What Do Online Discount Brokers Do?

The world of online trading is one that’s opened up new possibilities for a broader population of people, particularly those people searching for not only the overall best brokerage accounts but also the best discount brokers.

Before going into the specifics of the best discount brokers and how to open a discount brokerage account, it’s useful first to consider what an online brokerage account is.

A brokerage account is an investment account that allows the account holder to buy and sell not only stocks but also things like bonds, mutual funds, and currency. A brokerage account, unlike retirement accounts such as an IRA, is taxable, but with interest rates so low, many people opt to invest rather than storing all of their idle money in a savings or money market account.

Best Discount Brokers

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Discount Brokers

Online brokers are an excellent way for everyone from novice to experienced traders to handle their investments quickly, easily, and conveniently. Online trading is also ideal for many people because of the availability of the best brokerage accounts that are also considered discount brokers.

The following ranking and review focuses specifically on discount brokerage firms and discount brokerage account options. It ranks the best discount brokers and the best brokerage accounts and details reasons why these online discount brokers were included in this ranking.

This guide is intended to serve as an excellent reference for anyone who wants to not only see the best discount brokers but also begin investing online with these best brokerage accounts.

What Are the Advantages of Trading Online?

The names of the best discount brokers and the best brokerage accounts on this ranking are online trading platforms. You may be wondering why not only finding the best discount brokerage firms but going with the best online discount brokers can be advantageous.

First and foremost, it’s fast and simple. When you open an online account with one of the best discount brokers on this ranking, you don’t have to leave your home or office to make trades. You don’t even have to make a phone call to do so.

Best Brokerage Accounts

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You can make trades with a few clicks when you work with the best discount broker, and, in general, even if you’re not specifically looking for the best discount brokerage firms, trading online is going to be cheaper than working with an in-person brokerage firm.

Other advantages of choosing online discount brokers include:

  • As an investor, you have more control over what’s happening with your account when you work with the best online discount brokers
  • You can make transactions quickly which can be good if you want to maintain control
  • Working with online discount brokers allows for real-time investment monitoring
  • These discount brokers often feature a range of analysis and research tools, allowing traders to make more informed, educated decisions

What Are the Costs Associated with the Best Brokerage Accounts?

One of the primary ways the best discount brokerage firms vary from other trading firms, online or otherwise, is in the price.

The following are some of the fees and costs you can expect with the best brokerage accounts:

  • Fees which can include fees for each trade, a broker-assisted fee, and an account maintenance fee. Other possible costs could include extra fees for research and data, fees for inactivity, and annual fees.
  • Commissions are charged on almost every trade, and even the best discount brokers will typically charge some commission, but that’s one of the key areas of distinction used to create this ranking of the best discount brokerage firms.
  • Trade frequency can impact the costs. For example, some of the discount brokerage firms on this list will offer volume discounts on commissions and fees for frequent traders.
  • There may also be a minimum deposit requirement which you’ll notice as you look for the best discount broker. Some of the minimums can be upwards of $2,500 while other top discount brokers may not have any minimum deposit requirement.

How Should You Choose the Best Discount Broker?

Beyond considering the costs, including the account fees and minimum deposit requirements, you may be wondering how to choose the best discount broker for you.

First, look at the investments you’ll use most often and ensure they’re offered by the discount stock brokers you’re looking at, and also that the fees are reasonable for these particular investments. Some of the most common investments include stocks, mutual funds, bonds, ETFs, and options.

When you’re comparing the best discount brokerage firms and looking for online discount brokers, it’s also important to choose a platform that meets your needs in terms of style and technology. You may want to find discount stock brokers that offer a lot of guidance and help if you’re a new trader.

On the other hand, if you have a lot of experience in trading, you may simply want a streamlined platform that lets you quickly and easily make decisions and trades. You may also want a platform that supports frequency.

Finally, often, online discount brokers will offer various promotions, discounts, and deals, so you may want to consider these offerings before making a final decision on the best discount brokerage for your trading needs.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of Top 6 Best Discount Brokerage Firms

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the brokerage names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that best discount broker):

Top 6 Best Discount Brokers | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Discount Broker

Stock Commissions

Account Minimum to Open


Capital One Investing

$6.95 per trade


Up to $600 bonus (depending on deposit or rollover amount)


$3.00 per trade




$9.99 or $7.99 with 150+ traders per quarter


Up to $2,500 in cash and 500 commission-free trades (depending on deposit amount)

Interactive Brokers

$0.005 per share with a minimum of $1 and a maximum of 0.5% of trade value



Robin Hood




Trade King

$4.95 per trade


$1,000 in free trades with $5,000 or more funded in new account

Table: Top 6 Best Discount Brokers | Above list is sorted alphabetically

AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology

What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the credit cards, financial products, firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top rated lists?

Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.

Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Discount Brokerage Firms

Below, please find a detailed review of each account on our list of the top discount brokers.We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these discount brokerage firms to score so well in our selection ranking.

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Capital One Investing Review

Capital One Investing is an investment platform from Capital One, known primarily for its credit card offerings and online-based Capital One 360 banking services and products. Capital One Investing is designed to offer flexibility and financial freedom for clients, with options that range from working with a financial advisor to independent online investing.

Regarding independent online investing, Capital One Investing excels not only in terms of pricing – which is why it’s part of this ranking of the best discount brokers – but also because of efficient trading technology and accessibility. Capital One Investing was formerly known as ShareBuilder.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as a Best Discount Broker

The below list highlights some of the reasons Capital One Investing is ranked as one of the best online discount brokers and one of the overall best discount brokerage firms.

User-Friendly Design

When investors are looking fo the best discount broker and the best brokerage account, one of the big factors that can set a discount broker apart is the design of the site. Site design dictates how user-friendly the trading experience is and how much value a person can get from the brokerage.

Capital One Investing excels with its user-friendly design. The design is clean and free of clutter as well as being easy to navigate.

It was actually ranked as the number one site regarding design and usability for three consecutive years by Corporate Insight.

Pricing and Promotion

Since this is a ranking of discount brokers, pricing is, of course, a key consideration in the selection of the discount stock brokers to include on this review.

First, Capital One Investing features pricing that’s not only low but also straightforward. Online equity trades are only $6.95.

In addition to this, other trades are also competitively priced, and Capital One has a current promotion for clients who open and fund a new online account. They can qualify to get up to a $600 bonus, depending on the amount they deposit, transfer or roll over. For example, with a deposit, transfer or rollover of $200,000, account holders get the $600 bonus while deposits of $100,000 get the $300 bonus.

Best Discount Brokers

Image Source: Capital One Investing

Free Online Research

Almost every online brokerage is going to include access to some level of information, research, and analysis, but what frequently sets the best discount brokers apart is the fact that they provide this information for free to clients.

This is the case with Capital One Investing.

There is a library of research and information that clients can quickly access to get the information they need to make factually-based decisions.

Each of the securities has a dedicated research center, and it’s easy to look at current market conditions to see how securities could be impacted. There are Morningstar ratings and reports available as well as Markit Research Team Consensus reports which consolidate ratings and analysis from up to 13 providers in one centralized package.

Capital One Investing also features research tools, such as the Investment Screener that quickly searches for investments to fit your strategy and the Fund Evaluator which lets clients see critical information on any no-load fund offered by Capital One.


Capital One Investing is one of the leading discount brokers offering the best brokerage accounts not only because of low prices, research tools, and an easy-to-use website, but it also offers some of the most advanced mobile apps so that traders can monitor their accounts on the go.

Capital One offers a free smartphone app that includes features that let traders place trades, view their watch list, get quotes, and more.

There is also an Apple iPad app that’s free and includes the ability to customize the trading dashboard and access comprehensive analysis and research. Furthermore, the iPad app includes research on 16 global exchanges.

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eOption Review

eOption is consistently ranked by various financial and media outlets as one of the best discount broker options available. This online brokerage is designed to provide convenience and an intuitive service that includes stocks, options, and a range of diverse investment products. eOption is included in this discount broker ranking because the platform combines not only low trade fees but also great tools and insights.

eOption was created in 2007 with the goal of offering low-cost trades and efficient execution. The low commission rates offered by this best discount brokerage let investors maintain higher yields than they would with a more expensive brokerage.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Discount Brokers

Among discount stock brokers, the following are key reasons eOption is ranked as an option as one of the best brokerage accounts.

Deep Discounts

Of course, since this is a ranking of discount brokerage firms, pricing is extremely important and was one of the primary factors used in the ranking of eOption as a best discount broker. eOption actually has some of the lowest prices available, even among the other names on this list of the best discount brokerage firms and the best online discount brokers.

To begin, the commission is only $3 per stock or options trade and $0.15 per options contract.

Even if a client wants to add broker assistance, the cost is only an additional $6. This is in comparison to a leading company like Fidelity, with the base commission price of $7.95+$0.75 per contract and a fee of $32.95 for adding broker assistance.

Tools and Insight

eOption is a discount broker, but as one of the best discount brokers this doesn’t mean clients have to sacrifice on available features and offerings, including tools, commentary, and insights.

