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Best IRA accounts of 2021

The best IRA accounts offer diverse investment options, robust retirement planning tools and little-to-no fees.

An IRA or individual retirement account (IRA) helps you invest in your retirement as you enjoy tax breaks. Even if you already have a 401(k) through your employer, you can open an IRA that may offer stronger benefits.

No rule says you can’t have both. So an IRA can be a good supplement if you contribute enough to your 401(k) to get an employer match or if your 401(k) plan isn’t the best out there.

But you have plenty of IRA accounts to choose from. Luckily, the Finder crew dug deep into IRAs from different brokerages to unearth the top ones.

Fidelity Brokerage Account

$0
Stock trade fee
$0
Minimum deposit
  • Best for most types of investors
  • Look elsewhere if you want a cryptocurrency IRA

You can open an IRA through Fidelity Investments with no minimum deposit. Fidelity also offers several types of IRA accounts.

  • Self-directed. Build your own portfolio by picking from a vast investment menu that includes stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs.
  • Separately managed accounts. Work with a financial advisor to construct an IRA portfolio
  • Robo-advisor. Fidelity GO is the broker’s automated investing account which uses a computer algorithm to build and manage an IRA portfolio for you.

Fidelity stands out for low-cost investing, especially for hands-on traders. You can build your IRA portfolio with commission-free stocks, ETFs and options. The broker also offers a range of index mutual funds with zero management fees.

But if you’re a hands-off investor, Fidelity GO waives the annual management fee on accounts with a balance of $10,000 or less. From there, the management fee ranges from $3 a month to 0.35% of your account balance, which is still competitive.

Fidelity also offers retirement planning tools and calculators that can help investors at every stage of retirement planning. Key ones include their Social Security Benefits Calculator and their Financial Health Assessment, which recommends changes you can make to be better prepared for retirement.

Government bond trade fee $0
Option trade fee $0 + $0.65/contract
Mutual fund trade fee $0
Account transfer fee $0
Available asset types Stocks
Bonds
Options
Mutual funds
ETFs

Betterment

Betterment logo
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$0
Stock trade fee
$0
Minimum deposit
  • Best for the digitally savvy
  • Look elsewhere if you want a self-directed IRA

Betterment offers an automated IRA, also called a robo-advisor IRA. You start by answering some questions about your financial circumstances and goals. Betterment then recommends a diversified portfolio. A computer algorithm manages and rebalances your portfolio’s investment mix when deemed necessary based on market conditions.

So it can be a great tool for the hands-off investor. Betterment also lets you set Retirement Goals and provides advice on how to meet those feats. For instance, it’ll recommend how much to contribute monthly to reach a specific spending amount at a particular retirement age, while taking taxes into consideration. Also, link up external financial accounts to get more reliable advice and a holistic picture of your finances.

Betterment’s annual IRA management fee is 0.25%, which is on par with its competitors. For a 0.40% fee and a minimum investment of $100,000, you get unlimited phone access to certified financial planners (CFP).

Option trade fee N/A
Available asset types ETFs

E-Trade

$0
Stock trade fee
$0
Minimum deposit
  • Best for active investors
  • Look elsewhere if you want an automated IRA with no account minimum

E-Trade may be a great option for active retirement savers. Build an IRA portfolio with a variety of asset types including the following:

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Options
  • Futures

E-Trade’s online Education Library offers articles, videos and guides to help you choose the right securities for your retirement plan. Its fees are also worth noting.

Like many brokers, E-Trade offers commission-free stocks and ETFs. But options contract fees can be as little as $0.50. E-Trade also offers thousands of no-load mutual funds. Loads are transaction fees charged by some mutual funds when you buy or sell shares.

Hands-off investors have access to E-Trade’s automated portfolios called Core Portfolios. But these require a $500 minimum investment, which is higher than it is for some of its competitors.

Intro or bonus offer Get up to a $2,500 cash credit with a qualifying deposit or transfer
Government bond trade fee $1
Option trade fee $0 + $0.65/contract,
or $25 if it is a broker-assisted trade
Available asset types Stocks
Bonds
Mutual funds
ETFs

Sofi Invest

Sofi Invest logo
Finder Rating: 4.35 / 5

★★★★★

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at SoFi Wealth Management's secure site
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$0
Stock trade fee
$1
Minimum deposit
  • Best for beginners
  • Look elsewhere if you want to invest in mutual funds

SoFi offers an automated IRA with a 0% annual management fee. After answering a few questions about your financial goals, SoFi builds and monitors a diversified portfolio. These are built with ETFs that invest in a mix of stocks and bonds based on your risk level.

Hands-on investors can build their own IRA accounts with stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrency. SoFi also lets you invest in fractional shares. This means you can purchase portions of a stock with any amount you’d like.

SoFi customers also get free financial counseling over the phone.

