2019 discount stock broker comparison. Brokerage, IRA account fees, commissions, ratings and rankings. Which online brokerage firm to choose?

Broker Commissions and Fees

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
TD Ameritrade $6.95 $49.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0
Ally Invest $4.95 $9.95 $4.95 + $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Fidelity $4.95 $49.95 $4.95 + $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Charles Schwab $4.95 $76 ($0 to sell) $4.95 + $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Etrade $6.95 $19.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0
Vanguard $7-$20 $8-$35 $30 + $1.50 per contract $20* $20*

Services

Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
TD Ameritrade
Ally Invest
Fidelity
Charles Schwab
Etrade
Vanguard


Fund Investing
Ally Invest offers over 12,000 mutual funds, including load and no-load funds from most leading fund families. Their funds cover a range of investment objectives, strategies and asset classes. Ally Invest charges the lowest rate to buy or sell mutual funds - $9.95 per transaction. The broker does not, however, offer NTF funds.

Traders at Schwab have access to more than 5,000 mutual funds. Of these, over 3,500 are OneSource products, which have neither load nor transaction fee. Mutual funds with a transaction fee are a rather expensive $76 to purchase, although there is no charge to sell.

TD Ameritrade provides its clients with over 11,000 mutual funds. Nearly 2,000 carry no load and no transaction fee. Mutual funds with a transaction fee are a somewhat pricey $49.99.

Investors at E*Trade have access to over 8,000 mutual funds. Approximately 1,300 have no load and no transaction fee. There is $19.99 charge to trade transaction-fee funds.

The most mutual funds are at Vanguard. Investors can trade more than 16,000 funds. Some of these have no transaction fee and no load. Transaction-fee mutual funds carry a $35 commission in a small account (defined as less than $50,000 in Vanguard securities). The fee decreases to either $20 or $8 for accounts with higher balances.

There are over 10,000 mutual funds available for trading at Fidelity. Of these, less than a thousand have no transaction fee and no load. Funds with a transaction fee cost $49.95 to purchase. They are free to sell.

ETF traders have good choices among these six brokers. Schwab offers over 200 ETF's without a commission, E*Trade offers 118 commission-free ETF's, TD Ameritrade has 101, Fidelity offers 84, and Vanguard has 55. Scottrade unfortunately does not offer commission-free ETF's.


Trading Tools
Ally Invest created intuitive and easy-to-use trading screens. The firm offers advanced trading platform called Ally Invest Live. It also acquired a discount broker called MB Trading which is popular among active traders. Ally Invest will soon offer MB Trading's top rated trading tools.

E*Trade's website is attractive and easy to use. Trades can be placed within the browser, or with an advanced trading platform. There are two available, in both browser and desktop formats. Unfortunately, active trader requirements must be met to use either platform.

Schwab's website is less attractive compared to E*Trade's, but is easy to navigate nonetheless. Traders can manage their activities using the web browser, or with StreetSmartEdge, an advanced desktop trading system available to clients with a $1,000 account balance.

TD Ameritrade also has a user-friendly site. The broker offers two additional platforms: Trade Architect and thinkorswim. Trade Architect is web-based, and thinkorswim is a desktop platform. The broker has no frequent trader requirements.

Fidelity's website is similar to TD Ameritrade's. Both are laid-out nicely and easy to navigate, although TD Ameritrade has a better trade ticket at the bottom of the browser. Fidelity does offer an advanced trading system, Active Trader Pro, but it has an active trader requirement. The broker recently developed an app for Apple TV.

Vanguard's website is harder to navigate than the other brokers' sites. Trading at Vanguard occurs within the web browser. Regrettably, Vanguard does not have an advanced platform.


Banking Features
Vanguard has a hybrid brokerage-cash management account. Traders must have at least $500,000 invested in Vanguard mutual funds and ETF's in order to apply. Furthermore, checks and debit cards have fees for accounts with less than $1,000,000 in Vanguard products.

A hybrid securities-cash management account is also available at Fidelity. It comes with checks and a Visa Gold debit card free of charge. The account is insured by the FDIC up to $1,250,000, five times higher than the usual amount. The broker also reimburses all ATM fees.

E*Trade offers a checking account with checks and a debit card. The account, checks, and card have no fees. E*Trade refunds ATM charges for accounts that have more than $5,000 on deposit.

Schwab has an FDIC-insured bank that functions as the settlement account for its brokerage accounts. Checks and a debit card can be added to a deposit account at no cost. ATM charges throughout the world are refunded.

TD Ameritrade also offers its customers a checking account. It comes with a debit card and checks free of charge. The broker refunds ATM charges, and the account is protected by FDIC insurance up to $500,000.


New Account Promotions
Ally Invest: Up to $3,500 cash bonus + 90 days of commission free trades (up to $500 in value).

TD Ameritrade: Trade free for 60 days + get up to $600.

Charles Schwab: Make $100,000 deposit and get 500 commission-free online equity and options trades.

Fidelity Investments: Get 500 free trades with $100,000+ deposit.

Etrade: Deposit $10,000+ and get up to $600 bonus and 60 days of free trades.


Our Recommendations
Beginner Investors: Ally Invest, Etrade and TD Ameritrade.

IRA accounts: TD Ameritrade, Etrade, and Fidelity.

Stocks/ETFs Traders: Ally Invest, Etrade and TD Ameritrade.

Options Traders: Ally Invest and Etrade.

Long Term, Inactive Investors: TD Ameritrade, Ally Invest, Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments, and Etrade.

Mutual Funds Investors: Ally Invest and TD Ameritrade. Fidelity Investments, Schwab and Vanguard if investing mostly in their own families of mutual funds.

Small accounts: Ally Invest and Etrade.


Broker Reviews

Ally Invest Review

TD Ameritrade Review

Etrade Review

Fidelity Review

Schwab Review

Vanguard Review