Fidelity is a one-stop shop, offering services that range from international trading to checking accounts. The broker offers a large selection of no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds, and its website is easy to use and packed with helpful planning and educational tools. The broker does not offer as many mobile apps as some brokers do, however. If you're looking for a broker with good customer service, a lower account minimum and lower commissions, reviewers suggest Scottrade (*Est. $7 per trade) .
We found the best reviews of Fidelity in SmartMoney magazine and Barron's, both of which annually rank online brokers; Kiplinger.com offers another credible review. J.D. Power and Associates measures customer satisfaction with Fidelity and other online brokers, and ConsumerReports.org provides feedback based on a survey of online subscribers' experiences with brokerages. Epinions.com adds other customers' voices, although some of the reviews there date back a few years. Websites including TopTenReviews.com and Better-Trades.com offer professional reviews, though it is not clear what they are based on. Keynote Systems Inc. tracks the speed and accuracy with which brokers fulfill orders, and it publishes weekly rankings.
SmartMoney magazine identifies the best online brokers in six categories. A chart ranks the top 10 brokers and gives the category ratings for each one. For the third year in a row, Fidelity is ranked No. 1. According to reviewer J. Alex Tarquinio, it "offers the biggest selection of funds and the most comprehensive website."
Review: Best and Worst Brokers of 2012, J. Alex Tarquinio, May 16, 2012
Barron''s rates the top 27 online brokers for 2012 and summarizes the results in a table. Several short tables show the best brokers for certain categories of investors. Fidelity is ranked 11th overall, but is named the best online broker for long-term investors and one of the five best for novices and for international traders.
Review: Cut the Cord, Theresa W. Carey, March 12, 2012
hirteen brokerage firms are rated and ranked, based on a survey of online subscribers. Respondents rated brokers on their account service, website, phone service and in-person service.
Review: Brokerage Service Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Feb. 2012
4. J.D. Power and Associates
More than 3,700 investors who make their investment decisions without the help of a financial adviser responded to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study. Fidelity gets a 4 out of 5-PowerCircle rating in overall investor satisfaction.
Review: 2012 Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, June 14, 2012
Kiplinger.com evaluates 14 brokerages by opening accounts and trying them out. Fidelity is tied with TD Ameritrade for first place. This review highlights the research and analysis tools on Fidelity's website, its range of investment products and its customer service, concluding that Fidelity is "all-around, a great choice."
Review: Best Online Brokers for 2011: Fidelity, Elizabeth Ody, Jan. 2011
Detailed reviews of 18 brokers are provided by the editor of TopTenReviews.com, and a comparison chart summarizes data about each of them. Fidelity is ranked fifth of the 18. Pros noted include its $7.95 trading fee, branch locations that offer in-person service and easy-to-use trading tools.
Review: 2012 Fidelity Review, Editors of TopTenReviews.com
Financial analyst Robert Stammers offers fairly short reviews of 11 online brokers. Of Fidelity, he writes that the firm "is known for customer service and wins various customer service awards every year. … Fidelity provides a variety of valuable research and analysis tools that are reminiscent of features provided by upscale full service brokers." The review, originally written in 2008, was updated in early 2012
Review: Better Trades Broker Reviews, Robert Stammers, chartered financial analyst
8. Keynote Systems
Twelve online brokers are rated by Keynote Systems, based on how quickly they process a stock order and the success rate of order completion. Results are updated weekly. Fidelity is often among the leaders in both categories. As an example, for the week of April 15, 2012, Fidelity is ranked first on speed and third on success rate.
Review: Business Transaction Index for Brokerage Web Sites, Editors of Keynote Systems Inc.
Fidelity gets the best score of all the online brokers rated here by their customers. Although the rating is based on more than 100 reports, many date back several years.
Review: Fidelity Investments, Contributors to Epinions.com