Top USA Brokers

Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
  • Binarium
    Binarium

    1st Place! Best Binary Broker 2020!
    Best Choice for Beginners — Free Education + Free Demo Acc!
    Sign-up and Get Big Bonus:

  • Binomo
    Binomo

    2nd place! Good choice!

Best Online Brokers 2020

The StockBrokers.com best online brokers 2020 review (10th annual) took five months to complete and produced over 30,000 words of research. Here’s how we tested.

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 2020 with a total 2,574 individual buys and sells.

While the markets are anything but certain, you can feel confident StockBrokers.com has your back in 2020 to help you choose the best broker.

Best Online Brokers 2020

  • 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

1. TD Ameritrade

Overall | Open Account

Exclusive Offer: Get up to $600 and trade commission-free with TD Ameritrade.

TD Ameritrade delivers the ultimate package for investors, including $0 trades, fantastic trading platforms, excellent market research, industry-leading education for beginners, and reliable customer service. This outstanding all-round experience makes TD Ameritrade our top overall broker in 2020.

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. 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.
Feature TD Ameritrade
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0 + $0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform thinkorswim

2. Fidelity

Overall | Open Account

Trade Commission-Free: No commissions to trade online U.S. stocks, ETFs, and options. 1

Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
  • Binarium
    Binarium

    1st Place! Best Binary Broker 2020!
    Best Choice for Beginners — Free Education + Free Demo Acc!
    Sign-up and Get Big Bonus:

  • Binomo
    Binomo

    2nd place! Good choice!

Fidelity is a value-driven online broker offering $0 stock trades, industry-leading research, excellent trading tools, an easy-to-use mobile app, and comprehensive retirement services. Serving over 30 million customers, Fidelity is a winner for everyday investors.

Why Choose Fidelity:

  • Terrific for investment research. Research at Fidelity stands out for its 16 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.
Feature Fidelity
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform Active Trader Pro

3. Charles Schwab

Overall | Open Account

Current Offer: $0 online stock, ETF, and options commissions at Schwab.

Founded in 1973, Charles Schwab is a full-service brokerage with over $3 trillion in total client assets. 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.
Feature Charles Schwab
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform StreetSmart Edge

4. E*TRADE

Overall | Open Account

Promo Offer: Get $100 when you deposit just $5,000 into a new E*TRADE account!

Founded in 1982 as one of the first online brokerages in the United States, E*TRADE understands what investors need to succeed in the market. E*TRADE highlights include $0 trades, two excellent mobile apps, and the Power E*TRADE platform, which is great for options trading.

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. Among all the online brokers we track on StockBrokers.com, E*TRADE offers the most mobile app features in a well-designed, easy to use experience.
Feature E*TRADE
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform Power E*TRADE

5. 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. Through the Trader Workstation (TWS) platform, Interactive Brokers offers excellent tools and an extensive selection of tradeable 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. 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 125 market centers.
Feature Interactive Brokers
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $.005 per share (IBKR Pro) // $0 (IBKR Lite)
Option Trades $0.65 per contract (IBKR Pro) // $0 (IBKR Lite)
Commission-Free ETFs 48 (IBKR Pro) // all (IBKR Lite)
Trading Platform Trader Workstation (TWS)

6. Merrill Edge

Overall | Open Account

Current Offer: Invest in a new account and get up to $600.

Backed by parent company Bank of America, Merrill Edge delivers $0 stock and ETF trades with fantastic research and customer service. Better yet, for current banking customers, Merrill Edge’s Preferred Rewards program offers the best rewards benefits across the industry.

Why Choose Merrill Edge:

  • Preferred Rewards. To open an account with Merrill Edge, you do not have to be a Bank of America customer. 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. Merrill Edge offers Stock Story, Fund Story, and Portfolio Story, which makes conducting market research both educational and insightful. Full ESG Reports are also included.
  • Great customer service. In our national testing, Merrill Edge consistently delivered agent connection times under one minute.
Feature Merrill Edge
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0.65 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform Merrill Edge MarketPro

7. TradeStation

Overall | Open Account

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

As a trading technology leader, TradeStation supports casual traders through its web-based platform and active traders through its award-winning desktop platform, all with $0 stock and ETF trades.

