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E*TRADE Review

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The StockBrokers.com annual review (9 years running) takes six months to complete and produces over 30,000 words of research each year. Here's how we test.

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.

Review Summary

Rank: 4th (of 16)

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.

Benefits

  • Excellent mobile apps lead the industry in features offered.
  • The Power E*TRADE web platform is my favorite web-based platform.
  • Well-rounded customer experience.

Considerations

  • Even with qualifying discounts for active trading, E*TRADE is expensive.
  • Research is thorough but trails industry leaders in the area of in-house market commentary and analysis.
  • Certain areas of the website are outdated and need to be modernized.

Promo Offer:

  • Trade commission-free for 60 days & get up to $600. Join E*TRADE today! Open Account

Commissions & Fees

Rank: 12th (of 16)

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.

Benefits

  • Closing any short options priced at 10 cents or less is free.
  • 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.
  • No additional fees for trading penny stocks.

Considerations

  • $6.95 per stock trade (base rate) is among the highest in the industry.
  • When trading during pre and post market hours, an ECN fee of $.005 per share is added to the regular commission rate.

Further Reading

Fees Comparison

FeatureE*TRADETD AmeritradeCharles SchwabFidelity Merrill Edge
Minimum Deposit$500.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00
Stock Trade Fee (per trade)$6.95$6.95$4.95$4.95$6.95
ETF Trade Fee$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$49.95$19.95
Broker Assisted Trades Fee$25.00$44.99$25.00$32.95$29.95
Commission-Free ETFs2955715035000
Commissions & Fees 3.5 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.5 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars
View all 23 data points

Platforms & Tools

Rank: 6th (of 16)

Power E*TRADE (previously OptionsHouse) lacks depth with certain features active stock traders want. Nevertheless, it delivers a great experience for options traders, thanks to its clean design and unique tools, such as Spectral Analysis.

Benefits

  • 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.”
  • 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.
  • For newer investors, there isn't a better platform 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.

Considerations

  • While E*TRADE Pro, the broker’s downloadable active trader desktop platform, is 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. Fortunately, Power E*TRADE offers most of Pro’s features already.
  • Power E*TRADE’s 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).
  • Despite a clean design, multitasking is limited. For example, you cannot run multiple charts within the platform directly; instead, each chart opens in a new browser window. Little nit-picky usability features are key areas in which TD Ameritrade thinkorswim and Tradestation outshine Power E*TRADE.

Gallery

Further Reading

Tools Comparison

FeatureE*TRADETD AmeritradeCharles SchwabFidelity Merrill Edge
Web Platform Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Desktop Platform (Windows) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Watch Lists - Total Fields12551410891285
Charting - Drawing Tools3322152222
Charting - Indicators / Studies1184114116695
Option Chains - Total Columns3033412669
Streaming TV Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Paper Trading Yes Yes No No No
Platforms & Tools 4.5 Stars 5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4 Stars
View all 59 data points

Research

Rank: 4th (of 16)

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.

Benefits

  • For investors who value analysts’ recommendations, E*TRADE offers consensus ratings from multiple third parties, including breakdowns from individual analysts via TipRanks.
  • Charting on the website includes the Trefis price estimate right on the chart, with a quick link to view Trefis’s full analysis.
  • Screeners are provided on its website for stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, and bonds. Each has its highlights and drawbacks. For example, the stock screener includes filtering by third-party ratings from all of its research partners, which is great to see; however, the interface needs a facelift.

Considerations

  • 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.
  • E*TRADE provides in-house market commentary and analysis (articles), but trails its closest competitors. Live broadcasting is also absent, an area in which both TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab excel.

Gallery

Research Comparison

FeatureE*TRADETD AmeritradeCharles SchwabFidelity Merrill Edge
Research - Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stock Research - Reports478123
Research - ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Research - Mutual Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Research - Fixed Income Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Research - Futures Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Research - Forex No Yes No No No
Research 4.5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 4.5 Stars
View all 60 data points

Customer Service

Rank: 3rd (of 16)

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.

Results

  • 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)
  • View Infographic

Mobile Trading

Rank: 1st (of 16)

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.

