Once a person has decided that they want to start investing in the stock market, have stabilized their finances, created a workable financial budget, and established their investment strategy it’s time to select an investment platform/brokerage through which you want to buy and sell your stocks. This would be the most efficient and economically manner in which to do this.
There are quite a few brokerages to choose from. I’m only going to tough upon a few in this post. Most brokerage companies are now commission-free for normal traditional investing activity. There are exceptions so make sure that you check out their fee schedules to find out what transactions carry a fee with them and how much.
M1 Finance : You get high yield checking, low rate borrowing for margin trading, automation, and optimization. They do support fractional shares and you can tap into a flexible portfolio line of credit at a low base rate, and use those funds for anything: major purchases, emergency funds, or portfolio leverage. Plus, you can pay back on your schedule. There are 2 downsides to this platform: they require a minimum investment of $100 and they charge a yearly fee of $125.
Public : Another commission-free investing platform that also will give you a free stock when you open and account and fund it. Also supports the purchase/ownership of fractional shares. They have Built-in safeguards for risky stocks, they explain terms when you see them, but they don’t allow day-trading or sell you margin loans to invest with, and they don’t sell you exotic, complex investment instruments.
Robinhood : Another of the non-traditional investing brokerages that offered a free stock when you open an account and funded it. This is the one where I got my start in investing. Also allows for purchasing/ownership of fractional shares, unlimited commission-free trades in stocks, ETFs, and options with Robinhood Financial, as well as buy and sell cryptocurrencies with Robinhood Crypto. Does not offers free IRA accounts or short selling.
Webull : Webull supports full extended hours trading, which includes full pre-market and after hours sessions. One problem with Webull is it doesn’t currently support dividend reinvestment, but they may in the future. I would take this is mean that fractional shares are not supported. Offers free IRA accounts and commission free short selling in margin accounts.
TD Ameritrade : One of the main brokerage companies that has recently been bought up by Charles Schwab. After starting out on Robinhood I moved all of my positions over to here. You can manage your own portfolio or, for a fee, have your investments managed for you. They do have a DRIP (Dividend ReInvestment Program) and allow fractional shares through it but you cannot buy fractional shares outright.
There are other brokerage accounts out there so be sure to do your research before you make your final selection. If you decide to switch later on most brokerages will allow you to transfer you account to another brokerage but there will be a transfer fee associated with it. The fee with depend on the brokerage company you are transferring your account FROM.
Many of the brokerage houses, even the smaller ones, provide tools to help you manage your investments. Depending on how much detail information you want will determine which platform you’ll want to use, from least detailed like Robinhood to most detailed like TD Ameritrade.