Every investor wants to get a "good deal". That's the premise of investing - buy low and sell high. But one of the biggest challenges investors face is fees and commissions. That's why we wanted to compare the lowest cost investing platforms available.
Technology has made it easier than ever to invest for free. And we've already highlighted all the ways you can invest for free. But, not all free investing platforms are equal. In fact, many of the free investing platforms are severely limited in what you can do.
That's why you may be considering looking beyond free, and into cheap and low cost investing platforms that are more robust for what you need. Here's our list of the cheapest investing sites.
We also break down a list of the cheapest robo-advisors to invest with as well.
Cheapest Investing Sites
Here's a quick summary of the lowest priced investing sites.
Limited to equity positions.
Limited to certain investments.
Commission-free only for Vanguard funds.
Limited to certain investments.
Full Summary Of The Low Cost Broker Options
Here is what you get at each of these major investment platforms.
M1 Finance is a newer investing platform that is commission free. This platform is a great choice for long-term buy and hold investor. You can invest in stocks and ETFs on the platform by building "pie" slices. You can also setup automatic investing to automate your portfolio.
The drawback with M1 Finance is that you are limited in your investment choices. No individual bonds, no options, and more.
Read our full M1 Finance Review here.
Robinhood is another tech startup that was one of the first companies to offer commission free trading. This company focuses almost exclusively on stocks, ETFs, and options, but it does offer some limited cryptocurrency trading as well.
Their platform is pretty bare bones, support is all via a ticketing system, and you are limited in what investments you can purchase.
Read our full Robinhood review here.
Vanguard is most well-known as being the creator of extremely low-cost index funds. While other companies now have lower cost index funds, Vanguard is still hailed as a low priced champion for investors.
Along those lines, Vanguard does offer commission-free investing for its funds on its platform. This can be a huge savings for beginner investors who want to invest in Vanguard funds.
The drawback is that if you want to invest in anything else outside of Vanguard, they are one of the most expensive places to invest.
Read our full Vanguard review here.
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
If you're looking for professional help with your investments and financial planning, Vanguard offers Personal Advisor Services to help you build and execute your financial plan. These are fiduciary advisors and will help you create a plan based on your goals (it's not a robot). It costs 0.30% AUM, which is one of the lowest you'll find.
WeBull is a very new trading app that takes commission-free investing and puts a huge focus on technical trading on it. Compare this to Robinhood, which really frowns on trading.
WeBull brings commission-free trading and has a lot of technical and other research tools to help you trade. They also have margin trading and short selling.
The drawbacks to WeBull is that they currently do not support options, mutual funds, bonds, OTC Bulletin Board or Pink Sheets stocks.
Read our full WeBull review here.
Ally Invest has been around for several years and has always been reasonably priced. They don't stand out as anything amazing, but if you're already an Ally customer, using their investment platform is an easy way to get access to more, for less.
The only real drawbacks of Ally are their poor mobile trading experience and minimal research tools.
Read our full Ally Invest review here.
Fidelity is one of the largest brokers on this list, and honestly, one of the most robust. They are usually one of our top picks on the best places to invest list. The reasons are exhaustive.
They also recently introduced the first 0% expense ratio mutual funds, which makes your investing experience completely free.
Fidelity also has access to every investment. You can find anything (though some may require special approval).
The drawback to Fidelity is also its win - it may be more than you need, especially starting out. But, if you're a long term investor, their commission-free funds are compelling.
Read our full Fidelity review here.
Charles Schwab is another popular brokerage on this list that has continually lowered it's commissions to compete with others. Schwab is another well-known provider for having a solid cash management account (which depending on what specials are going on, sometimes makes it on our list of the best free checking accounts).
Like Fidelity, Schwab also has a wide range of commission free ETFs and mutual funds. While they don't have any 0% expense ratio funds, they do offer extremely low expense ratio funds - many even lower than Vanguard (the previous market leader).
The drawbacks to Schwab are similar to Fidelity - it may be more than you need. There are also lackluster support options compared to other major providers.
Read our full Schwab review.
E*Trade is another major investment platform that originally made its name for itself for low costs. However, over time, the competition has push it to the bottom of the pack on pricing. However, it does set itself apart in some categories.
One strong point for E*Trade is that they offer the most robust free solo 401k plan available.
Read our full E*Trade review here.
TD Ameritrade is the last major investment platform on this list that is full service and relatively low-priced. Just like the others, its not the cheapest, but it does have many free features that are compelling.
They also consistently offer promotions granting bonus cash offers. See all investing bonus offers here.
Read our full TD Ameritrade review here.
Lowest Priced Robo-Advisors
Fees as Percentage of AUM
For assets of $2m, otherwise 0.25%
Full Summary Of Robo-Advisor Options
Here's our comparison summary of robo-advisor options. Remember, price isn't the only factor but it should be compelling for users since many of these platforms *should* build similar portfolios for you.
SoFi just recently launched SoFi Wealth, a game-changing robo-advisor platform that is enticing users with a 0% AUM fee. This platform has no fees, free access to financial advisors, and automatic investing.
The drawbacks, depending on who you ask, is that it doesn't offer tax-loss harvesting, it does invest in it's own funds, and it has limited asset selections. Plus, there have been some snafu's with customer accounts in the beginning.
Read our full SoFi Wealth review here.
Betterment was one of the first robo-advisor platforms, and it's currently the largest based on assets under management. It also offers a unique pricing structure that ranges from 0.15% to 0.40% AUM, depending on how much money you have and what services you select.
Most users will likely fall into the 0.25% AUM pricing - which is for their Digital account, with assets under $2,000,000.
Betterment also offers several unique products, like their Smart Saver account, and access to financial planners for a flat fee.
Read our full Betterment review here.
Wealthfront is close second to Betterment in the assets under management rankings, and they are also a very popular choice for investors looking for a "done for them" online solution.
Wealthfront charges a 0.25% AUM fee, and if you have assets less than $100,000, you may also pay fund fees on the investments in your portfolio.
Similar to Betterment, Wealthfront also offers financial planning assistance, and cash management options.
Read out full Wealthfront Review here.
Ellevest was created to increase access to investments for women. They created a female-focused robo-advisor and money management platform. However, like all other robo-advisors, they still craft your portfolio based on your investment goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance.
Ellevest currently charges a flat-fee model, ranging from $1 to $9 per month, depending on the level of service you decide. This makes them more expensive for low account balances, and cheaper as your account grows.
Read our full Ellevest review here.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.