Fidelity vs Robinhood

With the rise in mobile apps, active investment platforms have grown exponentially over the past decade. A batch of upstart firms, many of which were founded by business school students, have challenged traditional brokerages in a way that has forced them to change their way of doing business and changed the way ordinary people enter the investment gain.

Fidelity is Better for:Robinhood is Better for:
Passive or Combination InvestorsActive Investors
High Net Worth InvestorsLow and Medium Net Worth Investors
Your Entire Investment PortfolioThe Active Portion of Your Portfolio
Life InsuranceCrypto Investing
Access to Human AdvisorsMargin Investing
Bond InvestingOptions Investing
Education AccountsPremium Research
Retirement AccountsInstant Deposits

Fidelity Investments operates numerous operations, from mutual funds to benefits outsourcing, but it is probably best known for its brokerage services. Fidelity has been around since 1946 and is one of the oldest and most successfully full-service brokerages in U.S. history.

Robinhood is one of those upstart companies challenging the entrenched status quo represented by companies like Fidelity. Though it has only been around since 2015, it has been instrumental in making no-commission trades and fractional shares investing available to investors, even those who do not have a lot to invest.

Fidelity Robinhood
Account Fees

0

0

Premium Subscription

No

$5 per month for Robinhood Gold

Security Types

Stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs, IPOs, and precious metals

Stocks, ETFs, options, crypto, IPOs

Investment Portfolio Styles

Any you desire with combination of active, robo,hybrid, and human-managed accounts

Build your own portfolio with stocks, options, crypto, ETFs

Active or Passive?

Both

Active

Education Plan?

Yes

No

Minimum Opening Balance

$0 on some accounts

$0

Tax-Loss Harvesting

No

No

Supported Accounts

Mutual funds
Traditional, Roth, and rollover IRAs
Cash management accounts
Credit cards
Individual taxable accounts
Joint taxable accounts
529 College Savings Plan
Health savings accounts Annuities
Life insurance/ Long-term care Charitable giving

Individual taxable investment accounts

Earned APY on Cash Accounts

0.01 % on Cash Management Account

0.30% on “swept” cash

Crypto Investing

No

Yes

Best Use

Meeting Multiple Financial Needs

Trading Individual Securities

Current Promotion

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Modest Money Overall Rating
4.8 rating based on 5 ratings
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Fidelity vs Robinhood: Determining Factors?

Choosing the right investment platform is essential in achieving your investment goals. Enough companies exist that you can find exactly what you need, so it pays to comparison shop.

However, it isn’t always easy to deduce the comparative advantages and disadvantages of a brokerage before you sign out for an account.

This is why Modest Money analyzed these two brokerages to see which is better overall… and which is better for you. We looked at Fidelity Investments and Robinhood from the perspective of cost, services, minimum balances, securities available, and research support.

Our final analysis determined that most of our readers will find Robinhood more suitable for their investment needs, though some might do better with Fidelity. Read on to find out why.

Factor 1: Cost

Modest Money almost always analyzes cost first because we believe this is a factor you should have in the back of your mind when considering the other factors.

Robinhood Beats Fidelity in Cost

  • While active trading of stocks and ETFs is commission-free, Fidelity charges for options contracts and a higher margin rate.
  • Robinhood does not charge for options contracts and has a lower margin rate.
  • Robinhood has a preferable cost structure over Fidelity, especially for investors with a lower net worth.

Fidelity Cost

With Fidelity Investments, you can both actively trade and take advantage of their robo-advisory services.

Here are some costs associated with Fidelity’s retail investment account:

  • $0 commission fees on stocks and exchange-traded fund (ETF) trades
  • $.65 per option contract
  • $1 per bond or CD in secondary trading
  • A total of four zero expense ratio mutual funds
  • $0 fees on Fidelity and some other mutual funds
  • $0 account service fees
  • $0 transfer out fees
  • $0 bank wire fees

Especially compared to traditional brokerages, these fees are low. Transfer out fees of $75 and up are common in the industry. And while zero commission trades are becoming more standard, for traditional brokerages, not to charge account fees is still rare.

