So, you’ve decided that you want to enter the weird and wonderful world of stocks and shares? Great! However, you’ll now need to find an online stock broker that meets your investment needs.
The good news is that there are now heaps of online stock brokers that allow you to trade at the click of a button – some of which charge very little, if any, fees.
Before you get started, be sure to read our comprehensive guide on the best online stock brokers of 2019. Within it, we’ve covered everything you need to know – such as how to get started, fees, payment methods, and more!
When newbies think of a stock broker, they often imagine a a Wall Street trader wearing a pin-stripe suit, buying and selling paper stocks at the top of their voice. However, think again. Traders invest in the stock market through online platform that allows you to buy and sell shares at the click of a button. The role of the broker is to essentially match you up with other buyers and sellers. In return, they’ll charge a commission, which is otherwise known as a trading fee.
The reason that you need to use a stock broker to invest in a company is because they have the legal means to facilitate the buying and selling of stocks on your behalf. They perform everything from executing trades for clients, distributing dividends, and even processing deposits and withdrawals.
When it comes to paying for your trades, an online stock broker will accept a number of everyday payment methods. At the very least this will include a debit or credit card, and sometimes an e-wallet like PayPal. While some brokers will charge you a few to deposit and withdraw money, others don’t.
In terms of pricing, stock brokers will offer two prices on all of the stocks they list. This is the ‘Bid Price’ and the ‘Ask Price’. In layman terms, the bid price is the price you get if you are selling your stocks, and the ask price is the buying price. The difference between the two is known as the spread – which is essentially a fee charged by the broker.
How do online stock brokers work?
✔️When you find an online stock broker that you like, you will initially need to open an account. You’ll need to provide some personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth and social security number. Moreover, as per financial regulations, you will also need to provide some ID (such as a passport or driver’s license).
✔️ Once you are all set up, you’ll need to head over to the stock market section, and search for the company that you want to buy shares in. Next, you then need to decide how much you want to invest. Don’t worry about buying a fixed number of shares, as online stock brokers allow you to buy fractional shares equal to the amount you want to invest.
✔️ As soon as you place your trade, you will then be the proud owner of your chosen stocks. At this point, you don’t need to do anything until you decide to sell the shares, which you’ll do via your online stock broker account. In the meantime, any dividends that your stocks pay will be paid straight into your stock broker account.
How do Stock Broker Fees Work?
💵It is important to remember that in the vast majority of cases, you will need to pay fees when you use an online stock broker. The reason that we say the vast majority is that the exception to the rule is US-based Robinhood – which is essentially a zero commission stock broker.
💵When you do pay fees, this can come in a number of different ways. Usually, you will pay a fixed trading fee every time you buy or sell a stock. Cheaper stock brokers such as Ally Invest charge just $4.95 in this respect.
💵Alternatively, other low fee stock brokers like Stash Invest will simply charge a monthly fee for using its platform, which amounts to just $1. This is more beneficial if you plan to trade frequently, rather than paying a fixed fee for every trade you make.
💵An additional way that you might be charge is via the spread. For example, while no commission stock brokers will not charge a fixed or monthly fee to trade, they instead make their money on the difference between the ‘Bid’ and ‘Ask’ price.
What Types of Stock Broker Accounts are There?
If you’re just a regular trader that is looking to use your own savings to trade, then you’ll simply need a traditional cash account. This means that you can only buy and invest stocks with the money you have in your stock broker account.
A margin account is where an online stock broker allows you to trade with more cash than you have in your balance. As you are effectively borrowing the funds from the stock broker, you will need to pay a small amount of interest on a margin account.
If you’re interested in buying and selling options, then you will likely need a specialist options account with your chosen stock broker. This is because options trading is considered higher risk in comparison to simply buying traditional stocks.
Some stock brokers will allow you to open an IRA account. This is only relevant if you are looking to invest for your future retirement fund. In doing this through an IRA account, you will be accustomed to a number of tax benefits.
Factors to consider when choosing an online stock broker
Account minimum – Most brokers today have no required minimum starting balance, which is great for new traders and those with restrained budgets. However, some accounts require from 500 dollars up to 10000 dollars as starting balance. This can help you take options down from you stock broker list.
