If you are new to investing, you should sign up for an online brokerage account. Here are the best online brokerage accounts for beginners.

Investing is one of the best ways to grow your money. But if you are new to investing, you may find it hard to understand. Luckily, online brokerage accounts can help simplify the process and have you investing your hard-earned money in no time.

Brokerage accounts are a type of financial account used to buy stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, bonds, and other investments. These accounts come in several forms, including traditional taxable accounts and tax-advantaged retirement accounts.

If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry! Read on to find the best online brokerage account for you and your finances.

Overview of the best online brokerage accounts for beginners

BrokerageBest for
PublicLearning from other investors
RobinhoodInvestors on a budget
J. P. Morgan Self-Directed InvestingIn-person support
E*TRADEWide range of available investments
FidelityRetirement investing
TD AmeritradeActive trading platform
Personal CapitalHuman investment advising

Public

Best Online Brokerage Accounts For Beginners - Public

Public takes a unique social approach to online investing with an app that emphasizes community. You can invest in stocks and ETFs through Public. 

One of the best things about Public is that you can invest in fractional shares. That means you won’t need hundreds or thousands of dollars per share to buy into some of the bigger-name companies.

Pricing

Public doesn’t charge commissions on trades, and you’ll pay no fees to use its services. However, there are some SEC and FINRA fees that may apply to certain trades.

It’s important to note that, although Public doesn’t currently charge, it is possible that some premium features will be rolled out in the future. You may find that these come with a subscription fee.

Available investments

Currently, Public members can trade stocks and ETFs. You can browse a directory of the available investments on the Public site.

Platform

Public is an app-based platform, with support for iOS and Android devices. The app is free and includes everything you need to start investing and monitoring your results.

Research

Research is where Public really stands out. You’ll have access to a social feed that lets you follow your favorite investors. You can even start or join group chats and discuss the trends of companies you’re considering investing in. 

This social approach means the community helps each other out, but you’ll also be able to learn and grow as an investor this way.

Ease of use

The social media interface makes Public not only easy to use, but fun. When you see an investment you like, you can drag and drop it into your long-term portfolio and even share it with others for feedback. The design makes investing accessible to everyone, not just those with a high net worth. 

Download the Public app to open an account or read our Public review

Robinhood

6 Personal Finance Products To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving (Especially During COVID-19) - Robinhood

Robinhood was an early entry into the commission-free online trading business model, having been around since 2013. You can invest in stocks, ETFs, and options. Robinhood also offers cryptocurrency investments through Robinhood Crypto.

Geared toward the beginning investor, Robinhood specializes in keeping you informed about your investments. You can set up alerts that help you keep an eye on your portfolio and identify new opportunities.

Pricing

There is no fee for using Robinhood’s basic services, and the site has no plans to charge in the future. You can transfer money in and out of your account for free and use all the amenities. Best of all, you’ll get a free stock just for signing up. You will, however, pay regulatory fees, as disclosed on the site

If, however, you want to get access to professional research reports, trade on margin, and make bigger instant deposits, you can sign up for Robinhood Gold, which starts at $5/month.

Available investments

You have a wide range of investment options with Robinhood, including stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies. Robinhood lets you invest in fractional shares, so you can get started with as little as $1.

Platform

You can sign up and fund your account on the website, but the app is where things really become useful. The app walks you through getting your dashboard set up, and you’ll have access to your whole portfolio on the app. This is where you can learn more about investing, grow your portfolio, and manage everything with a few clicks of a button. 

Research

Your Robinhood dashboard can provide ongoing news and notifications to help alert you to investment opportunities. Monitoring investment news is a great way to learn the markets and grow as an investor.

Ease of use

Robinhood was built with beginning investors in mind. The goal was to open up investing to everyone, not just the more experienced, wealthier investors that dominated the industry in the past. As a result, you’ll find the app and website are easy to use and intuitive. 

Visit Robinhood.com to learn more or read our Robinhood review

Advertiser Disclosure – This advertisement contains information and materials provided by Robinhood Financial LLC and its affiliates (“Robinhood”) and MoneyUnder30, a third party not affiliated with Robinhood. All investments involve risk and the past performance of a security, or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns. Securities offered through Robinhood Financial LLC and Robinhood Securities LLC, which are members of FINRA and SIPC. MoneyUnder30 is not a member of FINRA or SIPC.”

J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing –Get up to $625 when you open and fund with $250,000 or more.

J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing is backed by a company that is one of the largest and oldest financial institutions in America: J.P. Morgan Chase.

J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing is an online brokerage, but if you need extra help you can always swing by one of Chase’s over 5,000 branches to ask basic questions.

