Compare Charles Schwab versus ZacksTrade: IRA, commissions, investing fees, trading tools, account differences, pros and cons. Which online broker is better?

Overview of Charles Schwab and Zacks Trade

Zacks Trade and Charles Schwab offer a lot of great trading resources in return for small commissions. This head-to-head competition will help you choose the right broker for your needs.

Broker Cost

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
Charles Schwab $0 $49.95 ($0 to sell) $0.65 per contract $0 $0
ZacksTrade $1+ $27.50 $0.75 per contract $0 $0


Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
Charles Schwab


Charles Schwab: Make $100,000 deposit and get 500 commission-free online equity and options trades.

ZacksTrade: Stocks and ETFs as low as $1 and transfer fee reimbursement.

Investment Products

Schwab customers can buy and sell equities (including foreign stocks), ETF’s (including a few hundred commission-free), options, futures, options on futures, bitcoin futures, mutual funds, and fixed-income assets.

Zacks Trade offers stocks, ETF’s (none commission-free), options, mutual funds, and bonds. The broker does provide access to several foreign exchanges for equity trading.

We’ll take Schwab here.

Website Trading

The Zacks Trade website offers a portal and a browser platform. The portal has basic order entry without advanced order types. Account management is also on tap. Functions such as transferring funds and establishing margin preferences are available.

The company’s browser platform has a more sophisticated order ticket. It delivers direct-access routing and the ability to trade a wide variety of securities. Missing on the platform is decent charting.

Schwab bypasses the client portal but delivers an amazing website with a lot of great tools. A trade bar provides real-time data on an entered ticker symbol. A medium-sized chart can be displayed directly above the bar. The one disappointment is that actual orders can’t be submitted from the bar. The website takes care of this, though.

StreetSmart Edge

Trade Source is a dashboard on the Schwab site that can be used as a browser platform. It has windows for news articles, account balances, positions, and more. Charting with many tools is available. A pop-up order ticket provides multiple duration choices but no direct-access routing.

Overall, we think Schwab is the outperformer here.

Desktop Platforms

Zacks Trade Pro is a desktop program that is the hallmark of the company’s trading experience. The software has many professional-level tools, including charting with lots of advanced features. There are approximately a hundred technical studies, and right-click trading is enabled.

ZacksTrade vs Schwab

Schwab offers StreetSmart Edge, which has about forty technical indicators. A trade button appears on a graph. Like Zacks Pro, the program offers direct-access routing; but we didn’t find as many venues.

Zacks Trade wins its first category.

Mobile Apps

Zacks Trade customers get a very advanced mobile platform. The order form offers many complex order types. Charting has roughly forty technical indicators. And we were impressed with iBot, an AI.


The Schwab app delivers bill pay and mobile check deposit, both of which are missing on the Zacks app. We counted about thirty technical studies on the software’s graphing program. There are fewer order types compared to the Zacks app.

WeBull vs Schwab

Overall, it’s a draw here.

Extended-Hours Trading

Both brokerage firms in our survey provide extended-hours trading. At Zacks, trading starts at 4:00 am and runs until 8:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time. Schwab’s early-bird session opens at 8 o’clock. Trading ends at 8:00 pm.

Zacks Trade wins here.

Level II Quotes

Level II data is available at both broker-dealers. Schwab imposes active trader requirements, and Zacks Trade charges fees for the quotes.

Looks like a draw here.


A margin account can be opened at either company in our investigation. Zacks Trade maintains initial and maintenance margin requirements of 50% and 25%. Schwab’s numbers are 50% and 30%. Zacks Trade’s margin rates range from 4.68% to 5.88%, while Schwab customers pay between 8.1% and 9.8%.

Zacks wins another one.

Option Tools

Although Zacks Trade’s browser platform is rather elementary, the order ticket does offer pre-built multi-leg strategies. Moreover, direct-access routing for derivatives is available. The company’s desktop platform delivers several option tools, such as a strategy builder where an equity leg can be appended to an order. Other great tools include Greeks, 3D volatility skew, and a probability lab.

At Schwab, put and call chains are available on the website. Greek values can be accessed here, but there are no multi-leg strategies. StreetSmart Edge does deliver these advanced trades. We counted about twenty of them. Custom orders can include up to four legs. Despite this strength, there aren’t nearly as many option tools as Zacks Trade Pro has.

Another victory for Zacks.

Other Services

Both Schwab and Zacks Trade offer dividend reinvesting services. Schwab charges nothing for its service, but Zacks Trade customers must pay a fee.

Individual Retirement Accounts are available at both brokerage houses as well. Schwab has a SIMPLE IRA, but Zacks doesn’t.

Although Zacks Trade does not offer automatic investing for its mutual funds, Schwab does.

Schwab offers no-fee checking and savings accounts. The company delivers FDIC insurance, free checks and a debit card, and unlimited ATM fee rebates. Zacks offers no cash management services.

Schwab is the easy winner here.

Our Recommendations

If you’re a beginning investor, we recommend Schwab over Zacks Trade. The former broker’s educational tools are quite a bit better than what is available at Zacks. Schwab also has branch locations and 24/7 customer support.

For retirement planning and long-term investing, Schwab is the better choice. Same for mutual funds. Resources for these areas of financial management are much better at Schwab.

For stock trading, we propose Zacks Trade over Schwab. For ETF’s, we could go either way. If you can confine yourself to a list of commission-free ETF’s, choose Schwab.


Charles Schwab: Make $100,000 deposit and get 500 commission-free online equity and options trades.

ZacksTrade: Stocks and ETFs as low as $1 and transfer fee reimbursement.

ZacksTrade vs Charles Schwab Summary

Overall, both brokers in this review are pretty even. While Zacks Trade seems to have the advantage in the realm of short-term stock and option trading, Schwab excels at long-term investing.

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