Charles Schwab vs. E*TRADE

Charles Schwab and E*TRADE are each heavyweights and early entrants into on-line brokerage. Their lengthy expertise within the enterprise and really giant buyer base present them each with vital sources to put money into their platforms and companies. Though Charles Schwab is the bigger of the 2, each brokers have the scale and expertise to serve traders and merchants of every kind. They’ve additionally grown even bigger lately, after Morgan Stanley bought E*TRADE in 2020, and following Schwab’s buy of TD Ameritrade in the identical 12 months.

E*TRADE and Charles Schwab have been fast to go commission-free for shares and ETFs. In addition they supply equally glorious instruments and screeners as a part of their platforms. Whereas E*TRADE and Schwab are each superb on-line brokers which have many frequent options on their respective cell, net, and desktop platforms, we are going to take a more in-depth take a look at the variations between them that will help you resolve which is correct in your investing or buying and selling wants.

  • Account Minimal: $0
  • Charges: $0 for inventory/ETF trades, $0.65 per contract for choices.
  • Account Minimal: $0
  • Charges: No fee for inventory/ETF trades. Choices are $0.50-$0.65 per contract, relying on buying and selling quantity.


Each Charles Schwab and E*TRADE have strong platforms that supply streaming quotes and will let you commerce shares and ETFs commission-free. The 2 brokers have the aptitude to deal with conditional market orders and in addition overlap on different options like the flexibility to maintain notes on particular person trades and stage orders on their intuitive platforms. Charles Schwab and E*TRADE additionally make it simple to examine balances, entry elementary and monetary data, and conduct analysis on shares.

Each platforms have an online model and a streaming model, with the streaming variations being essentially the most strong. Schwab has a single cell app providing, whereas E*TRADE has a cell platform for every of its on-line and pc workstations that replicates the net or desktop expertise. General, we discovered E*TRADE’s platforms simpler to make use of, however this class was very shut. 

Commerce Expertise

Desktop Commerce Expertise

Charles Schwab has an internet site and its Road Sensible Edge desktop workstation, each of which have real-time information streams and inventory screeners. Whereas the web site doesn’t supply many customization choices, the workstation may be custom-made for issues resembling data proven within the high account balances line, the flexibility to save lots of particular inventory or ETF searches, and even the flexibility to customise the commerce ticket. Whereas Schwab’s desktop platform helps choices methods as much as 4 legs, resembling butterfly and condor methods, the web site is proscribed to two-leg methods like strangles, straddles, and vertical spreads. 

E*TRADE’s choices embrace an ordinary web site that, whereas principally intuitive, has a two-level menu system that may generally be complicated. Buying and selling on E*TRADE is straightforward and simple: Enter a logo, choose an order kind and amount, and preview and approve. E*TRADE’s platforms will let you create customizable watchlist views and the watchlists may be simply created from screeners. Extra superior merchants will lean in the direction of the Energy E*TRADE platform with highly effective charts, technical sample recognition, chance evaluation, and different buying and selling instruments.

E*TRADE’s current platform redesign has improved its choices choices, because it now makes use of a drop-down menu that exhibits the assorted methods and might even assist decide a method primarily based on danger tolerance and sentiment on the anticipated worth course of the safety. E*TRADE permits customers to commerce immediately from a chart, and you may observe your order visually.

Whereas the know-how was fairly shut and each brokers supply screening instruments, portfolio analytics, information, and academic materials, we really feel E*TRADE offered a barely higher buying and selling expertise due to extra interactive charting, extra customization choices, and streamlined order entry.

Cellular Commerce Expertise

Charles Schwab’s cell platform is intuitive and straightforward to make use of, and you may commerce the identical asset courses because the desktop model. Buyers and merchants can see primary data resembling balances and information on shares in your portfolio. The Schwab cell app additionally gives charts, Schwab’s analysis score, a quote abstract, information, earnings and bulletins, and margin necessities for particular person securities. Schwab gives a straightforward drop-down menu for choosing as much as 4 leg choices methods, however the cell app doesn’t present choices profitability graphs or excessive degree choices analytics. The cell platform’s lack of ability to deal with contingent orders is one other notable weak point. Schwab’s cell app will meet the wants of most traders, however lively merchants (particularly choices merchants), will discover the system missing in comparison with the performance and instruments accessible on the Schwab Road Sensible desktop platform.

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E*TRADE presents its prospects the selection of two cell apps akin to the totally different platforms, net and desktop. The E*TRADE cell app is targeted on watchlists, market analysis, quotes, and portfolio administration, so it’s glorious for traders, however much less so for lively merchants. The common E*TRADE app, identical to the web site, gives third-party funding analysis, real-time information streaming, and market information from Bloomberg TV. Now with Morgan Stanley as an proprietor, Morgan Stanley analysis is on the market by way of the app (and all platforms). The Energy E*TRADE app is designed for lively traders and merchants, and has a deeper set of instruments and features. This consists of the flexibility to commerce shares, ETFs, primary and complicated choices as much as 4 legs, and futures all from a single commerce ticket. E*TRADE’s cell apps additionally assist contingent orders. E*TRADE’s apps do not need fastened earnings, so lively bond traders will discover that an essential hole at E*TRADE. 

