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

Overview of Etrade and Zacks Trade

E*Trade and Zacks Trade provide a lot of different services that don’t cost very much. But which one should you choose? Let our research provide the answer.

Broker Cost

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
Etrade $0 $19.95 $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


Etrade: No commissions on stocks and ETFs.

ZacksTrade: Get the lowest margin rates.

Range of Investments

E*Trade has a large selection of tradable instruments: bonds, stocks, futures, mutual funds, options, and ETF’s. Zacks Trade customers get to buy and sell all of these except futures.

E*Trade look like the better choice in the first category.

Website Trading

E*Trade’s website is user-friendly and provides a lot of great tools. First up is the trading ticket, which incorporates trailing, stop, and limit orders. Duration options include immediate or cancel, fill or kill, or GTD (good until a date). Charting on the website is very advanced with lower comparisons, upper comparisons, company events, several display styles, and 40 years of price data. Bloomberg TV streams in HD free of charge.

Etrade Pro

Perhaps the best tool on E*Trade’s site is Power E*Trade, a very sophisticated browser platform. It offers a trade ticket with even more advanced options, such as 3-leg bracket, hidden, OCO, and reserve. A practice mode is available.

Zacks Trade has a browser platform as well. Like E*Trade’s, it has a simulated trading environment that provides extra practice. Unlike E*Trade’s software, charting is very rudimentary. The order ticket, however, offers direct-access routing, something that’s missing on Power E*Trade. Zacks also delivers a client portal. Here, customers are able to manage accounts and use a simplified order entry form.

Overall, we like E*Trade better.

Desktop Software

E*Trade customers who don’t care for the Power system can instead use the company’s desktop program. It provides some nice features not found on Power, such as direct-access routing, time & sales information, and live streaming of Bloomberg television. The software also delivers a watch list, some advanced futures and options search tools not found on the browser system, an economic calendar, and data on market movers.

Zacks Trade delivers a desktop platform with a lot of professional-level features. Direct-access routing is available, and there are many more option tools than E*Trade’s software has. Other highlights include highly-developed charting and a very advanced order ticket with lots of order types.

ZacksTrade vs E-Trade

An important difference between the two programs is that E*Trade requires at least 10 trades per month to use its software; whereas Zacks has no minimums.

Zacks Trade wins this category.

Mobile Platforms

E*Trade has two mobile apps. One is a Power platform based on its browser software. The other is a regular E*Trade app. Combined, they provide free Bloomberg video news, mobile check deposit, futures trading, an advanced order ticket, and horizontal charting.

Etrade vs Webull

Zacks Trade has one app, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it underperforms E*Trade. The Zacks app has excellent charting with multiple customization features. The trade ticket offers several advanced options, and we definitely like iBot, an artificial intelligence. Missing on the platform is mobile check deposit and video news.


Zacks Trade takes this category.

Extended-hours Trading

E*Trade clients can buy and sell stocks and ETF’s from 7 in the morning until 8 in the evening, Eastern Standard Time. At Zacks Trade, the early session starts at 4 o’clock. The late-night period ends at the same time as E*Trade’s.

We’ll take Zacks here.

Level 2 Quotes

Both E*Trade and Zacks Trade offers Level 2 quotes on their desktop programs. Both companies also charge for this service.

Very close in this category.


E*Trade imposes a 25% maintenance margin on long positions and 30% on short positions. Zacks Trade has the same numbers. Both brokers allow 4:1 leverage for day-trading.

As for margin rates, E*Trade charges a very high 13.45% for debits under 10 grand. Zacks has a much lower 7.33% for the same loan.

Zacks Trade wins here.


E*Trade’s website has lots of great fund resources. ETF and mutual fund screeners are able to look for potential investments based on many criteria. We also like the broker’s free All-Star Funds lists. These are recommended mutual funds and ETF’s. Fund profile pages offer a lot of details. Morningstar reports are available on some funds.

While Zacks Trade offers both mutual funds and ETF’s, the brokerage firm doesn’t provide as many resources as E*Trade does. There is no mutual fund screener, and the ETF screener isn’t quite as good as E*Trade’s. Other resources like All-Star Funds and Morningstar reports are absent.

E*Trade offers all ETF’s commission-free, which Zacks fails to deliver.

Overall, E*Trade is better.

Education & Research

E*Trade customers get lots of learning materials hosted on the broker’s website. These include market news, stock recommendations, retirement calculators, several option tools, and general investment education. The broker’s trading platforms deliver even more.

Over at Zacks, we found lots of research subscriptions (some are free, while others are paid), a brief FAQ, and a how-to section with articles and videos. Its desktop platform has many advanced security analysis tools.

We’ll call it a draw here.

Other Services

Zacks Trade customers can trade securities from the United States and 17 other markets. The foreign investments trade in local currency. E*Trade used to offer global trading, but has discontinued the service.

Zacks Trade clients can enroll in the company’s DRIP program that will reinvest dividends in whatever security that pays them. There is a charge for the service. E*Trade offers dividend reinvesting and charges nothing.

An IRA can be opened at either broker. E*Trade also offers an individual 401(k) plan.

E*Trade offers a free automatic investing program for mutual fund purchases, but Zacks does not.

Overall, E*Trade is the outperformer.

Our Recommendations

For mutual fund traders, we definitely suggest E*Trade. Same goes for long-term investing and IRA’s.

For stock, option, and ETF traders, it’s a little more complicated. E*Trade’s commission schedule benefits trades with a large number of shares or contracts; while Zacks Trade’s benefits trades with a small number.

For new traders, we propose E*Trade due to its 24/7 customer support.


Etrade: No commissions on stocks and ETFs.

ZacksTrade: Get the lowest margin rates.

ZacksTrade vs Etrade Summary

E*Trade was a slightly better performer for buy-and-hold investors, and Zacks is the better choice for active traders.

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