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Best IRA Accounts for March 2024

Review Updated
Matt Frankel, CFP®
Steven Porrello
By: Matt Frankel, CFP® and Steven Porrello Our Brokerages Experts
Nathan Alderman
Check IconFact Checked Nathan Alderman
Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
An individual retirement account (IRA) is one of the few accounts that lets you invest money without paying taxes on earnings, dividends, and capital gains every year. Like its sibling, the 401(k), IRAs are designed to put as much compounding power into your retirement savings as an untaxed dollar can get.But don't be fooled: An IRA is only as good as the place you keep it. You may have no say in choosing your company's 401(k) provider, but the broker that powers your IRA is a choice no one can make but you. It can come with a bit of anxiety -- "who has the lowest fees?" "who has the best mutual funds?" -- but it's a decision we at The Ascent have had to make ourselves, and we hope this guide can help you, too.With that in mind, let's cover our favorite IRA providers and see which ones might be ideal for your retirement savings.There are a lot of options to compare, even on this page. It can be overwhelming! If you're looking for a place to start, here are three IRA accounts our experts recommend and why they like them:

Our nine best IRA accounts

Broker/Advisor Best For Commissions Next Steps
Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Robinhood Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Best For: Mobile platform Commission: $0 for stocks, ETFs, and options
Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
SoFi Active Investing Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Best For: Low account fees Commission: $0 for stocks, $0 for options contracts
Fidelity Offer Image
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
5.0/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
5.0/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Best For: Mutual funds and ETFs Commission: No account fees to open a Fidelity retail IRA
E*TRADE Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Best For: Mobile platform Commission: Commission-free; other fees apply
Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing Offer Image
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Best For: Mutual fund investing Commission: $0 per trade
Merrill Edge® Self-Directed Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Best For: Customer support Commission: $0 for stock and ETF trades
Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Ally Invest Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Best For: Low fees Commission: $0 stock and ETF trades
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Charles Schwab Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Best For: Retirement investors Commission: $0 stock, ETF, and Schwab Mutual Fund OneSource® trades
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Vanguard Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Best For: Index funds Commission: $0 online; $25 broker-assisted fee for some phone trades of stocks and ETFs from other companies (Less than $1 million)

What to consider when picking the best IRA for you

When picking the right IRA, it really comes down to how active you'd like to be with your investments, what types of securities you're interested in, and how much retirement planning guidance you want.

Robinhood
Open Account for Robinhood

On Robinhood's Secure Website.

Ratings Methodology
Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Our Rating:
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Bottom Line
With no commission fees, access to trade fractional shares, and many investment types, Robinhood's high-quality app trading platform is best suited for beginner investors wanting a solid place to invest on the go.
Fees:
$0 for stocks, ETFs, and options
Account Minimum:
$0
Special Offer Customers can earn up to 3% extra on their retirement contributions with Robinhood Gold.
Open Account for Robinhood

On Robinhood's Secure Website.

Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Our Rating:
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Bottom Line
SoFi stands out with a simple IRA setup process and low fees, in addition to a wealth of other products at your fingertips.
Fees:
$0 for stocks, $0 for options contracts
Account Minimum:
$0
Special Offer Circle with letter I in it. For new accounts: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $10 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. Get up to $1,000 in stock when you fund a new Active Invest account.
Open Account for SoFi Active Investing

On SoFi Active Investing's Secure Website.

Our Rating:
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
5.0/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Bottom Line
We rate Fidelity as a top option for IRAs with pretty much every feature you’d need: an intuitive platform and tools, a strong selection of funds and ETFs, excellent customer service, and no account fees or account minimums.
Fees:
No account fees to open a Fidelity retail IRA
Account Minimum:
$0
Open Account for Fidelity

On Fidelity's Secure Website.

Our Rating:
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Bottom Line
E*TRADE is a strong option for IRAs, with no commission or transaction fees and more than 6,400 no-load mutual funds. Additionally, they don’t have account minimums for IRA accounts.
Fees:
Commission-free; other fees apply
Account Minimum:
$0
Open Account for E*TRADE

On E*TRADE's Secure Website.

Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Our Rating:
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Bottom Line
With no minimum deposit requirements to open an account, and no mutual fund commissions whatsoever, J.P. Morgan Self-Directed could be a great home for your IRA, especially if mutual funds are a big part of your strategy.
Fees:
$0 per trade
Account Minimum:
$0
Special Offer Earn a bonus up to $700 when you open and fund a J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing account (retirement or general) with qualifying new money by 04/12/2024.
Open Account for J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing

On J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing's Secure Website.

Our Rating:
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Bottom Line
Merrill Edge® Self-Directed is a top IRA option due to its seamless integration and added perks. Merrill also scores points for no account minimums and a wealth of no-transaction fee mutual funds.
Fees:
$0 for stock and ETF trades
Account Minimum:
$0
Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Our Rating:
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Bottom Line
Low fees, no account minimums, and over 100 commission free ETFs make Ally an attractive place to park your IRA funds, though it doesn’t offer any no-transaction fee mutual funds.
Fees:
$0 stock and ETF trades
Account Minimum:
$0
Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Our Rating:
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Bottom Line
Schwab sports hundreds of no-commission ETFs and the largest amount of no-transaction-fee mutual funds of any broker we evaluated, and individual stock trades are now $0. Its lineup of retirement accounts expands beyond just online access to robust account management capabilities via its mobile app.
Fees:
$0 stock, ETF, and Schwab Mutual Fund OneSource® trades
Account Minimum:
$0
Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Our Rating:
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Bottom Line
Vanguard gets dinged slightly in our model for having high-ish account minimums for some of its services and an often-pricey fee structure for individual stocks, but it remains the gold standard for index funds and ETFs.
Fees:
$0 online; $25 broker-assisted fee for some phone trades of stocks and ETFs from other companies (Less than $1 million)
Account Minimum:
$0
Editor's Note: TD Ameritrade is transitioning to Charles Schwab
TD Ameritrade has been acquired by Charles Schwab, and the company expects all accounts to be transitioned by the end of 2024. We've removed TD Ameritrade from our best-of lists to align with this development. Here at The Ascent, you can trust that we're constantly evaluating our top broker picks to bring you current recommendations.

Reviews of the best IRA accounts

Fidelity

Best broker for IRA investors who: Want all of the features of a full-service brokerage along with an excellent mobile app.

Fidelity is one of the oldest and most well-known brokerage firms in the United States, and it could be an excellent choice for your IRA. It offers all major IRA types, has lots of commission-free mutual funds, and also has a very easy-to-use investment app.

Why IRA investors might love Fidelity

  • All major IRA types: Fidelity offers traditional and Roth IRAs, as well as SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs that let self-employed individuals save more for retirement.
  • Lots of commission-free mutual funds: Fidelity offers an excellent selection of more than 10,000 mutual funds, thousands of which (including Fidelity's own) are commission-free.
  • User-friendly app: Out of the traditional online brokers, Fidelity offers one of the most user-friendly apps that can allow you to manage your IRA on the go.

Why some IRA investors might not choose Fidelity

  • Robo-advisory fees: Fidelity offers a robo-advisory service that is free to those with account balances under $25,000. Once you cross this threshold, a 0.35% management fee kicks in, which puts it toward the higher end of the spectrum.

Read our full review of Fidelity.

SoFi Active Investing

Best broker for IRA investors who: Want to invest for retirement in an all-in-one financial services app.

SoFi offers a lot more than just brokerage accounts. It has checking and savings accounts, credit cards, a variety of loans, and more, all in one easy-to-use platform. SoFi Active Investing offers IRAs, and while it isn't a great fit for everyone, it can certainly be worth a closer look for people who like to keep multiple financial accounts at the same institution.

Why IRA investors might love SoFi Active Investing

  • Easy-to-use platform: This brokerage platform can be used in both web-based and mobile forms, and both are extremely straightforward to use.
  • Self-employed retirement accounts: Unlike some of the other app-based brokers, SoFi Active Investing offers SEP IRA accounts, which can allow self-employed individuals to save more than traditional or Roth options.
  • IRA match: SoFi Active Investing matches 1% of all IRA direct contributions and rollovers, which can be a big incentive to switch from your current IRA provider.

