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5 Best Brokers for Stock Trading 2022

Blain Reinkensmeyer

Jan 20, 2022

Investors should know the best online brokers for stock trading. Some online stock brokers are known for their trading platform while others are known for research capabilities or customer service.

Over the years, I've placed thousands of trades with well over a dozen different online brokers. While I focus primarily on stock and ETFs trading, I also have experience with options trading, cryptocurrency, and forex.

My goal with this guide is to highlight some of the best brokers available today with tips and advice for choosing an online broker.

Best Brokers for Stock Trading 2022

  • Fidelity - Best overall
  • TD Ameritrade - Best trading tools
  • E*TRADE - Best for mobile trading
  • Charles Schwab - Best for IRA accounts
  • Merrill Edge - Best for ESG research

In addition to the brokers above, I also provide my thoughts on Webull, TradeStation, and Robinhood.

Fidelity
Overall

Best overall

Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0
Options (Per Contract) $0.65

Fidelity focuses its customer experience on value. Fidelity offers $0 trades and an easy-to-use website, which is loaded with excellent stock research and educational materials for beginners. Fidelity's stock app is also terrific, my favorite for casual investing. Read Full Review

Pros

  • Easy to use mobile app great for everyday investors.
  • Excellent education and stock research.

Cons

  • Active trader platform not as robust as top competitors.
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TD Ameritrade Logo
TD Ameritrade
Overall

Best trading tools

Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0
Options (Per Contract) $0.65

TD Ameritrade charges $0 for regular stock and ETF trades and is best known for its trading platform, thinkorswim, alongside its outstanding learning center for beginners and trader tools like its TV network. Alongside Fidelity, I recommend TD Ameritrade most frequently to family and friends. Read Full Review

Pros

  • Separate stock apps offered for beginners and active traders (thinkorswim).
  • Outstanding education resources for beginners.

Cons

  • Fractional shares not offered.
  • Penny stock trades are not $0 ($6.95).
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E*TRADE
Overall

Best for mobile trading

Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0
Options (Per Contract) $0.65

E*TRADE is best known for its Power E*TRADE trading platform which is available through its website and as a standalone stock app. My favorite way to use Power E*TRADE is for options trading because its tools are great for beginners. Read Full Review

Pros

  • Power E*TRADE active trading platform is easy to use and excellent for options trading.
  • Power E*TRADE stock app is feature-rich.

Cons

  • Streaming real-time data requires $1,000 minimum deposit.
  • Full-service offerings lag competitors.
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Charles Schwab
Overall

Best for IRA accounts

Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0
Options (Per Contract) $0.65

Charles Schwab is a full-service brokerage that delivers a comprehensive investment experience. From self-directed trading with excellent stock research to a full lineup of retirement services, Schwab delivers; however, its stock app left me wanting more. Read Full Review

Pros

  • Excellent for self-directed trading and financial planning.
  • Fractional shares available.

Cons

  • Schwab's stock app does not stack up to other full-service brokers. Streaming quotes are excluded altogether.
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Merrill Edge Logo
Merrill Edge
Overall

Best for ESG research

Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0
Options (Per Contract) $0.65

Merrill Edge is the online brokerage arm of Bank of America, which is open to all investors, regardless if they are a current banking customer. Alongside $0 trades, Merrill Edge offers excellent stock research, especially ESG (environmental, social, and governance) research. Read Full Review

Pros

  • Unique research tools Stock Story and Fund Story.
  • Excellent ESG research.
  • Universal accounts dashboard for current Bank of America customers.

Cons

  • Penny stocks not offered.
  • No fractional shares.
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Webull
Overall

Easy to use but limited tools

Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0
Options (Per Contract) $0

Webull and Robinhood compete with each other for everyday investors looking for an easy to use stock app that also offers cryptocurrency trading. Unfortunately, Webull, like Robinhood, lacks the trading tools and stock research beginners need to succeed. Read Full Review

Pros

  • Stock app offers more features than Robinhood.
  • App is easy to use.

Cons

  • Like Robinhood, Webull struggles to compete with the best trading platforms in overall depth (total trading tools and customization options).
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TradeStation
Overall

Great for day trading

Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0
Options (Per Contract) $0.50

TradeStation offers an advanced stock app and desktop day trading platform loaded with trading tools, making it excellent for buying and selling stocks, ETFs, options, futures, and even cryptocurrency. For everyday trading, I recommend the Web Trading (browser) platform over the desktop version. Read Full Review

Pros

  • TradeStation 11 trading platform is excellent for day trading.
  • Great trading app for active trading.
  • Cryptocurrency trading is available.

