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Zacks Trade Review 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Zacks Trade is an online broker oriented to self-directed investors who want to trade U.S. and foreign stocks, bonds and funds. The platform provides robust trading tools and a bundle of no-fee (and paid) research. However, unlike many competing brokers, you still pay per-trade commission fees.

The main selling points of Zacks Trade are that it offers sophisticated, feature-rich trading software; broker-assisted trades for no additional fee; and easy trading of foreign assets. Clients in more than 200 countries can trade on this platform, and traders can buy and sell assets on more than 90 international exchanges. Zacks Trade allows investors to open individual or joint taxable accounts, as well as retirement accounts.

The downside to Zacks Trade is the $3-per-trade minimum commission fee ($1 during the first year). If you want expert help developing a portfolio or no-fee trades, Zacks Trade isn’t the best fit for you.

Zacks Trade
Visit ZacksSecuredon Zacks Trade’s secure site

The Bottom Line: Zacks Trade provides access to dozens of international exchanges and fee-free broker-assisted trades—all on a feature-rich platform—but it still charges trading fees when many competitors don’t.

  • Trade fees are per share and cost clients one penny per share for stocks and ETFs, with a $3 minimum fee.
  • There’s a $2,500 minimum balance requirement, which earns you a $1-per-trade promotion, but there are no inactivity fees, and margin rates started at just 5.06% as of November 2019.
  • Investors get a choice of three trading platforms and can trade on the web and on mobile devices.

Who should consider Zacks Trade ?

If you want a choice of full-featured trading platforms, you’re interested in trading on international exchanges or you prefer broker-assisted trades, Zacks Trade might be the right fit.

Zacks Trade’s per-share pricing is low, but it isn’t $0, as it is with competitors. Plus, after the first promotional year, trades go back up to a $3 minimum from the $1 introductory fee. That said, the margin rates are lower than are competitors’ rates, and foreign trading is easy and relatively affordable. Commissions when trading foreign stocks are steeper at Charles Schwab and Fidelity.

Zacks Trade clients also benefit from a massive amount of market insight: Clients have access to more than 20 subscription services for free. But if you’re hands off and won’t use the research and tools available—or you seek more guidance, as with a robo-advisor, or zero-commission stock trading—Zacks Trade probably isn’t what you want.

Zacks Trade fees and features

Current promotions

New clients can trade stocks, options, and ETFs for as low as $1 per order for their first year after depositing at least $2,500 within 60 days of account opening.

Stock trading fees
  • $0.01 per share ($3 minimum) for stocks over $1 per share
  • 1% of trade value ($3 minimum) for stocks under $1 per share
Amount minimum to open account
  • $2,500
Tradable securities
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • Options
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 full account transfer fee
  • $0 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Commission-free ETFs offered
Mutual funds (no transaction fee) offered
Offers automated portfolio/robo-advisor
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • Custodial Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)
  • Custodial IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Trust
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android
Customer supportPhone, Chat, Email
Research resources
  • A variety of free and paid research subscriptions

Zacks Trade commissions and fees

Most of Zacks Trade’s fees are related to trades. Zacks Trade has no inactivity fee, no fee for automated customer account transfer and no fee for order cancellations. Clients also get one free withdrawal per month. (All withdrawals after the first one cost $1 for an ACH, $4 for a check and $10 for a wire.)

The fees for trading are low—a penny per share for stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) worth $1 or more per share and 1% of trade value for those worth less than a dollar, with a $3 minimum. Also, Zacks Trade will allow new clients to trade for $1 for the first year, with a minimum balance of $2,500. These aren’t the lowest fees, however. Charles Schwab and E*TRADE have $0 trades.

Zacks Trade also has steep charges for mutual fund trades: $12.55 per trade for those valued at $1 or more per share. You can trade certain mutual funds for $0 at E*TRADE and Fidelity.

It’s notable that Zacks Trade provides broker-assisted trades for no extra charge, including for foreign stocks. Compare that with E*TRADE, which charges an additional $25 for broker-assisted trades, as does Charles Schwab. If you believe that you’ll require a broker’s assistance on a regular basis, Zacks Trade would be a good place for you.

Margin trading also is a good deal at Zacks Trade, with margin rates starting at 5.06% as of November 2019. The site even has a Margin Rate calculator, so clients can see how much they’ll save compared with other firms. Charles Schwab charges 9.325% for debit balances under $25,000, although Interactive Brokers charges just 3.06% for loans under $25,000. (Nevertheless, Interactive Brokers also charges a $10 monthly fee if you don’t pay at least $10 in commissions each month or if your account falls under $100,000. So you’ll pay at least $10 a month there in fees regardless.)