Fidelity offers margin investing. Their margin interest rates depend on how much money you have on margin. Here is a list of Fidelity’s current margin rates:

Margin BalanceMargin RateRelationship to Base Rate
$1 million and up:4.250% 3.075% below base rate
$500,000–$999,9994.500%2.825% below base rate
$250,000–$499,9996.825%0.500% below base rate
$100,000–$249,9997.075%0.250% below base rate
$50,000–$99,9997.125%0.200% below base rate
$25,000–$49,9998.075% 0.750% above base rate
$0–$24,9998.575%1.250% above base rate

If you look closely at the chart, you are paying above the base rate for margin loans under $50,000. But for higher margin loans, the rate drops significantly, which is a crucial advantage to higher net worth investors.

In addition to active investment options, Fidelity also offers robo-advisor accounts, which will build a risk-managed investment portfolio with periodic rebalancing for you. These portfolios ensure well-diversified investing, a cornerstone of maximizing investment returns while minimizing risk under modern portfolio theory.

To access Fidelity’s robo-advisory services, you will pay the following:

  • $0 gross advisory fee for balances under $10,000
  • $3 per month for balances from 10,000–$49,999​​​
  • 35% of assets under management (AUM) for balances above $50,000

Being a full-service brokerage, Fidelity also offers access to human advisors. This is how much you pay to access financial planning advice with Fidelity:

  • For a hybrid robo advisor with one-on-one calls with Fidelity advisors, you will pay 0.50% AUM
  • To get a dedicated financial advisor for your account with Fidelity’s Wealth Management program, you will pay an advisory fee of 0.50%-1.50% AUM
  • To get a dedicated advisor with Fidelity Private Wealth Management, you will pay a gross advisory fee of 0.20%-1.04%. To be eligible for this package, you need to have $2 million under management with Fidelity and a total net worth of more than $10 million.

All in all, Fidelity’s prices in the lower ranges of investment amounts are higher than standard, but it does offer competitive prices to people who are rich.

You can click here to learn more about Fidelity Investments and open an account.

Robinhood Cost

These higher than industry average prices fly in the face of what Robinhood’s all about. Robinhood brands itself as being for “a new generation of investors,” i.e., those who have not had as much of a chance to build their wealth.

Like Fidelity, Robinhood doesn’t charge account fees or commissions on its active trading account. With a basic account, you don’t have to pay anything. You’ll even get a free stock gift between $3 and $225 just for opening an account. Not only will the stock be free, but you can determine which top stock you get when you redeem the gift.

By default, Robinhood will assign you a Robinhood Instant account when you sign up. This account allows you to:

  • Buy and sell securities, including stocks, ETFs, options, and crypto
  • Instant Deposits up to $1,000 so you don’t have to wait for incoming transfers to clear
  • Margin account, which allows you to access funds from selling accounts before the two-day settlement time

Considering you don’t pay anything for it, these options are fantastic. Unlike some other commission-free brokerages, Robinhood executes your trade order right away.

You can also upgrade your account to Robinhood Gold, which gives you access to the following:

  • Instant Deposits limits up to $50,000
  • Morningstar professional research
  • Nasdaq Level II market data
  • Access to margin investing

Robinhood offers extremely competitive margin rates. For the first $1,000 margin you use, you pay nothing. Margin rates above that are only 3%.

Options trading is available on both Robinhood accounts. Robinhood does not charge options contract or commission fees

If those rates sound good to you, you can click here to open a free Robinhood account.

Robinhood is Better than Fidelity for Most Investors

If you don’t have a high net worth, you will probably get a better deal from Robinhood, especially regarding the margin rate and options fees, which is less than half that of Fidelity on the lower end.

Factor 2: Services

The next factor Modest Money considered was services. A diversity of services offered are important to consider, especially when you have significant wealth or complex investment needs.

