E-Trade is a giant in the investing industry, and has plenty of products to offer. Whether you’re new to the investing world or make trades often, E-Trade offers a comprehensive lineup of trading platforms and user-friendly apps, plus a wide selection of educational resources.
However, there are still fees for specific types of accounts and features. You also won’t get much of a bonus for moving your money to E-Trade — unless you have tens of thousands of dollars.
Who should consider E-Trade
E-Trade has solid offerings for both beginning and advanced investors. If you’re a frequent trader who needs both mobile and online platforms, E-Trade is a good choice.
Beginner investors will like E-Trade’s streamlined trading platform, many zero commission trading options, and its broad selection of commission-free mutual funds, which make diversification cheaper and simpler. And, for those who want a little more help, E-Trade provides pre-built portfolios for mutual funds and ETFs (minimum $500 and $2,500, respectively).
For advanced investors, E-Trade offers customizable trading tools and ample charting options. A full range of investment choices including stocks, options and futures allows advanced traders to take diversification to the next level.
E-Trade fees and features
|Stock trading fees|
|Amount minimum to open account|
|Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)|
|Mobile app||iOS, Android|
|Customer support||Phone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 30 branch locations|
E-Trade trading platforms and tools
E-Trade offers two trading platforms: E-Trade‘s website and Power E-Trade. There are also two mobile apps: The E-Trade Mobile app and the Power E-Trade app.
The standard E-Trade web platform is for investors who are just starting out and new to investing basics but still want to manage their own portfolio. You can make trades, handle money transfers, check real-time quotes and commentary and get independent research from top news organizations.
The standard platform also gives you access to investment screeners, analyzers, backtesters and optimizers. If you’re new to investing or just need a refresher, there’s a library of articles and videos to help you educate yourself on the investing journey. There’s also access to market trends and active trader analysis.
Power E-Trade gives advanced investors risk/reward analysis and technical pattern recognition, helping users explore possible scenarios before they buy. A practice account option lets you trade stocks, options and other securities without risking real money.
E-Trade investment options
E-Trade lets you invest in a wide variety of asset classes, including:
- Stocks (including non-U.S. stocks and penny stocks)
- Fixed income
- Mutual funds
- Gold, silver, other precious metals
- Bitcoin and cryptocurrency
E-Trade charges no commissions on buying or selling U.S. stocks, ETFs, U.S. Treasuries and new-issue bonds. There are trade fees for the following asset classes, including:
- Bonds and CDs: There is a $10 minimum/$250 maximum commission per bond trade (except U.S. Treasuries and new-issue bonds) and for brokered CDs.
- Futures: $1.50 per contract on futures and options on futures (except Bitcoin futures).
- Options: $0.50 per contract on equity and index options when you place more than 30 stock, ETF, or option trades per quarter. Otherwise, it’s $0.65 per contract. It’s also $1.50 per contract for future options.
Fees for things like paper statements ($2), account transfers ($25-$75) and insufficient funds ($25), also apply.
E-Trade Core Portfolios
E-Trade Core Portfolios is the company’s robo-advisor platform. When you start with Core Portfolios, you’ll answer a short form with nine questions to verify what type of investor you are, what sort of risk tolerance you have, and your timeline until retirement. Core Portfolios then recommends two investment portfolios, comprising of ETFs selected by the firm’s experts.
E-Trade doesn’t disclose the specific funds that make up each portfolio, although it does outline the portfolio’s asset allocation, plus a look at the 15-year historical returns for average, best-case and worst-case scenarios. The two options you’re presented with include a recommended portfolio and an alternative portfolio. All portfolios maintain a 1% cash allocation.
Because it’s an E-Trade product, you have the option to talk to an advisor at any of the company’s 30 branches. Some other robo-advisors don’t offer personalized human interaction, so this is an additional perk for hands-off investors.
Keep in mind that you need $500 to get started, with a 0.30% annual advisory fee. Other robo-advisors, like Betterment, don’t have account minimums and charge slightly lower annual advisory fees.
Strengths of E-Trade
- Robust mobile and online apps: E-Trade offers two mobile apps and two online trading platforms. These apps and programs offer customizable account management, real-time quotes and access to news on demand. E-Trade’s purchase of OptionsHouse in 2016 also means skilled traders can easily access technical studies, charting tools and simple trade tickets to make high-volume trading easy.
- Branch network: If you prefer in-person customer service and support, you’ll like the fact that E-Trade has more than 30 branches nationwide.
- No required minimum to start: For taxable brokerage accounts, there are no minimum funding requirements.
- Deep research. Before you even get started with E-Trade, you’ll have access to finding out which accounts work for you. Once you’re set up, read through research, market news, screeners and how your investments align with trends.
Drawbacks of E-Trade
- Robo-advisor costs are higher. While a $500 starting investment isn’t much to get started with Core Portfolios, robo-advisor competitor Betterment doesn’t have a minimum to get started. Along with that, E-Trade charges a 0.30% annual advisory fee. That’s higher than the 0.25% charged by some competitors.
- High minimum deposit required for account opening bonus: E-Trade touts its bonus incentives for depositing and transferring funds to its platform. However, you need to transfer very large balances to E-Trade to get the highest bonuses, so be sure to read the fine print first. For instance, to get the $600 bonus, you’ll need to deposit or transfer at least $250,000.
- Some funds not offered. You’ll find plenty of offerings through E-Trade, as well as many different types of accounts to choose from. But you won’t find forex offerings from this company.
Is E-Trade safe?
If you’re looking for a safe platform to invest money, you have no worries with E-Trade. E-Trade bank accounts are FDIC-insured and they are compliant with all registration and license requirements. E-Trade is also a SIPC member, which means your account is protected for up to $500,000 in cash and securities.
Of course, while your accounts are protected in the event that E-Trade faces financial troubles, this doesn’t mean you can’t lose money in investment accounts. Stocks, bonds and other securities can decline in value and there’s always a risk associated with investing. That’s why it’s so important to understand any investments before you buy them.
E-Trade offers options for novice investors and more experienced traders, including two different trading platforms and two mobile apps. Despite the account minimums and some fees that are higher than competitors, E-Trade is still a solid choice for most investors. If you don’t have the minimum amount to get started on any of the accounts that require it, you may want to look elsewhere. Otherwise, you have plenty of great options with E-Trade.
Fees mentioned in the article are accurate as of the date of publishing.