Capital One Investing started out as ShareBuilder back in 1996 (Capital One acquired ShareBuilder in 2011) with the goal of making investing affordable and easy. Today, in 2017, Capital One Investing continues to thrive, thanks to its automatic investments, pleasant customer service, and clean website.
Commissions & Fees
Capital One Investing is the only broker to offer its clients a separate rate to take advantage of discounted automatic investments.
Under the broker’s base commission structure, regular stock trades cost $6.95, options trades run at $6.95 plus $0.75 per contract (complex, multi-legged options are not supported), and automatic investments are $3.95 each.
Where Capital One Investing comes out on top in a big way is with its automatic investments (also known as the ShareBuilder Plan), which give clients the ability to automatically buy shares of stocks, ETFs, or select mutual funds each month (all automatic investments take place on Tuesdays).
Compared to the big-name brokers such as TD Ameritrade, ETRADE, Scottrade, and Fidelity Investments, Capital One Investing is less expensive. However, compared to other discount brokers such as OptionsHouse, TradeKing, and the like, Capital One Investing is more expensive.
|View All Fees||Capital One Investing||E*TRADE||TD Ameritrade||Scottrade||OptionsHouse|
|Stock Trade Fee (flat)||$6.95||$6.95||$6.95||$6.95||$4.95|
|Options Base Fee||$6.95||$6.95||$6.95||$6.95||$4.95|
|Options Per Contract Fee||$0.75||$0.75||$0.75||$0.70||$0.50|
|Mutual Fund Trade Fee||$19.95||$19.99||$49.99||$17.00||$20.00|
|Broker Assisted Trades Fee||$19.95||$25.00||$44.99||$32.00||$25.00|
|Commissions & Fees|
Where Capital One Investing comes out on top in a big way is with its automatic investments (also known as the ShareBuilder Plan), which give clients the ability to automatically buy shares of stocks, ETFs, or select mutual funds each month (all automatic investments take place on Tuesdays). It is this simplicity that makes Capital One Investing so attractive for investors who want to "set it and forget it" with their IRAs.
Capital One Investing's phone customer service was consistently an enjoyable experience, and we were impressed. Reps were almost always enthusiastic, professional, and helpful. We were on hold for longer than one minute less than 20% of the time and the reps were clearly well trained, always making sure to conclude all calls on a warm closing note.
Phone aside, email support yielded mostly positive experiences. The only real drawback to Capital One Investing’s email support was response times, which took more than two business days, on average.
Live chat support had similar results. We had one perfect test score, and all but one chat session was connected to a rep within one minute. Our longest wait time was just under 12 minutes.
In the end, Capital One Investing had more highlights than lowlights across the board; however, compared to the rest of the industry, the broker finished in the middle of the pack.
Ease of Use
The shining star in Capital One Investing’s arsenal is the website's ease of use. Everything, from navigation to placing trades and performing research, is an effortless experience.
The shining star in Capital One Investing’s arsenal is the website's ease of use. Everything, from navigation to placing trades and performing research, is an effortless experience. The website boasts a very clean design, and it is clear Capital One Investing takes its time before launching anything new to ensure a top-notch user experience.
If there is one recommendation I would make for Capital One Investing in 2016, it would be to create a customizable dashboard for clients to replace the current boring My Accounts overview page.
For research, I found Capital One Investing's coverage of equities, ETFs, and mutual funds to be very strong, thanks to their use of Morningstar as their primary provider. Although the broker purposely supports little more than 1,000 mutual funds for trading (focus on quality over quantity), I was impressed by the depth of research provided.
On the topic of quality over quantity, Capital One Investing only offers no-load and no transaction fee funds. Excluding loaded mutual funds is a decision I fully support as numerous data studies clearly show there is no net performance advantage for paying higher fees. To help clients make a good decision, clients can use the Fund Evaluator tool to analyze any mutual fund they’d like and view lower cost alternatives.
Funds aside, after pulling up Apple (AAPL) in the research area, I was pleased to see four third-party research reports available for us to read. To dig deeper into research, clients have the ability to build custom side-by-side stock comparisons and compare fundamental data. Screening for investment ideas is also a breeze.
Capital One Investing’s research offering extends beyond vetting potential trades – it also includes client portfolios. The Portfolio Allocation and Analysis tools allow clients to assess their portfolio allocation, returns, and even break down their real equity exposure by fund. Full transparency into the client’s portfolio is not commonly found with other brokers.
Platforms & Tools
Capital One Investing does not offer a formal desktop or web-based trading platform; instead, it relies on its website. Put simply, there isn’t anything for advanced traders to be excited about because active traders are not Capital One Investing's target market.
That said, Capital One Investing does have several innovative tools for regular investors. Using PortfolioBuilder, clients can create their own diversified portfolio with up to eight ETFs, aligning their investment style and long-term goals. Once a new portfolio is compiled, it can be purchased and sold for a single flat rate of $18.95.
Portfolio Builder is Capital One Investing’s approach to “do-it-yourself” passive indexing. The primary disadvantage of Portfolio Builder is that it is not fully automated, unlike a formal robo-advisor service. Despite the potential for lower fees on an annualized basis, the requirement of manual fund selection and conscious portfolio oversight are two critical drawbacks that should not have been overlooked. Because of this, I would recommend using a robo-advisor over PortfolioBuilder. See: Best Robo-Advisors 2017.
As far as investments go, Capital One Investing has a weak offering. Complex options are not supported, nor are after-hours trades or shorting.
However, Capital One Investing, through Capital One, is the only company (alongside Bank of America Merrill Edge) to offer credit and debit cards, checking and savings accounts, as well as home mortgages.
However, Capital One Investing, through Capital One, is the only company (alongside Bank of America Merrill Edge) to offer credit and debit cards, checking and savings accounts, as well as home mortgages. Through Capital One 360, the company also supports universal login for clients for easy account management. More simply put, synergies for current banking clients are widespread.
Lastly, in 2016 Capital One formally began offering advisor services. While StockBrokers.com does not test advisor services yet, for investors seeking professional portfolio advice and management, Capital One Advisors Managed Portfolios is an option. The minimum investment is $25,000 and annual management fees start at 0.9%.
Capital One Investing shines in its ease of use; it performs well in research and customer service, but limits its offering of investments and tools desired by active stock and options traders.
Capital One Investing should continue to thrive doing what it does best: offering a great solution for casual investors and those seeking automatic investments, as well as giving current Capital One 360 clients an easy way to access the markets.
For our 2017 Stock Broker Review we assessed, rated, and ranked sixteen different online brokers over a period of six months. In total, we conducted 349 customer service tests, collected 5,277 data points, and produced over 40,000 words of research. How we test.View all Capital One Investing Fees & Features
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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