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The Best Online Stock Trading Platforms

Which Online Stock Trading Platform is the Best?

The easiest way to answer that question is to start out with your preferred investment approach. Are you a beginning investor who needs to learn about the differences between stocks, ETFs and options? Are you trying to prepare for retirement and want a relatively safe way for your money to grow over the next 10, 20, 30 years? Or are you a seasoned investor ready to take yourself to the next level as an active trader? There are online stock trading platforms that meet all of those needs - but some services specialize in one or the other.

For active traders, the best platforms will have ample tools and research on hand. We particularly recommend the ones that offer you a way to test a strategy and see how it might play out - before actually committing to the trade. Make sure that any platform you're considering has the tools you anticipate needing, from fully-featured mobile apps to access to reports and other data to guide your decision-making.

Saturday, May 18th

2024 Online Stock Trading Platform Reviews

Fidelity Review Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award 5 Star Rating


5 Star Rating Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Fidelity has earned our newest first-place ranking among online stock trading platforms. From active traders and other self-directed investors to wealth management clients, there's something for everyone here. Fidelity keeps fees low without compromising on service or quality, which is why so many experts have ranked them as the #1 online stock broker. For more than 75 years, millions of clients have trusted Fidelity with their investments - and we encourage you to do the same.

Charles Schwab Review 4.5 Star Rating

Charles Schwab

4.5 Star Rating

Charles Schwab is an excellent all-around choice for investors of all levels, with accounts and services for self-directed trading all the way up to completely managed portfolios and one-on-one consultations with a dedicated financial advisor. Schwab offers some unique client benefits, such as a satisfaction guarantee, local branches for in-person service, and the ability to purchase fractional shares. We're still waiting to see what impact, if any, is made by Schwab's ongoing merger with TD Ameritrade, but all signs point to Schwab continuing to be one of the top online stock trading platforms out there.

Interactive Brokers Review 4.5 Star Rating

Interactive Brokers

4.5 Star Rating

Interactive Brokers, or IBKR, has a history spanning more than 40 years as a stock trading platform. This award-winning service is best suited for active investors, preferably with some experience, and offers many different tools to inform your investment strategy. Choose between the Lite and Pro plans, with corresponding pricing on trades. This is one of our preferred online stock trading providers for knowledgeable, active investing.

Zacks Trade Review 4.5 Star Rating

Zacks Trade

4.5 Star Rating

Zacks Trade is suitable for the active trader who still wants a bit of hand-holding, with no extra charge on broker-assisted trades. The company has been providing cutting-edge investment research for over 40 years. You'll pay more in commissions and other fees here than you might with a few other platforms, but many clients say it's well worth the cost to use Zacks Trade. Give this online stock trading platform your consideration if you're looking for in-depth research and tools for active traders.

Merrill Edge Review 4 Star Rating

Merrill Edge

4 Star Rating

Bank of America's Merrill Edge is a fantastic option for investing in the market. There are three service options, ranging from completely self-directed (ideal for active, experienced investors) to managed plans with or without an assigned advisor. If you choose a managed plan, you'll save on your advisory fees if you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member. While you can't invest in fractional shares here, in all other aspects this is a well-rounded online stock trading service.

TradeStation Review 3.5 Star Rating


3.5 Star Rating

TradeStation is one of the original online stock trading platforms, in operation since 1982. While you used to have to pay significant fees and make a minimum deposit here, they've now changed their pricing to be competitive with similar services: no commissions on most trades and no minimum deposit required. You'll get a professional-level dashboard and plenty of research tools to fine-tune your trading strategy. But, a pattern of client complaints includes issues with the platform itself and with less-than-friendly customer reps, keeping TradeStation from earning a higher ranking.

Sogo Trade Review 3.5 Star Rating

Sogo Trade

3.5 Star Rating

SogoTrade is worth a look if you're an "independent, self-directed investor" - and we would add that it's the best fit for active traders, not those who want to make a deposit and leave it alone for years at a time. This stock trading platform has some unique features, like "Get Paid to Trade" on qualifying limit orders and multiple tools for research and strategy development. Plus, SogoTrade gets an "A+" from the BBB and praise from most of its clients. Give SogoTrade a look if you're an active trader.

TD Ameritrade Review 3 Star Rating

TD Ameritrade

3 Star Rating

TD Ameritrade used to be our #1 pick for online stock trading platforms, and this service still has a lot going for it. However, it's in the process of being merged into Charles Schwab, which acquired the business back in 2020 - and that seems to have had an impact on TD Ameritrade's ability to keep clients happy. You may want to cut to the chase and invest directly with Schwab instead of opening an account here.

Firstrade Review 3 Star Rating


3 Star Rating

Firstrade is known for its low fees: $0 commission for all online trades. In business since 1985, this stock trading platform is best for the self-directed investor who wants to save money on trades, maybe at the expense of some of the bells-and-whistles offered by competitor services. Recent dissatisfaction coming from some Firstrade clients stops this company from earning a higher ranking here.