General, we give E*TRADE the sting over Charles Schwab for cell choices as a result of the 2 apps mirror the respective web site and desktop platforms, permitting you to pick out the most effective match. E*TRADE’s apps are each simple to make use of and accommodate much less lively traders and extra lively merchants with a selected providing somewhat than one app that makes an attempt to do all of it.

Vary of Choices

Charles Schwab and E*TRADE each have very related choices. Neither of them supply direct publicity to cryptocurrency, however you will discover a variety of belongings at both dealer.

Order Sorts

The Charles Schwab and E*TRADE platforms each present a number of order varieties. Schwab presents one-triggers-other (OTO), one-triggers-two orders (OTT), one-cancels-other (OCO), market-if-touched (MIT), market-on-open (MOO), and orders contingent on unfold worth, worth, quantity, and time on its desktop platform. StreetSmart Edge, Schwab’s desktop workstation, additionally presents merchants a chance to enter extra refined orders, resembling a restrict order with an OCO contingent order and cease loss and revenue taking ranges.

E*TRADE presents contingent, bracketed, OTO, OCO, one-triggers-a-one-cancels-other (OTOCO) on its web site and desktop platforms, and contingent and OTO orders on its cell platforms. We give Schwab the slight edge due to the specialised orders accessible by way of its desktop utility.

Buying and selling Expertise

Schwab gives worth enchancment on greater than 96.3% of its orders by utilizing its personal proprietary order routing system with common execution pace of 0.03 seconds and a financial savings to traders averaging $24.46 per order (500-1,999 share trades in S&P 500 shares). E*TRADE additionally makes use of its personal system for order routing and the common time to fill an order is roughly 0.12 seconds with worth enchancment of $6.77 per order (100-9,999 share trades in S&P 500 shares). These are usually not apples-to-apples comparisons. In our evaluation, we discovered that Charles Schwab usually noticed $0.0190 per share in worth enchancment and E*TRADE got here in a decrease at $0.0079 per share. When it comes to fee for order movement (PFOF), one thing each brokers settle for, E*TRADE was larger with $0.0014 per share to Charles Schwab’s $0.0006 within the interval we checked out. These are nowhere close to the business leaders in PFOF, however nonetheless value noting.

Each companies supply portfolio margining, however Schwab presents fractional shares whereas E*TRADE solely presents fractional shares in its dividend reinvestment and robo-advisor choices. Each fill their orders rapidly, however Schwab will get the small edge over E*TRADE for buying and selling know-how.


Each Schwab and E*TRADE have been fast to undertake commission-free buying and selling, so neither firm costs commissions for inventory and ETF trades. E*TRADE costs choices merchants with lower than 30 trades per quarter $0.65 per contract and $0.50 per contract for lively merchants with over 30 trades. Schwab costs $0.65 per choices contract for all merchants. For these buying and selling over-the-counter shares, Schwab doesn’t cost something, whereas E*TRADE costs $6.95 for much less lively traders and $4.95 for extra lively account holders. Neither firm costs inactivity or minimal charges, and each cost $25 for dealer assisted trades.

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In fastened earnings, Schwab doesn’t cost commissions for T-Payments, Notes, bonds, TIPS, and new certificates of deposit (CD) points. At E*TRADE, secondary market transactions for CDs and company, municipal, company, and zero-coupon bonds are $1 per bond, with a $10 minimal and $250 most fee. E*TRADE is cheaper for buying and selling mutual funds exterior of the no transaction payment program, with E*TRADE charging $14.95 per commerce in comparison with $49.50 at Schwab. 

At Schwab, margin charges are barely decrease than E*TRADE’s. E*TRADE costs 11.70% for account balances of $10,000, and Schwab is available in at 11.325%. Because the balances go up, the distinction stays roughly constant, with Schwab charging 9.825% at $100,000 to E*TRADE’s 10.45%.

Whereas it’s a little bit of a blended bag with reference to which merchandise you particularly commerce, Schwab presents decrease margin charges and glued earnings charges, giving it the sting in prices. E*TRADE should still enchantment to lower-balance account holders that need robo-portfolios. Merchants specializing in choices buying and selling are prone to discover Schwab and E*TRADE expensive compared to decrease price brokers catering to this market.

Account and Analysis Facilities

Each E*TRADE and Schwab have glorious analysis, information, account analytics, screeners, calculators, and tax reporting instruments for account holders. E*TRADE has seen a leap within the quantity of high quality analysis accessible throughout platforms with integration of Morgan Stanley’s choices and scores. We discovered Schwab to have the higher ETF screener, however each brokers had sturdy screeners along with options-specific screeners. E*TRADE’s charting providing is healthier than Schwab’s as a result of it has higher drawing instruments and you may visually see orders and positions on charts. Whilst you can open a commerce ticket from charts on Schwab, it’s actually simply opening an order ticket, with no ranges, orders, and no integration with the chart. E*TRADE’s charting additionally had extra technical research. We give E*TRADE the sting right here due to the higher charting, however each platforms have sturdy choices for purchasers relative to account and analysis facilities. 

