In this guide, we’ll review and compare online stock brokers. Whatever your trading style or budget, whether you prefer to trade on your mobile or on a powerful workstation with many gadgets and data streams , there is an online broker for you.
Here are the online stock brokers ranked by trading level (beginner, advanced), fees, reputation, and region.
Best Online Stock Brokers for 2019
We have zoomed in on the best brokers to buy shares from based on the criteria the most important to you: level of trading expertise, fees, reputation, and region and found that the following brokers offer the best features overall, for all stock investing style and goals.
The best choice for active investors
CryptoRocket is a rising force in the CFD market, offering a vast range of asset classes and stocks to trade through CFDs. The popularity of this firm has soared because of its overall solid service and also its incredibly dedicated customer service. From a trading perspective buying and selling stocks is pretty straightforward with this platform, allowing individuals with relatively low experience to have a feeling for the market without having to deal with high fees and commissions.
Considering the high cost associated with traditional stock trading, this broker is a great option for anyone that is following a very active trading strategy and that requires a very liquid provider. Take into consideration that buying the real shares might have it’s benefits if you are a long term investor of if you are buying large amounts of shares, otherwise, if you are simply day-trading you might want to consider a CFD as a cheaper option.
If you are new to the stock market, Markets.com is a great share broker to start with. This broker has won several customer service awards and has a well-stocked education library. You may find their pampering helpful as you learn to buy and sell shares and follow their technical analysis lessons to apply over 100 technical analysis tools available. markets.com is a division of Playtech, a gambling software company listed on the London Stock Exchange. Markets.com, itself, is licensed in Europe by CySEC, and in Africa and Australia.
The trading platform of the official online broker of the Arsenal Football Club is outfitted for the all-round retail trader. The broker offers CFDs on a good range of securities and forex pairs. No fees or commissions are charged and spreads, around 2 pips, are competitive. Signing up for a Markets.com trading account is easy and their trading interface is no frills.
Step 1: Register your account
You will be prompted to download the markets.com mobile app to register. After filling in basic profile information, a brief questionnaire on investment experience and knowledge, as well as income and assets, will determine your trading level and leverage. 1:30 is the leverage for the average retail investor. So with a $500 deposit, you can trade up to $15,000.
Step 2: Fund your account
If depositing by credit card, you will need to first have it verified. Click on Verify Credit Card on the My Account Page.
Step 3: Verify your identity
Attach and submit proof of identity and a utility bill for verification. Residents of the USA, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and some other countries are restricted.
Step 4: Trade Microsoft stock
On Markets.com, you can choose to invest in stocks, as well as a wide range of ETFs and indexes with exposure to major technology stocks. Other securities include forex, cryptocurrencies (a handful of majors), bonds, blends, and grey markets in Uber and Lyft ahead of their IPOs. Trending Now displays a list of top moving stocks.
The stock profile provides basic stock price charting information and a market sentiment indicator. Place the trade by choosing the Buy or Sell button.
Plus500 was designed to provide the advanced trader basic trade execution tools. The fast trading speed, leverage, high order volume and risk management tools (trailing stops and guaranteed stops) the pro trader needs to improve their trading experience are here. The intuitive interface includes over 100 technical indicators. The trader with their own tools, stock data and news will be happy to execute on Plus500. Traders who qualify for a professional account (with a minimum portfolio value of €500k) can raise their leverage levels, for example, from 1:5 to 1:20 for stock trades. The platform was designed for traders who want to buy CFDs on stocks at and sell them immediately at a low cost. Active traders will like this discount platform. The beginner trader may prefer a platform with more trading support and education. No scalping is allowed on this platform and financing fees are high.
80.6% of retail CFD accounts lose money
Step 1: Register your account
You will be prompted to download the Plus500.com mobile app to register. Select between a Demo and Real Money account. After filling in basic personal information, you will gain access to the unlimited demo account. Before you can buy stock, you will be prompted to answer a few questions to establish your investor risk profile.
Step 2: Fund your account
When you are ready to trade with real money, fund your account. Three payment options are provided. You may be asked to verify your payment method.
Step 3: Verify your identity
Attach and submit proof of identity for verification.
