The StockBrokers.com best online brokers 2021 review (11th annual) took three months to complete and produced over 40,000 words of research. Here’s how we tested.
Like most things in today’s high-tech society, trading has become an everyday activity on mobile devices. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned active trader, the best stock trading apps offer $0 stock and ETF trades, are easy to use, and overall provide a fully-featured online trading experience.
For our 2021 Annual Review, we tested and scored 11 different stock trading apps. To assess each stock app, we checked for and tested 40 individual features. Needless to say, scoring high marks was no walk in the park. Testing was conducted using an iPhone XS (Apple iOS) and Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Android).
Best Stock Trading Apps 2021
Best Stock App for Investors – Open Account
Trade Commission-Free: No commissions to trade online U.S. stocks, ETFs, and options.1
Fidelity’s mobile experience is cleanly designed, bug-free, and delivers a phenomenal experience for investors. While active traders may be left wanting more, for the majority, Fidelity delivers, winning our award, No. 1 Investor App, for 2021. Read full review
Best App for Options – Open Account
Current Offer: Open an E*TRADE account & get $50 or more w/ code: WINTER21
In our 2021 Review, E*TRADE once again ranked among the best because its apps are easy to use and feature-rich. My recommendation: use E*TRADE mobile for stock trading and Power E*TRADE Mobile for options trading. Read full review
Best Stock App for Traders – Open Account
Exclusive Offer: Get up to $375 and trade commission-free with TD Ameritrade.
TD Ameritrade delivers $0 trades, fantastic trading platforms (including our favorite trading app, thinkorswim), excellent market research, industry-leading education for beginners, and reliable customer service. While not No. 1 for mobile trading, TD Ameritrade took first place Overall in our 2021 Review. Read full review
Best Stock App for Professionals – Open Account
Exclusive Offer: New clients that open an account today receive a special margin rate.
Mobile trading with Interactive Brokers is well supported across all devices. From lightning-quick streaming data to full-featured order entry and portfolio management, Interactive Brokers includes everything professionals require to trade on the go. Read full review
Great for Stock Research
Merrill Edge’s mobile app is easy to use, great for research (including ESG research), and exceeds the industry standard experience. For existing Bank of America customers, the mult-account rewards and universal account functionality makes Merrill Edge an easy winner. Read full review
Other Trading Apps
In addition to our top five stock apps for 2021, we reviewed six others: TradeStation, Charles Schwab, Webull, Robinhood, Firstrade, and Ally Invest. Here’s our high-level takeaways for each. To dive deeper, read our reviews.
6. TradeStation – Open Account
Promo Offer: Commission-Free Trades on Stocks, ETFs & Options Trades
TradeStation’s mobile app is meticulously designed and provides the functionality that active and professional traders need to succeed. Thanks to Matrix (ladder trading) and complex options trading support, full day trading functionality is incorporated. Read full review
7. Charles Schwab – Open Account
Current Offer: $0 online stock, ETF, and options commissions at Schwab.
Charles Schwab provides a consistent and generally enjoyable experience for mobile trading, regardless of the device. That said, for active traders, Schwab’s mobile apps lack core functionality in two key areas: alerts and quotes. Read full review
8. Webull – Open Account
Current Offer: $0 commission trading for online stocks, ETFs, options, cryptos and more on Webull!
While Webull’s mobile app offers more features than Robinhood, it struggles to compete with the extensive amount of trading tools provided by the best stock trading apps. Read full review
Robinhood’s stock app is very easy to use; however, now that all online brokers offer $0 stock and ETF trades, Robinhood’s lack of trading tools and research leaves it a step behind the competition. Read full review
10. Firstrade – Open Account
Commission-Free Trading on 700+ ETFs
While Firstrade is easy to use and terrific for Chinese-speaking investors, its overall offering struggles to stand out against brokers who also offer $0 stock trades. Read full review
11. Ally Invest
If you are not already an Ally Bank customer, Ally Invest struggles to compete as a standalone broker. Ally Invest trails industry leaders in most areas, including trading platforms, tools, investment research, and education. Read full review
Best stock trading apps comparison
Comparing stock apps side by side, while features such as real-time streaming quotes, charting with multiple indicators, and synced watch lists are commonly found, others are not. For example, less than 50% of stock apps support basic stock alerts.
| TD Ameritrade
| Interactive Brokers
|Watch List Syncing||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Charting – After Hours||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Charting – Drawing||No||Yes||No||No|
|Charting – Study Customizations||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Stream Live TV||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Comparison Tool: Compare 100+ features side-by-side
What is the best stock trading app for beginners?
For beginners in 2021, the best stock trading apps are TD Ameritrade and Fidelity. Between the two brokers, TD Ameritrade has the edge for educational resources and trading tools. Meanwhile, Fidelity offers a more comprehensive research experience for casual investors.
What is the best free trading app?
The best free stock trading app is TD Ameritrade. Unlike most brokers, TD Ameritrade offers two stock apps: TD Ameritrade Mobile and thinkorswim Mobile. TD Ameritrade Mobile is designed for casual investors. Meanwhile, thinkorswim Mobile is designed for the feature-hungry active trader. Both apps are fantastic.
How do I choose the best stock trading app?
Now that all stock apps offer $0 stock trades, we recommend comparing app features to choose the best stock trading app. The most widely used stock app features are watch lists, stock charts, and order tickets, so make sure those are great. To help readers, we include full screenshots of each stock app in our broker reviews.
Fun fact: Not all stock trading apps offer real-time streaming quotes. Instead, some apps only refresh stock quotes every few seconds or more. Watch lists aside, apps like TD Ameritrade and TradeStation do a terrific job with their stock chart tools and stock alerts functionality. Both brokers offer traders access to several hundred technical indicators alongside endless customization options.
Which stock app offers the best technology?
On the innovation front, TD Ameritrade was one of the first brokers to offer an Alexa Skill, and in August 2017, it became the first broker to integrate with Facebook Messenger, embracing the future of artificial intelligence (AI) with its own chatbot. In 2018, Apple Business Chat was added. Then, in 2019, TD Ameritrade for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both rolled out. All in all, TD Ameritrade is the undisputed leader in mobile and can be found everywhere you are.
Speaking of Alexa, for the millions of Americans who own an Amazon Alexa device, TD Ameritrade, alongside Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and Interactive Brokers, all have approved Alexa Skills. Our testing this year did not incorporate testing specific Alexa features; however, based on Amazon’s ratings, it appears TD Ameritrade has the lead in delivering a diverse quality experience.
Can I start trading with $100?
Yes. Nowadays, most online brokers offer no minimum deposit to open an account, commission-free stock and ETF trades, as well as fractional shares. As a result, new traders can start trading with a small investment such as $100. To compare features and pricing, use our online broker comparison tool.
To recap, here are the best online brokers for beginners.
Explore our other online trading guides:
For the StockBrokers.com 11th annual best trading platforms review published in January 2021, a total of 2,816 data points were collected over three 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 offered 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.