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Find the Best Online Broker
CNBC.com | November 18, 2008 | 09:14 PM EST

Online brokerages put the power to invest right in your hands, and they are immensely popular for that reason. But the marketplace is chock full of them, so how do you determine which one is right for your needs?

Tom Anderson, senior consumer advice reporter for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance , picked the best brokerages for a recent column and came up with the five things you should look for before signing up.

1. Low fees and commissions. The evolution of online brokers has gotten to a point where some now offer zero commission trades. But they may be skimping on other features, so take the fees into account but don’t decide solely based on them.

2. Research and information. Fidelity and Charles Schwab have the best resources for users “hands down,” Anderson said. He was particularly impressed with Fidelity’s retirement income planner, which helps you figure out how you’re going to spend and save money in retirement.

3. Investment options. Fidelity, Schwab and E*Trade are the three best brokers when it comes to having access to foreign markets, and robust selections of bonds and mutual funds.

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