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Online brokerage firms offer investors the ability to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and other investments through web-based platforms. Most offer educational content, investing tools, and resources that allow investors to choose investments and build a portfolio. Here’s a listing of several major firms and the basics to know before opening an account:

E*Trade

E*Trade is a financial services company that offers online brokerage and related services to investors. The company provides low and no-cost services for the purchase and sale of stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and more. Investors can access educational content and technical research plus tap credentialed financial experts through its website.

Account Minimums

  • Brokerage Account: $500
  • IRA: $0
  • Automatically managed portfolio (Adaptive Portfolio):
    • Regular, taxable: $10,000
    • IRA: $5,000

Transaction Costs

  • Stocks and ETFs
    • Regular price: $6.95
    • Commission-free ETFs: $0
    • Discounted rates for higher volume (30+ trades per quarter): $4.95
  • Mutual funds:
    • No-load, no-transaction-fee funds: $0.00
    • Transaction-fee funds: $19.99
    • Load funds: varies

Free Services

  • 4,400+ no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds
  • 100+ Commission-free ETFs

Branches: Yes


Fidelity

Fidelity Investments offers discount brokerage services, including broad offerings of Fidelity and other branded mutual funds with no transaction fees and no sales loads. The company provides tools and education for do-it-yourself investors; investment guidance and recommendation; and managed solutions.

Account Minimums

  • Brokerage Account: $2,500
  • IRA: $0
  • 529 Plan: $50 (or $15/month automatic investments)
  • Automatically managed portfolio (Fidelity Go): $5,000
  • Managed portfolios: $50,000

Transaction Costs

  • Stocks and ETFs
    • Regular Price: $4.95
    • Commission-Free ETFs: $0.00
  • Mutual funds
    • Fidelity funds: $0.00
    • No-transaction-fee, non-Fidelity funds: $0; $49.95 short-term redemption fee on funds if held less than 60 days
    • Transaction-fee, non-Fidelity funds: $49.95 or $75 for purchase; $0.00 on sale or redemption

Free Services

  • No-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds
  • 200+ Fidelity mutual funds
  • 90 Commission-free ETFs

Branches: Yes


Motif Investing

Motif Investing offers investors the opportunity to design or choose, purchase, add to, and re-balance an investment portfolio (called a “motif”) of up to 30 stocks and/or ETFs — for a flat fee of $9.95. Monthly subscriptions with tiered levels of services are available. Motifs may be professionally designed or created by individual investors.

Diversified portfolios based on Modern Portfolio Theory called “Horizon Motifs” are available through trading accounts. Socially responsible portfolios are available through Motif Impact.

Account Minimums

  • Trading Account – Brokerage or IRA: $0
  • Investment minimums for trades: $300
  • Motif Impact Portfolios: $1,000

Transaction Fees (Trading – Stocks/ETFs)

  • Motifs (up to 30 stocks/ETFs in one investment): $9.95
  • Individual stocks/ETFs within motifs: $4.95
  • Horizon Model Motifs: Free (when purchased as is)

Monthly Fees: 

  • Blue Starter (auto-invest in one motif; auto-rebalance in one motif): $4.95
  • Blue Standard (Motif Impact Account; auto-invest in three motifs; auto-rebalance in any professional motif; one commission-free trade in stock or motif): $9.95
  • Blue Unlimited (Motif Impact Account; auto-invest in three motifs; auto-rebalance in any professional motif; three commission-free trades in stock or motif; unlimited next market open trades and commission-free): $19.95
  • Motif Impact Portfolio: $9.95

Low-Balance/Inactivity Fees:

  • $10/every 6 months on trading accounts with balances of less than $10,000; no commission trades in previous 6 months; without recurring deposits; and not paying a monthly fee

Branches: No


Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab has a full range of offerings for investors including its discount brokerage along with portfolio management and advisory services. The company has mutual funds and ETFs available for trading at no cost. Account minimums are waived for investors who set up automated transfers to fund their accounts.

Account Minimums

  • Brokerage Account: $1,000 (account minimum may be waived with $100/month automatic deposit)
  • IRA: $1,000 (account minimum may be waived with $100/month automatic deposit)
  • SEP-IRA: $0
  • 529 College Savings: $25
  • Educational Savings: $1,000
  • SchwabOne Custodial (UGMA/UTMA): $100
  • Automatically managed portfolio (Schwab Intelligent Portfolio): $5,000
  • Professionally managed portfolios: $25,000

Transaction Costs

  • Stocks and ETFs
    • Regular price: $4.95
    • Commission-free ETFs: $0
  • Mutual funds:
    • OneSource Funds: $0
    • Other funds: $76 to buy; $0 to sell
    • Short-term redemption fee (90 days or less) on OneSource Funds: $49.95

Free Services

  • 4,000+ no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds
  • 200+ Commission-free ETFs

Branches: Yes


TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade offers discount brokerage services and investment management services such as managed portfolios. The company provides technical and educational resources for individual investors.

Account Minimums

  • Brokerage Account: $0 (electronic funding: $50)
  • IRA: $0
  • 529 Plan/Coverdell ESA/UGMA-UTMA: $0
  • Automatically managed portfolios (Essential Portfolios): $5,000
  • Professionally managed portfolios (Selective Portfolios): $25,000

Transaction Costs

  • Stocks and ETFs
    • Regular price: $6.95
    • Commission-free ETFs: $0.00
    • Commission-free ETFs short-term redemption fee (ETFs held 30 days or less): $19.99
  • Mutual funds
    • No-transaction-fee funds: $0.00
    • No-load funds: $49.99
    • Load funds: $0.00 (no trading cost but require payment of sales commission or “load”)
    • Short-term redemption fee: $49.99

Free Services

  • 1,900+ no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds
  • 100+ Commission-free ETFs

Branches: Yes


Vanguard

Vanguard offers low-cost mutual funds and ETFs in addition to services aimed at buy-and-hold investors. It rewards customers with high account balances and lower-volume trading.  The company provides educational resources for individual investors.

Account Minimums

  • Brokerage Account: $0
  • IRA: $0
  • Vanguard 529 Plan: $3,000
  • Mutual Funds: $3,000 for most funds ($1,000 for Target Date Retirement Funds)
  • Professional advisory services: $50,000

Transaction Costs

  • Stocks and ETFs
    • Regular price: $7.00 ($20 after the first 25 trades for accounts with $50,000 or less; $2 or less for accounts with $500,000 or more; and other arrangements depending on trading volume and account balance)
    • Commission-free ETFs: $0.00
    • Commission-free ETFs short-term redemption fee (ETFs held 30 days or less): $19.99
  • Mutual funds
    • No-transaction-fee funds: $0.00
    • No-transaction-fee early redemption fee (within 60 days of purchase): $50
    • Load funds: varies (see prospectus); up to 5.75% of purchase amount
    • Transaction-fee funds: $35 (less for accounts with $50,000 or more) or $3 per transaction for recurring transactions

Free Services

  • 100+ no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds
  • 50+ Commission-free ETFs

Branches: N0