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 stocks 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.
Feature TradeStation
Review Read full review
Minimum Deposit $0
Stock Trades $0 per trade
Option Trades $0.50 per contract
Commission-Free ETFs all
Trading Platform TradeStation 10

More Online Brokers

Outside of our top seven online brokers for 2020, there are eight other brokerages we reviewed: Ally Invest, Firstrade, Chase You Invest Trade, SogoTrade, Robinhood, ChoiceTrade, Lightspeed, and Cobra Trading. Here’s our high-level takeaways for each broker. To dive deeper, read our full review.

8. 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 and easy to use website makes the brokerage great for current Ally Bank customers and everyday investors alike.” Read full review

9. Firstrade, “Firstrade offers $0 stock, ETF, and options trades, and is best known for its easy-to-use website, alongside its Chinese language services. While Firstrade offers Morningstar research and a variety of tools, its overall offering struggles to stand out against household name brands who are also priced at $0.” Read full review

10. Chase You Invest Trade, “Chase You Invest Trade provides current Chase Bank customers a convenient way to invest in the stock market. While Chase doesn’t provide all the bells and whistles like some of its non-bank competitors, our testing found the site to be easy to use and reliable overall.” Read full review

11. SogoTrade, “SogoTrade is an online discount brokerage that charges $4.88 base commissions and supports Chinese-speaking customers. Unfortunately, in a world where $0 trades are the baseline, despite offering five trading platforms for stocks and options, SogoTrade struggles to stand out.” Read full review

12. Robinhood, “Robinhood used to shine thanks to its easy-to-use mobile app and $0 trades. However, today, all of the largest online brokers offer free stock and ETF trades. As a result, it is much more difficult for Robinhood to outduel the competition.” Read full review

13. ChoiceTrade, “While ChoiceTrade advertises free stock trades, unfortunately, monthly costs add up, and, overall, ChoiceTrade provides customers an online investing experience not worth the hassle.” Read full review

14. Lightspeed, “Lightspeed is a direct-access online brokerage that focuses on serving active and professional traders through its in-house and third-party trading platforms. Casual traders beware, not trading enough means paying high monthly platform fees.” Read full review

15. 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

2020 Category Winners

For the StockBrokers.com 2020 Online Broker Review, all online broker participants were assessed on 236 different variables across eight Core categories. 3,540 data points were collected in total. Here are the 2020 Core category winners. Here’s how we tested.

Alongside Core categories, StockBrokers.com ranks brokers by the most popular Investor categories. Here are the 2020 Investor category winners.

Finally, each year StockBrokers.com honors the brokerages who go above and beyond in the areas that matter most to investors. Here are the 2020 industry award winners.

2020 Overall Ranking

Here’s the Overall rankings for the 15 online brokers who participated in our 2020 Broker Review, sorted by Overall ranking.

Note: Robinhood does not offer phone support for customers. As a result, Robinhood shows “Not Rated” for Customer Service. To calculate an Overall rating, the points allocated to Customer Service were proportionally allocated to the remaining categories.

How do I choose an online brokerage?

When selecting a new online broker, the first step is to read reviews and see what features matter most to you. Are low-cost trade commissions most important? What about customer service, the trading platform, mobile app, investment research, ease of use, or education? With many brokers specializing in different areas, it is crucial to evaluate all categories by reading full-length broker reviews.

How do I assess trading costs?

When trading stocks online, it is essential to understand what the costs are to buy and sell shares. Fortunately, today in 2020, most online brokers charge $0 to trade shares of stocks. That said, if day trading, additional costs come into play, including routing fees, market data fees, and platform fees.

What trading tools do online brokers offer?

To trade stocks online successfully, some stock traders rely purely on their trading tools. Trading platforms come in one of three forms: desktop, web (browser), or mobile. Advanced charting, scanning, hotkeys, virtual trading, watch lists, ladder trading, Level II quotes, and backtesting are just a sampling of the features some brokers offer. To compare trading platform features, use the online brokerage comparison tool.

Do online brokers offer more than just stocks and options trading?

Are you only trading stocks online, or are you interested in ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, and forex too? In the United States, different regulations are required for brokers who support more complex asset classes. For example, stocks, ETFs, and options are the most commonly offered, while forex trading is the least commonly offered.

Does every online broker provide a mobile app?

While every online broker offers a mobile app, quality varies widely. Managing a stock brokerage account on the go is certainly important for investors who travel and frequently use their smartphones. To find the best app for stock trading, we scored broker apps on 42 individual features.

Should I care about customer service?

It depends. 24/7 support is essential to some investors, while others may be completely fine using online chat during regular market hours or receiving an email back within one business day. That said, most investors neglect to think about a market crisis like a flash crash. In our experience, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have reliable customer service available for whenever the need may arise.

