I narrowed the list down to just under 50 brokers by eliminating those that did not allow U. I concluded that there were 15 online stock brokers worth digging into. 

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Finding the best stock trading account depends largely on your investing needs. NerdWallet's picks for the best online brokers are based on the breadth and quality of offerings that matter most to individual investors.

I individually researched each broker, visited their websites, and analyzed rankings and reviews across the web. I concluded that there were 15 online stock brokers worth digging into. My next step was to come up with measurable data to compare these brokers. I had to be aware that comparing a full-service broker to a discount broker or options broker was going to be difficult. These were my next steps: I came up with 10 important categories of features to measure each company. Some of these features included costs and fees, access to investment products, research, education, trading technology, and financial resources.

I compared each of the 15 online brokers across these features. Once this comparison was complete, I was left with four of the best online brokers that excelled in specific areas. These four online brokerage firms cover the spectrum for anyone who would sign up for an investment account.

I knew I could recommend one of them to a specific group of investors or traders. Here are the final steps I took: I tested out each of the top four brokers I actually tested several in the top 15 and simulated the trading experience. I analyzed the unmeasurable aspects of each broker that the data could not account for, like usability and functionality, and downloaded all the mobile apps. I looked for additional features unique to each online broker that I also did not capture in the data.

The company still exists today and trades under the ticker SCON. This was the time of the first technology boom from The stock eventually went up to nearly double that and then crashed with the rest of the tech market. Being 14 years old and thinking this stock was going to go up forever, I rode the wave up and all the way back down — down to nothing.

Check out the chart of SCON below and feel my pain. You can see that the stock took two major spikes up and crashes back down I was involved in the first one. I tell this story because I learned three great lessons about stock trading: Staying disciplined can keep you from losing money and ensure you lock in your gains.

By discipline, I mean picking your prices — where you get in and get out ahead of time — and sticking to them. The good news about many of the best online brokerage accounts is that you can start by trading virtually before you risk your money. New clients that open an account today receive a special margin rate.

Low Fees and Free Market Data. TradeStation's advanced trading platform has been awarded Best Platform Technology for the past five years. For active traders, TradeStation was rated 5 stars and comes packed full of tools and functionality. Like Merrill Edge and Capital One Investing, customers can easily manage their banking and brokerage accounts under one login.

Choosing the Best Online Brokerage When looking for a new online broker, make sure you meet your most important needs as an investor. Are low-cost trade commissions most important? What about customer service, the trade platform, mobile trading, active trading, or a community to trade alongside? With many brokers specializing in different areas, it is vital to evaluate and compare all the possibilities. Here is a list of the most important factors to remember when selecting an online brokerage: Trading Costs - When trading stocks online, it is important to understand what the costs are to place buy or sell orders.

Most online brokers charge a flat rate to buy and sell. That said, other miscellaneous day trading costs can be incurred for direct routing fees or accessing market data. If you are investing in a retirement account , it is important to avoid choosing a broker that charges annual IRA fees.

Trading Tools - One of the most common misconceptions newer investors have is that low trading costs are the most important consideration. This couldn't be further from the truth. Having access to a fully featured desktop-based or web-based trading platform can make a big difference, especially when conducting technical analysis.

Investment Products - Are you only trading stocks online, or are you interested in ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, and forex too? In the United States, different regulations are required for brokers who support more complex asset classes.

Beyond trading different assets classes, having access to online banking and advanced order types, such as conditional orders , are also considerations.

Mobile Trading - Managing a stock brokerage account on the go is certainly important for traders who travel and frequently use their smartphones. While nearly all online brokerages offer mobile trading apps, not all are created equal. Features can vary dramatically. Having access to quality customer support can really be the cherry on the top of a great client experience, especially during market crises like a flash crash. Stock Analysis - Conducting fundamental research is critical to successful long-term investing.

SEC filings , short interest , corporate debt levels, earnings growth, and more are all examples of important criteria to be investigated during fundamental investment research.


NerdWallet’s top online brokers of 2018 

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Finding the best stock trading account depends largely on your investing needs. NerdWallet's picks for the best online brokers are based on the breadth and quality of offerings that matter most to individual investors. The people best qualified to judge the best brokers for online trading — their own customers — have named their winners. X From thousands of reader responses, IBD's sixth annual Best Online Brokers survey finds which firms are serving their clients best, how they're doing it and where even some of the best stock brokers are falling short. 

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NerdWallet’s top online brokers for beginners 2018

A stock broker is a person or an institution licensed to buy and sell stocks and other securities via the market exchanges. Back in the day, the only way for individuals to invest directly in stocks was to hire a stock broker to place trades on their behalf. Rated our #1 online broker for traders in , TD Ameritrade charges $ per trade and offers the largest variety of trading tools through its desktop-based thinkorswim and Mobile Trader platforms.

Online brokers can provide fast and affordable trading, as well as in-depth research tools. Click here for our top picks for stock trading in It’s rare for any of the best online stock trading brokers to provide access to every investment opportunity, but E*TRADE has no limitations. In addition to the standard of stocks and options, you’ll have access to bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, forex, futures, pink sheet stocks, and international markets.

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