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To help you to find the best discount brokers in 2021 for citizens in the United States, 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 93 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 for American citizens in 2021:

  1. TD Ameritrade is the best discount broker in the United States in 2021. Low trading and non-trading fees, high fund fees.
  2. Interactive Brokers takes second place. Low trading fees, average non-trading fee, free stock and ETF trading for US customers.
  3. Fidelity rounds out the top three. Low trading and non-trading fees, high fund fees.
  4. Charles Schwab, numero quattro. Low trading and non-trading fees, high fund fees.
  5. E*TRADE just made it to the list at number five. Low trading and non-trading fees, high fund fees.
Best discount brokers in 2021 for American citizens
Broker Info Fees score
#1 TD Ameritrade US-based stockbroker 4.3 stars
#2 Interactive Brokers US discount broker 4.2 stars
#3 Fidelity US stockbroker 4.1 stars
#4 Charles Schwab US discount broker 4.4 stars
#5 E*TRADE US stockbroker 4.4 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 for American citizens in 2021 one by one, starting with the winner, TD Ameritrade.

TD Ameritrade Logo

#1 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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#1 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
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
US stock $0.0 $1.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
UK stock - $4.2 $12.6 - -
EURUSD benchmark fee $7.1 $10.7 - - -
S&P 500 index CFD fee - $2.8 - - -
US Treasury bond $0.0 $5.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
US stock index options $6.5 $6.5 $6.5 $6.5 $6.5
Mutual fund $50.0 $15.0 $37.5 $24.8 $20.0
TD Ameritrade non-trading fees
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
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 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
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes Yes No No No
Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes No Yes Yes
CFDs No Yes No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes Yes

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#1 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
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Time to open account 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days 1 day 1-3 days

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#1 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
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No Yes No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#1 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

#2 Best discount broker
Interactive Brokers

4.9

Interactive Brokers review summary

 

Interactive Brokers was founded in 1978 and is one of the biggest US-based discount brokers. 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).

As it has licenses from multiple top-tier regulators, Interactive Brokers is considered safe. Having a long track record and publicly disclosed financials while being listed on a stock exchange are also great signs for its safety.

Our overall Interactive Brokers rating

Compare this broker to the best Interactive Brokers alternative here.

Recommended for traders looking for low fees 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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#2 Interactive Brokers
Fees
4.2

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
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
US stock $0.0 $1.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
UK stock - $4.2 $12.6 - -
EURUSD benchmark fee $7.1 $10.7 - - -
S&P 500 index CFD fee - $2.8 - - -
US Treasury bond $0.0 $5.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
US stock index options $6.5 $6.5 $6.5 $6.5 $6.5
Mutual fund $50.0 $15.0 $37.5 $24.8 $20.0
Interactive Brokers non-trading fees
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
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 Interactive Brokers
Markets and products
5.0

Through Interactive Brokers, you can access an extremely wide range of markets, and all product types are available.
Interactive Brokers markets and products
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes Yes No No No
Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes No Yes Yes
CFDs No Yes No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes Yes

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#2 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 Confusing messages throughout the process
Interactive Brokers minimum deposit and time to open an account
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Time to open account 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days 1 day 1-3 days

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#2 Interactive Brokers
Deposit and withdrawal
3.5

Interactive Brokers 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
First withdrawal each month free
Interactive Brokers withdrawal fee and options
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No Yes No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#2 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 mainly for advanced traders.

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

There are some drawbacks, though: we weren't satisfied with the level of customer service and the account opening process is complicated. 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 could be 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 4.2 stars
Recommended for Traders looking for low fees and a professional trading environment

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Fidelity Logo

#3 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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#3 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
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
US stock $0.0 $1.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
UK stock - $4.2 $12.6 - -
EURUSD benchmark fee $7.1 $10.7 - - -
S&P 500 index CFD fee - $2.8 - - -
US Treasury bond $0.0 $5.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
US stock index options $6.5 $6.5 $6.5 $6.5 $6.5
Mutual fund $50.0 $15.0 $37.5 $24.8 $20.0
Fidelity non-trading fees
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
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 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
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes Yes No No No
Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes No Yes Yes
CFDs No Yes No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes Yes

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#3 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
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Time to open account 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days 1 day 1-3 days

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#3 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
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No Yes No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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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.

