What is a Discount Broker? – Defined & Explained

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I'm Donny. I'm a world traveler, investor, entrepreneur, and online marketing aficionado who has a big appetite to compete and disrupt big markets. I thrive on being able to create things that impact change, difficult challenges, and being able to add value in negative situations.

You may have heard the term “discount broker” being thrown around in the financial world and wonder what it is. You may also wonder if such a trading platform is right for you.

In this article, you’ll learn what a discount broker is, how it works and when you should use one.

Key Takeaways
  • A discount broker is an online broker that charges lower fees and provides fewer services than full-service brokers.
  • Research the top discount brokers and compare their fees, commissions, investment options and customer service to find the one that’s right for you.
  • Discount brokers are best for investors who want to manage their investments and for those who trade more frequently.
  • Robinhood, Webull, and Public are some of the top discount brokers.

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Discount Broker Definition

A discount broker is a type of financial intermediary that offers discounted services. Discount brokers typically offer lower commissions and fees than full-service brokers while providing access to the same markets and investments.

What Does a Discount Broker Do?

A discount broker provides access to various financial markets, such as the stock, foreign exchange and futures markets. As full-service brokers, they also provide access to various investments, such as mutual funds, bonds, options, and futures.

Discount brokers allow you to make trades without assistance or advice from a human broker. This means you can place trades on your own on online platforms or mobile applications.

How does it work for individual investors?

Individual investors can usually open an account and begin trading with a discount broker in minutes. They can typically access the same markets and investments as traditional brokers but at a lower cost.

For example, many discount brokerage firms offer commission-free trades on certain investments and lower fees on others.

This can make investment decisions more affordable if you have a lower budget or are looking to create investment accounts in multiple markets.

How does the overall structure of a discounted broker work?

The overall structure of a discounted broker is straightforward. The discount brokerage firm acts as the intermediary between the investor and the market and allows investors to trade with lower fees and commissions than full-service brokers.

Unlike a full-service broker, discount brokers do not provide advice or guidance; instead, they facilitate the investor’s trades.

Examples of Discount Brokers

There are several well-known brokerage firms:

  • Robinhood: This is a commission-free brokerage account you won’t find in a full-service broker account. It also offers access to stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), individual retirement accounts, and cryptocurrencies.
  • Webull: This firm offers commission-free trades, real-time market data and other financial products.
  • Public: This firm provides an online stock and ETF trading platform.

The above companies are the most reliable examples of popular trading platforms that enable you to invest in securities, estate planning and overall wealth management.

Benefits of a Discount Broker

Using a discount broker can provide several benefits, including:

  • Low transaction fees: Unlike full-service brokers, discount trading platforms offer lower fees, brokers charges, and commissions. The rates can be beneficial if you’re looking to save money on trades.
  • Fractional shares: Many discount brokers offer fractional shares, allowing you to invest in stocks without buying an entire share, unlike full-service broker accounts.
  • Bonus offers or free shares: Discount stockbrokers often offer bonuses or free shares to incentivize new customers.
  • 24/7 access: You can access your account and trade 24/7 with a discount broker.
  • Mobile apps: Discount brokerage firms offer online platforms and mobile applications that allow you to manage your investments. Such provisions may not be available for full-service broker firms.

Whether you want a short- or long-term wealth management strategy, using a discount broker investment account can be beneficial if you’re looking to invest.

With lower fees and commissions, you can make more cost-efficient trades.

Disadvantages of a Discount Broker

While there are many benefits to using a discount broker, there are also some disadvantages. These include:

  • Limited customer support: With a discount broker, you may not have access to the same customer service and assistance as a full-service broker.
  • No financial guidance: Discount broker trading platforms don’t offer investment advice or guidance. You’ll be responsible for making your own decisions and understanding the risks that are associated with each trade with insufficient financial advice.
  • Limited investment options: Some discount brokers may not offer access to all markets or investments. This can make financial planning challenging.
  • No access to margin accounts: With some discount brokers, you may not be able to trade using leverage or open a margin account.

It’s important to understand the limitations and risks associated with discount brokerages before investing. By understanding what a discount broker is and how E*TRADE works, you can make calculated investment decisions.

How to Open a Discount Stock Brokerage Account

Opening a discount account is relatively simple. By following the steps below, you can get started with a discount broker in no time:

  1. Research the top discount brokers: Research the different trading platforms and compare their available markets, customer service and any other features they offer. Check online reviews and ratings to understand the broker’s reputation.
  2. Compare commissions and fees: Check each broker’s commissions and fees to ensure you get the best deal. You may need to consult a financial advisor, especially if you’re a beginner.
  3. Consider the investment options: Make sure the broker offers access to the markets and investments you want to trade.
  4. Decide on a brokerage firm: Once you’ve compared the different brokers, decide which trading platform best fits your needs.
  5. Open an account: Fill out the required forms and submit the necessary documentation to open an account for portfolio management purposes.
  6. Fund your account: Transfer funds into your new brokerage account and start trading.
  7. Start investing: Make trades and build your portfolio in e*trade.

By keeping these steps in mind, you can easily open a discount broker account and start trading to manage your wealth.

3 Best Discount Brokerage Accounts

While there are many to choose from, the three best discount brokers are:

  • Robinhood: This trading platform offers various assets that you can invest in, including stocks. At Robinhood, your money’s value is a priority.
  • Webull: This brokerage firm offers commission-free trading, fractional shares and crypto trading.
  • Public: This platform provides you with the tools you need to make proper investment decisions about stock trades, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced investor.

Research and compare the different offerings from Webull, Robinhood, and Public. It’s important to find the broker that best suits your individual needs.

Is a Discount Brokerage Firm Worth It?

Discount brokers offer lower fees and commissions, making it easier to make trades. They also often provide mobile apps and portfolio management, allowing you to make trades from anywhere.

It’s important to understand the limitations of discount brokers and be aware of any potential risks. Research the top brokerage accounts and compare their offerings to find the one that’s right for you.

Invest in Robinhood, Webull, or Public.com today, and start building your future.

Discount Broker FAQs

In the quest to understand discount brokerage, several questions come up. Find the answers to the most common questions below.

Are discount brokers safe?

Discount brokers are safe. However, despite their attractive zero commission, they may offer lower security and customer service than full-service brokerages.

It’s important to research different brokers and compare their offerings before investing.

How do discount brokers make money?

Discount brokers make money primarily through low commission rates, fees and annual account maintenance fees.

They may offer additional research tools, trading software and advisory services to help you with wealth management or estate planning.

Who are discount brokers best for?

Discount brokers are best for those looking for investments at low fees to create high yields. Unlike full-service brokers, they offer lower fees and commission rates, which allow you to make more trades without breaking the bank.


Robinhood has commission-free investing, and tools to help shape your financial future. Sign up and get your first stock free.

We earn a commission if you sign up, at no additional cost to you.

I'm Donny. I'm a world traveler, investor, entrepreneur, and online marketing aficionado who has a big appetite to compete and disrupt big markets. I thrive on being able to create things that impact change, difficult challenges, and being able to add value in negative situations.

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