The trend of commission-free, online trading platforms makes investing more accessible to more people, especially as account minimums disappear.
It’s important to understand that when an online broker offers commission-free trading, it really just means they don’t charge their own fee for helping execute the trade. There might still be other fees involved. Remember, too, that exchange-traded funds and mutual funds come with expense ratios, and those fees are still charged even if there isn’t a commission for buying or selling the fund.
As with any investment, it’s vital to know what you’re getting into, understand the terms and ensure you’re prepared for potential losses. If you’re looking for a commission-free online broker for your investment needs, here are 10 that don’t charge trading fees:
— J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
— Ally Invest
A well-known discount broker that dropped its trading commission to zero in 2019, Charles Schwab Corp.’s free trading applies to ETFs, stocks, fractional shares and Schwab mutual funds. There is no account minimum, so opening an account and funding it is relatively easy. Schwab also offers several research tools and educational materials. On top of that, the broker has an automated investing platform, Intelligent Portfolios, for those interested in a robo-advisor product.
You probably think of Fidelity Investments Inc. mainly in terms of retirement account management. That’s certainly the company’s bread and butter, but Fidelity also has its own discount online trading platform that doesn’t come with an account minimum. On top of that, you can trade stocks and ETFs without paying commissions. All of the firm’s proprietary mutual funds also trade for free along with many non-Fidelity mutual funds. Because it’s Fidelity, there’s no surprise that there are many investment education and research tools that you can use to help make informed investing decisions.
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
This digital platform from JPMorgan Chase & Co. may be a good commission-free broker for beginning traders. It charges zero commissions on stocks, mutual funds, ETFs and options trades, and offers screening tools to help users define their strategies. No account minimums in both taxable and retirement accounts make it easy to get started investing for any financial goal. And if you prefer a less hands-on approach, you can always invest with the platform’s robo-advisor component for a 0.35% annual advisory fee. Just be aware that there is a $500 account minimum for the service.
Interactive Brokers Group Inc. made its name as an options-trading website, but it’s possible to trade stocks, ETFs and options without paying a commission. There is no account minimum, so getting started is fairly simple. This broker offers an interesting range of tools designed to analyze your portfolio and options choices, including the ability to use “what-if” scenarios, which let you create a hypothetical portfolio based on your actual portfolio so you can see how changes may affect your results. On top of that, the index arbitrage meter is an interesting tool you can use to determine whether futures prices on indexes are fair value.
For Bank of America Corp. customers, the natural choice for a commission-free broker may be Merrill Edge. The Bank of America subsidiary allows you to link your Bank of America bank account with your Merrill Edge brokerage account so you can view and manage everything from one platform. The platform also offers trading online for stocks and ETFs to complement a fairly robust suite of research tools. With no account minimum, it’s easy to get started.
How many investors remember the E-Trade Financial Corp. baby and those clever commercials? Well, E-Trade has gone from being one of the more expensive online brokers in the past to offering free trading on stocks, options and ETFs. There is no account minimum requirement, making it easy to get started. E-Trade also offers several research tools, different platforms and charting options to better analyze the data and choose investments that are most likely to help you meet your goals.
Ally Financial Inc. originally started as an online bank, offering high-yield accounts. Now, it also offers investment services. Ally Invest will let you open an account with no minimums, as well as trade stocks and ETFs without worrying about trading commissions. The company has some solid investment education resources and offers access to streaming quotes, charts and calculators designed to help you make informed decisions. It also has a robo-advisor option with no management fees and a low $100 account minimum.
Known for low-cost investing, The Vanguard Group Inc.’s large fund selection makes it a great option for long-term investors. As of January 2020, the broker also offers commission-free trading online for stocks and ETFs in addition to its mutual funds. That said, the company still caters more to buy-and-hold investors by not providing a lot of tools or calculators for short-term trading. It also doesn’t list leveraged ETFs on its platform, which can involve considerably more risk. The platform does provide digital advice in both purely robo form through its Digital Advisor and a hybrid form with Vanguard Personal Advisor Services.
Now owned by Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade Inc. is a good option for both beginner and experienced traders. It charges no commissions on all online trades of U.S.-listed stocks, ETFs and options. TD Ameritrade also provides robust trading and educational platforms that meet you at your level and guide you from there. With no account minimum, you can also open an account from wherever you and your bank account are located.
Social Finance Inc. is another online broker offering commission-free trading and $0 account minimums. You can trade fee-free stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrency and initial public offerings. You can also buy fractional shares so if you can’t afford a full share of Amazon.com Inc. (ticker: AMZN) for example, you can purchase $5 worth of the stock and build your account from there. That said, the investment options may be more limited than at other online brokers. For instance, you can’t buy mutual funds or bonds through SoFi. So just make sure the site has what you want to invest in before opening a brokerage account. If you do decide to invest, keep an eye out for new customer promotions, too, as the broker is known to offer incentives for signing up, such as up to $1,000 to trade when you open your brokerage account using the SoFi app.
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