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Best Bank For Investing / January 4, 2017

NerdWallet offers financial tools and advice to help people understand their options and make the best possible decisions. The guidance we offer and info we provide are deeply researched, objective and independent.

We spent over 300 hours reviewing the top online brokers before selecting the best for our readers. And to help you find the one that’s best for you, we’ve highlighted their pros, cons and current offers.

An individual retirement account is a crucial part of building your retirement savings. You want to choose an IRA provider that offers a wide selection of low-cost investment options and won’t eat into your savings with extra fees.

Whether you’re opening your first IRA, rolling over an old 401(k) or looking to transfer your existing IRA to a new broker, check out NerdWallet’s picks: We’ve evaluated the options and selected the best traditional IRA account providers by category. The brokers and robo-advisors listed below have reasonable account minimums, low fees, strong customer service and an impressive investment selection. In most cases, that means a number of no-transaction-fee (NTF) mutual funds and commission-free exchange-traded funds (ETFs), both of which can be purchased at no cost.

Here are NerdWallet’s picks.

Best IRA providers overall

These providers offer a large fund selection, high-quality customer service and reasonable account minimums and fees.

and are ideal for retirement investors: They offer a wealth of retirement planning tools and resources, along with large fund selections that can be traded with no fees or commissions. Both brokers also have 24/7 customer service, local offices and online and in-branch educational offerings.

TD Ameritrade requires no account minimum, while Schwab requires a $1, 000 initial deposit. However, that minimum is waived with auto-deposits of at least $100 a month. Schwab also offers an impressive selection of index funds with investment minimums of just $100.

Best IRA providers with no account minimum

These providers have $0 minimum investment requirements for IRAs.

In addition to our top-choice TD Ameritrade — which also has no account minimum — investors starting small should consider and . Both brokers require no account minimum to access their quality 24/7 customer service, including physical branches (Merrill Edge customers can visit advisors at 2, 000 Bank of America locations).

E-Trade, which waives its account minimums on IRAs but otherwise requires a $500 initial deposit, will stand out to investors seeking commission-free ETFs: The broker offers more than 100 options. Merrill Edge also will appeal to customers of its parent company Bank of America, as accounts are integrated into a single login.

Best IRA providers for hands-off investors

Robo-advisors Betterment and Wealthfront manage your portfolio for you.

and are robo-advisors that manage your IRA account for you, building a portfolio out of low-cost ETFs.

Betterment is the leading independent robo-advisor, and has maintained its momentum despite strong competition, largely due to its low costs and robust lineup of retirement planning tools. The company charges 0.25% for its Betterment Digital offering, and offers access to financial advisors for a higher fee and required account minimum.

Wealthfront charges a flat 0.25%, but waives its fee entirely on the first $10, 000 invested ($15, 000 with a special promotion for NerdWallet readers). For a full comparison of the two services, check out our post on Wealthfront vs. Betterment .

Best IRA providers for active traders

These brokers offer low commissions plus extensive research and strong trading platforms.

Retirement investors would be wise to avoid playing the market within an IRA. But if you want to dedicate a portion of your IRA to stock trading — we’re talking 10% or less — you should be looking at commissions, research and tools when comparing providers.

and offer $4.95 stock trades along with advanced tools and trading platforms. OptionsHouse edges out TradeKing by not requiring a minimum balance or level of trading activity. TradeKing charges a $50 annual fee if you don’t trade at least once a year or maintain an account balance of $2, 500, so make sure you’re in this trading game for keeps. Investors should be aware that they likely will pay a transaction fee to purchase funds at both brokers: TradeKing doesn’t offer any no-transaction-fee mutual funds or commission-free ETFs. OptionsHouse has just five commission-free ETFs and zero no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

Best IRA providers for low costs

These providers offer a large selection of mutual funds and ETFs with low expense ratios.

If fees and expenses are your primary concern — and they should at least top the list — you should look to and (though Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade, our top picks, are also strong contenders here).