Why some IRA investors might not choose SoFi Active Investing

  • No mutual funds: SoFi Active Investing doesn't yet support mutual fund investing on its platform, so if that's a big part of your retirement strategy, you may want to look elsewhere.
  • Lack of investing tools and resources: Some of SoFi Active Investing's competitors are feature-packed, offering things like stock research report access and advanced charting tools. This platform is relatively low-frills.

Read our full review of SoFi Active Investing.

Robinhood

Best broker for IRA investors who: Want an easy-to-use IRA with low fees.

Robinhood is best known for pioneering the zero-commission stock trades that have become standard practice throughout the brokerage industry. While it is often thought of as a platform for active traders, Robinhood is actually a top IRA broker, especially for investors who want an easy-to-use, app-based platform.

Why IRA investors might love Robinhood

  • IRA match: Robinhood will match 1% of IRA contributions, including rollovers. For Robinhood Gold members, the matching rate on new IRA contributions is 3%.
  • Easy-to-use platform: Robinhood offers an extremely user-friendly app-based investment platform that makes it easy to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, and more.
  • Fractional shares investing: Robinhood allows investors to buy and sell fractional shares of stock, which allows IRA investors to create a diversified portfolio with little capital.

Why some IRA investors might not choose Robinhood

  • Doesn't offer all account types: Robinhood only offers traditional and Roth IRAs. It doesn't have SIMPLE IRA or SEP-IRA accounts that could be a better fit for people with self-employment income.
  • No mutual funds: Robinhood doesn't support mutual fund investing on its platform. If your retirement investing strategy involves mutual funds, you might want to look elsewhere.

Read our full review of Robinhood.

E*TRADE

Best broker for IRA investors who: Want a full-featured brokerage platform that is easy to use.

E*TRADE was one of the pioneers of the concept of online stock trading and has evolved into a full-featured brokerage platform. It is designed so that beginners, advanced investors, and everyone in between can pursue their investing goals, and it has top-notch customer support -- including a network of physical branches.

Why IRA investors might love E*TRADE

  • Several different IRA types: E*TRADE offers traditional and Roth IRAs, but also offers SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs that allow self-employed individuals to save even more.
  • Tons of valuable features: As a full-featured broker, E*TRADE has a library of educational resources, advanced trading tools, and offers free third-party stock research reports for its clients.
  • Branch network: Not only does E*TRADE offer 24/7 phone support, but it has a network of physical branches that could be useful to newer IRA investors who are in need of guidance.

Why some IRA investors might not choose E*TRADE

  • There are more user-friendly options: To be fair, we wouldn't call E*TRADE's platform difficult to use. But it isn't quite as easy as app-based rivals like Robinhood or SoFi.
  • No retirement match: While E*TRADE does offer bonuses for rolling over a retirement account from another firm, it doesn't have a retirement contribution matching plan like some of its newer rivals do.

Read our full review of E*TRADE.

Merrill Edge® Self-Directed

Best broker for IRA investors who: Want an IRA full of valuable features, especially those investors who have a relationship with Bank of America.

Merrill Edge is Bank of America's app- and web-based brokerage platform. It has tons of educational resources, especially when it comes to retirement planning, and also has some excellent advantages for Bank of America account holders.

Why IRA investors might love Merrill Edge

  • Excellent customer service: Not only does Merrill Edge have excellent phone support 24/7 and long hours for online chat, but there are Merrill Edge® Self-Directed advisors at many of the thousands of Bank of America branches.
  • Bank of America integration: If you're an existing Bank of America customer, not only can you get assistance at Bank of America branches, but brokerage balances help you earn status in the fantastic Preferred Rewards program. This can get you better interest rates on loans, higher credit card rewards, and more.

Why some IRA investors might not choose Merrill Edge

  • High robo-advisor fees: If you're planning to invest for retirement on auto-pilot through a robo-advisory service, Merrill Edge has one, but its 0.45% annual management fee is one of the highest on our radar.
  • Trading platform light on tools: If you're looking for advanced charting and trading tools, you may want to consider a different brokerage firm.