Fees or commissions – Before starting out, ensure you are aware of all the fees that your platform charges, and the percentage commission they take upon buying or selling. Some platforms may not charge fees but that does not mean everything is free.
Availability of stock analysis tools – Does the stock broker provide stock analysis tools? Are they free? – some brokers offer the analysis tools for free, others at a fee and some have limited resources for analysis. If you have other analysis tools, you may choose a broker with less if you like their other features.
Customer service and support – the ability to contact customer service is an important factor trader need to consider when choosing an online broker. if overlooked, it can prove to be very frustrating later on when you are in need of assistance.
If you’re a newbie investor, then we would suggest using one of the following online stock brokers, most of which also offer investing apps to facilitate your trading experience.
Founded in 2018, EagleFX provides traders across the globe the ability to trade currency pairs, digital coins, commodities and global indices through an STP (Straight Through Processing) connection which is passing traders’ orders to liquidity providers for fast and reliable execution.
The new broker was launched by a team who has plenty of experience and knowledge in the industry and has managed to gain all the necessary tools and platforms in order to provide clients a secure connection to the markets. EagleFX charges competitive spreads and offers high leverage ratio, making it one of the best STP brokers in the market.
EagleFX is an ECN/STP broker, removing the conflict of interest between brokers and traders
The broker offers extremely competitive spreads
Friendly platform for Bitcoin users
EagleFX offers an extensive selection of 31 cryptocurrency pairs
If you’re the type of investor that wants to buy and shares via your mobile device, then look no further than Stash Invest. The stock broker allows you to get started with an investment of just $5, which again, is perfect for those of you with little experience.
Stash Invest provides access to both the NYSE and NASDAQ, subsequently allowing you to diversify your portfolio. Although the broker charges $1 per month for account balances of sub-$5,000, this is still very reasonable.
Start investing with just $5
Trade on-the-go via the mobile app
Easy to use
Low fees of $1 per month
Number of shares listed not as extensive as other brokers
If you haven’t heard of the stock broker Robinhood, then you are missing out. Why? This US stock broker does not charge any fees when buying and selling stocks through its platform. This is great for those of you that want to keep your trading costs down. With stock prices on the rise, it may be a good idea to make the most out of a reliable platform to trade stocks.
Don’t worry if you’re a newbie, as Robinhood is also super simple to use. You’ll be spoilt for choice if you’re looking to diversify, as the broker lists over 5,000 US-listed stocks, as well as bonds and ETFs. Take note, you will need to deposit at least $200 to get started.
If you’re looking for a well-established online stock broker with a super-long track-record, then we’d have to point in the direction of Fidelity Investments. The US institution is offers virtually every asset class you could ever imagine. This covers bonds, ETFs, options, future, and of course – stocks. Even better, the platform does not demand any minimum account balances, meaning you can start-off with smaller amounts.
The only slight gripe that we have about Fidelity Investments is that the open account process takes a little longer than the other brokers we have mentioned. However, as long as you aren’t in a rush, this shouldn’t be an issue.
One of the most established stock brokers in the world
No minimum account balance
Huge list of stocks and other financial products available
Opening an account takes longer than other online stock brokers
Launched way back in 1982, E-Trade offers you the option of trading on your desktop or mobile device – which is great for flexibility. The platform has a hugely extensive list of stocks to buy, and an excellent educational section to help newbies learn their trade.
E-Trade is also know for offering its customer first-rate customer service, and a very straightforward account opening process. As great as E-Trade is, do bear in mind that the platform charges $6.95 per trade, and requires a minimum deposit of $500.
Over 37 years of experience in the stock broker space
Best US Stock Brokers for 2019 – US Stock Broker List
Below you will find a list of the top stock brokers offering their services for retail investors in the US.
1. Fidelity Investments
Minimum Deposit : $0 Fees: $4.95 / trade plus $0.65 options per contract fee
Fidelity is a global financial services company that has been in operations since 1946. Its headquarters are in Boston. The company has great offers all-around from its services, tools, and value. The company manages more than $2.5 trillion in assets. This makes it a massive broker with the ability to use its scale to provide low trading costs and deliver excellent customer experience and support.