Intro or bonus offer For a limited time, get one free stock worth up to $1,000 when you open a SoFi Invest Active Investing brokerage account.
Option trade fee N/A
Available asset types Stocks
ETFs
Cryptocurrency

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade logo
Finder Rating: 4.37 / 5

★★★★★

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$0
Stock trade fee
$0
Minimum deposit
  • Best for advanced traders
  • Look elsewhere if you want a more user-friendly platform to trade futures and forex

TD Ameritrade can help investors build IRA portfolios with powerful research tools. It offers a variety of resources like stock screeners, charting features and third-party research. Its educational library is tailored to investors at all levels, providing articles, videos, webinars and more.

Advanced traders can use TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim, a separate platform with robust research tools like stock analysis and real-time market news. It’s available via desktop, mobile app and online.

Its 401(k) fee analyzer tool powered by FeeX can help you determine how much you’re paying for your old 401(k) to determine if rolling it over to a TD Ameritrade IRA can save you money.

TD Ameritrade also stands out for costs. The broker offers commission-free stocks and ETFs, as well as no-load mutual funds. Open a TD Ameritrade IRA with no minimum investment.

Hands-off investors can opt for a managed account run with the help of a financial advisor or a robo-advisor option called Essential Portfolios.

Option trade fee $0 + $0.65/contract,
or $25 broker-assisted
Mutual fund trade fee $0
Available asset types Stocks
Bonds
Options
Mutual funds
ETFs
Currencies

Merrill Edge Self-Directed

$0
Stock trade fee
$0
Minimum deposit
  • Best for day traders
  • Look elsewhere if you want to invest your IRA in cryptocurrency and alternative investments

If you want to build an IRA portfolio with sophisticated research and trading tools, Merrill Edge may be the right choice. The Merrill Edge Market Pro platform offers portfolio analysis tools, detailed quotes, charts and more.

Recognia offers analysis of technical events in real time. And taking advantage of charting through more than 104 technical indicators is free for Merrill Edge self-directed account holders.

You don’t need a minimum deposit to open a Merrill Edge IRA. Active traders can customize their IRA portfolios with stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds and options.

Option trade fee $0
Available asset types Stocks
Bonds
Options
Mutual funds
ETFs

Ally Invest Self-Directed Trading

$0
Stock trade fee
$0
Minimum deposit
  • Best for the tech savvy
  • Look elsewhere if you want to invest your IRA in alternative investments and commodities

Ally is known for its intuitive research tools and low fees. And these perks are passed onto its IRA.

Open an Ally Invest IRA with no minimum deposit and take advantage of all its advanced research tools for free. You’ll have access to 117 chart studies and 36 drawing tools analyzing stocks, ETFs and indices. Ally also offers access to profit-loss graphs that help you measure a trade’s potential before placing it.

These and other research tools would be useful for active retirement savers. But you can also set up a managed account for your IRA. Ally’s managed accounts combine computer algorithms with the knowledge of human advisors to manage diversified portfolios based on your unique objectives.

While managed accounts require a $100 minimum investment, Ally doesn’t charge an annual advisory fee. Ally also sets aside 30% of your portfolio in an interest-earning cash portion to hedge against market volatility.

Intro or bonus offer Open a new self-directed trading account and receive 90 days of commission-free trades, up to $500 in value. Fund your new account within 60 days of opening to take advantage of a $50 to $3,000 bonus based on your deposit amount.
Government bond trade fee $1
Corporate bond trade fee $1
Option trade fee $0 + $0.50/contract
Mutual fund trade fee $9.95
Account transfer fee $50
Available asset types Stocks
Bonds
Options
Mutual funds
ETFs

Charles Schwab

$0
Stock trade fee
$0
Minimum deposit
  • Best for self-directed IRAs
  • Look elsewhere if you want an automated IRA with no minimum deposit

Even though Charles Schwab is now part of TD Ameritrade, you can still access Schwab’s individual products including their IRA accounts. Open one with no minimum deposit and begin establishing your retirement portfolio with commission-free stocks and ETFs. Also, diversify your portfolio with bonds, mutual funds and certificates of deposit (CD).

But where Schwab really stands out is its retirement planning resources. You’ll have access to educational content, calculators and retirement income strategies.

Schwab’s own experts provide the latest market news, analysis and insights. You also have access to 24/7 customer support and more than 300 branches.

Those who can handle a $5,000 minimum deposit can take advantage of the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. These are automated investment portfolios that invest in a variety of assets like stocks, bonds and commodities. And if you want to plan for retirement with the guidance of a financial advisor, Charles Schwab employs thousands nationwide.