Step 4: Trade stocks
Plus500 offers a wide variety of CFDs on investment instruments, including stocks, ETFs, indexes, forex and cryptocurrencies. Options are also available for the advanced investor. Query Microsoft and the price quotes for the stock, as well as put and call options, appear on the screen.
DEGIRO is a low cost discount broker that does not scrimp on its stock trading options. Quite the opposite. While many of its competitors trade mostly CFDs, DEGIRO is a gateway to trade directly on 50 exchanges across 30 countries. If you want value for your money when you buy shares, this is a good place to trade. Shares cost about $2 a trade, the lowest price among discount brokers. When you trade on your domestic stock market the price is discounted further. Plus you get one free ETF trade a month. The broker is regulated by the Dutch AFM and DNB, and in many other jurisdictions around the world. A few frills are missing. Research and education tools are limited. Forex trading is not provided. But if you want to purchase stocks, this is where to shop on stock exchanges around the globe at the best prices around.
Step 1: Register your account
DEGIRO has the simplest and quickest sign up process among the online stockbrokers. This broker bypasses the investor profile and risk management survey that is part of the registration process of many brokers. Once you fill in basic details, you are ready to complete the registration process. You will require a national ID card (passport) and bank account.
Step 2: Verify your bank account
With a “10-minute” sign up process, you will not have to wait long to trade on these global exchanges. DEGIRO uses bank-derived identification to open an account. You will be asked to deposit £0.01 into your DEGIRO account. Once your name is confirmed as the name on the registered bank account, your DEGIRO account will be opened. The bank account confirmation typically takes 2–3 days. No minimum account deposit is required to start trading. US citizens are restricted from trading on DEGIRO. No demo account is available.
Step 3: Trade stocks
DEGIRO has one of the cleanest interfaces. The user-friendly trading platform is easy to navigate. Above is the QuickOrder window. Specify the type of order. You have the choice of ordering by number of shares or amount you want to invest.
Best Online Stockbrokers for U.S Customers
Ally Invest is part of Ally Financial, the US bank that wants all of your financial services business – insurance, banking and investment – by providing low competitive pricing. Ally Invest delivers on price while still providing a fully featured trading platform to invest in stocks. There is no minimum account requirement at Ally Invest. Sign up, provide proof of identity and fund your account to start trading stocks, options and forex. Stock trades are a flat $4.95 a trade. Mutual funds are $9.95 a trade and option contracts $0.65. Over 100 commission free ETFs are also offered. This discount broker is cheap but not no frills. At no extra charge, you also receive technical indicators, charts, real time pricing data and research. For the options trader, all the basic tools are provided. An options trading bot is even provided. This option scanner makes trades based on your preset parameters. If you make at least 30 trades a quarter or maintain a daily average account balance of $100,000, the stock trading price falls to $3.95. If you do want to use broker-assisted trades, the fee is $20
Whether you are a long-term investor adding large stocks to your portfolio or seeking some higher risk-return securities, you can buy stocks on Ally by following these easy sign-up steps:
1. Open your Ally Invest account
Open your account by clicking here. Fill in your basic account information and answer brief questions about your income and risk tolerance.
2. Fund your account
You are ready to fund your account. Your Ally Invest account is funded directly from your bank account. Click on your bank and log in on the log in screen.
3. Pick your stocks
A good range of stock reports, news and performance metrics are at your disposable to help you research and select stocks. Company quarterly/annual financial reports (SEC filings) are handily listed on the main stock profile screen. If you are ready to invest, click Buy. The trade order box will pop up.
4. Place your order
Your Ally Invest trading screen will display the Bid and Ask price. Choose whether you want to buy or sell the stock, the type of order and amount of shares you want to buy. Below, the amount to be deducted from your account appears. Place the trade.
Zacks Trade provides low-cost trading with the option to upgrade and access the research tools of the pros. Choose across three trading packages to build a highly customizable trading experience. A range of securities are offered for trading – stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and bonds. Although futures and options are not offered, margin trading is allowed. The minimum balance is $2500 to start to invest in stocks. Here is the real surprise. The trading fees look like discount fees. For stocks and ETFs of more than a dollar, the fee is $0.01 per share with a $3 minimum. And here’s another treat, broker-assisted fees are free.
