16 of the best online stock brokers for 2023
TradeZella investigates the top 16 online stock brokers for 2023. Find out which broker is right for you and your trading needs as part of your trading system.
Author - TradeZella Team
Every online stock trader has one burning question when they start out: and that’s where to buy stocks online.
The answer? From an online stock broker.
There are lots of online stock brokers to choose from – ranging from exciting startups to financial industry heavyweights.
Choosing the right one is an important decision – they need to align with your needs and goals and have a platform with all the features you need to succeed.
Thanks to tech like phone apps and web-based software, it’s not difficult to buy stocks online. You just need to find a broker you trust, set up an account, add your money and start trading.
The best online stock broker differs from person to person. It all depends on what type of features you need, and the kind of trading you want to do.
For example, do you see yourself making big profits as a high-octane day trader? Or are you planning on slowly building a healthy retirement fund with long-term investment?
Finding a broker that fits your niche is the first, and most important, step towards success.
Different brokerages specialize in different things, so the best online stock broker for you might not be the best one for your friends. We’ve pulled together this list of some of the best online stock brokers to help you find the right one for you.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, these are some of the top online stock brokers to use in 2023. Best of all, most of them integrate with TradeZella – so it’s easy to journal.
1. TD Ameritrade (Thinkorswim)
TD Ameritrade is one of the largest, and most trusted, places for trading stock online.
Trading is commission free, and there’s no minimum for opening an online stock trading account. So you can start your trading journey even if you don’t have a massive amount of savings.
Online stock traders trust TD Ameritrade because it’s won a lot of awards. Notably, it often sweeps the board at the Stock brokers.com Online Broker Review. Last year, it took first place for Platforms and Tools (for the 11th year in a row), and first place for its desktop platform Thinkorswim (for the 10th year in a row).
Excellent customer service, industry-leading technology, and a huge resource library with guidance for traders round out the picture.
Another feather in its cap is that it was recently acquired by well-regarded brokerage Charles Schwab (more on them a little later).
One of the most popular brokers in the USA, E*TRADE makes buying and selling stocks easy. Like many online brokers, there’s $0 commission on trades and there’s no minimum for opening an account.
The software itself is easy to use, and there are two full-feature mobile apps to suit different levels of investors. The standard E*TRADE mobile app seamlessly connects with your accounts and markets and was ranked as top in the Kiplinger list of "The Best Online Brokers and Trading Platforms, 2022" – as well as “Best in Class” by Stock brokers.com.
The other is the Power E*TRADE app, which makes it easy to trade on the go. Interactive charts and technical studies make it easy to spot potential trades, and you can strike quickly with easy-to-use execution tools.
Another benefit of E*TRADE is that the site has lots of educational content to browse. Those new to investing can arm themselves with knowledge, while intermediate traders can benefit from information to hone their strategies.
While crypto and international exchange are not currently available on the platform, there’s a good variety of other investment choices – including stocks, options, futures, and futures options.
Because it was acquired by Morgan Stanley in 2020, the brokerage befits from analysis information from the renowned global investment bank and wealth management firm.
All online stock traders should be familiar with Robinhood. This Silicon Valley-based brokerage rose to fame during the global pandemic in 2020, when more people started to give online stock trading a try.
While it’s had its share of controversies – including being slapped with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)’s largest ever fine – it’s still one of the best online brokers.
After all, it’s popular for a reason. And that reason is how easy it is to use. Setting up an online stock trading account is simple, with no minimum balance requirement. Once you’re in the app you’ll find it super intuitive. It has gamified interface that makes trading fun.
And, despite the scandals, Robinhood is as safe as any other major brokerage. It’s regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It also maintains its FINRA membership. It even offers additional insurance for its users, offering up to $1.5 million protection for cash and $10 million for securities over and above SIPC coverage.
While most online stock brokers now offer commission-free trades, this was an innovation pioneered by Robinhood. The ability to buy fractional shares also makes it easy for beginners and the risk-averse to get started.
4. Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab is one of the most trusted online brokers – and one of the largest discount brokerages in the world. Online stock traders of all levels use Charles Schwab, from absolute beginners to experts.
The brokerage understands this and has a range of tools, educational materials and in-depth research to suit its varied customer base. This is a broker that can grow with you.
