Being a somewhat neglected asset class, bonds are lately making a comeback to the investing mainstream, mostly due to a higher interest rate environment in many countries.
There are several approaches when investing in bonds. Still, two of the most prominent ones are investing directly in individual bonds or using bond funds (such as ETFs) to invest in a basket of hundreds or thousands of bonds.
Each approach has its pros and cons, with ETFs being an excellent risk diversifier but carrying a small management fee (contained in TER – Total Expense Ratio) and being sensitive to future interest rate changes.
Buying individual bonds gives you a stable and predictable income. Still, there is always the risk of the bond issuer defaulting or price drops if selling the bond before maturity.
If you are looking for the best platform for bond trading in 2023, we’ve got you covered. Below we will go through our top picks of online brokers that offer individual bonds and bond funds, among other products.
In a nutshell: Best Bond Trading Platforms (2023)
|Broker||Minimum deposit||Available assets||Bond trading fees||Available countries|
|Interactive Brokers||$0||Stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, currencies, options, warrants, and futures||Vary significantly for different markets (starting at $1 minimum for US corporate and municipal bonds)||Globally (exceptions apply)|
|TD Ameritrade||$50 (electronic transfers); no account minimum||Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, fixed income (including bonds), futures, forex||Commission-free for U.S. treasuries on auction; net-yield-based fees for other bonds||Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and the US, among others.|
|E*TRADE||$0 (Account must be funded within 30 days to remain open)||Stocks, ETFs, bonds, options, futures, mutual funds, managed portfolios||Commission-free for U.S. treasuries; $1 per bond ($10 minimum) for online secondary trades||Primarily the US and some other countries (upon request), such as Germany and France|
Stocks, ETFs, bonds & CDs, options, mutual funds, crypto (in selected US states)
|Commission-free for new issues and US treasuries; $1 per bond for secondary issues||Primarily the US|
|Saxo Bank||Most commonly $/€2,000 (£500 in the UK)||Stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, managed portfolios, crypto ETPs, options, futures, forex, CFDs, commodities||0.05% per trade ($10,000 minimum trade value)||Globally, except in the US, Canada, and some other countries|
#1 Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers at a glance
Being founded way back in 1978 and being listed on the NASDAQ exchange (ticker: IBKR), Interactive Brokers has enjoyed a high reputation ever since.
They are known for its wide selection of financial products from over 150 markets, solid trade execution (IB SmartRouting), and support for 24 currencies in its account. There are also 100+ currency pairs available for exchange. Also, this broker is available globally (with some exceptions).
As far as bond trading goes, they are currently offering bonds from the US, Canadian, UK, European, and Hong Kong markets, totalling over 1,000,000 bonds (around 40,000 if we exclude US municipal bonds). Bond trading fees vary significantly between different markets and are a bit complex. It would be best to search for the bonds you are interested in trading on this link to find the exact fees.
In a nutshell, there is usually a percentage-based commission (which drops for higher volumes) and a minimum fee (usually between $1 and $5 for US bonds). There could also be a maximum fee for certain bond types.
Some downsides of using Interactive Brokers are its complex fee structure, lengthier than average registration and fund deposit processes, and limited commission-free trading (only available for US investors). However, the last point is largely mitigated using narrower spreads and lower FX fees than most competitors.
Your fees may also vary substantially based on your residency. For example, only US investors have access to IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro fee plans, the former offering commission-free US stocks and ETFs trading, and the latter being more suitable for advanced investors.
The IBKR GlobalTrader mobile app is a much more intuitive choice for beginner investors, offering stocks, ETFs, and options (but not bonds) trading in a more user-friendly format. Other app features include automatic currency conversions, fractional shares (only for US stocks), and more.
Overall, Interactive Brokers is a good choice for both beginner and advanced investors looking for a secure broker and access to various financial instruments, including bonds. You can find more info about them in our in-depth Interactive Brokers review.
- Very wide bond selection
- Wide selection of other financial products
- Access to international markets
- Reasonable fees
- Very reputable and well-regulated platform
- Complex fee structure
- Desktop and web trading platforms have a steeper learning curve
- No Asian market bonds (except Hong Kong)
#2 TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade at a glance
After being founded in 1975, TD Ameritrade has amassed an impressive number of over 11 million active users and over $1 trillion in assets. It was also acquired in 2019 by Charles Schwab, one of the largest brokers in the world. By being regulated by top-tier U.S., Singapore, and Hong Kong regulators, it is also one of the most reputable global brokers.