Withdrawal fees: Investors are allowed one withdrawal from their account every month, with every withdrawal after that raking in a $1.00 fee. Subsequent withdrawals are subject to a $4.00 fee for a check and $10.00 for a wire transfer
Step 1: Register your account
Zacks Trade screens out the novice trader. Before being allowed to open an account, you will be required to have completed 100 live trades or, alternatively, trades on a simulated trading account may be accepted. You will need at least two years of trading experience. Additionally, you will be asked to meet individual net worth ($20,000) and income ($40,000) requirements.
Step 2: Fund your account
The minimum recommended deposit is $2,500 for a cash account and $2,000 for a margin account. Wire transfers are deposited upon receipt. ACH transfers are deposited within four days.
Step 3: Verify your identity
Submit proof of identity and a utility bill for verification.
Step 4: Trade stock
Once you get past the strict screening process, you get access to Zacks’ high quality research from major investment banks.
The interface has been designed for a professional trading experience, allowing you to keep your eye on several markets or securities at a time. The Zacks Trade Pro screen (not shown) has the look and feel of a pro trading experience – more Bloomberg than discount broker.
Best online stockbrokers for Australia & New Zealand
The IC Markets trading platform is built for the professional forex trader who seeks super fast trading execution and low latency. CFDs can be traded on stocks on the Australian Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, and NYSE. The high volume Aussie trader who wants to execute advanced trading strategies such as hedging and scalping will like IC Markets. These customized strategies can be preprogrammed into trading bots to execute smarter and faster. Tight spreads starting at 0.4 pips and high leverage are offered.
For traders down under in Australia or New Zealand, IG is a very established broker offering a licensed gateway to the world’s stock exchanges. Trade stocks directly on the US, UK, Australian, and New Zealand markets, as well as the Asian markets next-door that Australians favour like Japan and Singapore. Basic pricing, stock profile data, and charting by Autochartist is provided for each stock. Research is slim, and includes Reuters news updates and an economic event calendar.
Best Stock Trading Website for Beginners
The online broker which introduced the average trader to self directed trading on the Internet still offers the best education for the beginning trader around. E*TRADE has built an extensive education library over the years, from basic trading tips to retirement planning. Daily insights is a good place to go for tips on the trading day ahead. Power E*TRADE has leveraged technology to create a training environment that puts a virtual trainer alongside you, coaching you and providing smileys when a trading opportunity looks profitable.
Best Stockbrokers for Experienced Traders
IC Markets provides an ECN, typically used by professional traders, across all three account types (commissions and spreads vary). The ECN allows traders to directly trade with each other, bypassing market makers who make money by widening the spread. Professional traders appreciate the low latency and execution speeds under 40 milliseconds. Over 50 banks and a dark liquidity pool provide high liquidity.
The advanced trader can choose to upgrade to the ZacksTrade Pro extensible platform. If you want a professional trader workstation setup or analyst research from the investment banks, advanced features are available for a fee. The platform offers trading bots called scanners for options, ETFs, bonds and other instruments. Sophisticated portfolio development tools with what if analyses are provided.
Best Stockbrokers for Low Fees
DEGIRO’s low fee trading, at about $2 a stock trade, is taking the European discount brokerage industry by storm. Impressively, for this price traders get access to direct share trading on major stock exchanges around the world. In addition, CFDs, ETFs, funds, bonds, and investment trusts are offered. Research and education resources are sparse, but at this price, you can afford to buy access to your favourite research resources, or you may make do with those freely available on the web.
The fast trading speed, leverage, high order volume and risk management tools (trailing stops and guaranteed stops) the pro trader needs are here. The intuitive interface includes over 100 technical indicators. The trader with their own tools, stock data and news will be happy to execute on Plus500. Traders who qualify for a professional account (with a minimum portfolio value of €500k) can raise their leverage levels, for example, from 1:5 to 1:20 for stock trades. The beginner trader may prefer a platform with more trading support and education.
Best Stockbrokers for Reputation
IG stands out as an LSE-listed broker that has been in business since 1974 and is licensed in major markets around the world, including in North America, Europe and Asia. The trading layout is fully customizable and includes access to over 100 indicators. Advanced features include real-time tick-by-tick charting, option analysis and backtesting.
What is a Stock Broker?
