If you are a US-based stock market investor looking for the perfect stockbroking platform, there is much to consider.
From the platform's ease of use and features, to the coverage of different asset types that can be traded, not forgetting the all important custody and trading fees, there are many factors you must analyze in order to which is the best stockbroker to meet your needs.
To help you apply some laser focus to your research - whether you are looking to switch from an existing stockbroker that isn't quite cutting it, or you just want to understand what else is out there - this handy guide for 2022 brings forward the leading US-based stockbrokers, plus a few new contenders, for your consideration.
There is only one place to begin, and this is with TD Ameritrade.
TD Ameritrade's platform delivers an excellent trading experience, both through its web-based and mobile platforms, a top-of-the-line educational program, and commission-free trading - so it is not hard to see why TD is such a popular choice!
If you are new to stockbroking, TD Ameritrade delivers the easy to use platforms and educational content that you will be looking for to build your knowledge as you take your first tentative steps into the world of stock market investing. TD offers access to independent third-party research, educational resources, and planning tools to help you map out your investing journey.
What about products and coverage of assets? Well, TD Ameritrade provides strong coverage across an array of different tradable securities, from stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds and forex to name just a few! TD also offers a good range of account types, including standard brokerage accounts, retirement accounts such as traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs, and a number of more specialized account types and managed portfolio services. TD also offers is customers the ability to trade on margin. TD Ameritrade offers margin accounts that help provide you with leverage and competitive cash sweep vehicle interest rates.
And when it comes to fees, TD's offering is pretty compelling too! The headline-grabber is the $0 commission for stock and ETF trades through its online platforms. If you see yourself performing most of your trading activity online through the mobile or web apps, then this is certainly a significant tick in the argument for opting to open an account with TD Ameritrade.
😍 Strong coverage of securities and markets
😍 Good selection of educational materials for beginner investors to explore
😍 Easy to use trading platforms, both web and mobile based apps
😍 Offers commission-free trading for stocks and ETFs
😩 Higher mutual fund fees and account fees when compared with the competition
😩 Fractional shares are not offered
Founded in 1946, Fidelity is a powerful international name and a frontrunner in the online US brokerage sector. With no account fees, $0 commission trades, and no minimums to open an account, Fidelity is certainly worth your consideration. Fidelity also offers easy-to-use tools and the professional insights from their team of specialists to help guide you in your investments.
Fidelity offers professional investment management services through their low-cost robo advisor solutions - from digital-only investing to a hybrid robo service with access to advisors when needed. Or if you prefer the more personal touch, you can opt to collaborate with a dedicated Fidelity advisor, who will work with you, and for you, providing clear recommendations designed to help you grow and protect your wealth.
Or if you prefer to go it alone, Fidelity offers a suite of calculators, tools, and research to help you make informed decisions based on where you are and where you want to go. All Fidelity customers have access to support through their online platforms. Investors with >$250K may also be eligible for access to a dedicated financial professional.
With a Fidelity brokerage account, you get to choose and manage your own investments - including across a strong array of security types, including mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and ETFs. With Fidelity retirement brokerage accounts—such as a rollover IRA, Roth IRA, or traditional IRA—you get to choose and manage your own investments, including mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and ETFs. Fidelity also offers a number of retirement brokerage accounts, such as a rollover IRA, Roth IRA, or traditional IRA, where you get to choose and manage your own investments.
All things considered, you could definitely do worse than choosing to open an account with Fidelity Investments.
😍 Good selection of alternative investment services, such as robo advisors and wealth management
😍 Clear pricing structures, with commission-free trading offered
😍 Easy-to-use tools and platforms, with educational materials, support and insights
😩 No commodities or futures trading
Charles Schwab is another strong contender and well worth your consideration.
Charles Schwab is a full-service broker, offering everything from DIY brokerage and trading accounts, to a robo advisory service, to full 'private client' wealth management service. Whether you're working towards retirement, saving for college or a house, or looking to invest in the market on your own, Charles Schwab has investing options that are likely to meet your needs.
Interestingly, Charles Schwab also offers a 'satisfaction guarantee' - where if for any reason you are not completely satisfied, they will refund fees and commissions. It certainly strikes a confident tone!
As you would expect from a well-established stockbroker like Charles Schwab, it offers a wide range of investing accounts and services, with standard brokerage and trading accounts, to a selection of retirement and custodial services. Similarly to TD Ameritrade and Fidelity, Charles Schwab also offers commission-free trading for listed stocks and ETFs, and has $0 fee offerings across many of its account types, but does charge fees and commissions for broker-assisted trades and of course charges a fee for its managed investment services.
