Skip to main content

How to Start Trading Stocks for Free

Published October 10, 2019

4 minute read

By Jim Greene

Banks and brokerage firms typically charge online traders a fee to buy or sell securities. In most cases, these fees seem relatively small. They usually come in around the $10 mark. However, they are applied to every single transaction you make on both the buying and selling sides. If you’re just getting started with stock market trading, you’re probably limiting yourself to modest sums of money. That means these transaction fees, when viewed as a percentage of any profits you’re lucky enough to make, can add up to a lot more than you’d care to pay.

There are alternatives available. Services that offer legitimate, secure online trading with no fees. Many new mobile platforms offer transaction-free trading, while some brokerages and investment firms now feature limited-time promotions that eliminate transaction fees up to a certain limit. Some companies also allow traders to buy and sell certain classes of securities free of charge. Here’s how to get started.

Try Robinhood

Profiled in a 2018 Forbes article on free stock trading, Robinhood is a mobile stock trading platform with a stripped-down profile that only delivers essential features. It’s free to download and use. Traders pay $0 in commissions when buying or selling. Users also don’t have to maintain a minimum balance to enjoy fee-free access. Transactions cost nothing, regardless of how much or how little money you have in your account.

The innovative company turned a lot of heads in the financial services industry when it was launched. Some insiders predicted it would soon be scooped up by a major brokerage looking to cash in by appealing to younger demographic groups. It is extremely popular and reportedly has a waiting list with over a million people on it.

Robinhood uses an ingenious model to generate revenue. It simply earns interest on the funds in depositor accounts. Experienced investors and traders seeking advanced functionality can also purchase a subscription to the Robinhood Gold upgrade. It offers margin accounts that enable customers to borrow funds for leveraging.

Get on Matador

[Editor’s Note: The actual trading app has been renamed to Public.]

Matador is another worthwhile entry in the free stock trading space. Like Robinhood, Matador offers bare-bones functionality. Matador only links to limited charts and basic essentials about companies, like price-to-earning (P/E) ratios and other high-level summary information. That means you’ll have to do most of your due diligence research on another platform. However, buying and selling securities is completely free. Matador also supports social and community elements that set it apart.

On Matador, users can make friend connections with others, just like on Facebook. Friends can view each other’s holdings, exchange tips and info, and help each other find stock ideas. Users also benefit from a news aggregator, which compiles market information from around the world. Heavily traded stocks get profiled in the news feed, helping users understand what’s trending. You can also use the feed to spot opportunities to earn profits on rallying stocks, or to short stocks that are falling in value.

Register With Merrill Edge

You’ll need a decent chunk of change to trade stocks for free with Merrill Edge. However, the platform is well worth considering if you can meet the minimum requirements. Merrill Edge is owned and operated by Merrill Lynch, one of the world’s leading investment banks. The service was launched in 2010 and supports a Preferred Rewards feature. Preferred Rewards apply to balances of $50,000 or more, and offer a healthy number of free trades each month.

If you have between $50,000 and $99,999 in your Merrill Edge account, you can make 30 zero-fee transactions per month. At $100,000 and up, that number rises to 100 free monthly transactions. Day traders may use up that many monthly transactions, but even 30 is far more than the average retail investor would ever use.

More Ways to Trade Stocks For Free

Well-established banks and brokerages routinely feature promotional offers designed to attract new customers. Many of these offers deliver reduced-fee or free trading for a limited time. If you prefer to use a platform with name recognition, this is a good path to consider. Available offers change all the time, but investment banks like Fidelity and Charles Schwab are both known for providing 100 to 500 zero-fee trades to anyone who deposit at least $50,000 in their accounts.

You’ll have more options at your disposal if you focus on specific kinds of securities. For example, NerdWallet recently profiled Vanguard Brokerage, which allows customers to invest money in 50 popular exchange-traded funds (ETFs) free of charge. However, if you pursue this option, carefully review the associated terms and conditions, as other kinds of trades might cost you money. In some cases, fees for other transactions may be significantly higher than you would pay on a regular fee-charging platform.

Final Thoughts for New Traders

Stock trading is an exciting and potentially lucrative investment vehicle. It also comes with a lot of risk. Committing money to the markets is a major decision, and market forces can be volatile. Always perform thorough research into any company you’re considering. Never make a trade before doing your due diligence. You may be tempted to hop on the bandwagon of a fast-rising stock, but the tides can turn just as quickly, putting your capital at risk.

Experts recommend practicing with imaginary money to learn the ropes before using real capital. Leave advanced strategies like derivatives trading and leveraging for later, once you accrue the experience to use them. Proceed slowly and with caution until you have confidence in your investing knowledge and skills.

One last thing: Some of these apps and services are only available in the United States, thanks to complicated international finance laws. If you live outside the U.S., you may have to do some more research on what similar services are available in your region.

