The Ascent's 2021 Stock Broker Awards Winners award banner The Ascent's 2021 Stock Broker Awards Winners

Updated June 13, 2022
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Stock brokers and investment apps ratings methodology

Ratings methodology

The Ascent’s stock brokers and investment apps ratings methodology is heavily influenced by real-life use, both from users and through in-house testing. Our ratings models are intended to cut through the noise and focus on a select few critical factors that we think are important for most people.

For stock brokers, the important factors are:

  • Competitiveness of routine fees and commissions
  • Investment vehicles offered
  • Quality of tools
  • Types of accounts offered

We considered similar themes for investment apps, along with availability for both Apple and Android users, and iOS and Google Play app store ratings.

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TD Ameritrade

Best Stock Broker

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade stands out as a top pick due to its versatility. The deep lineup of account types and investment vehicles offered provides solutions for nearly every investing need under the sun. It consistently receives high customer satisfaction scores. Lastly, the lineup of trading platforms online, on desktop, and via its mobile app is unmatched in terms of robust capabilities and ease-of-use.

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TD Ameritrade

Best Investing App

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade offers its account holders two different apps to manage their investment accounts. We think users should use both. The standard TD Ameritrade app gives users access to real-time quotes, charts, trade entry, account monitoring, research, and price alerts. The thinkorswim mobile app is a trading platform on steroids with advanced order entry and charting. Importantly, your preferences and settings sync from the thinkorswim desktop platform to the mobile app for a seamless experience.

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Fidelity

Best Investing App for Beginners

Fidelity

Investing for the first time can be daunting, but it helps if you're with the right broker. Fidelity has a feature-rich platform that's good for investors of all levels managing their accounts on the run. Its fractional shares offering means you can invest in high value stocks with only a few dollars. It has a great mix of no-fee mutual funds and ETFs. And, if you get stuck, Fidelity provides 24/7 customer support.

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Charles Schwab

Best Investing App for IRAs

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab offers pretty much every type of IRA that exists and you can access these accounts easily in the app. Beyond the app, Charles Schwab has great customer support (even in-person branch locations) and a great assortment of no-fee mutual funds, including its own proprietary products. New IRA investors may be interested in its fractional shares and wealth of educational resources. Plus, its widely praised standard app trading platform makes it easy to track your investment portfolio.

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Betterment

Best Investing App for Robo-Advisors

Betterment

Betterment is a robo-advisor pioneer and the app experience is top notch with consistently high app ratings. As a robo-advisor, Betterment charges low fees and doesn't have minimum account requirements. In addition, it provides automatic rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting. If socially responsible investing is important to you, Betterment has a couple of SRI portfolio options focused on climate, social impact, or broader social goals. For a fee, you can upgrade to the premium account and deal with a human advisor.

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tastyworks

Best Investing App for Options

tastyworks

As a brokerage, tastyworks has always focused heavily on options trading. The tastyworks app provides all the tools you need to trade options from your phone and has low trade fees. Traders can quickly scroll through call and put prices for any available expiration date. There are plenty of popular options trading strategies available, including covered calls, iron condors, and butterfly spreads. Other apps have more to offer if you're interested in all types of investing, but tastyworks is the top choice for mobile options trading.

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Charles Schwab

Best ETF Broker

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab packs in one of the deepest ETF lineups, including its branded, low-cost ETFs that are great options for passive index investors. Importantly, investors can buy and sell these ETFs online with no commission. Charles Schwab also shines with one of the broadest feature sets in the market to meet nearly any investing or banking need.

Charles Schwab

Best Mutual Fund Broker

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab is a runaway winner in this category. We're big fans of its proprietary mutual funds. The expense ratios rival the lowest cost providers and some funds have minimum investments of $100 or less. Clients also get access to thousands of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and a network of hundreds of branches for in-person help.

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Robinhood

Best Fractional Shares Broker

Robinhood

Robinhood offers access to fractional shares for a wide array of companies. Fractional shares mean you can invest with as little as $1 in most companies with a market capitalization of at least $25 million. We've not come across a broker that offers such a low bar to entry for a broad selection of the market and a simple-to-use app.

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*A complete list of 2021 award winners, from financial apps to cryptocurrency exchanges and apps, can be found here.

**You can also find more brokers and robo-advisors to compare by checking out The Ascent's best investment apps page.

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