Some of its advanced features include a robo-adviser and AI to help advise traders and build out portfolios for a more passive trading experience.
A really cool feature on the mobile app is the Schwab Assistant – their own version of Siri. You can place trades, set alerts and get answers to questions. Who needs a PA?
And, like many online stock brokers, Schwab offers commission-free trading on stocks and ETFs.
5. Interactive Brokers
One of the most comprehensive choices for online stock traders, Interactive Brokers is an excellent choice for those looking to invest across a range of assets.
With just one account, you can trade stocks, futures, options, crypto, bonds, funds and forex across 150 markets. This broad market access is one of Interactive Brokers' USPs – along with its low-cost and excellent execution.
Interactive Brokers also provides a huge amount of information to complement its diverse and wide array of products. As a member, you gain access to research reports, tools, calculators and tutorials in a number of languages.
It can be a lot to take in for beginner investors. But, for online stock traders who have been building their skills for a while and need a new challenge, this could be one of the best platforms to take you to the next level.
It has a three-month free trial so you can give it a shot before you commit.
6. Merrill Edge
One of the best online brokers for beginner and intermediate online stock traders, Merrill Edge combines good technology with excellent customer service.
It’s excellent value for money with no fees for self-directed accounts, $0 commission on online stock and ETF trades, and no minimum balance requirement.
Because it’s owned by Bank of America, it works seamlessly with your BoA account. You can manage both your investing and banking under one umbrella, which is super convenient.
You also gain perks through the Preferred Rewards program. The higher the balance in both accounts, the better the perks. It’s definitely an incentive for BoA customers to use Merrill as their broker of choice.
While it’s overall an easy-to-use and trustworthy broker with lots of decent features, advanced traders might be a bit disappointed by the lack of futures, futures options, forex and crypto investment.
But, if you’re happy to trade stock, ETF, options, and mutual funds, Merrill doesn’t disappoint.
Webull is one of the best brokers for online stock traders who like to take a very hands-on approach to their own portfolio. It’s a ‘no cost’ broker –trading stock, ETF, options and crypto is commission free. There’s no minimum account size and they offer fractional stocks, so you don’t need a lot of capital to get started.
Webull is most popular with younger, active investors. If you’re a self-directed investor you’ll find plenty to like about this broker, with its easy-to-use platform, helpful tools and competitive margin rates. There’s very little barrier to entry – you can set up an online stock trading account within minutes.
Portfolio management tools are limited, and there are no research or analysis tools. If you’re an experienced trader who gets this information elsewhere, this isn’t too much of an issue.
However, if you’re just starting out and need a bit more ‘hand holding’, one of the full-service brokers is likely to be a better choice.
Lightspeed is the best choice for high-volume online stock traders. It does have a few barriers to entry that can make it hard for beginners. For example, its minimum account balance requirement of $10,000 means that it’s better for those with some experience, and equity, behind them.
While many other brokers have gone mainstream by offering more retail stocks, Lightspeed remains niche by focusing on equities, options and futures. This is a really professional brokerage, with cut-price commission rates for traders who meet monthly volume thresholds.
Lightspeed has several platforms for trading. These include Lightspeed Trader, Lightspeed Web & Mobile and Eze EMS for futures traders. It also includes Sterling Trader Pro, a Level II trading platform with excellent advanced charting options.
Basically, this is a serious platform that offers super-fast execution and unrivalled control. Definitely one for the pros.
Day traders and swing traders, skip to the next broker. Vanguard is most suitable for those online stock traders investing for the long term, rather than active traders who want to buy and sell frequently.
This is Vanguard, after all. Since its launch in 1975, it’s been known for its preference for ‘buy and hold’ and saving for the future.
With so much focus on quick trading these days, this broker occupies a pretty unique niche in the world of online stock brokers. The website has a wealth of tools and resources geared towards retirement planning, setting financial goals and building out a roadmap towards a secure financial future.
One cool feature of Vanguard is that it puts your brokerage account cash balance into money market funds, and pays a return on idle cash. It offers a high-interest rate on this, helping you to build up your long-term investments quicker.
Its Digital Advisor service aims to demystify saving and investing for the younger generation, or those just starting their journey. It also offers a Personal Advisor Service for those with more complex portfolios.
