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Best Platforms to Trade ETFs

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One of the ways to easily add diversity to your portfolio is to make use of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). With an ETF, you can gain exposure to a variety of investments and assets. And you can easily buy and sell shares on the exchange using an ETF Broker. Let’s take a look at some of the best platforms for ETFs.

Best Platform to Trade ETFs

The best platform to buy ETFs depends on your own goals and portfolio needs. And using an ETF broker comparison like this one can help you decide which one is best for you. Here are some of our recommended brokers to buy ETFs.

  1. Public
  2. E*TRADE
  3. TD Ameritrade
  4. Stash Invest
  5. Interactive Brokers
  6. Ellevest
  7. Betterment
  8. Wealthfront
  9. Vanguard
  10. Merrill Edge
  11. Charles Schwab

Public

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trade commission: $0
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: Thousands, there are no commissions on any trades

Public is a commission-free platform that allows you to buy and sell ETF shares. It’s an ETF broker that offers you the ability to buy fractional shares and search for ideas based on themes. And you can open a taxable investment account with no account minimum requirements.

One of the most interesting things about Public is that your portfolio is visible to other users. And you can browse their portfolios as well. While there are no commissions, you can choose to provide a tip to the service. And they don’t use Payment for Order Flow, a controversial payment method that many other brokers use.

Pros

  • Free to invest with no account minimums
  • Supports fractional shares
  • Learn from other investors
  • Doesn’t use payment for order flow

Cons

  • Can manage your account using only a mobile app
  • No retirement account options
  • You can invest only in stocks or ETFs

E*TRADE

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trade commission: $0
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: No commissions on any ETF trades

As one of the first online brokers, E*TRADE offers access to a wide variety of investment choices, including bonds and options. There are no commissions on stock and ETF trades. And E*TRADE offers some pre-made portfolios so you don’t have to manage your own portfolio if you don’t want to.

E*TRADE offers tax-advantaged retirement accounts as well as taxable investment accounts.

Pros

  • No commissions on stock or ETF trades
  • Variety of investment choices
  • Extensive research resources, including stock screeners

Cons

  • Website isn’t always easy to use
  • You may need a $500 minimum if you want a managed portfolio
  • If you’re an infrequent trader, you’re charged more for trading options

TD Ameritrade

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trade commission: $0
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: There are no commissions for ETF trades

TD Ameritrade is known for its advanced thinkorswim platform. It offers a variety of advanced trading choices. And you have access to in-person branches. On top of that, TD Ameritrade offers access to banking products and services.

You can use TD Ameritrade on the desktop or mobile app, including accessing extensive research and trading tools.

Pros

  • Extensive research and trading tools
  • Access to in-person branches
  • Ability to trade individual shares

Cons

  • No fractional shares
  • There can be a learning curve when using the advanced platform
  • Managed portfolios can be more expensive

Stash Invest

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trade commission: Uses a subscription model starting at $1 per month and going up to $9 per month
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: There are no commissions since you’re paying a subscription fee

Stash makes it easy to buy and sell ETF shares for a low price. Rather than paying a commission on each trade, you pay a monthly subscription fee based on the tools and services you use.

Stash includes banking products, including a debit card that allows you to earn rewards in stocks. And on top of that, Stash offers tax-advantaged retirement accounts and custodial accounts.

Pros

  • Access to fractional shares
  • Offers custodial accounts for children
  • Provides other banking products

Cons

  • ETF expense ratios can be high
  • No tax loss harvesting
  • Flat monthly fee can be relatively high for smaller accounts

Interactive Brokers

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trade commission: $0 for US-listed stocks and ETFs
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: Thousands, there are no commissions to trade US-listed ETFs

Interactive Brokers is aimed at sophisticated investors and offers a number of investing choices, including options and forex trading. Plus, it’s possible to connect to international markets.

On top of that, Interactive Brokers offers access to tax-advantaged accounts and doesn’t charge commissions for stock and ETF trades.

