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Best online brokers for buy and hold investors in the US

To help you to find the best online broker for buy and hold strategies in the US, we went ahead and did the research for you. First, we selected more than 74 quality online brokers, then we checked and compared their fees, products, trading platform, deposit and withdrawal and more. We went 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 buy and hold investors in the US:

  1. Charles Schwab is the winner. Free stock and ETF trading. Outstanding research. Great customer service.
  2. E*TRADE in the second place. Low trading fees (free stock and ETF trading). User-friendly mobile trading platform. Great research tools.
  3. TD Ameritrade rounded out the top three. Low trading fees (free stock and ETF trading). Superb desktop trading platform. Great customer support.
  4. Firstrade, numero quatro. Free stock, ETF, fund, and options trading. Solid research tools. Quality educational tools.
  5. Ally Invest. Low trading and non-trading fees. Easy and fully digital account opening. Great education. Just made it to the list with being number five.
Best online brokers for buy and hold investor in the US
Broker Info Overall score Best in
#1 Charles Schwab US discount broker 4.9
#2 E*TRADE US stockbroker 4.8
#3 TD Ameritrade US-based stockbroker 4.9 Best desktop trading platform
#4 Firstrade US discount broker 4.5 Best broker for funds
#5 Ally Invest US stockbroker 4.7

All 5 brokers are considered safe. They are regulated by top-tier financial regulators.

What makes a good online broker for long term investing? First, they need to offer fair stocks and ETF trading fees. Second, the inactivity fee shouldn't be high. It must also be easy to use its trading platform. Finally, we appreciated if the broker offers an okay amount of markets to trade on Easy to list, but hard to figure it out. We are testing brokers along ~100 criteria with real accounts and real money. We know what's up.

Not sure which broker? 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 this detailed comparison table.

And now, let's see the best stock brokers in the US one by one, starting with the winner, Charles Schwab.

Charles Schwab Logo

#1 Best online broker for investors
Charles Schwab

4.9

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).

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 Poorly-structured educational platform

#1 Charles Schwab
Fees

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 quite 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 fees
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Stock fee class Low Low Low Low Low
USA* $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
Inactivity fee No inactivity fee No inactivity fee No inactivity fee $100 inactivity fee applicable only after several years inactivity No inactivity fee

*Commissions for opening/closing a $2,000 stock/ETF position

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#1 Charles Schwab
Account opening
4.5

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
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Time to open account 1 day 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days

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#1 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
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Bank Transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#1 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
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Stock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stock markets (#) 4 5 5 5 5
ETF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No Yes No No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes No No
CFD No No No No No
Crypto No No No No No

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#1 Charles Schwab
Web trading platform
4.3

Charles Schwab offers a good web-based trading platform with a clean design. On the negative side, the platform is not customizable.
Pros Cons
User-friendly Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
Clear fee report
Price alerts
Best online brokers for buy and hold investors in the US - Charles Schwab trading platform
Charles Schwab trading platforms
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Web platform score 4.3 stars 4.0 stars 4.3 stars 4.3 stars 3.5 stars
Mobile platform score 4.2 stars 4.5 stars 4.8 stars 3.3 stars 3.3 stars
Desktop platform score 4.0 stars - 4.5 stars - -

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#1 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 has 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 its trading and non-trading fees are generally low, research tools are great and the account opening is seamless, feel free to try its services.

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.
Overall score 4.9
Recommended for Investors and traders looking for solid research, low fees and great customer service

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E*TRADE Logo

#2 Best online broker for investors
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 customer support

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#2 E*TRADE
Fees

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
Low non-trading fees Higher fees for non-free mutual funds
Free stock and ETF trading
Some mutual funds and bonds are free
E*TRADE fees
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Stock fee class Low Low Low Low Low
USA* $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
Inactivity fee No inactivity fee No inactivity fee No inactivity fee $100 inactivity fee applicable only after several years inactivity No inactivity fee

*Commissions for opening/closing a $2,000 stock/ETF position

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#2 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
No minimum deposit
User-friendly
E*TRADE minimum deposit and time to open an account
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Time to open account 1 day 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days

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#2 E*TRADE
Deposit and withdrawal
2.2

E*TRADE charges no deposit fees, and transferring money is easy. On the flip side, you can only use bank transfer, and a high fee is charged 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
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Bank Transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#2 E*TRADE
Markets and products
3.0

