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Broker Reviews

ETRADE

Published by
On Monday, July 7th, 2014 .

Overview

While ETRADE may not have the cheapest trades, the broker provides an easy-to-use website, a high quality mobile experience, and excellent research that will satisfy both casual and active investors.

Dislikes

ETRADE MarketTrader and Pro platforms require 30 trades per quarter or $250,000 in assets for access; $9.99 trades pricier than most.

Special Offer: Trade free for 60 days + Get up to $600 - Learn More

ETRADE Review

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.

Customer Service

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 $76, $49.95, 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 Charles Schwab's and TD Ameritrade's 100-plus commission-free ETFs offerings, there are 92 in total.

ETRADETD AmeritradeFidelity Charles SchwabScottrade
Stock Trade Fee (flat)$9.99$9.99$7.95$8.95$7.00
Options Base Fee$9.99$9.99$7.95$8.95$7.00
Options Per Contract Fee$0.75$0.75$0.75$0.75$1.25
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$19.99$49.99$49.95$76.00$17.00
Broker Assisted Trades Fee$25.00$44.99$32.95$25.00$32.00
Commission Free ETFs9210176121
Commissions & Fees
Overall

Research

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.

ETRADE review quote summary

ETRADE's third party research report providers include Thomson Reuters, Standard & Poor's, MarketEdge, and SmartConsensus. Access to four providers is strong and something not found with discount brokers; however, when compared to its closest competitors, ETRADE falls short as Charles Schwab, Fidelity, and TD Ameritrade all provide access to at least seven.

ETRADE 3rd party research overview

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.

ETRADE review marketcaster streaming quotes

For feature-hungry clients, there are two platforms available: ETRADE MarketTrader (web-based) and ETRADE Pro (desktop-based). Both platforms require Pro Elite status, which means making at least 30 stock or options trades per quarter or having a portfolio balance of $250,000. ETRADE Pro can be accessed for $99 per month otherwise. In comparison, TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab both give full access to their flagship platforms with no strings attached, while Fidelity and Scottrade also have requirements.

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 withsnap 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 more than 60 different available studies, real time sales, and level II quotes, among others.

ETRADE review ETRADE pro stock charting

Comparing apples to apples, ETRADE Pro is impressive; however, it still lacks the depth of industry-leading platforms TradeStation and thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade.

One other note about Pro Elite status: Alongside free access to ETRADE Pro and MarketTrader, Pro Elite also gain access to the Elite customer service team for service and trading. Considering the quality of regular customer service is very strong, I found Elite status to be of little use, less on the rare trading day when the market is in disarray and call volumes are in extreme excess.

Mobile Trading

As the first broker to really push mobile, ETRADE continues its dominance, finishing first overall again in our rankings. ETRADE was the only one to include investor education in its app (a nice touch) and had a slew of advanced features offered by few brokers: CNBC TV, level II quotes, barcode scanning, and third-party research reports, among others.

The only area ETRADE really falls behind is in charting, where only two indicators are supported. While only having a handful of technical indicators/studies available to add to a chart is fairly standard, I expect more from ETRADE, considering its leadership in the industry. Another drawback is that the broker only supports basics stock alerts by price and does not allow clients to customize using other criteria.

Minor gripes aside, with 42 variables being assessed on for mobile trading, ETRADE earned 94% of total possible points. The broker is No. 1 in my book because its apps are easy-to-use, dependable, and feature-rich.

Final Thoughts

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.


Blain Reinkensmeyer

Reviewed by

Blain has been involved in the markets for over 12 years, heading StockBrokers.com equity broker research and reviews. His personal blog, StockTradingToGo.com, provides to-the-point daily market recaps to over 17,000 subscribers.

Commission Notes

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 - All trades are a flat-rate $9.99 if making up to 149 trades per quarter, $7.99 (150 - 1499 trades per quarter), and $6.99 (1500+ trades per quarter). 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.

