Founded in 1982 as one of the first online brokerages in the United States, E*TRADE highlights include $0 trades, two excellent mobile apps and the Power E*TRADE platform, which is great for beginners, active trading and options trading.
Top Takeaways for 2022
After spending three months testing 15 of the best online brokers for our 12th Annual Review, here are our top findings on E*TRADE:
- The Power E*TRADE platform (available as a web platform and mobile app) offers a sleek design and a diverse selection of trading tools. This combination of usability and depth drove E*TRADE to the top of our scoring, winning No. 1 awards for Best Web Trading Platform and Best Trader App.
- E*TRADE also finished among the five Best in Class for Offering of Investments, Active Trading, Futures Trading, Options Trading and IRA accounts.
- While education isn't quite as thorough as some of its close competitors, E*TRADE's ease of use makes it a viable option for beginners.
|Commissions & Fees|
|Platforms & Tools|
|Mobile Trading Apps|
|Offering of Investments|
|Ease of Use|
Offering of investments
E*TRADE provides everything an investor would expect from a full-service brokerage. All investment vehicles are offered, including stocks, options and bonds; and financial planning services are available through E*TRADE Capital Management. Banking services are offered through E*TRADE Bank, while futures trading is provided through E*TRADE Futures LLC.
Cryptocurrency: E*TRADE does not currently offer cryptocurrency trading. It does offer futures on Ether, Bitcoin and Micro Bitcoin.
E*TRADE offering summary:
|OTCBB / Pink Sheets||Yes|
|Complex Options Max Legs||4|
|Bonds (US Treasury)||Yes|
|Mutual Funds (Total)||7242|
|Crypto Trading - Total Coins||0|
Commissions and fees
At E*TRADE, regular stock and ETF trades are $0 and option trades run $0 + $0.65 per contract.
Pre and Post hours: When trading during pre- and post-market hours, an ECN fee of $.005 per share is added to the regular commission rate, which is a fee none of E*TRADE’s competitors charge.
Penny stocks: Unlike Fidelity and Charles Schwab, which both charge no commission ($0) for penny stocks, E*TRADE charges $6.95.
Streaming market data: While there is no fee for real-time streaming quotes, E*TRADE requires a $1,000 minimum balance for streaming quotes to be enabled.
E*TRADE pricing summary:
|Penny Stock Fees (OTCCB)||$6.95|
|ETF Trade Fee||$0.00|
|Options (Base Fee)||$0.00|
|Options (Per Contract)||$0.65|
|Futures (Per Contract)||$1.50|
|Mutual Fund Trade Fee||$19.99|
|Broker Assisted Trade Fee||$25.00|
Mobile trading apps
In our 2022 Review, E*TRADE once again shines thanks to its apps, E*TRADE Mobile and Power E*TRADE Mobile, which are easy to use and feature-rich. My recommendation: Use E*TRADE mobile for stock trading and Power E*TRADE Mobile for options and futures trading.
E*TRADE Mobile: E*TRADE Mobile is beginner-friendly and focuses on what matters most to casual investors: portfolio management, quotes, watch lists, market research and trading. Watch lists are fully customizable and streaming ($1,000 minimum balance required). Meanwhile, quotes include both basic and advanced charts, price alerts, news, and additional research such as third-party reports. E*TRADE Mobile includes Bloomberg TV and basic trade idea screeners for stocks, ETFs, and even mutual funds (screeners are uncommon for mobile apps).
Power E*TRADE Mobile: While designed for more advanced trading, Power E*TRADE is actually easy to use thanks to its modern design and platform layout. You can switch between advanced multi-legged options trading with numerous predefined strategies available, to futures trading, to streaming content on Bloomberg TV. Other advanced tools include a Live Action feature that helps you find potential investment opportunities with predefined options screeners categorized by unusual activity, volatility, or technical patterns.
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, depth varies by app. While Power E*TRADE Mobile provides 108 indicators, E*TRADE Mobile offers 10. Indicator differences aside, panning, zooming, and conducting high-level analysis are all extremely user-friendly.
