Charles Schwab vs. Vanguard

Charles Schwab and Vanguard are two of the most important funding corporations on this planet. Schwab has 34 million lively brokerage accounts, 2.4 million company retirement plan contributors, 1.7 million banking accounts, and $7.05 trillion in consumer property. Vanguard is even bigger, with greater than 30 million buyers and $6.2 trillion in international property below administration.


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  • Account Minimal: $0
  • Charges: $0 for inventory/ETF trades, $0.65 per contract for choices.
  • Account Minimal: $0
  • Charges: $0/inventory and ETF commerce, $0 plus $1 per contract for choices

Based in 1971, Charles Schwab helped revolutionize the brokerage business simply 4 years later when it turned one of many first corporations to supply discounted inventory trades. At present, the corporate gives a number of buying and selling platforms and an array of instruments and companies designed to attraction to all investing ranges. Vanguard was launched in 1975 by its late founder, John C. Bogle, who’s credited with creating the primary index fund in 1976. Apparently, the fund was ridiculed as “un-American” and “a positive path to mediocrity.” At present, the fund (now Vanguard 500 Index Fund) is likely one of the business’s largest.

In our 2020 Finest On-line Brokers opinions, Charles Schwab earned larger scores than Vanguard in each class we ranked, which incorporates Finest General, Finest for Newbies, Finest Inventory Buying and selling App, Finest for Day Buying and selling, Finest for Worldwide Buying and selling, Finest for Low Price, and Finest for ETFs.

Nonetheless, that does not imply Charles Schwab is a greater possibility for each investor. General, we discovered that Schwab is a superb alternative for self-directed buyers and merchants who need entry to a number of platforms, loads of instruments, and full banking capabilities. Vanguard works properly for buy-and-hold buyers who is probably not as tech-savvy and who need entry to skilled recommendation.


Charles Schwab gives three web-based platforms, together with, StreetSmart Edge (its premier buying and selling platform), and StreetSmart Central. Two cell apps—Schwab Cellular and StreetSmart Cellular—spherical out its platform choices. It is simple to open and fund an account, and you are able to do so on-line, by way of cell app, by cellphone, or in particular person at certainly one of its 300+ branches.

You may open an account on-line with Vanguard, however there’s a several-day wait earlier than you possibly can log in. And like most brokers, if you wish to commerce choices or have entry to margin, it’s a must to fill out extra paperwork. The web site is a bit dated in comparison with many giant brokers, although the corporate says it’s engaged on an replace this 12 months. You may commerce shares, ETFs, funds, and a few mounted earnings merchandise on-line, and you’ll name a dealer to position orders with Vanguard’s different obtainable asset lessons.

On the cell aspect, Charles Schwab gives an easy, intuitive app. You may commerce all of Schwab’s obtainable asset lessons on the app, and you’ll even place conditional orders. The information is stable, however the elementary analysis and charting are restricted in comparison with the usual platforms. Vanguard’s cell app is straightforward to navigate, and it is simple to enter purchase and promote orders. It is gentle by way of options and appears to work finest for buy-and-hold buyers who need to test positions and enter easy commerce orders.

Commerce Expertise

Desktop Expertise

Schwab’s intuitive All-In-One Commerce Ticket works throughout platforms. There aren’t many customization choices on the web site, however you possibly can set hotkey buying and selling defaults by asset class in StreetSmart Edge. Streaming real-time quotes are customary on all platforms. You may stage orders and submit a number of orders on On StreetSmart Edge, it can save you a number of orders to make it simpler to ship them rapidly.

Vanguard’s platform is fundamental compared, however remember the fact that it is meant for buy-and-hold buyers, not lively merchants. That you must soar by means of a number of hoops to position trades, and it’s a must to open a commerce ticket to get real-time quotes (and even then, it’s good to refresh the display screen to replace the quote). General, the buying and selling platform works for buy-and-hold buyers, but it surely falls predictably brief for merchants and buyers who would need a strong, customizable expertise.

Cellular Expertise

Schwab supplies strong cell apps that supply streaming real-time quotes, commerce tickets, a number of order sorts (together with conditional orders), in-app analysis, and charting—together with indicators, however no drawing instruments. You may commerce the identical asset lessons on any of the platforms, and your watchlists are the identical on net and cell (except you employ the downloadable model of StreetSmart Edge and save the watchlist to your native gadget). 

Vanguard gives a cell app, too, but it surely’s outdated and light-weight by way of options in comparison with Schwab’s. You will not discover any choices for charting, and the quotes are delayed till you get to an order ticket. Nonetheless, you possibly can monitor your positions, analyze your portfolio, learn the information, and place fundamental orders, which can be sufficient for buy-and-hold buyers.

Vary of Choices

Charles Schwab gives all of the investments you’d count on from a big dealer, together with equities, bonds, futures, Foreign exchange, choices, and entry to cryptocurrency (by means of Bitcoin futures and funds solely). Vanguard’s choices are comparatively restricted, however they need to be enough for many buy-and-hold buyers.

Charles Schwab vs. Vanguard Vary of Choices
Asset Charles Schwab Vanguard
Brief Gross sales Sure Sure
Fee-Free ETFs All All
Bonds Sure Sure
Futures/Commodities Sure No
Future Choices Sure No
Advanced Choices Sure Sure
Robo-Advisory Sure Sure
Cryptocurrency Sure No
Worldwide Exchanges Sure Sure
Foreign exchange Sure No
Fractional Shares Sure Sure
OTCBB and Penny Shares Sure Sure

Order Varieties

Schwab helps all kinds of orders on the web site, StreetSmart Edge, and cell, together with conditional orders similar to one-cancels-the-other and one-triggers-the-other. You may stage orders for later entry and choose the tax lot whenever you shut a part of a place (e.g., common value, FIFO, LIFO, and many others.). Vanguard, predictably, solely helps order sorts that buy-and-hold buyers usually use: market, restrict, and stop-limit orders. It would not assist staging orders for later entry; nonetheless, you possibly can choose particular tax tons (together with partial shares inside loads) to promote.

