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To help you to find the best discount brokers in 2021, we went ahead and did the research for you. So what did we focus on? Fees, fees, and fees. We don't like them and surely you don't either. Checking carefully, we uncovered all the hidden fees. After testing 94 brokers for fees and checking what markets and products they offer, 5 made it to the top. And now, without further ado...

The top 5 picks for the best discount brokers in 2021:

  1. DEGIRO is the best discount broker in 2021. Low trading and non-trading fees, one free ETF trading per month.
  2. TD Ameritrade takes second place. Low trading and non-trading fees, high fund fees.
  3. Interactive Brokers rounds out the top three. Low trading fees, average non-trading fee, free stock and ETF trading for US customers.
  4. TradeStation Global, numero quattro. Low trading and average non-trading fees.
  5. Fidelity just made it to the list at number five. Low trading and non-trading fees, high fund fees.
Best discount brokers in 2021
Broker Accepts clients from Fees score
#1 DEGIRO Europe 4.5 stars
#2 TD Ameritrade US, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Canada (through TD Direct Investing) 4.3 stars
#3 Interactive Brokers Globally 4.5 stars
#4 TradeStation Global Globally 3.9 stars
#5 Fidelity US 4.1 stars

What makes a good discount broker? Well, did we mention low fees? This holds for commissions, financing rates, and, let's not forget, non-trading fees like inactivity or withdrawal fees. The table above gives you a good hint; the scores include all fees, with 5.0 being the best. Besides low fees, a good discount broker should also offer access to a lot of markets and products. All brokers in our list offer real stocks, but we also looked into whether you can trade bonds, currencies and options.

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

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

And now, let's see the best discount brokers in 2021 one by one, starting with the winner, DEGIRO.

DEGIRO Logo

#1 Best discount broker
DEGIRO

4.8

DEGIRO review summary

 

DEGIRO is a German-Dutch online discount broker. It was established in 2008 by former employees of another brokerage company in the Netherlands. DEGIRO merged with flatexDEGIRO Bank AG in early 2021, creating the biggest online execution-only broker in Europe with its own banking license.

DEGIRO is regulated by top-tier financial authorities such as the BaFin in Germany.

Disclaimer: Investing involves risk of loss.

Disclaimer for UK clients: Deemed authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The nature and extent of consumer protections may differ from those for firms based in the UK. Details of the Temporary Permissions Regime, which allows EEA-based firms to operate in the UK for a limited period while seeking full authorisation, are available on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website.

Our overall DEGIRO rating

Compare this broker to the best DEGIRO alternative here. 

Recommended for traders and investors looking for execution only

Pros Cons
One of the lowest fees on the market Forex not available
Regulated by multiple top-tier authorities Limited research tools
Easy-to-use web and mobile platform No credit/debit card deposit

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#1 DEGIRO
Fees
4.5

DEGIRO has low trading fees for all asset classes, from stocks to options. Non-trading fees are also low, as there are no inactivity or withdrawal fees.
Pros Cons
No inactivity fee Higher trading fees for Asian and smaller European stock exchanges
Low stock and ETF fees
DEGIRO trading fees
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
US stock $0.7 $0.0 $1.0 $1.5 $0.0
UK stock $2.8 - $4.2 $2.4 $12.6
EURUSD benchmark fee - $7.1 $10.7 $10.7 -
S&P 500 index CFD fee - - $2.8 $3.8 -
US Treasury bond - $0.0 $5.0 $7.5 $0.0
US stock index options $5.0 $6.5 $6.5 $15.0 $6.5
Mutual fund $11.1 $50.0 $15.0 $25.0 $37.5
DEGIRO non-trading fees
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Account fee No No No No No
Inactivity fee No No No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#1 DEGIRO
Markets and products
3.5

At DEGIRO, you can access many markets and trade a lot of different products. CFD and forex are not available, though.
DEGIRO markets and products
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No Yes Yes Yes No
Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes Yes No
CFDs No No Yes Yes No
Crypto No Yes Yes Yes No