As such, they are accepting users from several countries.
They are probably best known for their commission-free trading of stocks, ETFs, options, and bonds (U.S. treasuries at auction). As far as bond trading goes, TD Ameritrade offers a wide range of investments, with over 40,000 bond offerings (only from the US markets), 3,000+ bond mutual funds, and over 400 bond ETFs (out of which 300+ are commission-free).
Other fixed-income assets (bonds, CDs, and UITs) have fees based on a net yield basis. There is also a $1 per bond transaction fee when trading bonds on the secondary market. Also, keep in mind that there are some minor service fees, with more details about them in their fee structure.
Advanced bond trading tools, such as ready-made or self-created bond ladders (using their Bond Wizard tool), are also available. There are also new issue offerings as well as rating and status changes for corporate and municipal bonds. You can get help (a personalised portfolio review) from their fixed-income specialists if needed.
Other commonly praised pros of TD Ameritrade include the brokers’ quality customer support, easy-to-navigate investment platforms (web and mobile), and excellent educational content. These are some reasons why it’s often considered a beginner-friendly broker.
Some of the cons of the platform include limited funds deposit options (no credit/debit cards or electronic wallets) and the lack of fractional shares on offer.
- Wide bond selection (40,000+ bonds, bond mutual funds, and ETFs)
- Low trading fees
- Top-tier regulation in several countries
- Beginner-friendly (intuitive interface and educational materials)
- Advanced bond trading tools
- Access to only US markets
- Limited funds deposit options
- Lack of fractional shares
E*TRADE at a glance
Offering a wide range of financial products (most of them with low or zero commissions) in an easy-to-navigate mobile platform makes E*TRADE an excellent choice for beginner investors. It is important to note that E*TRADE is primarily available in the US, but upon request, they have been shown to support customers from other countries as well (such as Germany and France).
Being founded in 1982 and regulated by top-tier U.S. regulators such as the SEC and FINRA also makes it a reputable broker with a long track record. Financial products available on the platform include stocks, ETFs, bonds, options, futures, mutual funds, and managed portfolios
As far as bond investing goes, it is important to note that E*TRADE offers 50,000+ bonds, but only from the U.S. markets. The fee structure for bond investing varies depending on the type of bonds you’re interested in. U.S. treasuries are commission-free at auction and secondary trades, but other bonds are charged a $1 fee per bond with a $10 minimum and a $250 maximum.
Broker-assisted bond trades are also offered (costing an extra $20), and new bond issues (except treasuries) offer a price that includes a selling concession. Interestingly, E*TRADE also offers ultra-short bond ETFs, which are diversified and low-risk investments.
Some other features that set apart E*TRADE from other brokers are access to rich educational resources (articles, videos, courses, webinars, and research tools) and their managed ETF portfolios (Core Portfolios), which automate investing, but with an annual 0.3% fee and $500 investment minimum.
You can see their full fee structure for bonds and other financial products, along with some minor additional fees here.
Some of the cons of investing with E*TRADE include the aforementioned access to U.S. markets only, the lack of forex trading, no email/live chat support (only phone and physical mail are available), and limited fund deposit options (credit/debit card and electronic wallet deposits are not accepted).
- Beginner-friendly (rich educational materials and an intuitive platform)
- Wide bond selection (50,000+)
- Low trading fees
- Reputable and well-regulated platform
- Managed ETF portfolios with reasonable fees
- Primarily available in the US (and some other countries upon request)
- Access to US markets only
- No email/live chat support
- Limited fund deposit options
Fidelity at a glance
Founded way back in 1946, Fidelity is one of the behemoths in the financial industry. They have over 43 million users, over $11.5 trillion in assets under administration, and are open to accepting clients primarily from the US.
In a nutshell, Fidelity is a low-cost broker that offers commission-free trading for stocks, ETFs, and selected mutual funds and bonds. There are also fractional share trading for over 7,000 stocks and ETFs and zero-expense-ratio Fidelity mutual funds available. Crypto trading is not available in all US states and is performed by a separate entity (Fidelity Digital Assets company).
