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When researching the best way to save for your nonworking years, you likely have come across individual retirement accounts, also known as IRAs.
There are a few different types of IRA accounts and one of the most popular is a Roth IRA. It works much the same as a traditional IRA — you can regularly contribute to the account and watch your investments grow year over year so you have a nest egg to tap in retirement.
But the Roth IRA also offers a few different components that makes it different from a traditional IRA, including limits on who can contribute, the ability to withdraw your earnings in retirement tax-free and other benefits worth considering (see our FAQ for more details).
To determine which Roth IRAs are the best overall, Select reviewed and compared over 20 different accounts offered by national banks, investment firms, online brokers and robo-advisors. For the purposes of this ranking, we focused only on Roth IRAs, though the best providers often overlap with those that offer the top traditional IRAs. (Read Select’s list of the best traditional IRAs.)
Our top Roth IRA selections require no (or low) minimum deposit, offer commission-free trading of stocks and ETFs, provide a variety of investment options and have educational resources or tools that accountholders can access.
- 1 Best Roth IRAs
- 2 Roth IRA FAQs
- 3 Best overall
- 4 Best for beginner investors eager to learn
- 5 Best for hands-on beginner investors
- 6 Best for hands-off beginner investors
- 7 Best for access to a financial advisor
- 8 Roth IRA FAQs
- 9 What’s the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA?
- 10 Can anyone open a Roth IRA?
- 11 How much should I contribute to my Roth IRA?
- 12 Roth IRA taxes vs traditional IRA taxes?
- 13 Roth IRA withdrawals vs traditional IRA withdrawals?
- 14 Our methodology
Information about Charles Schwab IRA has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by Charles Schwab prior to publication. To see also : Understanding the ever-changing RMD rules | Business | gazette.com – Colorado Springs Gazette.
Information about Fidelity Investments IRA has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by Fidelity Investments prior to publication. To see also : Should I Use My Home Equity to Buy Stocks?.
$0 commission fees for stock and ETF trades; $0 transaction fees for over 3,400 mutual funds; $0.65 per options contract
Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs and ETFs
Tools and calculators that show users their retirement goal progress; Fidelity Five Money Musts online game to teach you about managing money in the real world
Information about Ally Invest IRA has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by Ally Bank prior to publication. See the article : How to Save for Retirement by Investing in Real Estate — RISMedia |.
$0 for Self-Directed Trading; $100 for Managed Portfolios robo-advisor
$0 commission fees for stock and ETF trades; $0.50 per options contract
Stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options
Offers informational articles to help users improve their understanding of investment strategies and market trends
Information about Wealthfront IRA has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by Wealthfront prior to publication.
Management fee is 0.25% of your account balance
First $5,000 in your account is managed free
Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash. Additional asset classes to your portfolio include real estate, natural resources and dividend stocks
Offers free financial planning for college planning, retirement and homebuying
On Betterment’s secure site
$0; upgrade to premium plan requires $100,000 minimum balance
0.25% of your fund balance as an annual account fee; upgrade to premium plan for a 0.40% annual fee; $0 trade or transfer fees
Up to one year of free management service with a qualifying deposit of at least $15,000
Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash
Betterment RetireGuide™ helps users plan for retirement
A Roth IRA is very similar to a traditional IRA: You can make consistent contributions to your Roth, which will be invested in the market allowing the money to grow over time so you have a healthy savings when you reach retirement age.
But Roth IRAs have a few components that make them stand out from your traditional IRA. Here’s what makes them unique:
- When you withdraw your contributions from a Roth IRA in retirement, those withdrawals are generally tax free (as long as your account has been open for at least five years) and they don’t count as income. Withdrawals in retirement from a traditional IRA and 401(k) will be taxed as income.
- Contributions into a Roth IRA use after-tax dollars, unlike contributions to a traditional IRA or 401(k), which are not taxed. This may be a bigger hit to your finances in the short term, but your money will grow tax free.
- If you withdraw earnings you’ve made on investments in a Roth IRA before age 59 and a half, you’ll incur a 10% early withdrawal penalty and may be subject to income tax.
- There are exceptions to the early withdrawal penalty on Roth IRAs, including taking out funds for first-time home purchases, college expenses and birth or adoption expenses.
- Your tax filing status and income level determine whether or not you can contribute to a Roth IRA: if married filing jointly, the annual income threshold is below $208,000; if single, the income threshold is below $140,000; if married filing separately and you lived with your spouse, the income threshold is below $10,000.
