We look at the best online investing sites to find out which offer the best option for investors
Online investing can be one of the best things to do with your money when you want to increase your savings. While there is no single choice in online investing that is best for everyone, there are plenty of financial tools available to help you make the best decisions. It’s helpful to be aware of your options — plenty of online brokerages, virtual trading sites and investing sites would love to have you choose them. Regardless of whether you’re just starting out, you’re looking to invest for the first time or you’ve been trading options for a long time, there are interactive brokers out there that can help you make smart financial decisions. Here is a breakdown of some of the best resources on the web.
Best Online Brokers
Commission costs at TradeKing are very low at $4.95, and it offers a lot of value for that low price tag. TradeKing has a $0 account minimum and is a great option for active traders and options trading. It isn’t as mainstream as some of its competitors, but it’s building a healthy reputation for the quality and breadth of its offerings. TradeKing website
Wealthfront offers free management for the first $10,000 invested. It’s a useful service for small balances and offers management of 529 college savings plans, something few of its competitors offer. Wealthfront website
Betterment takes a super-simple approach to investment. Founder Jon Stein set up a system where you enter your age and one of your general investment goals and then it invests your money in a combo of stocks and bonds. It doesn’t require any minimum investment, and you can make small, monthly investments with a direct deposit. Betterment website
FutureAdvisor is a robo-advisor that offers some free services, such as a comprehensive retirement planning analysis. It charges 0.50 percent as a management fee and necessitates a balance of $10,000 or more. It also offers access to a team of financial advisors. FutureAdvisor website
Personal Capital offers more one-on-one advisement for investors. It uses computer algorithms, but human financial advisors are paired with each client to help you make your choices. The costs are a little higher as a result — fees range from 0.49 to 0.89 percent per year depending on the size of your account. It’s great for large investments and hands-off investing. Personal Capital website
Motif is a great way to invest in ideas without huge hassle or expense. Groups of up to 30 securities are put together by a staff member — there are nearly 100 motifs to choose from and you can trade them for just $9.95 each, quite low fees for that kind of transaction. Motif Investing website
OptionsHouse is perfect for active traders because of the low stock trading commissions ($4.95) and lack of penalty fees. It’s free to open and maintain an account, and OptionsHouse offers professional-grade stock analysis research and excellent trading tools. However, it’s not the best for mutual fund and exchange-traded fund investors.
TD Ameritrade’s trade costs are on the high side ($9.99), but it offers first-class trading platforms that seasoned traders love. It also provides a variety of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and commission-free ETFs. There’s no account minimum, and TD Ameritrade offers free research and data, which can be very helpful. TD Ameritrade website
Charles Schwab is a top pick for many reasons. The firm offers full-service treatment if you live close to one of its branches — there are 300 across the country. Online, you can find a lot of educational resources and great mobile trading platforms and tools.
OptionsXpress is a perfect discount broker for investors who aren’t solely focused on stock trading. It provides a selection of investment products, including bonds, ETFs and mutual funds. The cost is $3.50 per contract per side, but you can save money if you’re a high-volume trader.
Merrill Edge definitely stands out because of its research offerings from BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research as well as Morningstar, S&P, Capital IQ and more. It’s a great choice for casual traders because of the competitive pricing and great customer service. It commissions at $6.95 per trade, and there’s no account minimum.
Best Online Trading Companies
TradeKing is a great choice for fee-conscious investors. The trade commissions are low ($4.95), there is no account minimum, and you can quality for $1,000 in commission-free trades depending on your deposit. However, it doesn’t offer ETFs or no-transaction-fee mutual funds. TradeKing website
Wealthfront is great for hands-off investors or those who are looking for free management on small balances. You get the first $10,000 managed for free, and you can choose ETFs from 11 asset classes. Plus, automatic rebalancing is free on all accounts. Wealthfront website
Betterment is one of the best financial advisor platforms. It has no minimum deposit requirement and features tons of great tools research to help users save, develop retirement plans and reduce taxes. The management fee varies between 0.15 and 0.35 percent depending on how much you’ve invested. Betterment website
Scottrade offers excellent customer service, and its advisors can walk you through all your trading choices. It has a huge network and lots of resources for beginner investors. Commissions are moderately priced at $7 per trade, and there’s no account minimum for IRAs and a $2,500 minimum for a brokerage account.
