Etrade ReviewOpen an Account
Desktop platform Etrade Pro; smartphone app Etrade Mobile is a staff favorite; user friendly website; email support is fantastic; Etrade 360 customizable dashboard.
$9.99 trades more pricey than discounted competitors; Etrade Pro not available to all clients; poor weekend customer service.
|Commissions & Fees|
|Platform & Tools|
|Ease of Use|
2013 Review Star Ratings
N/A - Not Applicable
|N/R||Commissions & Fees|
|3rd||Platforms & Tools|
N/R - Not Ranked in Top 10
N/A - Not Applicable
Known for its talking baby commercials, Etrade is a stand out broker, not only because of its clever marketing department, but also because of its well-rounded, well-executed offerings. I have yet to have one of those frustrating client experiences that can plague smaller brokers, and overall, I am fan of this broker.
The Etrade site is a breeze to use and has the key components for a quality experience during each visit: clean navigation, real-time streaming quotes, a sitewide quick access footer bar, simple account management, and a user-friendly order entry screen. Products like Etrade 360, the broker's fully customizable drag-and-drop homepage, are executed well.
Alongside trading, Etrade also offers basic banking services, including checking accounts with no ATM fees and debit cards. The broker also provides 30 local branch offices.
Etrade's customer service competes with the strongest brokers in this category, including TD Ameritrade, TradeKing, Scottrade, and Charles Schwab. Etrade's email support was rated #1 in this year's StockBrokers.com Broker Review. On the con side, we found Etrade's 24/7 weekend support to be very weak.
If there is a minor gripe to be made with Etrade's customer service, it's that the broker tries to funnel clients to the self-help FAQs area before providing the contact information. While I can't blame them for trying to minimize support volume, it does take two clicks to reach the contact form and service numbers (which is provided 24/7). In comparison, some other brokers put their contact numbers front and center site-wide.
Commissions & Fees
While competitive with its other full service broker competitors such as TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, and Charles Schwab, Etrade is not an ideal choice for investors seeking discounted commissions. In the broker space, though, most often what you pay for is what you get, and Etrade's well-rounded offering offsets its higher rates.
Regular stock trades are $9.99 with options trades costing $9.99, plus $.75 per contract. All trades are flat-rate commissions, meaning there are no gimmicks to watch out for, and hyper-active traders can get their rate as low as $6.99 if they make 1,500-plus trades per quarter.
Etrade does stand out from its competitors with its mutual fund commissions, which run $19.99 per trade. Charles Schwab, Fidelity, and TD Ameritrade charge $49.95, $75, and $49.99, respectively. As far as total selection, the broker offers more than 8,000 to choose from.
Lastly, I found that Etrade has a reputable offering of commission-free ETFs, an offering that has become increasingly popular industry-wide in the last few years. While the broker does not quite match TD Ameritrade's 100-plus commission-free ETFs offering, there are 92 in total.
|Etrade||TD Ameritrade||Fidelity||Charles Schwab||Scottrade|
|Mutual Funds ($)||$19.99||$49.99||$75.00||$76.00||$17.00|
|Commission Free ETFs||92||101||31||105||0|
Performing research on Etrade is simple and user friendly. After pulling up a quote for Apple clients see a quick overview of key statistics alongside a mini chart of the current day's action, alert setup, buy and sell buttons, headlines, price analysis from Trefis research, a company overview description, and a box highlighting some of the recent analyst research reports. And that is just the default page.
Etrade's third party research report providers include Thomson Reuters, Standard & Poor's, MarketEdge, and SmartConsensus. Another plus is that all mutual fund research is provided by Morningstar which is the best of the best as far as mutual fund research providers goes.
The charting functionality was something I particularly enjoyed, as I could popout the chart box into its own window and then enlarge it to take full advantage of my 24-inch monitor. Adjusting settings and adding studies alongside company event data such as splits, dividends, earnings, and insider trades was helpful. The standout feature here was the ability to display post-hours trading activity, which is great to use during earnings season.
Platforms & Tools
For clients looking to simply track their favorite stocks and holdings, the Etrade MarketCaster is the broker's real-time streaming quotes tool, which pops up as a new window when launched. MarketCaster was simple, easy-to-use, easily customizable, and I found it to be a great tool to leave open throughout the day to keep an eye on positions or a custom watch list.
For feature-hungry clients, there are two platforms available: Etrade MarketTrader (web-based) and Etrade Pro (desktop-based). Both platforms require at least 30 stock or options trades per quarter or a portfolio balance of $250,000 to be used for free. Etrade Pro can be accessed for $99 per month otherwise.
While MarketTrader is impressive, the spotlight really falls on Etrade Pro. This is the broker's flagship platform, and it has all the bells and whistles an active trader could want with snap grid functionality for quick and easy customizing. Pro supports some 20-plus tools, including streaming live CNBC TV, a real-time strategy scanner, several options tools, advanced charting with over 60 different available studies, real time sales, and level 2 quotes, among others.
