We Pick the Best Online Brokers

Two firms land in a dead heat for first place in this year’s rankings. Find the best broker for you.

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However you invest, it’s a great time to shop for an online broker. Firms have been trimming commissions, expanding their online tools, offering more transaction-free mutual funds and enhancing their mobile apps. Eager to win your business, brokers are also offering signing bonuses, such as a $1,000 bounty from TD Ameritrade, and up to 500 free trades for two years at Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab.

To help you choose the best broker, we surveyed seven major firms: Ally Invest (which acquired TradeKing last year), E*Trade Financial, Fidelity, Merrill Edge, Schwab, TD Ameritrade and Vanguard. Why this lineup? To be included in our survey, brokers had to offer online trading of stocks, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds and individual bonds, as well as provide some retirement-planning tools and advisory services. We excluded brokers that primarily focus on active traders—those catering to day traders, for instance. T. Rowe Price declined to participate. Scottrade wasn’t included because TD Ameritrade recently purchased the firm (and is in the process of absorbing Scottrade’s clients).

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Daren Fonda
Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Daren joined Kiplinger in July 2015 after spending more than 20 years in New York City as a business and financial writer. He spent seven years at Time magazine and joined SmartMoney in 2007, where he wrote about investing and contributed car reviews to the magazine. Daren also worked as a writer in the fund industry for Janus Capital and Fidelity Investments and has been licensed as a Series 7 securities representative.