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Best Rollover IRAs of July 2024

Andrea Coombes

Written by Andrea Coombes
Fact-checked by Dayana Yochim
Edited by Carolyn Kimball
Reviewed by Blain Reinkensmeyer

June 28, 2024

If you’ve got a retirement account such as a 401(k) sitting at an ex-employer, you may be wondering: “Should I roll my money to an IRA?” And the answer is likely a resounding “yes.” A rollover IRA at a top-tier broker like the six we highlight below can give you more control over your money, expand your investment choices, possibly save you money on investment costs and account fees, and help you consolidate your financial life in one place.

Full disclosure: I’m on the hunt right now for another rollover IRA (I’ve got an old 401(k) sitting with an ex-employer), so it was fun for me to check out what brokers have on offer. My investor.com colleagues and I opened accounts, researched rollover instructions, compared costs, and tested retirement-plan tools. Truth be told, I’m happy to DIY my rollover, but not everyone is, and not all brokers encourage that. Whatever your preference, it’s important to find a broker with clear, easy instructions, and hand-holding if you want it. Luckily, there are some great brokers for rollover IRAs.

Best Rollover IRAs

Here are the top six brokers for rollover IRAs, based on hands-on testing.

  • Fidelity IRA - Best overall for rollover IRA support
  • Charles Schwab IRA - Best rollover IRA for active traders
  • E*TRADE IRA - Best rollover IRA withdrawal options
  • Interactive Brokers IRA - Best rollover IRA for automated investing
  • Vanguard IRA - Best rollover IRA for DIYers
  • Merrill Edge IRA - Best rollover IRA for education
Fidelity IRA
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best overall for rollover IRA support

Fidelity is the undisputed master at rollover hand-holding. Its instructions anticipate any possible glitch a customer might encounter when transferring an old 401(k) into an IRA, and a rep will even get on the phone to personally help. Read full review

Charles Schwab IRA
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best rollover IRA for active traders

Schwab offers a three-step list for how to do a rollover online, but throughout the process, a phone number to call for help is also prominently featured in case you want a hand. And Schwab’s tough to beat for easy trading within your account. Read full review

E*TRADE IRA
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best rollover IRA withdrawal options

E*TRADE’s rollover instructions are on the basic side, but its Complete IRA for those 59½ and up is highly worth a look. The account streamlines withdrawals in retirement, with options like electronic payments and a debit card. Read full review

Interactive Brokers IRA
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best rollover IRA for automated investing

While IBKR’s rollover form seems overly complicated, once you get the funds there, its robo advisor is great for automating your retirement investments. Read full review

Vanguard IRA
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best rollover IRA for DIYers

Vanguard, a perennial leader in retirement saving, has an online rollover tool aimed at you doing this yourself. The instructions are clear, but those wanting assistance may do better elsewhere. Read full review

Merrill Edge IRA
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best rollover IRA for education

Merrill Edge does a very good job walking you through the options of how to handle an old retirement account. DIYers, though, may be frustrated, as after a certain point you must call to continue your rollover. Read full review

Winners Summary

Best overall for rollover IRA support - Fidelity

Fidelity takes the cake when it comes to rolling money from an old retirement plan to a new rollover IRA. This broker’s rollover instructions are so clear, you may not need any help, but if help is what you’re after, a Fidelity rollover specialist can join the call when you reach out to your old plan’s administrator to get the process going.

Fidelity offers a transfer status tracker so you can track what’s happening (rollovers can take days or weeks to complete), plus Fidelity may reimburse account-transfer fees charged by your old plan (some caveats on this, such as you must roll at least $25,000).

Still on the fence? Keep in mind that Fidelity won a bunch of 2024 awards from our StockBrokers.com colleagues, including for Best Overall Broker, Education, and Customer Service. The one heads-up I’ll give about Fidelity is that, if you’ve got your eyes on a particular mutual fund to invest in, this broker may charge a $49.95 transaction fee if that fund isn’t on its list of no-transaction-fee funds. Call me a cheapskate if you will but I, for one, am not willing to pay that transaction fee. Read review.

Best Rollover IRA for active traders - Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab is both a great broker overall for IRAs — one of only two brokers that garnered 5 stars in our testing — and an excellent destination for your rollover IRA. Plus, Schwab offers top-notch tools for those of you who want to be active traders in your rollover IRA.

Here’s why we like their rollover IRAs: Schwab offers clear instructions — just three steps, with a total of 10 short bullet points — plus each page prominently displays a phone number to call for help if the written instructions aren’t enough. I really like that the online instructions are simple, but with enough detail to make sure you don’t make an expensive mistake. Specifically, Schwab includes the important message that you should ask your old retirement plan to deposit your money directly in your Schwab rollover account, with a check made out to Schwab “FBO (Your Name),” meaning “for the benefit of.” That simple little step means you’re doing a direct rollover — in other words, avoiding a messy tax situation.

