Best online stockbrokers for beginners

Beginner investors have everything they need to get started today

Author pictureAuthor picture
Author picture
Written by
Author picture
Edited by
woman studying financial market online

The days of investing from a broker's office are mostly gone. Now, the best online brokers for beginners can do everything you need without you having to leave home.

However, beginner investors have unique needs compared to more seasoned ones. Guidance, educational tools and intuitive transaction processes may be just as important as the investment itself to someone who is just starting out.

We’ve compiled our top picks for the best online stockbrokers for beginners to help you find one that’s right for you.

Our top 6 picks for best online stockbrokers

To make our choices for best online stockbrokers for beginners, we examined the verified reviews on our site and considered factors benefiting beginner investors the most, such as educational tools, ease of use and minimum investment requirements.

Our picks may be Authorized Partners that compensate us. This does not affect our recommendations or evaluations but can impact the order in which the companies appear.

Investment products
Stocks, ETFs, crypto, options, margin, retirement accounts

Robinhood is a solid option if you’re looking for a broker that’s focused on mobile app users. It offers commission-free trading with no account minimums.

Robinhood has some educational materials for new investors, but access to research reports is exclusive to Robinhood Gold, its paid subscription tier. Other features, like investing on margin and larger instant deposits, are also only available to Gold users.

Several aspects of Robinhood make it appealing:

  • Commission-free trading
  • One free stock for new users
  • Instant deposits up to $1,000 for free users

Some disadvantages with Robinhood include:

  • Some features require a paid subscription
  • Limited research materials compared to other online stockbrokers

Several reviewers have praised Robinhood for its easy-to-use system. Benaiah from Pennsylvania said: “I love that Robinhood allows ordinary people to invest in the stock market and have a chance at earning on their own there. I love the insights the company gives and how easy the platform is to use. I loved how easy it was to set up.”

However, other reviewers have described frustrating situations with Robinhood, such as accounts taking too long for verification. One reviewer from New Jersey noted: “I have been trying to get my account verified for over 11 days. Their email support seems to be misleading and not secure at all. They send email every other day from a different person asking to send ** and when you send you get another one.”

Investment products
Stocks, ETFs, options and mutual funds

Ameriprise Financial has been in business for more than 125 years, making it one of the oldest full-service investment companies in the U.S. It has multiple features and tools to help you start investing.

Fees vary based on the services you take advantage of — Ameriprise also offers financial advising services beyond acting as a broker. There aren't many educational materials on the company's website for those who would rather not use an advisor, though.

Ameriprise Financial is one of the best online brokers worth considering because of its:

  • Local branch network available
  • Wide range of investment options
  • Ongoing customer support and advice if needed

There are potential drawbacks to bear in mind:

  • Limited educational materials for beginners
  • Can cost more than discount brokerages

Vincent from California said: “I never knew a lot coming into this but always received genuine guidance and honest feedback. I worked with Dmitry B. and Tony G. [during] my time with Ameriprise and really appreciated them not pressuring me to make decisions with my own money. Every so often I would get calls regarding updates to my accounts or suggestions to make based on the current market but always felt my decisions were respected and heard.”

But another reviewer in California had a different experience, noting: “I gave Ameriprise some money with the intent of getting a small but steady growth and maintaining the capital. They said they invested in a safe mutual fund. My advisor moved to a new role and I am not sure who was monitoring my account. After two years, my account is below the initial amount I invested. Ameriprise made money by charging me their quarterly fees though.”

Investment products
Stocks, options, ETFs, Forex and more

TD Ameritrade is a full-service firm that helps clients, including those who are younger and inexperienced, start investing. Its website is easy to navigate, and it features information to help you get a good idea of what your investment options are.

The company's trading platform is also robust enough to accommodate your needs as you become more comfortable investing.

Some of TD Ameritrade’s features that stood out to us include:

  • Solid education for beginning investors
  • Local branch network available
  • No minimum account investment

Some of the cons for TD Ameritrade include:

  • $2,000 deposit required for margin trading
  • Lower interest rates on uninvested cash

Several reviewers have praised TD Ameritrade for its friendly and helpful customer service. Sheila from Mississippi said: “I have been with TDAMERITRADE for over 25 years and I love it. The website is user friendly. The support is always immediate no matter how they are contacted. The agents are knowledgeable and friendly. The trades could not possibly go more smoothly.”