Read our full review of Merrill Edge® Self-Directed.

Ally Invest

Best broker for IRA investors who: Want to invest in mutual funds through their IRA.

Ally Invest can be a great place to open an IRA, especially if you want to invest in mutual funds. It offers more than 12,000 through its platform, and every single one of them are commission-free.

Why IRA investors might love Ally Invest

  • No mutual fund commissions: Ally Invest offers one of the largest selections of mutual funds of any brokerage we follow, and it also is one of the few to charge no mutual fund commissions at all.
  • Can waive robo-advisor fees: If you're planning to use a robo-advisor to invest in an IRA, Ally Invest offers a fee waiver for investors who keep 30% of their portfolio in cash.
  • Full-service bank: Ally offers a full range of banking products and services in one easy-to-use app, which could make it a smart choice for people who want to keep their IRA and other financial accounts in one place.

Why some IRA investors might not choose Ally Invest

  • Light on certain features: Ally Invest has an easy-to-use trading platform, but the other side of the equation is that it's light on tools for advanced traders.
  • Commissions on some stocks: While Ally Invest offers $0 stock trading commissions like most rivals, it still charges commissions on stocks with share prices under $2. While most stocks (especially those appropriate for an IRA) don't fall into that category, it's still important to know.

Read our full review of Ally Invest.

Charles Schwab

Best broker for IRA investors who: Want an IRA through a full-featured brokerage with excellent customer service.

Charles Schwab could be a smart place to open an IRA, especially if you find face-to-face customer service beneficial or plan to invest in mutual funds. There are a few drawbacks, such as a high robo-advisor minimum and an investing platform that isn't quite as user-friendly as some rivals, but it's still a very solid brokerage option for your retirement account.

Why IRA investors might love Charles Schwab

  • Lots of features: Charles Schwab is one of the largest brokerage firms in the world, and has the trading, educational, and stock research that comes with it. It offers tools for both beginners and advanced investors.
  • Customer service: Schwab has excellent phone support, but a big differentiator is the more than 340 branches it operates, which can be especially useful for customers who want guidance with their IRA.
  • No mutual fund minimums: Many of Charles Schwab's mutual funds have no minimum investment requirement to get started, which can be a major perk for newer IRA investors looking to start a portfolio.

Why some IRA investors might not choose Charles Schwab

  • Robo-advisor minimum: On one hand, Schwab offers a robo-advisory service with no management fees. On the other hand, there's a $5,000 minimum, which might be a limiting factor for new IRA investors.
  • Trading platform can be tough to navigate: If you're used to some of the newer app-based brokers, or even some of the other full-featured brokers on this list, you might find Schwab's trading platform (especially web-based) to be a little difficult to navigate, especially when you're just getting started.

Read our full review of Charles Schwab.

Vanguard

Best broker for IRA investors who: Want to invest in index funds or use a robo-advisor.

Vanguard pioneered the low-cost index fund decades ago, so it shouldn't be a surprise that index investing is still its strong point. Vanguard's own mutual funds are rarely on other brokers' no-transaction-fee lists, but you can get them fee-free through a Vanguard IRA. While it isn't necessarily the best choice for IRA investors who want individual stocks, Vanguard could be a solid choice for those who want more automatic investment options.

Why IRA investors might love Vanguard

  • Mutual fund selection: Not only does Vanguard have a large mutual fund selection, but more than 3,000 (including all of Vanguard's own) are available with no commissions or fees.
  • Robo-advisory fees: Vanguard's robo-advisory service has one of the lowest management fees, costing just 0.20%-0.25% of assets per year.
  • Brokered CDs: With interest rates at a multi-decade high, CDs can be appealing choices for retirement investments. Vanguard offers an excellent selection of brokered CDs, and they have some of the highest yields on our radar.

Why some IRA investors might not choose Vanguard

  • Minimum investment requirements: Many of Vanguard's own mutual funds have relatively high ($3,000) minimum investments. This is also the robo-advisory minimum to get started.
  • No fractional shares: This is one of the reasons why Vanguard might not be ideal for individual stock investors. Fractional shares allow new IRA investors to build a diversified portfolio of stocks without a ton of capital.