Benefits

  • Both apps are supported in iOS and Android, while E*TRADE Mobile also supports the Apple Watch.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Considerations

  • While E*TRADE Mobile has measurably more functionality, Power E*TRADE Mobile is far more modern and built using the latest mobile standards. Fortunately, both apps are easy to use.
  • 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.

Gallery

Further Reading:

Mobile Apps Comparison

FeatureE*TRADETD AmeritradeCharles SchwabFidelity Merrill Edge
iPhone App Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Android App Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Apple Watch App Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Watch List Syncing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stock Alerts - Basic Fields Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Charting - After Hours Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Mobile Trading 5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars
View all 52 data points

Offering of Investments

Rank: 5th (of 16)

E*TRADE provides everything an investor would come to expect from a full-service brokerage.

Benefits

  • All investment vehicles offered, from stocks and options to bonds, banking products, and financial-planning services.

Considerations

  • The only notable offerings E*TRADE lacks include international trading and forex trading, both of which are uncommon among US-based brokerages.

Further Reading

Offering Comparison

FeatureE*TRADETD AmeritradeCharles SchwabFidelity Merrill Edge
Stock Trading Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
OTCBB / Pink Sheets Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Trading Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Complex Options Max Legs44442
Options Exercising (Web) No Yes No No No
Options Exercising (Phone) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds (US Treasury) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds (Corporate) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds (Municipal) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Trading Yes Yes Yes No No
Forex Trading No Yes No No No
Mutual Funds (No Load)62665185584640312471
Mutual Funds (Total)9062124185846117823709
DRIPs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Advisor Services Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Offering of Investments 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 3 Stars
View all 40 data points

Education

Rank: 3rd (of 16)

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.

Benefits

  • All investing topics covered, from stock trading to retirement.
  • At least nine free webinars offered each month to customers. Webinars are also archived for viewing on demand.
  • Content is well-organized, including by type, topic, and skill level.

Considerations

  • No progress tracking available to track the educational content you’ve completed or where you last left off.
  • E*TRADE does not offer a physical or digital educational publication for customers to subscribe to.

Further Reading:

Education Comparison

FeatureE*TRADETD AmeritradeCharles SchwabFidelity Merrill Edge
Has Education - Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - Mutual Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - Fixed Income Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - Retirement Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Paper Trading Yes Yes No No No
Videos Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Webinars (Monthly Avg)125005080
Webinars (Archived) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Live Seminars Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Progress Tracking No Yes No Yes No
Interactive Learning - Quizzes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Investor Magazine No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Education 4.5 Stars 5 Stars 4.5 Stars 5 Stars 4.5 Stars
View all 19 data points

Banking

Rank: 5th (of 16)

Besides trading, E*TRADE also offers essential banking services.

Benefits

  • E*TRADE Bank is a registered member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which insures bank deposits up to $250,000.
  • Banking services include checking accounts with no ATM fees, high-yield savings accounts, and debit cards.
  • 30 branch offices are available across the United States.

Considerations

  • 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’s FDIC-insured high-yield savings accounts charge a $10 per month minimum fee for balances under $1,000. The monthly fee can also be waived if certain conditions are met.
  • E*TRADE’s FDIC-insured checking accounts charge a $15 per month minimum fee for balances under $5,000. The monthly fee can also be waived if certain conditions are met, such as setting up and maintaining a direct deposit of $200 or more per month.

Further Reading

Banking Comparison

FeatureE*TRADETD AmeritradeCharles SchwabFidelity Merrill Edge
Retail Locations303643571974400
Member FDIC Yes No Yes No Yes
Checking Accounts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Savings Accounts Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Credit Cards No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Debit Cards Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mortgage Loans No No Yes No Yes
No Fee Banking No Yes Yes Yes No
Banking 4 Stars 3 Stars 4.5 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars
View all 12 data points

Final Thoughts

Rank: 4th (of 16)

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.

Methodology

For the StockBrokers.com ninth annual review published in February 2019, a total of 4,544 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and provided executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. 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. We take pride in StockBrokers.com data quality because it is 100% verified by the industry itself. As part of our process, we hand check and validate each data point to ensure its accuracy.

This 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.


Blain Reinkensmeyer

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.

All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 02/18/2019 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. 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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