Advertisement

To help you find the best brokers for free stock trading in the US, we went ahead and did the research for you. First, we selected 91 quality online brokers, then checked their stock trading and non-trading fees, the available markets, their product selection and much much more. We went deep, so you won't have to.
A total of 5 stockbrokers made it to the top list and we highly recommend all of them. And now, without further ado...

Our top 5 picks for best brokers for free stock trading of 2021 in the US:

  1. E*TRADE is the winner. Low trading fees (free stock and ETF trading). User-friendly mobile trading platform. Great research tools.
  2. Fidelity came in second. Commission-free US stocks and ETFs. Great trading platforms and research. US and international stocks.
  3. Charles Schwab rounds out the top three. Free stock and ETF trading. Outstanding research. Great customer service.
  4. TD Ameritrade is numero quattro. Low trading fees (free stock and ETF trading). Superb desktop trading platform. Great customer support.
  5. Merrill Edge just made it to the list in 5th place. Low trading fees. Easy and seamless account opening. Strong parent company.
Best brokers for free stock trading in the US
Name Company info Trading platform score
#1 E*TRADE US stockbroker 4.5 stars
#2 Fidelity US stockbroker 4.3 stars
#3 Charles Schwab US discount broker 4.1 stars
#4 TD Ameritrade US-based stockbroker 4.6 stars
#5 Merrill Edge US discount broker 4.6 stars

In 2021, a multitude of brokers offer free stock trading, so investors have to look beyond the price of a trade to get a fuller picture. The key factors to check out are hidden prices and high non-trading fees; altogether, any broker worth considering has to offer fair fees. Other services that played a role in selecting the best of the best included login safety, a good trading platform, an excellent search engine as well as a vast selection of available markets and order types. These features are easy to list, but hard to figure out. We tested the stockbrokers with real accounts and real money, so we know what's up.

And now, let's see the best brokers for free stock trading one by one. Starting with the winner, E*TRADE.

E*TRADE Logo

#1 Best brokers for free stock trading in the US
E*TRADE

4.8

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.

Recommended for investors and traders looking for solid research and a great mobile trading platform

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

Visit broker

#1 E*TRADE
Safety

E*TRADE is overseen by top-tier US regulators, and you are protected by a high investor protection amount, but there is no negative balance protection.
Pros Cons
Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority No negative balance protection
High level of investor protection
Banking background

Visit broker More

#1 E*TRADE
E*TRADE trading platforms

E*TRADE platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 4.5 stars Yes
Mobile 4.5 stars Yes
Desktop - No

Visit broker More

#1 E*TRADE
Deposit and withdrawal
2.2

E*TRADE charges no deposit fees, and transferring money is easy. On the negative side, you can only use bank transfer, and there is a high fee for wire transfer withdrawals.
Pros Cons
No deposit fee Credit/Debit card not available
User-friendly High fee for wire transfer withdrawal
E*TRADE withdrawal fees and options
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No Yes No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

Visit broker More

#1 E*TRADE
Markets and products
3.1

You can trade plenty of asset classes at E*TRADE from stocks to futures, but only on the US market; in addition, forex trading is not available.
E*TRADE stock market coverage
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Stock markets (#) 5 22 4 4 4
ETFs (#) 2,300 80 2,300 2,300 2,300
E*TRADE markets and products in addition to stocks and ETFs
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Forex No No No Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes No Yes Yes No
Crypto Yes No Yes Yes No

Visit broker More

#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.

E*TRADE
Summary E*TRADE is a US stockbroker regulated by top-tier authorities SEC and FINRA. The company is listed on NASDAQ and has a banking background.
Fees score 4.4 stars
Recommended for Investors and traders looking for solid research and a great mobile trading platform

Visit broker More

Fidelity Logo

#2 Best brokers for free stock trading in the US
Fidelity

4.7

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.

Recommended for investors and traders looking for solid research and great trading platforms

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

Visit broker

#2 Fidelity
Safety

Fidelity is regulated by top-tier financial authorities and provides a high level of investor protection. On the other hand, there is no negative balance protection and the firm does not disclose its financial information.
Pros Cons
Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority No negative balance protection
High level of investor protection Does not hold a banking license
Additional coverage by Fidelity Not listed on stock exchange

Visit broker More

#2 Fidelity
Fidelity trading platforms

Fidelity platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 4.5 stars Yes
Mobile 4.5 stars Yes
Desktop 3.8 stars Yes

Visit broker More

#2 Fidelity
Deposit and withdrawal
3.8

Fidelity offers an exceptionally wide range of base currencies. On the negative side, credit/debit cards are not accepted.
Pros Cons
Free withdrawal Credit/Debit card not available
No deposit fee
Several account base currencies
Fidelity withdrawal fees and options
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No Yes No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

Visit broker More

#2 Fidelity
Markets and products
3.9

Fidelity offers a lot of different trading products, from stocks to options, including international stocks. However, forex and futures trading is not available.
Fidelity stock market coverage
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Stock markets (#) 5 22 4 4 4
ETFs (#) 2,300 80 2,300 2,300 2,300
Fidelity markets and products in addition to stocks and ETFs
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Forex No No No Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes No Yes Yes No
Crypto Yes No Yes Yes No

Visit broker More

#2 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.