Pros

  • Wide variety of investment choices, including international markets
  • No commissions on US ETF trading
  • Extensive ETF research, including a tool that can help you substitute less expensive ETFs for more expensive mutual funds

Cons

  • You can’t stream data on multiple devices
  • Only those who pay can access the more advanced trading opportunities
  • Inactive accounts can be charged a fee

Ellevest

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trade commission: Membership subscription from $1–$9 per month
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: There are no commissions, just the monthly fee

While anyone can use Ellevest, this ETF broker is aimed at women and helping them make the most of their money. Ellevest uses a membership model, which means you pay a subscription fee to access its services.

In addition to investing, Ellevest offers coaching and banking products. And you can set multiple goals and use them for your investments.

Pros

  • Investing approach focuses on goals
  • Factors women’s needs into the portfolio mix
  • Access to coaches and certified financial planners

Cons

  • You have to pay for a more expensive plan to access tax-advantaged accounts
  • No tax loss harvesting
  • You can’t actively trade

Betterment

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trade commission: No trade commissions, but there is an annual fee of 0.25% or 0.40%, depending on your balance
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: No commissions, just an annual fee

Betterment was one of the first robo advisors out there and still considered one of the best. It creates a portfolio based on your risk tolerance. And while you can adjust your portfolio allocation, Betterment chooses from its core ETFs for your portfolio.

Betterment offers access to tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Additionally, it’s possible to buy a la carte financial planning sessions for specific goals. Betterment also offers banking products.

Pros

  • A hands-off approach to investing for those who don’t have time to manage a portfolio
  • Access to socially responsible investing portfolios
  • Access to financial planning help and tools

Cons

  • No active trading or access to individual equities
  • No custodial accounts
  • A higher balance results in a higher fee

Wealthfront

  • Account minimum: $500
  • Trade commission: No commissions, but there’s an annual fee of 0.25%
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: No commissions on ETFs, just the annual fee

Another robo advisor, Wealthfront offers help creating a portfolio and automatically invests for you. You can also set up tax-advantaged retirement accounts and even a 529 college savings plan for your child.

Wealthfront also offers financial roadmap planning help and banking products.

Pros

  • Access to a 529 account
  • Low expense ratios on ETFs
  • Tax-loss harvesting

Cons

  • No active trading
  • No fractional shares
  • There’s no discount on large balances

Vanguard

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trade commission: $0
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: There are no commissions on ETF trades

The founder of Vanguard introduced and popularized index funds, and Vanguard now offers ETFs — including index ETFs. In addition to opening a brokerage account to trade, you can use tax-advantaged retirement accounts and a 529 account.

And in addition to providing you with the ability to manage your own portfolio, Vanguard offers managed portfolios, including a low-cost digital advisor option.

Pros

  • Wide variety of investment choices through the ETF broker account
  • Opportunity to use robo-advising services
  • Extensive investing education tools

Cons

  • Mutual funds can come with high minimum investment requirements
  • The trading platform is somewhat basic
  • Some of the data and research is limited

Merrill Edge

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trade commission: $0
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: There are no commissions charged on any ETF trade

Merrill Edge offers you the chance to open a brokerage account or a tax-advantaged retirement account. It’s also possible to open a custodial account for your child. And there are checking-related products available through the platform.

Also, Merrill Edge allows you to trade on margin if you qualify and offers managed portfolio options for those who don’t want to manage their own investments.

Pros

  • No account minimums or commissions on trades
  • Link your Bank of America account
  • Custodial accounts

Cons

  • No access to forex or cryptocurrency trading
  • Can’t practice with a demo account
  • You can access only US stocks

Charles Schwab

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trade commission: $0
  • Number of commission-free ETFs: No commissions on any ETFs

Charles Schwab recently acquired TD Ameritrade but has kept the two separate. As well as being an ETF broker, Schwab offers access to a number of other investment choices, including bonds and options.

It’s also possible to get managed portfolios from Schwab, which provides you a way to have your portfolio of ETFs managed stress-free.

Pros

  • Wide variety of investment choices, including options and bonds
  • Real-time quotes and different types of orders
  • Extensive research and educational tools

Cons

  • It’s expensive if you trade mutual funds instead of ETFs
  • Cash sweep option has a low default rate
  • Access to only US and Canada markets

The Bottom Line

Looking for the right ETF broker for your needs requires research and thought. Take the time to consider your needs and determine what trading platform is likely to meet your needs.

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