All new customers get up to $200 of transfer fees covered when switching to Firstrade. Also, youll get a $25 wire transfer rebate and $50 referral credit.

Start trading stocks, and you could end up with a mixed bag of emotionsyou might be excited at the prospect of watching your money grow, overwhelmed at the number of stock options available to you, or even frustrated if youre having trouble making your first buy.

However, one emotion you might feel is a fear of being overcharged by your broker. Commissions, account maintenance charges and other hidden fees can quickly add up and eat into your profits.

New traders may feel especially hesitant to get started investing, as you may not be sure which broker to trust and who is worth the price.Luckily, a number of brokerages have recognized this fear and created free options to help new traders save more money when getting started.

Quick Look: The Best Free Stock Trading Platforms and Sites To Use Right Now

Firstrade $0 online trades & No hidden fees

Things to look for in a free trading platform

Though each trader has his own individual set of financial and personal goals, the most successful stock traders enter the market with the following three characteristics:

The most successful traders never buy stocks based on a gut-feeling. They do their research, look at the history of the company and its leadership, andmake selections based on hard data and perspectives of industry experts.

They also stay up to date on political happenings both at home and abroad, and they factor in how new laws and regulations affect the market. Looking to increase your knowledge of the stock market? Check out our list of thebest low-cost day trading courses you can sign up for right now.

The best stock traders know that the most reliable way to make money trading is usually tohold onto their stocks for yearsbefore selling. Whether youre investing in individual stocks or mutual funds, patience will help you see greater returns on your investments.

There are plenty ofstock trading coursesthat teach traders the secrets that industry professionals hide from the general public and website pop-ups that say they know what the nextAmazon stockor Bitcoin is.

The best traders know that these are over-exaggerated claims at best and downright scams at worst. Before you start trading,check your goalsand make sure they are realisticthe stories of overnight millionaires are very few and far between.

Though most stock trading platforms charge account maintenance fees and commissions, there are a number of brokers that will allow you to trade for free. Some characteristics that all reliable free trading platforms share include:

A brokerage firm isnt very useful if you cant understand how to get started. Watch a few YouTube tutorials to get a feel for the platform before you commit desktop space and time to the broker.

If the platform isnt intuitive, check the brokeragescustomer service optionsa responsive team of customer service professionals may be able to help you understand how to operate a more complicated platform.

Though some platforms will allow you to trade for free indefinitely, manyonly allow commission-free trades within a limited windowafter opening an account.

When you sign up for an account on a free trading platform, make sure youread the terms of serviceto understand how many free trades you are entitled to with your account. Brokerages that try to hide this information may make their money tricking users into thinking that trades are free indefinitelyonly to stick them with high fees later on by hiding a clause into the fine print.

Trading platforms that make unrealistic claims (like promising a dollar amount of returns or claiming that they have secrets that other brokers hide) are more than likely just trying to take your money with a hidden fee or commission. Rememberif it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Based on the criteria above, here are some great sites to get started trading stocks for free.

$0when you trade stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds online

Firstradeis the perfect trading platform for self-directed, small investors that are looking for competitive pricing outside a robo-advisor.

With no minimum initial account deposit, free trades on almost all offerings, and a wide asset class, Firstrade stands out among the rest.

Withtrue value investing,Firstrade offers clients$0 commission on for online trades with no hidden fees. Take advantage of this offer from anywhere with their extensive and well-received trading platform and mobile app that allows for extended-hours trading.

Their platform also features research and reports from us, , Zacks, and Morningstar, tokeep you informed and making the best trades for your financial goals.

With a comprehensive and easy-to-use trading platform, 24/7 customer support and a library of trading resources that is both free and extensive,E-Tradehas quickly risen as one of the most well-known stock trading platforms online.

Though the E-Trade platform is not free for everyone (the average user will incur a fee of about $7 per trade), the brokerage firmcurrently offers a promotion for new account holders offering 60 days of commission-free tradingwith a deposit of $10,000.

M1 Financeis a unique mix between a traditional stock brokerage platform anda robo-advisor.M1 Finance allows users tocreate a profile using their personal information and savings goals, and the system assigns you to your own unique stock selection (M1 calls these pies because they are represented in-account by a pie graph) based on your age, income, and level of risk tolerance.