How important is stock research?

There are two types of stock research: fundamental and technical. Fundamental research explores company metrics such as earnings growth, earnings per share (EPS), debt, sales growth, and market capitalization. Meanwhile, technical analysis is all about learning how to read a stock chart and use historical price performance to help you predict future price direction. The best online brokerages offer tools to cover both types thoroughly, and we checked for 54 individual features during our 2020 Review. To compare research features, use the online brokerage comparison tool.

How can I verify if my online broker is regulated?

Online stock brokers operating in the United States and governed by US law are regulated by the SEC and must be members of FINRA and SIPC. To verify whether your online brokerage is regulated, scroll to the footer of their homepage, then read their disclosures. Using the FINRA broker check tool is another easy way to verify compliance.

Do online brokerages also offer banking services?

Many online brokerages do not limit their customers to just online stock trading. Full-service brokerages offer banking services including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and more with deposits of up to $250,000 backed by the FDIC. Bank of America (Merrill Edge) and Chase (Chase You Invest Trade) are two examples of banks that also offer online trading.

Should I worry about security?

Fortunately, at least in the United States, investors do not have too much to worry about when it comes to account security. This is especially true when choosing a brokerage that is large, well known, and properly regulated. Every website should be secured with SSL encryption, and client data should be stored in secure servers. Dual-factor authentication and Face ID are other security protocols quickly growing in popularity.

With $0 trades, how important is order execution?

It is important to understand how your orders are routed and executed. There is a wide variation between quality and poor order execution. Unfortunately, most online stock traders can’t tell the difference. To help investors out, we tested brokers and wrote a complete guide to understanding order execution.

Can I trade internationally with my online broker?

While most online brokers do not offer international trading, some do. Nearly every broker supports trading American depositary receipts (ADRs), which offers US investors an easy, simple way to invest in foreign companies. However, if you want to buy physical shares of an international company, then you need to do your research. Interactive Brokers is the leader in this space but is built for professionals. For casual investing, both Fidelity and Charles Schwab offer international stock trading.

Explore our other online trading guides:

Methodology

For the StockBrokers.com tenth annual best online brokers review published in January 2020, a total of 3,540 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com 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

Alongside the StockBrokers.com annual review, our fourth annual international forex brokers review, which includes 30 forex brokers, was also published on our sister site, ForexBrokers.com. Finally, be sure to check the latest financial advisor ratings, which you can view on investor.com.

Still aren’t sure which online broker to choose? Email us a question! Whether you are a beginner investor learning the ropes or a professional trader, we are here to help. Email us your online broker specific question and we will respond within one business day.

About the author: Blain Reinkensmeyer As Head of Research at StockBrokers.com, Blain Reinkensmeyer has 18 years of trading experience with over 1,000 trades placed during that time. Referenced as a leading expert on the US online brokerage industry, Blain has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.

All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 01/20/2020 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. For stock trade rates, advertised pricing is for a standard order size of 500 shares of stock priced at $30 per share. For options orders, an options regulatory fee per contract may apply.

TD Ameritrade, Inc. and StockBrokers.com are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other’s services and products. View terms.

1 $0.00 commission applies to online U.S. equity trades, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and options (+ $0.65 per contract fee) in a Fidelity retail account only for Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC retail clients. Sell orders are subject to an activity assessment fee (from $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of principal). There is an Options Regulatory Fee (from $0.03 to $0.05 per contract), which applies to both option buy and sell transactions. The fee is subject to change. Other exclusions and conditions may apply. See Fidelity.com/commissions for details. Employee equity compensation transactions and accounts managed by advisors or intermediaries through Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions® are subject to different commission schedules.

Options trading entails significant risk and is not appropriate for all investors. Certain complex options strategies carry additional risk. Before trading options, please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options. Supporting documentation for any claims, if applicable, will be furnished upon request.

Advertiser Disclosure: StockBrokers.com helps investors across the globe by spending over 1,000 hours each year testing and researching online brokers. How do we make money? Our partners compensate us through paid advertising. While partners may pay to provide offers or be featured, e.g. exclusive offers, they cannot pay to alter our recommendations, advice, ratings, or any other content throughout the site. Furthermore, our content and research teams do not participate in any advertising planning nor are they permitted access to advertising campaign data. Here is a list of our partners.

