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How to buy stocks online

Our step-by-step guide on how to buy stocks online with the best stock trading apps on the market.

Step 1: Choose an online stock trading platform

With so many options in the market right now, we’ve narrowed it down to our top selection and laid out the most important features for you to compare.

Our top picks for where to buy stocks online

Best for low fees

Finder Award

SoFi Invest


  • Trade stocks for $0 and no annual fee
  • Start trading with a $0 minimum deposit
  • Get up to $1,000 when you fund a new account within 30 days

Best for alternative assets

Public.com


  • Invest in alternative assets like art & collectibles
  • Purchase fractional shares for as little as $1
  • Get a free stock slice worth up to $300 when you deposit at least $20 in a new account.

Promoted for options trading

tastyworks


  • $0 commissions on stocks and ETFs
  • $0 closing commissions on stock and ETF options
  • Get $200 in US stocks when you open and fund an account with min. $2,000 for 3+ mos.

Compare more stock trading apps

1 - 6 of 6
Name Product Ratings Available asset types Stock trade fee Minimum deposit Signup bonus
SoFi Invest
Finder Award
SoFi Invest
Finder score★★★★★
Stocks, Options, ETFs, Cryptocurrency
$0
$0
Get up to $1,000 when you fund a new account within 30 days.
Winner of Finder’s Best Low-Cost Broker award.
eToro
Finder Award
eToro
Finder score★★★★★
Stocks, Options, ETFs, Cryptocurrency
$0
$10
FINDER EXCLUSIVE: Get $15 when you sign up and deposit $100
Winner of Finder’s Best Broker for Beginners award. Not available in NY, NV, MN, TN, and HI.
Robinhood
Finder score★★★★★
Stocks, Options, ETFs, Cryptocurrency
$0
$0
Get a free stock when you successfully sign up and link your bank account.
Make unlimited commission-free trades, plus earn 4% interest on uninvested cash in your account with Robinhood Gold.
tastyworks
Finder score★★★★★
Stocks, Options, ETFs, Cryptocurrency
$0
$0
Get $200 in US stocks when you open and fund an account with min. $2,000 for 3+ mos.
Highly commended for Best Derivatives Trading Platform award.
Public.com
Finder score★★★★★
Stocks, ETFs, Cryptocurrency, Alternatives
$0
$0
Get up to $300 in either stocks or crypto when you use code FINDERUS to sign up and fund a new account.
Trade stocks and ETFs commission-free, plus gain access to alternative investments like art, NFTs and more.
Interactive Brokers
Finder score★★★★★
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual funds, ETFs, Cryptocurrency, Futures, Forex
$0
$0
Winner of Finder’s Best Overall Stock Broker award.
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Compare up to 4 providers

*Signup bonus information updated weekly.

How do I choose the right stock trading app for me?

  • Compare features. Think about your level of trading experience and what kind of features are important to you, along with the platform’s ease-of-use.
  • Compare fees. While most brokers don’t charge a stock trading fee, some charge extra for specialized investment products. High-value trades are often charged as a percentage of the total trade value, rather than a fixed fee.
  • Tradable securities. Most brokers offer at least stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Big brokers like Interactive Brokers have the largest lineup of investment options, while newcomer brokers like SoFi and eToro offer a more simple lineup of stocks, ETFs and cryptocurrency.
  • Research tools. Online brokers usually offer market news, updates and other research tools that will let you investigate the trading history of individual stocks.
  • Customer support. How fast can you get a hold of customer support if you’re having an issue with your investment? The quality of customer support and the ease at which you can contact them is no less important than fees or research tools.

Step 2: Sign up for an account

Brokers, banks and other financial services companies follow a regulatory process known as Know Your Client (KYC), which is a process to verify the identity and other credentials of customers. When you’re applying for a brokerage account, you’re taking part in the KYC process.
Opening an account with an online trading platform is painless and usually takes just a few minutes. While the exact format will vary from broker to broker it must adhere to KYC standards: provide personal information to verify your identity and answer a handful of questions about your investing experience and goals.
Personal information you can expect to provide include:

  • Your name, address and contact details
  • Your date of birth
  • Your Social Security number
  • Proof of ID
  • Employment information

Most brokers use an automatic KYC process, which means your application will often be approved instantly or within a few minutes. Occasionally, a broker may need some time to verify your information. If they can’t, they may ask you to submit proof of ID to verify you are who you say you are.

Step 3: Set up a funding method to pay for the transaction

While you can open an account with most brokers without a minimum deposit, you can’t trade until you have sufficient funds in your account to cover the cost of the transaction.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to link your bank account and transfer funds electronically via the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network. ACH transfers take between one to three business days to complete, but some brokers offer a feature called instant deposits, which allow you to trade before the funds have settled.
Other funding methods include wire transfer, check deposit and account transfers from other brokerage accounts. Credit cards are typically not permitted as a brokerage account funding method.

Step 4: Choose the stocks you want to buy

A good place to start is with an industry that interests you and then explore the different companies in that space. Identify key players and young companies with potential for growth but also figure out which companies are falling, or have fallen, out of favor. If you want to follow a Warren Buffett saying, “never invest in a business you cannot understand.”
Tools like stock screeners can help you narrow down stocks by sector, industry, price range and more. Search for companies by name or ticker symbol, and if you’re on the fence about a purchase, add the stock to your watchlist to keep an eye on its performance. Analyst research reports can give you valuable insight into companies and guidance as to whether a particular company is a good investment.

Step 5: Place your order

With a stock in mind and funding in place, it’s almost time to invest. But before you buy any shares, you should know how much money you want to invest in any particular stock.
Consider your budget, investment goals and your overall portfolio allocation. With the advent of fractional shares, you no longer need the entire share price to invest. Fractional share trading lets you invest specific dollar amounts in a stock instead of having to buy whole shares. Though not every broker offers this feature.

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