- Transparent and low cost fees –
- Technology/Charting –
- Solid mobile app –
- Decent web platform –
- Great customer service –
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Little known secret: when I’m not reviewing things for you guys, my other full-time job is as a commodity futures trader. As such, I have spent a lot of times over the years testing a variety of different trading platforms.
What’s amazing is that it used to be where you could only get access to the best technology if you were an institutional trader managing hundred of millions of dollars. But thanks to heavy investment in R&D by the likes of TD Ameritrade, TradeStation and Interactive Brokers, among others, even retail investors now have access to all the best tools a trader could want for free.
While Vanguard remains our clear choice for best online broker for those looking for the simplest solution to manage their long-term savings, TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim is our top pick for us for those investors/traders who are more active and would like the best tools at their disposal.
Check out the FAQ section below for a more detailed breakdown of all the various features that TD Ameritrade offers. All-in, we think its simple/intuitive user interface, solid mobile app, strong customer service and wide array of research/education tools makes it the best overall choice for shorter-term oriented traders focusing on stocks and ETFs. For those who heavily trade options we recommend using Robinhood while those who trade futures we recommend using Interactive Brokers.
Whatever your feelings about Robinhood (this is likely inversely correlated to your age), we all should be thanking them (and their venture capital investors) for helping to really ignite the now ubiquitous movement towards commission free equity and ETF trading. But it wasn’t just costs which fueled its meteoric rise in popularity, particularly amongst the youngest investors. The designers and developers managed to put together a pretty impressive and easy to use app/platform. If you are purely stock, options or crypto trading for your own account, Robinhood is a solid choice. Especially considering that they pay some of the highest interest rates for cash deposits in the industry. They are also one of the few out there who offer completely commission free options trading.
I don’t have the trust in the platform, yet, to use it for larger accounts. But if you are starting out as an investor and are looking for the quickest learning curve, Robinhood might be the easiest of them all. Keep in mind that nothing is truly free. Robinhood makes money through various other methods such as selling your order flow. Unless you’re a high volume trader, you probably won’t notice much of an impact but they aren’t running the company for charity.