It’s probably impossible to say that one size fits all when it comes to IRA accounts. But some brokerage firms excel on certain fronts and represent the best IRA accounts in specific categories. Unlike our IRA promotions list, we are objectively determining which service is best suited for your needs rather than based upon the best offer.
We’ve broken down which is the best IRA account in each of the following categories:
- Best IRA Overall
- Best IRA for Active Traders
- Best IRA for Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Investing
- Best Robo-Advisor IRA
- Best IRA for New Investors
- Best IRA Overall
Best IRA Overall
Fidelity Investments Basics: Fidelity is the second-largest mutual fund company, with $2.04 trillion of fund assets under management. Fidelity offers many commission-free ETFs. which over the course of 10–30 years can save you thousands of dollars in fees.
Why Fidelity Investments: Fidelity offers more than 10,000 mutual funds, including those managed by Fidelity, as well as non-Fidelity funds. That’s almost certainly more funds under one investment roof than any other investment brokerage available. In addition, Fidelity offers a low commission of $7.95 per trade on all equity transactions. However, Fidelity also offers a large selection of their own mutual funds on a commission-free basis.
Review: Fidelity Investments Review.
Promotion: Fidelity is currently offering nine different promotions! Some of the more interesting ones include getting up to 500 free trades, up to 50,000 air miles from either American Airlines, United or Delta, and up to one year of free trades.
They are also offering an “IRA match,” in which they will match your annual IRA deposits for up to three years. The match ranges from a low of 1% on the transfer at least $10,000, up to a maximum $1,950 during the three-year match period.
Best IRA for Active Traders: TradeKing
TradeKing Basics: This firm rates very highly in customer service. It provides a wide range of tools to help improve your investment performance. They offer an options pricing calculator, a profit and loss calculator, and options and strategy scanners. TradeKing was ranked as among the best firm for options traders by Barron’s from 2008 through 2013.
Review: TradeKing Review.
Why TradeKing: TradeKing has a very low commission on stock trades, at just $4.95 per trade. You can also trade options for a base fee of $4.95, plus $0.65 per contract. The commission on no-load mutual funds is $9.95 per trade, which is not the best in the industry. But most active traders don’t trade mutual funds anyway.
TradeKing Promotion: TradeKing is currently offering seven promotions, including a $200 signup bonus, $100 free trades with no minimum deposit, $1,000 in free trade commissions, and switch to TradeKing and get up to $150 back.
Best IRA for Beginner Investors
Betterment Basics: Betterment is perhaps the best known among all of the rising class of investment platforms known as robo-advisors. They are so named because they completely automate the process of investing by determining your risk tolerance, then constructing a portfolio based on that tolerance. The portfolio is set and then balanced periodically to maintain the desired asset allocation.
Review: Betterment Review.
Why Betterment: You can actually open up an account with Betterment with no money! If you fund the account with a minimum of $100 per month, the fee of 0.35% will be charged on your balance (otherwise it will be a flat charge of $3 per month). This is a perfect arrangement for a new IRA investor, who has no money up front, but a willingness to fund the account on a regular basis.
Betterment Promotion: Betterment is currently offering three months free if you deposit at least $5,000 into an IRA, to as much as six months free if you transfer at least $100,000.
Best Robo-Advisor IRA
As an investor, all you have to do is take a risk tolerance quiz and fund your account on a regular basis. Betterment handles all of the investment details for you, and you are free to go about the rest of your life. This is what is meant by the “robo” part of robo-advisor — the platform handles everything for you. You can open a traditional or a Roth IRA, as well as a rollover IRA or a SEP IRA.
Review: Betterment Review
Why Betterment is the best IRA for people who don’t want to manage their own investments. Betterment invests your portfolio in a mix of exchange traded funds (ETFs) that covers virtually the entire known investment universe. They also offer one of the lowest fee structures in the industry. The annual fee is 0.35% on account balances up to $10,000, 0.25% on accounts of between $10,000 and $100,000, and all the way down to 0.15% on account balances over $100,000. That’s a $100,000 retirement investment portfolio professionally managed for just $150 per year.
Betterment promotion: Betterment is currently offering three months free if you deposit at least $5,000 into an IRA, to as much as six months free if you transfer at least $100,000.
Best IRA Overall: Vanguard
Vanguard Basics: Vanguard is the world’s largest no-load mutual fund company, and well-known for its low-cost index funds. They offer over 120 mutual funds (managed by Vanguard), including money market, international, balanced, bond, REIT, and stock mutual funds. But beyond funds, you can also invest in individual securities, as well as both variable and fixed annuities.
Vanguard also offers over 50 different exchange traded funds (ETFs), that had even lower expense ratios than similar classes of mutual funds.
Why Vanguard is the best IRA overall. In addition to Vanguard’s domination of the fund world, they also offer an excellent fee structure. If you have an account balance of less than $50,000, stock and non-Vanguard ETF trades are $7 each for the first 25 trades (then $20 for additional trades). If you have an account balance of between $50,000 and $500,000, all trades are $7. For account balances of between $500,000 to $1 million, all trades are $2. And for account balances of $1 million or more, the first 25 stock and non-Vanguard ETF trades are free, with $2 per trade after that.
Review: Vanguard Review
Vanguard Promotion: None
Best IRA for Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Investing
Lending Club Basics. Lending Club is an online platform where some people come to get loans, and others invest in those loans. That’s the entire concept behind P2P lending/investing, and Lending Club is the largest P2P investment platform there is. It offers an opportunity to earn potential double-digit returns on fixed income type investments in various types of loans.
When you invest through Lending Club, you are participating in direct banking, only there is no bank involved. This is why the returns are so high. Rather than investing in actual loans, you instead invest in small slivers of loans, referred to as “notes.” They are available in denominations of $25, giving you the ability to diversify a few thousand dollars into hundreds of individual notes. In fact, you need an initial investment of only $25 to get started, though you will need a minimum of $5,000 in order to open a no-fee IRA account (see promotions below).
Review: Lending Club Review
Why Lending Club: Probably the biggest advantage that Lending Club has over other P2P platforms is their FOLIOfn feature that enables you to sell your existing loan notes on the secondary market, or to purchase notes being sold by other investors. This provides a level of liquidity that is not commonly available through other P2P investment platforms.
Lending Club promotion: Lending Club is currently offering to waive its $100 annual IRA account fee if you make an initial minimum deposit of at least $5,000, invested in Lending Club notes for a minimum of 12 months. They will continue paying the account fee as long as you maintain a minimum of $10,000 in notes.