E*TRADE mobile app screenshots:
E*TRADE mobile summary:
|Apple Watch App||Yes|
|Watch List Syncing||Yes|
|Charting - After-Hours||Yes|
|Charting - Technical Studies||10|
|Charting - Study Customizations||Yes|
|Watch Lists - Streaming||Yes|
|Watch Lists - Create & Manage||Yes|
|Watch Lists - Column Customization||Yes|
Other trading platforms and tools
Built as a web-based platform, Power E*TRADE innovates and delivers speed, ease of use, and the tools needed for traders to succeed. For our 2022 Annual Review, Power E*TRADE once again won our award for Best Web-Based Platform.
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 Trading Central (Recognia) technical analysis, 119 optional technical indicators and 31 drawing tools. To uncover flaws, we had to get picky. For example, running multiple concurrent charts can be a bit cumbersome compared to the preset grid functionality offered by TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim platform.
Options trading: For casual and active options traders, Power E*TRADE offers the perfect blend of usability, excellent tools (screening via StrategySEEK, scanning via LiveAction), and seamless position management (custom grouping, real-time streaming greeks, risk analysis, and more). And, 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 translated with smiley faces, but key events to watch out for are also listed alongside a P&L chart. It's a work of art.
Futures trading: Like options trading, Power E*TRADE also provides a great experience for trading futures. Multiple futures ladders can be run at once, orders can be fired off with ease thanks to the Quick Trade widget, and, as with options, managing positions is a breeze.
E*TRADE trading platform screenshots:
E*TRADE trading platform summary:
|Desktop Trading Platform||No|
|Web Trading Platform||Yes|
|Watch Lists - Total Fields||95|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies||119|
|Charting - Drawing Tools||31|
|Charting - Study Customizations||6|
|Charting - Save Profiles||Yes|
|Trade Ideas - Technical Analysis||Yes|
|Streaming Time & Sales||Yes|
|Trade Ideas - Backtesting||No|
Morgan Stanley’s 2020 acquisition of E*TRADE has bolstered the research offerings. E*TRADE provides everyday investors with everything they need to conduct in-depth market analysis across stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, and more. Morgan Stanley equity and industry research has been added across platforms, and this includes insights into Sustainable investing.
Stock research: Alongside five third-party research report options for stocks, E*TRADE offers consensus ratings from multiple third parties, including breakdowns from individual analysts via TipRanks. Morgan Stanley research adds ratings and targets on 3,500+ stocks and reports from 590 analysts, strategists and economists.
Charting on the website includes the Trefis price estimate right on the chart, with a quick link to view Trefis's full analysis. There is also content from E*TRADE's in-house staff, including the Market Dashboard and Daily Insights series, and Bloomberg TV is available from within the web platform.
E*TRADE market research screenshots:
E*TRADE research summary:
|Research - Stocks||Yes|
|Stock Research - ESG||No|
|Stock Research - PDF Reports||6|
|Screener - Stocks||Yes|
|Research - ETFs||Yes|
|Screener - ETFs||Yes|
|Research - Mutual Funds||Yes|
|Screener - Mutual Funds||Yes|
|Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB||Yes|
|Research - Bonds||Yes|
|Research - Futures||Yes|
|Research - Forex||No|
E*TRADE’s educational offering is a mixed bag. There is a lot of content, but the website is difficult to navigate.
Learning center: Relying mostly on third-party content providers, E*TRADE provides a thorough selection of educational content, organized by topic in a library. All investing topics are covered, from stock trading to retirement, with dozens of articles across more than 10 thematic categories. There are also at least 25 free webinars offered each month, and archived recordings are available.
However, overall, E*TRADE's learning experience left us wanting more education for beginner investors. Once you select a topic, there are no preset flows or progress tracking. Yes, there is a lot of content, but if you can't easily find what you're looking for and it isn't engaging, then it won't get used. Additionally, video content is sparse.
E*TRADE education summary:
|Education (Mutual Funds)||Yes|
|Interactive Learning - Quizzes||Yes|
To score Customer Service, StockBrokers.com partners with customer experience research firm Confero to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the United States. For our 2022 Broker Review, 159 customer service tests were conducted over six weeks. Here are the results for E*TRADE.