Trading Stocks on Mobile Phone


Jim Greene


Jim Greene is a freelance writer based in the Toronto, Canada area. He has been writing professionally since 2001 and has an extensive professional background in consumer research, personal finance and economics.

Explore Investing

Young tech professional with vested interest in his company Investing

Vested Interest: What Is It and How Do You Use It?

America is a leader in many things, but I’m not sure they should be proud of pioneering this particular thing. I’m talking about vested interest. (Or sometimes referred to as “golden handcuffs.) Plenty of companies use vested interest as a way to keep their employees from leaving. In some cases, people are delaying their own […]

Read More about Post Title

8 minute read

Vector illustration of stock investing Investing

How To Invest In Dividend Stocks (And Make Money)

One of the ways you can create a good revenue stream is to become involved in income investing. Income investing is all about making solid, relatively safe investment choices that actually produce regular income. This can include interest-bearing investments like bonds and some cash products. It can also include dividend stocks. If you’ve ever wondered […]

Read More about Post Title

8 minute read

stock market short seller Investing

How to Short a Stock: A Complete Guide

I first learned about short selling from my Dad. It was in the dot-com crash of the early 00s, when practically every investment was going down. Many people lost their savings because they plowed too much money into ridiculously-valued tech stocks. Looking back in retrospect, these stocks were already so high that they had no […]

Read More about Post Title

11 minute read

Man happy about investing Investing

What Are Bearer Bonds (and How Do They Work)?

A bearer bond is a fixed-income security, very similar to a regular bond. However, a bearer bond is owned by the holder (or bearer) rather than by a registered owner. The coupons for interest payments are physically attached to the bearer bond. The bondholder is required to submit the coupons to a bank for payment […]

Read More about Post Title

5 minute read


Amazon Stock: How to Buy and What to Consider

Online retailer Amazon is one of the biggest and best-known companies in the world today. Its popularity (and value) has only grown during the pandemic, as people all over the world were literally forced to shop online when retail stores were closed. Founded outside Seattle, Washington in 1994 as an online retailer of books, Amazon […]

Read More about Post Title

6 minute read

Safe investments for seniors Investing

The Safest Investment Options For Seniors

I heard a really interesting investing story recently. You see, a really close friend of mine invested in a cryptocurrency and was yield farming on what he thought was a relatively safe investment. He was doing really well for a few weeks in a row. However, someone found a way to abuse the ecosystem he […]

Read More about Post Title

10 minute read

See All In Investing

More from WalletGenius


How To Plan Your 2021 Christmas Budget

As much as I love gift-giving and the holiday season in general, I often find that it sneaks up on me. If you’re anything like me, you often find yourself in mid-December scrambling to get presents bought, wrapped, and even mailed. That last minute scramble often means paying more for gifts than you intended, since […]

Read More about Post Title

7 minute read

Financial Advice

How To Avoid Paying These Hidden Fees

One of my good friends is a financial planner. He recently told me something very interesting about hidden fees. He basically said that his income comes from the fees that he charges his clients. They are typically based on a percentage of the client’s assets. That means that every quarter (or annually), those fees are […]

Read More about Post Title

8 minute read

Financial Advice

How Do You Justify Your Debt?

Most of us are well aware how debt works. We know we shouldn’t buy things that we can’t afford. Instead, we know we’re supposed to save up for major purchases. It’s just smart financial sense to not make a bunch of purchases that drive up your debt. However, when it all comes right down to […]

Read More about Post Title

8 minute read

Woman stressed from overworking Financial Advice

Are You Actually Working Too Much?

Our society just idolizes “more” for some reason. We often talk about the mentality of “keeping up with the Joneses” in the context of material possessions often. However, I’ve noticed lately that people are just as impressed with those who seem to be “doing” more — and no, not doing more at work. We also […]

Read More about Post Title

8 minute read

Woman working on her finances Financial Advice

Easy Ways to Simplify Your Finances

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius Personal finance is surprisingly simple. Live below your means. Invest for the long term. Keep at it. Prosper. Yet, we instinctively want to complicate the process because we can’t trust that something so important can be so simple. I mean, how can […]

Read More about Post Title

7 minute read

Flipping Houses Home Ownership

How to Start Flipping Houses (And Actually Make Money)

House-flipping is often portrayed as a foolproof path to quick riches. While this inaccuracy can create unrealistic expectations, flipping houses can definitely be profitable if you do it right. And that’s the trick: the people most successful at flipping houses are generally the most experienced. That said, they all started somewhere. There’s nothing like completing […]

Read More about Post Title

6 minute read

TSP Loans Loans

TSP Loan: Everything You Need To Know

TSP loans are specialized loans designed for employees of the United States federal government. They offer federal employees access to a unique loan class that uses their retirement plans to finance their borrowing needs. Financial advisors often liken them to the 401(k) loans available to members of the general public. Yet, TSP loans differ from […]

Read More about Post Title

5 minute read

Trusted provider of accurate rates & financial information