Real-time quotes cost money. Regular clients of Zacks Trade see data on their platforms on a 15-minute delay. If you want live, streaming data, you’ll have to pay at least $9.95 per month plus $3 per month to cover all exchange fees for Zacks Real Time Quotes Gold. Schwab provides real-time data for free.

Foreign Stock Commissions:

  • Broker-assisted trades: no extra charge
  • Canada ($1 or more CAD per share): $0.02 CAD per share ($4.50 CAD minimum)
  • Canada (less than $1 CAD per share): 1% of trade value CAD ($4.50 CAD minimum)
  • Mexico: 0.3% of trade value MXN (180 MXN minimum)
  • Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain: 0.3% of trade value EUR (12 EUR minimum)
  • Norway: 0.1% of trade value NOK (150 NOK minimum)
  • Sweden: 1% of trade value SEK (100 SEK minimum)
  • United Kingdom: 0.3% of trade value GPB (12 GPB minimum)
  • Currency conversion from USD: $2 to $2.50 estimate

Commissions for Asian and Australian transactions are here.

Trading platforms and tools

At Zacks Trade, clients can trade stocks (including penny stocks and OTC stocks), options, bonds, ETFs and mutual funds. The platform doesn’t support futures, commodities or Forex for purposes besides currency exchange.

Zacks Trade has three trading platforms, plus their mobile platform:

  • Zacks Trade Pro: This is the company’s flagship trading platform and meant for active, high-volume traders. The layout is customizable, and clients can trade stocks, options, bonds and funds in 19 countries. Charting and technical analysis is available, and useful tools include SpreadTrader to handle complex option orders or Basket Trader to import baskets of stock orders and execute them quickly. This platform must be downloaded and installed on your computer.
  • Client Portal: This is a console meant for placing and managing simple trades, reviewing your statements and adjusting account settings.
  • Zacks Trader: This operates like a light version of Zacks Trade Pro, providing a simpler interface along with trading features and tools. If you work behind a firewall, you still can access this platform, which provides order execution, market data, charts and customization.
  • Handy Trader: This mobile app, available for iOS and Android, allows users to trade stocks, options, bonds and mutual funds from their devices. You can route orders using the company’s SmartRouting technology, and you can access trade reports, and portfolio and account information.

When routing orders on any Zacks Trade platform, you can use either SmartRouting, which searches for the best price and dynamically routes and reroutes all or part of your order for maximum benefit, or you can choose the exchange you want your order to be sent to.

Trading options is easiest on Zacks Trade Pro, where you can click on the bid, or ask of an option chain. You can use Zacks Trade’s Strategy Builder feature to create spread orders or option orders that have multiple legs. Options tools, including Options Trader, Rollover Options and SpreadTrader, help you analyze and manage options orders.

Research is one area in which Zacks Trade shines. The company gives users free access to more than 20 sources, including 24/7 Wall Street, StreetInsider.com and The Motley Fool. For an additional cost, dozens of other research subscription products are available, including international ones, such as the Euronext All Indices Real-Time Data (EUR $17 per month).

Strengths of Zacks Trade

  • Broker-assisted trades: One of the things that sets Zacks Trade apart is that it provides broker-assisted trades at no additional cost. If you have to have help with your trading, such as when you don’t have access to the internet or you’re trying to execute a specialty trade, this should be useful for you.
  • Powerful research tools. You have access to more than 20 no-fee research providers, and other sources are available for an additional cost. For example, $1 per month gets you the Dow Jones Global Indices, and $5.50 per month gets you the Cboe BZX Depth of Book. A variety of international research publications are available.
  • Sophisticated, feature-rich trading platforms: Zacks Trade provides a choice of trading platforms for the desktop, web or mobile. You can choose a simpler interface or one that has lots of widgets and advanced features for more-active investors. You can trade from your tablet or phone, fully customize your layout and create multiple watchlists for different types of securities. You also can set up real-time alerts and place, modify or cancel orders right from your orders screen.