TD Ameritrade is an advanced trade architect platform with no account minimum. It offers a lot of free research and data, but it’s still best for advanced traders who have experience trading stocks, options or futures and commodities. Equity stock trading costs are $9.99, and transaction-fee mutual fund trades cost $49.99. TD Ameritrade website
TradeStation has an ultra-advanced trading platform that used to be available only to brokers and institutional investors. Now it’s open to everyday investors, and it has super-sophisticated analysis software and other tools available. It’s perfect for very active stock market traders interested in options, futures and forex trading.
Best Stock Trading App
Robinhood is a free-trading app that saves you a lot of money on commissions. You can trade more than 5,000 stocks and ETFs without commissions or account minimums. It’s best for frequent stock or ETF traders as well as mobile traders. It offers real-time market data in addition to free trading.
Best Online Investing Companies
Wealthfront is an awesome online investing site because of the free management offered on your first $10,000. It’s great for both large and small investments, and it offers direct indexing that can help you reduce taxes. It’s a good site for hands-off investors and those looking for college savings plan management. Wealthfront website
Motif is a unique investment site because you can invest in groups of up to 30 securities arranged around a certain theme for a super-low price of just $9.95. Motif provides research on each security to help you make the best investment decisions. It’s a great site for investors who are well-educated or willing to learn about securities. Motif Investing website
Personal Capital is perfect for those who prefer to have a lot of guidance and feedback on their investments and individual stocks. You’ll have dedicated human financial advisors who can help you invest wisely. It’s a good choice for high-net-worth investors and those looking for free financial management tools. Personal Capital website
TD Ameritrade has a wide selection of investments and makes a good choice for every kind of investor. You can invest in mutual funds or use the high-tech investing platform for more sophisticated trades, and there is no minimum balance requirement. It also provides extensive free research to help you make educated decisions. TD Ameritrade website
Best Cheap Stocks to Buy
It’s always a good idea to buy the stock of a great company, but it’s even better if you can buy it at a low price. There aren’t too many companies discounting the sales of their stock these days because the market is at such a high point, but there are still some decent stocks that online brokerage firms can help you buy into.
The new administration’s plan to dismantle Obamacare and lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent could mean that Pfizer will be a great investment option. The business tax rate would give Pfizer’s bottom line a big boost. It’s still risky depending on what happens in Congress surrounding these proposals, but the company’s tailwinds still probably make it a good investment.
Brookfield Property Partners stock was selling for about 70 cents on the dollar as the year came to a close. The company is selling selective assets within the core portfolio and is securing great value-affirming deals in retail and multi-family portfolios. Its plans to continue selling assets, buy other discounted assets or repurchase more of its discounted units stand to make it a strong choice.
Infrastructure stocks are looking good on Wall Street this year, again due to the new administration. Many companies stand to gain, but USG has solid products, a solid growth plan and a valuation that make it a more secure choice and a long-term winner.
The Walt Disney Company
You may have heard on social media about next year’s planned opening of Avatar Land at Walt Disney World. With that and a full year of results from Shanghai Disney Resort, WDW is shaping up to be a great stock choice. Disney also has a slate of new movies coming out this year. Shares are down for now, which makes it a good time to buy before these growth drivers take hold.
Shares of American Express have climbed back up after a low in early 2017. Still, its stock is on the cheap side. The company has always been a solid and profitable business, and even though the market is expensive today, it’s still likely a reliable stock to purchase while it’s trading at a bit of a discount.
Verizon has recently been one of the cheapest stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Although it’s seen slow growth lately, it’s been able to continue growing its business and the FiOS product in a challenging market, and changes in the landscape might make Verizon the company to start investing in right now.
