E*Trade® Review 2019

James Royal is a reporter covering investing and wealth management. Before joining Bankrate, he worked as a writer for NerdWallet and a stock analyst for The Motley Fool. He holds a doctorate in literature from the University of Florida.

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E*Trade Logo

Best For

  • Active trading
  • Robust trading platforms
  • No-transaction-fee mutual funds

E*Trade brings a high-powered offering to the brokerage marketplace — competing well across most factors — and should especially appeal to active traders. While the broker’s commissions aren’t the cheapest  — even after providing a discount to high-volume traders — it brings the heat with a strong complement of research, high-quality trading platforms and a solid range of tradable securities. Even less-active investors may find something to love in the broker’s wide array of funds without transaction fees or commissions.

E*Trade at a glance

Star Rating

4
  • Affordability: 4 of 5
  • Usability: 4 of 5
  • Tools & Research: 4 of 5
  • Mobile: 4 of 5
  • Scalability: 4 of 5
  • Minimum Balance:
    $500
  • Cost per stock trade:
    $6.95*
  • Cost per options trade:
    $6.95+$0.75 per contract or $4.95+$0.50 per contract with 30+ trades per month
  • Promotion:
    Free stock and options trades plus up to $2,500 cash
  • Commission-free mutual funds or ETFs:
    250+ commission-free ETFs
  • No-transaction-fee mutual funds:
    4000+ NTF mutual funds
  • Securities tradable:
    Stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, options, futures
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone, online chat are all 24/7, 30+ branches
  • Account fees:
    $25 fee for partial transfers/$75 for full transfers, though E*Trade will waive the fee if more than $5,00 remains in the account after the transfer
  • Mobile app:
    E*Trade offers the “E*Trade Mobile and Power E*Trade” apps on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store

*but $4.95 per trade with 30+ trades per month

 

Features you’ll love

Power E*Trade: Power E*Trade is the broker’s flagship trading platform, which it brought over from rival broker OptionsHouse that it acquired a few years ago. The well-regarded web-based platform provides more than 100 technical studies and more than 30 drawing tools to help investors analyze the trading action. It also provides a tool that overlays technical patterns on the chart to help you understand what’s going on.

Other tools include a snapshot analysis, which provides a visual representation of the risk and reward of an options trade. Similarly, a spectral analysis tool offers visual representations of potential options scenarios. The platform also offers streaming of Bloomberg TV right onto your desktop.

Power E*Trade mobile app: Available for both iOS and Android, the Power E*Trade mobile app offers interactive charts and technical studies, though it’s not as fully featured as the flagship web-based program. But you will be able to enter orders – including complex options trades – on a single ticket. You’ll also get streaming news, quotes and a customizable options chain.

Where E*Trade rocks

Tradable securities and fee-free funds: E*Trade offers the standard range of investment options, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, options and mutual funds. That’s the core for most brokers, but E*Trade also offers one of the lesser-traded asset classes – futures. That offering puts it among a handful of brokers who allow customers to trade one of the fastest-paced and high-risk securities in the market.   

The broker sits near the top for fund investors, too. E*Trade offers more than 4,400 no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds, among the most (if not the very most) in the industry. E*Trade offers more than 250 commission-free ETFs, which add a solid complement to the wealth of mutual funds. Of course, while these funds are free to trade, investors still must pay the fund company’s expense ratio, which is deducted seamlessly from the fund itself.

Discounted commissions: While E*Trade’s basic commission sits at the high end of the scale (more below), it also offers a discounted commission structure for more than 30 trades a quarter. The broker chops its headline $6.95 commission for stock and ETF trades to $4.95 for customers whose trade frequency qualifies. So there’s definitely some incentive for high-volume traders to operate here.

The options base commission drops by a similar amount, from $6.95 to $4.95, but volume traders of options will definitely appreciate the drop in the per-contract fee, which declines from $0.75 to $0.50. That discount turns a 10-contract trade from a total commission of $14.45 to $9.95. A 100-contract trade would see costs decline from $81.95 to $54.95 – a savings of nearly 33 percent. So active traders may find a lot to like in the discounted commissions structure.

Trading platforms: The real standout here is E*Trade’s flagship platform, Power E*Trade, but the broker’s base platform, called E*Trade Web, offers a solid package, too. It’s for investors who don’t require all the advanced trading analysis but are still looking for a platform that helps source ideas.

The web platform provides streaming quotes, charts and market commentary. Its screeners will help you select the stocks, bonds or funds that meet your needs. You can analyze options trades and backtest trading strategies.

And for mobile traders, the broker offers E*Trade Mobile, the base trading app. It’s available for both Apple and Android devices, including the Apple Watch. The app allows you to trade stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds and multi-legged options, and you’ll be able to access Bloomberg TV, research and news as well.

Research: E*Trade gets high marks here, too. The broker provides its own daily commentary on the markets and offers third-party research. Independent research includes stock reports from Thomson Reuters and Moody’s, technical analysis from Market Edge and fund analysis from Morningstar, among others. It’s a broad array of research that’s offered to clients at no additional charge.

 

Quick comparison of Brokerage options:
Brokerage Overall Rating Avg. Cost Per Trade Usability Rating
E*Trade logo
$6.95* 4 of 5
Robinhood® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$0 4 of 5
Fidelity® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$0 4 of 5
TradeStation® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$5* 3 of 5

Where E*Trade could improve

Trading commissions: The discounted commission structure is a good addition for high-volume traders, but infrequent traders may feel less satisfied. E*Trade’s basic commission for stock and ETF trades is $6.95, so it sits at the high end of the industry. That high end includes Merrill Edge, TD Ameritrade and Vanguard.

Account minimum: E*Trade’s account minimum of $500 is not a deal breaker, but with so many of its rivals moving their minimum to $0, the broker could really be more competitive here. However, E*Trade does offer no minimum for IRA accounts, so it makes a slightly better choice there. Still, virtually every other major broker has taken its minimum to zero for non-IRA accounts as well, and it’s probably a good time for E*Trade to consider doing so, too.

Bottom line

E*Trade offers many things that active traders should be looking for and some features that will likely appeal to even infrequent traders:

  • A discounted commission structure and robust trading platform should attract frequent traders.
  • E*Trade’s selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds is among the best in the industry.
  • However, even when discounted, trading commissions only reach what other top brokers charge for their normal commission.

Investors looking for even more trading discounts should check out Ally Invest or Merrill Edge, where those with some coin can earn free trades every month. Those looking for a greater selection of commission-free ETFs should look at Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab, both of which offer about twice as many as E*Trade.

If you’re in the market for an online broker, check out our 2019 brokerage reviews.

 

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