Best Brokerage Firms

Best Brokerage Firms: Top Rated Online Discount Stock Brokers in 2016

On this page we list the best online brokerage companies that offer the lowest trading commissions and fees, and the highest quality of client services. We reviewed and compared over 30 top rated U.S. investment/trading discount broker accounts and selected three best brokerage firms for individuals in 2016.


Stocks and ETFs $7
Stocks and ETFs broker assisted $32
Options $7 + $0.70 per contract
Mutual funds $17
CDs, OTC Secondary Corporates, OTC Secondary Municipals,
U.S. Treasury Bills, Notes, Bonds and STRIPS, New Corporate Offerings
subject to a markup or markdown
Listed Corporate Bonds $35 + $3 per bond (minimum investment $1,000)
Unit Investment Trusts (UIT) $50 liquidation fee
Foreign Stocks Transferring In or Out $60

Investments stocks, options, mutual funds, CDs, munis, U.S. Treasury, Canadian and foreign stocks, ETFs
Scottrade minimum deposit to open account $2,500
FeesScottrade fees
Promotion and login linksScottrade login, Scottrade promotions

Scottrade Advantages

  • No inactivity, account maintenance or hidden fees
  • No-fee IRAs
  • 500+ local branches for in-person assistance
  • Great support for beginner investors with a massive number of educational resources
  • Good banking services: savings, CDs, money market, and free checking account that comes with free ATM withdrawals, VISA check card, and first order of checks
  • Free real-time streaming quotes
  • Flexible dividend reinvestment program (DRIP)
  • Large number of mutual funds available
  • Instant funds deposits

Scottrade Drawbacks

  • Surcharge of 0.5% of the principal value on stocks priced under $1
  • No electronic withdrawals, but clients can use a debit card, checks, or ACH transfer from their bank
  • $25,000 account balance, or 9+ stock/option trades during the previous three months is required to use advanced trading platform (ScottradeELITE)
  • $2,500 minimum to open a brokerage account

Full Scottrade Review

Scottrade has been one of the top brokerage firms in the country for many years. It's a rock solid company with millions of customers and the largest network of local offices. Despite not having the most modern website design and cutting edge trading technology, they are still the best priced firm among the largest brokerage houses in the U.S., offering a huge amount of free services some of which no-one can match.

Continue Scottrade Review

Link To Scottrade Promotion

Get up to $2000 when you open new account or add funds to existing account.

Open Scottrade Account

TD Ameritrade

Stocks and ETFs $9.99
Stocks and ETFs broker assisted $49.99
Options $9.99 + $0.75 per contract
No-load mutual funds $49.99
Treasuries at auction $25
All other bonds and CMOs, CDs on a net yield basis
Futures $2.25 per contract plus exchange & regulatory fees
Forex Non-commission currency pairs trade in increments of 10,000 units (and do not contain a "#" symbol suffix). There are no additional fees or charges.

Investments stocks, mutual funds, options, ETFs, bonds, CDs, UITs, futures, and forex
TD Ameritrade minimum deposit to open account $0 for cash account, $2,000 for margin account
FeesTD Ameritrade fees
Promotion and login linksTD Ameritrade login, TD Ameritrade promotions and TD Ameritrade referral

TD Ameritrade Advantages

  • Very few fees and no surcharges on penny stocks, large orders, or after-hours trading
  • Large and well-known company with 126 local branches
  • Two excellent trading platforms available to all clients: Thinkorswim and Trade Architect
  • Users can practice trading without risking real money using PaperMoney virtual trading
  • Easy access to myTRADE online trader community
  • No account maintenance or inactivity fees
  • Free streaming quotes, including Level II
  • Best selection of independent, third-party research from 13 firms (Standard & Poor's, Morningstar, Jaywalk, TheStreet, etc.)
  • 100+ ETFs with no commissions
  • Large number of mutual funds - around 12,000 available; 3,000 NTF (no-transaction fee) funds
  • Free DRIP (dividend reinvestment plan)
  • No-fee IRA accounts

TD Ameritrade Drawbacks

  • At $9.99 for stocks and ETFs and $49 for mutual funds, commission rates are high
  • High margin rates

Full TD Ameritrade Review

TD Ameritrade is one of the best brokerage firms on the market in 2016, and they seems to excel in everything they do. Their website is second to none in the industry, impressing users with cutting edge design as well as in richness in features. With their trading platforms, that are packed with features that active traders crave, any investor can feel like a professional Wall Street trader. While having high commissions, the firm offers many free services for which other brokers charge fees, and for many investors it is worth paying higher commissions.