With its easy-to-read instructions, phone number to call for help, and low overall costs, you could do a lot worse than Schwab. My one beef is its $74.95 transaction fee on some mutual funds. Be sure to avoid that fee by buying no-transaction-fee mutual funds. Read review.

Best Rollover IRA withdrawal options - E*TRADE

E*TRADE offers a ton of helpful rollover information, including whether a rollover IRA is right for you and the specifics of how to get it done. Bigger picture, my investor.com colleagues and I are also big fans of E*TRADE's Complete IRA, available once you're 59½ or older, which promises to make taking money out of your IRA in retirement a blissfully smooth process.

We also like this broker’s rollover IRA decision tool, which asks six questions to help you figure out the best next move for your old workplace retirement plan. For example, maybe leaving your money in your old employer plan is actually the best choice for you (some employer plans offer low-cost investment options, money in a workplace plan is protected in bankruptcy, unlike IRAs, etc.), or maybe you want to transfer the money to your new workplace plan (if your new employer allows that). Or, maybe you do want an IRA so you have greater control over your investments, and you can start building your investment portfolio at a broker, with all of your accounts in one place. It’s a decision tree, for sure, and E*TRADE helps answer those questions. Plus, E*TRADE charges a big fat $0 transaction fee on all U.S. mutual funds. That is so cool. Read review.

Roth IRA account fees comparison

Feature Fidelity IRA logoFidelity IRA Charles Schwab IRA logoCharles Schwab IRA E*TRADE IRA logoE*TRADE IRA Interactive Brokers IRA logoInteractive Brokers IRA Vanguard IRA logoVanguard IRA Merrill Edge IRA logoMerrill Edge IRA
IRA Annual Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $25.00 info $0.00
IRA Closure Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $49.95
Account Transfer Out (Full) $0.00 $50.00 $75.00 $0.00 $100.00 info $0.00
Account Transfer Out (Partial) $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
ETF Trade Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Mutual Fund Trade Fee Varies info Varies info $0.00 Varies info Varies info Varies info
Broker Assisted Trade Fee 32.95 $25 $25 $30 $25 info $29.95

FAQs

What is a rollover IRA?

A rollover IRA is a type of individual retirement account that you open specifically to move money from a workplace retirement plan, such as a 401(k). A rollover IRA generally has similar rules as a traditional IRA: You put pre-tax money into it and then, when you retire, you pay income tax on the money you withdraw.

If you’re moving money between retirement accounts, you want to make sure the new account shares the same tax features as your old account. So regular 401(k) money goes to a rollover IRA, and money in a Roth 401(k) goes to a Roth IRA rollover account. Otherwise, you risk owing income tax and a 10% penalty on any money you move.

What are the differences between a rollover IRA and a traditional IRA?

A rollover IRA is very similar to a traditional IRA. In fact, usually a rollover IRA is a type of traditional IRA: Both accounts have pre-tax money sitting in them, and when you withdraw your money in retirement, you’ll owe income taxes. (Roth money would go into a Roth rollover.)

A major difference between a rollover IRA and a traditional IRA is that there’s no maximum rollover amount. Say you have $10,000, $50,000 or even a few hundred thousand dollars (nice work, you) in your 401(k). You can roll that entire amount into your new rollover IRA. In contrast, a regular traditional IRA or Roth IRA has an annual maximum contribution limit of $7,000, or $8,000 if you’re 50 or older. (A rollover is not considered a “contribution” by the IRS.)

What are my choices if I have money in an old account?

If you have money sitting at an old or soon-to-be-ex employer retirement account, you have a few options:

  1. Leave the money where it is. Some employer plans offer a strong lineup of low-cost investments, so it may make sense to leave your money there. That said, there are two things to consider: Your old employer may not let you leave your money there, or it may charge administrative fees. (The fees may be worth paying if they’re low and the plan is particularly good.)
  2. Roll your money to an IRA. Choosing a broker like the ones we point to above can mean low fees, a wide range of investments, and helpful retirement-planning and investing tools. Plus, I personally love having all of my investment accounts in one place (except for that one old orphan 401(k) that I still need to rollover).
  3. Roll your money to your new employer’s retirement plan, if they allow it. Maybe it’s a really good plan, with low-cost investments (think mutual funds with expense ratios of 0.2% or less).
  4. I don’t even want to mention this one, but another option is to cash out your plan. You’ll owe income taxes and a 10% penalty on an early withdrawal, and that will truly shrink the amount of money that ends up in your hands, so ideally you don’t do this.