However, other reviews criticize the number of fees charged by TD Ameritrade. For example, Peter in Washington said: “I simply cannot understand why TD charges $2.25 a contract for futures trading. It is crazy, it is not justifiable whatsoever. It is not that TOS is the most superior platform out there compared to others especially when it comes to Futures trading yet their charges are simply ridiculous.”

Investment products
Stocks, index funds, options, futures, ETFs and mutual funds

Charles Schwab is a full-service brokerage that also offers investment management from human professionals and robo-advisors. It supports plenty of investment options, and it has various resources for training and education. Clients can link their investing and banking, and local branches can offer support for beginners when needed.

Charles Schwab has $0 commissions on stocks and ETFs, and its base commission on options is $0 per trade plus a $0.65 fee per contract. It has no trade or account minimums, and the company offers a satisfaction guarantee that refunds commissions and fees for unhappy customers.

Charles Schwab offers numerous advantages, such as:

  • $0 commissions for online trades
  • Local branch network available
  • Lets you link investment and bank accounts

There are a couple of disadvantages to Charles Schwab, including:

  • Can cost more than discount brokerages
  • Variety of services may be intimidating

Les from California said: “Although I was not pleased with the active management agent in The Private Client Program, I am very pleased with Charles Schwab as a whole. Schwab provides excellent customer Service. The tools available for you to make informed decisions are outstanding! There is always a representative to assist you in a helpful, welcoming manner.”

However, others, such as this reviewer from Maryland, voiced frustration with customer service: “I went to Schwab location to withdraw a sizable check only to learn they don't print checks. After hearing my options I decided to have it overnighted and was assured I would have it yesterday. It's 2pm and still no check. I called cust service and before I was disconnected twice (promised a callback after the first time but never did I get a call back) the person informed me they printed the check yesterday and overnighted it and it could be until tomorrow that I receive it. there is a fee for overnighting yet it can take 3 days to receive it.”

Investment products
Mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, CDs, bonds, retirement accounts

Vanguard is an established company that offers competitive costs and a wide selection of investment options. It’s a full-service brokerage firm with services for financial advising and retirement planning.

Vanguard’s costs are reasonable, but it does have a $1,000 account minimum for mutual funds. Its benefit structure also favors larger accounts, which makes it more difficult for new investors to get full access to all it has to offer.

Investors should keep the following in mind:

  • Limited research and data
  • Tiered benefits favor larger accounts

Vanguard is worth the consideration for those who favor:

  • Commission-free trades
  • Wide range of investment options
  • Proprietary fund products

Several reviewers have said they trust Vanguard and are long-time clients. Michael in Oklahoma said: “I have used Vanguard for my former employer’s 401K and subsequently rolled that 401K into an IRA. They have been easy to work with and the choices for investments have been great. They work with you to create a portfolio tailored to your individual investment goals and stage in life.”

However, other reviewers expressed frustration with customer service. For example, one reviewer from Indiana said: “Customer service is non responsive to such a degree that after 30 years I am switching investment firms. Most recently I phoned with a question regarding a portion of my account not functioning on the app. They said they'd call back. No response after 2 weeks. This is typical.”

Investment products
Stocks, options, futures, ETFs and mutual funds

E*TRADE is a well-known online brokerage offering a few key benefits that make it a good option for beginners, including a simple-to-use mobile app and an intuitive website. This company offers multiple investment options, such as stocks, mutual funds and ETFs.

E*TRADE has competitive pricing and no account minimums, but some prices change depending on how many trades you make per quarter. Its Power E*TRADE platform is also potentially overwhelming for new investors, although it may be a nice option to have as you become more comfortable with investing.

E*TRADE is great for customers because it offers:

  • Solid education for beginning investors
  • Two trading platforms
  • No additional fees

E*TRADE may disappoint customers because:

  • It only offers one platform and it’s suited to new users
  • Tiered pricing can be confusing

Several reviewers on ConsumerAffairs said E*TRADE is easy to use, with solid customer service. Greg in California said: “Shawn, or Shaun however he spells it, is a skilled careful agent. It's rare to find a real person, let alone one that actually cares and is effective. I will spare you the ad nauseam, just let me say, I recommend E*Trade online help and specifically Shaun.”

