By Blain Reinkensmeyer
February 18th, 2019
Last Updated: March 21st, 2019
The StockBrokers.com Annual Review (9 years running) sets the official industry benchmarks. Our Head of Research, Blain Reinkensmeyer, is respected by executives as the leading analyst covering online brokers. Learn more.
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.
While E*TRADE may not offer the cheapest trades, the Power E*TRADE platform is great for options trading, and the broker offers two great mobile apps.
- 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.
- 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- Certain areas of the website are outdated and need to be modernized.
- Trade commission-free for 60 days & get up to $600. Join E*TRADE today! Learn More
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.
- 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.
- $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.
|Stock Trade Fee (flat)||$6.95|
|Options Base Fee||$6.95|
|Options Per Contract Fee||$0.75|
|Mutual Fund Trade Fee||$19.99|
Platforms & Tools
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.
- 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.
- 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.
|Desktop Platform (Windows)||Yes|
|Watch Lists - Total Fields||125|
|Charting - Drawing Tools||33|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies||118|
|Option Chains - Total Columns||30|
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.
- 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.
- 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.
|Research - Stocks||Yes|
|Stock Research - Reports||4|
|Research - ETFs||Yes|
|Research - Mutual Funds||Yes|
|Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB||Yes|
|Research - Fixed Income||Yes|
|Research - Futures||Yes|
|Research - Forex||No|
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 th (16 brokers)
- View Infographic
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.
- 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.
- 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.
|Apple Watch App||Yes|
|Watch List Syncing||Yes|
|Stock Alerts - Basic Fields||Yes|
|Charting - After Hours||Yes|
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.
|OTCBB / Pink Sheets||Yes|
|Complex Options Max Legs||4|
|Mutual Funds (No Load)||6266|
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.
- 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.
- 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.
|Has Education - Stocks||Yes|
|Has Education - ETFs||Yes|
|Has Education - Options||Yes|
|Has Education - Mutual Funds||Yes|
|Has Education - Fixed Income||Yes|
|Has Education - Retirement||Yes|
Besides trading, E*TRADE also offers essential banking services.
- 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.
- 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.
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.