Investing
August 29, 2017

Best Online Investment Sites 2017

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

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 for the best online investment sites 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 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.

  • Ally Invest: Best Overall Online Investment Site
  • Betterment: Best Online Investing Site for Beginners
  • TradeStation: Best Investing Site for Stock Trading
  • Personal Capital: Best Robo Advisor for Large Investments
  • Swell Investing: Best Investing Site for Do-Gooders

Commission costs at Ally Invest are $4.95, and it offers a lot of value for that low price tag. Ally Invest 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. Investing options include stocks and options, ETFs, IRAs, mutual funds, bonds, forex and International Stock Exchange.

Ally Invest Review

Get Started with Ally Invest

Ally Invest Review image
  • Best for: Beginners. Ally Invest makes investing easy and offers a lot of education around investing, so you can make the best decisions when it comes to your money.
  • Price: Trades are $4.95, and the options base fee is also $4.95. Options per contract are $0.65 and broker assisted orders are $20.
  • Features: Ally Invest offers all the typical investing options, including stocks, options, ETFs, IRAs, mutual funds, bonds, forex and trading on the International Stock Exchange.
  • Other highlights: Ally Invest doesn’t require a minimum balance, which is a nice feature that a lot of investing sites don’t offer. It also offers an easy-to-use platform and a mobile app, which are benefits for beginners.
  • Customer service: Ally Invest offers customer service both for technical issues and when you have questions about trading. It has brokers on hand to help with any of your investment questions.

Betterment is one of the best financial advisor platforms. It has no minimum deposit requirement and features tons of great research tools to help users save, develop retirement plans and reduce taxes. The management fee is 0.35 percent of your investment, which is pretty low compared to other automated financial advisors.

Betterment Review

Get Started with Betterment

Betterment Review image
  • Best For: Automated Investing. Betterment is the lazy man’s best friend and is also great for anyone just starting out in investing, since it automates trading for you. All you do is fund your account and answer questions about the types of investments you want, and Betterment will do all the heavy lifting for you.
  • Price: The benefit of Betterment is there are no complicated fees, just a percentage charged depending on how much you’ve invested. It’s 0.35 percent for under $10,000, 0.25 percent for $10,000-$99,999, and 0.15 percent for anything over $100,000.
  • Features: Since Betterment is an automated service, it doesn’t offer a lot of options when it comes to investing. Its main platform invests in both stock and bond ETFs to create your portfolio. You can also set up various forms of IRAs through Betterment, which will then tailor your investments based on your goals.
  • Other highlights: You can currently get one month of free portfolio management if you invest more than $5,000 or three months free if you invest more than $50,000.
  • Customer Service: Since Betterment does all the heavy lifting for you, of course there are going to be questions, which Betterment is more than capable of answering. You can also get financial planning advice via Betterment.

TradeStation is known for its pro tools, so of course it is our pick for the best online investment site for experienced traders. TradeStations OptionsStation Pro platform provides experienced traders with all the tools that the pro traders use, making it easy and intuitive to either do day trading or make long-term investments. Experience and sophistication, of course, come at a price. While TradeStation’s $5 per trade fee is either on-par or lower than other trading sites, it does charge a lot more for broker-assisted trades ($50) and has a high minimum investment at $5,000.

TradeStation Review

Get Started with TradeStation

TradeStation Review image
  • Best for: Serious traders. TradeStation is a top-of-the-line choice for those who are serious about investing, such as advanced traders, active stock traders, and stock, options and future traders. It is a favorite platform for frequent traders and international traders.
  • Price: The minimum investment of $5,000 is a deterrent for some investors. But for those who are serious and willing to put their money where their mouth is, the initial investment opens a top-notch trading platform with a set per-trade fee of $5.00 for most transactions.
  • Features: TradeStation is geared toward the experienced trader who wants to trade in high volumes. It is a popular platform for investors whose trading includes a diverse range of products, such as futures, stocks, forex and options.
  • Customer Service: Support is available via email or telephone, and those manning the customer service desk are quick to deal with problems or concerns you need addressed. Unfortunately, customer support is not available 24/7; customer service is available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

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. Investing options include individual accounts, taxable accounts (joint and trust), traditional IRAs, Roth and SEP IRAs.

Personal Capital Review

Get Started with Personal Capital

Personal Capital Review image
  • Best For: Wealthy investors. High-value investors get the comprehensive services available through Personal Capital at a reasonable price.
  • Price: Annual advisory fees range from 0.49 percent to 0.89 percent, depending on the account balance.
  • Features: Accounts with a minimum of $200,000 enjoy the hands-on service of two account managers, while all account holders can use the available personal finance tools and account teams to manage their accounts.
  • Customer Service: Available through email or via phone. Personal Capital also has members-only contact methods, avoiding the clutter of a public line.

Swell Investing is being marketed as the investing site for millennials. It not only takes a super-simple approach to investment, but it also allows you to invest in companies that are doing good for the world. It is run by Pacific Life Insurance Company, so it has a long history in the financial world, which is always good for piece of mind. Swell’s mobile platform makes it easy to invest with the swipe of finger and to even set up weekly or monthly deposits into your accounts. You can set up an account for only $50, and while the 0.75% annual fee may seem steep, its because Swell

Swell Investing Review

Get Started with Swell

Swell Investing Review image
  • Best for: Investors wanting to do good. Swell Investing takes a different approach to investing, gearing its portfolio offerings toward stocks that could potentially create positive change for the world. Investors who have a small amount of investment money and have an interest in combining social missions with their investment choices may find Swell Investing worth a serious look.
  • Price: When comparing Swell Investing with other online, robo advisor trading platforms, Swell’s low initial deposit, no price per trade charge and low annual fee are attractive features. Swell’s minimum investment requirement is one of the lowest at $500, and every portfolio pays 0.75 percent per year in service fees.
  • Features: Swell Investing is an online, robo advisor platform, meaning there is little human intervention in the portfolio management process. Swell buys and sell stocks on your behalf, based on a survey to determine which impact investing portfolio theme most interests you and using automated investing that has a base in fiduciary standards (Swell must act in your best interest).
  • Customer Service: As an online platform, Swell Investing uses email as its main mode of communication. There is no live customer service department or direct link on their website, but the company does offer an email address and a promise that if email correspondence can’t resolve your problem, or you can’t find an answer to your question in their FAQ Support Center, they will be in touch.