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#1 DEGIRO
Account opening
5.0

The account opening process at DEGIRO is fast, fully digital, and no minimum deposit is required.
Pros Cons
Fast None
Fully digital
No minimum deposit
DEGIRO minimum deposit and time to open an account
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $1,000 $0
Time to open account 1 day 1-3 days 1-3 days 1 day 1-3 days

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#1 DEGIRO
Deposit and withdrawal
3.3

DEGIRO deposits and withdrawals are free of charge via bank transfer. On the other hand, you cannot deposit funds using a credit or debit card.
Pros Cons
Free withdrawal Credit/Debit card not available
No deposit fee
Several account base currencies
DEGIRO withdrawal fee and options
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No No No Yes
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#1 DEGIRO
Verdict

DEGIRO is a good choice if you want a simple platform and don’t want to spend too much on fees.

Transaction costs are generally very low. DEGIRO also has one of the best trading platforms for Europeans. In addition, the account opening process is fast.

On the other hand, as DEGIRO is an execution-only broker, research tools are limited. We should also mention that there is no forex trading, and most clients can only deposit and withdraw by bank transfer.

All in all, DEGIRO is a great online broker. There is no minimum deposit and no inactivity fee, so feel free to go ahead and give it a try.

DEGIRO
Summary DEGIRO is a discount broker that merged with flatexDEGIRO Bank AG and is supervised by the German financial regulator
Fees score 4.5 stars
Recommended for Traders and investors looking for execution only

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TD Ameritrade Logo

#2 Best discount broker
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

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#2 TD Ameritrade
Fees
4.3

TD Ameritrade offers free stock and ETF trading, while forex, bond and options fees are also low. On the other hand, it charges high fees for futures.
Pros Cons
Low trading fees High fund fees
Low non-trading fees
Free stocks and ETFs
TD Ameritrade trading fees
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
US stock $0.7 $0.0 $1.0 $1.5 $0.0
UK stock $2.8 - $4.2 $2.4 $12.6
EURUSD benchmark fee - $7.1 $10.7 $10.7 -
S&P 500 index CFD fee - - $2.8 $3.8 -
US Treasury bond - $0.0 $5.0 $7.5 $0.0
US stock index options $5.0 $6.5 $6.5 $15.0 $6.5
Mutual fund $11.1 $50.0 $15.0 $25.0 $37.5
TD Ameritrade non-trading fees
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Account fee No No No No No
Inactivity fee No No No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#2 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 markets and products
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No Yes Yes Yes No
Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes Yes No
CFDs No No Yes Yes No
Crypto No Yes Yes Yes No

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#2 TD Ameritrade
Account opening
3.6

TD Ameritrade offers many different account types, and there is no minimum deposit for US citizens.
Pros Cons
Fully digital None
No minimum deposit
Many account types
TD Ameritrade minimum deposit and time to open an account
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $1,000 $0
Time to open account 1 day 1-3 days 1-3 days 1 day 1-3 days

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#2 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 fee and options
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No No No Yes
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#2 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

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Interactive Brokers Logo

#3 Best discount broker
Interactive Brokers

4.9

Interactive Brokers review summary

 

Interactive Brokers, one of the biggest US-based discount brokers, was founded in 1978. The broker is regulated by several financial authorities globally, including top-tier ones like the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Given that the broker has licenses from multiple top-tier regulators, Interactive Brokers is considered safe. The fact that it has a long track record and publicly disclosed financials while being listed on a stock exchange all point to IB being a safe service provider.

Our overall Interactive Brokers rating

Compare this broker to the best Interactive Brokers alternative here.

