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To help you to find the best online broker for bonds in 2021, we went ahead and did the research for you. First, we selected 84 quality online brokers, then we narrowed the list by checking their trading and non-trading fees, focusing in this case on bond fees and inactivity fees. We also examined how safe they are, and also considered their overall quality. We dug deep, so you won't have to.

5 made it to the top in the US. We highly recommend all 5 to you. And now, without further ado...

Our top 5 picks for the best online brokers for bond investors in the US:

  1. E*TRADE is the winner in 2021.
  2. Charles Schwab takes second place.
  3. Fidelity rounds out the top three.
  4. TD Ameritrade, numero quattro.
  5. Ally Invest just made the list at number five.
Best online brokers for bonds in 2021
Broker Info Bond fee class # of available bonds
#1 E*TRADE US stockbroker Low 88,000
#2 Charles Schwab US discount broker Low 60,000
#3 Fidelity US stockbroker Low 108,000
#4 TD Ameritrade US-based stockbroker Low 40,000
#5 Ally Invest US stockbroker Low 221,000

All 5 brokers are considered safe, as they are regulated by at least one top-tier financial authority.

What makes a good online broker for bond investing? First, they need to offer fair fees for buying and selling bonds. Second, they should also offer access to a lot of bond markets. It's also important that the inactivity fee shouldn't be high, and it's worth considering a broker's overall score as well.

These features may sound obvious and easy to list, but they're hard to figure it out. We are testing brokers based on more than 300 criteria with real accounts and real money. We know what's up.

We should also mention that an alternative to buying bonds directly is buying a bond ETF. For example, if you buy an 'Emerging markets bond ETF', you'll get exposure to lots of bonds issued by various governments that are considered emerging markets.

To learn more about ETFs, be sure to check our article How to buy ETFs online.

For a tailored recommendation, check out our broker finder tool. You can enter your country and it will show only the relevant brokers. Want more details? Compare brokers with the help of this detailed comparison table.

If you want to learn more about bonds, make sure to check our article What is a bond?

And now, let's see the best bond brokers in the US one by one, starting with the winner, E*TRADE.

E*TRADE Logo

#1 Best online broker
E*TRADE

4.9

E*TRADE is a US-based stockbroker founded in 1982. It is regulated by top-tier financial authorities like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

E*TRADE is considered safe because it has a long track record, is listed on a stock exchange, has a banking background, discloses its financials, and is overseen by top-tier US regulators.

In February 2020, E*TRADE was acquired by Morgan Stanley. To find out more about the motives behind the acquisition and about the wider market context, check out this article we wrote about the deal.

Pros Cons
Low trading fees (free stock and ETF trading) Only US markets, no forex
User-friendly mobile trading platform Only bank transfer
Great research tools Slow live chat

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#1 E*TRADE
Fees

E*TRADE has low fees when it comes to buying and selling bonds.
E*TRADE bond fees
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Bond fee class Low Low Low Low Low
US Treasury bond $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $10.0
EU government bond - - - - -
Inactivity fee No No No No No

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#1 E*TRADE
Markets and products

At E*TRADE, you have access to around 88000 bonds, which is higher than the industry average.
E*TRADE bond selection
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Bonds (#) 88,000 60,000 108,000 40,000 221,000
E*TRADE products other than bonds
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Stock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No No Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes No Yes No
CFD No No No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes No

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#1 E*TRADE
Verdict

E*TRADE is one of the biggest US stockbrokers, and is regulated by top-tier authorities.

At the end of 2019, riding the commission-free trading trend in the US, E*TRADE introduced zero commission on stock and ETF trades. E*TRADE's research functions are of high quality and channel a lot of tools, including trading ideas and strategy builders. We liked the easy handling and the customizable features of the mobile trading platform.

E*TRADE has some drawbacks though. It doesn't accept credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfers, and its product portfolio covers only US markets. In addition, live chat support is slow.

As trading fees are generally low, research tools are great and no inactivity fee is charged, you should feel free to try E*TRADE.

