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Charles Schwab® review 2024

Updated January 2, 2024
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Charles Schwab: Best for

  • Overall experience
  • Research
  • Customer support

Charles Schwab is consistently rated among the top brokers in Bankrate’s reviews by offering one of the most comprehensive offerings in the industry. With its integration of TD Ameritrade nearly complete, Schwab should appeal to investors of all kinds. Clients won’t pay commissions on stock or ETF trades, and thousands of no-transaction fee mutual funds are available as well. Schwab also has one of the best research and educational offerings among brokerages, which should appeal to new and experienced investors alike. More active traders will appreciate the addition of the thinkorswim trading platform, which was rolled out in late 2023 and came to Schwab as part of the TD Ameritrade deal. 

Investors looking for similar comprehensive brokerage offerings should check out Fidelity Investments and Interactive Brokers. If you’re attracted to low-cost offerings from apps such as Robinhood, you should compare it to Schwab, where you’ll get the same low costs along with more features and better customer support.

Charles Schwab: In the details

Broker logo
5.0
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Bankrate Score
Cost
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Accounts & Trading
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Research and Education
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Mobile
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Customer Experience
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
About Bankrate Score
Minimum Balance
$0
Cost per stock trade
$0
Cost per options trade
$0.65 per contract
Promotion
Get $101 of Schwab Stock Slices with a minimum of $50 deposited.
Commission-free ETFs
All
No-transaction-fee mutual funds
~4,300 NTF mutual funds
Securities tradable
Stocks, ETFs, bonds, options, mutual funds, futures
Customer service
24/7 phone support, online chat support and in-person service at roughly 400 branches nationwide
Account fees
$50 full transfer out fee, $0 partial
Mobile app
Schwab offers the “Schwab Mobile” app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Pros: Where Charles Schwab stands out

Trading fees and account types

Schwab charges $0 for stock and ETF trades and $0.65 per contract for options. You could find cheaper options commissions if you wanted to skimp on some key features such as research, customer support or fee-free funds. But Schwab’s commissions are competitive and more than reasonable for all the value you’re getting. Plus, there’s no account minimum, so it’s incredibly easy to get started.

Schwab also offers nearly any account type you can imagine: Individual, joint, IRAs, education savings accounts, 529 education accounts, business accounts such as the SEP IRA and solo 401(k), as well as trust and charitable accounts, among many others. As your financial needs grow, Schwab is going to be able to accommodate your requirements. 

No-commission funds

Mutual fund investors should be happy with Schwab’s offerings – with around 7,700 funds available without a sales load. Investors in mutual funds should generally be looking to avoid sales loads since they’re a dead loss, and Schwab gives you plenty of solid fund choices.

But it goes one better, offering roughly 4,300 funds with no load and no transaction fee, meaning you’ll buy and sell without a commission. It’s another way that Schwab is so investor-friendly.

Fractional shares

Schwab has a great feature for newer investors, allowing you to put all your money to work in an investment, even if you can’t afford a full share (which is a real possibility with some high-flying tech stocks.) It’s called Stock Slices, and it lets you buy any stock in the Standard & Poor’s 500, which is an index of America’s five hundred or so largest companies.

You can buy a slice of any of the index’s stocks for as little as $5, and you can buy up to 30 slices in total at a time. For example, if you wanted to buy 10 slices of various stocks, you’d have to have at least $50. But if you want to invest just $25, you could max out at five slices in total or pick just one or two. The Schwab trade interface is easy to use, allowing you to input all your transactions at once and then click the trade button once – a clear upgrade from Fidelity’s clunky interface for purchasing fractional shares. This program enjoys Schwab’s no-commission structure on stock trades, too. 

However, the clear disadvantage at Schwab is that you’re limited to those 500 or so S&P 500 stocks, whereas rivals such as Fidelity and Interactive Brokers literally allow you to purchase thousands of stocks on a fractional basis. Hopefully, Schwab expands this program to include more than just S&P 500 companies. Besides purchasing fractional shares, at Schwab you’ll also be able to reinvest dividends in partial shares.

Research

Schwab is great at providing investors with what they need to know, both in terms of research and all the tools the broker offers.

Clients receive earnings news from Reuters, Briefing.com and others, while Schwab also provides market commentary from Morningstar, Argus and CFRA. Those investors looking for research on specific stocks will find Schwab’s in-house analytical work, including Schwab Equity Ratings for evaluating a stock’s performance, as well as other third-party reports.