Portfolio Evaluation

Each Schwab and E*TRADE have glorious suites of analytics for accounts, margin, and shopping for energy, along with calculators overlaying retirement and long run planning. In addition they supply all of the tax reporting instruments an investor wants. The brokers are each glorious on this class, however Schwab’s total suite of choices has the small edge over E*TRADE.


Once more, each platforms have a broad vary of academic choices, together with many articles, movies, and courses. E*TRADE has lots of good data for brand new traders overlaying long-term investing, tax planning, and choices and futures. E*TRADE additionally just lately launched Digital Studying Environments, that are full-day structured on-line occasions with focused studying goals, resembling newbie choices. Schwab additionally has a really strong array of academic choices.

Each E*Commerce and Schwab elevated the amount of webcasts and on-line occasions on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, however Schwab presents extra of this programming than E*Commerce. Schwab additionally has a department community to help prospects additional, whereas E*Commerce solely has 29 branches. We give the sting to Schwab within the training class due to the amount of data, together with 5 hours of dialing dwell programming, and a department community with professionals that may additionally educate traders.

Buyer Service

Each E*TRADE and Schwab supply customer support to account holders and potential prospects with 24/7 assist by telephone and by way of chat with a dwell individual. The assist acquired is mostly good, and prospects can converse with dwell brokers and monetary advisors.

E*TRADE is working to ramp up capability, however Schwab’s customer support is healthier, and it additionally has a department community that may present service. Schwab has the benefit in customer support. 

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Schwab and E*TRADE are tied in relation to safety. Each Schwab and E*TRADE have sturdy safety that features two-factor authentication for all platforms. E*TRADE hasn’t reported any vital outages or information breaches prior to now 12 months. Schwab hasn’t skilled outages however had a knowledge breach concerning electronic mail and chat messages going to an exterior electronic mail tackle. Schwab contacted all prospects affected by the incident and enhanced monitoring of all accounts probably affected.

Schwab carries extra Securities Investor Safety Company (SIPC) insurance coverage offered by London insurers with an mixture restrict of $600 million, restricted to a mixed return to any buyer of $150 million, together with money of as much as $1.15 million. E*TRADE shoppers might be lined underneath the Morgan Stanley extra of Securities Investor Safety Company (SIPC) supplemental insurance coverage coverage, which has an mixture restrict of $1 billion. This quantity is above and past the required insurance coverage by SIPC.

Charles Schwab and E*TRADE are each as much as business requirements in relation to safety.

Accessible Account Sorts

Charles Schwab and E*TRADE each supply the total vary of generally used account varieties. This consists of:

  • Particular person taxable
  • Conventional particular person retirement accounts (IRAs)
  • Roth IRAs
  • Rollover IRAs
  • Simplified worker pension (SEP) IRAs
  • Custodial accounts
  • 529 school financial savings plan and training financial savings accounts (ESAs)
  • Trusts 

There are some variations with E*TRADE providing an IRA particularly for minors and Schwab providing a worldwide account with entry to 12 worldwide markets in native forex. That stated, most traders will discover the account varieties they want with both dealer.

Remaining Verdict

Whereas E*TRADE and Schwab are very aggressive with one another, we give the nod to Schwab for the common investor by the smallest of margins. It’s because Schwab has higher customer support, a bigger breadth of academic choices, superior screeners, and decrease commissions for fastened earnings. That stated, the competitors was very shut, and different traders could discover E*TRADE the higher alternative ought to they prioritize higher charting and total buying and selling expertise.

When it comes to lively merchants, we undoubtedly favor E*TRADE to Charles Schwab. Along with the aforementioned charting benefit, E*TRADE is cheaper by way of choices with sufficient quantity and has a significantly better app by way of buying and selling on the go. All in all, nonetheless, each brokers are glorious selections for almost all of traders and merchants. The principle exceptions are extremely refined merchants that need management over routing their very own orders, even decrease choices commissions, and direct entry to cryptocurrencies. 

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Investopedia is devoted to offering traders with unbiased, complete opinions and scores of on-line brokers. This 12 months, we revamped the evaluation course of by conducting an intensive survey of shoppers which are actively trying to begin buying and selling and investing with a web-based dealer. We then mixed this invaluable data with our material experience to develop the framework for a quantitative scores mannequin that’s on the core of how we compiled our listing of the most effective on-line dealer and buying and selling platform firms.

This mannequin weighs key elements like buying and selling know-how, vary of choices, cell app usability, analysis facilities, academic content material, portfolio evaluation options, buyer assist, prices, account facilities, and total buying and selling expertise in keeping with their significance. Our group of researchers gathered 2425 information factors and weighted 66 standards primarily based on information collected throughout in depth analysis for every of the 25 firms we reviewed. 

Lots of the brokers we reviewed additionally gave us dwell demonstrations of their platforms and companies, both at their New York Metropolis places of work or by way of video conferencing strategies. Dwell brokerage accounts have been additionally obtained for a lot of the platforms we reviewed, which our group of professional writers and editors used to carry out hands-on testing with a purpose to lend their qualitative perspective. 

Learn our full Methodology for reviewing on-line brokers.