A stock broker, also known as an investment adviser or share broker in the UK, buys and sell stocks for individual and institutional investors. Companies issue stock to raise money to fund their business operations. In exchange for their investment, investors receive ownership in the form of a share certificate (a share or stock) in a company. Most stockbrokers sell other securities, including mutual funds, ETFs, indices, and bonds.
The broker is the intermediary between clients (investors) and the point of sale of the stock on a stock exchange. A stockbroker receives a license to buy and sell shares of a company after passing exams. The stockbroker works for a brokerage firm that is also registered to sell securities in the country it operates in. The broker makes money on the spread between the buy and ask price.
When companies ‘go public’ and issue stock to the public they choose which stock exchange to list their stock on. The broker has representatives licensed to directly buy and sell company stock on the exchange. Before automation in the 1980s/90s, these representatives were floor traders who worked from the floor of the stock exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange or London Stock Exchange.
An investor, let’s call him Mr. Rich, would call his stockbroker and ask to buy 100 shares of IBM. The broker would then contact his floor trader on the New York Stock Exchange and order him to buy the 100 shares. Today, the online stockbroker has replaced the floor traders with electronic order systems to facilitate trades between his clients and the stock exchanges.
How does an online stock broker work?
Investors can choose between a full service and discount broker. A full service broker is an investment advisor who provides advice on portfolio allocation, long-term financial planning and retirement planning. A high minimum account balance is required and high fees are charged. Fees typically include commissions and a percent of assets under management.
Most full service brokers today also offer their clients online investment accounts. In the online world, more individual investors use discount brokers than full service brokers. Mr. Rich, for example, can open up his online broker app on his mobile, call up the stock profile of IBM, and review the stock price, trading volume, news and other information. He can then open the Trade window, and click on buy or sell to execute a trade in IBM stock.
Discount brokers allow an investor of any income level to invest in the stock market. Online brokers are always happy to upgrade clients to higher fee investment advisory services. Investors can have the best of both worlds, for a fee. They can choose from online brokers offering an online broker account with full access to an investment advisor; investment guidance over the telephone; or basic telephone, email and chat access to customer service. Fees range from high for direct investment guidance to zero for a discount broker with customer service support.
Robo-advisors combine the services of a full services broker with the prices of a discount broker. The services of evaluating your investor risk profile, suggesting the best portfolio allocation for your risk profile, and periodically rebalancing your portfolio are automated. You need only interact with your mobile phone app.
A share dealing account is used to buy and sell stocks with a view to making an investment return in the future by selling the stock at a profit and/or collecting regular dividends. Dividends are paid out of a company’s profits to shareholders typically on a quarterly basis. A share is a unit of ownership in a publicly listed company. The stockholder makes a profit/loss when the share value increases/decreases relative to the price paid per share.
Stockbrokers act as intermediaries between the stock exchanges where the shares are traded and the buyers and sellers. A stockholder can also short a stock.
When a share dealing account is managed from a retirement or savings account it may be exempt from taxes on gains and losses from the sale of shares.
Online trading is the only way to invest for most traders. Mobile trading allows you to trade on the go and still have access to your watchlist, alerts and sentiment indicators. This review provides traders at any level the information needed to determine which stockbrokers best align with your investment style and goals. If you are an active trader, go ahead and choose a low cost broker like DEGIRO or Ally Invest. Why pay high trading fees for research and technical tools you may never use? Keep in mind that you can find professional research for free or a low monthly fee on the Internet. If you do see yourself trading alongside the pros in the future, extensible platforms that allow you to upgrade like Zacks Trade and IG Group will meet your current and long-term investment objectives. If you want the reputation and reach in the global stock markets of the big brokers like Merrill Lynch, take a closer look at IG or IC Markets.
All of the stockbrokers we evaluated provide impressive trading platforms at competitive prices. A trader may use the fastest trading platform, Wall Street research and smartest trading bots, but ultimately your trading strategies will determine how profitable your trades are. All told, there may be platforms that beat out Plus500 in one category or another, but Plus500 is the leader in social trading. In a community of seven million traders, copy the trades of top performing traders with one click on the CopyTrader™ platform. Or choose an investment theme on CopyPortfolios™, where you will find portfolios of hot sectors and legendary traders like Warren Buffet and Carl Icahn. With fees on par with discount broker brokers, we believe Plus500 offers among the best value out there. You can find out more about this broker by reading our Plus500 pros and cons.