Best Online Stock Broker for Beginners
Trading and investing can be tricky for people who are just starting out. Beginners can benefit from a broker that is willing to help out first-timers. It’s best to start simple — and online investing can be one of the best ways to begin.
TradeKing offers super-easy tools that are helpful to beginners. It’s known for excellent customer support and makes a great choice for first-time investors. You can take advantage of its options pricing calculator, profitability calculator, stocks and ETF screener, and more. It’s also one of the most affordable sites. TradeKing website
This is a great site for beginners who don’t want to do the task of investing themselves. You agree on an amount of money and decide what your goals are and how much risk you want to take, and Wealthfront’s brokers invest the money for you. You can start with a small amount, and the fees are only 0.25 percent. Wealthfront website
Personal Capital is an excellent site for those who want to invest a considerable sum of money. Its minimum investment policy is $25,000, and for that, it also provides a complete view of your portfolio and personalized services that make stock trading easy and profitable. Personal Capital website
Best Online Investing Companies for Staying in the Black
For most of us, the price savings offered through internet investing is the single biggest reason to switch from traditional brokerage firms. Even the most expensive investment site typically costs substantially less than a brokerage firm, even when making brokerage assisted purchases. Priced at only 43.95 for market trades, OptionsHouse.com offers on of the least expensive rates. That fee remains the same, even with brokerage assistance. TradeKing also charges $4.95 plus $20 for brokerage assistance, versus TDAmeritrade’s price point of $9.99 plus $44.99 for brokerage assistance. OptionsHouse.com offers the lowest rates, almost across the board, but they only have three options: Stocks, Options and Spreads. Scottrade offers another option at $7 per trade, but there are a few exceptions to that pricing.
Deals: OptionsHouse.com is currently offering 60 commission-free trades when you sign up. TDAmeritrade is offering up to $600 when you open a new account. And TradeKing is offering $200 when you sign up.
Diversifying Your Portfolio
Volatile markets and the uncertainty left over from the Global Financial Crisis make it important for you to be able to invest in a variety of ways. The limited options available through OptionsHouse.com may not work for the investment portfolio you are trying to build. With mutual funds, Forex, Futures and Fixed income investment options, TDAmeritrade has a package that suits almost any investor. TradeKing goes even further, offering bonds, international trades and margin purchases. TradeKing offers the largest range of potential investments, with clear up-front pricing on all of their products.
Managing Your Investments
Lowest price and greatest diversity does not mean that a site will be your top pick. Easily managing your portfolio can be another big factor. You probably do not have time to sit for hours, pouring over financial pages. Instead, you need quick access to your entire investment package and the ability to automate many decisions. Does your online investment site allow you to pre-set sale prices? Can you manage your portfolio from a mobile site? Do you receive notifications when the market shifts, suddenly? Can you call in at any time to discuss your account?
All three of these investment sites offer you control over your sales prices and mobile access, but they do not all offer the same types of customer service. When you are investing a large portion of your savings, it is a nerve-wracking experience. OptionsHouse.com does offer a variety of contact methods, including telephone, live chat and email support, but it is not 24/7.
TDAmeritrade does not include live chat as a support method, but E*TRADE does, and they are both available all day, everyday. When you need to talk to someone about your investment account, 24-hour service can be a real advantage. Even a few hours can make a big difference to your investment package.
Finalizing Your Choice
Ultimately, choosing the right investment site will be determined by the type and scope of investing you plan to tackle. If you are just looking for the cheapest option that also includes solid investing tools, you should check out Scottrade. If you are most interested in long-term, low-risk trades, OptionsHouse.com may be the best choice. The lower fee structure is a bonus, and you will not need access to more volatile trading options. If you want a more diversified portfolio, TradeKing may be the best option. It has a wealth of trading options, quality customer service and a long-time reputation in the online trading industry. TDAmeritrade’s solid, middle-of-the-road options do not seem to measure up when combined with their higher fee structure. Take a look at this quick, side-by-side comparison to get more information, at a glance.