A broker is more than just a place to open an IRA to save for retirement. From pricing to investment selection, where you open an IRA definitely matters, but comparing their differences can be a headache.

We tend to think investors can make better decisions by focusing on the big things -- commissions, investment choices, research, and more -- when picking a broker. Let's take a look at how Capital One and Fidelity compare for the long-term retirement investor.

Putting commission prices in focus

Of all the things to know before you open an account, what you'll pay your broker should be top of the list. Pricing differences add up to just one dollar on most trades.

Brokerage

Stocks and ETFs

Stock Options

Mutual Funds

Capital One

$6.95 per trade

$6.95 + $0.75 per contract

$19.95 per purchase

Fidelity

$7.95 per trade

$7.95 + $0.75 per contract

$49.95 per purchase

Data source: company websites.

Savvy investors can do better than standard prices. Capital One's ShareBuilder service makes it possible to place trades that are not time-sensitive for just $3.95 each. In addition, both brokers waive transaction fees on some funds, which can bring your trading costs all the way to zero. 

Those who shop around can collect some of the biggest savings of them all. Brokers routinely offer thousands of dollars in commission-free trades and cash bonuses to people who open a new account. Learn more about special offers for IRAs.

Mutual fund selection and commission-free choices

It can be a good thing to have more choices. Mutual fund availability varies by broker, and some brokers offer funds that are free for their clients to trade. Here's how Capital One and Fidelity compare on funds.

Brokerage

Total Mutual Funds

No-Load, No-Transaction-Fee Funds (NTF)

Commission-Free ETFs

Capital One

More than 1,100

More than 400

None

Fidelity

More than 11,500

More than 3,600

91 (Fidelity and iShares)

Data source: company websites.

The differences are stark here, as Fidelity offers significantly more funds, including fee-free mutual funds and ETFs. Of course, what really matters isn't how many a brokerage offers, but whether or not it has the funds you want to invest in. 

Minimum deposit requirement for IRAs

We have good news: How much you have to invest won't prohibit you from opening an account. Capital One and Fidelity are no-minimum brokers that do not require a minimum deposit in order to open an account. That said, making a larger deposit may qualify you for special offers when you open your IRA.

Capital One Vs Fidelity For Iras

You can start small with an IRA from Fidelity or Capital One. Image source: Getty Images.

International stocks and ADR investments

Exotic locations aren't just for your future retirement home. Online brokers have made it easier to invest around the world, but not all offer the same access to investing in foreign companies. Here's how Capital One and Fidelity compare for investing in international companies.

Type of Investment

Capital One

Fidelity

American depositary receipts (ADRs)

Yes

Yes

Stocks traded on international stock markets

No

Yes (25 markets)

Mutual funds and ETFs of foreign stocks

Yes

Yes

Data source: company websites.

The primary difference between these brokers is the level of access you'll have to place trades directly on international exchanges. If you prefer to take your portfolio international via local ADRs, mutual funds, or ETFs, though, the brokerage you choose shouldn't hamper your ability to go global.

Mobile app

Mobile apps for phones and tablets enable you to trade from anywhere you have an internet connection. Here's how each brokers' users and customers rated their mobile apps (as of 1/24/2017).

Brokerage

Apple App Store

Google Play

Capital One

3.0 stars

3.0 stars

Fidelity

2.0 stars

4.0 stars

Data source: relevant app stores.

IRA fees: maintenance and inactivity fees

Although fees are slowly disappearing, some brokers charge maintenance fees for keeping your account open, and inactivity fees for investors who don't make a minimum number of trades. Luckily, Capital One and Fidelity both boast no-fee IRAs, so you won't have to worry about recurring fees taking a chunk out of your savings every month or year.

Research and retirement planning tools

IRAs are all about going alone, but we tend to think that having access to research and retirement tools can help individual investors make more-informed decisions about their investments.

Fidelity and Capital One both have plenty to offer. Fidelity provides analyst upgrades and downgrades for individual stocks, research from S&P, and a number of complex screening tools to its clients. Its Income Strategy Evaluator can be helpful for savers who want to calculate their expected retirement income, and learn how to generate more from their savings.

Capital One has a back-end built on Morningstar data, which makes it easy to view and compare financials and performance data for stocks and funds alike. Its Fund Evaluator tool comes in handy for finding cost-effective funds for your portfolio, and it'll even help you screen for no-transaction-fee funds, too.

Best pick for IRAs: Capital One vs. Fidelity

The honest truth is that no one broker is perfect for everyone; it all depends on how each brokers' pros and cons fit into the specifics of your portfolio. Capital One takes the cake for having lower commissions, especially for those who use its low-cost ShareBuilder service. That said, Fidelity dominates in fund selection and international investment choices. To be clear, The Motley Fool does not endorse any particular brokerage, but we can help you find one that is a good fit for you. Check out Fool.com's IRA Center to compare major brokerages on commissions, account minimums, and special offers.

Jordan Wathen has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.