safest brokerage firms

Safest Online Brokerage Firms

Most secure, reliable, safest brokerage firms for online investing, stock trading and IRA accounts.

List of the Safest Brokers

Broker Review Promotion
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
TD Ameritrade $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement. $0 $49.99 ($0 to sell) $0 $0
Ally Invest Up to $3,000 cash bonus + $0 commission trades. $0 $9.95 $0 $0
M1 Finance Up to $500 cash bonus for funding account at M1 Finance. $0 na $0 $0
WeBull 12 FREE stocks valued $34-$30,600 give-away at Webull. $0 na $0 $0

Above is the list of the most reliable and safest online brokerage firms. All of them are U.S. government regulated. They are also members of SIPC and FINRA, and customer accounts are insured by SIPC for up to $500,000 including $250,000 cash. You can see our ratings and read reviews of these companies here.

The Safest Brokerage Firms

-  TD Ameritrade. Everybody have heard about this firm. It's one of the largest, most reliable and safest online brokerage companies in the U.S. and it is very well run. The total client assets at the firm are over $1.32 trillion, and the firm has over 11.5 million funded customer accounts.

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TD Ameritrade offers $0 per trade stock/ETF commissions. It is a good choice for a brokerage if you want the best trading platform or top selection of independent, third party investment research. Read full review of TD Ameritrade.

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-  Ally Invest charges $0 per trade and has the best pricing among large brokerage houses.

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If you are new to investing, want the lowest cost, or looking for hands-off investing, then definitely check out this company. Read full review of Ally Invest.

Ally Invest Promotion

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How Safe Are Brokerage Firms?

If you’re wondering how safe it is to deposit thousands of dollars in a brokerage account and start buying stuff, you’re not alone. It’s perfectly reasonable to have concerns about the safety of investing, and many people have the same questions you do.

The short answer is that there are many safeguards in place, but investing has inherent risks that no one can eliminate. Here’s a slightly longer answer.

SIPC and Supplemental Insurance

The vast majority of brokerage firms in the United States are members of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. Certainly all the big names are. Most of them are actually required by law to be members. To verify that your brokerage firm is a member of SIPC, just do a quick search on the organization’s member list.

SIPC’s primary job is to provide insurance for brokerage accounts. If your broker-dealer is a member of SIPC, your accounts are insured up to $500,000. Of this amount, $250,000 can be used for cash balances.

Some brokerage firms also provide supplemental insurance policies (these are not required by law) to cover anything SIPC does not. Known as “excess SIPC,” these policies can be found at brokers like Ally Invest, TD Ameritrade, and Webull. With all of this unsurance, it makes these some of the most secure brokerage firms in the undustry.

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On top of the insurance, broker-dealers in the United States are also regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. FINRA keeps an eye on securities firms, publishes rules they must follow, and implements sanctions, including fines and suspensions, when brokers or their employees violate these rules.

FINRA manages BrokerCheck, an online portal that allows the public to check up on brokerage firms and see how many sanctions FINRA has imposed on them. A broker’s profile shows what organizations it is associated with, when it filed for registration, who’s in charge of the firm, and other details.

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SEC and State Regulators

FINRA is a government-mandated private organization. It’s not a government agency, but there are government agencies that do their own part to keep the securities industry as safe as possible.

At the federal level, there is the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC has similar functions as FINRA. It is tasked with implementing rules for the industry and enforcing them.

If there is any criminal wrongdoing by a broker or one of its agents, the SEC steps in and files criminal charges. This assumes the brokerage house is registered at the federal level.

If not, a state securities commission steps up to the plate. Every state and the District of Columbia has one because not all broker-dealers are registered with the SEC. The big firms are, but smaller firms are usually registered at the state level. The state commissions perform the same types of functions as the SEC.

What makes U.S.-based companies one of the safest brokerage firms in the world, are all of these regulation and oversight institutions that are watching over investment industry.

What Is Not Insured or Regulated

Despite all the oversight and regulation, not everything is regulated in the investment world. The most significant issue that is not insured or guaranteed by any entity is the market price of securities in your account.

To use an example, let’s say you buy 100 shares of Citigroup. The price could go to infinity or zero. There’s no guarantee there. If you pay $63 per share, that translates into a $6,300 investment. If the share price of C goes to $0, your investment goes to $0. No one insures against market loss. SIPC only guarantees the number of shares in your account, up to the market price.

Beware of Offshore Accounts

So far, we’ve been discussing American accounts only. Some brokers exist outside the United States; and these firms have different rules because they operate inside of different countries.

The Caribbean in particular is home to many brokers that offer day-trading and other investment services. Some of these companies may be loosely regulated and may have no insurance. For example, brokerage houses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are not required to have a securities license. One broker on the island is F1Trade, Ltd., which has no insurance.

So when you are looking for the safest brokerage account, make sure to choose a U.S.-based company.

Safest Brokers The Final Answer

To answer our original question, “How Safe Are Brokerage Firms?,” it appears that the answer is brokerage accounts are safe, but not quite as safe as bank accounts. With bank deposits, the amount you put into the account is guaranteed. That’s not the case with investment accounts, and never will be.

About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.