Best Self-Directed Investment Firms. Brokerages for Self-Managed IRA and Non-IRA Accounts.



TD Ameritrade rating

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade Pricing


InvestmentsCommissions
Stocks and ETFs $6.95
Stocks and ETFs broker assisted $44.99
Options $6.95 + $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 links TD Ameritrade promotions


Best Self-Directed Broker Review


Read TD Ameritrade Review


Promotion


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



Ally Invest rating

Ally Invest

Ally Invest Pricing


InvestmentsCommissions
Stocks and ETFs $4.95 ($3.95 per trade if making 30+ trades per quarter or for $100,000 balances)
Options $4.95 + $0.65 per contract ($0.50 per contract if making 30+ trades per quarter or for $100,000 balances)
Mutual funds $9.95
Bonds $1 per bond with $10 minimum, $250 maximum
Treasuries commission-free
Certificates of Deposit (CDs) $24.95
Futures $0.85 per contract up to 250 contracts, $0.65 per contract 251-2000 contracts, $0.45 per contract over 2000 contracts

Investments stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs, forex, futures, treasuries, ETFs
Ally Invest minimum deposit to open account $0 for cash account, $2,000 for margin account
FeesAlly Invest fees
Promotion link Ally Invest promotions


Best Self-Directed Broker Review


Read Ally Invest Review


Promotion


Up to $3,500 cash bonus + commission free trades for new accounts.





Open Self-Directed Investment Firm Account and Buy a Stock


Step 1: Open self directed brokerage account


You are here because you decided you are ready to invest in your future, or you want to start building your retirement portfolio, or you just want to make some money on a hot stock or commodity (such as gold, oil or natural gas). Naturally, a question arises: where and how do I buy stocks online?

Well, the process is actually very simple. There are companies, called brokerage firms, that let you do that and much more. They provide you with an ability to buy stocks (also called securities) and other investments, such as mutual funds, ETF's, bonds, etc. You'll have to pay them a commission for each trade (sometimes also called a "transaction") you make, and the average cost of commission on stock or ETF trade in the industry right now is around $5.95, which is very cheap comparing to what you would have paid 10 years ago.

There are dozens of self-directed brokerage firms out there courting new customers. So who has the best self-directed investment account for your needs? The answer will depend on what you are looking for:

- If you want to just occasionally buy/sell stocks online, than what you need is cheap commission and no account maintenance fees. For this purpose we suggest opening self-directed brokerage account with Ally Invest (read Ally Invest Review).

- If you are looking to invest for your retirement, then what you need is no IRA fees, low commissions, and large, established brokerage firm for self-directed account. TD Ameritrade will fit that definition perfectly: read TD Ameritrade Review.


Step 2: Fund your brokerage account


Before you can buy a stock, you'll have to transfer money from your bank account to your new brokerage account. With Ally Invest and TD Ameritrade you will have to setup and use ACH transfer which will take a few days. Brokerage firms make this setup very easy, but if you have questions, don't hesitate to call broker customer service.

After your account is opened and funds are transferred, you are finally ready to buy stocks online. Below are step-by-step instructions of how to buy shares with all three top self directed investment companies for IRA and non-IRA accounts.


Step 3: Buy stocks online


TD Ameritrade: To buy stocks at the firm, first log in into your account. Once inside, click "Trade" tab on top in main menu. In "Buy/Sell" box select "Buy". In "Shares" box enter the number of shares you want to buy. In "Symbol" box enter a symbol for a company you want to buy (you could look up those on the internet by typing in Google search "symbol for Apple/Facebook/etc"). To the right you will see a price at which this stock is currently trading. In "Order Type" box you could leave "Market" if you want to buy stock at the current price, or you could change it to "Limit" and set your own price (if your price is below market price, this order will execute only when market price falls to your price, which could take some time). If you used "Limit" order, than change "Duration" to "Good till canceled", since it will take time for a market price to reach your price. After all that, click "Preview Order" button and if your order looks good click "Place Order" button.


Best self directed ira companies


Etrade: Log in into your account. In "Quote lookup" box in top-left corner enter symbol for a company you want to buy (you could look up those on the internet by typing in Google "symbol for Apple/Facebook/etc") and press "Go" button. It will show you a price at which this stock is currently trading. Click blue "Buy" button and a new window will appear. In "Quantity" box enter the number of shares you want to buy. The "Price" box you could change to "Market" if you want to buy stock at the current price, or you leave it at "Limit" and set your own price (if your price is below market price, this order will execute only when market price falls to your price, which could take some time). If you used "Limit" order, than change "Duration" to "Good till canceled", since it will take time for a market price to reach your price. Than click "Preview" button and if your order looks good click "Place Order" button.


Best self directed investment companies


Ally Invest: Log in into your account. In the main menu select "Trading", than "Stocks + ETFs". Under "Action" select "Buy", under "Shares" enter the number of shares you want to buy. Below "Symbol" enter symbol for a company you want to buy (you could look up those on the internet by typing "symbol for Apple/Facebook/etc" in search engine). At the bottom it will show you the price at which this stock is currently trading. Below "Price" box you could select "Market" if you want to buy stock at the current price, or select "Limit" and set your own price (if your price is below market price, this order will execute only when market price falls to your price, which could take some time). If you used "Limit" order, than change "Duration" to "GTC" ("good till canceled"), since it will take time for a market price to reach your price.


Best self-directed brokerage account


If you used "Market" order above, you already bought and own a stock you wanted! If you used "Limit" order, you will have to wait for your order to execute. It might execute soon, or in a few hours, days or, even, never, depending on the price you set.

If you followed instructions above - congratulations! You just bought your first stock! Hopefully it will make you a lot of money.