Ally Review 3 Star Rating


3 Star Rating

Ally is best known as an automobile lender, as the rebranding of GMAC, but through its general banking services you'll also be able to access its online stock trading platform. You have three overall account types to choose from: self-directed, "Robo Portfolio" , and wealth management. The middle option isn't a bad one if you've got $100 or more to invest and you want to let the computer algorithms handle the day-to-day, but the other two types of clients will get more in-depth service from another provider. And, with hundreds of complaints about Ally in general, this may not be the most customer-friendly option for your investing.

E*Trade Review 3 Star Rating


3 Star Rating

It's fair to say that E*Trade is the "OG" of the online stock trading platforms, as the source of the first online transaction sent to a stock exchange back in the 80s. Whether you're starting to invest for retirement or you're an active day trader, you've got choices here. And, there may even be a cash bonus when you open and fund an account. However, E*Trade only gets an average rating from us, due to a low grade from the BBB and a pattern of client complaints about account management.

SpeedTrader Review 2.5 Star Rating


2.5 Star Rating

SpeedTrader is for active traders. You'll have to maintain a minimum balance of $2500 or $10,000, depending on whether you choose their Active Web or Pro platforms. That's a big disadvantage. Plus, this stock trading service doesn't give you the level of research you'll need if you're an experienced investor. Novice investors will definitely need to choose a more simplified service, and more seasoned traders will get more for their time and money with a more sophisticated platform than SpeedTrader.

Webull Review 1.5 Star Rating


1.5 Star Rating

Webull gives the impression of being a client-friendly stock trading platform with lots of advantages: six free fractional shares, no minimum deposit or balance requirements, and a free-to-everyone learning section with video courses explaining the ins and outs of investing. Go a little further, though, and you'll see why this is one of our lowest-ranking services. Webull is owned by a Chinese holding company, has an "F" rating from the BBB, and is frequently described as a scam by deeply disappointed investors. Choose a different platform for trading stocks.

Robinhood Review 1 Star Rating


1 Star Rating

Robinhood's mission is good in theory: make investing affordable and understandable for the average consumer, not just the big names on Wall Street. We can get behind that. And, this is one of just a few platforms that offers fractional shares, another excellent way for people to start investing in some bigger companies' higher-priced stocks. But, this online stock trading platform has a terrible track record reputation-wise: an "F" from the BBB, penalties and restitution fees in the tens of millions of dollars, and so on. Robinhood doesn't get our recommendation.

Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Other investors might want a stock trading service that includes access to a financial advisor. These accounts usually come with fees as a percentage of the total amount invested, but it can be well worth the cost if you don't want to be involved in the day-to-day management and strategy on your account. Some services also let you choose a robo-investor: you enter your timeframe, investment goals, and risk tolerance, and a portfolio matching those targets is automatically generated and rebalanced over time. On those types of accounts, you can find options with no fees - and the ones that do charge fees are usually much less expensive than working with a human advisor one-on-one.

Keep in mind that most of today's online stock trading platforms very proudly advertise that they charge "$0 fees" . Is that true? Yes and no. More often than not, that refers to a lack of commissions on certain types of investments, usually stocks, ETFs, and sometimes options as well. However, you'll always find other costs associated with your investment - like transfer or withdrawal fees, surrender charges, and annual fees. Of course, it's still a money-saver to have no commissions on at least some of your trades; make enough on your investments and any other fees will easily be covered and then some.

So, which online stock trading platform is best for you? Here are some of the criteria to keep in mind:

  • Intended Investment Strategy. As we mentioned, your approach to investing will be the first factor to consider. Active trader? Buy-and-hold? Investing to make a lot of money but willing to take a lot of risks"or securing your retirement without being overly bold?
  • Ease of Use. How hard is it to navigate the site? Is it easy to open an account, manage your investments, and get advice?
  • Tools. What does the platform offer to help you with your investments? Is there a mobile app? Does the service connect you with research, data, and planning tools that are a good match for your level of expertise?
  • Reputation. What do other clients say about their experiences with the company? Is this a service with a long history in the financial industry or a relative newcomer? How are issues handled by the customer service team? Will you and your investments be in good hands here?

To help you make the most of your investments, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked today's most popular online stock trading platforms. We hope this information helps you reach your financial goals!