For example, clients have access to Daily Market Commentary, designed to show them what’s driving the market on any given day. This includes economic news analysis, earnings reports, technical analysis, and political influences. This is all posted about 90 minutes after opening every trading day.

There’s also the eOption Trading Blog which is ideal for new and experienced traders providing general market and trading analysis as well as news stories.

Also available to clients of this discount broker when they open a discount brokerage account are quotes, news, and research to help them find investment opportunities.

Flexible Choices

eOption is a great discount broker and an option for the best brokerage accounts if you’re not only looking for low prices and innovative research and analysis but also flexible choices and options.

Some of the trading options available from this best discount brokerage include:

  • Auto Trading: With Auto Trading, clients of this discount broker can execute trades automatically based on newsletter trade alerts.
  • eOption Mobile: This platform is designed to provide account control and visibility on the go. It includes account access, trading and order status of stocks, ETFs, and options. It also boasts integrated market data.
  • Direct Access Trading Platforms; This includes full features in the form of an advanced-browser-based option or a professional trading platform offered in real-time.

Low Initial Deposit

Much like everything else with eOption, this discount broker makes it easy to open an account. Customers can visit the website to open an account as well as on their mobile device. They just need a few pieces of information to get started.

Once the account is funded, there are a range of ways to fund it. This includes ACH (electronic transfer), check, account transfer from an existing brokerage firm, and depositing funds and securities in the form of a stock certificate.

As well as simplicity, when an investor opens a new account with eOption, it only requires a $500 minimum deposit.

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E*TRADE Review

As one of the most well-known names on this ranking of the best discount broker options, E*TRADE offers not only discount brokerage account products but also a range of investment accounts, various platforms, and advanced trading tools. E*TRADE is a pioneer in the field of online brokerages, and the company executed the very first electronic trade more than 30 years ago.

Since E*TRADE specializes in the digital trading experience, it has some of the most robust and advanced tools and features available, and the digital platform has won numerous awards throughout the years.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as a Best Discount Broker

Among discount brokers, E*TRADE excels as a best discount brokerage and for offering the best brokerage accounts for reasons listed below.


As one of the leading discount stock brokers, when you open one of the discount brokerage account options from E*TRADE, you’re going to have access to excellent promotions. In fact, E*TRADE offers some of the best promotions of any of the best discount brokerage firms included in this ranking.

Currently, when people deposit or transfer money to a new account, they can receive cashback bonuses based on the amount of that deposit. For example, with deposits or transfers of $25,000 to $99,000, new account holders can receive $200 and free trades. The cashback bonus goes up to $2,500 and also includes free trades for deposits or transfers of $1 million or more.

Customers receive up to 500 free trade commissions for each stock or options trade executed within 60 days of deposited funds being made available for investment in a new account.

Best Discount Brokerage Firms

Image Source: Etrade

High-Volume Trading

E*TRADE is one of the best discount broker options for high-volume traders, although it’s not as good a value for traders who are occasional in their approach – this is an important distinction to be noted as you’re looking at this ranking of the best discount brokerage firms and the best online discount brokers.

While E*TRADE does charge a $9.99 commission for stock and options trades, it gives a $2 discount for clients who make at least 150 trades per quarter. That means if you are a high-volume trader, you only pay $7.99 for trades. The same goes for ETFs, and E*TRADE also offers more than 100 commission-free ETFs.

For mutual funds, the prices vary, but there are more than 2,500 funds that are no-load and have no transaction fee.

Also, as an additional note, the minimum amount required to open an account with E*TRADE is only $500.


Not every name on this ranking of the leading discount stock brokers and discount brokerage account options offers the opportunity to receive personalized advice, but E*TRADE does. This is something some consumers prefer as they search for the top discount brokers, particularly if they’re new traders.

While you don’t have to take advantage of this option with E*TRADE, knowing that personalized advice is available can create a sense of peace of mind for some clients.

When clients have a question or need help, they can directly contact E*TRADE and receive answers to their questions and the information they’re looking for.

Other Advantages

Along with discounted prices on volume trading, the availability of personalized advice and guidance and introductory promotional offers, the following are some reasons E*TRADE is included on this list of the best discount brokers and the best brokerage accounts.

  • Traders get access to research and tools that are free and independent, including streaming Level II stock quotes and screeners
  • Traders can get access to their accounts and information in the format they prefer from website to mobile and even the E*TRADE Pro platform
  • There are many investment choices available with E*TRADE. These include stocks, bonds, options, ETFs, and mutual funds all in a streamlined, easily manageable brokerage account

Interactive Brokers Review

Interactive Brokers has frequently been named not only as an excellent choice among discount brokers but as an overall leader in terms of online trading. Interactive Brokers has been recognized by the likes of the WSL Awards to Barron’s for its retail platform, innovation, and overall offerings.

