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Overall

While E*TRADE may not offer the cheapest trades, the broker provides a user-friendly website, a high-quality mobile experience, and thorough research that will satisfy casual and sophisticated investors.

By Blain Reinkensmeyer / February 19th, 2018 / Updated: June 20th, 2018

Dislikes
  • To access, the E*TRADE Pro platform requires 30 trades per quarter or $250,000 in assets
  • OptionsHouse platform still in design transition, requiring switching between legacy and new to access all features
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E*TRADE, founded in 1982, is an online broker that services 3.6 million customers. Offering two flagship platforms, E*TRADE Pro and OptionsHouse, 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 may not be the least expensive brokerage on the block, but the company continues to invest in its overall customer experience and provide value, despite a higher price tag per trade.

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. In the broker space, though, most often what you pay for is what you get, and E*TRADE's well-rounded offering offsets its higher rates.

Regular stock trades are $6.95, with options trades costing $6.95 plus $.75 per contract (closing any short options priced at 10 cents or less is free). All trades are flat rate commissions, meaning there are no gimmicks to watch out for, 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 does stand out from Charles Schwab, Fidelity, and TD Ameritrade with its mutual fund commissions, which run at $19.99 per trade. As far as total selection is concerned, the broker offers 8,998 mutual funds to choose from.

View All FeesE*TRADETD AmeritradeFidelity Charles SchwabMerrill Edge
Stock Trade Fee (flat)$6.95$6.95$4.95$4.95$6.95
Options Base Fee$6.95$6.95$4.95$4.95$6.95
Options Per Contract Fee$0.75$0.75$0.65$0.65$0.75
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$19.99$49.99$49.95$76.00$19.95
Commission Free ETFs225296912440
Commissions & Fees 3.5 Stars 3.5 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars

Lastly, E*TRADE has a reputable offering of commission-free ETFs. While the broker does not quite match TD Ameritrade's 296 commission-free ETF offering, there are still 225, which is third highest in the industry.

Research

Considering the price per trade, E*TRADE’s research experience is thorough overall and provides investors with what they need to succeed.

While the research experience is outdated from a design perspective, performing research on E*TRADE is straightforward. After pulling up a quote for Apple (AAPL), customers see a quick overview of key statistics alongside a mini chart of the current day's action, alerts setup, buy and sell buttons, headlines, price analysis from Trefis Research, a company overview description, and a box highlighting some recent analysts’ research reports.

ETRADE stock quote

E*TRADE's third-party research report providers include Thomson Reuters, Morningstar, MarketEdge, and SmartConsensus. Access to the four providers is good; however, compared to its closest competitors, E*TRADE falls short, as Charles Schwab, Fidelity, and TD Ameritrade all provide access to at least six.

For investors who value analysts’ recommendations, E*TRADE offers consensus ratings from multiple third parties, including breakdowns from individual analysts. While the chart plotting average price targets was clean and useful, I found the individual analyst breakdowns below the chart – which includes a headshot, rating, and article link, if available – to be a distraction. Fortunately, they can be minimized. Further down the page, the consensus rating summaries are far easier to digest and infinitely more beneficial.

etrade research tipranks

Reports and analysis aside, I particularly enjoyed the charting functionality, as I could pop out 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 the earnings season.

ETRADE website stock chart

E*TRADE also provides screeners on its website for stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, and bonds. Each has its highlights and drawbacks. The stocks screener includes filtering by third-party ratings from all of its research partners, which is great to see; however, the interface needs a facelift. The ETFs and mutual funds screeners are easier on the eye, except the predefined screens lack variety and are all focused on surfacing outperformance, which statistically is not the most efficient way to invest.

etrade stock screener

Considering the price per trade, E*TRADE’s research experience is thorough overall and provides investors with what they need to succeed. That said, compared to leaders in the industry, Charles Schwab, and Fidelity, E*TRADE lags across the board, which is especially true for in-house research and market commentary.

E*TRADETD AmeritradeFidelity Charles SchwabMerrill Edge
Equity Research - Reports471283
ETF Research - Reports Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mutual Fund Research - Reports Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Equity Research - Metric Comparisons No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Equity Research - Social Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Platforms & Tools

For customers only looking to track their favorite stocks and holdings, the E*TRADE MarketCaster is the broker's real-time streaming quotes tool, which pops up as a new window when launched. MarketCaster is easy to use and straightforward; however, given the addition of the OptionsHouse platform and the newer watch list experience built right into the E*TRADE website, I think MarketCaster’s days are numbered.

ETRADE MarketCaster

For feature-hungry customers, E*TRADE offers two platforms: E*TRADE Pro (desktop-based) and OptionsHouse (web-based).

For feature-hungry customers, E*TRADE offers two platforms: E*TRADE Pro (desktop-based) and OptionsHouse (web-based). Access to E*TRADE Pro requires Pro Elite status, which means making at least 30 stock or options trades per quarter or having a portfolio balance of $250,000. E*TRADE 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 also has requirements.