- Average Connection Time: <1 minute
- Average Net Promoter Score: 8.8 / 10
- Average Professionalism Score: 8.2 / 10
- Overall Score: 8.6 / 10
- Ranking: 3rd of 13 brokers (tie)
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.
E*TRADE doesn’t come close to competing with leader Bank of America - Merrill Edge; but, that said, FDIC-insured banking is still fairly rare in the online brokerage industry.
E*TRADE banking summary:
|Bank (Member FDIC)||Yes|
E*TRADE is an industry leader in its mobile and web trading offerings, thanks to Power E*TRADE, and continues to innovate each year. Overall, E*TRADE provides a well-rounded offering that will satisfy the majority of investors.
Regardless of your investing style, E*TRADE is a reliable, full-service broker that sets a high bar for competitors.
Is E*TRADE any good?
E*TRADE ranks highly in several key categories compared to the best online stock brokers in the U.S., making it a great choice for most investors.
E*TRADE was founded in 1982 and has a longstanding market share as a U.S. brokerage, servicing nearly 6 million retail accounts and over 1 million trades daily, per its latest regulatory filing before being acquired by Morgan Stanley in October 2020.
Is E*TRADE good for beginners?
E*TRADE is a good choice for beginners thanks to its easy-to-use trading platforms for web and mobile, and a variety of educational materials that can help accelerate your learning.
One of the best all-around web platforms, Power E*TRADE will suit the needs of not only beginners but of most traders, as its intelligent design has an almost perfect balance of richness of features and ease of using them.
E*TRADE also offers the Power E*TRADE Mobile app, which offers a user experience consistent with its web counterpart, something beginners will appreciate; its other mobile app, E*TRADE Mobile, is more complex.
Is E*TRADE really free?
E*TRADE is a zero-dollar commission broker for trading U.S. stocks and ETFs.
The only other costs associated with your E*TRADE brokerage account are those such as $0.65 per options contract, $6.95 per trade for penny stocks, $19.99 for mutual funds, $25 for broker-assisted trades, and a half of a penny per share ECN fee when you trade during the pre-market or post-market hours.
While there’s no fee for real-time streaming quotes, there is a $1,000 minimum balance requirement to enable the feature.
Headquartered in New York City, E*TRADE was founded in 1982 and, like its closest competitors, was also one of the first online brokerages in the United States (1). E*TRADE acquired online broker OptionsHouse in September 2016 for $725 million, paving the way for what is now branded as the Power E*TRADE platform (2) and the broker now has more than 5 million retail accounts. In October 2020, E*TRADE was acquired by Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS).
2022 Review Methodology
Our mission at StockBrokers.com is simple: provide thorough and unbiased reviews of online brokers, based on an extraordinary level of hands-on testing and data collection. Our ratings and awards are based on this data and our experts’ deep authority in the field; brokers cannot pay for preferential treatment. Here’s more about trustworthiness at StockBrokers.com.
For the StockBrokers.com 12th Annual Review published in January 2022, a total of 3,075 data points were collected over three months and used to score 15 top brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.
As part of our annual review process, all brokers had the opportunity to provide updates and key milestones and complete an in-depth data profile, which we hand-checked for accuracy. Brokers also were offered the opportunity to provide executive time for an annual update meeting.
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About the Author
Blain Reinkensmeyer Blain Reinkensmeyer is a Managing Partner at Reink Media Group. He heads research for all U.S.-based brokerages on StockBrokers.com and is respected by executives as the leading analyst covering the online broker industry. Blain’s insights have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among other media outlets, and he is noted as a top expert on the U.S. online brokerage industry.
Chris McKhann Chris McKhann has been in the industry for more than 20 years. He has worked for many of the top names in the online trading space, including TD Ameritrade and optionMONSTER, which later became part of E*TRADE. His work has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Financial Times, Forbes, CNBC, Nasdaq.com and Nikkei. He has also been an advisor and outside trader for several hedge funds. He was one of the first traders to delve into the VIX tradable products and to write about them (back in 2006). Chris is also an educator who teaches high school statistics, finance and computer science.