Pricing

J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing charges no commissions for online stock, ETF, options, and mutual fund trades and has no recurring fees for regular account activity on self-directed accounts.

J.P. Morgan Automated Investing (their managed portfolios) have a $500 minimum balance and charge an annual fee of 0.35% of your account balance.

Available investments

Self-directed accounts can trade stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, and fixed-income investments (bonds).

Platform

The J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing platform is great for beginner traders. It doesn’t have all of the active trading bells and whistles some advanced traders look for, but it has a depth of information on each investment and makes it easy to manage your account.

Research

J.P. Morgan is known for high-quality investment research and analysis. This well of knowledge is offered to J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing account holders at no extra charge.

Ease of use

J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing is easy to navigate and use. Existing Chase customers will find the platform very intuitive, as it integrates with other bank, credit card, and loan accounts on the same dashboard.

Visit J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing to learn more or read our J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing review.

Disclosure – INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE

E*TRADE

E*TRADE is the oldest online brokerage and has great platforms for both beginners and experts. The easiest place to manage your account for beginners is the mobile app or web-based platform.

As your investing chops improve, Power E*TRADE is the professional-level platform that active traders will love.

Pricing

E*TRADE has no fee for stock or ETF trades. Options have no base fee and a 0.65 cent per contract charge (this drops to .50 cents with 30 or more trades per quarter).

Futures cost $1.50 each and secondary market bond trades are $1 each with a $10 minimum. Mutual funds cost $19.99 for trades if they not on the no-load, no-transaction-fee fund list.

Available investments

E*TRADE supports a ton of different investments. In addition to common assets like stocks, bonds, and funds, you can trade futures at E*TRADE. Futures allow you to trade riskier assets like commodities, foreign currencies, equity indices, and Bitcoin. There are over 4,400 mutual funds on its no-load, no-transaction-fee list for you to explore.

Research

E*TRADE has a solid education section to learn more about investing and trading. It has some good information on the investments in your account, but it is not the most in-depth of all major discount broker’s offerings.

Ease of use

E*TRADE has the most experience of any other online trading platform. They were the pioneer in the industry, after all. E*TRADE is straightforward and easy to use.

Visit E*TRADE to learn more or read our E*TRADE review.

Fidelity

Best Online Brokerage Account For Beginners - Fidelity

Fidelity is one of the largest discount brokerage firms in the U.S. It is known for its family of low-fee investment funds and focuses on helping investors reach a successful retirement.

Beginners will enjoy low fees and tools designed to help you with long-term investments.

Pricing

Fidelity is among the best when it comes to pricing for retirement investments. In addition to commissions for stocks and ETFs, you can trade all of Fidelity’s mutual funds for free. It was the first brokerage to come out with mutual funds with zero expense ratio, which means no annual fund fees.

Available investments

Fidelity supports virtually all of the most popular types of investments. It even supports international stocks on foreign exchanges as well as options in the commodity and forex markets. It has over 3,500 commission-free mutual funds.

Platform

Fidelity is built with long-term investing at the forefront. It’s trading systems for beginners are top-notch, however, some experts and advanced traders may find the options lacking.

Research

Fidelity is a standout when it comes to research. The brokerage gives customers access to a wide range of data and analyst reports on stocks and other investments.

Ease of use

This brokerage is great for beginners. It’s easy for anyone to navigate, understand, and use. You can try things out by signing up for guest access to test things out for a month at no cost.

Learn more: Read our Fidelity review.

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade is a large discount brokerage that is perfect for beginners looking to become experts.

This brokerage offers multiple investment platforms for the web, desktop, and mobile. Its basic TD Ameritrade app is great for newer investors. As you gain more experience, you’ll want to upgrade to the powerful thinkorswim trading platform.

Pricing

There’s no fee for stocks and ETFs. Mutual funds outside of its 4,200 no-transaction-fee (NTF) list cost $49.99 to trade, which is pretty steep. Futures cost $2.25 per contract.

Available investments

TD Ameritrade makes most types of investments available. Those include futures, foreign currencies, and a few types of fixed income securities.

Platform

If you want the best active trading platform, TD Ameritrade is at the top of the list. Its thinkorswim platform gives you the same professional-level tools as Wall Street traders. For beginners, though, that’s probably overkill.

Research

TD Ameritrade has great research available on-par with other large brokerage firms. It includes third-party reports from Morningstar, Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones, and CFRA.

Ease of use

TD Ameritrade has a platform for everyone. Its online trading platform and mobile apps are great for beginners and easy to use.