Recommended for traders looking for broad market access and a professional trading environment

Pros Cons
Low trading fees Complicated account opening process
Wide range of products Complex desktop trading platform
Many great research tools Understaffed customer service

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#3 Interactive Brokers
Fees
4.5

Interactive Brokers has low trading fees and the best margin rates in the industry. For US clients, stock and ETF trading is free if they choose the Lite plan.
Pros Cons
Low trading fees None
Free stock and ETF trading for US clients
Low margin rates
Interactive Brokers trading fees
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
US stock $0.7 $0.0 $1.0 $1.5 $0.0
UK stock $2.8 - $4.2 $2.4 $12.6
EURUSD benchmark fee - $7.1 $10.7 $10.7 -
S&P 500 index CFD fee - - $2.8 $3.8 -
US Treasury bond - $0.0 $5.0 $7.5 $0.0
US stock index options $5.0 $6.5 $6.5 $15.0 $6.5
Mutual fund $11.1 $50.0 $15.0 $25.0 $37.5
Interactive Brokers non-trading fees
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Account fee No No No No No
Inactivity fee No No No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#3 Interactive Brokers
Markets and products
5.0

At Interactive Brokers, you have access to an extremely wide range of markets and all product types are available.
Interactive Brokers markets and products
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No Yes Yes Yes No
Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes Yes No
CFDs No No Yes Yes No
Crypto No Yes Yes Yes No

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#3 Interactive Brokers
Account opening
3.4

IB's account opening process is fully digital and the required minimum deposit is low. On the negative side, the process is complicated and account verification takes relatively long.
Pros Cons
Fully digital Not user-friendly
No minimum deposit for most account types
Interactive Brokers minimum deposit and time to open an account
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $1,000 $0
Time to open account 1 day 1-3 days 1-3 days 1 day 1-3 days

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#3 Interactive Brokers
Deposit and withdrawal
3.0

Interactive Brokers offers several account base currencies and one free withdrawal per month. The main drawback is that you can only use bank transfer.
Pros Cons
No deposit fee Credit/Debit card not available
Several account base currencies
First withdrawal free each month
Interactive Brokers withdrawal fee and options
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No No No Yes
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#3 Interactive Brokers
Verdict

Interactive Brokers is one of the biggest US-based discount brokers, regulated by several top-tier regulators globally. We recommend this broker both for advanced traders and for everyday investors who want to have access to many stock markets.

On the plus side, IB offers very low fees, a vast range of markets and products, and diverse research tools

There are some drawbacks, though. We weren't satisfied with the quaity of the customer service and the account opening process is complicated. Unlike the web and mobile platforms, the desktop platform is complex and hard to get a handle on, especially for beginners.

If you have experience navigating complex platforms and enjoy transparent, low-cost trading, Interactive Brokers is a great fit for you.

Interactive Brokers
Summary Interactive Brokers is a US discount broker. It is listed on a stock exchange and regulated by several authorities, including top-tier ones like the FCA and the SEC.
Fees score 4.5 stars
Recommended for Traders looking for broad market access and a professional trading environment

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TradeStation Global Logo

#4 Best discount broker
TradeStation Global

4.6

TradeStation Global is a brand of TradeStation International Ltd, which is based in the UK and is regulated by the top-tier Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

TradeStation Global is a combined product offered by Interactive Brokers (IB) and TradeStation for clients outside the EU/EEA. Here are its most important elements:

  • The account opening, deposit/withdrawal options, and available products are the same as at Interactive Brokers.
  • You can use both Interactive Brokers's and TradeStation's own desktop platform.
  • TradeStation Global charges its own fees, and offers its own customer support and educational tools.

Both Interactive Brokers and TradeStation are reputable brokers, regulated by top-tier financial authorities. While Interactive Brokers is listed on the NASDAQ, TradeStation itself is not: only TradeStation's parent company Monex is listed, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Recommended for traders and investors looking for low fees and a wide selection of products

Pros Cons
Low stock and ETF fees Only bank transfer allowed for deposit and withdrawal
Wide range of products Complicated account opening
Fast customer service Limited education materials

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#4 TradeStation Global
Fees
3.9

