selection of commission-free ETFs and the ability to analyze complex options positions. Other unique investment offerings to look for could include direct market routing, conditional orders, futures trading, and forex trading.

5. Other fees

Fees beyond trade commissions include inactivity fees and IRA fees (for having a retirement account). While none of the brokers listed here charge what I think are predatory fees, it's still important to do your due diligence. You can use StockBrokers.com’s compare tool to help you determine which broker will be cheapest for the way you trade.

6. Retirement accounts

Funding a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or other retirement account with no annual fees is an extra perk many online brokers offer. There is no reason why you should pay an annual fee to have a retirement account. Interactive Brokers has seven IRA types. Read more about retirement accounts.

7. Customer service

When you pick up the phone or email a broker, is a well-trained customer service representative ready to assist? How an investor is treated as a client is more important to some than others. But, even for those that don't rely on customer support that often, knowing that there’s award-winning service when you need it is comforting. StockBrokers.com tests phone support each year, which I recommend referencing using its broker comparison tool.

8. International trading

For investors in the U.S., this is not a problem; but for investors living outside the U.S., it’s important to verify brokers offer service in your country. Here's a good list of international brokers to start with. If you’re in the U.K., check out this guide to the best U.K. online brokers.

Once you decide what’s most important to you, use this trading brokers comparison tool to dig even deeper into which broker is perfect for your needs.

Which trading platform is best for researching stock picks?

Comparing apples with apples, all the top brokers use Morningstar and/or Refinitiv as their primary providers for exchange traded funds (ETFs) and mutual fund research. They also all offer a slew of data and graphs for researching stocks. Slight differences begin to show only when you assess specifics such as the number of third-party research reports or the availability of proprietary research from their full-service parents (for example, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley being available on Merrill Edge and E*TRADE, respectively).

All in all, when it comes to researching stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and fixed income, any large online broker is going to provide an excellent experience for investors.

Fidelity stands out for the sheer quantity of equity research reports and fantastic stock comparisons. Fidelity also distributes high-quality market analysis and personal finance education through its Fidelity Viewpoints weekly distribution. For deep dives, though, nothing beats the detailed analysis of proprietary research from full-service firms, even though I merely use them for context and ignore their targets and buy ratings.

Which stock trading site is best for beginners?

If you’re beginning your trading adventure, your best bet is to choose a broker that’s easy to use, has solid trader education, and enough trading tools to get your feet wet without being overwhelming. The best stock trading sites for novice traders are:

  • Charles Schwab – best trading education.
  • Fidelity – Terrific all-around broker with fractional shares, but lacks a dedicated mobile app for trading.
  • Merrill Edge – Excellent presentation of stock information through Stock Stories.
  • E*TRADE – Also a strong overall performer with an easy-to-use web trading platform.
  • Webull – A crisp and easy-to-use web-based trading platform, but needs more and better educational content.

What is the best stock app?

When it comes to trading on the go, I like customizing my watch list columns alongside flipping between multiple watch lists, setting price alerts, and occasionally streaming some video. For this reason, Charles Schwab's mobile thinkorswim is my top pick for mobile trading.

Active trading aside, I am also an everyday investor who appreciates conducting stock research and reading quality market editorial. In that regard, I find Fidelity mobile to be a standout. My absolute favorite feature with Fidelity's mobile app is the customizable dashboard, which is essentially a personalized feed that you see upon login. Your feed pulls all your portfolio holdings, watch list tickers, and account information into one streamlined view. From there, you launch straight into full-featured stock quotes or market analysis. It's awesome.

Which trading app is best for beginners?

Fidelity offers investors a one-two punch of terrific market research that is comprehensive and easy to use, alongside a large selection of educational courses covering the basics of stock trading and beyond.

edit_noteWant to jump-start your learning?

Journaling is an underutilized but great way for investors to build their skills. See my picks for best online trading journals.

Which day trading platform is best?

Traders rely heavily on tools. Today’s trading platforms are not only web-based, but also desktop-based, and are becoming increasingly mobile-based as well. Advanced charting, options tools, screeners, hotkeys, virtual trading, watch lists, ladders, Level 2 quotes, and backtesting are just a sampling of the functionality brokers make available to their customers.

Over the years, I have learned it is not just the trading tools that separate brokers, but the design, depth, speed, and overall execution of delivering the ultimate trading experience. This is where brokers such as tastytrade and Charles Schwab’s thinkorswim really excel, especially on their desktop versions. After spending many hours on both desktop platforms, I give thinkorswim the edge, thanks to its modern feel and outstanding trader tools; however, both platforms execute so well that it truly comes down to personal preference. Diehard fans exist for both, and either one is a great choice for seasoned traders.

Which broker is best for international trading?

Interactive Brokers offers trading in 35 market centers across 33 countries, making it a clear winner for international trading. It also has a beginner friendly mobile app, Global Trader, that makes international trading a breeze.

Can I start trading stocks with $100?

Yes, you can. Most brokers don’t charge per-share commissions on stocks and you can buy fractions of shares and build a diversified portfolio of 20 $5 positions if you wish. Better yet, deposit your $100 and only invest a few dollars at a time to build experience. Remember, not every trade is going to be a winner.

Best stockbrokers summary

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Education (Stocks) Education (Options) Desktop Trading Platform Web Trading Platform Visit Site
Interactive Brokers logoInteractive Brokers $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Yes Yes Yes Yes Visit Site
Charles Schwab logoCharles Schwab $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Yes Yes Yes Yes
E*TRADE logoE*TRADE $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Yes Yes No Yes Visit Site
TradeStation logoTradeStation $0.00 $0.00 $0.60 Yes Yes Yes Yes Visit Site
Fidelity logoFidelity $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Yes Yes Yes Yes Visit Site
eToro logoeToro $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 Yes No No Yes

Methodology

Investor.com's sister site, StockBrokers.com, comprehensively examines virtually every facet of the client experience and rates top U.S. brokers according to how well they serve a wide swath of customers, from complete novices to demanding professionals. For StockBrokers.com’s current review, more than 3,000 data points were collected and every platform of 17 major brokers thoroughly put through its paces.

For this guide to the best brokers for traders, we used the data points and opinion scores that go into the StockBrokers.com ratings and reevaluated them to reflect what would be important to traders with diverse needs.

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About the Editorial Team

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT
Sam Levine, CFA, CMT

Sam Levine is a writer, investor and educator with nearly three decades of experience in the investing industry. His specialty is making even the most complicated investing concepts easy to understand for beginning and intermediate investors. He holds two of the most widely recognized certifications in the investment management industry, the Chartered Financial Analyst and the Chartered Market Technician designations. Previously, he was a contributing editor at BetterInvesting Magazine and a contributor to The Penny Hoarder and other media outlets.

Steven Hatzakis
Steven Hatzakis

Steven Hatzakis has led research at Reink Media Group since 2016 and brings over 20 years of experience with the online brokerage industry. Steven has served as a registered commodity futures representative for domestic and internationally regulated brokerages and holds a Series III license in the US as a Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA).

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is Managing Editor for Reink Media Group and the lead editor for content on investor.com. 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.

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