The 8 Best IRA Accounts of 2020

Find the best IRA accounts to help you save for retirement.

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An individual retirement account (IRA) is a type of tax-advantaged savings or investment account. Whether you prefer a traditional or Roth IRA, it’s important to choose an account that includes the features you want without charging unnecessary fees.

You can find an IRA at most banks and brokerage firms, so how do you know which is the best? When choosing a brokerage to house an existing, rollover, or new IRA account, it is important to consider the account’s costs, available investments, and other key features. Based on the features most important to the typical retirement investor, we compared the 19 different brokers to find the best IRA accounts available today.

Brokerage Why We Picked It
Fidelity Best Overall
Charles Schwab Runner-Up
SoFi Best for Beginners
Betterment Best Robo Advisor
TD Ameritrade Best for Active Investing
Vanguard Best for Mutual Funds
Firstrade Best for No Commissions

Fidelity: Best Overall

Fidelity ranks as our top overall IRA account provider for many reasons. Highlights include a long list of no-transaction-fee mutual funds as well as commission-free trades for U.S. stocks and ETFs, among other investments. Those are available to buy and sell in an account with no minimum balance requirements and no recurring monthly fees.

Fidelity supports more than 3,400 mutual funds with no transaction fees. Included in that list are four funds with no expense ratio. That means you can buy, sell, and hold these funds in a Fidelity account completely free.

Fidelity puts a major emphasis on retirement and offers a dozen tools and calculators to help you understand your progress toward your retirement goals and suggestions for how to improve your retirement plan. Extensive educational resources, account options, available investments, and low fees make Fidelity a top choice for retirement investing with an IRA.

What We Like
  • No minimum balance requirements or monthly account fees

  • Extensive retirement and investment planning tools

  • Thousands of no-transaction-fee (NTF) mutual funds

  • Fidelity funds with no expense ratio

What We Don't Like
  • 0.50% yearly fee for access to a human advisor for accounts under $2 million

Charles Schwab: Runner-Up, Best Overall

Charles Schwab is great for IRAs thanks to low fees, excellent online and mobile platforms, and its no-fee robo advisor. Schwab traditional, Roth, and rollover IRA accounts come with no minimum balance and no recurring fees. Online stock and ETF trades are commission-free when you enter them yourself online or with the Schwab mobile app. Schwab offers more than 4,200 mutual funds with no transaction fee including 58 Schwab funds.

If you want to take a hands-off approach to managing your IRA accounts, you can sign up for Schwab’s robo advisor product, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. This service builds a portfolio of low-fee ETFs for you based on your investment profile and goals. While this type of account has a $5,000 minimum balance, the basic account is free–you just pay the ETF fund fees. Plus, you’ll get 24/7 customer service access by phone or chat.

What We Like
  • No minimum balance requirements or monthly account fees

  • No-fee robo advisor for hands-off investing

  • A long list of mutual funds with no commission

What We Don't Like
  • $50 (full) or $25 (partial) fee for account transfers

SoFi: Best for Beginners

SoFi Logo

SoFi is an online brokerage that makes IRA investing very simple. While it doesn’t offer as many features as some larger competitors, you can find everything you need to manage your traditional or Roth IRA or have SoFi manage them. In either case, there are no recurring account fees.

With an active account, you can trade stocks and ETFs with no trade fees, but there are no mutual funds available. You can invest in whole shares or in round dollar amounts with Stock Bits, SoFi’s fractional share offering. For newer investors, you may enjoy integrated education resources, right in the SoFi Invest section of the SoFi app.

SoFi members also get free financial planning sessions, which can be very useful in making sure you are on the right track to meet your investment goals.

What We Like
  • No minimum balance requirements or monthly account fees

  • No-fee robo advisor available

  • Free financial planning sessions

  • View all financial accounts in the SoFi app

What We Don't Like
  • No mutual funds available

  • Limited research tools

  • $75 charge for transferring your account to another brokerage

Betterment: Best Robo-Advisor

Betterment is one of the most popular names among robo advisors and a top choice for automated investing. When you sign up for an account at Betterment, you’ll fill out a short survey asking about your financial goals for retirement and risk tolerance. From there, Betterment assigns you a professionally-designed portfolio. Betterment can manage your traditional, Roth, SEP, and conversion accounts. 

The basic Betterment IRA and Roth IRA require a 0.25% annual fee. The premium plan, which includes unlimited access to a financial advisor, charges a 0.40% annual fee and requires a $100,000 minimum balance.

What We Like
  • Automated investing with professionally-selected portfolios

  • Advanced features including automatic rebalancing and tax-saving strategies

  • Option to upgrade for unlimited access to a human financial advisor

  • Specialized portfolios available including socially responsible investing

What We Don't Like
  • Fewer options to customize your investments

  • All retirement accounts include fees

TD Ameritrade: Best for New Investors

If you want to actively invest in stocks, ETFs, and other investments in your IRA account, TD Ameritrade might be the best choice. TD Ameritrade offers two different investment platforms: the regular platform and the expert-focused thinkorswim platform. Both are available for IRA accounts with no minimum balance requirement and no recurring fees.

