How much do you need to open an online investment account?

Opening your first investment account can be intimidating. First time investors can get overwhelmed by the number of options, the initial paperwork, and just taking that first step. One thing that should not prevent you from opening up an investment account is the initial cost. There are a number of programs with low opening amounts.

While there are various investment options working with banks and financial planners, their availability can be dependent on where you live. Here is a list of what you need to open up an account at one of the online brokerages or robo advisors.

Online Brokers

For many online brokerages, there is a difference between what you need to open up a brokerage account and an IRA. (All figures are as of article date).

Charles Schwab-Brokerage accounts and IRAs require $1000, which can be waived with a monthly transfer of at least $100.

E*Trade-Brokerage accounts require $500. No Minimum for IRAs.

Fidelity-For a brokerage account, you need $2500. For an IRA, there is no minimum if you set up an automatic drafts from a bank account.

Scottrade-Brokerage accounts require $2500, IRAs do not have a minimum.

TD Ameritrade-No minimum amounts for either brokerage or IRAs, although there is a minimum of $2000 if you want to trade in options or use a margin account.

T Rowe Price-$2500 for a brokerage account, $1000 for IRA.

Vanguard-IRAs and brokerage start at $1000, but most options require $3000.

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors have fewer investment options, but no fees for actual trades.

Betterment-no minimum amounts. Annual fees are 0.35% for accounts under $10,000 if you have an auto deposit of at least $100/month or $3 per month.

Wealthfront-account minimum of $500. No advisory fee on the first $10,000 of assets, 0.25% on amounts over $10,000.


Update 7/24: I read an article today about Loyal3, which allows you to set up an account with no money down and buy a limited number of stocks for as low as $10 increments with no fees. It does not appear to have an IRA option.

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at

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