Fidelity
Summary Fidelity is a US stockbroker. It is regulated by top-tier authorities SEC and FINRA.
Fees score 4.1 stars
Recommended for Investors and traders looking for solid research and great trading platforms

Visit broker More

Charles Schwab Logo

#3 Best brokers for free stock trading in the US
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) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Recommended for investors and traders looking for solid research, low fees and great customer service

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

Visit broker

#3 Charles Schwab
Safety

Charles Schwab is regulated by top-tier authorities like the SEC and clients enjoy high investor protection. Unlike with some European brokers, if you're trading on margin, there's no negative balance protection.
Pros Cons
Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority No negative balance protection
High level of investor protection
Banking background

Visit broker More

#3 Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab trading platforms

Charles Schwab platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 4.3 stars Yes
Mobile 4.2 stars Yes
Desktop 4.0 stars Yes

Visit broker More

#3 Charles Schwab
Deposit and withdrawal
2.2

Funding your account is easy and user-friendly at Charles Schwab and there is no deposit fee. However, you can only use bank transfer and there is a high fee for wire withdrawals.
Pros Cons
No deposit fee High fee for wire (bank transfer) withdrawals
User-friendly
Charles Schwab withdrawal fees and options
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No Yes No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

Visit broker More

#3 Charles Schwab
Markets and products
3.3

At Charles Schwab, you can trade a lot of different asset classes, from stocks to futures. Unfortunately, the product portfolio covers only US and Canadian markets.
Charles Schwab stock market coverage
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Stock markets (#) 5 22 4 4 4
ETFs (#) 2,300 80 2,300 2,300 2,300
Charles Schwab markets and products in addition to stocks and ETFs
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Forex No No No Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes No Yes Yes No
Crypto Yes No Yes Yes No

Visit broker More

#3 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 Schwab.

Charles Schwab
Summary Charles Schwab is a US discount broker, regulated by top-tier US authorities the SEC and FINRA. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and holds a banking license.
Fees score 4.4 stars
Recommended for Investors and traders looking for solid research, low fees and great customer service

Visit broker More

TD Ameritrade Logo

#4 Best brokers for free stock trading in the US
TD Ameritrade

4.8

This TD Ameritrade Review concludes that it is recommended for investors and experienced traders looking for solid research and a well-equipped desktop trading platform, the Thinkorswim platform.

It is one of the biggest US-based stockbrokers, founded in 1975. As an online broker, 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).

It is considered to be a safe broker as 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.

Recommended for investors and traders looking for solid research and a well-equipped desktop trading platform

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

Visit broker

#4 TD Ameritrade
Safety

The brokerage is overseen by top-tier US regulators like the SEC and FINRA. You are covered by a high investor protection amount, but negative balance protection is not provided.
Pros Cons
Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority No negative balance protection
High level of investor protection
Banking background

Visit broker More

#4 TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade trading platforms

TD Ameritrade platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 4.3 stars Yes
Mobile 4.8 stars Yes
Desktop 4.5 stars Yes

Visit broker More

#4 TD Ameritrade
Deposit and withdrawal
2.2

The account funding is user-friendly with no deposit fees, but USD is the only available base currency, and wire transfers incur a high fee.
Pros Cons
Free withdrawal Credit/Debit card not available
No deposit fee Only one account base currency
User-friendly High withdrawal fee for wire transfers
TD Ameritrade withdrawal fees and options
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No Yes No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

Visit broker More

#4 TD Ameritrade
Markets and products
4.0

You can trade many asset classes, from stocks to futures and forex, while nice extras include social trading and robo-advisory. On the other hand, only the US market is covered.
TD Ameritrade stock market coverage
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Stock markets (#) 5 22 4 4 4
ETFs (#) 2,300 80 2,300 2,300 2,300
TD Ameritrade markets and products in addition to stocks and ETFs
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Forex No No No Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes No Yes Yes No
Crypto Yes No Yes Yes No

Visit broker More

#4 TD Ameritrade
Verdict

It is one of the biggest US online brokers. It charges no commission on stock and ETFs.