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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Charles Schwab Logo

#4 Best discount 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) 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

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#4 Charles Schwab
Fees
4.4

Charles Schwab offers free stock and ETF trading, some mutual funds and bonds are also free, while non-trading fees are low. On the negative side, some mutual fund fees are high.
Pros Cons
Free stock/ETF trading High fees for non-free mutual funds
Some mutual funds and bonds are free
Low non-trading fees
Charles Schwab trading fees
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
US stock $0.0 $1.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
UK stock - $4.2 $12.6 - -
EURUSD benchmark fee $7.1 $10.7 - - -
S&P 500 index CFD fee - $2.8 - - -
US Treasury bond $0.0 $5.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
US stock index options $6.5 $6.5 $6.5 $6.5 $6.5
Mutual fund $50.0 $15.0 $37.5 $24.8 $20.0
Charles Schwab non-trading fees
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
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 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 markets and products
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes Yes No No No
Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes No Yes Yes
CFDs No Yes No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes Yes

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#4 Charles Schwab
Account opening
4.4

Opening an account at Charles Schwab is easy, fast and fully digital. There is no minimum deposit for US clients, but other clients have to transfer a $25,000 minimum to start.
Pros Cons
Fast $25,000 minimum deposit for non-US clients
Fully digital
No minimum deposit
Charles Schwab minimum deposit and time to open an account
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Time to open account 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days 1 day 1-3 days

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#4 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 fee and options
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No Yes No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#4 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

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E*TRADE Logo

#5 Best discount broker
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

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#5 E*TRADE
Fees
4.4

E*TRADE offers free trading of stocks, ETFs, and some bonds and mutual funds. Non-trading fees are also low. On the negative side, fees for mutual funds that aren't free are high.
Pros Cons
Free stock and ETF trading High fees for non-free mutual funds
Some mutual funds and bonds are free
Low non-trading fees
E*TRADE trading fees
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
US stock $0.0 $1.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
UK stock - $4.2 $12.6 - -
EURUSD benchmark fee $7.1 $10.7 - - -
S&P 500 index CFD fee - $2.8 - - -
US Treasury bond $0.0 $5.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
US stock index options $6.5 $6.5 $6.5 $6.5 $6.5
Mutual fund $50.0 $15.0 $37.5 $24.8 $20.0
E*TRADE non-trading fees
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
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 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 markets and products
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes Yes No No No
Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes No Yes Yes
CFDs No Yes No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes Yes

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#5 E*TRADE
Account opening
4.4

Account opening at E*TRADE (only available for US clients) is fully digital and user-friendly, but the account verification process is slow.
Pros Cons
Fully digital Slow account verification
No minimum deposit
User-friendly
E*TRADE minimum deposit and time to open an account
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Time to open account 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days 1 day 1-3 days

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#5 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 fee and options
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No Yes No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#5 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

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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 for citizens in the United States:

Best discount brokers in 2021 for American citizens
TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Fidelity Charles Schwab E*TRADE
Fees score 4.3 stars 4.2 stars 4.1 stars 4.4 stars 4.4 stars
Stock and ETF fee scores 5.0 stars 4.8 stars 4.7 stars 5.0 stars 5.0 stars
Markets and products score 4.0 stars 5.0 stars 3.9 stars 3.3 stars 3.1 stars
Account opening score 3.6 stars 3.4 stars 3.6 stars 4.4 stars 4.4 stars
Deposit and withdrawal score 2.2 stars 3.5 stars 3.8 stars 2.2 stars 2.2 stars
Visit broker Visit broker Visit broker Visit broker Visit broker

TD Ameritrade is our winner, the best discount broker in the United States in 2021. Low trading and non-trading fees, high fund fees.

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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