We dig into these differences a little bit more in the FAQs below.
Only people below a certain income level can open and contribute to a Roth IRA. This is different from traditional IRAs, where anyone can contribute regardless of how much money they earn.
Given the income limits that come with Roth IRAs, high-earners may not be eligible to open or contribute to a Roth IRA. (There is a loophole to this, however, for high-earners to make contributions indirectly through a backdoor Roth IRA.) Here are the specific income thresholds for 2021:
- Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er): Not eligible if your modified adjusted gross income is $208,000 or more
- Single, head of household or married filing separately (and you didn’t live with your spouse at any time during the year): Not eligible if your modified adjusted gross income is $140,000 or more
- Married filing separately (if you lived with your spouse at any time during the year): Not eligible if your modified adjusted gross income is $10,000 or more
When deciding how much money to deposit into your Roth IRA, you are limited to a certain amount each year.
Roth IRAs have the same contribution limits as traditional IRAs, which is the below for 2021:
- Those under age 50: Total contribution limit to both Roth and traditional IRAs of up to $6,000
- Those 50 or older: Total contribution limit to both Roth and traditional IRAs of up to $7,000
With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes on your contributions upfront so you don’t have to pay them later when you withdraw money from your retirement fund (as long as your account has been open for at least five years).
This is the biggest difference from a traditional IRA, which lets you delay paying taxes until you withdraw funds later down the road. With traditional IRAs, your contributions are also tax-deductible, up to certain limits, so your contribution reduces the amount you owe in taxes each year.
A good rule of thumb when choosing between the two types of IRA accounts is to consider your tax bracket:
- Choose a Roth IRA if you expect that you’ll be making more money in your later years — and thus in a higher tax bracket. It makes more sense to pay taxes today to take advantage of your current low tax rate before it goes up. Plus, since your withdrawals from Roth IRAs don’t count as income and aren’t taxed after 59 and a half, you can count on every dollar in your account when making withdrawals.
- Choose a traditional IRA if you expect that you’ll be making less money in your later years — and thus in a lower tax bracket. In this case, it makes more sense to reduce your taxable income in the present, so in theory you’ll pay less in taxes both now and in the future when your tax rate is lower.
Use an online calculator like this one from Charles Schwab to help you decide between a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA.
With a Roth IRA, you have much more flexibility when it comes to withdrawing money from your account before you reach retirement.
Withdrawing from your traditional IRA before age 59 and a half comes at a cost. You’ll be taxed, in addition to incurring a 10% early withdrawal penalty fee.
But you can withdraw after-tax contributions from your Roth IRA at any age tax- and penalty-free. With earnings, it’s a little different.
If you withdraw any earnings you’ve made on your investments in a Roth IRA before age 59 and a half, you will incur a 10% early withdrawal penalty (and may be subject to income taxes like a traditional IRA). There are some unique exceptions to this early withdrawal penalty on Roth IRAs that include first-time home purchases, college expenses and birth or adoption expenses.
To determine which Roth IRAs are the best for investors, Select analyzed and compared Roth IRAs offered by national banks, investment firms, online brokers and robo-advisors. We narrowed down our ranking by only considering those that offer commission-free trading of stocks and ETFs, as well as a variety of investment options so you can best maximize your retirement savings.
We also compared each Roth IRA on the following features:
- $0 minimum deposit: Most of the Roth IRAs on our ranking don’t have minimum deposit requirements.
- Low fees: We considered each Roth IRA’s fees, commission trading fees and transaction fees.
- Bonus offered: Some Roth IRAs offer promotions for new account users.
- Variety of investment options: The more diversified your portfolio, the better. We made sure our top picks offer investments in stocks, bonds, mutual finds, CDs and ETFs. Most also offer options trading.
- A hub of educational resources: We opted for Roth IRAs with an online resource hub or advice center to help you educate yourself about retirement accounts and investing.
- Ease-of-use: Whether accessing your Roth IRA via your laptop at home or on your smartphone while on the go, it’s important to have an easy user experience. We noted when an investment platform excelled in usability.
- Customer support: Every Roth IRA on our list provides customer service available via telephone, email or secure online messaging.
After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by their appeal to beginner investors who are likely just starting out in their careers since Roth IRAs are the most effective retirement savings vehicles if you’re in a lower tax bracket.
Your earnings on contributions to a Roth IRA depend on any associated fees, the contributions you make to your account and the fluctuations of the market.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.