With the Dow more than doubled since 2009 and now at record highs, some first-time investors are concerned that it might be too late to jump into stock trading. The truth is that no investment comes with a guarantee, and experts disagree about where the market will go next.

But many, like Harold Gold, a columnist for Market Watch and founder of Golden Egg Investing, remain bullish, convinced the U.S. market will continue to climb.

According to Gold, “The strength of the dollar and attractiveness of U.S. capital markets will cause U.S. investors … to pour money back into the U.S. That move … should help power U.S. stocks still higher.”

Strategy Matters

When it comes to investing, strategy matters. For first-time investors, that strategy includes choosing an online trading site that makes trading easy and gives them the help and support they need.

The best investing sites for beginners:

  • Provide educational tools
  • Offer features that simplify the trading process
  • Give real-time support through chat, phone and email communications

Here are three of the best online trading sites for beginners based on our research:

Best Overall: E*TRADE

E*TRADE garners top awards from review sites for some very good reasons that make it a smart choice for beginners. Their E*TRADE 360 platform is extremely easy to use and lets users see relevant account information on a single screen. The mobile app looks and works almost exactly like the web-based platform, eliminating confusion. Both let users deposit checks into their accounts and provide real-time quotes and live news about the market.

Beginning investors are likely to have lots of questions, and E*TRADE provides quick answers through informative educational and support tools such as online tutorials, articles, and real-time customer service. In addition, E*TRADE sponsors a helpful online trader community where beginning investors can chat with other investors. If interested, E*TRADE is offering 60 days of free trading for new investors.

E*TRADE requires a $500 deposit to open an account and charges $9.99 for each stock or options trade.

Cheapest Trading Fees: 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.

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.

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.

Best for Educational Tools: TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade offers three trading platforms to accommodate traders with varying levels of experience, including their web-based platform ideal for beginners. Their mobile trader app helps first-timers test their skills and gain confidence with virtual trading.

One of Ameritrade’s chief benefits is the slate of educational tools they offer to new investors. Those tools are extremely well-organized in categories like “understanding the basics,” “selecting an account type” and “selecting investment products.” They also have an extensive video library focusing on topics like investing basics: stocks, trading tools, and portfolio diversification.

Like E*TRADE, TD Ameritrade charges $9.99 for stock and options trades. They require no minimum deposit to get started. If you want to know more, you can check out TD Ameritrade here and take advantage of a current offer of 60 free days of trading and $600.

There’s no such thing as a risk-free investment, and no one can predict with certainty where the Dow will be a year from now. Beginning investors can minimize their risk by trading on sites that offer outstanding customer support, intuitive platforms, and comprehensive educational resources to make trading easy and profitable.