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
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Stock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stock markets (#) 4 5 5 5 5
ETF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No Yes No No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes No No
CFD No No No No No
Crypto No No No No No

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#2 E*TRADE
Web trading platform
4.0

E*TRADE has a great, user-friendly web trading platform, offering a clear fee report among others. On the negative side, it cannot be customized, and doesn't provide two-step login.
Pros Cons
User-friendly No two-step (safer) login
Clear fee report Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
Good search function
Best online brokers for buy and hold investors in the US - E*TRADE trading platform
E*TRADE trading platforms
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Web platform score 4.3 stars 4.0 stars 4.3 stars 4.3 stars 3.5 stars
Mobile platform score 4.2 stars 4.5 stars 4.8 stars 3.3 stars 3.3 stars
Desktop platform score 4.0 stars - 4.5 stars - -

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#2 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 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, customer 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 the SEC and FINRA. The company is listed on NASDAQ and has a banking background.
Overall score 4.8
Recommended for Investors and traders looking for solid research and a great mobile trading platform

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TD Ameritrade Logo

#3 Best online broker for investors
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.

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

#3 TD Ameritrade
Fees

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 mutual funds and futures.
Pros Cons
Low trading fees High fund fees
Low non-trading fees
Free stocks and ETFs
TD Ameritrade fees
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Stock fee class Low Low Low Low Low
USA* $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
Inactivity fee No inactivity fee No inactivity fee No inactivity fee $100 inactivity fee applicable only after several years inactivity No inactivity fee

*Commissions for opening/closing a $2,000 stock/ETF position

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#3 TD Ameritrade
Account opening
3.0

TD Ameritrade offers many different account types, and US citizens face no minimum deposit.
Pros Cons
Fully digital None
No minimum deposit
Many account types
TD Ameritrade minimum deposit and time to open an account
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Time to open account 1 day 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days

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#3 TD Ameritrade
Deposit and withdrawal
2.2

TD Ameritrade has user-friendly account funding 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
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Bank Transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#3 TD Ameritrade
Markets and products
3.9

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
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Stock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stock markets (#) 4 5 5 5 5
ETF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No Yes No No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes No No
CFD No No No No No
Crypto No No No No No

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#3 TD Ameritrade
Web trading platform
4.3

TD Ameritrade offers a good web trading platform with a clean design. On the flip side, the platform is not customizable.
Pros Cons
User-friendly Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
Two-step (safer) login
Good variety of order types
Best online brokers for buy and hold investors in the US - TD Ameritrade trading platform
TD Ameritrade trading platforms
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Web platform score 4.3 stars 4.0 stars 4.3 stars 4.3 stars 3.5 stars
Mobile platform score 4.2 stars 4.5 stars 4.8 stars 3.3 stars 3.3 stars
Desktop platform score 4.0 stars - 4.5 stars - -

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#3 TD Ameritrade
Verdict

TD Ameritrade is one of the biggest US online brokers. Joining the hot trend of introducing commission-free trading at the end of 2019, TD Ameritrade now 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 market.

As TD Ameritrade offers great education tools including a demo account, we encourage you to try it.

TD Ameritrade
Summary TD Ameritrade is a US stockbroker, regulated by top-tier authorities the SEC and FINRA. The company is listed on NASDAQ and has a banking background as part of the TD Group.
Overall score 4.9
Recommended for Investors and traders looking for solid research and a well-equipped desktop trading platform

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Firstrade Logo

#4 Best online broker for investors
Firstrade

4.5

Firstrade is a US discount stockbroker regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The company was founded in 1985 under the name of First Flushing Securities.

Firstrade is considered safe because it has a long track record and is regulated by top-tier regulators.

Recommended for beginners and investors looking for zero-commission trading, focusing on the us market

Pros Cons
Free stock, ETF, fund, and options trading No credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfer
Solid research tools You can trade only on US markets
Quality educational tools No live chat and 24/7 availability

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#4 Firstrade
Fees

Firstrade has low fees. It offers free stock, ETF, funds, and options trading. The non-trading fees are low too. However, the margin rates are high.
Pros Cons
Low trading fees High margin rates
Low non-trading fees
Free stock, ETF, fund and options trading
Firstrade fees
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Stock fee class Low Low Low Low Low
USA* $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
Inactivity fee No inactivity fee No inactivity fee No inactivity fee $100 inactivity fee applicable only after several years inactivity No inactivity fee