Fidelity Has a Wider Breadth of Services than Robinhood

  • Fidelity has a comprehensive suite of services for every financial need.
  • Robinhood targets active investors.
  • Fidelity can fulfill all your financial needs under one roof.

Fidelity Services

As a full-service brokerage, Fidelity offers a variety of investment services. From free accounts for active trading to robo-advisor accounts and even accounts managed by investing professionals, Fidelity has all possible needs of an active or passive investor covered.

Even if you like to do some active trading, having at least a partially robo-managed portfolio helps you stay well-diversified. Additionally, Fidelity’s hybrid robo-advisory options are relatively unique in the field.At 0.35%, Fidelity’s robo-advisory fees are higher than most other dedicated robo-advisors by about 0.10%. This highlights a key difference between Fidelity and many other brokers, especially the newer ones that have cropped up in the past few years.

You may pay a higher AUM for managed accounts with Fidelity, but you can choose among multiple account types under one roof.

Fidelity is also frequently lauded for its excellent customer service. If you need to talk to a human being about your account, you can pick up the phone and call them. Many of the modern app-based brokerages do not offer this feature.

Speaking of customer service, you also have access to investment professionals when you opt into a managed account with Fidelity. Though you will pay for this service in the form of a percentage of the AUM you have invested with them, having access to a human financial planner is a bonus for many people.

Fidelity supports the following account types:

  • Mutual funds (which you can buy for as little as $1)
  • Traditional, Roth, and Rollover IRAs
  • Cash Management Accounts
  • Credit Cards
  • Individual taxable accounts
  • Joint taxable accounts
  • 529 College Savings Plan
  • Health Savings Accounts
  • Annuities
  • Life Insurance/ Long-term Care
  • Charitable giving

While they might not offer the best rates in any given area, the sheer breadth of financial services provided by Fidelity Investments is impressive.

Robinhood Services

Robinhood’s services are rudimentary, but really all you need to execute active securities trades. The app is a well-designed and streamlined interface.

Robinhood makes it easy to buy, sell, and trade securities. It is also designed in a way that you know your current positions as soon as you look at the app and without having to navigate multiple sub-windows.

But if you want to talk to a traditional financial advisor or use robo-advisory services, Robinhood does not have that option. It also does not have the option to set up anything but an individual taxable account. However, opportunities for IRAs may be coming, according to recent remarks by Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev.

Whatever your investment style, Robinhood has a friendly, streamlined interface. You can read about that and its other features here.

Fidelity Has More Services

Fidelity can cover every financial need, while Robinhood targets active, taxable investing. If you like having all your financial services from one provider, Fidelity might be a better fit.

Factor 3: Minimum Balances

For many investors, account minimum balance requirements can determine their choices. They might not be willing to commit large chunks of capital to investment accounts right away, especially when the economic climate is uncertain.

Fidelity and Robinhood Don’t Have Minimum Balances on Active Brokerage Accounts

  • Fidelity doesn’t have minimum balance requirements on basic active trading and robo-advisor accounts.
  • Robinhood doesn’t have minimum account balances.
  • Accessing higher-level services at Fidelity requires at least $25,000.

Fidelity Minimum Investments

Compared to traditional brokers, Fidelity keeps minimum balance requirements low on all its accounts.

Having no minimum balance requirements to access Fidelity mutual funds is mind-boggling. Mutual funds minimum balances are reasons why people began to turn to ETFs. Typically, you need to invest a minimum of $500 to $5,000 or even more to get into an ordinary mutual fund.

There are virtually no other mutual funds with minimum balance requirements.

Fidelity’s active brokerage and its robo-advisor accounts don’t require minimums to invest, either, but its other accounts do have minimum balance requirements, which are as follows:

  • Fidelity Personal Planning and Advice (its hybrid robo-advisor) requires a $25,000 minimum investment.
  • Fidelity Wealth Management (its dedicated advisor account) requires a $250,000 minimum account
  • Fidelity Private Wealth Management (its higher-level advisor account) requires a $2 million minimum investment, plus a net worth of $10 million.