10. Trade Station
Online stock traders love Trade Station for its reliability. Even during market spikes, it remains up with very little downtime. While it has a reputation for being quite a serious platform – appealing to experienced, active traders with high net worth – it’s started making moves to appeal to younger investors.
It can be quite difficult to get to grips with the platform’s interface, because it’s quite in-depth and complicated. For those willing to learn, help is at hand in the YouCanTrade community and education library.
Once you get used to it, this professional-level trading platform has everything you need to make informed decisions. The charting is out of this world, as is the technical analysis and strategy development tools. Order execution is fast as well as reliable – important during day trading, when every second counts.
Stock and ETF trades are commission-free, while options, futures, futures options and crypto all have a competitive rate.
The artist formerly known as Tastyworks, Tastytrade is designed for active traders with a bit of experience behind them. It’s also a useful tool for any online stock traders who are trying to hone their skills in this area. But, if you’re new to options trading, you might find it a little overwhelming.
It’s a powerful platform – interestingly, it was created by the founders of Thinkorswim. This is a little more sophisticated than the TD Ameritrade platform, however, focusing on complicated options trades and strategy.
This is a highly popular broker – it only launched in 2017, and is already one of the world’s fastest-growing online financial networks.
Unlike many other US-based brokers, Tastytrade is available to online stock traders based internationally. So, if you’re a UK-trader looking for an alternative to Thinkorswim or Robinhood, this could be it.
TradeZero launched in 2015 and became a popular broker for the short-selling community. This is in part due to its excellent ‘easy-to-borrow’ list, which makes it easy to find exciting opportunities.
It’s also a great platform for active day traders, with a professional desktop that’s easy to customize.
Another major selling point is that it offers similar tools to those used by hedge fund traders and other professionals, making these niche tools accessible to everyday online stock traders. It’s a low-cost platform, with no commission for shares trading above $1 – so long as the platform’s conditions are met. Otherwise, commissions are low.
Despite the low costs on trading, it is ‘pay to play’ with a $59 monthly fee for accounts below $50,000. There’s also an account minimum – $2,500 for U.S. accounts and $500 for those based elsewhere.
13. Rithmic R | Trader
Low latency and high performance make Rithmic R | Trader one of the best trading platforms out there.
The real USP is its access to parent company Rithmic’s excellent data streams, which are native to the app. Its futures data is particularly fast, precise and reliable – and unlike other trading platforms, doesn’t need to be ported in from an alternative source.
Free to use, and with a handy mobile app, it’s an excellent entry level platform for those who want to dabble in futures trading.
It doesn’t show charts, so you’ll need to source these elsewhere – or upgrade to Rithmic R | Trader Pro. The Pro version integrates with Excel, too, so you can create your own indicators for more powerful charting.
Both levels of Rithmic R | Trader are best suited to those using a simple strategy, and not tracking a lot of indicators. This makes it a great trading platform for beginners.
14. Ally Invest
The brokerage wing of Ally Bank is a good choice for online stock traders at all levels, although more advanced traders may prefer a more powerful platform.
It offers competitive rates – $0 commission on stocks, and $0.50 per contract for options – and has no account minimum to start trading. And, because it’s part of a bank, you can also earn interest on your cash balance.
The website offers a variety of screeners and in-depth analysis to help traders to make informed decisions. Once you choose a stock, executing trades is easy.
The website is both well-designed and responsive – although it’s a little dated in some places, despite the bank’s focus on Millennial traders.
If you already bank with Ally, it’s definitely worth considering. Because you can see all of your accounts under one account, it’s easy to see your whole financial picture on one platform.
eToro was one of the first online brokers to support cryptocurrency, adding Bitcoin way back in 2014. This is why it’s probably best known as a crypto exchange.
While non-U.S. citizens are restricted to trading crypto, forex and exchange-traded securities on the platform, U.S. based traders have a broader offering with stock and ETF.
Not just a broker, eToro functions as a social trading network. Online stock traders can share their favorite strategies, and automatically follow successful strategies shared by others. There are incentives for sharing your secrets, of course. Top Traders receive a payment of 1.5% of assets under copy, and gain premium access to exclusive perks, rewards and advantages.
