List Of Frequently Recommended Brokerage Firms

by Econ0mist

Only firms that allow customers to purchase their own securities are listed here. So the list excludes robo-advisors.

Name Minimum investment Low-cost, no commission ETFs Low-cost, no commission mutual funds Low-cost, no commission target date funds Customer service Banking services Signup bonus
Charles Schwab $1000, or $0 for brokerage w/ checking, or $100/month SCHB, SCHF, SCHZ and more SWTSX, SWISX, SWAGX and more ($1 minimum) Target date funds ($1 minimum) Branches, email, live chat, and 24/7 phone support Online checking with ATM rebates, free checks, no FX fees Yes
Chase Private Client (self directed) $250,000 across all accounts None Dozens(includes Vanguard and Fidelity funds) Yes (includes Vanguard and Fidelity funds) Branches, email, and 24/7 phone support Concierge banking with discounts and fee waivers No
E-Trade $500 ($0 for IRAs) ITOT, IXUS, IUSB and more SWTSX, SWISX, SWAGX ($1 minimum) None Branches, email, live chat, and 24/7 phone support Online checking with ATM rebates ($50,000 required) Yes
Fidelity $0 ITOT, IXUS, IUSB and more FSTMX, FTIGX, FBIDX and more ($2500 minimum or $200/month; lower costs with $10,000 minimum) Target date funds ($2500 minimum or $200/month) Branches, email, live chat, and 24/7 phone support Cash management account with ATM rebates and free checks No
Merrill Edge $0 Monthly free trades with $50,000+ None None Branches, email, and 24/7 phone support BofA fee waivers and credit card bonuses through Preferred Rewards Yes
Robinhood $0 (does not offer IRAs) Unlimited free trades None None Email only None Referral bonus
TD Ameritrade $0 SPTM, SPDW, SPAB and more PREIX, None, None ($2500 minimum; lower costs with $10,000 minimum; limited selection) None Branches, email, live chat, and 24/7 phone support Cash management account with ATM rebates and free checks Yes
USAA $2500 for Fidelity index funds; limited membership None FSTMX, FTIGX, FBIDX and more (lower costs with $10,000 minimum) Target date funds Email and phone support except Sundays Online checking with ATM rebates and free checks No
Vanguard $0 VTI, VXUS, BND and more VTSMX, VGTSX, VBMFX and more ($3000 minimum for most funds; lower costs with $10,000 minimum) Target date funds ($1000 minimum) and target risk funds($3000 minimum) Email and phone support 8am-10pm EST M-F Online checking with $500,000; fees waived with $1,000,000 No

Notes:

  • List is in alphabetical order.
  • “Low-cost” means that the mutual fund or ETF charges a net expense ratio of 0.25% or less
  • Recommended ETFs and mutual funds are given in the following order: US stocks, International stocks, US bonds
  • The US stock recommendation must be at least as diversified as the S&P 500 index.
  • The International stock recommendation must be at least as diversified as the MSCI EAFE index.
  • The US bond recommendation must be an intermediate-term fund at least as diversified as the Barclays US aggregate bond index.
  • For all ETFs, the minimum investment is 1 share, usually $20-$200.
  • All listed brokerage firms charge $0 annual fees or maintenance fees, provided minimum balances are met. Vanguard waives annual fees with electronic statement delivery, $10,000 of Vanguard funds per account, or $50,000 of total assets.
  • Brokerages that provide free trades also offer commission-free access to all ETFs
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