Visit TD Ameritrade to learn more. or read our TD Ameritrade review

Personal Capital

 Best Online Brokerage Account For Beginners - Personal Capital

New investors who want the help of a seasoned professional should consider Personal CapitalPersonal Capital offers a free personal finance and investment tracking platform that I recommend to any investor.

You can upgrade to the paid investment service and work with a dedicated advisor if you have at least $100,000 to invest.

Pricing

Personal Capital has a free investment analysis service that’s great for anyone to use, even if you don’t use its paid investment management service. The premium service, which includes access to a human financial advisor, is available to investors with at least $100,000 and costs 0.89% of your portfolio value per year for portfolios up to $1 million.

Available investments

Personal Capital advisors follow Nobel-Prize winning Modern Portfolio Theory. Wealth Management clients end up with a portfolio made up of diverse ETFs.

Platform

You don’t need to buy and sell your own funds with a Personal Capital wealth manager behind the scenes. The online platform, however, is one of the best around to get information about your investments.

Research

Research is focused on the fees and projected performance of your portfolio. It doesn’t have a depth of information on each investment like some major brokerage firms.

Ease of use

If you’re willing to pay for an advisor, it’s about as easy as investing can get. They handle everything for you once your account is funded.

Open an account with Personal Capital today or read our full Personal Capital review.

Summary of the best online brokerage accounts for beginners

BrokeragePricingStandout features
Public$0 stock/ETFSocial media feed lets you interact with other investors. Fractional investing allowed.
Robinhood$0 stock/ETF/options/cryptocurrenciesWide range of fee-free investing options. Fractional investing allowed.
Webull$0 stock/ETF/optionsNo commission trading and no minimum balances.
J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing$0 stock/ETF/mutual fundsEasy to use for newer active traders. Great bank/investment combo.
E*TRADE$0 stock/ETF, $19.99 mutual fundsOldest online brokerage firm with multiple trading platforms to choose from. Many available investments.
Fidelity$0 stock/ETF, $49.95 mutual fundsGreat for retirement investing, low costs, and mutual funds with no expense ratio (annual fee).
TD Ameritrade$0 stock/ETF, $49.99 mutual fundExcellent active trading platform. Might be merged into Schwab platforms after pending merger closes.
Personal CapitalStarts at 0.89% of account value per yearFree investment analysis tools. Human financial advisor for an annual fee.

How I came up with this list

This list of brokerage firms came from a look at the features that are most important to a beginner investor. Those include:

  • Pricing and fees.
  • Available investments.
  • Investment platforms.
  • Customer service.
  • Research and education availability.
  • Overall investing experience.

Because brokerage products are often quite similar, pricing and online platforms were major differentiators that helped brokerage firms make their way onto this list.

Why you need a brokerage account

Virtually every American adult should have a brokerage account. You need one to invest, it’s that simple. Without a brokerage account, ETFs, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds are out of reach.

Many people get their first brokerage account through their employer as a 401(k). But it’s important to save and invest outside of work as well. With your own brokerage account, you’re in full control of your investments and can limit the costs and fees charged in an employer-sponsored retirement account.

FAQs about online brokerage accounts for beginners

A brokerage account is a financial account used to buy and sell investments like stocks, bonds, and funds. Your brokerage account can hold both cash and investments.
Some brokers may try to sneak in an annual account fee, inactivity fee, and other charges. The best brokerage accounts don’t have any fees outside of some transaction fees for options, futures, bonds, etc.
Since October 2019, stock and ETF trading fees are dead. If your broker charges fees to buy or sell a stock, it’s time to upgrade. Options no longer charge a base transaction charge either, though per-contract fees are still standard. Most brokerage firms offer a list of no-transaction-fee mutual funds as well.
You have to deposit funds to your brokerage account just like a bank account to get started. Once your account is funded, use your broker’s mobile app or web platform to enter your first trade.
Yes! Traditional brokerage accounts lead to taxes if your strategy goes well and you make money. IRA, Roth IRA, and other retirement accounts offer tax advantages ideal for retirement.

Summary

Investing is a huge part of managing your personal finances and growing your wealth, but you can’t do it without a brokerage account. Take the time to check out these great options if you are new to investing and are not sure where to start. Once you have your first brokerage account, you have the freedom to invest and build your portfolio how you see fit.

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About the author

Eric Rosenberg picture
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Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager and corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to take his online side hustle full-time. He has in-depth experience writing about banking, credit cards, investing, business, and other financial topics. When away from the keyboard, Eric enjoys exploring the world and spending time with his wife and kids. You can connect with him at Personal Profitability or EricRosenberg.com. He's also busy talking money on Twitter and YouTube.