One other note: Clients making 30 or more trades per quarter also will automatically get Etrade Pro Elite status, giving them free access to Etrade Pro alongside priority routing to the Elite customer service team for customer service and trading. Considering the quality of the regular customer service, I found Elite status to be nothing more than a cool title.
I've found through my Etrade review that while Etrade's stock ETFC took a beating throughout 2007 and 2008 as the broker's mortgage portfolio became a nightmare, the trading part of its business stood strong. Today, Etrade's commercials remain relevant, the broker continues to innovate, and all in all, it provides a wonderfully well rounded offering for its clients.
Whether an active trader, a new investor, or just someone looking to manage a retirement portfolio, Etrade is a dependable, full-service broker that impresses all investor types and gives its competitors a run for their money.
Compare ETRADE to Key Competitors
Trade Commissions Breakdown
|$9.99||Flat-Fee Trade Plan*|
|N/A||Per-Share Trade Plan|
|$9.99||Options Base Trade Fee*|
|$19.99||Options Exercise Fee|
|$19.99||Options Assignment Fee|
|$19.99||Mutual Fund Trade Fee|
|$25.00||Broker Assisted Trade Fee|
|$1.00||Bond Trade Fee|
|$0.00||Treasury Trade Fee|
|$1.00||Certificate of Deposit (CD) Trade Fee|
|$9.99||Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Phone Trade Fee|
|$0.00||IRA Annual Fee|
|$60.00||IRA Closure Fee|
|$25.00||Forced-Margin Sellout Fee|
|$0.00||Returned ACH Fee|
|$0.00||Returned Wire Transfer Fee|
|$0.00||Stock Certificate Processing Fee|
|$75.00||Stock Certificate Delivery Fee|
|$2.00||Paper Statement Fee|
|$0.00||Paper Confirmation Fee|
|$25.00||Outgoing Domestic Wire Transfer Fee|
|$25.00||Outgoing International Wire Transfer Fee|
E*TRADE has a fairly straight forward commissions structure. Full Etrade review commissions breakdown is below. Note that Etrade's advanced trader platform, Power Etrade Pro, is free if atleast 30 trades are made each quarter. Otherwise the platform can be used for $99 per month (optional).
Stock Trades - To qualify for the lower per trade rate of $7.99, atleast 150 trades must be made per quarter. All trades are otherwise $9.99. If making over 1500 trades per quarter, a further discount to $6.99 per trade is offered. For broker-assisted trades, add $45 to the total order. When trading during pre and post market hours, an ECN fee of $.005 per share is added to the regular commission rate.
Etrade does not charge any additional fees for placing penny stock trades or buying OTCBB / Pink Sheet stocks. For any stock under #1 per share, only limit orders (no market orders) may be used to place trades.
In Q2 2010 Etrade did away with its ill received account service fee of $40 per quarter which, while rare, could be assessed if certain conditions were met.
Options Trades - When trading options, an options regulatory fee of $0.014 per contract with a $0.04 minimum will apply.
Mutual Funds - All mutual funds cost $19.99 per trade. Additional fees may apply depending on the fund.
International Trading - Etrade also offers international trading in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Commissions fees vary according to location. Alongside global trading, futures trading, bonds, and mutual funds trading is also available.
2013 Review Results - ETRADE finished #2 Overall with 4 stars, was awarded Best Client Dashboard (ETRADE 360), Best Smartphone App (ETRADE Mobile), Top 5 for New Investors, and had several 4.5 star ratings as well as Top 10 Category finishes. Read the 2013 Broker Review.
2012 Review Results - E*TRADE was awarded as the #2 Overall Broker and Best in Class for Ease of Use, Platforms & Tools, Research, Customer Service, Investor Community, and Investor Education. Read the 2012 Broker Review.
Misc. Account Information
|E*TRADE CLEARING||Clearing Firm|
|92||No. of Commission-Free ETFs|
|30||No. of Retail Locations|
|4562||No. of Mutual Funds (w/ Load)|
|3518||No. of Mutual Funds (No Load)|
|7||No. of 3rd Party Research Report Providers|
|4||Max. No. of Legs (Complex Options)|
|No Minimum Deposit|
|No Maintenance Fees|
|Online Trader Community|
|Live Chat Support|
|24/7 Customer Support|
|Long Term Trading|
|Credit Card Accounts|
|Debit Card Accounts|
Trading Platform Features
|Web Browser Platform|
|Windows Desktop Platform|
|Mac Desktop Platform|
Active Trading Features
|Direct routing offered to clients|
|Broker receives payments for order flow|
|Broker internalizes trades|
|Clients receive rebates for adding liquidity|