Buying and selling Expertise

Charles Schwab makes use of a proprietary wheel-based router for order administration functions, similar to to deal with trade outages, carry out real-time execution high quality opinions, and deal with risky markets. Most inventory and choices orders are routed to third-party wholesalers (this balances execution high quality with Schwab’s value financial savings). Quarterly data relating to execution high quality is printed on Schwab’s web site.

Vanguard’s underlying order routing expertise has a single focus: value enchancment. The corporate experiences value enchancment on inventory orders of $0.023 per share—a really excessive determine for the business. Neither dealer gives a commerce simulator or helps backtesting capabilities.


Charles Schwab and Vanguard supply $0 commissions for on-line fairness, choices, and ETF trades for U.S.-based prospects, with per-contract choices charges of $0.65 and $1, respectively. You’ll pay extra at Schwab to purchase mutual funds exterior the no-fee record ($49.95 versus Vanguard’s $20), relying in your account steadiness). Dealer-assisted trades are $25.00 with Schwab and between $0 and $25 (relying in your account steadiness) at Vanguard.

The 2 brokers generate curiosity earnings from the distinction between what you are paid in your idle money and what they earn on buyer balances. With both dealer, you possibly can transfer your money right into a cash market fund to get a better rate of interest.

Analysis Facilities

Charles Schwab gives versatile screeners that will help you analysis your subsequent commerce, together with an ETF screener with greater than 150 standards together with asset class, fund efficiency, distribution yield, Morningstar class, regional publicity, and high ten holdings. You may additionally discover calculators, thought turbines, and a set of technical evaluation charting instruments. Schwab StreetSmart Edge software program consists of elementary analysis with real-time information, firm earnings, dividends, and rankings.

Vanguard gives fundamental screeners for shares, ETFs, and mutual funds, and you’ll view fixed-income merchandise in a sortable record. All analysis is proprietary, and market information is supplied by MT Newswires and the Related Press. There are a number of instruments targeted on retirement planning. Charting is restricted, and no technical evaluation is offered, which is anticipated for a dealer that focuses totally on buy-and-hold investing.

Portfolio Evaluation

Charles Schwab’s portfolio evaluation choices embody entry to real-time shopping for energy and margin data, plus real-time unrealized and realized positive factors. You may hyperlink holdings from exterior your account to get a full image of your funds, calculate the tax impression of future trades, and calculate the interior price of return (IRR). One shortfall is you could’t view your anticipated earnings from dividends and curiosity (you possibly can with Vanguard).

Vanguard has comparable portfolio evaluation instruments. You may entry real-time shopping for energy and margin data, inner price of return, unrealized and realized positive factors, and tax experiences. You are capable of mix holdings from exterior your account to get an total monetary image. One factor that is lacking is that Vanguard would not allow you to calculate the tax impression of future trades.


Schwab gives in depth investor schooling with its Schwab Dwell Every day broadcasts, analysis from the Schwab Middle for Monetary Analysis, an array of articles on the Insights & Concepts web page, in addition to webinars and in-person occasions for buyers and merchants. The corporate gives 1000’s of stay occasions together with many trader-focused ones. Vanguard’s instructional content material is concentrated on serving to you set and attain your monetary targets. Most content material is within the type of articles, and a whole lot are added annually

Buyer Service

Charles Schwab gives 24/7 cellphone line assist with entry to stay brokers, plus 24/7 on-line chat with a stay agent. It’s also possible to go to certainly one of its over 300 department places for in-person assist.

At Vanguard, you possibly can entry cellphone assist (customer support and brokers) from 8 a.m. to eight p.m. (Japanese) Monday by means of Friday. Dwell chat is not supported, however you possibly can ship a safe message by way of the web site after logging into your account. Vanguard additionally maintains a presence on Twitter and responds to queries inside an hour or so. Vanguard says its common wait time varies by consumer service group and buying and selling desk.


Charles Schwab and Vanguard’s safety are as much as business requirements. You may log into any app utilizing biometric (face or fingerprint) recognition, and each brokers shield towards account losses as a consequence of unauthorized or fraudulent exercise. Schwab carries extra Securities Investor Safety Company (SIPC) insurance coverage supplied by London insurers with an mixture restrict of $600 million, restricted to a mixed return to any buyer of $149.5 million, together with money of as much as $1.15 million. Vanguard’s extra SIPC protection will not be clearly disclosed.

Neither brokerage had any vital knowledge breaches reported by the Identification Theft Analysis Middle.

Our Verdict

Charles Schwab and Vanguard are two of the most important brokers within the enterprise, but it surely’s essential to notice that they cater to several types of buyers. Because of its big selection of companies and instruments, Charles Schwab is a superb alternative for self-directed buyers and merchants who need a customizable buying and selling platform. Purchase-and-hold buyers who worth simplicity over bells and whistles, and who need entry to skilled recommendation and a number of the finest (and lowest value) funds within the enterprise, might desire Vanguard.

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Investopedia is devoted to offering buyers with unbiased, complete opinions and rankings of on-line brokers. Our opinions are the results of months of evaluating all points of an internet dealer’s platform, together with the person expertise, the standard of commerce executions, the merchandise obtainable on its platforms, prices and costs, safety, the cell expertise and customer support. We established a score scale based mostly on our standards, amassing 1000’s of information factors that we weighed into our star-scoring system.

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