Top online brokerage firms with the lowest trading commissions on stocks and ETFs in 2018

Investors often look for the lowest-cost discount brokerage firms among the highly-advertised (on TV and radio) brokerages with a long history in the industry such as Merrill Edge ($6.95), Etrade ($6.95), Charles Schwab ($6.95) or TD Ameritrade ($6.95).

Below is a list of brokerage firms with the lowest trading commissions.

Ally Invest

Ally Invest rating

  • Stocks & ETFs: $4.95 ($3.95 for 30+ trades in 90 days or $100K account balances)
  • Options: $4.95 + $0.65 per contract ($3.95 + $0.50 per contract for 30+ trades in 90 days or $100K account balances)
  • Mutual Funds: $9.95

Open an account: Up to $3,500 cash bonus + commission free trades for new accounts.

Ally Invest is an excellent brokerage firm for price-conscious investors. Stock commissions are only $4.95, and the amount has been that low since 2005. Account fees are all clearly listed on the website and are easy to understand even for starters.

The company gets top marks for a history of excellent customer service and its interactive trading platform, which is fully customizable and user friendly. Beginners will appreciate the simplicity of its platform. Its research and data tools are also intuitive and easy to understand, and of course, new investors can take real advantage of the company's excellent education center, which allows users to gain more knowledge and research strategies for investing. There is even a section dedicated to “Rookies” where beginners can get the basics on everything, from bonds to options trading strategies.

Firm's investment choices are inline with bigger names in the industry, and even include forex trading which few other online brokers offer.

Top Ally Invest advantages are:

  • Very low trading commissions
  • No minimum to open an account
  • No inactivity fee
  • Advanced trading tools, interactive charts, user-friendly platform.
  • Great bonus offers with no minimum deposit requirement

More in Ally Invest review »


Firstrade rating

  • Stocks & ETFs: $0
  • Options: $0
  • Mutual Funds: $0

Open an account: $0 commissions + up to $200 in transfer fee rebates.

With tow low cost commissions plans Firstrade offers terrific tools for experienced and active traders. Stocks commission at this broker is rock-bottom $0 per trade!

Firstrade is rated the best priced broker for stock, ETF, and mutual funds investors as well as options traders. The broker's advantages include:

  • $0 commissions on all products
  • Low margin rates
  • No inactivity fees or account maintenance fees
  • Free DRIPs (dividend reinvestment plans)
  • Clean, easy to navigate website
  • $0 minimum to open an account

More in Firstrade review »

Low Cost Stock Brokerage Firms

Ally Invest is the definition of low cost discount brokerage firm and is worth taking look at. Ally Invest's commission plans are the lowest among largest online stock trading companies out there.

The broker is not compensated by balance minimums or high account fees. In fact, the broker has no minimum funding level to open an account and do not charge set up or annual fees. Another great features of the brokerage firm is no-fee IRA accounts.


Investing In Stocks With A Discount Brokerage

Stocks have historically provided a higher average annual rate of returns than other investments, including bonds and cash equivalents. There are two ways investors can make money by investing in stocks. The first one is through stock appreciation, and the second way is through growth or dividends. However, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Global economy, business and economic conditions, government and an investor's actions can affect the value of stock; therefore, there are no assurances that the stock will increase in value.

It is important to diversify among different stocks, types of stocks, as well as stocks of different industries and companies to avoid put all of your eggs in one basket. Investors can choose to invest into growth stocks, income stocks, blue chips stocks, value stocks and penny stocks. The latter are highly speculative and very risky investments.

By offering free tools and research within their online accounts, discount brokerages firms make it easier for investors to determine the right stock that fits investment objectives. Stock screeners and even predefined screeners are designed to help clients identify potential investments based on market capitalization, performance, dividends, P/E ratio and other criteria. Both low cost brokers mentioned above offer excellent search tools for stocks.


Before You Start Investing In Stocks With A Low Cost Broker

It is important to know, that discount brokerage firms often get compensated through additional fees charged to investors' accounts. There is nothing bad about it. Some fees can be waived with conditions, therefore can be easily avoided. Review all account fees before opening an account and make sure that you fully understand every fee. Early precautions can prevent later misunderstandings and can save you a fortune over a long time.


Opening A Low Cost Brokerage Account With A Special Offer

Low cost brokers frequently provide special offers and incentives to entice new customers. Brokerage firms offer cash bonuses and free trades, which are the most inexpensive way to establish your portfolio with a broker and increase your earnings, potentially.

Brokerage promotions are on of the ways to cut trading commission. Yet, it is usually one time offer, it's rarely offered to existing customers. Low stock trading commissions save you much more in a long run, especially if you are a cost-conscious investor or even more, an active trader. It is double pleasant when you can take advantage of both, a special offer and low pricing. Currently, both Ally Invest and Optionshouse offer excellent incentives to new clients for opening an account. Moreover, Ally Invest gives $100 in free trades just for trying the broker out!

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