Drawbacks of Zacks Trade

  • Charges trading commissions for stocks and ETFs. Although Zacks Trade commissions are low at just a penny per share, some competitors have moved to a $0-per-trade model for stocks and ETFs. Mutual fund trades still cost $12.55 per trade, while competitors have lots of no-fee mutual fund options.
  • Zacks Trade requires a $2,500 account minimum. This minimum is well above what other brokers require, and if you fund an account for less, you’ll pay at least $3 for each trade. TradeStation requires just $500 to fund an account, and Fidelity has no account minimum for its brokerage accounts.
  • No free real-time data. Clients must pay at least $9.95 per month for real-time stock data. (A $19.95-per-month option also is available.) Fidelity and Schwab provide this information for free.

Is Zacks Trade safe?

Zacks Trade requires clients to log in using two-factor authentication—the username and password on the account plus a unique code that’s generated to a free device that clients receive or to their Handy Trader app. The site also uses industry-standard 128-bit SSL encryption and has a dedicated security team monitoring for suspicious activity. Zacks Trade Pro customers also can restrict account access to specific IP addresses.

In terms of insurance, Zacks Trade is a division of LBMZ Securities, which is a member of the Securities Investment Protection Corporation (SIPC) and carries insurance on investments up to $500,000. Under Zacks Trade’s clearing firm’s excess SIPC policy, investments are insured up to an additional $30 million (with a cash sublimit of $900,000).

Final thoughts about Zacks Trade

Zacks Trade is something to consider for investors who have at least $2,500, want to trade foreign stocks and believe that they might require access to broker-assisted trades. The available research and choice of trading platforms give you flexibility and a wide pool of investments to choose from. Zacks Trade’s margin rates also are extremely competitive.

However, Zacks Trade doesn’t provide any guidance (this isn’t a robo-advisor), and you can execute nonbroker-assisted trades for $0 at other companies. Also, if you want to invest in mutual funds, other companies allow investments in no-load funds for much less.

Rates & Fees mentioned in this article are accurate as of the date of publishing.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here

Advertiser Disclosure

Investing

E-Trade Core Portfolios Review 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

E-Trade Core Portfolios is a robo-advisor platform that integrates with E-Trade’s main broker product and gives hands-off investors a great place to grow their money. Answer a few quick questions about your timeline and how comfortable you are with fluctuations in your investments, and E-Trade Core Portfolios suggests one of five simple portfolios to help you achieve your goals — and then manages the portfolio for you.

E-Trade Core Portfolio builds investment portfolios from low-cost ETFs. Active investors might not love the fact that E-Trade doesn’t reveal what specific ETFs they’re buying as underlying investments. If you’re a hands-off investor, E-Trade Core Portfolios handles the heavy lifting for you, rebalancing your portfolio on a regular basis and remixing your asset allocation as markets change. One caveat: E-Trade Core Portfolios doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting, in which investments are sold at a loss to lower the investor’s taxes.

E-Trade Core Portfolios
Visit E-TradeSecuredon E-Trade Core Portfolios’s secure site
The bottom line: Fees are a touch higher than competitors, but this robo-advisor makes investing simple and straightforward. The key things to know if you’re considering Core Portfolios are:

  • There is a $500 minimum investment requirement.
  • You’ll pay a 0.30% annual management fee — no matter how much money you invest.
  • E-Trade customizes your investments based on a few simple questions about when you’ll need your funds and how risk-tolerant you are.

Who should consider E-Trade Core Portfolios?

E-Trade Core Portfolios is a slam-dunk option for investors who are already E-Trade online brokerage customers, since they’re familiar with the company and they already have an account. Just open an E-Trade Core Portfolios account and transfer some or all of your other balances with the brokerage.

Compared to similar robo-advisors, E-Trade Core Portfolios isn’t the cheapest option. However, they do offer the resources and support of a very large company, plus the ability to have a hands-on brokerage account and a robo-advisor account under a single login. This is something not offered by free-standing robo-advisors, like Wealthfront and Betterment.

This is a great option for someone who wants hands-off investing together with the option to do no-fee active trading, too. If you’re looking for a robo-advisor only, or you’re not already an E-Trade customer, other choices offer portfolio design and management for slightly lower fees.

E-Trade Core Portfolios fees and features

Amount minimum to open account
  • $500
Management fees
  • 0.30%
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee (however if your account balance falls below $500 for an extended period of time, you may be asked to add additional funds)
  • $75 full account transfer fee
  • $25 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Current promotions

Pay no advisory fee for one year.

Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Roth IRA
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • Custodial Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)
  • Custodial IRA
  • SEP IRA
Portfolio
  • E-Trade offers 5 ETFs in the core portfolio.
Automatic rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Tax loss harvesting detailA tax sensitive investment strategy that uses municipal bond ETFs, which may help to reduce taxes on account interest and dividends.
Offers fractional shares
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android
Customer supportPhone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 30 branch locations

How does E-Trade Core Portfolios invest your money?

