Stock Trading Online Platform

Stock trading online platform

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The best online brokers 2019 review (9th annual) took six months to complete and produced over 30,000 words of research. Here's how we tested.

Stock trading online platform

Want to buy shares of stocks like Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), Disney (DIS), or Uber (UBER)? If so, you will need an online broker account.

Choosing an online stock broker is one of the most important decisions you will make as an investor. This guide aims to introduce online trading and break down the best online brokers available today.

As a previous full-time trader turned hobby enthusiast, since 2001, I have completed over 1,000 trades in my personal portfolio, finishing 2018 with a total of 1,024 trades (2,458 individual buys and sells, to be exact).

Of the 16 brokers that volunteered to subject themselves to our thorough assessment this year, I personally have traded with 13 of them.

Experience provides a true perspective that cannot be found elsewhere.

Looking at the 2019 Review, there were 284 variables spread across nine categories. In total, it took six months to complete our ninth annual assessment of the industry.

Since our inception back in 2011, has helped over six million investors research and compare online brokers. While the markets are anything but certain, you can feel confident has your back in 2019 to help you find the right broker.

Best Online Brokers for Stock Trading

  • TD Ameritrade - Best for overall and beginners
  • Fidelity - Best research experience
  • Charles Schwab - Best for IRA accounts
  • E*TRADE - Best web platform
  • Interactive Brokers - Best for professionals
  • Merrill Edge - Best rewards program
  • TradeStation - Best platform technology


Characteristics of a successful stock trader

TD Ameritrade |

TD Ameritrade delivers the ultimate package, including $0 trades, fantastic trading platforms, market research, mobile apps, education, and customer service.

This outstanding all-round experience makes TD Ameritrade our No. 1 overall broker in 2019.

Why Choose TD Ameritrade:

  • Excellent trading platform thinkorswim. After spending hundreds of hours testing desktop platforms, I give thinkorswim my top recommendation, thanks to its modern feel and outstanding trader tools.

    That includes the mobile app, which is my favorite for active traders.

  • Great for beginner investors. TD Ameritrade has the largest selection of educational materials in the industry by far, with over 200 instructional videos covering every investment topic imaginable.

    Top 3 Stock Trading Platforms For Beginners 2018

    Furthermore, the whole learning center is gamified, tracking your progress as you go with quizzes bringing concepts together at the end of each course.

  • Robust research. TD Ameritrade provides customers access to its own TV Network and trader magazine.

    Depth is across the board, as TD Ameritrade also uses proprietary data to analyze millions of tweets to power its Social Signals tool.

  • Industry-leading technology. TD Ameritrade is the only broker to offer customers the ability to access their accounts from Twitter, Apple Chat, Facebook, and Alexa. Technology and innovation are core parts of TD Ameritrade's DNA.
FeatureTD Ameritrade
ReviewRead full review
Minimum Deposit$0
Stock Trades$0 per trade
Option Trades$0 + $0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFsall
Trading Platformthinkorswim
2019 Review #1 Awards#1 Overall, #1 Platforms & Tools, #1 Customer Service, #1 Education, #1 Beginners, #1 Trader Community, #1 Broker Innovation, #1 Trader App (TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader), #1 Desktop Platform (thinkorswim), #1 New Tool (Apple Business Chat)




With over $2 trillion in client assets, Fidelity is a low-cost online broker offering $0 stock and ETF trades, industry-leading research, excellent trading tools, an easy-to-use mobile app, and comprehensive retirement services.

Merrill Edge

Overall, Fidelity is a winner for investors.

Why Choose Fidelity:

  • Terrific for investment research. Research at Fidelity stands out for its 12 equity research reports, excellent in-house market analysis, and quotes experience that is meticulously crafted for maximum usability.
  • Great for new investors. Behind TD Ameritrade, Fidelity is my second broker recommendation for beginner stock traders.

    Fidelity offers investors the perfect blend of ease of use, excellent research tools, as well as a great education center.

  • Excellent mobile app for everyday investors. The Fidelity mobile app is a winner for investors because it is easy to use, packed full of market research, and includes a wide variety of trading tools.
ReviewRead full review
Minimum Deposit$0
Stock Trades$0 per trade
Option Trades$0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFsall
Trading PlatformActive Trader Pro
2019 Review #1 Awards#1 Research, #1 Investor App, #1 Client Dashboard, #1 Order Execution


Charles Schwab

Overall |

Founded in 1973, Charles Schwab is a full-service brokerage with over $3 trillion in total client assets.

Stock trading online platform

As a low-cost leader offering $0 stock trades, Charles Schwab provides investors excellent stock research, quality trade tools, and professional planning for the future.

