Best Brokerage For IRA

Barron's Best Online Brokers in 2016

Ratings, reviews and firms comparison by Barron's. Who is the best Barron's discount broker? Top online investment companies in 2016.


Barron's Best Online Broker survey provides one of the major annual brokerage firm awards in the country. It celebrates its 21st anniversary this year. For a brokerage firm to get a high ranking by Barron's means recognition in the financial industry and more trust and respect among customers and potential investors. Only the 16 companies that agreed to participate in the survey were judged by Barron's in 2016. See brokers' ranking table at the bottom of the page.

Like in 2015 (2015 Barron's Survey), this year Barron's pays special attention to the brokerage firms' security features, "particularly as mobile trading gains," as it is stated in the article that some traders are less likely to access their brokerage accounts since they think of it as less secure compared to desktop access. That is why companies that provide stronger security information to clients received a special credit. Fidelity Investments (review) did very well in this department. The firm becomes a leader not only in the category but also in the overall survey by the total score going only 0.1 and 0.2 points ahead of Interactive Brokers and Optionshouse (review), respectively.

Special Offers For Opening A New Account with Barron's Top Discount Brokers

With four and a half stars out of five, all three brokerage firms mentioned above received the highest star rating among all other brokerages.

Along with mobility and security features of the brokerage, a depth of broker's investment tools and trading capabilities are other ranking factors that are highly considered by Barron's.

In addition to Fidelity's robust protection to its customers, the variety of trading and investing tools, and the quality of broker's trade execution are the other strong features that allow the company to become today's leader.

Among the strongest features of InteractiveBrokers are the Investors’ Marketplace that gives investors access to advisors and third-party software that’s connected to its platform; the widest access to international markets; the firm's Portfolio Builder feature; Mutual Fund/ETF Replicator and low trading prices.

Optionshouse received the highest rankings for its trading platform, alert system, live Webinars, dime buyback program and portfolio reporting.

Barron's Top Online Brokers in 2016: Quick Summary

  • Out of 5 stars, three brokers (Fidelity Investments, InteractiveBrokers and Optionshouse) received a 4.5-star rating, the highest star rating, "and nearly identical point totals."

  • Six firms that received 4 stars: TD Ameritrade, TradeStation, Merrill Edge, Ally Invest, Charles Schwab and Etrade.

  • Brokers that decided to omit the survey this year: OptionsXpress (part of Charles Schwab), CapitalOne Investing (was redesigning its website), LiveVol (acquired by LightspeedTrading) and Vanguard (chose not to participate).

  • Just2trade is back after a few years' break.

  • Four brokers that reported breaches in 2015: Scottrade, Etrade, Schwab Retirement Plan Services and Fidelity.

  • Five brokerages that were ranked the Best For Long-Term Investing: TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Merrill Edge and Etrade.

  • Four brokerage firms that obtained the top ranks for the Best For Frequent Traders: InteractiveBrokers, TradeStation, LightspeedTrading and TD Ameritrade (thinkorswim).

  • Five brokers that were given the high rankings for the Best For Options Traders: Optionshouse, TD Ameritrade (thinkorswim), InteractiveBrokers, TradeStation and Ally Invest.

  • Five broker firms that were ranked the Best For Novices: TD Ameritrade (Website), Fidelity, Etrade, Merrill Edge and Charles Schwab.

  • Four brokerages that received the top spots for the Best For International Traders: InteractiveBrokers, TradeStation, Fidelity and Charles Schwab.

  • Five brokerage companies that were awarded the high ranks for the Best For In-Person Service: Merrill Edge, Scottrade, Charles Schwab, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade.

  • Optionshouse received 5 points out of 5 for the Mobile App, finishing the best in the category.

  • TD Ameritrade obtained 5 points out of 5 for the Research Amenities, finishing the best in the category.

  • TradingBlock is the only one of Barron’s top 16 online brokers this year that doesn’t offer a mobile app.

You can compare the brokers' ranking factors and their ratings shown in the table below.

Barron's Best Online Broker Survey 2016: Ranking Factors and Brokers' Ratings


Broker Trading Experience & TechUsability MobileRanges of Offerings Research AmenitiesPortfolio Analysis and Reports Customer Service & EducationCosts Total Stars Review
Fidelity 4.74.5 4.94.4 4.94.8 4.91.8 34.9 4.5 Review
Interactive Brokers 4.54.0 4.74.4 4.24.6 4.24.2 34.8 4.5 Review
Optionshouse 4.44.6 5.03.7 4.84.7 4.62.9 34.7 4.5 Review
TD Ameritrade 4.54.7 4.83.9 5.04.9 4.80.7 33.3 4 Review
Tradestation 4.54.3 4.13.9 4.54.3 4.82.6 33.0 4 Review
Merrill Edge 3.44.1 4.72.5 4.64.7 4.53.0 31.5 4 Review
Ally Invest 3.64.1 4.43.8 4.33.8 4.62.7 31.3 4 Review
Charles Schwab 3.84.4 4.54.1 4.64.2 4.80.9 31.3 4 Review
Etrade 3.84.2 4.63.4 4.94.0 4.80.6 30.3 4 Review
Lightspeed Trading 4.43.9 3.52.1 2.82.5 4.34.1 27.6 3.5 Review
Scottrade 2.33.3 4.12.3 3.13.1 4.21.2 23.6 3 Review
SogoTrade 2.92.8 2.52.7 2.72.4 3.72.7 22.4 3 Review
eOption 2.52.8 3.62.4 2.31.9 2.84.0 22.3 2.5 Review
Firstrade 2.12.9 3.92.1 2.62.9 3.81.9 22.2 2.5 Review
Trading Block 2.62.7 0.03.2 2.61.7 2.91.4 17.1 2 Review
Just2trade 1.41.9 3.50.7 0.61.1 2.63.8 15.6 2 Review