Founded in 1982 as one of the first online brokerages in the United States, E*TRADE understands what investors need to succeed in the market. E*TRADE highlights include $0 trades, two excellent mobile apps, and the Power E*TRADE platform, which is great for options trading.
Top Takeaways for 2020
After spending five months testing 15 of the best online brokers for our 10th Annual Review, here are our top findings on E*TRADE:
- 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.
- E*TRADE also finished Best in Class (top 5) for Research, Education, Active Trading, Futures Trading, and IRA accounts.
- Thanks to the sleek designs and overall usability of E*TRADE's Mobile apps and the Power E*TRADE platform, which is our favorite web-based platform for 2020, E*TRADE is also a winner for beginners.
- $0 Commissions for online stock, ETF, & options trades. Join E*TRADE today! Open Account
|Commissions & Fees|
|Offering of Investments|
|Platforms & Tools|
|Ease of Use|
Commissions & Fees
Thanks to a pricing war in the beginning of October 2019, regular stock and ETF trades are now $0 (previously $6.95) and options trades run $0 + $.65 per contract (previously $6.95 + $0.75 per contract).
However, despite $0 trades, when trading during pre- and post-market hours, an ECN fee of $.005 per share is added to the regular commission rate. There is also still a $6.95 charge for trading penny stocks. As a result, we do not recommend E*TRADE for these two styles of trading.
E*TRADE pricing summary:
|Stock Trade Fee (per trade)||$0.00|
|ETF Trade Fee||$0.00|
|Options Base Fee||$0.00|
|Options Per Contract Fee||$0.65|
|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 traders to succeed. Once again, in our 2020 Review, Power E*TRADE won our award, "Best Web-Based Platform." E*TRADE also took our top spot for options trading.
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, 119 optional technical indicators, and 32 drawing tools. To uncover flaws, we had to get picky. For example, running multiple charts at the same time can be a bit cumbersome, versus say 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 like options, managing positions is a breeze.
While E*TRADE's research experience is thorough and provides investors with nearly everything they need to succeed, some aspects that left us wanting more.
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: When it comes to usability and modern design, E*TRADE's screening and quote experiences do not stack up to the hand-crafted designs of Fidelity and Charles Schwab. Also, while E*TRADE provides in-house market commentary and analysis (articles), it trails its closest competitors in quality, depth, and quantity. Finally, 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 2020 Broker Review, 280 customer service tests were conducted over ten weeks.
- Average Connection Time: 1 - 2 minutes
- Average Net Promoter Score: 8.9 / 10
- Average Professionalism Score: 8.4 / 10
- Overall Score: 8.62 / 10
- Ranking: 6 th (14 brokers)
In our 2020 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. Unique features include streaming live Bloomberg TV, customized stock screening, third-party research ratings, and a customizable dashboard, among others. In our testing, the modern designs of both apps, which are built for speed, shine.
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 40 indicators, E*TRADE Mobile offers ten. Indicator differences aside, panning, zooming, and conducting high-level analysis are all extremely user-friendly.
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.
Relying mostly on third-party content providers, E*TRADE provides a thorough selection of educational content. All investing topics are covered, from stock trading to retirement, and at least 12 free webinars offered each month.
However, overall, E*TRADE's learning experience left us disappointed and wanting more for beginner investors. As part of E*TRADE's website overhaul, all educational content is now organized by topic in a "Library." Once you select a topic, there are no preset flows or progress tracking. Yes, there is a lot of content, but if you easily can't find what you're looking for and it isn't engaging, then it won't get used.
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 is an industry leader in its mobile and options trading (thanks to Power E*TRADE) offerings and continues to innovate each year. Overall, E*TRADE 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.
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). As of December 31st, 2018, E*TRADE had 4.9 million brokerage accounts and processed over 280,000 online trades per trading day (3).
2020 Review Methodology
For the StockBrokers.com tenth annual best online brokers review published in January 2020, a total of 3,540 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 Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.