The company offers a wide range of products and services including retirement plans, mutual funds, ETFs, annuities and 529 plans among others. It also has a financial advisor division, Fidelity Investments and a Robo-advisor service known as FidelityGo.
With a Fidelity trading account, you can sell and buy stocks, mutual funds, and other securities. It also provides charts where you can observe the performance of your investments over time to see if you need to reassess or they are effective. The platform provides some education and research tools to help you with investing, an option to test your strategy, videos and articles to help you familiarize yourself with trading.
The platform offers a robust online experience for desktop and mobile users with availability on all android devices, IOS, and iPads. The company offers excellent customer support with its automated virtual assistant. On the mobile app, you can connect with a representative at the click of a single button. You can also use its branch locator tool to find the nearest physical location.
Fees are understandable considerably low
Excellent trade executions that generate price improvement in stock and options trades
Strong customer service and support
Large selection of research providers
Their ETF research center has tools that show you the stocks that comprise the fund.
Fidelity’s extensive menu system can make it difficult to find a particular tool
Relatively high broker-assisted trade fee
You might require the use of multiple platforms to access all of Fidelity’s tools
Minimum Deposit : $0 Fees : $6.95 + $0.75 for options
TD Ameritrade is one of the largest and oldest names in online stock brokerages with millions of customers, 3.5 million of which were brought over from last years acquisition of Scottrade. The platform has several platforms for investors to choose from, from their basic site to the Thinkorswim designed for traders who are very active.
However, the platform is also among the priciest with the flat fee of $6.95. Is the price justified considering there are other platforms offering only half as much? Considering the advanced tools and research possibilities it offers, the prices may be roughly in line with what major brokerages offer, although it’s not the cheapest.
The platform has no minimum opening deposit, this makes it a great option for new traders who want to start investing immediately. The fees are also pretty reasonable considering it is for any stock transaction and there are no maintenance fees.
The company offers advanced trading tools and mobile application with its Thinkorswim being voted for the top trading platform several times. Their mobile applications can be accessed using Android, iPhone tablets or apple watch. Also, TD Ameritrade provides the option to ‘graduate’ into a more advanced platform any time you feel like you require more in-depth analysis.
The users also have round the clock access to customer care, either by phone or email. This comes in handy when you need quick answers or you are stuck. You can also link your brokerage account to your TD Ameritrade bank account if you have one, or you can open one to simplify transactions.
If you are new to trading you might find that the Thinkorswim App can be a little bit intimidating at first, but once you’ve learned your way inside the program it becomes the best stock broker for beginners.
Advanced research and analysis tools for experienced traders
Education resources for new traders and advanced investors to level their knowledge
24/7 customer service
User-friendly website with a customizable sidebar and SnapTicket feature that enables you to execute trades from any page
No minimum deposit to open an account
Above market per trade fee at $6.95
Multiple apps and platforms may bring around confusion as they have very different target audiences.
You may need to use more than one trade system to find all the tools you require
Minimum Deposit : $0 Fees: $4.95 + $0.65 per contract for options
Charles Schwab is among the most recognizable brands among investors. It was founded in 1973 and is home to over 11.6 million active brokerage accounts. It is regarded as the first company to use a discount brokerage model because after commission prices were deregulated in 1975, it adopted a model offering lower commissions than investors were used to paying.
The platform also offers different platforms aimed at different levels of investor experience. It offers a desktop ‘StreetSmart Edge’ platform for advanced traders, a streamlined web trading tool called ‘Trade Source in addition to its basic browser-based solution. Charles Schwab also offers mobile apps for Windows, IOS and Android platforms with the ability to place complex trades.
Charles Schwab offers a combination of low fees, advanced trading tools, extensive investment options and $0 account minimums to make it one of the most preferred Stock Broker for Beginners and veteran investors alike. It also provides high-quality in-house and third-party research complete with live streaming events and market commentary.
As most large brokers do, Charles Schwab offers round the clock customer care in addition to its vast physical branch network. Clients can get help in person at any of its 340 branches in the United States.
The platform offers advanced trading tools in its StreetSmart Edge platform and beginner-friendly tools in its basic website
The web platform is optimized for small screens in such a way that it offers the same functionality in mobile web and native app platforms
The platform’s commissions are lower than any other brokers in the same category
The platform provides high-quality research for new and experienced investors
Charles Schwab only provides just 24 months of transaction history online
Different trading platforms may make it hard to keep track of everything
Large number of reports and features may confuse new traders or feel overwhelming. It takes some effort to find the features you need.
