E*Trade at a glance
*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.
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.
How we make money
Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. Bankrate is compensated in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. This compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear. Bankrate.com does not include all companies or all available products.