The key to choosing where to house your retirement account is your investing style. If you want to invest in a single-family of mutual funds, an account at the mutual fund company is sensible. If you want somebody else to handle your investments, including rebalancing, a robo advisor is an ideal choice. And if you want to trade stocks and ETFs, an online discount broker is the way to go.
I've personally used all of the above options, which are covered below. We'll first look at the top choices for IRA accounts, and then cover a longer list of options in more detail.
Best IRA Account Brokers in 2021
- Betterment: The best IRA option for first-time investors. Very easy to use and has extremely low fees.
- M1: The best free IRA option. Choose between their pre-built portfolios or custom build your own.
- Ally Invest: The best hybrid approach. You get access to Ally Invest Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolios, an automated investment service, as well as its award-winning, low-cost brokerage services.
Betterment is the easiest way to get started with an IRA and an excellent choice for first-time investors. Simply select how much you want to invest in stocks and bonds, and Betterment does the rest. It re-balances your investments and reinvests your dividends automatically.
- IRA's available: Traditional / Roth / Rollover / SEP
- Fees associated with the account: None (No opening, maintenance, custodial or closeout fees of any kind). Betterment does charge a fee based on account balance that ranges from 0.25% to 0.40%.
- Account minimums: None (No initial minimums and/or account requirements)
- Takeaway: Betterment is ideal for those who want low cost passively managed investments, but don’t want the hassle of picking mutual funds and rebalancing. For more information check out our Betterment review or visit Betterment.
M1 is a fantastic all-around investment platform. Get the simplicity of a roboadvisor with added customization options. Opt into one of their expert portfolios or customize your portfolio by adding individual ETFs or stocks. They charge no commission or management fees, so you can keep more of your money. Easily roll over your old 401(K) or transfer another IRA with the rollover concierge.
- IRAs available: Traditional / Roth / SEP
- Fees associated with the account: None
- Account minimums: $100 for a standard account; $500 for a retirement account
- Takeaway: M1 is a great option for those who want a simple, hassle-free investment experience, which some customization options. For more information check out our M1 review or visit M1.
Wealthfront stands out by offering investment services to young adults new to investing. It’s a true robo-advisor service great for investors with less than $2 million to invest. Wealthfront also offers a 529 plan, tax-loss harvesting and free financial planning. When you download the Wealthfront mobile app, you’ll be able to build a financial plan for buying a house, retirement, saving for college and other financial goals.
- IRA's available: Traditional / Roth / SEP
- Fees associated with the account: Annual advisory fee of 0.25% and an embedded ETF fee averaging 0.08%.
- Account minimums: $500
- Takeaway: For young investors, Wealthfront is a great way to get started. Plus, the free financial planning feature on Wealthfront’s app is a fantastic bonus. For more information check out our Wealthfront review.
E*TRADE was the very first online broker I signed up with after graduating from college. With their recent purchase of OptionsHouse, their trading platform is my personal favorite. E*TRADE offers a wide variety of account options and IRAs, and also offers small bonuses for moving over an IRA to E*TRADE.
- IRA's available: Traditional / Roth / Rollover / SEP / SIMPLE / IRA for Minors /Beneficiary / Roth IRA CD / Traditional IRA CD
- Fees associated with account: No annual fees
- Account minimums: None
- Takeaway: If you can avoid some of the fees with high balances, E*TRADE is a full-service brokerage option. For more information check out our E*TRADE review or visit E*TRADE.
TD Ameritrade is a trusted brokerage house with excellent IRA options. Its research tools are unparalleled. You can open an account online in just minutes.
- IRA's available - Traditional / Roth / Rollover / SEP
- Fees associated with account - No set-up, maintenance or annual fees.
- Account minimums - None (No initial minimums and/or account requirements)
- Takeaway: Well known for its trading tools and research, TD Ameritrade was ranked #1 for IRA accounts by Kiplinger. For more information check out our TD Ameritrade review or visit TD Ameritrade.
Advertising disclosure - DoughRoller.net is partnered with TD Ameritrade and we may receive compensation from them depending on your action. All opinions are ours and not influenced by any advertiser.
Ally Invest is unique among IRA accounts. It offers both traditional online brokerage services with trades as low as $4.95. It also offers what it calls Ally Invest Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolios, an automated investment service. It's like getting Betterment and E*TRADE in one.
- IRA's available: Traditional / Roth / Rollover / SEP / SIMPLE
- Fees associated with account: None (No opening, maintenance, custodial or closeout fees of any kind). Ally Invest Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolios, unlike most robo advisors, charges no annual fee.
- Account minimums: None for brokerage services. $100 for Ally Invest Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolios
- Takeaway: Ally Invest offers both brokerage and automated investment services. Ideal for those wanting a wide range of IRA account types and investment options. For more information check out our Ally Invest review or visit Ally Invest to open an IRA.
Vanguard is the king among low-cost index mutual funds. Because the firm is not seeking to make a profit, it passes the savings on to investors. I’ve had multiple accounts at Vanguard for years, including Individual Retirement Arrangements and other retirement accounts. In addition to mutual funds, Vanguard offers ETFs and brokerage services.
- IRA's available: Traditional / Roth / Rollover / SEP
- Fees associated with account: None (No opening, maintenance, custodial or closeout fees of any kind)
- Account minimums:$1,000
- Takeaway: An excellent choice for those who want to invest in Vanguard funds and have a minimum of $1,000 to invest.
When deciding which online discount broker is the best place to transfer an existing IRA, or start investing in a new one, there are a few important factors to consider. First, you should make sure that the broker offers the specific type of IRA you are interested in. While most online discount brokers carry the same IRA accounts, there are a few unique options available.
The next and most important question you need to ask is “What are the fees associated with opening, maintaining and closing my IRA?” If you are paying a high premium, then the tax benefits may not be worth it in the long run. Finally, when you factor in account minimums and customer service, you should find the online discount broker that’s right for you.