Minimum Deposit : $0 Fees: $6.95 for stock trades plus 0.75 for options trade
Merill Edge is an extension of Merill Lynch which is now owned by Bank of America. The platform is known for its reliable and responsive customer service but it is its synergy with Bank of America that makes it more interesting. Bank of America customers can view the accounts together, transfer funds instantly from either and manage both accounts together.
Compared to other brokers such as TD Ameritrade and ETRADE, Merill Edge is evenly priced with its flat fee of $6.95. thanks to promotions and rewards programs, the platform is often least-expensive for those with Bank of America accounts.
It has great customer care and support in addition to Merill Edge advisors present in the BoA branches during normal banking hours.
Bank of America integration works to those who have both accounts advantage
Minimum Deposit : $500 Fees: $6.95 for stock trading $0.75 per contract, $4.95 + $0.50 per contract if you make 30+ trades per quarter
ETRADE is an online broker that was founded in 1982. It is highly advertised and fairly well known in and outside financial circles. It is however best known for its user-friendliness on all browser, mobile and desktop platforms. With the E-Trade 360, you can view everything in your account in one page, as well as make trades.
For advanced investors, E-Trade provides advanced trading tools and extensive market research. It also provides tons of user educational tools and guidance for new investors. The platform is however not the most expensive or the cheapest for that matter. For the first 30 trades per quarter, you will have to pay $6.95, just like in Merill Edge and TD Ameritrade, after that, you are given a discount to $4.95 per trade.
The platform provides great customer service and support in addition to the online trader community that allows you to chat with other traders.
High quality integrated third-party research offerings
One of the best mobile trading app
Active online trader community that lets you know what others are doing
No virtual trading to help new traders practice without using any money
High costs and fees, at least for the first 30 trades
Best UK Stock Brokers for 2019 - UK Stock Broker List
If you're based in the UK, the following stock brokers provide the best platform, fees and customer service for stock trading. After all, investing in the stock market is considered to be one of the 15 best ways to make money.
Most of the recommended platforms are also considered valid for forex trading if you are interested in expanding your trading portfolio.
Degiro is a Dutch discount broker offering their services in all Europe and also in some parts of Asia. The firm has become famous for offering different asset classes and assets from almost all global markets, especially equities. With this firm you are going to be able to trade European, Asian and American equities with no delay and with a spot pricing, meaning that no spread has been added in the trading desk of the broker. The stocks on offer include giants like McDonald’s and Apple.
While there are many different options available in the market, it is always great to consider the once that have proven to be trustworthy and also price competitive. Take into consideration that Degiro might not be as agile as names like Think or swim or Merryl, but they are still a great firm and they offer broad access without sacrificing costs or reputational risks.
Low trading fees
Access to direct share trading on global exchanges
While Interactive Brokers is an American firm, the company is worldly known for being the go-to option for international traders and firms looking for a powerful platform. Besides being competitive from a technological standpoint, this firm is famous for its incredibly low fees. It is important to keep in mind that until six years ago, this was a name that was fully reserved for institutional players. With the rising demand for brokers, the firm took the opportunity and become available to an individual or retail traders worldwide. Interactive Brokers is also a great option if you wanted to invest in penny stocks.
Note that this is probably the most powerful platform available to international investors at the moment. Due to this there is a restriction in terms of the minimum deposit required to open an account. At the moment, you need to deposit $10,000 to open an international account.
Low trading fees
Access to direct share trading on global exchanges
There are literally hundreds of brokers offering their services in the world, typically the most impressive ones are even publicly traded companies and that is the exact same case of IG. With a market capitalization in the billions, this is a firm that has been offering securities trading since the 70s. If you are interested in trading with a local regulated institution in the UK, IG might be the overall best option currently available in 2019.
The main and only complain that is commonly heard when it comes to this firm is the high compliance review in order to open an account. If you are opening the account directly from the UK you won’t have to deal with much trouble, other citizenships and nationalities might open a case for discussion.
