Who Are the Best Small Online Brokers?

Small online brokers like Robinhood have shaken up the market for the bigger players. How do they actually stack up?

woman looking at brokerage account on smartphone while drinking a latte
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Brokerage start-ups such as Robinhood, M1 Finance and SoFi are tiny compared with the trillions of dollars in brokerage assets at the likes of Schwab and Fidelity. But they've already made a big dent in the way things work: These small online brokers pioneered commission-free stock trading and fractional-share purchases, and now those services are standard fare at the bigger firms.

And that's one of the reasons we keep an eye on smaller brokerage firms – because they're shaking up the industry. If not for Robinhood, for instance, we might still be paying commissions on stock and ETF trades. 

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Nellie S. Huang
Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Nellie joined Kiplinger in August 2011 after a seven-year stint in Hong Kong. There, she worked for the Wall Street Journal Asia, where as lifestyle editor, she launched and edited Scene Asia, an online guide to food, wine, entertainment and the arts in Asia. Prior to that, she was an editor at Weekend Journal, the Friday lifestyle section of the Wall Street Journal Asia. Kiplinger isn't Nellie's first foray into personal finance: She has also worked at SmartMoney (rising from fact-checker to senior writer), and she was a senior editor at Money.