TradeStation Global has low trading fees, especially for stocks and ETFs. There's no inactivity fee and the first withdrawal each month is free. However, mutual fund fees are high.
Pros Cons
Low trading fees High fund fees
Low non-trading fees
Low stock and ETF fees / Free stock trading
TradeStation Global trading fees
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
US stock $0.7 $0.0 $1.0 $1.5 $0.0
UK stock $2.8 - $4.2 $2.4 $12.6
EURUSD benchmark fee - $7.1 $10.7 $10.7 -
S&P 500 index CFD fee - - $2.8 $3.8 -
US Treasury bond - $0.0 $5.0 $7.5 $0.0
US stock index options $5.0 $6.5 $6.5 $15.0 $6.5
Mutual fund $11.1 $50.0 $15.0 $25.0 $37.5
TradeStation Global non-trading fees
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Account fee No No No No No
Inactivity fee No No No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#4 TradeStation Global
Markets and products
5.0

With TradeStation Global, you can access the same range of product types and exchanges as at Interactive Brokers. This selection is one of the widest among online brokers.
TradeStation Global markets and products
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No Yes Yes Yes No
Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes Yes No
CFDs No No Yes Yes No
Crypto No Yes Yes Yes No

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#4 TradeStation Global
Account opening
2.8

TradeStation Global's account opening is fully digital and fast, but the process is complicated, and there's a high $1,000 minimum deposit required in order to use TSG's own desktop platform.
Pros Cons
Fast $1,000 minimum deposit required for desktop platform
Fully digital Not user-friendly
TradeStation Global minimum deposit and time to open an account
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $1,000 $0
Time to open account 1 day 1-3 days 1-3 days 1 day 1-3 days

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#4 TradeStation Global
Deposit and withdrawal
3.5

TradeStation Global offers many account base currency options and one free withdrawal per month. The main drawback is that you can only use bank transfer.
Pros Cons
No deposit fee Credit/Debit card not available
Several account base currencies
No charge for the first withdrawal each month.
TradeStation Global withdrawal fee and options
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No No No Yes
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#4 TradeStation Global
Verdict

TradeStation Global has low stock/ETF fees, provides access to a lot of products and markets and has great customer support. The TradeStation Global desktop platform has great charting tools, plenty of indicators, highly customizable watchlists (Radar Screen) and a great programming tool (EasyLanguage).

On the other hand, the deposit and withdrawal process is not user-friendly and you can use only bank transfer. The account opening is complicated, and for full account verification to use the TSG desktop trading platform, a minimum deposit of $1,000 is required.

If you want access to IB's product range and an account with a slightly different fee structure, feel free to try TradeStation Global.

TradeStation Global
Summary TradeStation Global is an introducing broker of Interactive Brokers. This practically means that assets and cash are held with Interactive Brokers, but services like fees and customer support are provided by TradeStation Global. TradeStation Global is regulated by the top-tier UK FCA.
Fees score 3.9 stars
Recommended for Traders and investors looking for low fees and a wide selection of products

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Fidelity Logo

#5 Best discount broker
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

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#5 Fidelity
Fees
4.1

Fidelity has low trading and non-trading fees, including commission-free stock trading. On the negative side, margin rates and fees for some mutual funds can be high.
Pros Cons
Free stock and ETF trading High fees for non-free mutual funds
Low bond fees High margin fees
No inactivity fee
Fidelity trading fees
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
US stock $0.7 $0.0 $1.0 $1.5 $0.0
UK stock $2.8 - $4.2 $2.4 $12.6
EURUSD benchmark fee - $7.1 $10.7 $10.7 -
S&P 500 index CFD fee - - $2.8 $3.8 -
US Treasury bond - $0.0 $5.0 $7.5 $0.0
US stock index options $5.0 $6.5 $6.5 $15.0 $6.5
Mutual fund $11.1 $50.0 $15.0 $25.0 $37.5
Fidelity non-trading fees
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Account fee No No No No No
Inactivity fee No No No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#5 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 markets and products
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No Yes Yes Yes No
Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes Yes No
CFDs No No Yes Yes No
Crypto No Yes Yes Yes No

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#5 Fidelity
Account opening
3.6

Opening an account at Fidelity is easy and there is no minimum deposit. You can also choose from many account types. However, account verification is a bit slow.
Pros Cons
No minimum deposit Slower account verification
User-friendly Not fully digital in some cases
Many account types
Fidelity minimum deposit and time to open an account
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $1,000 $0
Time to open account 1 day 1-3 days 1-3 days 1 day 1-3 days

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#5 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 fee and options
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No No No Yes
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#5 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

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Best discount brokers
What makes a good discount broker?

