7 Best Online Brokers for Stock Trading and More: Brokerages with Business Accounts


Trying to find the right online stock broker for your small business can feel overwhelming. After all, if they all get you access to the same stocks, why are there so many different options? And when so many offer “commission-free” online trading, how are you supposed to choose?

We get it. But we also get what the key differences are between brokers, and we get why those differences matter. So we’re going to break down those key differences to help you find the right online broker for you.

A word of caution

Trading on the stock market is often not a great financial decision for small businesses.

The market is volatile, and you’re risking your business’s hard-earned cash. A high-yield savings account may offer lower potential returns, but your money will be safer.

Even if you do get good returns in the long run, the money you put into the market is money you’re not using to build your business through other means (from buying equipment to marketing to hiring). Wouldn’t you rather invest in your own business’s success than someone else’s?

That said, plenty of small-business owners want to know about their stock trading options. We’ve created this guide (and others) to help answer their questions. But we urge you to think long and hard (and maybe talk to a financial advisor) before you use your precious working capital on stock trading.

Compare the best online brokers
FeatureTD AmeritradeFirstradeInteractive BrokersTradestationZacks Trade
Account minimum$0 $0 $0 $0 $2,500
Maintenance feesN/AN/A$0–$10N/AN/A
Stocks
ETFs
Options
Mutual funds
Bonds and CDs
Futures
Cryptocurrency
Forex
Open an AccountOpen an AccountOpen an AccountOpen an AccountOpen an Account
Data effective 5/11/20. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
Trader 101

Don’t remember what an ETF is? Need a refresher on how a stock trade is different than an options trade? We got you. Our guide to investing in stocks can help you brush up on the trading essentials.

TD Ameritrade: Best overall

TD Ameritrade tops our list of the best online brokers for small businesses thanks to its variety of offerings and its low fees.

Whether you simply want to trade stocks or you want to get in the complex world of Forex trading, TD Ameritrade can meet your needs. It offers just about everything you’d want to buy or sell on the market. (The only exception is cryptocurrency, and it looks like TD Ameritrade plans to offer that too in the future.)

Starting trading prices at TD Ameritrade
Account minimumStocksETFsOptionsGet an account
$0$0$0$0 ($0.65 contract fee)Open an Account
Data effective 5/11/20. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

But aside from all its offerings, TD Ameritrade also has nice low costs. Things like stocks, EFTs, and mutual funds are all available commission-free.

And while there are some costs associated with things like options and futures, the fees are competitive.

As an added bonus, TD Ameritrade has some of the most comprehensive educational content out there. It doesn’t matter if you simply need to brush up on how futures work or if you want to learn about more advanced trading strategies―TD Ameritrade has articles and videos to help.

So for most small-business owners, we think TD Ameritrade will be the best online broker available.

Firstrade: Best for options

If you’re interested in buying and selling options, Firstrade may be the best broker for you.

Many brokers, including those on this list, offer commission-free options. But while they may not charge a trading commission, those brokers do still charge a contract fee. Sure, it’s usually small―but it can add up. Fortunately, Firstrade doesn’t charge any such trading fee on its options (or anything else). You can get a truly no-fee options trade.

Starting trading prices at Firstrade
Account minimumStocksETFsOptionsGet an Account
$0$0$0$0Open an Account
Data effective 05/11/20. At publishing time, amounts, rates, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Now, Firstrade doesn’t offer as many choices as some other brokers. If you want cryptocurrency, Forex trading, or even futures, you’ll need to work with another broker. Also note that you’ll have to mail in an application to open a business account with Firstrade, because they evidently still operate in the year 2001.

But if you plan on being an options trader, Firstrade gives the cheapest way to do so.

Interactive Brokers: Best free trial

Are you a try-before-you-buy person? Then you may like Interactive Brokers.

Interactive Brokers offers a unique free trial. When you sign up, you get a fake account with $1 million in it. You can then use the account as usual, giving you time to test out all Interactive Brokers’ trading tools and features to your heart’s content. Sure, other brokers show you screenshots―but that’s not the same as actually using a trading platform to see if you like it.

Starting trading commissions at Interactive Brokers
Account minimumStocksETFsOptionsGet an Account
$0$0$0$0Open an Account
Data effective 5/11/20. At publishing time, amounts, rates, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

If you do end up liking Interactive Brokers’ trading platform, you’ll get commission-free online trading on many products and low fees on others. Do note, though, that Interactive Brokers may charge a low maintenance fee if you don’t use your brokerage account enough.

Even so, the ability to try Interactive Brokers before you start using your own money makes it a standout brokerage.

Tradestation: Best for cryptocurrency

Tradestation is your best―and only―brokerage option if you want to buy and sell cryptocurrency.

Most brokers that offer business accounts don’t currently do cryptocurrency. At all. Tradestation is the exception. It lets you buy, sell, and trade a variety of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, and XRP.

Starting commission prices at Tradestation
Account minimumStocksETFsOptionsGet an Account
$0 or $2,000 (depending on plan)$0$0$0 ($0.50 contract fee)Open an Account
Data effective 5/11/20. At publishing time, amounts, rates, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Note that Tradestation offers commission-free trading on things like stocks and ETFs, but not on cryptocurrency. The commission fees on crypto trading range from 0.25% to 1%, depending on your account balance and the transaction type. And if you want to save money, just keep an eye out for promotions―we’ve seen Tradestation run promotions that drop those rates as low as 0%.

Put simply, if cryptocurrency is part of your business’s trading plan, Tradestation will be the best online broker for you.

Zacks Trade: Best for broker-assisted trading

When it comes to online brokers, a DIY approach seems to be the norm. But if you’d rather get broker assistance with your trading, you can do just that with Zacks Trade.

