Usability

New E*TRADE customers can easily open and fund an account using a mobile device or computer. There are two main web-based platforms with dedicated mobile apps that mirror the functionality of the respective web platforms. One platform is aimed more at casual traders, and the Power E*TRADE platform is designed for the more active crowd. 

Fidelity is quite user-friendly overall. Here again, the broker has addressed the challenge of having tools for active traders while accommodating casual investors by splitting its offerings into two platforms. Initial account opening with Fidelity is simple, especially if you're adding an account to an existing household.

Overall, we found E*TRADE is a good choice for active traders and investors—especially those who want access to a suite of excellent options tools. At the same time, Fidelity is better for casual investors and traders looking for low costs and access to international trading. 

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Power E-Trade

Power E-Trade is the broker’s flagship trading platform, which it brought over from rival broker OptionsHouse, acquired a few years ago. The well-regarded web-based platform provides more than 100 technical studies and more than 30 drawing tools to help investors analyze the trading action. 

It also provides tools to help you trade more profitably: 

  • Overlay technical patterns on the stock chart to help you understand what’s going on
  • Show your risk-reward on options trades, breakevens and more
  • Scan for unusual stock activity, such as high-volume stock and option trades

Other tools include a snapshot analysis, which provides a visual representation of the risk and reward of an options trade. Similarly, a spectral analysis tool offers visual representations of potential options scenarios. The platform also offers streaming of Bloomberg TV right onto your desktop.

Brokerage Account Services, Perks, and Tools

You’ll encounter a wide range of perks and research tools, depending on the broker. Some deliver free access to equity and mutual fund research data from Morningstar, Thomson Reuters, Standard & Poor’s, Credit Suisse, and other institutions such as investment banks.

Others have deals with major credit card companies to provide offerings not available to the general public. For example, American Express and Charles Schwab joined together to allow cardholders to receive benefits based upon their total Schwab brokerage account size, including cash rewards deposited into the linked brokerage account.

Some brokerages also will help you to invest commission-free in select securities, such as exclusive mutual funds. For small investors working on a shoestring budget, this can be a great way to save money.

Range of Offerings

E*TRADE and Fidelity offer all the standard trading products, including stocks (with shorts), ETFs, bonds, and mutual funds. Beyond that, there are a few notable differences. Only E*TRADE supports futures, futures options, and Bitcoin futures, while only Fidelity offers access to Forex and dozens of international exchanges.  Ultimately, a preference for one broker over the other may come down to the brokers' range of offerings.

Fidelity vs. E*TRADE Range of Offerings Asset E*TRADE Fidelity Short Sales Yes Yes No-Load, No-Fee Mutual Funds 4,400+ 3,406 Bonds Yes Yes Futures Yes No Commodities Yes (via Futures) Yes Future Options Yes No Complex Options Multiple legs Multiple legs Robo Advisory Yes Yes Cryptocurrency Yes (Futures only) No for regular accounts. In 401(k) accounts starting mid 2022 International exchanges 25 Forex No Yes Fractional Shares No Yes OTCBB and Penny Stocks Yes Yes

Cons: Where E-Trade could improve

Account fees

E-Trade still charges those pesky “transfer out” fees when you want to move your money to another brokerage. And frankly it’s hard to blame brokers too much, because it’s a charge that may help incentivize you to stay, especially if you won’t be able to take advantage of a bonus offer with your new brokerage and offset that transfer fee.

E-Trade charges you $25 for a partial transfer or $75 for a full transfer, but it will waive the partial transfer fee if more than $5,000 remains in the account afterward. However, rival Fidelity has eliminated that fee, in line with its investor-friendly reputation. 

Fractional shares

At E-Trade, you can reinvest your dividends into fractional shares. This allows you to roll the whole payout into more stock, which is a nice feature for investors looking to amass wealth. However, the broker does not allow investors to purchase partial shares, so you’ll be limited to buying whole share amounts. That puts the broker at a disadvantage to Charles Schwab and Fidelity Investments, both of which offer fractional shares on both dividend reinvestment and purchases.

Can you open a brokerage account with $100?

Yes, and in some instances you can start with less than $100. Of course, opening an account and using it are two different things, but you could get started with $100.

What are the 3 types of brokerage accounts?

Because retirement accounts have more restrictions, your trading alternatives are more limited in those accounts.

  • Cash accounts. The traditional brokerage account is a cash account, which also is known as a Type 1 account.
  • Margin accounts.
  • Options.
  • IRAs and other retirement accounts.

Is an individual brokerage a cash account?

The two main types of brokerage accounts are cash accounts and margin accounts. Cash account requires that all transactions must be made with available cash or long positions. Margin accounts allow investors to borrow money against the value of the securities in their account.

Blend Portfolios

Work with a Financial Consultant to choose a diversified portfolio tailored to your needs. Learn more

Account market value (minimum of $25,000) Blended annual advisory fee
First $100,000 0.90%
Next $150,000 0.80%
Next $250,000 0.75%
Next $500,000 0.70%
Next $1,000,000 and more 0.65%

Fees

Zero-commission trades (i.e. you won't pay a fee to buy or sell a security) can be made with stocks, ETFs and options, and there are no transaction fees for over 4,400 mutual funds. E*TRADE's ETFs have low expense ratios (similar to ones from Vanguard).

Minimum deposit and balance requirements vary depending on the E*TRADE account you select. While there is no minimum to open an E*TRADE brokerage account, there is a minimum $500 deposit to invest in E*TRADE's robo-advisor platform Core Portfolios. Core Portfolios also charges a 0.30% annual advisory fee.

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