Before opening an account, E-Trade Core Portfolios allows potential clients to run through their simple eight-question form that helps the platform determine your goals and your level of risk tolerance.

After finishing the questionnaire, E-Trade Core Portfolios recommends one of five different diversified portfolios of low-cost ETFs. (It used to offer a hybrid portfolio of both ETFs and mutual funds, but that option is no longer available.) You can choose the recommended portfolio, or you can choose an alternative investment mix from the five portfolio options:

  • Conservative: 20% stocks, 80% bonds
  • Conservative Growth: 40% stocks, 60% bonds
  • Moderate Growth: 60% stocks, 40% bonds
  • Growth: 80% stocks, 20% bonds
  • Aggressive Growth: 99% stocks, 1% bonds

You can further customize your portfolio by adding a socially responsible ETF, focusing on companies known for their environmental, social, and governance practices, or a smart beta ETF, which favors equities with certain characteristics that may help boost your overall returns.

E-Trade Core Portfolios bases its investing approach on Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT), which holds that portfolios be constructed from a combination of asset classes based on the expected returns and volatility that they’ve displayed previously. Though this approach leans heavily on historical data, which may not be representative of what an investment will do in the future, the goal is to limit risk and increase returns. E-Trade’s team also considers an investment’s risk, expenses, manager tenure, performance and style consistency and asset size and growth.

Notably, E-Trade Core Portfolios doesn’t disclose exactly which ETFs it uses for your portfolio, although it does state that there are no proprietary E-Trade ETFs in the mix, meaning that E-Trade isn’t including E-Trade-branded funds.

E-Trade Core Portfolios rebalance semiannually and when material deposits or withdrawals are made. Although the robo-advisor offers a “tax-sensitive” investing approach, there is no tax-loss harvesting.

Integration with E-Trade brokerage accounts

Customers who already have an account with E-Trade will find it easy to create a Core Portfolios account, as they can use their account information to pre-populate (and speed up) the application process. They can then convert a brokerage (or other) account to Core Portfolios, or transfer money from another account to fund the robo option.

Being an E-Trade customer also brings with it the option of visiting one of the brokerage’s national brick-and-mortar locations, which will appeal to people who like face-to-face interaction.

Strengths of E-Trade Core Portfolios

  • Ease of use: Just answer a few questions, and E-Trade Core Portfolios will suggest a portfolio mix for you — it’s a very simple product to use. You can choose one of five portfolio options if you’re feeling like taking on more or less risk. The choices are simple and minimal, which will appeal to someone who might be overwhelmed by all their investing options.
  • Socially conscious investing option: Although this robo-advisor doesn’t offer a full socially responsible investment portfolio, clients who want to put their money where their values are do have the ability to add a socially responsible ETF to their investment mix. This fund focuses on companies known for being good corporate citizens. Compare this to Wealthfront, which doesn’t offer any socially conscious strategies until investors have $100,000 in their account.
  • Active portfolio strategy available: For investors interested in a little more activity with their portfolio, E-Trade Core Portfolios offers the option of adding a smart beta ETF to your mix. This strategy combines aspects of active and index investing, favoring equities with characteristics that could boost your future returns.
  • Branch access: If you want to talk with a customer service representative face-to-face, E-Trade has nationwide branches where you can sit down with a consultant.
  • E-Trade integration: Current E-Trade customers can easily transfer or convert their accounts to E-Trade Core Portfolios. You also have access to E-Trade’s other accounts and services — E-Trade offers a rich array of guides, articles, videos and other media on investing topics, from stocks to retirement planning to how to calculate your cost basis.

Drawbacks of E-Trade Core Portfolios

  • Minimum balance requirement: You’ll need $500 to get started with E-Trade, which isn’t a fortune, but it’s bigger than the zero minimums at Betterment and SoFi.
  • Higher management fees: E-Trade Core Portfolios charges a 0.30% annual management fee. While this is still a competitive rate, it’s higher than Betterment and Wealthfront, which both charge 0.25% — and they’re all higher than SoFi, which doesn’t charge any portfolio management fees at all.
  • No tax-loss harvesting: E-Trade Core Portfolios claims to use a tax-sensitive investment strategy that uses municipal bond ETFs to help reduce taxes, but it doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting, which is a standard service at other robo-advisors. Tax-loss harvesting involves selling losing investments in taxable accounts to reduce capital gains taxes paid on investment gains.
  • No financial planning: There are no goal planning tools or any way to divide your savings based on objectives (such as retirement or college savings), nor is there any advice on your savings rate, your balance or whether you’re on the right track. Wealthfront’s planning tools offer automated advice on retirement, college savings, buying a house and whether or not you can take time off for travel.
  • Less information than other robos. Although E-Trade tells clients it invests in a basket of low-cost ETFs, it doesn’t say which ETFs. This seems unnecessarily vague, especially when other robo-advisors, such as Betterment and Wealthsimple, list the underlying investments in their portfolios.