Disclaimer: It is our organization’s primary mission to provide reviews, commentary, and analysis that are unbiased and objective. While StockBrokers.com has all data verified by industry participants, it can vary from time to time. Operating as an online business, this site may be compensated through third party advertisers. Our receipt of such compensation shall not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation by StockBrokers.com, nor shall it bias our reviews, analysis, and opinions. Please see our General Disclaimers for more information.

© 2020 Reink Media Group LLC.
All rights reserved.

5 Best Online Stock Brokers 2020

Posted by Blain Reinkensmeyer | Last updated on Mar 17th, 2020 | Published Apr 28th, 2020

Investors should know the best online brokers to trade stocks with. Some online stock brokers are known for their award-winning customer service while others are known for inexpensive stock trades or powerful trading platforms. This guide will highlight some of the best brokers available today with tips and advice for choosing an online broker.

I spend hundreds of hours testing financial products and services each year. My reviews are honest and unbiased. If you use the links on this page to open an account, I may be compensated. Thank you for your support!

Here are some of the best online brokers for stock trading in 2020.

1. TD Ameritrade

Stock Trades: $0 | Minimum Deposit: $0

TD Ameritrade was ranked #1 Online Broker 2020 by StockBrokers.com*. TD Ameritrade charges $0 for regular stock and ETF trades and is best known for its trading platform, thinkorswim, alongside its outstanding learning center for beginners. Alongside #1 Overall, TD Ameritrade received top awards for its trading tools, mobile apps, research, customer service, and education. Full review.

2. TradeStation

Stock Trades: $0 | Minimum Deposit: $500
Current Offer: Commission-Free Trades on Stocks, ETFs & Options Trades

TradeStation offers the most advanced desktop trading platform in the industry and is excellent for stocks, ETFs, options, and futures trading. Meanwhile, TradeStation’s web-based platform and mobile app offer $0 stock trades and are great for casual traders. What I love most about TradeStation is the true focus on traders. Whether you are a new trader just learning the ropes, a casual trader, or an active trader who day trades or swing trades, TradeStation has you covered. Full review.

3. E*TRADE

Stock Trades: $0 | Minimum Deposit: $0
Current Offer: Get $100 when you deposit just $5,000 into a new E*TRADE account!

E*TRADE is best known for its Power E*TRADE platform for options trading, alongside its two mobile apps. The Power E*TRADE platform was rated the #1 platform for Options Trading. E*TRADE was also ranked #1 for Mobile Trading in the StockBrokers.com 2020 Review*. Like its closest competitors, E*TRADE now charges $0 per trade thanks to a broker pricing war that took place in October 2020. Full review.

4. Merrill Edge

Stock Trades: $6.95 | Minimum Deposit: $0

Merrill Edge is the online brokerage arm of Bank of America, which is open to all investors, regardless if they are a current banking customer. Alongside $0 trades, Merrill Edge offers excellent stock research (Merrill Edge was rated #1 for environmental, social, and governance “ESG” research). Also, Merrill Edge offers the best rewards program. Reward perks include credit card bonus cash back, savings interest bonuses, priority customer service, and more. My wife and I have personally been members of the program since it launched in 2020. It’s awesome. Full review.

5. Fidelity

Stock Trades: $0 | Minimum Deposit: $0

Fidelity focuses its customer experience on value. Beyond $0 trades and an ease of use website, Fidelity also finished #1 for research tools. It’s Viewpoint articles are top of class and Fidelity is the only online broker to offer 16 third-party research reports for individual equities. Full review.

Tips for Choosing an Online Brokerage

Having the best online broker to serve individual needs is very important for any investor. Consider these 12 key factors to help compare all stock brokers and ultimately find the best broker to suite your needs.

1. Trade Commissions
What does it cost to buy shares of stock? Does the fee change based on the type of order or size of order? Fortunately, today, trade commissions are essentially a “thing of the past” as the majority of brokers now offer $0 stock and ETF trades.

2. Customer Service
When picking up the phone or emailing a broker, is a well trained customer service representative ready to assist? How any investor is treated as a client is more important to some than others. But, even for those that don’t rely on customer support that often, to know that they have award winning service there when they need it is comforting.

3. Trading Tools
Trading successfully is a lot easier when investors have great tools at their disposal. A top stock broker should offer access to a wide variety of trade tools to help make the most of each and every trade. From real-time streaming quotes to last sale tickers, quality stock scanners, mobile trading apps, and level II quotes to name a few. Strong tools are essential for active investors.

4. Account Minimums
Some brokers allow you to open an account with no minimum deposit while others may require several thousand dollars. Also know that some brokers require higher minimums to gain access to premium platforms, functionality, and personalized support.

