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The best stock trading apps offer the ability to buy and sell shares of stocks and ETFs with no commissions. They also allow you to research investments, track your portfolio, and easily enter orders to buy or sell.
To make our selections, we considered pricing and fees, investment options, account types, investment platforms, investment research, and education resources.
Best overall: Charles Schwab
Why Charles Schwab made our list:
Charles Schwab’s Schwab Mobile is a strong all-around choice for stock traders. It comes with no account minimums and no recurring fees. You can choose between just about any type of investment account you would want and most types of investments. And for stock trades, the app is well-rounded for both beginners and experts. Schwab also offers a no-fee automated adviser, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios.
Charles Schwab is a one-stop shop for all types of investors
The mobile app makes it easy to view your accounts, positions, and balances. You can view market indices and news, research stocks, and enter an array of trade types from the app. A new feature, the Schwab Assistant, gives you voice control to make trades, get quotes, set alerts, and get answers to questions about investments.
Users also have access to the more advanced StreetSmart Mobile. It works well but doesn’t rate among the very best for the most active traders. But Schwab now owns TD Ameritrade and thinkorswim, which is an industry leader for active traders. More on that in the next section.
Best for active traders: thinkorswim
Why thinkorswim made our list:
TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim is a top stock trading app for active traders. TD Ameritrade features accounts with no recurring fees and no minimum balance. It offers a diverse range of accounts and investments, including some investments that are less commonly supported such as futures, forex, and cryptocurrencies. But it stands out for its active trader offering for both experts and those looking to become experts in active trading.
TD Ameritrade offers multiple low-cost investment choices and trading platforms for DIY-minded traders
The flagship active trading platform at TD Ameritrade is thinkorswim. Thinkorswim gives you a nearly identical experience wherever you log in, including desktop or mobile. It features advanced charting, advanced trade tools, profit and loss calculations, a live CNBC news stream, and chat support where you can get live help from a TD Ameritrade trading specialist from inside the app.
Important note: TD Ameritrade was acquired by Charles Schwab on October 6, 2020. That means TD Ameritrade accounts are likely to become Schwab accounts. However, Schwab has announced it plans to keep thinkorswim alongside StreetSmart Edge. TD Ameritrade has also said it plans to merge its strengths and business practices with Schwab over the next 18-36 months.
Best for beginners: SoFi
Why SoFi made our list:
SoFi Invest is one of the best stock market brokerages for new traders. SoFi’s app is less robust than some larger competitors, but that also makes it easy to navigate and understand if you don’t have as much experience in the markets.
SoFi offers taxable accounts, retirement accounts, and a more limited set of investmentment choices. But stocks and ETFs are well represented. SoFi also offers a no-fee automated investing platform, and it lets you invest in fractional shares through a product it calls Stock Bits.
SoFi Invest is a worthwhile investment app for beginners without a ton of money to invest
The stock trading section of the SoFi app offers basic fundamental information and recent price charts for supported investments. Beginners will enjoy browsing through groups of stocks by category to get ideas for how to invest. The app also includes education articles accessible from stock account pages.
If you are brand new to the markets, SoFi offers a way to get started with a small investment and no fees. That’s a good combination for learning how to trade stocks.
Best for no commissions: Webull
Why Webull made our list:
Webull is a newer investment platform that has made a splash in the active trading marketplace. It offers completely commission-free investing for stocks, ETFs, and options. You can pay for advanced data subscriptions or margin borrowing, but most users won’t pay any fees when using Webull.
The Webull mobile app is designed for active traders, though passive investors can certainly take advantage as well. There’s a community section of the app to interact with other traders and learn more about different active investing strategies. The interface takes a few minutes to get acquainted with but is manageable.
Best for long-term investing: Fidelity
Why Fidelity made our list:
Fidelity offers a wide range of accounts and investments that could meet the needs of virtually any investor, but it stands out as a great choice for stock market inventors looking to buy and hold for long-term goals like retirement. It offers a wide range of investing products, including fractional shares.
Fidelity Investments review: Low-cost trades and research for both active and hands-off investors
In addition to common tools that allow you to research and trade stocks, Fidelity offers apps and tools to help you reach retirement goals and other long-term plans. For example, the new Fidelity Spire app is a goal-oriented app that encourages good saving and investing habits to reach the goals you’ve specified.
