The SoFi Invest platform allows users to buy stocks (even new IPOs) and options, with no commissions, making it an extremely accessible option. Plus, the SoFi Invest platform is a top choice for new investors who want to put their investing strategies on autopilot. The online brokerage stands out from other top brokerage firms with Vanguard’s unique client-owned structure benefits, expert-crafted target date retirement funds, and advisor services. Known for its extensive selection of low-cost index funds and ETFs, Vanguard is a great brokerage for all kinds of investors looking to minimize costs and maximize returns.

He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) designations and served on the board of directors of the CMT Association. Most retirement plans offer a curated list of choices that have been well-vetted by consultants and investment experts. When you go into a brokerage account, it is daunting to know where to start. The recent What is A Brokerage Fee rise of social media blogs surrounding investing may increase interest, but be cautious about investing, as any investment comes with risk. The advantages include access to stock exchanges to buy almost endless options of investments. This is where you can purchase stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options, and almost the entire inventory of the open markets.

In addition, for investors who prefer an ongoing relationship—perhaps in person—with the same consultant, Schwab offers an extensive branch network across the United States. At other brokers, selling order flow helps make up for $0 trade commissions, but often results in compromised execution quality. A mobile app user can chat live with a trading specialist and even share their screen without leaving the app. News and insights via live streaming video are available via mobile.

If you are looking to buy and sell stocks on your own, you are looking for an online broker. When you open an account with a regulated brokerage, you can deposit money and make investments in the stock market. Most trading platforms in the United States don’t require minimum account balances. Now you can open an account, fund it with a few dollars, and buy a fraction of a share of stock.

how to compare brokerages fees

The financial industry has gone through significant changes thanks to the internet. There was a time when your only options were to go to a full-service broker. Now, there are so many options from which financially-savvy investors can choose if they want to trade on their own—and often, at a cheaper rate. If you do decide to work with a broker, be mindful of their fees and when those fees may be charged. Yes, investors may encounter additional fees besides commission when engaging with brokerage firms. These fees can include inactivity fees, account maintenance fees, fund fees, research fees, and AUM fees.

how to compare brokerages fees

Blain Reinkensmeyer has 20 years of trading experience with over 2,500 trades placed during that time. He heads research for all U.S.-based brokerages on and is respected by executives as the leading expert covering the online broker industry. Blain’s insights have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among other media outlets. Sam Levine, CFA, CMT, the lead writer for, has over 30 years of investing experience and actively trades stocks, ETFs, options, futures, and options on futures. He’s held roles as a portfolio manager, financial consultant, investment strategist and journalist.

Trade at higher volumes and get access to tools optimized for your investing needs. Typical investors may not care about the difference of a few seconds when entering and executing a trade. It offers zero-expense ratio Fidelity Flex mutual funds and uses them for its robo-advisors, Fidelity Go. Fidelity Go now has unlimited one-on-one coaching calls for account balances of $25,000 or more.

You can buy stocks without a broker by using a dividend reinvestment plan, by investing in a direct stock purchase plan or by using a trading app on your smartphone. While those options make it possible to buy stocks online without a broker, on their own they are not effective ways to build a diversified portfolio of investments that is right for long-term investing. Opening an account grants you entry to a trading platform equipped with diverse investment tools.

If you’re transferring to another broker, that new company may offer to reimburse your transfer fees, at least up to a limit. Many funds on this list will be from the broker itself, but other mutual fund companies often pay brokers to offer their funds to customers without a transaction cost. That cost may or may not be passed on to you, in the form of a higher expense ratio (more on this next).

Unlike mutual funds, which can have high investment minimums, investors can purchase as little as one share of an ETF at a time. The headline number that people generally pay the most attention to when it comes to brokers is how much they charge on stock commissions. Many online brokers offer quite reasonable commissions, letting you buy stocks for $10 or less. Some even give you free access to certain types of investments, such as a select group of exchange traded funds or mutual funds.

Our top picks pack in valuable perks, including some that offer $0 commissions and big bonuses. Carolyn Kimball is managing editor for Reink Media and the lead editor for the Annual Review. Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. If you want someone to manage your money for you, you will want to hire a financial advisor.

Every dollar you pay in brokerage account costs is one less dollar that you have to grow and use in retirement. Just being aware of all the different kinds of fees and charges will leave you well ahead of most investors in selecting the right broker. In the end, you owe it to yourself to make sure that avoid as many fees as you can and then pick whichever broker will cost you the least in the long run. Now say that you’re an active trader who likes to make a lot of stock trades.

We prefer registered investment advisors who are paid a predictable fee over registered representatives who charge commissions. To get started finding a registered investment advisor, search our sister site, A taxable brokerage account can be a good fit for anyone and everyone.

how to compare brokerages fees

If you want to trade more than stocks and ETFs, then filter out brokers that don’t offer your preferred investment types. SoFi is best-known for its loan products and online bank accounts — but it also offers an excellent investment platform that could be a great fit for beginners. In simple terms, SoFi offers a rare combination of an easy-to-use platform and lots of functionality.

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