E-Trade® review 2023
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E-Trade: Best for
- Active trading
- Robust trading platforms
- No-transaction-fee mutual funds
E-Trade is a solid broker that’s likely to meet the needs of both new and experienced investors alike. You’ll get access to thousands of no-transaction-fee (NTF) mutual funds and won’t pay commissions on stock or ETF trades. New investors can use the vast research and educational content to boost their knowledge of investing and will have 24/7 access to customer service for any questions that arise.
Advanced traders will also appreciate the broker’s sophisticated trading platforms and mobile app that allows them to trade from anywhere. You’ll also be able to trade a wide range of securities and can earn a discount on options commissions if you’re an especially active trader.
While E-Trade is a solid overall broker choice, you will still pay fees for transferring your account and fractional shares are only available on reinvested dividends. If you’re looking for the most complete broker offering you might want to consider Charles Schwab or Fidelity, both of which offer fractional shares on new purchases. Interactive Brokers is another low-cost option.
E-Trade: In the details
Pros: Where E-Trade stands out
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 tools to help you trade more profitably:
- Overlay technical patterns on the stock chart to help you understand what’s going on
- Show your risk-reward on options trades, breakevens and more
- Scan for unusual stock activity, such as high-volume stock and option trades
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.
Funds without transaction fees
E-Trade offers more than 4,000 no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds, among the upper echelon in the industry. Yes, Interactive Brokers has more total no-transaction-fee mutual funds, but E-Trade offers more than enough funds to find what you need. Plus, you’ll be able to set up a recurring investment in mutual funds for as little as $25 per scheduled investment.
E-Trade offers all its ETFs commission-free, adding a solid complement to the wealth of mutual funds. Of course, while mutual funds and ETFs may not have a commission, investors still must pay the fund company’s expense ratio, which is deducted seamlessly from the fund itself.
Discounted options 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 offers 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.
E-Trade’s account minimum is just $0, so you can get started without adding any money to your account, though of course you won’t be able to buy anything until you fund the account. E-Trade has long offered no minimum for IRA accounts. No account minimum puts the broker in line with all the other major online brokers.
E-Trade offers the standard range of investment choices, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, options and mutual funds. That’s the core for most brokers, but E-Trade also provides one of the lesser-offered 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. While that probably has limited appeal for newer investors, more advanced traders may find the addition a bonus.
E-Trade does not currently offer trading in cryptocurrencies directly, but you can purchase investments related to crypto such as futures or ETFs. The broker says it plans to offer more crypto investment options once the regulatory environment more fully develops.
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 you’ll have access to research here, too.
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.
The app also allows you to do a few of the more mundane financial tasks, such as deposit checks, transfer money and pay bills, so it’s not all about trading.
Research and education
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 TipRanks, and fund analysis from Morningstar, among others. It’s a broad array of research that’s offered to clients at no additional charge.
If you’re just getting started, E-Trade has you covered with tons of articles, videos and classes as well as a library of finance topics. You’ll also be able to attend webinars or live events on investing topics, from the basics to complex trading strategies for those looking for an edge. Plus, you’ll get E-Trade’s commentary on the markets and what’s trending.
Cons: Where E-Trade could improve
E-Trade still charges those pesky “transfer out” fees when you want to move your money to another brokerage. And frankly, it’s hard to blame brokers too much, because it’s a charge that may help incentivize you to stay, especially if you won’t be able to take advantage of a bonus offer with your new brokerage and offset that transfer fee.
E-Trade charges you $25 for a partial transfer or $75 for a full transfer, but it will waive the partial transfer fee if more than $5,000 remains in the account afterward. However, rival Fidelity has eliminated that fee, in line with its investor-friendly reputation.
Firstrade4.0 Bankrate Score
Firstrade is a solid brokerage offering that may particularly appeal to options traders because of its commission-free options trades. You’ll also get access to quality research and its mobile app, but mutual fund investors may be disappointed by the small number of no-transaction fee funds available.
TD Ameritrade4.5 Bankrate Score
TD Ameritrade still offers strong platforms and a range of research for its clients, making it a very solid pick for more advanced traders, even as it is about to merge with Charles Schwab. A wide range of tradable securities and plenty of commission-free mutual funds make this broker interesting for both new and advanced traders, as do the competitive commissions.
WellsTrade2.5 Bankrate Score
WellsTrade handles most of the basics well and could be a good fit for existing Wells Fargo customers looking to consolidate accounts in one place. However, active traders should likely look elsewhere for their brokerage needs due to high options costs and a barebones trading platform.