Why Choose Charles Schwab:

  • Excellent market research. Schwab boasts a full lineup of 26 in-house experts who provide numerous articles, known as Schwab Insights, on a variety of market topics throughout each week.

  • Leader in retirement services. Charles Schwab shines with its Schwab Intelligent Portfolios (robo-advisor) and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium (human advisor) services.
FeatureCharles Schwab
ReviewRead full review
Minimum Deposit$0
Stock Trades$0 per trade
Option Trades$0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFsall
Trading PlatformStreetSmart Edge
2019 Review #1 Awards#1 IRA Accounts



Overall |

Founded in 1982, E*TRADE is a full-service online broker that charges $0 for stock trades. Highlights from E*TRADE include the Power E*TRADE platform, which is excellent for options trading, as well as the broker's two great mobile apps.

Why Choose E*TRADE:

  • Excellent web platform that is a winner for options trading. Our favorite web-platform again this year, Power E*TRADE, combines the best of both worlds: ease of use with fantastic trading tools. While just decent for stock trading, Power E*TRADE is terrific for options trading.
  • Full featured mobile apps.

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    Among all the online brokers we track on, E*TRADE offers the most mobile app features in a well-designed, easy to use experience.

ReviewRead full review
Minimum Deposit$0
Stock Trades$0 per trade
Option Trades$0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFsall
Trading PlatformPower E*TRADE
2019 Review #1 Awards#1 Mobile Trading, #1 Options Trading, #1 Web Based Platform (Power E*TRADE)


Interactive Brokers

Overall | Open Account

Exclusive Offer: New clients that open an account today receive a special margin rate.

While Interactive Brokers is not well known for its casual investor offering, it leads the industry with low-cost trading for professionals.

Good trade school options

Through the Trader Workstation (TWS) platform, Interactive Brokers offers excellent tools and an extensive selection of tradable securities.

Why Choose Interactive Brokers::

  • Excellent for professional traders. Interactive Brokers offers customers an arsenal of 63 different order types, the most in the industry by a landslide.

    Margin rates are also the lowest in the industry, across the board.

  • Great for day trading.

    Things to look for in a free trading platform

    Interactive Brokers does not accept payment for order flow (IBKR Pro only). This makes it's already low pricing even better because there are no hidden execution costs.

  • Global access. The most diverse offering by a landslide, Interactive Brokers offers trading in 26 countries and over 120 market centers.
FeatureInteractive Brokers
ReviewRead full review
Minimum Deposit$0
Stock Trades$.005 per share ($1 min; 0.5% of trade value max)
Option Trades$0.70 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs48
Trading PlatformTrader Workstation (TWS)
2019 Review #1 Awards#1 Commissions & Fees, #1 Offering of Investments, #1 Active Trading, #1 Professional Trading, #1 International Trading


Merrill Edge

Overall |

Backed by parent company Bank of America, Merrill Edge delivers fantastic research, customer service, universal account support, and customer rewards.

Also, Merrill Edge offers unlimited commission-free stock or ETF trades each month to investors, regardless of account balance.

Why Choose Merrill Edge:

  • Preferred Rewards. To open an account with Merrill Edge, you do not have to be a Bank of America customer.

    Best Free Stock Trading Platforms and Sites

    That said, it is far easier to reach the minimum combined account balance to earn all sorts of perks under the Preferred Rewards program. Here's a list.

  • Excellent ESG (environmental, social, and governance) research.

    Stock trading online platform

    Merrill Edge offers Stock Story, Fund Story, and Portfolio Story, which makes conducting market research both educational and insightful. Full ESG Reports are included, too.

  • Great customer service. In our national testing, Merrill Edge consistently delivered agent connection times under one minute.
FeatureMerrill Edge
ReviewRead full review
Minimum Deposit$0
Stock Trades$0 per trade
Option Trades$0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFsall
Trading PlatformMerrill Edge MarketPro
2019 Review #1 Awards#1 Overall Client Experience, #1 Banking Services, #1 Rewards Program


Best Online Brokers for Stock Trading 2020

TradeStation Overall | Open Account

Promo Offer: Commission-Free Trades on Stocks, ETFs & Options Trades.

TradeStation is an active trader focused brokerage best known for its excellent desktop trading platform and mobile app, which both come loaded with trading tools.

With pricing, TradeStation offers two free stock trading account options: TS Select and TS Go.

Why Choose TradeStation:

  • Excellent trading platform. TradeStation 10 is a desktop-based, downloadable trading platform for online trading that is robust and full of trading tools. In our testing, TradeStation 10 is rivaled only by TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim platform.
  • Great mobile app for stock and options trading.