Fidelity is best for beginners as well as experienced, long-term, passive investors.
Best for expert traders: Interactive Brokers
Why Interactive Brokers made our list:
For expert traders looking for a slick, Wall Street-style trading platform, Interactive Brokers is a great choice. Sometimes called IBKR for short, Interactive Brokers offers multiple types of accounts, including ones that work well for retail investors all the way up to professional and institutional investors. It gives investors access to a very wide range of assets including, of course, stocks.
Interactive Brokers offers a range of securities, research, and global investing options for active traders and investors
Interactive Brokers’ mobile app, IBKR Mobile, is a fully-functioning investment platform with advanced trading tools in your pocket. Advanced quotes and research contain 50 columns of data in a very similar format to the desktop platform. It’s cutting edge and works best for those with at least some investment experience.
Best for banking and stock trading: Ally Invest
Why Ally made our list:
If you’re interested in a simple and straightforward investment platform that goes hand-in-hand with some of the best checking and savings accounts on the market today, Ally could be the right fit. Ally Invest has no minimum and no recurring fees and shares the same login for accounts with Ally Bank.
With Ally Mobile, you can view your investments and enter stock trades with just a few taps. The app includes basic research and charting, recent news, and the ability to quickly enter a trade. It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as some stock trading apps, but it covers the basics and makes it easy to trade for a very low cost.
Other brokerages we considered
- E-Trade: E-Trade offers a great stock trading platform for a wide range of investors. It was recently acquired by Morgan Stanley.
- Robinhood: Robinhood is a brokerage service offering commission-free trades on stocks, ETFs, and options. The investing platform also offers fractional shares and specialty investment products like cryptocurrencies, but its investment selection is limited.
- Tastyworks: Tastyworks is best for traders who are more interested in active options trading.
- Firstrade: Firstrade offers commission-free trades for most assets, but its trading apps are not quite as strong as some others.
- Public: Public is best for traders looking to learn how to trade from others. It includes “public” trading where you can view what others are doing to learn more and improve your trading skills.
Frequently asked questions
How did we choose the best stock trading apps?
The best stock trading apps come from brokerages that offer low-fee accounts and feature-filled mobile trading platforms. We also considered pricing, available investments, account types, and investment research resources in the apps.
What are brokerage accounts?
A brokerage account is a financial account that gives you access to buy, sell, and hold stocks and other supported investment assets. Like a bank account, you can deposit and withdraw cash. But unlike a bank account, you can use your cash balance to buy stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, forex, bonds, and other assets.
How do brokerage accounts work?
Brokerage accounts are connected to the US financial system. You can generally add funds using your brokerage’s mobile app by check. You can also add or withdraw using electronic funds transfers, wire transfers, and other supported methods from your brokerage.
In the US, brokerage accounts are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA). While investment assets can lose value, accounts are insured by the US government through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).
Who should use a brokerage account?
You can’t buy and own stocks and other assets without a brokerage account, so anyone who wants to invest should get one. If you’re heavily in debt, you may want to pay off high-interest debts before funnelling too much of your budget into the stock market.
Remember that while most people buy stocks with the intention of making money, stocks and other investments can go down in value. Make sure you learn about what you’re investing in so you understand the risks and potential return.
How much should a brokerage account cost?
In the 2020s, brokerage accounts should be free for the most part. You should be able to open and maintain an account with no minimum balance requirement, no recurring fees, and no activity requirements, with a few exceptions for active traders and managed portfolios.
In 2019, most brokerages got rid of commissions for trading stocks and ETFs, as well as base fees for options. This makes investing accessible to just about anyone.
How do I choose an online brokerage?
Every investor has different goals and preferences. You should pick a brokerage that offers platforms and tools that are comfortable to you and products that align with your investment style. Fees can take a huge portion out of your investment gains, so always look at commissions, fees, and pricing for any activity you may need so you don’t get surprised with an unexpected charge.
Eric Rosenberg has over a decade of experience writing about personal finance topics, including investing. He has an undergraduate degree and MBA in finance and spent time during his MBA program managing a portion of the University of Denver endowment fund. He is an expert in investments, banking, payments, credit cards, insurance, and business finance.