Focusing on E*TRADE Pro first, the platform 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 Bloomberg TV, a real-time strategy scanner, several options tools, advanced charting, real-time sales, and level II quotes, among others.

ETRADE Pro

Charting on E*TRADE Pro is strong, thanks to its charting engine powered by Chart IQ.  In total, 118 technical indicators can be added, and 31 drawing tools are supported. The charts are incredibly flexible, thanks to the Chart IQ engine, which makes panning and zooming in and out a breeze. Subtle details are also not forgotten, and include the ability to view and adjust open orders as well as being able to see markers for historical trades. Oh, and the same engine powers OptionsHouse too.

ETRADE Pro stock chart

Finding flaws with Pro’s charting experience is hard. Two minor drawbacks include the inability to view alerts on charts, and indicators cannot be saved as individual sets; instead, the entire chart view is saved as a custom profile.

Beyond charting, the options capabilities on E*TRADE Pro are also thorough. Options chains support 29 different columns, including all five greeks, and three primary tools are offered: Options Analyzer, Strategy Optimizer, and the same Options Screener from the website. I don’t want to spend too much time on options in Pro since OptionsHouse is by far the superior platform for all things options (keep reading). The main takeaway is that Pro does a good job.

ETRADE Pro Options Analyzer

The OptionsHouse platform competes with the best in the industry when it comes to researching and trading options.

Moving onto OptionsHouse, the platform was acquired as part of E*TRADE’s $725 million of OptionsHouse (the brokerage) in 2016, and it competes with the best in the industry when it comes to researching and trading options. Built as a web-based platform, OptionsHouse innovates and delivers speed, quality, ease of use, and the tools needed for options traders to succeed.

optionshouse etrade platform

For newer investors, there isn't a better platform on which to learn how to trade options. Pulling up quotes is a breeze, and OptionsHouse makes it easy to file personal notes with each trade. The option chain screen displays a fully customizable streaming real-time option chain with 30 different optional columns, including every greek, which customers will find similar to E*TRADE Pro. But where OptionsHouse shines is with its usability and workflow.

optionshouse option chains

Once you find an option of interest, clicking the bid or ask pops open OptionsHouse’s order ticket window. Click on the Snapshot Analysis tab, and not only is Risk/Reward completely broken down with simple smiley faces to translate the pros and cons, but key events to watch out for are displayed alongside a P&L chart. It’s a work of art.

optionshouse option snapshotanalysis

As I write this review, the OptionsHouse platform is in the middle of a multi-year transition to becoming entirely HTML5 based instead of flash based (flash is an outdated web technology that is no longer supported by most modern browsers). Because of this transition, not all the legacy functionality has made it onto the new platform yet and once you are logged into E*TRADE, links are shown to launch both the legacy and the new platform.

When the new OptionsHouse platform is complete, we will update this review accordingly. In the meantime, I recommend reading my full review of the legacy OptionsHouse platform for a look at two more excellent options tools, Spectral Analysis and StrategySEEK (once on the page, scroll down to “Platforms & Tools”). StrategySEEK is my favorite options screening tool anywhere next to OptionsPlay.

Finally, it’s important to note that OptionsHouse is not just built for options traders. It can also be used for equities and futures trading. For equities trading, I prefer E*TRADE Pro, but OptionsHouse has a good foundation that will satisfy most casual traders.

All 59 variables considered, E*TRADE’s offering of platforms and tools is very good; however, like the category Research, the experience trails industry leaders. That said, seeing what the future holds with the new OptionsHouse I am optimistic E*TRADE customers have a bright future ahead.

E*TRADETD AmeritradeFidelity Charles SchwabMerrill Edge
Desktop Platform (Windows) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Charting - Indicators / Studies1183971664173
Charting - Drawing Tools3322221522
Option Chains - Total Columns3033263462
Watch Lists - Total Fields11251485108216

Customer Service

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 2018 Broker Review, 260 customer service tests were conducted over ten weeks. The data collected is institutional grade and sets the current industry benchmarks.

Results:

  • Average Connection Time: <1 minute
  • Average Net Promoter Score: 8.4 / 10
  • Average Professionalism Score: 7.9 / 10
  • Overall Score: 8.33 / 10
  • Ranking: 6th (13 brokers)
  • View Infographic

Mobile Trading

With 52 variables assessed for mobile trading, E*TRADE earned 97% of total possible points.