    From monitoring multiple watch lists and setting price alerts, to analyzing stock charts and placing trades, TradeStation Mobile provides a fantastic all-around experience for traders.

ReviewRead full review
Minimum Deposit$0
Stock Trades$0 per trade
Option Trades$0.50 per contract
Commission-Free ETFsall
Trading PlatformTradeStation 10
2019 Review Awards#1 Platform Technology

Other Online Brokers

Outside of our top seven online brokers for 2019, there are nine other brokerages we reviewed: Firstrade, Ally Invest, SogoTrade, Lightspeed, SpeedTrader, Cobra Trading, Just2Trade, Robinhood, and ChoiceTrade.

Here's our high-level takeaways for each broker. To dive deeper, read our full review.


5 Best Online Stock Brokers 2020

Firstrade, "Founded in 1985, Firstrade has a long history of providing value for its customers. Known for its easy-to-use website, Firstrade offers $0 stock and options trading. Firstrade offers Morningstar research; however, its trading platform struggles to stand out against industry leaders." Read full review

9. Ally Invest, "Backed by Ally Financial, Ally Invest is a low-cost broker providing $0 stock and ETF trades. Ally’s complete universal-account management experience makes the brokerage ideal for current Ally Bank customers; however, convenience aside, Ally Invest struggles to stand out against industry leaders." Read full review


Best stock trading platform 2019: online brokers worth investing in

SogoTrade, "Founded in 1986, SogoTrade is an online discount brokerage that charges $4.88 base commissions and supports Chinese-speaking customers. Unfortunately, despite offering five trading platforms for stocks and options, SogoTrade struggles to stand out against the best brokers." Read full review


Lightspeed, "Lightspeed is a direct-access, online discount brokerage that focuses on serving active and professional traders through its in-house and third-party trading platforms. Casual traders beware though, not trading enough will mean getting stuck paying high monthly platform fees." Read full review


SpeedTrader, "SpeedTrader, a division of Mint Global Markets, has been serving active traders for 19 years.

The Best Online Stock Trading Sites

As a Das Trader Pro exclusive firm, SpeedTrader caters solely to hyperactive and professional traders and offers discounted commissions; however, pricing plans are complicated." Read full review

13. Cobra Trading, "Cobra Trading was founded in 2003 by Chadd Hessing as a direct-access, low-cost online brokerage for professional stock traders. While Cobra Trading offers multiple trading platforms and personalized service, trading costs are more expensive than leader Interactive Brokers." Read full review


Just2Trade, "Just2Trade is a discount brokerage offering low-cost stock trades and an easy to use trading platform, Just2Trade+. Unfortunately, Just2Trade provides little to no research tools and a very low-quality customer experience that, overall, is not worth the cost savings." Read full review


Stock trading online platform

Robinhood, "Robinhood makes trading simple for beginners by offering an easy-to-use mobile app and $0 stock, options, ETF, and cryptocurrency trades. However, Robinhood makes money by accepting payment for order flow.

Furthermore, few trading tools are offered, and there is no phone support." Read full review

16. ChoiceTrade, "Founded in 2000, ChoiceTrade is an online broker that advertises unlimited free stock trades.

7 Best Free Stock Trading Platforms in 2019

Unfortunately, overall, ChoiceTrade provides customers a terrible all-around online investing experience not worth the hassle." Read full review

2019 Best in Class Winners

Our “Best in Class” awards highlight the top five brokers for nine primary categories and four additional categories.

Each category winner is displayed below its respective section label.

View all category winners

2019 best in class winners

2019 Industry Awards

Each year online brokers stand out for going "above and beyond" in the areas that matter most to customers.

To recognize these brokers, we distribute industry awards. Here are the 2019 winners.

2019 industry awards

2019 Brokerage Rankings

Scored on 4,544 data points, here's our final broker rankings for the sixteen brokerages who participated in our 2019 Broker Review, sorted by Overall ranking. online stock broker rankings 2019

Best Online Stock Brokers (Summary)

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For the ninth annual best online brokers review published in February 2019, a total of 4,544 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers.

This makes home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

Participation is required to be included. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and provided executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust.

Learn more about how we test.

More from the editor

New this year, we merged the categories of Commissions & Fees with Order Execution, which now is known just as Commissions & Fees. This was a milestone I’ve been working towards for the past two years; it’s crucial for investors to understand that the underlying cost per trade is not the only factor in pricing.

We also unveiled a new sub-category, Best for Professionals, to acknowledge the brokerages that cater to the most demanding traders.

Alongside the annual review, our third annual international forex brokers review, which includes 28 FX brokers, was also published on our sister site, Finally, be sure to check the latest financial advisor ratings, which you can view on

Still aren't sure which broker to choose?

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Stock trading online platform

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