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Best investment banking companies

NerdWalletOffers 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.

There is no single best online broker for stock trading. But among the dozens of financial firms vying for your investing dollars will be one that’s best for you.

Are you just starting out and looking for a friendly place to learn the ropes? Really into trading options and futures? Seeking access to sophisticated investing research? A cost-conscious frequent trader?

Below are the brokers that earned NerdWallet’s highest marks based on the breadth and quality of their offerings in the areas that matter most to individual investors. To find a suitable online broker, read on for highlights (and links to our in-depth reviews on each).

The best overall: NerdWallet’s top online brokers

These brokers have no inactivity fees or account minimum. They offer advanced trading platforms, a breadth of research and access to a wide range of investments.

OptionsHouse and TD Ameritrade offer strong customer support, advanced trading platforms with no balance or trade minimums, and an impressive amount of research. Determining which of these two top-tier discount brokers will best meet your needs comes down to a few key differences in their offerings.

Active traders would do best with OptionsHouse, particularly if they are aiming to keep trading costs in check. Its highly rated trading platform, a lack of inactivity or penalty maintenance fees (a standout among brokerages catering to active investors) and minimal $4.95 stock trading commissions (and similarly low prices for options traders) make the broker hard to beat.

In comparison, TD Ameritrade’s trade commissions are on the higher side, but many traders find their first-class trading platforms, Trade Architect and thinkorswim, worth that cost. The broker also offers a large selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and commission-free ETFs. OptionsHouse offers no no-transaction-fee funds and just five commission-free ETFs. (For more details about each online broker’s offerings, see our latest OptionsHouse review and deep dive into TD Ameritrade’s pros and cons.)

The best online brokers for beginners

These brokers offer tons of educational offerings for beginners, affordable commissions, round-the-clock customer service (as well as physical branches to get in-person guidance) and a large number of commission-free ETFs.

If you’re just learning how to buy stocks, the most important features in a discount brokerage account may be education, easy account setup and customer service to guide your investing journey. TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab are our top picks for such investors.