Cons

  • Stock research and investment education lags full-service brokers.
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Robinhood
Overall

Easy to use but no tools

Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0
Options (Per Contract) $0

Robinhood was the first to go mainstream with $0 stock trades and an easy-to-use stock app. Today, all brokers offer $0 trades and multiple brokers offer bitcoin trading. Also, Robinhood's selection of trading tools and research is lackluster. Read Full Review

Pros

  • The "Robinhood Snacks" stock newsletter is excellent.
  • Easy to use stock app.

Cons

  • A notably limited selection of trading tools and market research to help investors make informed decisions.
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What is the best stock app for beginners?

So you are new to investing, and you want to buy a share of Apple (AAPL), Tesla (TSLA), Facebook (FB), or similar. I remember the feeling. As a beginner, it can be pretty intimidating to get started stock trading. Don't worry though, once you place that first stock trade, it is off to the races. :)

Fidelity offers investors a one-two punch of terrific market research that is comprehensive and easy to use, alongside a large selection of educational courses covering the basics of stock trading and beyond. Out of all the brokers, Fidelity is also my favorite for retirement education, thanks to its Fidelity Viewpoints articles.

Fidelity Retirement Analysis Calculator
(Image with permission: StockBrokers.com)

Alongside Fidelity, TD Ameritrade is also great. Not only does TD Ameritrade offer the largest selection of education across any broker, but it is all gamified and completely interactive. With hundreds of in-house made videos covering every trading concept under the sun, you can track your progress, earn badges as you go, and even quiz yourself on what you learn along the way. On top of that, TD Ameritrade has its own broadcasting network, the TD Ameritrade Network, so you can watch TD Ameritrade experts live throughout the day as they analyze the market and run educational sessions.

TD Ameritrade Education Learning Center for Beginner Investors Screenshot
(Image with permission: StockBrokers.com)

Which day trading platform is best?


To trade online successfully, some investors rely purely on their trading tools. Today’s trading platforms are not only web based, but also desktop based, and are becoming increasingly mobile based as well. Advanced charting, options tools, screeners, hotkeys, virtual trading, watch lists, ladders, Level II quotes, and back testing are just a sampling of the functionality brokers make available to their customers.

Over the years, I have learned it is not just the trading tools that separate brokers, but the design, depth, speed, and overall execution of delivering the ultimate trading experience.

This is where brokers such as TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim and TradeStation really excel. After spending hundreds of hours on both desktop platforms, I give thinkorswim the edge, thanks to its modern feel and outstanding trader tools; however, both platforms execute so well that it truly comes down to personal preference. Die-hard fans exist for both, and either one is a great choice for seasoned traders.

TD Ameritrade thinkorswim Trading Platform Screenshot
(Image with permission: StockBrokers.com)

What is the best stock app?

When it comes to trading on the go, I like customizing my watch list columns alongside flipping between multiple watch lists, setting price alerts, and occasionally streaming some video. For this reason, TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader is my top pick for mobile trading. For non-active traders, TD Ameritrade also offers a second app, TD Ameritrade Mobile, which is also excellent (I highly recommend the stock education videos!)

TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader Stock Chart for AAPL
(Image with permission: StockBrokers.com)

Active trading aside, I am also an everyday investor who appreciates conducting stock research and reading quality market editorial. So next to TD Ameritrade, the second broker app I use most frequently is Fidelity Mobile. My absolute favorite feature with Fidelity's mobile app is the customizable dashboard, which is essentially a personalized feed, that you see upon login. Your personalized feed pulls all your portfolio holdings, watch list tickers, and account information into one streamlined view. From there, you launch straight into full-featured stock quotes or market analysis. It's awesome.

Fidelity Mobile Watch List for AAPL, AMZN, BAC, BIDU, CMG, CRM, CSCO, EFX, and FB
(Image with permission: StockBrokers.com)

Which trading platform is best for researching stock picks?

Comparing apples with apples, all the top brokers use Morningstar as their primary provider for Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) and mutual fund research. They also all offer a slew of data and graphs for researching stocks, and all offer fixed-income research. Slight differences begin to show only when you assess specifics such as total third-party research reports available for equities, for example Apple (AAPL).

