What is a brokerage account?

A brokerage account is an investment account that allows you to buy and sell a variety of investments, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs. Whether you're setting aside money for the future or saving up for a big purchase, you can use your funds whenever and however you want. 

Ready to work toward your financial goals? Learn more about the benefits of a brokerage account and how it compares to other types of investment accounts.

What can you do with a brokerage account?

You can use your brokerage account to gain access to stocks and other types of investments. Opening a brokerage account is one of the first steps to building your personal investment portfolio.

  • Buy and sell stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, and other securities.
  • Take advantage of potential long-term growth.
  • Set aside money for your retirement, or other goals like college tuition or a down payment.
  • Gain access to investment research, tools, and strategies.


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How is a brokerage account different from other accounts?

Brokerage account is a broad term that covers a few types of accounts. For example, a standard brokerage account offers maximum flexibility and access to a variety of investments. Learn more about how a standard brokerage account compares to other account types with our account comparison table below. 

Types of Accounts

  • Taxes 
  • More flexibility, based on what you sell. Must typically claim any capital gains as taxable income 
  • Specific tax benefits, depending on the IRA you choose  
  • There may be taxes on the interest income earned based on your checking account type
  • Contribution limits 
  • No restrictions on the dollar amount you can invest 
  • Has contribution limits, and certain eligibility requirements  
  • No restrictions on the dollar amount you can contribute  
  • Withdrawal rules 
  • Take money out anytime without paying any fees 
  • Depending on IRA you choose, there are penalties if you take money out before retirement  
  • No limit to when or how often you can access your money  

How do I use my brokerage account?

Many investors open a brokerage account to start saving for retirement. However, the flexibility of this type of account means you can withdraw at any time and use the funds for shorter-term goals, too, such as a new house, wedding, or big remodeling project.

Your brokerage account can help you with:

  • Trading stocks
  • Long term investing
  • Retirement savings
  • Other savings goals

What’s more, when you open a brokerage account with Schwab, you get to decide how to manage your investments. You can choose to handle your investment on your own, or take advantage of an advisor, or even explore automated investments—with Schwab, there are multiple ways to invest, so you can reach your goals according to your own plan.


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