Stockbrokers are licensed to buy and sell stocks traded on public stock exchanges. The stock exchanges make up the stock market. Brokers at the exchanges are called market makers because they create a trade market in stock by buying and selling the stock with brokers. These brokers then sell the stocks to investors.
Most stocks are bought and sold through an online broker. It is possible to purchase stocks directly from a company. Many companies sell stocks directly to the public through direct stock purchase plans (DSPPs). You can have the company automatically reinvest the dividends through a dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP). This option will never work for the active trader who makes money buying and selling stocks in a short period. Brokers pay stock exchanges high fees to have a ‘seat’ on the exchange and the ability to make a market in certain stocks. Traders must go through the broker channel to trade these stocks.
Almost all stocks are sold online today. Stocks used to be bought and sold by placing phone orders to brokers. The Internet allows individual investors to buy and sell stocks directly from the broker trading platform of an online stockbroker. Examples of online brokers are Plus500 and Ally Invest.
Trade Commissions – Trade fees are important because they can make the difference between a money-making and money-losing investment portfolio. The number one reason active traders lose money is incurring excessive fees, which offset any trading gains, by overtrading. You will see three types of trading fees cited by brokers.
The spread – This is the difference between the price buyers are willing to pay for a stock (the bid) and the price sellers are willing to sell the stock at (the ask).
The trading fee – The trading fee may be an all-in cost such as $6.95 a trade, or it may be based on a per share cost, such as .01 cents per trade. When per-share pricing is used, a fixed fee or commission is sometimes added.
The commission – This is a percentage of the trade or fees the broker adds to the trade-in cost.
Additionally, withdrawal, deposit and nonactivity fees may be charged.
A stock option is a contract giving the right, but not the obligation, to buy a stock at a predetermined price at a predetermined date in the future. The two main types of options are puts and calls. If you expect the price to fall in the future, you will buy a put – the right to sell the stock. If you expect the price to rise in the future, you will buy a call – the right to buy the stock.
When you buy a stock, you take a long position, expecting the price to rise in the future. However if you expect the price of a stock to decline in the future, you can also profit by taking a short position in the stock. Instead of buying the stock out right, you borrow the shares from a broker and pay interest on the borrowed shares. If you expect Stock A to decline in the future, you borrow 100 shares from the broker and buy an option to sell those shares at $100 at a future date. If the share price falls to $90, you buy the shares for $90 and exercise your option to sell them at $100. You have made $10 per share, minus the interest and commissions.
A dividend is a payment a corporation makes to distribute some of its profits to investors. A dividend is paid on a per share basis, typically quarterly. An investor who holds 100 shares in a company that pays a $0.10 dividend would receive $10 four times a year in dividend payments. If a company pays a consistent and increasing dividend, it is a sign that the company operates efficiently and is profitable.
A contract for difference (CFD) is a contract between a buyer and a seller whereby the buyer pays to the seller the difference between the purchase value of a contract and the price at the contract expiration date.
If you are a day trader, you will require live price data to determine when to enter and exit a trade. Market prices constantly fluctuate. Without real time prices, the investor is exposed to higher price risk.
- 1 Best Online Stock Brokers for 2019
- 2 Markets.com
- 3 Plus500
- 4 DEGIRO
- 5 Best Online Stockbrokers for U.S Customers
- 6 Ally Invest
- 7 ZacksTrade
- 8 Best online stockbrokers for Australia & New Zealand
- 9 IC Markets
- 10 IG Group
- 11 Best Stock Trading Website for Beginners
- 12 eTrade
- 13 Best Stockbrokers for Experienced Traders
- 14 IC Markets
- 15 ZacksTrade
- 16 Best Stockbrokers for Low Fees
- 17 DEGIRO
- 18 Plus500
- 19 Best Stockbrokers for Reputation
- 20 IG Group
- 21 What is a Stock Broker?
- 22 How does an online stock broker work?
- 23 What is the difference between share dealing accounts, and stockbrokers?
- 24 Conclusion
- 25 FAQs