It's easy–especially with an online broker

A traditional IRA account can be opened through many financial institutions, including banks, credit unions and brokerages. When choosing an IRA provider, it makes sense to research the investment options, investment and account fees, and other account management features or tools. For instance, if tracking investment performance or making automatic deposits from a bank account is important to you, make sure the provider offers that feature before opening an account.

Some questions to ask during your research:

• What types of investments are offered to IRA owners? (Mutual funds, ETFs, individual stocks, bonds or even real estate?)
• Does the investment menu include the range of investments needed to meet my goals?
• Is there an account minimum?
• Are there annual fees charged on the account?
• What types of fees do the investments carry? (Do the mutual funds, for instance, charge front- or back-end “load” fees?)
• What types of investment performance-tracking tools would I have access to?
• Does the provider offer automatic deposits and withdrawals?

Such research can typically be done on providers’ web sites.

Once an IRA provider is selected, an account can often be opened through its web site. The provider will typically ask for basic information, including your name, birthdate and Social Security number. It will also likely ask you to fill out a beneficiary form that names the person or people you would like to leave the IRA to in the event of your death.

You will typically be able to link the IRA to a checking or savings account, so you can easily make electronic contributions today and withdrawals in the future.

Compare Popular IRA Providers

Provider Fidelity Investments Merrill Edge
Name Fidelity Roth IRA Merrill Edge IRA E*Trade IRA
Description Get a range of investment choices, tax advantages and 1:1 help with a Fidelity Roth IRA Learn More Get up to $600 when you invest in a new Merrill Edge IRA. Plus one-on-one guidance, actionable insights and easy-to-use tools. Learn More Invest for retirement at E*TRADE. Learn More