*Commissions for opening/closing a $2,000 stock/ETF position

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#4 Firstrade
Account opening
4.4

The account opening is fully digital and user-friendly. Firstrade is available for US and some non-US customers. On the flip side during the test we experienced a slower account opening, that took almost 3 business days.
Pros Cons
Fully digital Slow account verification
No minimum deposit
Low minimum deposit
Firstrade minimum deposit and time to open an account
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Time to open account 1 day 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days

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#4 Firstrade
Deposit and withdrawal
1.8

We liked a lot Firstrade's user-friendly deposit and withdrawal process. There is no deposit fee and transferring money is easy. At the same time, there is still room for improvement. You can use only bank transfer and a high fee is charged for wire transfer withdrawals.
Pros Cons
No deposit fee Credit/Debit card not available
User-friendly High outgoing wire transfer fee
Firstrade withdrawal fee and options
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Bank Transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#4 Firstrade
Markets and products
2.8

Firstrade offers a good variety of asset classes, from stocks to options. However, the offered products cover only the US market and you cannot trade with futures or forex.
Firstrade markets and products
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Stock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stock markets (#) 4 5 5 5 5
ETF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No Yes No No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes No No
CFD No No No No No
Crypto No No No No No

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#4 Firstrade
Web trading platform
4.3

During our testing, we found Firstrade's web platform is simple and easy to use. If you are a beginner, then you can easily navigate it. On the negative side, it lacks a two-step login and the customizability is limited.
Pros Cons
User-friendly No two-step (safer) login
Clear fee report
Good search function
Best online brokers for buy and hold investors in the US - Firstrade trading platform
Firstrade trading platforms
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Web platform score 4.3 stars 4.0 stars 4.3 stars 4.3 stars 3.5 stars
Mobile platform score 4.2 stars 4.5 stars 4.8 stars 3.3 stars 3.3 stars
Desktop platform score 4.0 stars - 4.5 stars - -

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#4 Firstrade
Verdict

Firstrade is one of the biggest discount US stockbrokers regulated by top-tier regulators.

It offers free stock, ETF, mutual funds, and options trading. It doesn't charge inactivity and account fees and there are a lot of quality research and educational tools you can use.

To provide an unbiased picture we have to mention some drawbacks though. Firstrade doesn't provide credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for transferring money. Are you interested only in U.S. market products? If yes, then you will be delighted. Otherwise, you might find insufficient that the product portfolio covers only the US market. The customer service is only 24/5 and you can't contact them via live chat. 

As there are low fees and no inactivity fee is charged, feel free to try Firstrade.

Firstrade
Summary Firstrade is a US discount broker regulated by the top-tier SEC and FINRA.
Overall score 4.5
Recommended for Beginners and investors looking for zero-commission trading, focusing on the US market

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Ally Invest Logo

#5 Best online broker for investors
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.

Recommended for investors and traders looking for low fees and focusing on the us market

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

#5 Ally Invest
Fees

Ally Invest has low trading fees and non-trading fees, including zero base commission on most stocks and ETFs. On the negative side, margin rates are quite high.
Pros Cons
Low trading fees Margin rates could be lower
Low non-trading fees
Zero commission on most stocks and ETFs
Ally Invest fees
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Stock fee class Low Low Low Low Low
USA* $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
Inactivity fee No inactivity fee No inactivity fee No inactivity fee $100 inactivity fee applicable only after several years inactivity No inactivity fee

*Commissions for opening/closing a $2,000 stock/ETF position

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#5 Ally Invest
Account opening
4.4

Account opening is fully digital and user-friendly, and involves no minimum deposit in most cases. On the other hand, account verification takes relatively long.
Pros Cons
Fully digital Slow account verification
Low minimum deposit
Ally Invest minimum deposit and time to open an account
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Time to open account 1 day 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days 1-3 days

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#5 Ally Invest
Deposit and withdrawal
2.6

Ally Invest doesn't charge a deposit fee, and transferring money is easy. On the other hand, you can use only bank transfer, and wire transfer withdrawals are expensive.
Pros Cons
No deposit fee Credit/Debit card not available
User-friendly High outgoing wire transfer fee
Free ACH withdrawal
Ally Invest withdrawal fee and options
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Bank Transfer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No No No
Electronic wallets No No No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

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#5 Ally Invest
Markets and products
2.9