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Charles Schwab Logo

#2 Best online broker
Charles Schwab

4.8

Charles Schwab is a US discount broker that was founded in 1971 and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

It is regulated by several top-tier financial authorities, such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Pros Cons
Free stock and ETF trading High fees for some mutual funds
Outstanding research Only US/Canada markets available
Great customer service Poorly-structured educational platform

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#2 Charles Schwab
Fees

Charles Schwab has low fees when it comes to buying and selling bonds.
Charles Schwab bond fees
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Bond fee class Low Low Low Low Low
US Treasury bond $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $10.0
EU government bond - - - - -
Inactivity fee No No No No No

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#2 Charles Schwab
Markets and products

At Charles Schwab, you have access to around 60000 bonds, which is higher than the industry average.
Charles Schwab bond selection
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Bonds (#) 88,000 60,000 108,000 40,000 221,000
Charles Schwab products other than bonds
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Stock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No No Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes No Yes No
CFD No No No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes No

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#2 Charles Schwab
Verdict

Charles Schwab is one of the biggest discount US brokers, regulated by top-tier authorities.

It was one of the first brokers, starting in late 2019, to charge no commissions for stock and ETF trades. Its research is outstanding, covering many tools, including trading ideas, Morgan Stanley analyst reports on equities, and detailed fundamental data. Customer service is great, providing relevant answers within a short time.

It does have some drawbacks, though. Except for the around 4,000 mutual funds that are free to trade, mutual fund costs are high and the product portfolio covers only US and Canadian markets. Lastly, the educational platform is not well-structured.

As trading and non-trading fees are generally low, research tools are great and the account opening is seamless, feel free to try Charles Scwhab.

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Fidelity Logo

#3 Best online broker
Fidelity

4.9

Fidelity is a US stockbroker founded in 1946. It is regulated by top-tier authorities like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Fidelity is considered safe because it has a long track record and is regulated by top-tier financial authorities.

Pros Cons
Commission-free US stocks and ETFs High mutual fund fees and margin rates
Great trading platforms and research Slower account verification
US and international stocks Slow live chat

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#3 Fidelity
Fees

Fidelity has low fees when it comes to buying and selling bonds.
Fidelity bond fees
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Bond fee class Low Low Low Low Low
US Treasury bond $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $10.0
EU government bond - - - - -
Inactivity fee No No No No No

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#3 Fidelity
Markets and products

At Fidelity, you have access to around 108000 bonds, which is higher than the industry average.
Fidelity bond selection
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Bonds (#) 88,000 60,000 108,000 40,000 221,000
Fidelity products other than bonds
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Stock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No No Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes No Yes No
CFD No No No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes No

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#3 Fidelity
Verdict

Fidelity is one of the biggest US stockbrokers and is regulated by top-tier authorities.

Fidelity offers commission-free US stocks and ETFs. The trading platforms and research are outstanding, with many tools including trading ideas and detailed fundamental data. The offered range of products includes international stock exchanges in addition to the US market, which is not common among US brokers.

Fidelity has some drawbacks, though. Some mutual funds have high fees, and the margin rates are high as well. The account verification process and live chat support are both a bit slow. 

As it has great research tools, a user-friendly web trading platform, and charges no inactivity fee, feel free to try Fidelity's services.

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TD Ameritrade Logo

#4 Best online broker
TD Ameritrade

4.9

TD Ameritrade was founded in 1975 and is one of the biggest US-based stockbrokers. It is regulated by top-tier authorities like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

TD Ameritrade is considered a safe broker since it has a long track record, is listed on a stock exchange, has a banking background, discloses its financials, and is overseen by top-tier regulators.

Pros Cons
Low trading fees (free stock and ETF trading) You can trade only on US markets
Superb desktop trading platform Accounts mostly limited to US residents
Great customer support No credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfer

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#4 TD Ameritrade
Fees

TD Ameritrade has low fees when it comes to buying and selling bonds.
TD Ameritrade bond fees
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Bond fee class Low Low Low Low Low
US Treasury bond $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $10.0
EU government bond - - - - -
Inactivity fee No No No No No

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#4 TD Ameritrade
Markets and products

At TD Ameritrade, you have access to around 40000 bonds, which is higher than the industry average.
TD Ameritrade bond selection
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Bonds (#) 88,000 60,000 108,000 40,000 221,000
TD Ameritrade products other than bonds
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Stock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No No Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes No Yes No
CFD No No No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes No

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#4 TD Ameritrade
Verdict

TD Ameritrade is one of the biggest US online brokers. It charges no commission on stock and ETF trades.

Research and education are outstanding at TD Ameritrade, offering you many useful tools. The 'thinkorswim' desktop trading platform is one of the best on the marketCustomer service is great, you will get relevant answers within a short time.

TD Ameritrade has some drawbacks, though. It charges high financing (margin) rates, and it doesn't accept credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfers. Furthermore, the product portfolio covers only the US markets.

TD Ameritrade offers great education tools including a demo account, so we definitely recommend giving them a try.