The app is easy to use for beginner traders, and has some advanced functionality to impress intermediate and expert online stock traders too. Not least the perks for sharing your winning strategies.
Advanced features include conditional orders, excellent charting capabilities and an array of interesting crypto pairs.
16. J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
As a giant of the financial services industry – with a history spanning more than two centuries – J.P. Morgan is one of the most trusted brokerage out there. Its Self-Directed Investing platform is simple and straightforward, perfect for online stock traders who are just starting their journey.
Customer service is excellent, and you can automatically integrate your investing account with your Chase bank account. This makes it easy to flick between your investing and bank accounts, so you get a full view of your finances.
If you want to trade crypto, futures or forex, you won’t find them here. While J.P. Morgan is an exceptional entry-level platform, more advanced traders may prefer a brokerage that offers more third-party research and a broader selection of assets to choose from.
FAQ: the best online Stock brokers 2023
Where is the best place to buy stocks online?
The brokers we mention in this article are among the best, most reliable places to buy stocks online. When you’re choosing which broker to work with, it’s important to think about what you need from a platform.
For example, does it have all of the tools you need to make informed decisions? Does it suit the style of trading you’re interested in? How much are the fees?
It’s also worth looking at their credentials – are they a member of FINRA, and are they regulated by the SEC? What protections are there if they should go bankrupt?
Remember: the best place to buy stocks online will be different for day traders and long-term investors. Make sure you do your due diligence before settling on a broker.
Which type of trading is best for beginners?
Swing trading is a great place to start your trading journey. Unlike day trading, where you only hold your position for a few hours, swing trading involves holding stocks from one day up to one week.
It’s best for beginners because it’s not as labor-intensive. You can do it on the side while working your day job, and still turn a profit.
Once you have a strategy in place, you can spend as little as 20 minutes per day scanning the market and placing your orders for the next market open.
If you’re interested in day trading, this is a good way to ease yourself in. It can also teach you valuable skills that you can then carry over into longer term investments, should you want to.
Can you make a living from online trading?
The simple answer is yes. Lots of people become rich through trading, while others make enough money to live comfortably just by trading stocks. But don’t quit your day job just yet. Trading is a skill like any other, and it can take a while to become good at it. Don’t risk more money than you’re willing to lose.
Trading to make a living is a job in itself. Don’t expect money to fall into your lap from a few clever executions – you really need to work at it.
To become a successful trader you need to take time to educate yourself on the markets. You also need to build and develop successful strategies.
Using a trading journal – like TradeZella – is one of the best ways to improve as a trader and reach your goals quicker. Journaling regularly can help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Our software has in-depth features to help identify any issues before they become problems, so you can quickly identify areas for improvement.
With a lot of reflection and studying, you may soon find yourself in a position to make a living as a full-time online stock trader.
How much money do I need to start trading?
You don’t need a lot of money to start trading. Most online stock brokers don’t have an account minimum. This means you can kick off your journey as a trader with as little as $5. Obviously the less money you have available to invest, the lower your profits will be.
The most important thing for traders of all levels is not to risk more money than you can afford to lose. Sure, your profits won’t be life-changing if you start with $20, but if you take the time to build it up slowly as you learn you’ll soon have a bigger balance.
If you want to be a day trader, it’s best to have at least $25,000 in your account. Otherwise, you could fall foul of FINRA’S pattern day trader (PDT) rule. Under this regulation, investors with less than $25,000 in their account can only make four-day trades within a five-day rolling period. FINRA-regulated brokers take this regulation seriously, and you could find yourself banned from the platform for 90 days.
Note that this only applies to U.S. based traders.
Whichever broker you decide on, you can track your trades with TradeZella
The key to becoming a successful trader is reflecting on your daily performance to identify your strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. Journaling is a hugely important part of this. If you’re not tracking your trades it’s impossible to see if you’re improving – or which strategies could do with an update.
Using journaling software like TradeZella makes this much easier. We integrate with some of the most popular online stock brokers, so your entries and exits are logged automatically. Our software can then identify patterns and offer advice on how to improve.
Interested in how TradeZella can improve your trading game? Check out our intelligent features and find out how we can help you to become a better trader.