Can I roll over my 401(k) to a Roth IRA?

Yes, you can roll a 401(k) to a Roth IRA, but you’ll have to pay income tax on the entire rollover if your money is coming from a traditional 401(k). Paying all of that tax in one year may be fine for you — maybe your account balance is small and your tax bracket is low, or maybe you’re simply wealthy enough to afford the taxes and you want to get your money into a Roth — but generally, most people want to avoid that tax bill, so they roll their 401(k) into a traditional IRA. Here’s more on rolling a 401(k) to a Roth IRA.

If your money is currently in a Roth 401(k) and you want to move it to an IRA, then you’ll want to roll your money into a Roth IRA to preserve the same tax treatment.

How do I roll over my 401(k) to an IRA?

Here are the steps to roll your money from a 401(k) into an IRA:

  • Pick a broker and open a rollover IRA account. (If you have traditional, pre-tax money and Roth money in your 401(k), you’ll need to open a rollover IRA and a Roth rollover IRA.)
  • Read the broker’s instructions for what to tell your old employer plan about doing a direct rollover. Doing a direct rollover is really important. If you don’t do a direct rollover, you’ll end up in an indirect rollover situation.
    • Here’s what happens with an indirect rollover: The old plan will mail you a check made out to you. That company is required to withhold 20% of the money in your account to send to the IRS on your behalf (at tax time, you’ll get this money back). You’ll deposit the check (i.e. 80% of your original balance) into your new rollover IRA. But, and this is crucial, you need to come up with that missing 20% of your old account and also deposit that into your new rollover IRA, within 60 days, or the IRS will say you withdrew that money early, and you’ll owe income tax and a 10% early withdrawal penalty on that amount. Simply not fun. Avoid at all costs.
    • Here’s what happens with a direct rollover (let me just say: So. Much. Easier.): The old plan mails a check for 100% of your account balance to your new broker. Your new broker deposits it. You never touch the money. Hey presto, that’s a direct rollover.
  • Last step? Invest your money! We have a guide to investing for retirement.

Our Research

Why you should trust us

Andrea Coombes, a senior writer for investor.com, has more than 20 years of experience researching, writing and teaching about personal finance, with a focus on retirement planning. She manages her own retirement portfolio (a couple of 401(k)s, a rollover IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, HSA and brokerage account), with the bulk of her retirement assets focused on the Lazy Portfolio strategy for retirement investing. A former financial coach, she is studying for the Certified Financial Planner™ credential, one of the most stringent certifications for financial professionals.

Blain Reinkensmeyer, co-founder of investor.com and head of research at fellow site 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 rubrics for investor.com and oversees all testing and rating methodologies.

For this guide:

  • We used our own brokerage accounts for testing.
  • We collected multiple data points for each broker.
  • We tested each online broker's website and mobile app, where applicable.
  • We maintained strict editorial independence; brokers cannot pay for inclusion or a higher rating.

How we tested

Our research team meticulously collected data on features with particular importance to those saving for retirement, such as trading costs, management fees, availability of fee-free funds, ease of website and app use, and retirement planning tools and resources. All research, writing and data collection at investor.com is done by humans, for humans. Read our generative AI policy here.

Investor.com uses a variety of computing devices to evaluate platforms and tools. Our reviews and data collection were conducted using the following devices: iPhone SE running iOS 17.5.1, 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.

Each broker was evaluated and scored in seven key categories: retirement account types, IRA fees, self-directed investment options, managed investment options, retirement planning tools, rollover experience, and ease of use.

Trading platforms tested

For this guide, we tested the following online brokers:

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About the Editorial Team

Andrea Coombes
Andrea Coombes

Andrea Coombes has 20+ years of experience helping people reach their financial goals. Her personal finance articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, MarketWatch, Forbes, and other publications, and she's shared her expertise on CBS, NPR, "Marketplace," and more. She's been a financial coach and certified consumer credit counselor, and is working on becoming a Certified Financial Planner. She knows that owning pets isn't necessarily the best financial decision; her dog and two cats would argue this point.

Dayana Yochim
Dayana Yochim

Dayana Yochim has been writing (articles, books, podcasts, stirring speeches) about personal finance and investing for more than two decades, focusing on bringing clarity and the occasional comedic aside to what is often a murky, humorless topic. She’s written for NerdWallet, The Motley Fool, HerMoney.com, Woman’s Day, Forbes, Newsweek and others, and been a guest expert on "Today," "Good Morning America," CNN, NPR and wherever they’ll hand her a mic.

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.

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.

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