11 Best Brokerage Accounts for Stock Trading: 2024

A margin account allows you to execute more complex trading strategies, such as short selling, but there are risks to using debt, instead of cash, to invest. For instance, if the value of your investments falls, your brokerage firm may ask you to pay back your margin debt immediately—this is known as a margin call. The firm also has the right to sell any of the investments in your portfolio, without advance notice, to cover an account deficit.


Investopedia launched in 1999, and has been helping readers find the best online brokerage accounts since 2019. Many people open a brokerage account with an online broker rather than working with a person. Often called discount brokers, online brokers are typically less expensive and allow you to buy or sell stocks and other investments directly through their websites or trading platforms. Many online brokers now charge no commission to buy or sell stocks and other investments. Note that some brokers offer robo-advisors in addition to traditional brokerage accounts.

Best for Options Trading

While both brokerage accounts and IRAs offer financial advantages and can help boost retirement savings, brokerage accounts are more flexible than IRAs. You can contribute as much as you want and enjoy earnings whenever you choose, unlike IRAs. IRAs have strict contribution limits and penalties for early withdrawal. A margin account offers you a bit more flexibility, as you can use your securities as collateral to borrow money from your broker. A margin account allows you to buy more securities than your account is currently worth, and you’ll need to pay interest on any borrowed money. A margin account can be a great way to increase your purchasing power, but it can be dangerous if you’re not aware of the risks involved and don’t know what to expect.

  • You can open a brokerage account with online brokers or robo-advisors.
  • & Co. in 1978 by its current chairman, Thomas Peterffy, the company pioneered the use of computers in trading.
  • Here are the best online brokerages as picked by Business Insider’s editors in 2024.

Robo-advisors might be right for people new to investing and experienced investors who prefer a hands-off approach to portfolio management. Full-service brokerage accounts charge either commissions on trades or advisor fees. A commission account generates a fee anytime an investment is bought or sold, whether the recommendation came from the client or the advisor, and whether the trade is profitable.

What Is a Brokerage Cash Account?

We opened accounts at each of the 20 brokers in our survey to perform hands-on, granular testing of their platform and services. Using the internet allows online brokers to cut costs, facilitate trading at any time and from anywhere, and make investing accessible to a broader audience than traditional brokers. Fidelity provides high-quality trade execution while keeping costs minimal. It has the rare distinction of being a Inventory Market Apis For Builders broker that offers commission-free stock, ETF and option trading—although it does charge a 65-cent fee per options contract—while not selling order flow. An average of 85% of orders are executed at a better price than the National Best Bid and Offer—or NBBO—with an average execution speed of 0.07 seconds. Interactive Brokers offers $0 commission trades on U.S. listed stocks and ETFs to U.S. traders, like almost all rivals.


These plans initially helped investors avoid brokerage fees, but the rise of online discount brokers with zero fees has removed this barrier, making the direct stock purchase plan somewhat of a relic. Many online brokers allow for small minimum deposits which can be a great alternative for those with limited funds. Account minimums (if any) are displayed at the top of our reviews, as well as in our selection of the best platforms for different types of investors. If you are looking for more general guidance on investing with limited capital, check out our article on smart investing on a small budget.

Trading Dashboard

If you need help mastering the platform, a dedicated trade desk is available to take your calls. However, because full-service brokers offer more services, they typically charge more. But if you don’t want to do your own investment research, full-service brokers can save you money, time and sweat.


Schwab has been well-known for decades for its customer-first approach. Charles Schwab does it all well, from low fees to solid research to no account minimum – all at a reasonable trading commission. A downside to the self-directed approach with an online brokerage is that when the market gets tough, there’s no one around to keep you from reacting emotionally and making poor investment decisions.

What’s the difference between a full-service broker and a discount broker? Which is best?

Investors may also be turned off by the fact that Public requires users to manually opt out of tipping on each transaction, which the company calls “a more transparent, more aligned way to make money” than PFOF. Lastly, Public currently only offers access to individual brokerage accounts. & Co. in 1978 by its current chairman, Thomas Peterffy, the company pioneered the use of computers in trading. Eventually, Interactive Brokers Inc. was incorporated as a U.S. broker-dealer in 1993, and the company has since developed into one of the industry’s most complete online brokerage platforms. Interactive Brokers (IBKR) offers astonishing access to 150 markets in 34 countries and support for its services in 200 countries, all with funding and trading capabilities in up to 27 currencies.


Capitalize will roll over your funds into an IRA for you to control – for free. The investment platform has an annual percentage yield (APY) of 0.45% for at least $0.01 balances. The Robinhood app’s layout is minimalistic but peppered with useful features. Lists such as “100 most popular,” “top movers” and “upcoming events” help users stay on top of daily events. News stories from Barron’s, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal are available within the app.

Related content: Basics of investing

The cost of shares does not include brokerage fees, which are percentage-based on the total deal value. The IRS or your state sets annual contribution limits for other types of investing accounts, including IRAs, 401(k) plans, HSAs, and 529 plans. Our experts have been helping you master your money for over four decades. We continually strive to provide consumers with the expert advice and tools needed to succeed throughout life’s financial journey. Meet with a finanical professional like a fiduciary advisor or CFP if you need help opening or managing a brokerage account.


A brokerage is a go-between connecting buyers and sellers, ensuring completion of transactions, and maintaining order flow and liquidity. Brokerages ensure market participants can manage portfolios in their brokerage accounts and usually charge a commission per transaction, paid by the buyer and the seller. The exchange, where the brokerage has its membership or direct client transactions, may also pay the brokerage for liquidity services. Alternatively, a brokerage may sell client order flow or function as a market maker.

SoFi Active Investing’s $0 trading commission, fractional shares and $1 account minimum are attractive to new investors. More advanced investors will appreciate the company’s wide mutual fund selection and IPO access. This allows you to buy investments using the money deposited in the account.

Summary: Best Online Brokerage

For more details about the categories considered when rating brokers and our process, read our full methodology. We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Read our article on how to buy stocks for step-by-step instructions on placing that first trade. To see our full methodology and learn more about our process, read our criteria for evaluating brokers.

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