If you want to get into investing but aren’t sure how to start, signing up for an online investment site can be a good first option. Instead of paying an arm and a leg for your own broker, you can use the sites to learn more about the different types of investing, and then talk to one of their brokers for much cheaper than going through traditional brokerage firms. You can also have easier access to your own investments, since the top sites offer online user interfaces that help you track and make changes to your investments.

Which Investment Site Should You Choose?

There are many online investment sites out there, but the best ones that cater to investing newbies are the top names in the field. Picking a site will depend on what kind of investments you are interested in. Here are some great sites to choose from:

OptionsHouse

This site has the least expensive rates, which makes it perfect for any newbies who want to take a few risks without getting hit by expensive rates. OptionsHouse also does a good job at showing you the different types of investing.

Price: $3.95 per stock and $5 per option transaction. OptionsHouse.com is currently offering 60 days of commission-free trades when you sign up.

Best Feature for Newbies: OptionsHouse offers the lowest rates, almost across the board, but they only have three options: Stocks; Options and Spreads. It’s the best site for long-term, low-risk trading.

Downsides: The limited options available through OptionsHouse may not work for the investment portfolio you are trying to build. OptionsHouse does offer a variety of contact methods, including telephone, live chat and email support, but it is not 24/7.

Scottrade

Scottrade offers easy-to-use trading tools and a comprehensive network of 500 local branches for traders who want to talk to someone in person. Scottrade’s reputation for top-notch customer service makes it a smart choice for first-time investors. In a recent investor survey by J.D. Power and Associates, Scottrade ranked No. 1 for both customer interaction and overall satisfaction.

Price: Scottrade is also one of the most affordable trading sites, offering stock and options trades for just $7 each. They require a $2,500 minimum deposit to begin trading.

Features: Scottrade’s platform lets beginning investors easily customize the elements of their home page with a drag and drop feature. And every account page comes with a Quick Trade Bar to help users research and trade stocks with ease.

Best Feature for Newbies: Scottrade’s price makes it easier to learn to make trades without breaking the bank.

E*Trade

E*Trade was founded in the early 1980s, making it a pioneer in the field. Based in New York City, it too is an online discount stock brokerage service for those comfortable with doing their own trading.

Price: $9.99 per ETF, stock or option transaction. $19.95 per mutual fund transaction. E*Trade charges a maintenance fee, surcharges on penny stocks and IRA setup and annual IRA fees. E*Trade is offering free trading for 60 days when you sign up.

Features: The company offers access to a vast range of mutual funds and foreign markets through a relatively simple platform, leading reviewers such as Barron’s and Smart Money to bestow multiple awards on the company over the years. The brokerage offers banking services, including high interest savings accounts, mortgage accounts and checking accounts. For those who make more than 150 trades per quarter and who prefer a wide variety of investment products.

Best Feature for Newbies: The E*Trade platform lends itself to customization for an individual investor’s unique needs.

Downsides: Investors who make fewer trades on a regular basis pay relatively high commissions. The lowest options and stock trade fees are only available to high-volume customers. Although it offers 24-hour customer service by telephone, E*Trade does not offer a live chat feature.

To learn more about OptionsHouse, click here. To learn more about E*Trade, click here. To learn more about Scottrade, click here.