Fund investors can access the Morningstar rating for each mutual fund, while ETF traders can trawl through the offerings efficiently with Schwab’s ETF screener and ETF Select List, a guide to the broker’s top picks. It’s a quick way to sift the fund universe for what you really want, and the screener helps you find low-cost funds quickly. And the screener can even help you find which funds are engaged in socially responsible investing, if that’s what you’re looking for. 

Fixed-income traders can pore through tens of thousands of offerings with Schwab BondSource, a screener that includes ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. 

High-quality trading platforms

Schwab offers a pair of trading platforms as well as a mobile app, so you’ll have the means to trade wherever you are.

Schwab.com web trader: The broker’s entry-level platform does plenty. In addition to all the basic features, the platform keeps tabs on major indexes and watchlists, can pull up a company’s financials and trading data, and access options chains and analyze trends. The all-in-one trade ticket allows you to make simple stock trades and even complex options trades from one interface. If you need even more, you can step up to thinkorswim.

Schwab thinkorswim: Thanks to its acquisition of TD Ameritrade, Schwab now offers customers the thinkorswim trading platform. The thinkorswim platform is available in desktop, mobile and web form and offers a customizable trading experience that is highly respected by experienced traders. You’ll get advanced charting with hundreds of technical indicators to help you explore different trading strategies, and you can even watch live financial news.

Mobile app

Schwab Mobile provides the core functionality of the broker’s web trader and you’ll be able to securely access your accounts with industry-standard encryption. The app allows you to place trades (including multi-leg options) and monitor your portfolio, access news and real-time market data, check out stock charts and the thinkorswim app allows you to watch CNBC on a live stream. You can deposit checks into your brokerage or Schwab bank accounts, and the app is integrated with Apple Watch, too. 

On top of this, you can access many of the app’s functions with voice commands via the virtual assistant. You can trade, check your portfolio, deposit checks and set alerts, among others.

Customer support

It might be a dark and stormy night, but Schwab’s customer support team is going to be open to take your call. Not only does the Schwab team take calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but it’s also available for online chats and email around the clock, too. It’s hard to do better than that. 

You can always send an email, or you can stop by one of the approximately 400 Schwab branches (and now TD Ameritrade locations, too, since Schwab owns that brokerage) if you need more personal assistance. This physical presence is an advantage that Schwab has over online-only brokers such as Webull, Robinhood or Interactive Brokers.

Integration with the rest of Schwab

One of the benefits of going with a powerhouse such as Schwab is the ability to conduct nearly all your financial business under one roof. If you’re looking to expand your relationship from just a brokerage account to a bank account, you can have that set up in minutes on the Schwab site. You’ll get a highly regarded bank account and still enjoy the company’s top-notch customer service. 

Or if you’re looking for a robo-advisor to manage your portfolio for you, the company can handle that with Schwab Intelligent Portfolios service. And the kicker? The company doesn’t charge any management fee (just the small fees for any funds it places you in.) If you want more specialized assistance from a certified pro, you can opt for a very reasonable monthly fee. 

And you’ll still have access to Schwab’s physical branches if you need a specific question answered or you prefer to conduct your business in person.

Cons: Where Charles Schwab could improve

Transfer-out fees

With all the other investor-friendly advantages at Schwab, it feels nitpicky to target the broker’s fees for transferring out your account. A partial transfer is now free (down from $25 before), while a full transfer will cost you $50. Although Schwab is generally good about not hitting you up for fees here and there, that’s not really the case with transfer fees. Key rival Fidelity somehow manages to get away without charging those fees, so Schwab probably could, too.

Investment options

Schwab’s investment choices – stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, futures – will suffice for a plenty of its customers. Those looking for a little extra, such as forex or direct trading in cryptocurrency, will have to turn elsewhere. However, Schwab’s integration of TD Ameritrade, which does offer forex, means it will be coming to the thinkorswim platform in 2024.

Review methodology

Bankrate evaluates brokers and robo-advisors on factors that matter to individual investors, including commissions, account fees, available securities, trading platforms, research and many more. After weighting these objective measures according to their importance, we then systematically score the brokers and robo-advisors and scale the data to ensure that you are seeing the top options among a field of high-quality companies. Read our full methodology.