It’s vital to notice that if you want private advisor interaction at Fidelity, you will need to commit a significant amount of money. Depending on how much money you are investing, you might not have access to some or even most of Fidelity’s services that we noted in the previous factor.

Robinhood Minimum Investments

Robinhood does not have minimum balance requirements on any account, nor does it restrict access to services based on your account balance.

You can make trades on Robinhood for as little as $1. If you were to fund your account at Robinhood with $100, you could invest in a reasonably diversified portfolio of up to 100 different stocks.

If you plan to use Robinhood for margin trading, you need at least $2,000 in your account, but this is required by federal law, not imposed by Robinhood.

Ditto with being a pattern day trader. The Pattern Day Trading Rule dictates that you can only make four “round trip trades”—meaning buying and selling the stock on the same day—every five days.

If you are a pattern day trader, you’ll need to have at least $25,000 in your Robinhood account, but again, this is federally stipulated.

Fidelity and Robinhood Minimum Balances

Neither Fidelity nor Robinhood have minimum balance requirements on equivalent (basic brokerage) accounts. It is crucial to notice, however, that to access some of the higher-end services at Fidelity, you will need to fund your accounts with upwards of $25,000.

Factor 4: Securities Available

Investors who want to go beyond trading stocks and ETFs must carefully consider platforms from that perspective. If a trading platform does not offer all the securities in which you are interested, you should continue to comparison shop until you find one that does.

Fidelity Has More Securities Overall but Robinhood Has Crypto

  • Fidelity has nine types of securities, including bonds and CDs, but no crypto option.
  • Robinhood has four types of equities, including crypto.
  • Fidelity is better if you want to do some debt investing and savings.

Fidelity Securities:

With Fidelity Investments, you can trade the following:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
  • Mutual Funds
  • Bonds
  • CDs
  • IPOs
  • Precious metals
  • Futures

This is a varied offering, even from a traditional brokerage. Notably, however, Fidelity does not allow you to trade crypto, bucking the industry trend of starting to incorporate some crypto offerings.

Even though Fidelity sells futures, they don’t allow bitcoin futures trading, even though they are available on CBOE and CME, the two major U.S. futures exchanges. So, Fidelity does not even have a backdoor open to crypto investing.

Fidelity makes fractional shares available to investors for stocks and ETFs, helping people create diversified portfolios based on the dollar amount and not shares. This is also a bonus to newer and smaller investors, who might not have a $1,000 to drop on a whole share of Tesla stock.

Robinhood Securities

Robinhood allows for trading of the following:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
  • Crypto

Robinhood’s crypto options are similarly varied. Here are the crypto options available on Robinhood:

  • Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Bitcoin SV
  • Dogecoin
  • Ethereum
  • Ethereum Classic
  • Litecoin

Robinhood also enables fractional trading of crypto. Except for Dogecoin, you will not have to buy a whole coin to invest in a particular cryptocurrency. With Dogecoin, you need to purchase at least one coin, but 1 Dogecoin was approximately equal to 14 cents at publication.

Diversity of Securities offered by Fidelity and Robinhood.

Fidelity has more diverse securities overall, but Robinhood is better for equities. Most active traders don’t want to restrict themselves from trading crypto. Even if it isn’t something you trade now, you may want to trade it in the future.

If you have a Coinbase account, you can link it to your Fidelity dashboard, but that would also mean commission fees of up to 2%. Robinhood does not charge commission fees for crypto.

Factor 5: Research Support

For active traders, having access to excellent research can be the difference between success and disaster. While there are many options for research, your brokerage may provide you with excellent options at a discounted cost. So, how do Fidelity and Robinhood stack up when it comes to making investment research available to clients?

Robinhood Has Better Research Options than Fidelity

  • Fidelity has free research options for all accounts.
  • Robinhood Gold adds premium research options to all accounts.
  • At $5 per month Robinhood Gold’s access to premium research is a steal.