The thinkorswim desktop and mobile apps feature advanced charting, active research tools, and everything you need to manage your account and investments from one centralized hub. But even if you prefer a passive approach, TD Ameritrade’s tools, platforms, and investments—including more than 4,200 no-transaction-fee mutual funds—make it a solid choice.

TD Ameritrade has agreed to be acquired by Charles Schwab. At some point in the future, there’s a very good chance TD Ameritrade accounts will become Schwab accounts.

What We Like
  • No minimum balance requirements or monthly account fees

  • Two trading platforms including an advanced option for expert and active traders

  • Wide range of available investments including futures, foreign exchange (forex), and cryptocurrencies

What We Don't Like
  • Pending merger with Charles Schwab

  • Robo advising service requires a 0.30% fee with a $500 minimum

  • $75 account transfer fee for full account transfer

Vanguard: Best for Mutual Funds

Vanguard is a good choice for IRA investors who want to invest primarily in Vanguard’s family of mutual funds and ETFs. Vanguard is perhaps best known for its low-fee index funds. Vanguard offers more than 125 of its own mutual funds and more than 70 ETFs, all of which are free to trade in a Vanguard account. Like all brokerages on this list, all stock and ETF trades are commission-free at Vanguard.

The account charges a $20 annual fee but Vanguard will waive it if you sign up for electronic statements or meet minimum balance requirements. But if you can avoid that, you’ll likely have an overall low-cost experience, as Vanguard reports its ETFs, for example, charge 82% less than the industry average.

What We Like
  • Commission-free trades of Vanguard mutual funds (and all stocks and ETFs)

  • Better-than-average mutual fund expense ratio

What We Don't Like
  • Potential for a $20 annual account service fee

  • Less powerful investment platform

Firstrade: Best for No Commissions

Firstrade Logo

If your primary concern is costs and fees, Firstrade might be the right home for your IRA account. Traditional, Roth, and rollover IRA accounts at Firstrade have no account fees and no commissions, including all mutual funds. There are no commissions to trade stocks, ETFs, options (including contract fees), or mutual funds in a Firstrade account, either.

It may not be as big of a name as some others on this list, but Firstrade supports a wide range of investments and account types. Plus, Firstrade will give you up to $200 in rebates for any transfer fees you pay to move your IRA to its platform (requires a $2,500 minimum transfer.)

What We Like
  • No minimum balance requirements or monthly account fees

  • No broker-imposed fees or commissions for any stock, ETF, option, or mutual fund

What We Don't Like
  • Lower-tech platforms and trading experience

What Is an IRA?

For most people saving for retirement in the United States, an IRA is a crucial part of your savings process. A traditional IRA gives you the ability to save with pre-tax dollars—this works similar to a 401(k), 403(b), or 457 accounts sponsored by an employer—but there is one big difference: You can control your investments (and fees) entirely if you want.

With a traditional IRA, the dollars you deposit to your account are, in most cases, deductible. During retirement, you pay taxes when you withdraw, presumably with a lower income and lower income tax rate.

Roth IRA accounts, on the other hand, are funded with pre-tax dollars. That means you pay taxes the year you earn the income but don’t pay any taxes on capital gains when you make a qualified withdrawal in retirement.

How Can I Choose the Right IRA for Me?

You can find an IRA at most banks and brokerage firms, so how do you know which is the best? When choosing a brokerage to house an existing, rollover, or new IRA account, it is important to consider the criteria that are most important to you in a retirement account:

  • Account fees
  • Trading fees
  • Investment availability
  • Research access
  • Availability of a robo-advisor option
  • Access to human advisers

Some account providers offer a primarily hands-off experience while others are geared toward more active traders. Again, depending on your investing style for retirement, one account may be more attractive than another.

Can I Switch or Roll Over My IRA?

Yes. If you want to switch account providers or rollover your old retirement accounts, you can do so at any time in many cases. Just pick out your new account provider, open an account, and contact the new account’s customer support department for helping to roll over or transfer your old account. It’s important to move your assets correctly and within a certain time frame or taxes and penalties may apply. Also, you may have to pay a fee to transfer your account.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Fidelity. "Straightforward and Transparent Pricing." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  2. Charles Schwab. "Schwab Intelligent Portfolios - FAQ - Getting Started." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  3. Charles Schwab. "Mutual Funds." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  4. Charles Schwab. "Mutual Funds." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  5. SoFi. "Customer Relationship Summary - Combined." Page 2. Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  6. Betterment. "Retirement." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  7. TD Ameritrade. "No Transaction Fee (NTF) Mutual Funds." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  8. Vanguard. "Vanguard Funds List - Index and Active Mutual Funds." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  9. Vanguard. "Vanguard Funds List - Index and Active Mutual Funds." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020

  10. Vanguard. "Annual Account Service Fees." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  11. Vanguard. "Cost, Fees & Minimums." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  12. Firstrade. "Firstrade IRA." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.