IB is included on this list of the best discount brokers and the leading discount brokerage account options because it specializes in helping traders lower their costs to maximize their return. Its fees are low and transparent, making it an excellent choice for anyone searching for the best discount brokerage firms.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Discount Brokerage Firms

When compared to online discount brokers, the following are reasons Interactive Brokers is included in this ranking of the best discount brokers.

Lower Costs and Higher Returns

The primary goal of IB is to be a best discount broker so that clients can get excellent products, service, and technology while also maximizing their returns.

IB features small commissions, no ticket charges, no minimums, and no fees for technology, software, platforms or reporting. There are also low financing rates and higher loan values on portfolio margin accounts over $100,000.

To give an idea of the prices offered by this leader among discount brokerage firms, IB’s commission pricing is $0.005 per share, with a minimum of $1 and a maximum of 0.5% of the trade value.

Sophisticated Technology

Just because you’re searching for the best discount broker and the best brokerage accounts at lowest costs doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice service or technology. IB excels in its technological offerings which are robust and sophisticated.

Its trading platforms allow clients to optimize their efficiency and the speed at which they can make trades with the Trader Workstation. IB accounts can be traded on the go with mobile options, and the HTML-based WebTrader is ideal for traders who want security, simplicity, and a clean interface design.

There are also Option Labs and advanced trading tools to help clients discover the best strategies in a straightforward way.

Risk Management

IB features the IB Risk Navigator which is another unique element of the distinctive technology that led this online platform to be included in this ranking of the best discount brokerage firms and the best brokerage accounts.

The IB Risk Navigator is a real-time risk management platform that shows risk exposure on a global level and across asset classes.

It features an easy-to-read spreadsheet interface and the option to look at an overview as well as go into more detailed reports.

Clients can view their entire risk in one number; create hypotheticals; look at custom, complex scenarios; and see how their capital is being allocated day to day or down to the minute.

Discount Brokers

Image Source: Interactive Brokers

Traders’ University

When all fees are included, Interactive Brokers is one of the least expensive platforms on this list of the best brokerage accounts and the best discount brokerage firms.

In addition, it also features some of the most extensive research and education tools.

For example, Traders’ University has information about products, services, and general trading that are ideal for anyone from new traders to highly experienced traders. The learning categories focused on in Traders’ University include introduction topics, trading, products, reporting, and account management.

The format for courses includes live webinars, interactive courses, user guides, apps and tools, recorded webinars, and short videos.

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Robinhood Review

Robinhood is perhaps one of the most unique options on our list of discount brokers and best discount brokerage account options. The company is based on a set of values and has a mission of “democratizing access to the financial markets.” It boasts well-engineered systems as well as an approach based on simplicity.

Robinhood also defines its mission as helping a new generation take more ownership of their financial future and wealth creation, contributing to a reduction in the gap between the wealthy and everyone else. Robinhood was created by two Stanford graduates who built trading platforms for some of the world’s largest financial institutions.

Discount Broker

Image Source: Robinhood

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Discount Brokers

Robinhood is one of the best discount brokers with some of the best brokerage accounts, and features that resulted in its ranking on this list are highlighted below.

Free Trading

All of the names on this list of the top discount brokers, best online discount brokers, and best discount brokerage account options have low costs associated with them. Even the names on this ranking of discount brokers that might have higher commission fees have valuable promotions and discounts for volume trading.

Despite the benefits of all of the other online discount brokers on this ranking, Robinhood is unique even from those platforms because it features free stock trading.

There are no commissions charged when you trade with Robinhood, and this is in large part due to the model of this discount broker platform that focuses on cutting out the overhead costs that can make other brokerages expensive to use.

Fast Execution

Along with free trading, this best discount broker also offers many other benefits including rapid execution. The idea behind the technology and design of Robinhood is that even a fraction of a second can make a difference when you’re looking at a profit or a loss.

It has a specialized low-latency trading system that’s used by some of the largest financial institutions in the world.

This means self-directed orders are going to get the fastest and best possible trade execution.

You can also create smart notifications where Robinhood will let you know ahead of time if events are coming up, such as earnings, dividends or splits.

Robinhood Gold

Robinhood has vowed that free trades won’t ever go away since that is the primary tenant of its company, but it has recently introduced something called Robinhood Gold. Available from this leader among discount stock brokers, Robinhood Gold is an advanced version of the traditional Robinhood platform.

It provides advanced, powerful tools for more experienced investors.

It has features such as more buying power and extended trading power, and it is available with a flat price charged monthly as opposed to investors having to pay each time they make a trade or having to pay unclear fees.