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing3.0 Bankrate Score
J.P Morgan’s Self-Directed Investing platform is a good fit for existing Chase customers who are looking for a low-cost way to trade stocks, ETFs and mutual funds while getting access to the bank’s easy-to-use mobile app. However, only a few account types are offered and If you’re looking to trade forex, futures or crypto, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Interactive Brokers5.0 Bankrate Score
Interactive Brokers keeps adding new features and improving its offerings year after year, and now has new mobile apps to pair with long-time strengths such as its wide number of tradable securities and access to global markets. Low margin rates, high interest rates on cash balances, and a leading number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds serve to make this broker a top pick.
Ally Invest4.0 Bankrate Score
Ally Invest offers a solid brokerage with many of the features that investors have come to love, especially no-commission trades on stocks and ETFs, but it ups the game with low-cost options trades, too. All-hours customer support and an all-encompassing mobile app will make sure you get business done on your terms, though mutual fund investors may be a bit disappointed.
Merrill Edge4.5 Bankrate Score
Merrill Edge brings strong research and education to the investing space, offering a solid trading platform for stocks, bonds, options and funds. You’ll likely find some extra things to love here if you’re already a customer of parent Bank of America, with 24/7 phone support and in-branch service potentially making that relationship even more meaningful to clients.
Fidelity5.0 Bankrate Score
Fidelity Investments is back again with another blowout performance in Bankrate’s reviews. This broker seems to do it all right, from low costs to plenty of research to mutual funds to prompt and courteous customer service. And with so much under the Fidelity roof – banking, credit cards and more – you could capably run your financial life here.
Charles Schwab5.0 Bankrate Score
Charles Schwab is a great all-around broker, whether you’re just getting started investing or are more advanced, and it can bring the heat on almost anything you’re likely to need. Add on strong customer support, a wide investment selection, no-commission mutual funds, and tons of research, and you have the makings of a five-star broker.
Webull4.0 Bankrate Score
Webull offers a lot that investors will like such as commission-free trading, fractional shares and a slick mobile app that allows you to trade on the go or keep tabs on your favorite stocks. But only a few account types are offered and you won’t find the level of research that is available through other brokers.
Robinhood3.5 Bankrate Score
Robinhood has taken its game up a notch or two, pairing its traditional no-cost trading with new IRA accounts (and a special bonus match for clients) as well as improvements in customer service, including 24/7 chat. The mobile app remains an attractive place for options traders but is a no-go for those looking for mutual funds or a wide range of account types.
Vanguard3.0 Bankrate Score
Vanguard’s brokerage offering can handle the basics well and may be a good fit for long-term fund investors. But more active traders will be disappointed by the basic trading platform and high commissions for options trading.
TradeStation3.5 Bankrate Score
TradeStation’s brokerage offering is likely to suit active traders better than it does new investors or those just looking to save for retirement. Customers will get an advanced trading platform with low commissions, but you won’t find fractional shares and the mutual fund offering is limited.
SoFi Active Investing3.0 Bankrate Score
SoFi Active Investing is a low-cost broker that should meet the needs of new investors looking to only trade stocks and ETFs. More experienced investors may be disappointed by the lack of options or mutual fund trading and a limited research offering.
moomoo3.0 Bankrate Score
Moomoo joins a crowded field of discount brokerages with an appeal to individual traders, offering some atypical features, including access to U.S., Hong Kong and Chinese markets. Competitive pricing on stocks, ETFs and options will prove welcome with traders, though others may find the lack of account types, limited available securities and high transfer fees off-putting.
Zacks Trade3.5 Bankrate Score
Zacks Trade is a broker that should appeal to active traders with its advanced trading platform and ample research offering. New investors may be turned off by the high account minimum and fees for mutual fund trades.
Lightspeed3.0 Bankrate Score
Lightspeed is all about active traders who can deliver volume to the broker, and so everything is optimized around making the experience the best for them. That means discounted prices for high-volume trades and multiple high-power trading platforms, but it also means no concern for eliminating the nickel-and-dime costs that other brokers routinely slash.
tastytrade3.5 Bankrate Score
Tastytrade offers some of the lowest commissions around, whether you’re trading stocks, options or even cryptocurrency – and it actually caps your commissions on the latter two. Traders should find a lot to like here, among the commissions, trading platform and the variety of trading securities on offer, though long-term investors may bemoan the lack of mutual funds.