When it comes to bond trading, Fidelity offers more than 75,000 bonds. Bond trading fees vary based on the type of bonds. New issues and US treasuries are commission-free, while secondary issues have a fee of 1$ per bond. If using broker-assisted trading with their representative, that will cost you a flat fee of $19.95.
The fee structure, in general, is transparent and simple, with virtually no common hidden fees. You can find it here.
Their customer service may be reached in 3 ways:
- Virtual assistant (24/7)
- Live chat (during working hours on both weekdays and weekends)
- Phone (24/7)
They are also offering extensive educational and research tools, as well as portfolio analysis tools and calculators, making the platform suitable for both beginner and advanced investors.
To sum it all up, Fidelity offers low-cost investing in bonds and other products with a reputable and well-regulated broker. Some cons include missing certain financial products, a demo account, and is available primarily in the US.
- Reputable and well-regulated with a long track record
- Wide choice of bonds (75,000+)
- Commission-free trading for stocks, ETF, and selected funds and bonds
- Additional tools for beginner and advanced traders alike
- 24/7 customer support (phone and virtual assistant)
- Available primarily in the US
- Some products, such as futures, forex, and commodities, are missing
- No email/live chat support
- High broker-assisted trading fee
#5 Saxo Bank
Saxo Bank at a glance
Founded in 1992 in Denmark, Saxo Bank is one of the most reputable global brokers. They are known for their wide choice of financial products (70,000+), access to a large number of market exchanges (120+), and a large number of base currencies (18). The platform is available globally, with notable exceptions like the US, Canada, and other countries.
Three distinct account levels are available, based on your initial funding or trading volume points: Classic ($0 minimum or 0 points), Platinum ($200,000 min. or 120 000 points), and VIP ($1,000,000 minimum or 500,000 points), each with its own fee structure. You can see how many points you get for each product and trading volume here.
When speaking of bond trading, you can choose between US and European government and corporate bonds, as well as emerging markets bonds, totalling over 5,900 bonds. Bond trading fees vary wildly based on your account level, at 0.20% for Classic, 0.10% for Platinum, and 0.05% for VIP accounts. You can also trade bonds offline with similar fees, which you can see in more detail here.
They have also recently introduced access to a wide range of mutual funds (including bond mutual funds).
Saxo Bank has, more than anything, been trying to appeal to professional investors. It has done so by offering advanced tools, such as its integration with the Trading View charting platform. The apps SaxoTraderGO and SaxoTraderPRO have also been tailored to the professional user, both by the number of their features and their relative complexity.
In a nutshell, Saxo Bank is a good choice for advanced investors looking for a wide financial product selection, advanced trading tools, and quality customer service.
To find out more about Saxo Bank, please read our in-depth review.
- Very wide range of financial products
- International bonds are available (5,900+ in total)
- Reputable and well-regulated platform
- Advanced trading tools
- Relatively high fees and a complex fee structure
- Not as many bonds to choose from compared to some other brokers
- Relatively high minimum deposit
- Not available in the USA
Our goal with this list is to help you make informed decisions about the best bond trading broker for you. We have taken into account parameters such as:
- Broker’s availability by country
- Bond selection (markets and the number of bonds)
- Bond trading fees
- Choice of other financial products and their associated fees
- Regulation and reputation
- User experience: platform and customer service
- Additional tools: for beginner and advanced investors alike
Some of these may be more important to you than others, and that’s why it’s especially important to adapt this information to your needs.
The bottom line
To sum it all up, here is our list of best bond trading platforms:
|#1||Interactive BrokersBest platform for bond trading overall|
|#2||TD AmeritradeBest for commission-free bond trading (U.S. treasuries)|
|#3||E*TRADEBest for beginner bond investors|
|#4||FidelityBest for wide bond selection and zero fees on new-issue corporate bonds|
|#5||Saxo BankBest for non-US advanced traders|
It is not easy to choose the right platform, but we hope we made the choice easier for you. Every platform has its pros and cons, which need to be weighed based on your specific situation.
How did we do? Let us know what you think about this review in the comments below!