At Ally Invest you can trade various asset classes from stocks to options. On the negative side, it covers only the US market, and futures or forex trading is not possible.
Ally Invest markets and products
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Stock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stock markets (#) 4 5 5 5 5
ETF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No Yes No No
Fund Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes No No
CFD No No No No No
Crypto No No No No No

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#5 Ally Invest
Web trading platform
3.5

Ally Invest's web trading platform is user-friendly, with a convenient search function. On the negative side, there is no clear fee report, and we also missed two-step login.
Pros Cons
User-friendly No clear fee report available
Good search function No two-step (safer) login
Good customizability (for charts, workspace)
Best online brokers for buy and hold investors in the US - Ally Invest trading platform
Ally Invest trading platforms
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Web platform score 4.3 stars 4.0 stars 4.3 stars 4.3 stars 3.5 stars
Mobile platform score 4.2 stars 4.5 stars 4.8 stars 3.3 stars 3.3 stars
Desktop platform score 4.0 stars - 4.5 stars - -

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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.

Ally Invest
Summary Ally Invest is a US stockbroker, regulated by top-tier authorities the SEC and FINRA. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and has a banking background.
Overall score 4.7
Recommended for Investors and traders looking for low fees and focusing on the US market

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Best online brokers for buy and hold investors in the US
What makes a good online broker

Now you know the top 5. You are probably curious about how we came up with this list. Let's go through a few points quickly. What is an online broker? Why do we think these brokers are safe? What are the most important factors when selecting the best online brokers?

What is an online broker?

Thirty years ago if you wanted to buy a stock, you had to pick up the phone and call your broker, who executed the transaction in return for a commission. Brokers were like in the Wolf of Wall Street movie. They were checking the stocks' prices while holding a telephone and shouting. Everything changed after the internet appeared. Nowadays if you want to buy Apple shares, you open online an account, deposit money, and make the order through the brokers' online platform. These brokers are the online brokers. Online brokers help you buying and selling securities, like stocks. After making your order, the online broker executes it immediately. Everything is online.

Are these brokers safe?

Yes, they are considered safe. You can be sure none of them is a scam. They are regulated by top-tier regulators. Some of them are also listed on an exchange, and some have a banking background.

However, also brokerage companies can go down. Remember Lehman Brothers? In these cases, it is important to know what happens with your securities and cash. These are usually held in segregated accounts, so even in case of a broker bankruptcy, you are safe.

If everything goes very bad and for example, the broker steals your assets, then you have a last resort, the compensation fund of the country where the broker is regulated.

How did BrokerChooser pick the best international online brokers for a citizen in the US?

At BrokerChooser we test online brokers along ~100 criteria, with a real account and real money. Not to overwhelm you we list the five most important criteria.

The 5 most important criteria for online brokers are:

5 important criteria for the best international online brokers
1. Fees The trading fee of a typical US equity trade can be 50 times higher at one online broker compared to another. Worth to check the fees.
2. Account opening Some online brokers require a minimum to invest, others don't set a minimal first-time deposit. Check out what the best online brokers require.
3. Deposit and withdrawal Transferring money to your account can be 5 times longer and more expensive at one online broker compared to another.
4. Products and markets You want to invest in Amazon and Bitcoin? They might not be available. Check the product coverage before opening an account.
5. Trading platform A user-friendly and well-equipped trading platform can significantly increase your trading comfort.

Best online brokers for buy and hold investors in the US
Bottom line

You saw the details, now let's zoom out. Here are the best online brokers for buy and hold investors in the US:

Best online brokers for buy and hold investors in the US
Charles Schwab E*TRADE TD Ameritrade Firstrade Ally Invest
Overall score 4.9 4.8 4.9 4.5 4.7
Award Best desktop trading platform Best broker for funds
Stock fee class Low Low Low Low Low
Account opening score 4.5 stars 4.4 stars 3.0 stars 4.4 stars 4.4 stars
Deposit and withdrawal score 2.2 stars 2.2 stars 2.2 stars 1.8 stars 2.6 stars
Markets and products score 3.3 stars 3.0 stars 3.9 stars 2.8 stars 2.9 stars
Web platform score 4.3 stars 4.0 stars 4.3 stars 4.3 stars 3.5 stars
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Charles Schwab is our winner, the best online broker for long term investing in the US. Free stock and ETF trading. Outstanding research. Great customer service.

All 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? Use the broker finder and find the best online 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

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