Charles Schwab has won many awards and is a highly reputable option, particularly in relation to its level of customer service and retirement account offerings, such as its IRA and Roth IRA accounts.
Another very strong contender, worthy of your consideration!
😍 Strong selection of alternative investment services, such as robo advisors and wealth management
😍 Like its competitors, clear pricing structures with commission-free trading offered
😍 Well-respected brand with strong track record for good customer service and retirement offerings
😍 Full service, including educational tools, stock screeners, research, news, and live customer support
Maybe not one of the most recognizable name in the United States for stockbroking, but E*TRADE is a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, which you certainly will have heard of.
In 2019, E*TRADE joined many other platforms by transitioning to commission-free trading on stocks and ETFs. Its option trading fees are set at $0.65 per contract, with futures being offered at $1.50 per contract. However, if you are an investor with interest in international markets, E*TRADE's platform may not be the one for you. Also, E*TRADE's margin trading rates are not as competitive however, so if this is an area you are looking to in order to differentiate between brokers, then this maybe where E*TRADE falls down slightly.
Between US stockbrokers, the fee landscape is very competitive, and with the introduction of commission-free trading, there is not much between many of the main contenders when it comes to account and trading fees.
As with the other leading US-based brokers E*TRADE offers a range of account types, from the standard brokerage and trading accounts, custodial accounts, accounts focused on saving for your child's education, retirement accounts, to a number of managed portfolio options.
E*TRADE also offers a good selection of education resources for new investors and promotes a healthy approach to risk management based on your own circumstances.
Not a bad option, but there are probably stronger contenders. But E*TRADE is worth consideration as part of your research!
😍 Like its competitors, clear pricing structures with commission-free trading offered
😍 Well presented and user-friendly trading platforms
😍 Full service, including good educational resources and promotes a healthy approach to investing
😩 Margin rates are quite high and options traders may find the charges prohibitive
😩 Customers are unable to trade stocks listed on international stock exchanges
Let's finish with one of the more controversial options - Robinhood.
When it launched in 2013 Robinhood had the major competitive advantage - it took the radical approach of offering commission-free stock market trading. And its entrance to the stockbroking market has certainly changed the landscape, and for that Robinhood should always be commended. However, as we've seen throughout this guide, a number of the well-established competitors have followed suit and now offer commission-free trading as well.
Despite this, Robinhood has continued to grow and find an audience which may be out of reach of the more traditional US stockbrokers. Robinhood continues to evolve and provides a great selection of features as they continually look for ways to expand and differentiate their platform.
Robinhood's mantra of 'investing for everyone' has undoubtedly introduced a whole new demographic to the adventures of investing in the stock market. In addition to offering commission-free stock market trading, its offering has also expanded to be broader than the stock market, providing cryptocurrency trading services (again, commission-free). This is the major differentiator for Robinhood, and is a major reason as to why it finds favour with a younger demographic. If low-cost trading across international stock and crypto markets is your thing, then Robinhood is certainly a frontrunner. If you are simply looking for a well-established broker to build your retirement nest-egg through, Robinhood probably isn't worth much of your time.
😍 Commission-free trading across stocks and cryptocurrencies
😍 Modern, game-like, trading platforms, both web and mobile app-based
😍 Lowers the boundary for new investors through offering the ability to trade fractional shares
😩 Has had issues with transparency regarding its services and not known for strong customer service
😩 Limited educational and research resources available
So there you have it: a whistle-stop tour of five of the leading US stockbroking platforms for you to select from in 2022.
There are many different options for investors and traders to choose from. Be it stocks and shares or even trading cryptocurrency, there is something for all risk profiles, budgets and requirements. This means that there are many considerations when choosing the right stockbroker for you.
Keep in mind that your choice of stockbroker must be arrived at with consideration for your specific circumstances.
What type of product or account are you looking for?
Which markets and asset classes are you looking to trade or invest in?
How frequently do you anticipate trading, and therefore how much will you be charged in product fees and trading commissions?
How do you want to access your account - online, telephone, mobile app?
What level of customer support will you need?
We hope that this has helped you to narrow down your search and find the best solution for you. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer, it is all about thinking about what you really want from a stockbroking platform and finding a solution that fits.