You are probably curious how we came up with this list. To get a better understanding, let's discuss the following three points:

  1. What is a discount brokerage?
  2. Why do we think these brokers are safe?
  3. What were the most important factors when we picked the best discount brokers?

What is a discount broker?

A discount broker is a brokerage company that executes your buy and sell orders at a low trading fee. Discount brokers can afford to charge lower fees, since, unlike full-service brokers, they usually don't provide extra services like research, personal investment advice, tax planning or robo-advisory.

Discount brokers first appeared along with the rise of online broker services. Many brokerage companies started to provide their service online and fully automated via online trading platforms. An online trading platform is basically a website where you can insert your own orders, and while you get customer support, the broker offers no investment advice.

The difference between full-service brokers and discount brokers has blurred somewhat in recent years. Discount brokers started to offer extra services as well, like research; while full-service brokers started to lower their fees. The traditional brokerage and wealth management industry is under fee pressure from increasingly cost-effective online broker companies.

Many US brokers have slashed their fees to zero and now promote commission-free trading , following in the footsteps of brokers such as Robinhood. Drawbacks for some of these commission-free brokers include the limited number of assets you can trade (for example, bonds are less likely to be offered), so some investors and traders still prefer traditional discount brokers, where order execution also tends to be better compared with zero-commission brokers.

Are these brokers safe?

These brokers are all considered safe.. They are regulated by at least one top-tier authority. We at BrokerChooser distinguish between mid-tier and top-tier regulators, based on various factors with the most important being the investor protection amount. It is very unlikely that you will run into severe problems, and even if you do, you are protected by a top-tier regulator.

How did BrokerChooser pick the best discount brokers?

We tested brokers based on more than 300 criteria, with a real account and real money. When we selected the best discount brokers, the primary selection criteria were fees. Importantly, we only included brokers where you can trade real stocks. This means that we excluded brokers where stocks were only offered through CFDs.

We calculated the rankings based on trading fees for all asset classes, such as stock fees; as well as fees not related to trading, such as withdrawal fees. We also assigned a higher score to brokers that offer a wide range of asset classes, because providing low fees in more than one asset class is not an easy job. Note that our maxium score is 5.0 and the minimum is 1.0.

Lastly, we incorporated additional criteria to measure the overall quality of the broker: if the account opening process, customer service and other aspects of the broker are high quality, they all boosted the overall score.

Best discount brokers
Bottom line

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

Best discount brokers in 2021
DEGIRO TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers TradeStation Global Fidelity
Fees score 4.5 stars 4.3 stars 4.5 stars 3.9 stars 4.1 stars
Stock and ETF fee scores 4.8 stars 5.0 stars 4.8 stars 4.8 stars 4.7 stars
Markets and products score 3.5 stars 4.0 stars 5.0 stars 5.0 stars 3.9 stars
Account opening score 5.0 stars 3.6 stars 3.4 stars 2.8 stars 3.6 stars
Deposit and withdrawal score 3.3 stars 2.2 stars 3.0 stars 3.5 stars 3.8 stars
Visit broker Visit broker Visit broker Visit broker Visit broker

DEGIRO is our winner, the best discount broker in 2021. Low trading and non-trading fees, one free ETF trading per month.

All of these brokers are considered a great choice. Pick the winner or any runner-up, and save a lot of money on fees. Let us know what you think in the comment section.

Still unsure? Check out our broker finder tool and find the best broker for you, or learn more about how to invest 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

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