Founded in 1982, E*TRADE is a full-service online broker that charges $6.95 for stock trades with discounts for active traders. While E*TRADE may not offer the cheapest trades, the Power E*TRADE platform is excellent for options trading, and the broker offers two great mobile apps.
Top Takeaways for 2019
After spending six months testing 16 online brokers for our ninth annual stock broker review, here are our top findings on E*TRADE:
- E*TRADE was founded in 1982, and like its closest competitors, was also one of the first online brokerages in the United States.
- In our testing, we found that E*TRADE shined most in two areas, mobile trading and options trading, finishing No. 1 overall in both categories.
- For the eighth year in a row, E*TRADE finished Best in Class (top 5) for Research in our assessment alongside numerous other categories including Education, Ease of Use, and Banking.
- Thanks to a robust education center and the Power E*TRADE platform, which is our favorite web-based platform for 2019, E*TRADE is a winner for beginners.
- In our nationwide testing, we found E*TRADE's phone service to be great.
- As a full-service brokerage, E*TRADE offers comprehensive trading services, from stocks to bonds to even retirement. Retirement, specifically IRA accounts, is one area where E*TRADE made our recommendations list, but does noticeably trail its closest competitors in overall quality.
- You pay for what you get, and no question, E*TRADE is pricier than most online brokers. Regular stock trades are $6.95 and options trades run $6.95 + $0.75 per contract. While discounts are available for active traders, we do not recommend E*TRADE for day trading.
- Trade commission-free for 60 days & get up to $600. Join E*TRADE today! Open Account
|Commissions & Fees|
|Offering of Investments|
|Platforms & Tools|
|Ease of Use|
Commissions & Fees
While mostly competitive with its other full-service broker competitors, such as TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, and Charles Schwab, E*TRADE is not an ideal choice for investors seeking deeply discounted commissions. $6.95 per stock trade (base rate) is among the highest in the industry. Also, when trading during pre and post market hours, an ECN fee of $.005 per share is added to the regular commission rate.
Highlights in an otherwise pricey offering include no additional fees for trading penny stocks, closing any short options priced at 10 cents or less is free, and active traders can get their rate as low as $4.95 if they make 30-plus trades per quarter. Under this tier, options trades are also reduced to $4.95 + $0.50 per contract.
E*TRADE pricing summary:
|Stock Trade Fee (per trade)||$6.95|
|ETF Trade Fee||$6.95|
|Options Base Fee||$6.95|
|Options Per Contract Fee||$0.75|
|Mutual Fund Trade Fee||$19.99|
|Broker Assisted Trades Fee||$25.00|
Platforms & Tools
Built as a web-based platform, Power E*TRADE innovates and delivers speed, ease of use, and the tools needed for options traders to succeed. Once again in our 2019 Review, Power E*TRADE won our award, “Best Web-Based Platform.” Options traders aside, active stock traders, particularly day traders, may be left wanting more.
Charting: Power E*TRADE’s charting engine is powered by Chart IQ, an excellent third-party provider of HTML 5 charts. Highlights include extremely smooth panning and zooming, integrated Recognia technical analysis, 118 optional technical indicators, and 33 drawing tools. Drawbacks are that charts do not support saving custom study sets, nor can you save custom chart profiles (think preset time periods and bar types, among other settings).
Options trading: For newer investors, there isn't a better platform than Power E*TRADE on which to learn how to trade options. For example, using the Snapshot Analysis tool, not only is Risk/Reward completely broken down with smiley faces to translate the risks and rewards, but key events to watch out for are listed alongside a P&L chart. It’s a work of art.
E*TRADE Pro: E*TRADE Pro, the broker’s previous downloadable active trader desktop platform, is slowly being sunsetted in favor of Power E*TRADE. While technically still available, the platform is hidden to new customers. To gain access, customers must write to support and meet strict requirements, including placing at least 30 stock or options trades per quarter or having a portfolio balance of $250,000.
Considering the price per trade, E*TRADE’s research experience is thorough and provides investors with what they need to succeed. That said, E*TRADE's site needs a design overhaul.