The Best Online Stock Trading Platforms Compare Online Stock Trading Platforms Compare Online Stock Trading Platform Reviews What are the best Online Stock Trading Platforms Best Online Stock Trading Platform Reviews

Online Stock Trading Platform FAQ

No! In fact, most online stock trading platforms go out of their way to introduce beginners to the investment process. Online stock trading is appropriate for all levels of experience.
It's commonly accepted that investing in the stock market is an essential part of growing one's wealth. Using buying and selling stock online is a terrific way to get started or to continue expanding your portfolio. These stock trading platforms often have 24/7 assistance, in contrast with your local investment firm that operates according to traditional business hours. Plus, trading stock online can take off any pressure you might feel, letting you do the research and make your choices at your own pace and comfort level.
No matter which online stock trading platform you choose, you'll likely have a wealth of options at your fingertips. From access to third-party resources like Morningstar and CFRA, to plans that include professional management of your investments, you can get as much (or as little) input as you want.
Some stock trading platforms let you enter financial information from other institutions, so that you have an all-in-one place to track your net worth. You may also see tools for budgeting, tracking spending, and so forth. Also, if you choose a platform that's connected with your bank, you might get extra perks like free stock trades or seamless transfer of funds between accounts.
It's only as expensive as you decide to make it. You'll typically see per-trade fees, but some platforms have no-charge options. For example, you might be able to buy and sell mutual funds with no additional fees, or only pay fees for trades that require a live broker's assistance.
That depends on the stock trading platform you select. If you're just getting started, you may want to choose to invest with a service that has no minimum deposit. On the other hand, if you're an experienced investor and you're working with a larger investment amount, you'll be able to access more options among stock trading platforms.
Most stock trading platforms offer no guarantee that you'll be satisfied with their services. However, there are a small number of platforms that will refund your service fees and/or commissions paid if you're not happy, while working with you to address the problem.
Yes! This is a highly-regulated industry, and most of the stock trading platforms you'll find have been in business for decades (if not longer!). Where you decide to trade stocks will largely depend on your experience level with investing, the amount you're looking to put into the market, and what kind of investment help you want to have available.

Compare Online Stock Trading Platforms

Select any 2 Online Stock Trading Platforms to compare them head to head

  • Fidelity
  • Charles Schwab
  • Interactive Brokers
  • Zacks Trade
  • Merrill Edge
  • TradeStation
  • Sogo Trade
  • TD Ameritrade
  • Firstrade
  • Ally
  • E*Trade
  • SpeedTrader
  • Webull
  • Robinhood
Fidelity vs Charles Schwab Fidelity vs Interactive Brokers Fidelity vs Zacks Trade Fidelity vs Merrill Edge Fidelity vs TradeStation Fidelity vs Sogo Trade Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade Fidelity vs Firstrade Fidelity vs Ally Fidelity vs E*Trade Fidelity vs SpeedTrader Fidelity vs Webull Fidelity vs Robinhood Charles Schwab vs Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab vs Zacks Trade Charles Schwab vs Merrill Edge Charles Schwab vs TradeStation Charles Schwab vs Sogo Trade Charles Schwab vs TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab vs Firstrade Charles Schwab vs Ally Charles Schwab vs E*Trade Charles Schwab vs SpeedTrader Charles Schwab vs Webull Charles Schwab vs Robinhood Interactive Brokers vs Zacks Trade Interactive Brokers vs Merrill Edge Interactive Brokers vs TradeStation Interactive Brokers vs Sogo Trade Interactive Brokers vs TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers vs Firstrade Interactive Brokers vs Ally Interactive Brokers vs E*Trade Interactive Brokers vs SpeedTrader Interactive Brokers vs Webull Interactive Brokers vs Robinhood Zacks Trade vs Merrill Edge Zacks Trade vs TradeStation Zacks Trade vs Sogo Trade Zacks Trade vs TD Ameritrade Zacks Trade vs Firstrade Zacks Trade vs Ally Zacks Trade vs E*Trade Zacks Trade vs SpeedTrader Zacks Trade vs Webull Zacks Trade vs Robinhood Merrill Edge vs TradeStation Merrill Edge vs Sogo Trade Merrill Edge vs TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge vs Firstrade Merrill Edge vs Ally Merrill Edge vs E*Trade Merrill Edge vs SpeedTrader Merrill Edge vs Webull Merrill Edge vs Robinhood TradeStation vs Sogo Trade TradeStation vs TD Ameritrade TradeStation vs Firstrade TradeStation vs Ally TradeStation vs E*Trade TradeStation vs SpeedTrader TradeStation vs Webull TradeStation vs Robinhood Sogo Trade vs TD Ameritrade Sogo Trade vs Firstrade Sogo Trade vs Ally Sogo Trade vs E*Trade Sogo Trade vs SpeedTrader Sogo Trade vs Webull Sogo Trade vs Robinhood TD Ameritrade vs Firstrade TD Ameritrade vs Ally TD Ameritrade vs E*Trade TD Ameritrade vs SpeedTrader TD Ameritrade vs Webull TD Ameritrade vs Robinhood Firstrade vs Ally Firstrade vs E*Trade Firstrade vs SpeedTrader Firstrade vs Webull Firstrade vs Robinhood Ally vs E*Trade Ally vs SpeedTrader Ally vs Webull Ally vs Robinhood E*Trade vs SpeedTrader E*Trade vs Webull E*Trade vs Robinhood SpeedTrader vs Webull SpeedTrader vs Robinhood Webull vs Robinhood
Compare the Best Online Stock Trading Platforms
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