Another aspect to mention is that while the firm is strong in terms of Stock, CFD Trading, it lacks in other markets. If you are interested in an active management of bonds or commodities you might be positioned better with another broker.
Hargreaves Lansdown is one of the most reputable online stock brokers in the UK. Not only do you get access to a variety of UK-based stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs, but you can also access foreign markets such as those based in the US and mainland Europe. Hargreaves Lansdown is also known but providing first-rate research and analysis content on its platform, which is great for newbies.
The main drawback to using Hargreaves Lansdown is that its fees are quite high.
While the vast majority of platforms that we have listed so far have been targeting at newbies, it makes sense to include a broker for those of you that already have a bit of experience. As such, Saxo Capital Markets is a great UK-based stock broker for more advanced traders.
The platform covers thousands of assets – including stocks, options, bonds, commodities and indices, and you can even trade on leverage. Take note, you will need to make a minimum account deposit of £1,500 if you want to use Saxo, which again, further highlights that the platform is best suited for experienced traders.
Great for experienced traders
Lots of advanced trading tools – including leverage
Note: We can’t stress how important it is to only use a reputable online broker. Always research the credentials of the broker, such as whether or not they hold any regulatory licences.
How We Rank Online Stock Brokers
If you've read our guide up to this point, then you'll know just how competitive the online stock broker arena has become. On the one hand, this is great for you as the consumer, as you have heaps of platforms to choose from. On the other hand, it can be really difficult to know which platform to pick! That's why we decided to independently test and review all of the brokers that we recommend.
To make the best stock broker comparison, there are a few factors to consider. Here's how we ranked them:
👍 Fees and commissions
👍 Number of stocks and shares to invest in
👍 Offers and promotions
👍 Research and analytics tools
👍 Trading platforms
👍User friendliness and customer support
👍 Number of markets offered to the trader
What to Look for When Choosing a Stock Broker?
✔️ Fees: You need to assess how the stock broker charges its fees. They might impose a fixed fee every time you trade, a monthly or annual fee, or they might charge you in the form of the spread.
✔️ Reputation: Ideally, you want to be choosing a broker that is highly established, and with an excellent reputation in the public domain. You should also check to see what regulatory licenses the broker in question holds.
✔️ Security: Always choose a broker with excellent security safeguards. This should include enhanced login controls like two-factor authentication (2FA).
✔️ Number of Shares: You will want to choose a broker that offers a huge list of stocks and shares. Not only should this cover the US markets, but, if possible, foreign markets too. As an added bonus, the broker will also list ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, cryptocurrencies, and indices.
✔️ Payment Methods: Try to choose a broker that offers a number of different payment options. This should cover debit/credit cards, bank transfers, and e-wallets like PayPal or Skrill.
What to Avoid When Choosing a Stock Broker?
❌ Hidden Fees: Always avoid an online broker that is not transparent on its fees. You might find that while the stock broker claims to offer 'Zero Commission Trades', you might end up paying huge fees via the spread.
❌ Unregulated Broker: Under no circumstances at all should you ever open an account with an unregulated stock broker. Ultimately, if anything went wrong, you could end up losing your entire balance.
❌ High Withdrawal Fees: It is all good and well when online stock brokers offer zero-fee deposits, but what about when it comes to withdrawing your funds back out? Avoid brokers that charge really high withdrawal fees.
❌ Poor Customer Service: There might come a time where you need to contact customer support. Whatever the issue might be, never choose a broker that offers poor support. In fact, you should try to use a broker that offers 24/7 support across both live chat and telephone.
Stock Broker Apps
If you are a very active trader and want to trade on the go, we would strongly recommend a stock trading app. There is a plethora of stock broker apps in the market today both for U.S. and UK traders, including the Robinhoon trading app. For a full list of our recommended apps and tips to choosing a reliable platform, be sure to read our guide to ths top 5 stock trading apps for 2019.
Stock Broker Education
If what you're looking for is to become a stock broker yourself, there are plenty stock broker training programs and courses you can take.
Typically, you will need a high school diploma and a bachelor's degree in finance or business administration to become a stock broker. A finance degree will prepare you to work as a stock broker by learning the foundations of economics, financial forecasting and planning. Typically, degrees will last between 3 and 4 years, depending on your country of residence.