Trade Commissions Breakdown

$9.99 Stock Trade Fee (flat)*
N/A Stock Trade Fee (per share)*
$9.99 Options Base Fee*
$0.75 Options Per Contract Fee*
$19.99 Options Exercise Fee
$19.99 Options Assignment Fee
$19.99 Mutual Fund Trade Fee
$25.00 Broker Assisted Trades Fee
$500.00 Minimum Deposit

Margin Rates

8.44% Under $24,999.99
7.94% $25,000.00 to 49,999.99
7.44% $50,000.00 to $99,999.99
6.14% $100,000.00 to $249,999.99
5.14% $250,000.00 to $499,999.99
4.14% $500,000.00 to $999,999.99
3.89% Above $1,000,000.00

Miscellaneous Fees

$1.00 Bond Trade Fee
$0.00 Treasury Trade Fee
$0.00 CD Trade Fee
$9.99 IVR 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 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 Domestic Wire Fee
$25.00 International Wire Fee

Broker Ratings

Overall
Commissions & Fees
Ease of Use
Research
Platforms & Tools
Customer Service
Mobile Trading
Offering of Investments
Education

Broker Awards

2014

E*TRADE finished #4 Overall with 4.5 stars; Best in Class for Research, Customer Service, Education, Mobile Trading, and New Investors; Was awarded #1 Smartphone App and #1 Client Dashboard for E*TRADE 360. Read the 2014 Online Broker Review.

2013

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

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.

Offering of Investments

Yes Stock Trading
Yes Options Trading
Yes Mutual Funds
Yes Forex Trading
Yes Futures Trading
Yes OTCBB / Pink Sheets
Yes DRIPs
Yes After Hours Trading
92 Commission Free ETFs
30 Retail Locations
3409 Mutual Funds (Load)
4517 Mutual Funds (No Load)
3011 Mutual Funds (NTF)
7926 Mutual Funds (Total)
4 Complex Options Max Legs
E*TRADE CLEARING Clearing Firm
Yes No Maintenance Fees
No Minimum Deposit
Yes No Fee IRAs
Yes Broker Assisted Trades

Research

Yes Mutual Funds Research
Yes Pink Sheets / OTCBB Research
Yes Fixed Income Research
Yes Global Market Overview
Yes Equity Research - SEC Filings
Yes ETF Research - Top 10 Holdings
Yes ETF Research - 3rd Party Reports
Yes Fund Research - Strategy Overview
Yes Fund Research - 3rd Party Reports
Yes Fund Research - Fees Breakdown
Yes Fund Research - 3rd Party Ratings
Yes Screener - Stocks
Yes Screener - ETFs
Yes Screener - Funds
Yes Screener - Options
Yes Screener - Bonds

Banking

Yes Checking Accounts
Savings Accounts
Credit Cards
Yes Debit Cards
Mortgage Loans
Yes Retail Locations
Yes No Fee Banking
Yes Mobile Check Deposit
Yes ATM Fee Reimbursement

Customer Service

Yes Phone Support
Yes Email Support
Yes Live Chat (prospect clients)
Yes Live Chat (current clients)
Yes 24/7 Support

Recommended For

Best in Class Commissions & Fees
Best in Class Platforms & Tools
Yes Best in Class Research
Yes Best in Class Customer Service
Best in Class Ease of Use
Yes Best in Class Investor Education
Yes Best in Class Mobile Trading
Best in Class Active Trading
Best in Class Options Trading
Yes Best in Class New Investors

Mobile Trading

Yes iPhone App
Yes iPad App
Yes Android App
Yes Mobile Site

Platforms & Tools

Virtual Trading
Yes Web Platform
Yes Desktop Platform
Yes Mac Platform
Yes Platform Backtesting
Yes Trade Hot Keys
Yes Streaming Time & Sales
Yes Level 2 Quotes
Yes Streaming CNBC TV
Yes Sitewide Real-time Quotes
Yes Watchlist Streaming Real-time Quotes
Yes Options - Chains Basic View
Yes Options - Chains Spreads View
Yes Options - Greeks Analysis

Active Trading

Yes Internalizes Trades
Yes Receives Payment for Order Flow
Yes Direct Routing (Stocks)
Client Liquidity Rebates
5000 # of Easy to Borrow Stocks

Education

Yes Investor Dictionary
Yes Live Seminars
Yes Investor Community

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All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 04/07/2014 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. The StockBrokers.com staff is constantly working with its online broker representatives to obtain the latest pricing data. If you believe any data listed above is inaccurate, please contact us using the link at the top of this page. * For stock trade rates, advertised pricing is for a standard order size of 500 shares of stock priced at $30 per share. For options orders, an options regulatory fee per contract may apply.

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