5. Market Research
A good online broker will provide a variety of market research tools. The rule of thumb here is simple: the more you pay per trade, the better the market research (both fundamental and technical) that is provided.

6. Investment Options
A online stock broker should offer access to not only trading stocks, but also a strong selection of no load mutual funds, commission free ETFs, and complex options. Other unique investment offerings to look for could include direct market routing, conditional orders, futures trading, and forex trading.

5. Other Fees
Fees beyond trade commissions include inactivity fees (common with active trading brokers such as Interactive Brokers, Lightspeed, and TradeStation) and IRA fees for having a retirement account. While most brokers do not charge predatory fees, it’s still important to do your due diligence. Just like a bank account, stock brokers also make a portion of their profits off miscellaneous fees.

8. Retirement Accounts
Funding a IRA, Roth IRA, or other retirement account with no annual fees is an extra perk many online brokers offer. There is no reason why you should pay an annual fee to have an retirement account. If managing your own portfolio is not of interest, all full-service brokers offer optional advisory services as well. Furthermore, robo-advisors are growing in popularity. Once again, the experience at larger established brokers is going to be superior to smaller brokers.

9. Banking
Larger online brokers offer banking and other financial services. This goes beyond money market accounts and CDs. Checking accounts, mortgages, debit cards, and credit cards can also be offered. The leader in this space is, hands down, Bank of America, Merrill Edge.

10. Account Security
Because of the web today, all online brokers invest heavily into account security. SSL websites (look for “https” at the beginning any URL) are used by most brokers and some are now even offering two-factor authentication (using your phone to confirm a code before logging in). Just like shopping online and choosing a trustworthy website to purchase from, the best bet is to choose a well-known, established broker for your portfolio.

11. Speed & Order Execution
For the active trader, execution speed and fill price are very important. I won’t get too in depth here but I have tested many of these brokers and there can be noticeable differences in trade execution times and quality. For the majority of investors, saving a penny per share on a 100 shares order isn’t the end of the world, but for active traders it is something to look into. To understand Order Execution, read this guide.

12. International Trading
For investors in the United States this is not a problem but for investors living outside the US, when comparing brokers it is important to make sure they offer service in your country. Here’s a good list of international brokers to start with.

Best Stock Brokers Summary

Recommended for Online Broker Trade Cost Rating
Overall TD Ameritrade $0 5 Stars
Day Trading TradeStation $0 4.5 Stars
Research Merrill Edge $0 4.5 Stars
Balanced Offering Fidelity $0 5 Stars
Options Trading E*TRADE $0 4.5 Stars
Retirement Charles Schwab $0 4.5 Stars
Banking Merrill Edge $0 4.5 Stars

Questions & Help Choosing a Broker

If you need help deciding which broker to choose or have a broker specific question please feel free to email me and I will be happy to help.

To view star ratings, summaries, screenshots, and more for these brokers, see our stock broker comparison tool.

Also, if you feel this guide was helpful for you please share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or email it to a friend. This took many dozens of hours to put together so I appreciate your support!

* – The StockBrokers.com 2020 Online Broker Review included 15 brokers whom were each assessed within eight core categories: Commissions & Fees, Customer Service, Platforms & Tools, Research, Ease-of-Use, Offering of Investments, Education, and Mobile Trading.

TD Ameritrade, Inc. and Reink Media Group are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other’s services and products. Terms.

Top U.S.-Regulated Forex Brokers

The foreign exchange (forex) market runs 24/7, offers global currency pairs for trading. The market is driven by geopolitical developments, news, the release of macro-economic data, and related developments. On one hand, such a global market offers enormous trading opportunities, but on the other, it is challenging to protect individual traders from any financial irregularities. Thus, regulations were introduced through an established framework that ensures that financial intermediaries, like forex brokers, comply with the necessary rules to offer loss protection and controlled risk exposure to individual traders.

Learn more about the basics of forex market regulation in the U.S., as well as some of the popular forex brokers in the country.

Key Takeaways

  • The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association are responsible for regulating the forex market in the U.S.
  • All U.S. forex brokers must be registered with the NFA.
  • The Dodd-Frank Act, which was signed into law in 2020, constitutes the primary body of rules governing forex trading.
  • Some of the most popular forex brokers include FOREX.com, OANDA, TD Ameritrade, ATC BROKERS, thinkorswim, Interactive Brokers, and Ally Invest.

U.S. Forex Market Regulation

There are two institutions responsible for regulating the forex market in the United States—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the National Futures Association (NFA).

