1 - fees charged in some cases; see broker reviews for details.

For any retail trader or investor the cost of buying and selling securities can be a central factor in selecting an online broker. There is a range of commissions in the industry, and the cost differentials often reflect brokerage size, range of services and level of customer support. Many investors tend to look for the cheapest brokerage commissions and fees available, but that may not always be the best approach, overlooking possible flaws in service or technology in placing the trades, or inability to support frequent trading.

Since most retail traders use stocks and ETF’s to trade the markets, those commissions tend to be the major benchmark used to evaluate broker cost. Most advertising from brokers centers around stock and ETF commission prices, but among the largest brokers there is only a slight difference in commissions.

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Stock Commissions Comparison of the Largest Online Brokers


Of the five largest brokers, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, Robinhood, and Etrade are all charging $0 for stocks and ETF trades.

Obviously, there are service and trading platform differences to be considered between the largest brokers, and how they take care of their customers compared to smaller brokers. TD Ameritrade offers an industry leading trading platform for all of its customers, while Fidelity has a long standing reputation as a reliable broker. Many of these brokers offer full service banking options to their customers with bill pay, checking privileges and ATM cards, which may attract a certain type of customer. Some of these benefits may weigh into the decision to accept a higher commission compared to the deeply discounted brokers.

Cost Comparison: Least and Most Expensive Stock Commission Brokers


Of all size brokers, the least expensive commission for stock, ETF, and options trades at $0.00 offers Webull. For anyone looking for the absolute cheapest method of buying and selling securities, this would be the best choice.

The next least expensive brokerage commissions and fees are at Ally Invest with $0 rate on stocks and ETFs and $9.95 on mutual funds.

At the other end of the spectrum are the most expensive brokers for retail traders. Muriel Siebert takes top honors with a flat $14.95 commission per trade, totaling nearly $30 to buy and sell a single security. There are no service and account differences that justify the greater cost. Vanguard has a commission schedule that ranges from $7 up to $20, which would make it the most expensive for certain types of trades at the top end of the range.

Median Stock Commissions: The Industry Average


A number of brokers do use a similar commission ‘range’ for their services which is usually pegged to the number of stock or ETF shares in a single trade. If one is paying more than $3 per trade there will probably be some other service or role the broker can play, aside from a simple means to place a trade.

In the end, every trader or investor has to evaluate their needs, and if all one wishes to do is place a trade at a fair price there is probably little reason to pay more than the absolute minimum. Especially for those who plan to hold a stock or ETF for months or even years, the online broker is only the portal to the marketplace that allows a simple and verifiable way to participate. As long as they can demonstrate financial stability and regulatory compliance, there is no reason to dismiss the deep discount available.

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