The best IRAs offer robust investment menus, low fees and a wealth of tools to help you save for retirement. SmartAsset gathered data on the best IRA providers to help you find the one that’s right for you. We also broke down our list based on which providers would be best for do-it-yourself investors or those who want some guidance. But first, we’ll give you a quick overview of IRAs and their benefits. A financial advisor can also help you invest in one like a pro.
What Is an IRA and Why Should You Get One?
An individual retirement account (IRA) serves as an excellent savings vehicle that helps you save for retirement while also taking advantage of a few tax breaks. For starters, the money you contribute toward your IRA is done on a pre-tax basis. This means it’s taken out of your paycheck before Uncle Sam takes a cut. As a result, contributing toward your IRA effectively reduces your taxable income. And depending on how much you make, you may be able to claim additional tax deductions based on how much you contribute in a given tax year.
For 2018, the IRA contribution limit stands at $5,500, with an extra $1,000 tacked on if you’re age 50 and older. For 2019, the contribution limit is $6,000, with a $1,000 catch-up contribution for those 50 and older. But before you start investing, let’s take a look at the best IRA options available today.Charles Schwab Basic Account Details Minimum to Open Account $0 Fees $4.95 Per online stock trade Pros Pros: Commission-free Schwab ETF options Cons Up to $50 in account closing fees
Charles Schwab is one of the biggest names in the asset-management industry. So it’s no surprise that it offers a diverse range of investment options for its IRAs. Your choices also include exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The firm charges no commission for online ETF trades in your Schwab account. ETFs are becoming increasingly popular as low-fee investments. And if you want to open an IRA with Schwab, you can do it with as much or as little money as you want. The firm recently eliminated its minimum account balance requirement. It also charges no fees to open or maintain your account. This arrangement allows your investments to go a little further. In addition, you’d get access to several free online resources to help you save for retirement and understand your IRA.Interactive Brokers Basic Account Details Minimum to Open Account $5,000 Fees $0.05 per trade Pros Available to any U.S. citizen regardless of residency Cons No cash borrowing
If you’re outside the U.S., an IRA with Interactive Brokers may be right for you. A U.S. citizen living anywhere in the world can open one. Plus, the firm allows you to trade in multiple currencies. However, you can’t borrow against cash in the account. Nonetheless, the firm offers a variety of funds. And it simplifies the process of opening an account online. You just need some basic information.TD Ameritrade Basic Account Details Minimum to Open Account $0 Fees $6.95 per online stock trade Pros 300+ commission-free ETFs
TD Ameritrade stands out for making it easier to manage and make the most out of your IRA through a wealth of digital tools and resources. You can use its savings calculator to figure out how much you should save to reach your personal retirement goals. Another one of its tools can help you determine whether a traditional IRA or Roth IRA is right for you. It goes a step further by offering a 401(k) fee analyzer powered by FeeX, a firm dedicated to making investment fees as transparent as possible. It can help you determine whether it would be a good idea to roll over assets from an employer-sponsored 401(k) into an IRA.
With TD Ameritrade, you have access to a wide fund universe to build your IRA portfolio with. Your options, include certificates of deposit (CDs), stocks, bonds and mutual funds with no transaction fees. The firm also offers commission-free ETFs.
In addition, the firm caters to a wide range of investor profiles. Through its affiliate TD Ameritrade Investment Management, you have access to automated-investing services or a financial consultant who can help you build a personalized portfolio. However, minimum investment fees for these services climb much higher than they would for other portfolio options.E*TRADE Basic Account Details Minimum to Open Account $0 Fees Fees: $6.95 commission per stock, ETF and options trades Pros Educational resources and digital tools for investors, no-load mutual fund options Cons Not the lowest trading fees among discount brokerage investors
At E*TRADE, you’d have access to a variety of retirement-savings options, including traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs and SEP IRAs. You can build your portfolio with a wide variety of investment options, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and futures. In addition, you can build a personalized portfolio with the guidance of a professional through the affiliate E*TRADE Capital Management. These include “robo-advisor” portfolios as well as managed accounts that feature the expertise of a financial consultant. E*TRADE offers both passive and actively managed portfolio options that aim to outperform the market.Vanguard Basic Account Details Minimum to Open Account $1,000 Fees No transaction fees for online mutual fund and ETF trades
In the world of investing, Vanguard stands out for its low fees. In fact, the firm claims expense ratios on its mutual funds and ETFs fall about 82% lower than the industry average. And you can use these to build an IRA portfolio. You can also invest in a target-date fund (TDF). This is a professionally managed mutual fund with an asset allocation deemed appropriate for your age and risk tolerance.
The fund automatically rebalances as you approach your expected retirement age to preserve your savings. If you want to take a hands-off approach to investing and let fund managers take the wheel, these options may be right for you. Or you can create your own portfolio. Vanguard offers a tool that recommends an asset allocation based on your risk appetite, time horizon and financial situation. The firm also offers a stream of online calculators and resources to help you plan your retirement.Merrill Edge Basic Account Details Minimum to Open Account $0 Fees $6.95 per online stock and ETF trades Pros Several investment options
If you’re a hands-on investor, Merrill Edge gives you access to a wide array of funds with which to build your IRA portfolio. You can invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and options. You’d also have access to the firm’s proprietary research and tools to help you make investment decisions. Or you can plan your retirement with the guidance of a financial advisor.Wealthfront Basic Account Details Minimum to Open Account $500 Fees 0.25% after $5,000 account balance Pros Automated investing, Portfolios get re-balanced for you Cons Higher account minimum for an account than most providers
Robo-advisor firms are changing the world of automated investing, and Wealthfront emerges as one of the biggest players in the game. You can open an IRA through the company with $500. From there, you can invest in a range of mutual funds, including ETFs tracking more than 11 asset classes.
These include real estate, natural resources and emerging market bonds. The firm also recently built the Wealthfront Risk Parity Fund, which invests in several asset classes and aims for risk-adjusted returns.
However, Wealthfront particularly stands out in retirement planning. It offers a free digital service called Path, which builds a personalized retirement planning strategy for you. It also recommends how much you should be saving to meet your goals. This makes it a solid choice for hands-off investors who want all the investing decisions made by professionals. In addition, the firm offers tax-loss harvesting strategies.Betterment Basic Account Details Minimum to Open Account $0 Fees 0.20% average expense ratio on ETFs
Betterment stands as one of the largest robo-advisors around. The firm aims to make investing as simple and inexpensive as possible. It tries to meet that goal by offering low-fee ETFs. And the firm will automatically rebalance your asset allocation over time. All points considered, Betterment is an overall great choice if you’re a hands-off investor.How to Open an IRA
It typically takes about 15 minutes to open an IRA through an online brokerage or robo-advisor. You usually just need to provide the following information: Contact information and Social Security number, as well as bank account and routing numbers for initial contribution.
Even if you have an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, you should consider opening an IRA as well. 401(k) plan menus are typically limited. IRA providers usually give you access to a much more diverse pool of investment options that can be suitable for different kinds of investors.
And keep in mind that the greater the return on these investments and the sooner you start saving, the more likely you’d be prepared for a comfortable retirement.Tips for Retirement Planning
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