Although a major part of your stock broker education will come from studying, most of your learning will be achieved through brokerage experience. Employers tend to hire stock brokers with at least 1-3 years of experience. You can get started with your stock broker job by applying for a free stock broker internship which will allow you to gain knowledge and learn the ropes.
For more information on this topic, we recommend giving the following articles a read:
Choosing the best stock broker can be a hard task to handle especially in this technology era where you are spoilt for choice. It is important that you consider several factors including the fees and commissions, analysis tools, minimum amounts required to open an account, and your investment style. Ensure that the broker is legitimate, especially if the fee is too good to be true.
Remember, your first broker won’t necessarily be your broker for all your life, but if you choose the right one, you may have a chance to make money as an investor.
What is an investment broker?
An investment broker, or simply stock broker, in an individual or company that allows you to access the stock markets. Effectively, they will buy and sell stocks on your behalf, subsequently charging a fee in the process.
Must I make my investment through a broker?
Yes. If you want to invest in stocks, you will need to use a broker. The only exception to the rule is institutional investors, who are able to trade without a third party on the OTC (over-the-counter) markets.
Can I use a different stock broker from the one I have been using?
Yes, you can open accounts with as many stockbrokers as you want.
Are brokerage firms regulated?
Yes, they are, in the U.S, brokerage firms are regulated by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), state government, and a Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) such as FINRA, National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates the stock market.
What happens if my stock broker goes bankrupt?
Brokerage firms are required to segregate investor’s money from the firm’s assets. In most cases, your money should be safe. The Securities Investor Protection Corp (SIPC) protects cash and securities including bonds and stocks held at troubled firms. However, there are limits of coverage per customer. SIPC can only cover replacement of stocks and other securities up to $500,000 including $250,000 in cash claims.
What if I need to quickly cash my stock investments out?
You can sell your investments at any time, as long as it is during standard market hours. Once you do, you will then need to withdraw the money out of your stock broker account. The amount of time it takes to receive the cash will depend on the stock broker in question, as well as the type of payment method you used.
Can my investment broker direct my funds at international markets?
The modern-day online stock broker will make it just as easy to invest in international markets as it is buying shares domestically.
Views expressed are those of the writers only. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Trading comes with severe risk. The opinions expressed in this Site do not constitute investment advice and independent financial advice should be sought where appropriate. This website is free for you to use but we may receive commission from the companies we feature on this site.
Adrian Smith is a finance and tech writer and currently working on a Masters in Business Information. He has developed a keen interest in all things finance and technology and loves to write about it.
This article is very well written and very helpful because you have separately listed down stock brokers based on popular regions. Although, I am a bit confused. I live in the UK but I still am a relatively inexperienced trader. Should I go for the list of stockbrokers for beginners or for the list of UK-based stockbrokers?
Hello Johnn, we highly appreciate your question. In your case, we would recommend you to start investing through Hargreaves Lansdown. It is one of the most popular and revered brokerages in the UK and is especially known for its great educational resources and research tools. With these resources, you can easily learn about the trading space of your liking.
Hello Wantag, we are happy that you are ready to start investing in stocks. However, we would recommend you to reconsider starting on Charles Schwab as this platform is a very thorough and advanced platform. Most newcomers in the field get overwhelmed by all the graphs, tools, and reports that Charles Schwab shows. Perhaps, it would be a better idea to start with a platform that isn’t as complex as thorough and advanced as Charles Schwab.
I am very interested in investing in Robinhood, especially because it has no trading fees as I’ve heard from my friends. Is that true? And what is the minimum deposit amount required to get started on Robinhood?
Hello Henxx, we are happy to hear that you are interested in investing in Robinhood. It is an excellent platform and doesn’t charge any sort of trading fees. The minimum deposit amount for Robinhood is $200.
Hello Marchian, we are very happy to hear that you found our guide informative and helpful. It’s our main goal to keep our viewers aware of the best options that are out there and help them in making the right decisions so that they don’t lose their money.
Hello zenny28, our experts consider a number of different aspects of the platform before deciding whether the platform is worth recommending to our valuable viewers or not. Some of these factors include the minimum deposit amount, the tools available for research and analysis, the platform’s customer service, and the fees and commissions charged by the platform.