To be clear, all the brokers above offer broker-assisted trading. But that assistance often comes with hefty fees―think the $25 to $30 range. That’s a pretty big trading fee, and it will add up in no time. But Zacks Trade? It doesn’t charge any extra fees for broker-assisted trading.

Starting commission prices at Zacks Trade
Account minimumStocksETFsOptionsGet an Account
$2,500$0.01 if more than $1 per share; 1% of trade if less than $1$0.01 if more than $1 per share; 1% of trade if less than $1$1 for first; $0.75 for additional optionsOpen an Account
Data effective 5/11/20. At publishing time, amounts, rates, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Of course, there’s a trade-off (investor puns!). Unlike the brokers above, Zacks doesn’t do commission-free trading. Everything, from stocks to bonds, comes with a commission fee. But those commission fees are pretty low. So when you take into account Zacks Trade’s free broker assistance, there’s a good chance it will end up being cheaper for you despite those commission fees.

In other words, if you’d rather have a little help conducting your trading, Zacks Trade is probably the online brokerage you want.

Desktop vs. mobile

All of the brokers above give you the ability to trade via your desktop computer or your mobile phone. For more information on what their mobile apps offer, check out our guide to the best investment apps.

Honorable mentions

Charles Schwab

We’ll cut to the chase: Charles Schwab requires you to have a lot of cash before you can invest. To even open a business investing account, you need to have a $250,000 relationship with Charles Schwab. So if you’re a small-business owner trying to invest spare funds here and there, Charles Schwab likely won’t work for you.

Starting commission prices at Charles Schwab
Account minimumStocksETFsOptionsGet an Account
$250,000 relationship$0$0$0 ($0.65 contract fee)Open an Account
Data effective 5/11/20. At publishing time, amounts, rates, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

If you do decide to go with Charles Schwab, you’ll get pretty much the same things you get elsewhere: commission-free trading on many products.
The biggest difference? Charles Schwab gets (slightly) higher customer reviews than other online brokers do. But for that much money, you’d expect nothing less.

Merrill Edge

Merrill Edge is another big name in investing, and it’s a perfectly good option. It offers commission-free trading on stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and more. So if you like the brand-name recognition or you have a Bank of America account and want to keep your eggs in one basket (Merrill is owned by Bank of America), it’s a fine stock broker to go with.

Starting commission prices at Merrill Edge
Account minimumStocksETFsOptionsGet an Account
$0$0$0$0 ($0.65 contract fee)Open an Account
Data effective 5/11/20. At publishing time, amounts, rates, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with Merrill Edge―we just think the brokers above offer more value and convenience. Still, plenty of customers have had good experiences with Merrill Edge.

Just keep in mind that (like Firstrade) you’ll have to submit a physical application to open a business account at Merrill Edge.

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Business investing vs. personal investing

Business investing and personal investing have a lot in common. Either way, you’re funding an account with a brokerage firm, then using that account to buy and sell stocks (or options, futures, etc.). You get access to the same stock market and the same stocks.

So what’s the difference? Mostly, it comes down to account types.

All the online brokers above offer accounts specifically for small businesses. That matters. You can get in big legal trouble if you try to fund a personal investment account with a business bank account (or if you put business funds in a personal bank account).

Unfortunately, many brokers for online stock trading don’t offer business accounts, so your options are much more limited than if you’re trying to get into personal investing. On the other hand, you’ll have many more options for brokers if you’re using your personal funds―like these popular online brokers:

  • Acorns
  • Ally Invest
  • Fidelity
  • Robinhood
  • Stash

But again, if you’re using small-business funds, you need a small-business account. And in that case, we recommend the online stock brokers ranked above.

FAQs about online stock brokers for small business

What’s the best online brokerage for beginners?

Any of the brokerages on our list work well for beginners. They all offer broker-assisted trading and plenty of resources for first-time traders.

How do I choose the best online broker for my business?

When you’re trying to figure out which online broker will work best for you and your business, you should consider a few key questions:

  • Will you be trading stocks, ETFs, options―or something else entirely?
  • Will you do your own trading, or do you want assistance from your broker?
  • How much money do you have on hand to open an account with?

Your answers will help you figure out which broker you need.

If, for example, you want to deal in cryptocurrency, you’ll have fewer options to choose from. Or if you want to do broker-assisted trading, you’ll want to find the broker with the lowest associated fees.

What’s the best stock to buy for 2020?

Nobody knows the best stock to buy in 2020. Don’t believe us? Then try this quick thought experiment.

Try to guess what stocks rose the most in the last 10 years. You probably think of things like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple. And sure, they make the list―but the real winners are companies like DexCom (which makes monitoring systems for people with diabetes) or Exact Sciences (which makes a stool test that screens for colon cancer).1

We’re not saying that you never would have bet on a company that deals primarily with human feces―but it does seem unlikely, doesn’t it? And even if someone had told you to buy stocks in the poop company, you probably would have been skeptical, right? (Who wouldn’t?)

In other words, picking stocks is harder than you might think. There have been plenty of “surefire” stocks that have failed and plenty of obscure stocks that have done quite well.

For what it’s worth, even billionaire Warren Buffet suggests investing in index funds rather than individual stocks.

The takeaway

If you want to use your business funds to become an investor, the online brokerages above can help. With features like free trades, free trials, and more, they’ve got plenty to offer you as a trader.

Good luck with your investments!

Think you’d rather put your business funds into savings? Learn more about the types of business savings accounts.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources

  1. Kiplinger, “The 11 Best (and 11 Worst) Stocks of the 11-Year Bull Market