Good stuff: For investors who value analysts’ recommendations, E*TRADE offers consensus ratings from multiple third parties, including breakdowns from individual analysts via TipRanks. Also, charting on the website includes the Trefis price estimate right on the chart, with a quick link to view Trefis’s full analysis.
Bad stuff: The entire research area of the website looks outdated, which can make conducting research cumbersome. When it comes to usability and modern design, we prefer Fidelity. Also, while E*TRADE provides in-house market commentary and analysis (articles), it trails its closest competitors. For example, live broadcasting is absent, which is an area both TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab excel.
To score Customer Service, StockBrokers.com partners with customer experience research group Confero to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the United States. For our 2019 Broker Review, 300 customer service tests were conducted over ten weeks.
- Average Connection Time: <1 minute
- Average Net Promoter Score: 8.8 / 10
- Average Professionalism Score: 8.6 / 10
- Overall Score: 8.78 / 10
- Ranking: 3 rd (16 brokers)
In our 2019 Review, E*TRADE once again placed first because its apps, E*TRADE Mobile and Power E*TRADE Mobile, are easy to use and feature-rich. My recommendation: use E*TRADE mobile for stock trading and Power E*TRADE Mobile for options trading.
Mobile features: Both apps are supported in iOS and Android, while E*TRADE Mobile also supports the Apple Watch. Furthermore, E*TRADE Mobile has a handful of features few other brokers offer: streaming live Bloomberg TV, level II quotes, customized stock screening, third-party research ratings, and a customizable dashboard, among others.
Mobile charting: Charting is a clean experience on Power E*TRADE, thanks to the fact that ChartIQ, the same engine that runs the charting experience on web-based Power E*TRADE, is used. That said, charting still lags behind industry standards in the availability of technical studies. Only 11 indicators are supported in Power E*TRADE Mobile (10 in E*TRADE Mobile), which is well below the industry average of over 30.
Offering of Investments
E*TRADE provides everything an investor would come to expect from a full-service brokerage. All investment vehicles offered, from stocks and options to bonds, banking products, and financial-planning services.
The only notable offerings E*TRADE lacks include international trading and forex trading, both of which are uncommon among US-based brokerages.
While E*TRADE relies mostly on third-party content providers, it provides a thorough learning center that competes with the best brokerages in the industry. All investing topics covered, from stock trading to retirement. Also, content is well-organized, including by type, topic, and skill level. Lastly, at least nine free webinars offered each month to customers. Webinars are also archived for viewing on demand.
Besides trading, E*TRADE also offers essential banking services with 30 branch office locations across the US. Banking services include checking accounts with no ATM fees, high-yield savings accounts, and debit cards. E*TRADE Bank is a registered member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which insures bank deposits up to $250,000.
Compared to leader Bank of America Merrill Edge, E*TRADE doesn’t come close to competing. That said, FDIC-insured banking is rare in the online brokerage industry.
E*TRADE is an industry leader in its mobile and options trading offerings and continues to innovate, thanks primarily to its acquisition of OptionsHouse in 2016 (now Power E*TRADE). While E*TRADE is pricier than most, overall it provides a well-rounded offering.
Regardless of your investing style, E*TRADE is a reliable, full-service broker that gives its competitors a run for their money.
E*TRADE, founded in 1982, is an online broker that services several million customers. With its flagship platform, Power E*TRADE, E*TRADE charges $6.95 for stock trades and $6.95 + $.75 per contract for options trades, with additional discounts available for active traders.
E*TRADE is far from being the least expensive brokerage, but the company continues to invest in its overall customer experience and provide value in multiple areas, despite a higher price tag per trade.
2019 Review Methodology
For the StockBrokers.com ninth annual best online brokers review published in February 2019, a total of 4,544 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.
Participation is required to be included. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and provided executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.
About the author: Blain Reinkensmeyer As Head of Research at StockBrokers.com, Blain Reinkensmeyer has 18 years of trading experience with over 1,000 trades placed during that time. Referenced as a leading expert on the US online brokerage industry, Blain has been quoted in The New York Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.