Online stock trading sites offer investors access to a variety of tools, research, and services once available only through full-service brokerage accounts. There are many online stock trading sites to choose from, but narrowing the field may seem time-consuming and overwhelming.
These 11 top-rated online stock trading sites continually show up on just about every list of the best. Ultimately, your choice is a personal one based on your investment style and what is most important to you. For example, if you're an infrequent trader, pay attention to fees for inactivity. If advice is a priority, check how a site dispenses it and if it affects trading costs.
Not every online stock trading site on this list will work for you because some are stronger in one area, while weaker in another. Many of the sites will let you open a demo account to get a real feel for the customer experience.
Consider these online stock trading sites, organized alphabetically.
Schwab is the granddaddy of discount brokerages and is carrying this tradition to its online offering—although it is looking more like a traditional brokerage all the time. It offers its own research, and clients can work with an investment advisor or allow Schwab to manage the account.
E*Trade gets high marks for its range of offerings, including banking and mutual funds. The company has absorbed several other brokerage firms and is now a significant player in the online stock trading market. Like its competitors, active traders get lower rates on their trades.
Fidelity shows up at the top or near the top of almost every ranking of online stock trading brokers. It is not the least expensive, but it tops most lists in customer satisfaction. Fidelity is known for its research, and investors can talk to advisors face-to-face at one of the many Fidelity investment centers.
One of the advantages of a brokerage account is consolidating your investment activity in one account and cutting down paperwork. Firstrade topped a 2018 survey by Kiplinger as the online stock trading broker offering the most commission-free exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Despite its name, OptionsXpress offers accounts that trade just about any type of security you want—including options, stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, futures, and more. This site is easy to use and gets to the point. It's not the cheapest, but it's tops in functionality.
Merrill Edge is a great option for beginners and those who already have a banking relationship with Bank of America, which acquired Merrill Lynch in 2009. Merrill Edge provides its users with free unlimited stock and ETF trades. For an additional fee, you can also take advantage of managed portfolios and professional advisor services.
Scottrade’s claim to fame is superior customer satisfaction, as noted in several surveys of online brokers. Commissions are on the low side, and transactions are processed quickly.
Siebert may not have the marketing muscle of other online stock trading sites, but it is a solid brokerage house worth your look. The company receives high marks for customer service and research. The fee structure is straightforward and easy to understand.
TD Ameritrade is another brokerage that is the result of mergers—Ameritrade was one of the merged companies, and it has been around for a number of years. The company has a large selection of mutual funds and is noted for its responsiveness to customer inquiries. It also offers the online brokerage Thinkorswim.
Vanguard made a name for itself as the low-cost leader in mutual funds. Vanguard is a solid company that excels in providing value to their customers and in consolidating investments in a brokerage account
The financial services powerhouse Wells Fargo has an online stock trading site, WellsTrade, that fits its image of comprehensive services. Five different levels of accounts are available, depending on whether you want a strictly independent trading account or a version of their managed accounts. Investors looking for a single place to find all their financial services will find Wells Fargo a good place to start.