Every forex broker operating in the U.S. must register with the CFTC. The laws enforced by the CFTC and NFA apply to both U.S.-based forex brokers, as well as any other forex broker who intends to serve clients in the country.

All U.S. forex brokers (including the introducing brokers) must be registered with the National Futures Association (NFA), the self-regulating governing body that provides the regulatory framework to ensure transparency, integrity, abiding of regulatory responsibilities, and protection of various market participants. The NFA also offers an online verification system called Background Affiliation Status Information Center (BASIC), where forex brokerage firms can be verified for having necessary regulatory compliance and approval.

One point to note is that the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) does not have authority over the forex market because it doesn’t consider currency pairs a security.

Daily trading volume has reached as high as $4 trillion in the forex market.

Dodd-Frank Act: Forex Rules

In the United States, the Dodd-Frank Act constitutes the primary body of rules governing forex trading. Signed into law in 2020 by President Obama, it reformed insufficient financial regulation that allowed too much leeway to financial institutions, which contributed to causing the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

These regulations have scared off both forex brokers and retail traders. There are fewer forex brokers currently operating in the U.S. compared to other areas in the world—primarily because of the regulations enforced by the NFA.

U.S.-Regulated Forex Brokers

This list of seven U.S.-regulated forex brokers—that remain after Dodd-Frank washout—is not in any particular order, and it is not comprehensive:

FOREX.com

Owned by NYSE-listed parent company, GAIN Capital Holdings, Inc. (GCAP), FOREX.com offers many salient features like tight forex spreads, timely trade executions, a mobile trading platform, and numerous technical research indicators in 29 different languages.

FOREX.com trading offers integration across MetaTrader 4 or FOREXTrader PRO platforms. There are three ways traders can trade—advanced trading, web trading and mobile trading applications.

High volume traders get cash rebates, earned interest, and bank fees waived.

OANDA

OANDA is another popular broker offering competitive spreads with no commissions and deep market liquidity, along with its OANDA Marketplace. It offers loads of features for forex traders such as forex tools, products, advanced analytical tools, forex news, training videos, and MT4 plugins from OANDA and associated partners.

You can start with a free demo. The site also offers benefits for high volume traders. You can get a discounted spread, a subscription with a partner platform, free wire transfer among other perks.

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade offers powerful charting tools, capable of comparing multiple currency pairs alongside each other, as well as providing any necessary technical indicators. Customers can also analyze social sentiment from Twitter. The brokerage also provides reputable third-party research tools from Morningstar and Market Edge.

The firm promises no hidden fees, access to its mobile trading app, and 24/7 support.

Verify a forex broker’s status by using its NFA ID or firm name through the NFA’s Background Affiliation Status Information Center.

ATC BROKERS

STP Execution, No Dealing Desk, Scalping Allowed, Multiple Brackets Order along with other risk management tools like breakeven capability, custom trailing stop-loss, and more enable ATC BROKERS to be one of the popular regulated brokers in the U.S.

The broker also provides access to news events and an economic calendar, along with support through email, phone, and online chat.

thinkorswim

thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade is another popular U.S.-regulated forex broker that offers to trade in more than 100 global currency pairs.

You can sync the platform on multiple devices and customize and share your alerts. You can also get in-app chat and sharing, so if you need help, the representative you’re communicating with can access your screen. And like TD Ameritrade, it promises no hidden fees, and data fees also don’t apply.

Interactive Brokers

Another popular broker having a global presence, Interactive Brokers claims to have low trading costs with high-level execution, global offerings, high-end trading technology, risk management tools, and trading tutorials.

It promises access to 23 different currencies, as well as 120 different markets in 31 different countries. You can stay connected to global markets 24 hours a day, six days a week.

Ally Invest

Ally provides traders with comprehensive research and analysis, competitive pricing and robust educational resources. The trading platform includes a full suite of trading tools, 24/5 market access and a practice account for testing investing approaches.

The Bottom Line

Regulations are a balancing act. Too little will lead to financial irregularities and inadequate protection to individual traders; too much will lead to a lack of competitiveness in global markets. One major challenge reported with U.S. forex regulators is that leverage provided is limited to 50:1, while global brokers, outside of U.S. regulations purview, provide up to 1000:1 leverage. Traders and investors need to take a cautious approach, ensuring security first.

Disclaimer: Information presented is as available at the time of writing this article, and may change in due course of time. The author does not hold an account with any of the mentioned brokers.

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