Is E-Trade Core Portfolios safe?

There’s no such thing as risk-free investing, but E-Trade has been operating as a discount broker for many years and is well-respected. It’s a FINRA member, which means that it’s met licensure and regulatory requirements. It’s also a member of SIPC, insuring customer accounts for up to $500,000. That said, your portfolio’s performance is not guaranteed, so make sure you carefully research investment options to make sure you’re comfortable investing your money with E-Trade’s robo-advisor service.

Is E-Trade Core Portfolios right for you?

While Core Portfolios gives you access to E-Trade’s extensive infrastructure, including local branches, the minimum balance requirement and management fees are slightly higher than competitors. There are no goal planning tools, and the robo doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting.

That said, E-Trade is also a well-known brokerage name with extensive educational content and a simple investing strategy that may appeal to existing E-Trade customers and others looking for big-name reputation, customer service and security.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here

Advertiser Disclosure

Investing

Charles Schwab vs. Fidelity

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

For new and advanced investors alike, brokers Charles Schwab and Fidelity offer very competitive features, from robust fund offerings to to helpful investment research. Fidelity and Charles Schwab charge no trading commissions for U.S. stocks and ETFs, and give users access to thousands of no-fee funds. Both offer 24/7 phone support. It’s no accident that both brokers top our list of the best online stock brokers.

With a minimum balance of $5,000, Charles Schwab customers can take advantage of the broker’s zero-fee robo-advisor services. With Fidelity, index fund enthusiasts can sock money into the firm’s zero-expense index fund offerings. Both brokers are excellent choices, so the best one for you depends on the specific offerings from each firm. Read on for a detailed comparison.

Charles Schwab vs. Fidelity: Feature comparison

Charles Schwab Fidelity
Current promotions 500 free trades with a qualifying net deposit of $100,000
N/A
Stock trading fees
  • $0.00 per trade
  • $0.00 per trade
Minimum deposit to open account
  • $0
  • $0
Tradable securities
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • Options
  • Futures / commodities
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • Options
  • Futures / commodities
  • Forex
  • Crypto-currency
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $50 full account transfer fee
  • $25 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 full account transfer fee
  • $0 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 annual fee
Commission-free ETFs offered
Mutual funds (no transaction fee) offered
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • 529 Plan
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account(ESA)
  • Custodial Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)
  • Custodial IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Solo 401(k) (for small businesses)
  • SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees)
  • Trust
  • Guardianship or Conservatorship
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • 529 Plan
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • Custodial Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)
  • Custodial IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Solo 401(k) (for small businesses)
  • SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees)
  • Trust
  • Guardianship or Conservatorship
Ease of use
 
 
Mobile app iOS, Android iOS, Android, Fire OS
Customer support Phone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 346 branch locations Phone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 190 branch locations
Research resources
  • SEC filings
  • Mutual fund reports
  • Earnings press releases
  • SEC filings
  • Mutual fund reports
  • Earnings press releases

Charles Schwab vs. Fidelity: Fees & account minimums

Neither Charles Schwab nor Fidelity charge annual or monthly fees to maintain a brokerage account. Neither charges commissions for online U.S. stock or ETF trades. Both charge trading commissions of $0.65 per options contract and $1 per bond for secondary market trades. Charles Schwab charges a $1.50 commission per futures contract — Fidelity doesn’t allow futures trading. Charles Schwab charges up to $49.95 to buy mutual funds that aren’t available via Schwab Mutual Fund OneSource, and Fidelity charges $49.95 for non-Fidelity transaction-fee funds. Fidelity’s margin rates are also lower than Schwab’s for traders with larger debit balances.

If you’d rather take a hands-off approach to your investments, Fidelity offers several different portfolio management options. Fidelity Go is the firm’s robo-advisor, which utilizes automatic trading algorithms to make investments at a very low cost for users, an annual fee of 0.35% of your account balance. Fidelity Personalized Planning and Advice uses automated trading algorithms together with expert coaching, for an annual fee of 0.50% of your account balance. With Fidelity’s Portfolio Advisory Services, professional money managers handle your investments for an annual fee of 0.50% to 1.50% of your account balance, depending on assets invested.

