E*Trade at a glance
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, 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 4,600 no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds, among the most (if not the very most) in the industry. E*Trade offers all its ETFs commission-free, adding 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: Like most of the industry, E*Trade’s basic commission for stock and ETF trades has been slashed to $0. But unlike many rivals, the broker does offer a discounted commission for options trades. The standard price is $0.65 per contract, but if you make more than 30 stock, ETF or options trades each quarter, the options commission declines to $0.50 per contract. So there’s definitely some incentive for high-volume traders to operate here.
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.
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 options traders.
- E*Trade’s selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds is among the best in the industry.
- Standard commissions for stock and ETF trades, at $0, are in line with the best in the industry.
Investors looking for even more trading discounts should check out Ally Invest, which offers a lower standard commission for options trades. Those looking for a strong selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds should also look at Fidelity Investments, TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab, each of which offers at least 3,000 such funds.
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