However, other reviewers complained about getting locked out of their accounts. Oliver in Texas said: “I transferred $20,000.00 to start investing on E*Trade, then for no reason they blocked my account. After 1 hour and 15 minutes on the phone, they finally unlocked it. I tried to use it and it was again blocked. I'm on the phone again for more than 30 minutes and it goes far. If you have all day long to be with them on the phone, you may be lucky to get your money back. It is a nightmare.”

What is a brokerage account?

A brokerage account is a financial account that allows you to buy and sell investment products such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

It acts as the go-between for investors and the financial markets, allowing you to directly place trades and manage your investment portfolio. Many brokerage accounts offer features like research tools, portfolio tracking and access to professional advice to help you make informed decisions.

» MORE: What is a good investment?

Types of brokerage accounts

The Securities and Exchange Commission divides brokerage accounts into two main types:

  • Cash accounts – These are the most common non-retirement options, letting you purchase investments with your own money.
  • Margin accounts – These involve your broker lending you cash in order to buy investment products. Those investments then serve as collateral. There are often additional costs associated with buying on margin, and it comes with additional risks as well.

A variety of account types fall under these two broad categories, including many proprietary options. Because there are so many account types available and brokerage offerings are always changing, it’s a good idea to compare individual account types once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential brokerages.

If a standard brokerage account isn’t right for you, consider working with an automated robo-advisor or opening a retirement account, such as a 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA). These other investment accounts offer different features and functions. For example, retirement accounts often come with tax benefits. You can also get IRAs backed by gold or Bitcoin.

Full-service brokerage vs. discount brokerage

It's up to you to decide what type of account is best suited for your needs:

  • A full-service online brokerage provides a higher level of individualized service and guidance. It may offer more products to invest in and personalized services to help you with investments. However, it also typically costs more.
  • A discount brokerage may be a good option if you want to save money and you’re fine doing more of the work yourself. Many online brokerages lean towards this model.

How to choose a brokerage account

Here are some tips to help you choose the right brokerage account:

  • Determine what you wish to invest in and make sure your online broker offers that. If you’re not yet sure what you want to invest in, consider an account with a brokerage that has a variety of investments available.
  • Look for a brokerage account that has a simple-to-use platform and ample research material.
  • Be sure the account you choose does not require a higher minimum investment than you're comfortable with. Also, consider your plans for the future. It might be wise to allow for some wiggle room should you want to pull out some funds or try another brokerage down the road.
  • Research and compare fees, platform features and any other limitations or costs. As a new investor, you might not know what’s normal in the industry, but comparing options from leading brokerages gives you a benchmark for what’s acceptable.

Many brokerages offer multiple types of accounts, so compare the tiers and see what level of account you need.

» MORE: How to open a brokerage account


What are the fees associated with an online stockbroker?

To provide services, most brokers charge a brokerage fee. This is often a flat fee, but it may also be a percentage of the money you invest.

Can I withdraw funds from an online brokerage?

Yes, as long as the funds aren’t tied up in an investment. Depending on the type of account, this process may require paying taxes upfront. You may incur fees for some types of withdrawals, too.

Are online brokerage accounts safe?

Online stockbrokers are generally safe if they’re using robust security measures to protect user information and transactions. Reputable online brokers also use industry-standard encryption tools for sensitive data protection, so personal and financial details remain confidential. As far as investments go, all investments carry some risk that your broker is not responsible for.

Can I automate my investments with online stockbrokers?

Yes, most reputable online stockbrokers offer features like automatic investment plans and robo-advisors, so you can set up recurring investments based on your schedule and risk tolerance.

How do I fund an online brokerage?

The most common methods for funding an online brokerage account include linking your bank account and initiating electronic transfers, depositing a check via mobile app or mail, or wiring funds directly from your bank. Some online brokers may accept alternative payment methods, too, like debit cards or electronic wallets, but you should check these policies first.

Bottom line

The right broker for you will vary based on your situation and your personal preferences. However, the best online brokers for beginners typically prioritize educational tools, customer service and a simple-to-use platform and app.

As a new investor, you want a broker that has a low barrier to entry (minimal fees and account minimums) and enough options and resources to let you test the waters, see what you prefer and grow along with your portfolio.


To make our choices for best online stockbrokers for beginners, we started with a list of 17 popular online brokers. We examined the verified reviews and ratings on our site and also reviewed information benefiting beginner investors the most, such as educational tools, ease of use and minimum investment requirements.

Did you find this article helpful? |
Share this article