With Robinhood Gold, investors using this best discount brokerage can invest more and enjoy more flexibility in how they manage their cash. There are also options to withdraw cash from the account for day-to-day spending without having to sell.

Account Minimum

If cost is your primary concern as you look at discount stock brokers and discount brokerage firms, Robinhood might be one of your best options, even compared to all of the top discount brokers on this ranking.

In addition to free trades, when you set up a Robinhood account, there is no minimum deposit requirement so it’s great if you’re just getting started with trading and you don’t want to put in a large upfront investment to your account.

Also, it takes only four minutes to sign up, and all of your trading and investment activities are managed on your mobile device, giving you complete control and visibility.

TradeKing Review

TradeKing is one of the best discount brokerage firms offering some of the best brokerage accounts if you want inexpensive trading options. TradeKing features pricing that it describes as being fair and straightforward, so you always know what you’re going to be paying ahead of time when you go with this best discount brokerage. TradeKing is also named as a best discount broker because it has excellent customer service.

TradeKing is a discount broker offering not only discount brokerage account options but also managed portfolios and retirement account options as well as extensive research, tools, and educational resources.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Discount Brokers

When looking at the best online discount brokers, the following are specifics that indicate why TradeKing is included in this ranking of discount brokerage firms.

Simple, Fair Pricing

As mentioned in the introduction to the TradeKing review, this leader among discount stock brokers and more specifically online discount brokers is included in this ranking because of its simple, fair pricing structure that’s also highly transparent.

Traders pay only $4.95 for stock and ETF trades, and there are no account minimums. Options trades are also $4.95 with an additional 65 cents per contract, regardless of how many legs a strategy has.

There are also frequent promotions offered. For example, right now, new members can join commission-free when they fund a new account with $5,000 or more. They can use a promo code to get $1,000 in free trade commission.

Customer Service

Sometimes, discount brokers and online discount brokers don’t necessarily have high-quality customer service, but this isn’t the case with TradeKing which was a big reason for its inclusion in this ranking of the best discount brokerage firms.

This discount broker features award-winning customer service that’s been rated as number one by SmartMoney several years in a row.

TradeKing employs a team of expert brokers so that even complicated questions can be answered. There is simplicity in the phone service offered to TradeKing traders, and traders can also access brokers through live online chat or emails.


As well as pricing, TradeKing is part of this list of leading discount brokerage firms and discount stock brokers because of its extensive selection of tools that can help traders of all experience levels.

As soon as someone opens a new account, he or she gets instant access to these award-winning research and trading tools.

Some of the tools available to traders using this discount broker include:

  • Options Pricing Calculator
  • Probability calculator
  • Profit and loss calculator
  • Options and strategy scanners
  • Stock, ETF and mutual fund screeners
  • Maxit Tax Manager
  • Technical Analysis
  • TradeKing LIVE


As well as leading the way with its pricing, TradeKing is one of the best discount brokers with some of the best brokerage accounts because of its emphasis on security. Security and privacy are a top priority with TradeKing.

It is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) which includes additional insurance at no extra cost to the trader.

Other elements of the security protection offered by TradeKing, a best discount brokerage, include:

  • Firewalls and SSL technology
  • Limit on failed login attempts
  • Customized automatic logoff
  • Account privacy and security policies and procedures

Conclusion—Top 6 Best Discount Brokers

The above ranking includes the names of the best discount brokerage firms and, more specifically, the best online discount brokers.

The following is a summary of what makes each of these best discount brokers an excellent choice for a diverse range of traders.

  • Capital One Investing: This discount broker features straightforward pricing, a user-friendly design, and a great promotional bonus offer.
  • E*TRADE: While this online broker features more expensive commissions than the other names on this list, it’s included because it’s one of the best discount stock brokers for volume traders. It’s also good in terms of being a best discount broker because of the wide selection of no-fee mutual funds.
  • eOption: Among the best brokerage accounts and online discount brokers, eOption excels because of its simplicity, low costs, and options.
  • Interactive Brokers: IB is one of the ideal discount stock brokers because of its advanced technology and education resources as well as the fact that it’s ideal for volume trading.
  • Robinhood: This innovative app is one of the best discount brokers, thanks to its straightforward, mobile-based platform as well as the fact that trading is free.
  • TradeKing: TradeKing offers simple, low pricing and great account security as well as some of the best customer service of any of the top discount brokers included in this ranking.

Now that you have a thorough overview of some of the best discount brokers out there, you can use this guide to determine which option will best fit your financial priorities. Whether it’s pricing, security or selection, we’re sure that you’ll be satisfied with any one of the top options provided in this article.

AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

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