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Ally Invest Logo

#5 Best online broker
Ally Invest

4.7

Ally Invest is a US stockbroker regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Its parent company, Ally Financial Inc. dates back to 1911 when its predecessor, General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) was founded. Ally Financial Inc. is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and has a banking subsidiary, Ally Bank.

Ally Invest is considered safe because it has a long track record and is regulated by top-tier financial authorities.

Pros Cons
Low trading and non-trading fees You can trade only on US markets
Easy and fully digital account opening Forex trading is available through a separate account
Great education Lack of proper 2-step authentication

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#5 Ally Invest
Fees

Ally Invest has low fees when it comes to buying and selling bonds.
Ally Invest bond fees
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Bond fee class Low Low Low Low Low
US Treasury bond $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $10.0
EU government bond - - - - -
Inactivity fee No No No No No

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#5 Ally Invest
Markets and products

At Ally Invest, you have access to around 221000 bonds, which is higher than the industry average.
Ally Invest bond selection
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Bonds (#) 88,000 60,000 108,000 40,000 221,000
Ally Invest products other than bonds
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Stock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No No Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes No Yes No
CFD No No No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes No

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#5 Ally Invest
Verdict

Ally Invest is one of the biggest US stockbrokers and is overseen by top-tier regulators. Retail clients of Ally Bank will appreciate that its banking and brokerage platforms are very well integrated - so it's very easy to move cash between those accounts.

Ally Invest has low trading and non-trading fees and offers a good product range in the US. The account opening process is easy and fully digital. We also liked the high quality of its educational tools.

Ally Invest has some drawbacks though. You can trade only on US exchanges. Forex trading is available only through a separate Ally Forex account provided by GAIN Capital (Forex.com). Lastly, there is no option to turn on two-factor authentication for added security.

Still, as trading fees are low and no inactivity fee is charged, feel free to try Ally Invest.

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Best online brokers for bonds in the US
How did we pick the best brokers for bonds?

We tested brokers based on more than 300 criteria. Below, we will show you the 4 most important criteria we took into account.

4 important criteria for the best brokers for bonds in the US
Bond fees The commission for buying and selling bonds is typically a low percentage (0.10-0.30%), though it is worth watching out for minimum fees, which often tend to be high, in some cases as high as $80-$100.
Number of available bonds Most brokers will offer US Treasuries for trading, but what if you want to buy a corporate bond of a specific company? Some brokers simply don't have them. Check the product coverage before opening an account.
Inactivity fee Bonds are very often favored by buy-and-hold investors. You buy some bonds, collect regular coupon payments, and often kind of forget about them. But what if your broker starts charging high inactivity fees just because you haven't traded in a while?
Overall score A better overall score usually implies strong safety, as well as good-quality trading platforms, payment options and customer service, so this is also something to consider.

Are these brokers safe?

Bonds are typically seen as a less risky investment, so you certainly don’t want to add extra risk by using a less reputable broker. These brokers are all considered safe. You can be sure none of them is a scam. They are regulated by at least one top-tier regulator. Some of them are also listed on an exchange, and some have a banking background.

Best online brokers for bonds in the US
Bottom line

You saw the details, now let's zoom out. Here are the best online brokers for bonds in 2021:

Best online brokers for bonds in the US for 2021
E*TRADE Charles Schwab Fidelity TD Ameritrade Ally Invest
Bond fee class Low Low Low Low Low
Bonds (#) 88,000 60,000 108,000 40,000 221,000
Inactivity fee No No No No No
Visit broker Visit broker Visit broker Visit broker Visit broker

E*TRADE is our winner, the best online broker for bonds in the US. Low trading fees (free stock and ETF trading). User-friendly mobile trading platform. Great research tools.
All of these brokers are considered safe, and a great choice. Pick the winner or any runner-up, and take the next step in your investment journey. Let us know what you think in the comment section.
Still unsure? For a tailored recommendiation, use our broker finder to find the best online broker for you; or learn more about investing in bonds.

Author of this article

Gergely Korpos

Author of this article

Gergely is the co-founder and CPO of Brokerchooser. His aim is to make personal investing crystal clear for everybody. Gergely has 10 years of experience in the financial markets. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and equity portfolio manager.

Gergely Korpos

Co-founder, CPO

Gergely is the co-founder and CPO of Brokerchooser. His aim is to make personal investing crystal clear for everybody. Gergely has 10 years of experience in the financial markets. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and equity portfolio manager.

Everything you find on BrokerChooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

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