Continue TD Ameritrade Review

Link To TD Ameritrade Promotion

Trade free for 60 days + get up to $600.

Open TD Ameritrade Account


Stocks and ETFs $4.95
Options $4.95 + $0.65 per contract
Mutual funds $9.95
Bonds $1 per bond with $10 minimum, $250 maximum
Treasuries commission-free
Certificates of Deposit (CDs) $24.95

Investments stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs, forex, treasuries, ETFs
TradeKing minimum deposit to open account $0 for cash account, $2,000 for margin account
FeesTradeKing fees
Promotion and login linksTradeKing login, TradeKing promotions and TradeKing referral

TradeKing Advantages

  • Very low commissions
  • No minimums, or maintenance or hidden fees
  • Free real-time quotes
  • Top-rated customer service
  • Best online investor community
  • Fee-free IRAs
  • Free DRIPs (dividend reinvestment plans)
  • Extensive educational resources
  • Low cost professional portfolio management

TradeKing Drawbacks

  • Additional $0.01 per share on the entire order for stocks priced at less than $2
  • $50 annual inactivity fee if BOTH apply to an account(s):
    • Combined account value of the household account(s) is less than $2,500
    • No commission-charged trades have been executed in the account(s) during the last 12 months
  • Short after-hours trading: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST, instead of 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST

Full TradeKing Review

TradeKing has been growing not just organically but also through mergers and acquisitions. The company is constantly adding new features and services while keeping the same low pricing that initially made them popular. The cheapest among top brokerage firms in 2016, it became a formidable competitor in a very dynamic industry of online investing.

Continue TradeKing Review

Link To TradeKing Promotion

Get $100 in free commissions. No hidden fees. No minimums.

Open TradeKing Account

Best Brokerage Firms

Above is the list of our three best online brokerage firms for individuals in 2016. These top rated discount investing companies accept USA-based customers, and enable their clients to buy and sell stocks listed on NYSE, NASDAQ, and other exchanges.

Of course, the brokerages mentioned in this article also offer their customers an ability to invest in literally thousands of various mutual funds from most major mutual fund families including Vanguard and Fidelity. The types of mutual funds available are no-load, load, NTF (no transaction fee), index funds, bond and target retirement funds, and others. The firms also allow options trading (including complex options) as well as investing in ETFs (exchange traded funds) and in majority of available bond securities.

You can open new regular brokerage or IRA account, or transfer your existing brokerage account to one of these top online brokerage firms by clicking on the links on the website and completing application form. Optionshouse and TradeKing allow opening an account with no initial deposit ($0 down), while Scottrade requires $2,500 minimum deposit for brokerage account. All three companies offer generous promotion incentives for new customers.

Our Recommendations

If you are only comfortable investing with large, well-known, top rated online brokerage firm, then Scottrade is a great choice. The company belongs to the "Big 5 Brokerages" - the five largest brokerage houses in the U.S. and it has been in business for over 30 years. Scottrade is one of the best brokerages for beginners, long term and mutual funds investors.

TD Ameritrade provides powerful intuitive and sophisticated sets of trading tools for every investor's experience level, as well as virtual trading, no-fee IRAs, free streaming quotes, and best independent investment research. While stock, mutual funds and ETF trades costs are on the higher side, there are ways to build a portfolio at the firm without paying commissions. TD Ameritrade is a great broker for IRAs, buy-and-hold investors, and anyone who wants the best trading tools and research.

TradeKing offers easy-to-use yet powerful trading tools, a simulated trading environment, fee-free retirement accounts, online trader comminity, free streaming quotes, and great beginner investor education. Stock and ETF trades cost very low $4.95 per trade, and transaction-fee, no-load mutual funds are just $9.95 per transaction. The firm is very popular among bargain seekers, options traders, and active investors.

We rated TradeKing, TD Ameritrade and Scottrade the Best Brokerage Firms in 2016 in the United States for self directed, do-it-yourself (DIY) investors. Each company has unique strengths that will appeal to various groups of customers - therefore we highly recommend reading brokerage reviews. All these firms are safe: they are members of SIPC and FINRA, which means that they are regulated by United States government, and their client accounts are insured for up to $500,000 per customer, including up to $250,000 in cash.

Updated on 5/4/2016.

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