Savings accounts and company-provided 401(k) accounts only go so far when it comes to your financial future.
If you want to gain wealth, ensure you have enough to retire (maybe even early!), or simply create a diverse financial portfolio, you must understand the importance of sound investments.
A variety of investment options are available. The hard part is deciding which platform to use. Experts consider these some of the top investment sites in the industry.
1. TD Ameritrade
Offering 24-hour trading five days a week, TD Ameritrade features data streaming in real-time, one-click trading, and customizable charts. One of its most popular features is its paperMoney tool.
The investing tool allows users to test trading strategies before using them in real-time, a great option for beginners who are still learning what works. TD Ameritrade provides an affordable platform, charging $0 for stock trades, ETFs, and load mutual funds, and $49.99 for no-load funds.
SoFi is popular among beginner traders thanks to its easy-to-use platform and affordable pricing. Starting with the platform costs as little as $1 with no trade commission fees or recurring fees for keeping an account.
SoFi even offers a fee-free portfolio option that picks and manages your investments for you. Other features of SoFi’s application include categorized stocks and investment education articles. Members can also participate in complimentary financial planning sessions, making it an excellent choice for new traders.
Managing more than $2.5 trillion in assets, Fidelity is one of the largest brokerages on the list. It started as a mutual fund family and still specializes in that asset, but has branched out to include more services as well.
Fidelity allows virtual trading of all assets, although its own Fidelity Funds are most popular. Their fees are low at just $4.95 per trade for options, ETFs, and stocks, and $49.95 per mutual fund commission. Fidelity provides traders with Active Trader Pro, a platform rich in educational resources and trading tools.
An up-and-comer on the list, E*TRADE made waves when it purchased OptionsHouse in 2017. It kept most of the original platform intact but added additional services.
In addition to options, E*TRADE provides more than 9,000 mutual funds, nearly half of which are no-load funds with no transaction fees. Even its fee-based trading is quite affordable at only $19.99 per mutual fund trade. E*TRADE offers 24/7 customer service via live chat, email, or phone.
5. Ally Invest
For someone who is new to investing and doesn’t know much about the process, a simple, straightforward investment platform like Ally Invest is a strong choice.
The mobile app offers commission-free stock and ETF trading, mutual fund trading for a $9.95 commission, and no minimum balance or recurring fee requirements. The easy-to-navigate application works well for people who are are just learning how to trade or those who are only interested in passive investing.
6. Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab has been a mainstay in the financial industry for decades, but as it adds services, it becomes a better option for new investors in today’s technology-driven world. New traders can find some of the best educational resources available on the internet, not to mention access to products that range from stocks and bonds to mutual funds.
Most trades are only $4.95 each. One way Charles Schwab truly stands out is by providing a fee-free robo-advisor platform that lets traders invest in as many as 20 different asset classes. Customer service is available 24/7.
Perhaps one of the better-known names on this list, even among non-investors, is Acorns. The popular app is perfect for people who want to invest without doing all the work alone. Acorns takes care of everything for just $1 a month.
It works by using spare change in the form of transaction round-ups or via automated transfers. Keep in mind that you’ll pay a monthly fee no matter what, and some features charge as much as $5 per month.
8. Merrill Edge
Seamless integration with Bank of America accounts holders is just one of the many benefits provided by Merrill Edge. Accounts holders receive free trades through its Preferred Rewards Program. Non-holders pay $6.95 per ETF and stock trade; however, there is also access to more than 3,000 fee-free mutual funds.
Traders who do not want digital advice won’t need to meet an account minimum. On the other end of the scale, personal financial advisors are available for traders who meet a $20,000 minimum. Other services include beginner education articles and videos. There are even online courses with educational quizzes for those who want to become investment experts.
While many of the names on this list focus on generalized investments or mutual funds, Public takes aim at helping new investors who want to learn more about the stock market. The application blends traditional investment features with social media features based on Facebook and Twitter.
The result is a unique investment app that appeals to young investors who are just starting out. Users can buy into fractional shares for just $5 and learn how to improve their investment strategies along the way.
New traders who don’t know where to start or don’t have the time to do a lot of research on their own may find what they need in Betterment. This robo-advisor doesn’t require an account minimum and only charges an annual fee of 0.25%.
The platform sets up an ETF portfolio to match your goals, and you can then tweak anything you don’t like. Traders whose accounts reach $100,000 can access CFP professionals for an additional 0.4% annually. Extensive education isn’t available with this platform, but those who are more interested in returns than in becoming experts aren’t likely to consider this a downfall.
Whether you’re looking to do some casual stock trading or want to plan ahead for a strong retirement fund, one thing is certain: Understanding how the economy works and which investments are best is essential. Be sure to check out more tips for managing money after setting up your investments!