With so many robo advisors handling IRAs and individual accounts, Blooom decided to take a different approach and focus on company-sponsored 401(k)s and 403(b)s. It uses the same robo advisor technology to optimize your investment returns while working within the investment offered by your company’s retirement plan. The best part about Blooom is its straight-forward pricing. You pay $10 a month no matter how large your investment is, and there are no extra fees or changing rates like other robo advisors. There is also no minimum investment requirement, so you can sign up no matter what you have saved in your 401(k).

Blooom Review

Get Started with Blooom

Blooom Review image
  • Best For: 401(k) management. Blooom is best for people who want to improve the performance of their 401(k) accounts without paying a financial adviser.
  • Price: Blooom charges a flat rate of $10 per month no matter how much money you have in your retirement portfolio.
  • Features: Blooom includes several noteworthy features, including 401(k) audits, 256-bit encryption, 24/7 virus scans, regular account reviews and educational tools that will help you make wiser investment choices.
  • Customer Service: You can contact Blooom’s customer services via live chat or email. The team at Blooom usually responds within a few hours during business hours. If you reach out to them at night, you may have to wait until the next morning for an answer to your question.

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. Investing options include stocks and options, ETFs, IRAs, mutual funds, bonds, forex and International Stock Exchange.

TD Ameritrade Review

Get Started with TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade Review image
  • Best For: Investing options. TD Ameritrade is a well-known online brokerage firm that offers a wide range of investment options, from preferred stocks to college saving plans.
  • Price: TD Ameritrade has fairly straight-forward pricing, starting at $9.99 per online stock trade.
  • Features: TD Ameritrade is especially popular for its accessibility and user-friendly model, making it particularly attractive to first-time investors. With its one-on-one support system, which is monitored by licensed brokers, it’s also popular with consumers who are interested in investing money but would prefer to be guided by a professional with expertise in trading.
  • Customer Service: TD Ameritrade is one of the only online investing service that also offers physical offices you can go to if you need in-person help with your investments.

Wealthfront

Wealthfront offers free, automated investment management and financial planning for the first $10,000 invested. It’s a useful service for small balances and offers tax-efficient features like Direct Indexing management of 529 college savings plans, something none of its competitors offer.

FutureAdvisor

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

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.

Motif Investing

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.

OptionsHouse

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

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.

Charles Schwab

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

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

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.

Ally Invest

Ally Invest is a great choice for fee-conscious investors. The trade commissions are low ($4.95), there is no account minimum, and you can qualify for $1,000 in commission-free trades depending on your deposit. However, it doesn’t offer ETFs or no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

 

Scottrade

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 only a $2,500 minimum for a brokerage account.

TD Ameritrade

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.

TradeStation

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.

Robinhood

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.

RealtyShares

If you are looking for a non-traditional approach to investing, you can try a crowdfunded investment service like RealtyShares. RealtyShares allows you invest in a portion of a real estate investment project without having to deal directly with that project. The minimum investment is $5,000, which allows people with smaller incomes who are interested in real estate investments to participate at a lower price. The only downside is that your investment is not liquid, so you have to wait until the project is completed and sold before you get the return on your investment. To find out more, here is our RealtyShares review to give you a better idea of how it works.

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.

Pfizer

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

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.

USG Corp.

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 Co.

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.

Verizon

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.

Trading and investing can be tricky for people who are just starting out, and beginners can greatly 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.

Ally Invest

Ally Invest 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.

Wealthfront

This is a great site for beginners who don’t want to do the decision making on which stocks and bonds to invest in. Wealthfront is a fully automated investment management and financial planning service. After you complete the risk assessment and review your recommended portfolio, you can open and fund an account. Once you’ve made the initial deposit, Wealthfront’s software automatically invests the money for you.

Personal Capital

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.

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 one 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.

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.

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, poring 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 in other ways. 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.

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.

  • Hello guys I am totally new to investing and know nothing about it. My wife and I are in the military and have 2 kiddos I have been told by co workers who invest that we have something on our side that helps which is time, we are both 23 years old we are not wealthy by any means but we are able to save money every month and have no overwhelming debt just a credit card we use for gas just to form some type of credit. we have decided we want to prepare for our future, not everyone gets to retire unfortunately, so we know we want to begin to invest but just do not know how or where to start was hoping someone could give us some insight or anything would be helpful and very appreciative!

  • Hey does anyone here know which one would be good for someone who doesn’t know anything about investing? I was going to go with etrade but after reading this I’m not sure which one to use. I really don’t know what I’m doing.

    • Hi Jackie, Thank you for reading! In my opinion, TradeKing is the best option for you. It has great articles as well as tutorial videos for beginners such as yourself. Many other online investment sites have similar tools, but TradeKing also has the cheapest fees, which are good for a beginner just starting to invest. Hope that helps!

  • Sites like charles schwab and etrade are what people always use, but I wanted to do the research for myself, so I looked at a bunch of online investment sites and I finally decided on tradeking. I couldn’t be happier, it’s the best site, they have the lowest prices and they treat you like an actual person instead of a number.

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