There are a number of different pie types. For example, M1 Finances Ultra Aggressive pie is intended to place money into high-risk and return investments and is intended for young investors looking at a long-term investment strategy, while its Market Cap 100 pie takes a more conservative approach by investing in the largest 100 companies in the United States.

When you make a deposit into your account, M1 will automatically invest the money into the most underweight asset. Best of all, M1 hascompletely eliminated all fees and commissionsso you can create your own custom pie and get started for free.

Created for experienced, professional day traders,Interactive Brokersoffers users4,156 no transaction fee funds.

However, Interactive Brokers has earned a special place on our list for its incredibly low-cost stock trading and investing. And, Interactive Brokersgot rid of account minimumsfor individual investors.

Though not free,users pay just $1 maximum per stock trade and $0.70 per options contract. These commissions are an average of about $4 lower than most competitors, making it one of the lowest-cost trading platforms on the market.and account maintenance fees (a monthly $10 inactivity fee for traders with account balances under $100,000).

If youre an active trader and youre looking for individual trades, Interactive Brokers is the closest youll get to free trading at a professional level.

Read Benzingas full Interactive Brokers Review

The gold standard of free stock trading,Robinhoodis a unique app that allows users to buy a wide range of exchange-traded funds and stocks.

The mobile trading app has also introducedcryptocurrencieswith its 2019 updatethough this option is not available in a number of U.S. states, including New York, Washington, Nevada, and others.

The platformcharges $0 in commissions and there are no account maintenance or inactivity feesyoull have to worry about.If youre looking for research and tools, the Robinhood offers company information, charts, and other tools. The broker nonetheless offers exactly what it promisestruly free trades and over 5,000 equities to choose from.

Acornsis a mobile app thatsfor the absolute novice; you know that youshouldbe investing your money, but you have no idea where to start or what to invest in.

Acorns takes the concept of saving loose change into the digital age by rounding up purchases you make using a linked credit or debit card and invests the difference intoa range of commission-free ETFs.Though mostAcornsusers will see a $1 monthly maintenance fee,college students with a working .edu email address can use Acorns for free for up to 4 years.

Acorns does not charge any kind of inactivity, transfer, or closing fee, and theres no minimum balance required to get startedthis makes it a great app for college students who are looking to learn more about investing in the stock market without risking a large amount of their money.

If youre looking to invest in ETFs for free,Charles Schwabhas one of the most comprehensive selections available.

Schwab offers200 commission-free ETFs. Users can build a comprehensive and diverse collection of funds without paying the fees that come along with buying individual stocks. Charles Schwab also offers over4,000 commission-free mutual funds, a selection on-par with competitors.

While accounts with Charles Schwab typically come along with a$1,000 account minimum, the brokerage firm frequently runs promotions that offer to waive this minimum if you sign up for an automatic $100 monthly investment.

Though buying ETFs and mutual funds is free, its important to note that traders are subject to a $5 commission when buying or selling individual stocks and options.

Read Benzingas full Charles Schwab Review

When it comes to buying and selling commission-free ETFs,Vanguardreigns supreme. The financial giants founder invented the mutual fund, and the company offers over1,800 commission-free ETFs and 2,800 transaction-free mutual funds.

Their selection of mutual funds is expansive, offering everything from an S&P 500 index fund to the Vanguard Real Estate ETF that invests solely in real estate management companies and property holdings.

Though Vanguard chargesa $20 annual service fee, the company waives this fee for account holders with over $10,000 in Vanguard funds and holdings.

Though truly free trading platforms are few and far between, educated and knowledgeable traders can stay up to date on the market and make smart buying and selling decisions.

If youre new to the world of trading, absorb all of the information you can: read the best investing books, subscribe to daily newsletters, and pick stocks and watch their performance over time while taking notes.

Benzinga is a fast-growing, dynamic and innovative financial media outlet that empowers investors with high-quality, unique content.

Advertiser Disclosure:TD Ameritrade, Inc. and Accretive Capital LLC are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each others services and products.