Intro or bonus offer Receive a $500 account bonus with a $100,000 minimum deposit
Government bond trade fee $1
Corporate bond trade fee $1
Option trade fee $0 + $0.65/contract,
or $25 if it is a broker-assisted trade
Available asset types Stocks
Bonds
Options
Mutual funds
ETFs

M1 Finance

M1 Finance logo
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at M1 Finance's secure site
Read review
$0
Stock trade fee
$100
Minimum deposit
  • Best for hands-on investors
  • Look elsewhere if you want your IRA to invest in crypto or alternative investments

M1 Finance offers highly customizable IRA accounts. Build your IRA portfolio with your picks of stock and fund shares or choose from more than 80 professionally managed portfolios. And divvy up your money across more than one of these prebuilt portfolios

But this level of customization demands a certain investment acumen. You should be knowledgeable about different asset types and the performance of specific ETFs and stocks before investing in an M1 Finance IRA.

Nevertheless, M1 Finance charges no management fees on IRA accounts and no commissions on stock and ETF trades.

Intro or bonus offer when you sign up for M1 Finance
Option trade fee $0
Available asset types Stocks
ETFs

Vanguard Brokerage

$0
Stock trade fee
$0
Minimum deposit
  • Best for younger retirement savers
  • Look elsewhere if you want access to sophisticated research tools

Vanguard is known for its low-fee investment funds, and it’s one of the country’s largest 401(k) administrators. But you can also open an IRA through Vanguard.

Open a Vanguard IRA with no account minimum and create your portfolio with its industry-leading funds. In fact, 81% of Vanguard mutual funds and ETFs outperformed their peer-group averages over the past 10 years. These funds’ expense ratios are also 82% less than the industry’s average.

But while Vanguard made our list based on its performance and reputation among other highlights, know that it charges a $20 annual management fee for IRAs with balances of less than $10,000. Some mutual funds also require minimum investments of more than $1,000. Still, you can trade stocks, ETFs and Vanguard mutual funds with no commission or transaction fees.

Option trade fee $1
Available asset types Stocks
Options
Mutual funds
ETFs

Honorable mentions

The world of IRAs is constantly changing. Nowadays, ordinary investors can diversify their retirement portfolios with assets previously reserved for the wealthy. And although dabbling with alternative investments takes plenty of risk, here are some providers that don’t offer your typical IRAs.

Titan Invest: This brokerage lets you invest your IRA in one of two actively managed portfolios that invest in a mix of stocks and specific investments designed to hedge against market volatility. In fact, the Titan Invest tagline is “invest like a hedge fund.” While you won’t need hedge fund money to get started, the minimum deposit for a Titan IRA is $100.

BitIRA: This is one of the few brokers that lets you build an IRA portfolio with wildly popular but highly volatile cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. BitIRA offers a great way to diversify your retirement assets. But its fee structure can be complex and it requires a $5,000 minimum deposit.

Rocket Dollar: Through Rocket Dollar, you can construct an IRA portfolio with virtually any asset class allowed by the IRS. That includes crypto, real estate and even startup companies.

But Rocket Dollar offers little hand-holding. Your only options are solo 401(k)s and self-directed IRAs. So Rocket Dollar is best for experienced investors.

How we picked these platforms

We researched the leading brokerage firms and analyzed their traditional IRA offerings. We compared key points like fees, investment minimums and research tools. Take a look at our full methodology for our star rating system for best brokers.

How to choose an IRA brokerage

As you compare IRA accounts, make sure you pay attention to certain key points.

  • Fees. Regardless of how well your investments perform, high fees can take a large bite out of your retirement savings. Here are some you should be aware of:
    • Commissions. If you’re building your own IRA portfolio, you may owe the brokerage a commission when you buy or sell securities like stocks or ETFs. While many brokerages have done away with commissions, you may still face commission charges on certain securities.
    • Annual management fees. These are common among IRA managed accounts and robo-advisors. The brokerage usually collects these as a percentage of the balance in your account.
    • Transfer fees. You may need to pay a fee to move assets from one broker to another. You should be aware of these if you’re rolling over an old 401(k) or IRA into a new IRA.
    • Account closing fees. You may need to pay your broker a fee to close your account and move assets to an account with a different brokerage.
  • Minimum investments. Some brokerages require you to make a minimum investment to open an IRA account.
  • Online tools and research. If you like picking your own stocks, you may want to pay attention to the different research tools at your disposal. Some brokerages offer sophisticated technology that can help you find the right investments and predict price movements, while others offer close to none.
  • Promotions. At times, brokerages may offer bonuses like free stocks or waived fees when you open an account. Check with the financial institutions you already work with to see if they can give you a perk to open an IRA with them.

Traditional IRAs vs. Roth IRAs: What’s the difference?

Before you choose, you may want to give some thought to a Roth IRA. What separates traditional and Roth IRAs is how they’re taxed. Contributions to traditional IRAs are tax-deductible, but distributions are taxed. Roth IRAs allow tax-free distributions, but you’ll pay taxes on your contributions and not distributions. If you’re saving and building up gains in the account for a long time, a Roth may give you more in the end. (Not sure which you need? Check our guide to best Roth IRA accounts.)

Bottom line

Opening an IRA can be one of the best decisions you’ll make in your financial life. But not all IRAs are created equal. So shop around and compare IRA providers to find one that meets your needs.

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