Charles Schwab’s robo-advisor, Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, requires a minimum investment of $5,000 and charges no annual fee. Note that Intelligent Portfolios requires users to hold 6-30% of your balance deposited with the robo-advisor in its cash account, which offers an APY of 0.70%. This can hamper your overall returns in years where the market returns above 0.70%. For more personalized guidance, there is Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium, which charges a one-time $300 fee and $30 a month. Your investments are managed by the robo-advisor, plus you have access to “unlimited” guidance from a certified financial planner.

Charles Schwab charges $50 for a full account transfer and $25 for a partial account transfer, while Fidelity charges no transfer fees. Neither broker has an account minimum, but both require a large deposit to qualify for bonuses. Charles Schwab requires a net deposit of $100,000 to qualify for 500 commission-free equity and options trades for up to two years. Fidelity also requires $100,000 in new account funding to land 200 commission-free domestic stock and options trades.

Charles Schwab vs. Fidelity: Tradable securities

In addition to stocks and bonds, both brokers have a robust selection of tradable securities for either the beginner or advanced investor:

  • Mutual funds: If you’re interested in investing in professionally managed mutual funds, Fidelity offers more than 10,000 funds. Investors at Charles Schwab have the option of investing in more than 7,900 mutual funds, 3,900 of which have no transaction fee.
  • Options trading: Fidelity and Charles Schwab both support options trading, which involves traders making contracts to sell securities at a predetermined price over a set period of time in the options market. Both brokers charge $0.65 per contract for options trading, in addition to the $0.00 normal trading commission.
  • Futures: Futures trading involves selling an asset or security at a set price at a predetermined time in the future. Charles Schwab charges $1.50 per contract for futures trading, and there are no additional fees for expert-assisted trades. Fidelity does not support futures trading.
  • Exchange traded funds (ETFs): Adding ETFs to your investment portfolio is a great way to diversify your holdings. Fidelity offers over 500 commision-free ETFs. Charles Schwab offers free trading in the 22 ETFs they manage under their own name, plus more than 500 other commission-free ETFs.
  • Foreign exchange trading: Also known as forex trading, foreign exchange is for trading currencies. Fidelity offers forex trading, although you’ll have to sign up with Fidelity Forex LLC, a subsidiary. This service gives you access to currencies for more than 35 countries and direct transfers from your Fidelity account. Charles Schwab does not offer forex trading options.
  • Certificates of deposit (CDs): Both firms let customers buy brokered CDs on their platform. Brokered CDs have similar terms and APYs as CDs bought from a bank. However, they are bought and sold more like securities, giving you more flexibility in exchange for fees.
  • Cryptocurrency: Neither firm offers cryptocurrency trading.

Charles Schwab vs. Fidelity: Special features

Investing with Fidelity and Charles Schwab gives you access to valuable research and education tools, plus cash management account options.

  • Research and educational tools: Schwab offers a range of educational materials, including market commentary, advanced charting and Stocks, Mutual funds and ETFs screeners. Users have access to the latest news and company filings, plus free materials from Morningstar, Credit Suisse, CFRA and Argus Research. Plus, new investors can benefit from the site’s tutorials on investing principles. Fidelity has its own stock research center with stock screeners, research firm scorecards, recent company earnings reports, and news on market movers. Users have access to reports from Argus Analyst, CFRA, Ned Davis Research and Zacks Investment Research, among others.
  • Cash management accounts: Want to keep your cash close to your brokerage account? Fidelity offers a Cash Management account with no monthly fees, no minimum balance and reimbursement of all ATM fees nationwide. Charles Schwab offers a High Yield Investor Checking Account, also with no monthly fees or minimums, unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide and 0.15% APY on your account balance.

Charles Schwab vs. Fidelity: Which is best for you?

Both Charles Schwab and Fidelity have long-standing track records, low fees or no fees, no account minimums and a diverse array of fund offerings. Preference for either broker may depend on a personal inclination, such as the desire to try Fidelity’s no-expense index funds (available only to Fidelity clients) or the desire to trade futures, available on Charles Schwab’s platform but not Fidelity’s. Charles Schwab’s robo-advisor has no annual fee (note the cash account requirement, however), compared with Fidelity Go’s 0.35% management fee.

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Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here