Research and education are outstanding, the Thinkorswim desktop platform is one of the best on the market. Customer service is great.

The drawbacks are that 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.

We definitely recommend giving it a try, especially as their education tools include a demo as well.

TD Ameritrade
Summary TD Ameritrade is a US stockbroker regulated by top-tier authorities SEC and FINRA. The company is listed on NASDAQ and has a banking background as part of the TD Group.
Fees score 4.3 stars
Recommended for Investors and traders looking for solid research and a well-equipped desktop trading platform

Visit broker More

Merrill Edge Logo

#5 Best brokers for free stock trading in the US
Merrill Edge

4.7

Merrill Edge is a US-based stockbroker founded in 2010 by Bank of America (BofA). BofA acquired Merrill Lynch during the 2008 financial crisis, and the rationale for launching Merrill Edge was to combine its online investing arm and Merrill Lynch's investment expertise. Merrill Edge offers US stocks, ETFs, options, and bonds. It is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Merrill Edge is considered safe because its parent company is a bank with a long track record and solid reputation, it discloses its financials, and is regulated by top-tier regulators. 

Recommended for investors and traders who looking for low fees, quick account opening, and simple platforms

Pros Cons
Low trading fees Limited to US clients and products
Easy and seamless account opening No demo account
Strong parent company Limited options to deposit/withdraw

Visit broker

#5 Merrill Edge
Safety

Merrill Edge is regulated by top-tier US regulators and its clients are protected by a high investor protection amount. On the flip side, negative balance protection is not provided.
Pros Cons
Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority No negative balance protection
High level of investor protection
Banking background

Visit broker More

#5 Merrill Edge
Merrill Edge trading platforms

Merrill Edge platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 4.3 stars Yes
Mobile 4.8 stars Yes
Desktop - No

Visit broker More

#5 Merrill Edge
Deposit and withdrawal
2.2

Merrill Edge has an easy-to-use deposit and withdrawal system with a bank account connection. Unfortunately, credit/debit cards cannot be used to fund the account, and there is only USD as a base currency.
Pros Cons
Free withdrawal Credit/Debit card not available
No deposit fee Only one account base currency
User-friendly Slow withdrawal - over 3 days
Merrill Edge withdrawal fees and options
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No Yes No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

Visit broker More

#5 Merrill Edge
Markets and products
2.3

Merrill Edge has a limited product portfolio that consists of stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and bonds. Unfortunately, the product lineup covers only the US market. The broker offers a lower diversity of products in general compared to its competition.
Merrill Edge stock market coverage
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Stock markets (#) 5 22 4 4 4
ETFs (#) 2,300 80 2,300 2,300 2,300
Merrill Edge markets and products in addition to stocks and ETFs
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Forex No No No Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes No Yes Yes No
Crypto Yes No Yes Yes No

Visit broker More

#5 Merrill Edge
Verdict

Overall, Merrill Edge is a solid, easy-to-use trading platform created by Bank of America, one of the US's largest banks.

We rated Merrill Edge highly due to its low fees, easy process of account opening, and safety. 

Some of the drawbacks include limited product offerings, research capabilities, and deposit/withdrawal options.

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

Merrill Edge
Summary Merrill Edge is a US based broker owned by Bank of America (BofA). It is regulated by the top-tier SEC and Finra and BofA is listed on the NYSE.
Fees score 4.4 stars
Recommended for Investors and traders who looking for low fees, quick account opening, and simple platforms

Visit broker More

Best brokers for free stock trading in the US
Bottom line

Now that you have seen the details, let's zoom out. Here are the best brokers for free stock trading of 2021 in the US:

Best brokers for free stock trading in the US
E*TRADE Fidelity Charles Schwab TD Ameritrade Merrill Edge
Stock fee class Low Low Low Low Low
Trading platform combined score 4.5 stars 4.3 stars 4.1 stars 4.6 stars 4.6 stars
Deposit and withdrawal score 2.2 stars 3.8 stars 2.2 stars 2.2 stars 2.2 stars
Markets and products score 3.1 stars 3.9 stars 3.3 stars 4.0 stars 2.3 stars

E*TRADE is our winner, selected as the best broker for free stock trading in the US. Low trading fees (free stock and ETF trading). User-friendly mobile trading platform. Great research tools.
We consider all these stockbrokers a great choice. Feel free to pick the winner or any runner-up and take the next step in your investment journey. Let us know what you think in the comments section.
Still unsure which broker to choose? Use our the broker finder tool to find the best broker for you or learn more about investing your money.

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

Share

Comments

×