Read our full review of Vanguard.

J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing

Best broker for IRA investors who: Want an IRA with minimal fees, backed by one of the largest financial institutions in the world.

J.P. Morgan Chase is best known for its high-net-worth investing services and for its Chase retail banking brand. But it also offers an online brokerage platform -- J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing -- that could be an excellent choice for IRA investors -- especially those who already have financial accounts with Chase.

Why IRA investors might love J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing

  • Terrific investing app: J.P. Morgan's app-based investment platform is one of the most user-friendly we know of.
  • No mutual fund commissions: Most brokers don't charge commissions on stock trading, but J.P. Morgan is one of the only ones that doesn't have any mutual fund commissions whatsoever.
  • Links with existing Chase accounts: If you already have bank or credit card accounts with Chase, you can manage your new IRA through the same app.

Why some IRA investors might not choose J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing

  • Fewer tools than rivals: J.P. Morgan's app is simple and easy to use, but the downside is that it doesn't have quite as many trading or educational features as some rivals.
  • No fractional shares: The ability to trade fractional shares can be a big help to newer investors, as it can allow them to construct a diversified portfolio without a ton of money. J.P. Morgan doesn't support fractional shares yet.

Read our full review of J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing.

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FAQs

  • Some brokers require a minimum initial investment to open an IRA. This is more common if you're opting for a professionally managed IRA or want to put your IRA into a robo-advisor. Most brokers that offer a self-directed IRA have no minimum deposit requirement, so you can get started with as little as a few dollars.If you're opening an account with a small initial investment, look for a brokerage with zero or low fees. You'll likely also want a broker that lets you purchase fractional shares or ETFs so you can buy into stocks even if you can't afford a full share.
  • The IRA contribution limit changes annually. For 2023, you can contribute a maximum of $6,500 to an IRA or $7,500 if you are 50 or over and eligible for catch-up contributions. If either you or your spouse have access to a workplace retirement plan, your eligibility to make tax-deductible contributions will phase out at higher income levels.
  • Most online brokerage firms let you open a self-directed IRA for free. This means you choose your own investments. If you want professional management or a robo-advisor to select your investments, you'll pay a fee for these services.

    Some brokerages charge a commission for buying and selling assets within your IRA. But an increasing number of online brokers are eliminating commission fees for stock trades and offering commission-free ETFs or no-load mutual funds. You might instead pay a flat monthly fee.

    However, you'll still pay fees associated with certain types of investments, such as fund management fees for mutual funds. These fees are paid to the fund managers, not your brokerage firm, and they'll apply no matter which broker you use to buy the investment.

  • Yes, you can hold as many IRAs as you want, but the contribution limit applies across the board. In other words, opening more than one account doesn't increase your total annual contribution limits.
  • The exact process for withdrawing money from an IRA depends on the broker, but it typically won't take longer than a day or two. You can choose to withdraw large sums of money periodically, or take smaller amounts whenever you need it.
  • Whether or not an IRA can help you save on taxes will depend on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and the retirement plan you have through your employer (if applicable). In general, if your MAGI falls below the income limits set by the IRS or you're not covered by an employer's retirement plan, you're likely eligible to save on taxes with an IRA.
  • You can lose money in an IRA if you lose money on your investments. On the other hand, if you invest conservatively in blue-chip stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds, the chance of losing all of your money can be greatly diminished.
  • Maybe. Anyone can contribute to a traditional IRA, but in order to deduct your contributions, your income must be below certain thresholds if you have a 401(k). If you already have a Roth IRA, you may still qualify for deductible traditional IRA contributions, but your total contributions to both accounts cannot exceed the IRS's annual maximum.
  • When looking for the best IRA, compare different providers on their fees, platform strength, customer service, investment options, and educational materials. It's worth pointing out that some banks don't offer strong IRA accounts and instead focus on savings products like certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market accounts. The IRA providers reviewed above are all brokers, not banks.
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