Charles Schwab brokerage firm review. Fees and commissions, advantages and disadvantages, minimum requirements and promotion offers for opening new online stock broker account.


Rating:  Charles Schwab rating

  • Stocks & ETFs: $4.95
  • Options: $4.95 + $0.65 per contract
  • Mutual Funds: $76 to buy, $0 to sell

Charles Schwab Review

With the Schwab One brokerage account, investors can trade a wide selection of products, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETF’s, options, CD’s, and preferred stocks.

Schwab offers its clients access to more than 3,500 OneSource mutual funds, which carry no loads and no transaction fees ($49.95 fee on sale of these funds if held for less than 90 days). Furthermore, customers have access to 200+ commission-free ETF’s, making Schwab one of the industry’s largest sources of free-to-trade funds.

Pricing, Fees, and Account Minimums

Schwab’s charge for trading stocks and regular ETF’s is $4.95. Placing the trade over the phone carries a surcharge of $5, and placing the trade with a living, breathing broker tacks on an extra $25.

Mutual funds that aren’t transaction-free are a pricey $76 to buy and $0 to sell.

Opening a Schwab checking account with the brokerage account waives the investment account’s $1,000 minimum opening deposit.

Research

Schwab offers in-depth research for stocks, ETF’s, and mutual funds. Customers have access to free stock reports from Morningstar, S&P Capital IQ, Thomson Reuters, Credit Suisse, and others.

Customers also have free access to the very useful Schwab Equity Ratings, which cover approximately 3,000 U.S. stocks and grade them on an A, B, C, D, and F scale.

Schwab also offers its clients free report cards on mutual funds.

Customer Service

Schwab customer service can be contacted via an on-line chat system, phone, fax, or e-mail. The phone service is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the reps have a history of being trained and actually knowing what they’re talking about. Schwab also offers phone numbers for Chinese speakers and customers traveling outside the U.S.

Schwab provides educational tools to its clients, who have access to live workshops and on-demand webinars.

Trading Tools

Although Schwab does offer trading by phone and with a live broker, the cheapest option is trading on-line. The web site is simple and straightforward to navigate. Customers who have multiple accounts, such as a Schwab bank account, will see all accounts upon a single log-in.


Charles Schwab Review: Website


Website trading, available after logging in to Schwab.com, is easy to use and offers the usual trading options for a simple order entry. If you navigate to Trade->Trading Tools in main menu, you get to more complicated trading platforms (you have to call customer service to get access). First is Trade Source - user friendly trading platform, that only offers basic information, such as account balance, portfolio positions, market indices, watch lists, and a trade ticket.

A step up from Trade Source is Java-based StreetSmart.com. After logging on to Schwab.com, customers can click on the StreetSmart.com icon within their account, or access the site directly. Here, clients will find more sophisticated trading tools such as Level II quotes and option chains. An annoying weakness of the StreetSmart.com platform is that is frequently takes the customer back to the Schwab.com web site for requests such as funds transfers and stock screening.


Charles Schwab Review: Charts


For those not satisfied with standard web site tools, Schwab’s crown jewel of trading platforms is their StreetSmart Edge, available via the cloud or as a downloadable program. The platform’s many features include charting with technical analysis, CNBC TV with video archive, account information, Level II quotes, national best bid and offer (NBBO) data and global accounts (if applicable), ETF and stock screeners, conditional orders, options trading, customization options, and more.


StreetSmart Edge


Schwab’s StreetSmart Edge places the broker ahead of some of its rivals, such as Capital One and Vanguard, who don’t have the same quality of trading tools.

Mobile Trading

Schwab has applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, and mobile web. The interface is intuitive and user friendly. Users can transfer funds between Schwab and non-Schwab accounts, make a mobile check deposit, place trades, pay bills, and contact customer service.


Schwab Review Mobile App


Additional Features

Besides their regular do-it-yourself brokerage account, Schwab offers a plethora of investment services to their clients. Schwab’s range of financial products include retirement products such as annuities and IRA’s, margin, tailored investment advice, and actual brick-and-mortar branches for old school investors.

International Trading

Investors wanting to trade in international securities should check out Schwab’s Global Account, which allows clients to trade online using the foreign currency of each market they’re trading in. European stocks carry a €19 commission plus a currency conversion fee of 1%.

Charles Schwab Advantages

Schwab has a large selection of no-cost funds and several trading platforms, making the on-line brokerage firm a good value for many investors. Its wide selection of financial services and products makes Schwab a great alternative to some of its competitors, that don’t have the same range of services.

Charles Schwab Disadvantages

Schwab’s standard commission of $76 to buy a mutual fund is higher than at almost all of its rivals. To compare, Ally Invest is charging just $9.95 for the same transactions.

Broker's fee on stocks and ETF trades at $4.95 is about average in the industry. Some brokers have lower rates. For example, low cost specialist Firstrade is at $2.95 per trade.

Charles Schwab's initial funding requirement of $1,000 could be a real turn off to those who don’t want a checking account. Other brokers, such as Motif Investing or Wellstrade have no minimum initial deposit and no checking account requirement.

Charles Schwab Review Summary

Charles Schwab offers good service that many investors will really like. For anyone willing to forego some of these benefits there are better priced options to consider.

Open Charles Schwab Account

Open Charles Schwab Account


Charles Schwab Commissions and Fees

InvestmentsPrice
Stocks and ETFs$4.95
Stocks and ETFs broker assisted$4.95 + $25.00
Stocks and ETFs phone trades$4.95 + $5.00
Schwab ETF OneSource™ online trades $0, automated phone trades - $5.00 service charge, broker assisted $25.00 service charge
Options$4.95 + $0.65 per contract
Options broker assistedOnline pricing + $25.00 service charge.
Mutual Funds Transaction-Fee Funds$76 per buy, $0 per sell. OneSource® Mutual Funds - free to buy, to sell.
Mutual Funds Transaction-Fee Funds broker assistedOnline pricing + $25.00 service charge
CDs, Corporate Bonds, Municipal Bonds, Government Agencies, Zero-Coupon Treasuries, including STRIPS and Mortgage-Backed Securities $1 per bond, $10 minimum, $250 maximum

Charles Schwab IRA & Account Fees

FeeAmount
IRA Setup Fee$0
Annual IRA Fee$0
IRA Termination Fee$0
Full Account Transfer Out$50
Partial Account Transfer Out$25
Outgoing Wire Fees$25
Account Closing Fee$0

Open Charles Schwab Account



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Charles Schwab reviewed by TopRatedFirms.com Rating: 4.5