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Compare online brokers

Compare online stock brokers plus get tips for beginner traders.

Compare online brokers

You don’t have to be a full-time day-trade warrior to make money buying and selling stocks. You can start with a few dollars and few clicks. The emergence of investing apps has pushed fees down as low as $0, and many of them offer sophisticated tools to help you learn the ropes or reach the next level.

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Name Product Ratings Available asset types Minimum deposit Advisory fee Cash sweep APY Signup bonus
SoFi Invest®
Finder Score: 4.2 / 5: ★★★★★
SoFi Invest®
Stocks, Mutual funds, ETFs, Alternatives
Get up to $1,000 in stock
Commission-free stocks, ETFs and options, with no options per-contract fees. Plus, a no-cost robo-advisor and complimentary access to certified financial planners (CFPs).
Finder Score: 4.4 / 5: ★★★★★
Stocks, Options, ETFs, Cryptocurrency, Futures, Treasury Bills
Get $50-$5,000
Competitive, capped options commissions, with a reliable trading platform designed for serious traders.
Finder Score: 4.4 / 5: ★★★★★
Stocks, Options, ETFs, Cryptocurrency
Get a free stock
Trade stocks, options, ETFs and crypto without commissions and on a user-friendly platform. Plus, a 1% IRA match and no options contract fees.
Finder Score: 4.2 / 5: ★★★★★
Stocks, Bonds, Options, ETFs, Cryptocurrency, Alternatives, Treasury Bills, High-yield cash account
Get up to $10,000 and transfer fees covered
Build a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, options, ETFs, crypto and alternative assets, with a high-yield cash account and options contract rebates.
Finder Score: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★
Stocks, Options, ETFs
Up to 8.10%
Choose a 1.5% match or up to 15 free fractional shares
No commission stock, ETF and options trades, with $0 equity options contract fees, low margin rates and advanced trading tools.
E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley
Finder Score: 4.2 / 5: ★★★★★
E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual funds, ETFs, CDs, Futures
0.01% to 0.15%
Get up to $1,000
terms apply
$0 commissions on US-listed stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and options, with powerful, easy-to-use tools and complimentary market research.

What is stock trading?

Stock trading is simply the buying and selling of stocks (also known as “shares”) of a specific company in order to make a profit. Think of stocks as small individual pieces of a company. If you own stocks you own part of that company. Stock values change with each sale, depending on whether more people are buying (because they think its price will rise) or selling (because they think it will fall).

How do I make money trading stocks?

Here’s an example: a company is trading at $5 per share on January 1st and you buy 100 shares for a total of $500. By February 1st, the shares are trading at $5.50, so you decide to sell your shares, giving you a 50-cent return on each share for a profit of $50. This also works in the opposite direction: if the stock price was $4.50 when you decide to sell, you’d be losing 50 cents per share for a net loss of $50.

WATCH: How does the stock market work?

Who is most likely to be researching stock trading?

Finder data suggests that men aged 35-44 are most likely to be researching this topic.

ResponseMale (%)Female (%)
Source: Finder sample of 4,560 visitors using demographics data from Google Analytics

How do I start trading on the stock market?

Newbie investor? Never placed a trade before? Don’t worry, it’s never been easier to start trading. You simply choose a stock trading platform, open and fund an account then make your trades. Check out our guide on how to buy stocks online to get started.

Our top picks for online brokers

Best for beginners

Go to site
Get up to $1,000 in stock
  • No-cost financial planning and automated investing
  • Trade stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, alternative asset funds
  • $0 commission on stocks, ETFs and options, with no options contract fees

Top pick for advanced traders

Go to site
Get up to $5,000 cash
  • Trade options, futures, options on futures, stocks, ETFs
  • $0 commission to close options
  • Pro-grade platform and risk analysis tools

Best for mobile experience

Go to site
3% IRA match with Robinhood Gold
  • Earn 5% interest on uninvested cash with Gold
  • Get up to $50,000 in instant deposits with Gold
  • Easy, user-friendly trading

Where do you trade stocks?

Traders buy and sell stocks throughout the trading day on the NYSE and Nasdaq, and other markets around the world. Here are some of the world’s biggest stock markets by market capitalization:

Stock exchangeShort nameMarket capitalization
New York Stock Exchange (US)NYSEUS$25.62 trillion
Nasdaq (US)NASDAQUS$19.51 trillion
Hong Kong ExchangesHKEXUS$6.76 trillion
Shanghai Stock ExchangeSSEUS$6.56 trillion
Japan Exchange GroupJPXUS$6.54 trillion

Here is a map of some of the world’s biggest exchanges

7 tips for beginner investors

  • Know your risk tolerance. Are you ok with taking big risks with potential losses? Your personal risk tolerance should dictate your investment strategy.
  • Do your homework. Research the financial health of companies, review annual reports and follow the news. Get familiar with popular indices like the S&P 500 which give an idea of how the market is performing.
  • Buy what you know. Begin investing in industries and businesses you understand or that produce products that you use everyday.
  • Diversify. Spread your investments across a range of industries. This is called diversification — a fancy way of saying: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You can be better protected against losses if one particular industry experiences a sharp downturn.
  • Explore blue-chip companies. Blue-chip stocks are America’s biggest, best-established companies. They’re typically a source of reliable returns and minimal risk.
  • Consider index funds. Index funds, like ETFs and mutual funds, offer you a way to invest in multiple companies at once rather than in just one company’s stocks. You invest in the shares of the fund instead of all the individual companies themselves that make up the fund.
  • Practice new strategies. Play stock trading games to master your craft. Or take an online trading course to advance your knowledge about different trading strategies.

Stock trading strategies you should know

Risks of stock trading

  • Losses. No investment is risk-free and any stock, no matter its performance history, carries the risk of loss. Stock prices can fall dramatically and even drop down to zero. This can mean significant financial losses for investors.
  • Time. Online trading can be a time-consuming process — especially when you hand-pick each of the securities in your portfolio. The more active your trading strategy, the more time you’ll need to be ready to invest in monitoring the performance of your stocks and staying abreast of impactful market news.
  • Stress. The stock market is always moving and can be volatile — a significant source of stress for those with investments that hinge on its performance and direction. If you can’t weather the ups and downs, you might be better off pursuing a more passive investment strategy, like a robo-advisor or managed portfolio.
  • Market events. Even after thoroughly researching a company, you can’t predict the future. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, pandemics, bad company news and even changes in government policy can all occur unexpectedly and adversely affect the price of shares.
  • Lack of expertise. While investing in the stock market sounds easy in theory, it can get quite complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing. First-time investors should exercise caution while building their portfolio.

Will you be investing in stock?

Do you plan to buy stocks in 2023?

Response% of investors
No, other reason3%
No, I'm not optimistic about the market in 202313%
No, I'm just not interested13%
No, I want to buy other investments4%
No, I do not understand stock trading4%
No, I do not have any spare money to invest14%
Source: Finder survey by Qualtrics of 2,033 Americans

Just under half (49%) of American adults said they planned on investing in stocks in 2023. For those that didn’t, not have the spare money to invest was the top reason for not investing at 14%.

Bottom line

Investing in the stock market has never been easier. But before you dive in, make sure you compare trading platforms and carefully research the companies you want to invest in. Get familiar with your personal level of risk tolerance and make sure you diversify your portfolio in order to minimize losses. Ready to begin?

Frequently asked questions about stock trading

Stock trading glossary

More on investing

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Finder is not an advisor or brokerage service. Information on this page is for educational purposes only and not a recommendation to invest with any one company, trade specific stocks or fund specific investments. All editorial opinions are our own.

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