As the first broker to focus on mobile, E*TRADE reigned supreme for four years, finishing first from 2013 – 2016 despite tough competition. While E*TRADE was dethroned in 2017 by TD Ameritrade in the Mobile Trading category, the broker still provides an excellent experience for customers. This is especially true with the addition of the OptionsHouse mobile app.

etrade mobile watch list

For this review, I focused on E*TRADE Mobile since it has all the functionality available on OptionsHouse Mobile, and much more. I will say though, OptionsHouse is elegantly designed, easy to use, and “the future” of where E*TRADE is moving as a brand. Both apps are supported in iOS and Android, while E*TRADE Mobile also supports the Apple Watch.

optionhouse quote fan

The E*TRADE Mobile app is rich with features, easy to use, and 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.

E*TRADE mobile screener

Charting is a clean experience on E*TRADE Mobile thanks to the fact that ChartIQ, the same engine that runs the charting experience on E*TRADE Pro and OptionsHouse, is used. With both mobile and desktop engines being the same, functionality enhancements are available. For example, add a note to any chart on E*TRADE Pro, and that note will then appear on the same chart in mobile. This includes drawings as well such as channels and trendlines.

etrade mobile stock chart

Despite the highlights, charting still lags behind industry standards in the availability of technical studies. Only ten indicators are supported, which is well below the industry average of 36. That said, E*TRADE does offer the ability to build a studies favorites list from E*TRADE Pro, meaning clients can select any 10 studies from E*TRADE Pro’s 118 studies and view them on mobile.

Investors should take note though, to use any functionality tied to E*TRADE Pro, you have to have access to the platform to begin with, which requires making at least 30 stock or options trades per quarter or having a portfolio balance of $250,000.

Charting aside, with 52 variables assessed for mobile trading, E*TRADE earned 97% of total possible points. The broker placed first and remains an industry leader because its apps are easy to use and feature-rich.

E*TRADETD AmeritradeFidelity Charles SchwabMerrill Edge
Watch List Syncing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Charting - Technical Studies1139773222
Stock Alerts - Basic Fields Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Customizable Homescreen Yes No Yes No Yes
Touch ID Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stream Live TV Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Other Notes

In 2016, E*TRADE launched E*TRADE Core Portfolios, its take on a robo-advisory offering. For a look at the offering, read our in-depth review.

Besides trading, E*TRADE also offers essential banking services, including checking accounts with no ATM fees and debit cards. The broker also provides 30 local branch offices.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a new, casual, or active investor, E*TRADE is a dependable, full-service broker that impresses all investor types and gives its competitors a run for their money.

E*TRADE as a brand has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years. The broker rose to be a leader in the industry in the early 2000s, then the stock price took a beating throughout 2007 and 2008 as the broker's mortgage portfolio became toxic. Despite these struggles during the worst financial crisis in US history since the Great Depression, E*TRADE’s trading experience has remained strong.

The broker pressed forth and became the undisputed leader in mobile trading, which was then uncharted territory. More recently, the move away from the iconic baby commercials has E*TRADE focusing on its core customers. The broker remains an industry leader in its mobile offering, continues to innovate, thanks primarily to its acquisition of OptionsHouse in 2016, and provides a well-rounded offering to its customers.

Whether you’re a new, casual, or active investor, E*TRADE is a dependable, full-service broker that impresses all investor types and gives its competitors a run for their money.

Methodology

For our 2018 Stock Broker Review we assessed, rated, and ranked 13 different online brokers over a period of six months. In total, we conducted 260 customer service tests, collected 3,796 data points, and produced over 40,000 words of research. How we test.

References

View all E*TRADE Fees & Features
Blain Reinkensmeyer

Reviewed by Blain Reinkensmeyer Blain heads research at StockBrokers.com and has been involved in the markets since placing his first stock trade back in 2001. He developed StockBrokers.com's annual review format seven years ago, a format broker executives consider the most thorough in the industry. Blain currently maintains funded accounts with more than a dozen different US-regulated online brokers and has executed thousands of trades throughout his career. He enjoys sharing his experiences through his personal blog, StockTrader.com.

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Ratings Overall

Summary

Offering of Investments
Platforms & Tools
Research
Customer Service
Banking

Best in Class

2018
4 of 13

Overall
  • Overall
  • Offering of Investments
  • Research
  • Mobile Trading
  • Education
  • Options Trading
  • New Investors
2017
4 of 16

Overall
  • Overall
  • Offering of Investments
  • Research
  • Mobile Trading
  • Education
2016
3 of 5

Overall
  • Overall
  • Offering of Investments
  • Platforms & Tools
  • Research
  • Customer Service
  • Mobile Trading
  • Education
  • Order Execution
  • New Investors
2015
3 of 5

Overall
  • Overall
  • Offering of Investments
  • Research
  • Mobile Trading
  • Education
  • New Investors
2014
4 of 5

Overall
  • Overall
  • Research
  • Customer Service
  • Mobile Trading
  • Education
  • New Investors
2013
2 of 5

Overall
  • Overall
  • Platforms & Tools
  • Research
  • Mobile Trading
  • Education
  • New Investors

All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 02/20/18 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 bottom 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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