Fidelity Investment Research Options

Fidelity’s signature research feature is Active Trader Pro, which provides the following:

  • Real-time market insights
  • Investment monitoring
  • Real-time analytics
  • Alerts for intraday volume spikes
  • Daily Dashboard with news, earnings announcements, and economic events

Active Trader Pro is automatically added to your account if you make more than 36 trades in 12 months for free, but users report that Fidelity customers can also just call and ask for it.

Active Trader Pro works better with Windows computers than Macs. With its primarily technical tools, it is geared more towards day and swing traders, though longer-term traders might find it helpful as well.

Fidelity also has other research available on its website, but they restrict some of it to account holders. The research it publishes includes its internal analysis and some public investment guidance. Fidelity does not have a premium research option.

Robinhood Gold

For only $5 per month, you can upgrade from a basic account to Robinhood Gold. With Robinhood Gold, you can get a higher instant deposit amount (up to $50,000 from $1,000) and invest on margin.

Robinhood Gold also gives you access to excellent research, including Professional Morningstar research on more than 1,700 stocks and Nasdaq Level II market data.

Robinhood Gold has a lot of features that support individual investors. The access to the Morningstar research alone is worth more than $5 per month.

Morningstar Research \usually costs $24.95 per month or $249 per year. With Robinhood Gold, you get access to their premium reports and can even download them for only $5 per month.

With Nasdaq Level II market data, investors can get a more in-depth look at the appetite for stocks on the market. While investors typically can get the bid-ask spread and prices on a particular stock at any given time, level II data shows all the available information, including the quantities of a stock sold at a specific price.

Robinhood’s Premium Research Options Trump Those of Fidelity

You can’t do better than paying $5 per month for Robinhood Gold. Between its Morningstar and Nasdaq Level II data, it is simply the best premium research subscription out there.

Robinhood vs Acorns: The Bottom Line

Unless you are a high-net-worth investor or want to access multiple services from a traditional brokerage, Robinhood is probably a better choice than Fidelity to fulfill your active investing needs.

Robinhood Instant is a completely free account that allows you to actively trade stocks, ETFs, options, and crypto, while Robinhood Gold adds margin investing and industry-leading premium research options.

Fidelity is Better for:Robinhood is Better for:
Passive or Combination InvestorsActive Investors
High Net Worth InvestorsLow and Medium Net Worth Investors
Your Entire Investment PortfolioThe Active Portion of Your Portfolio
Life InsuranceCrypto Investing
Access to Human AdvisorsMargin Investing
Bond InvestingOptions Investing
Education AccountsPremium Research
Retirement AccountsInstant Deposits

Fidelity

Fidelity is best for people who need access to human advisors and those who have enough money to qualify for discounts on their services. In addition to its active trading platform, it has a robo-advisor, hybrid managed, and fully human-managed accounts.

Fidelity also has life insurance, retirement accounts, and 529 education plans. The breadth of its offerings means that many people will be able to find everything they need under one roof (unless they want to trade crypto), but the prices for these services may be higher than if they had sought individual providers

Fidelity also has a long track record and excellent customer service. It is a safe place to put your money and trust your investments.

If you find that Fidelity is for you, click here to open a Fidelity account.

Robinhood

Robinhood is best for small investors who want to find a focused platform for active trading. Robinhood is simple enough to fulfill all your active trading needs and is powered by reliable tools like Morningstar Research.

Choose Robinhood if you seek to solely trade stocks, options, ETFs, and crypto. With no commission fees on any of these types of trades and instant execution, there is no better choice for active traders.

If this sounds good to you, click here to open a Robinhood brokerage account. If you upgrade, you can get the first month of Robinhood Gold for free. And remember, you get a gift stock just for opening a free account.

Jeremy Biberdorf

About the Author:

Jeremy Biberdorf is the founder of Modest Money. After working many years in the website marketing industry, he decided to take on blogging full time and also get his finances headed in the right direction. Also check out his contributions to Equities.com and Benzinga.