All in all, when it comes to researching stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and fixed income, any large full-service broker is going to provide an excellent experience for investors.

Fidelity, which earned my No. 1 spot again this year, stands out for its 12 equity research reports and fantastic stock comparisons, allowing customers to compare up to five stocks at once with 21 different metrics. Fidelity also distributes high-quality market analysis and personal finance education through its Fidelity Viewpoints weekly distribution.

Fidelity Account Stock Quote for AAPL
(Image with permission: StockBrokers.com)

Which broker is best for international trading?

Investing covers a global spectrum, from investing in international equities to trading forex to purchasing US treasury bonds. To understand the true range of offerings, you have to look at all the broad investment channels down to the specific order types provided by each broker.

Thanks to its focus on professional and institutional trading, Interactive Brokers offers trading in 35 market centers across 33 countries. International trading aside, Interactive Brokers offers day traders over 60 different order types.

How to choose an online broker

Having the best online broker for successful online trading. Consider these nine key factors to find the best broker.

1. Trading tools
Trading successfully is a lot easier when investors have great trading tools at their disposal. A top stock broker should offer access to a wide variety of trade tools to help make the most of each and every trade. From real-time streaming quotes to last sale tickers, quality stock scanners, mobile trading apps, and level II quotes to name a few.

2. Speed & order execution
While stock and ETF trades are all $0, for day trading, order execution speed and fill price are very important. I won't get too in depth here but I have tested many of these brokers and there can be noticeable differences in trade execution times and quality. For the majority of investors, saving a fraction of a penny per share isn't the end of the world, but for day traders it is something to look into. To understand Order Execution, read this guide.

3. Stock research tools
A great online broker will provide a variety of market research tools. My testing has found time and time again that full service brokerages offer better market research (both fundamental and technical) than the newer stock apps that focus on just basic trading.

4. Investment options
A online stock broker should offer access to not only trading stocks, but also a strong selection of no load mutual funds, commission free ETFs, and complex options. Other unique investment offerings to look for could include direct market routing, conditional orders, futures trading, and forex trading.

5. Other fees
Fees beyond trade commissions include inactivity fees (common with day trading brokers such as Lightspeed, SpeedTrader, and Cobra Trading) and IRA fees for having a retirement account. While most brokers do not charge predatory fees, it's still important to do your due diligence. Just like a bank account, stock brokers also make a portion of their revenue off miscellaneous fees.

6. Retirement accounts
Funding an IRA, Roth IRA, or other retirement account with no annual fees is an extra perk many online brokers offer. There is no reason why you should pay an annual fee to have an retirement account. If managing your own portfolio is not of interest, all full-service brokers offer optional advisory services as well. Once again, the experience at larger established brokers is going to be superior to smaller brokers.

7. Banking
Larger online brokers offer banking and other financial services. This goes beyond money market accounts and CDs. Checking accounts, mortgages, debit cards, and credit cards can also be offered. The leader in this space is, hands down, Bank of America - Merrill Edge.

8. Customer service
When picking up the phone or emailing a broker, is a well trained customer service representative ready to assist? How any investor is treated as a client is more important to some than others. But, even for those that don't rely on customer support that often, to know that they have award winning service there when they need it is comforting. StockBrokers.com tests phone support each year, which I recommend referencing using their broker comparison tool.

9. International trading
For investors in the U.S., this is not a problem; but for investors living outside the U.S., it’s important to verify brokers offer service in your country. Here's a good list of international brokers to start with. If you’re in the U.K., check out this guide to the best U.K. online brokers.

Best stock brokers summary

Feature Fidelity
Open Account
TD Ameritrade E*TRADE
Open Account
Recommended For Research Overall Options Trading
Minimum Deposit $0 $0 $0
Stock Trades $0 $0 $0
Options (Per Contract) $0.65 $0.65 $0.65
Overall Rating 5 5 4.5

* - The StockBrokers.com 2022 Online Broker Review included 15 brokers whom were each assessed within eight core categories: Commissions & Fees, Customer Service, Platforms & Tools, Research, Ease-of-Use, Offering of Investments, Education, and Mobile Trading.

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About the Author

Blain Reinkensmeyer

As Head of Research, Blain Reinkensmeyer has 18 years of trading experience with over 1,000 trades placed during that time. Referenced as a leading expert on the US online brokerage industry, Blain has been quoted in The New York Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.





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