Charles Schwab vs Fidelity
Charles Schwab vs. Fidelity Comparison
Fidelity and Schwab are two well-known brokerage firms who attract a lot of investors and offer a variety of
financial products. So which one is the better broker? Let's find out.
Charles Schwab vs Fidelity: Pricing, Fees, and Account Minimums
Schwab’s standard charge for trading stocks and ETF’s is $8.95, while Fidelity charges a slightly lower $7.95. For options, both brokers charge an extra $0.75 per contract.
Placing a trade with a human broker is a pricey $33.95 at Schwab, while doing the same at Fidelity has a similar rate of $32.95.
Schwab offers slightly more than 175 commission-free ETF’s, while Fidelity has a selection of just 84.
Brokerage accounts at both Schwab and Fidelity carry no inactivity fees or account maintenance fees. The minimum initial deposit to open an account at Fidelity is $2,500, while Schwab has a $1,000 minimum. Schwab's minimum can be waived by opening a checking account with the brokerage account. Both firms also offer no-fee IRA's.
The two brokers are pretty even in this category.
Fidelity offers more than 10,000 mutual funds, of which less than a thousand carry no-load and no transaction fee. Mutual funds that do
carry a transaction fee depending on the fund are either $49.95 or $75.
Schwab has several thousand mutual fund offerings. More than 3,500 are OneSource mutual funds, which carry no loads and no transaction fees. Mutual funds that aren’t transaction-free are a pricey $76 to buy and free to sell.
Overall, this category goes to Schwab for its wide selection of OneSource funds.
Research and Education
Fidelity offers extensive research for securities. Customers have access to free reports from Morningstar, Zacks, S&P Capital IQ, and others. Investors will find a useful research tool for fixed-income offerings. The broker also has a virtual learning center where investors will find videos, articles, and webinars on a wide range of topics.
Schwab offers in-depth research for stocks, ETF’s, and mutual funds. Customers have access to free stock reports from Morningstar, Thomson Reuters, and others. Furthermore, customers have free access to the very useful Schwab Equity Ratings, which cover approximately 3,000 U.S. stocks and grade them on an A, B, C, D, and F scale. Schwab also offers its clients free report cards on mutual funds.
This category produces a dead heat.
Schwab customer service can be contacted via an on-line chat system, phone, fax, or e-mail. The phone service is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Schwab also offers phone numbers for Chinese speakers and customers traveling outside America. The brokerage has more than 325 brick-and-mortar branches located across the U.S.
Fidelity can be contacted via an on-line chat system, phone, fax, or e-mail. The phone service is staffed 24/7. Fidelity also offers a list of phone numbers for customers traveling outside the U.S., from Albania to Zimbabwe and everywhere in between. Fidelity has more than 180 branch locations.
This category goes to Schwab for its retail locations.
Schwab's web site is simple and easy to navigate. Within the web site there is Trade Source, available after logging into Schwab.com. Trade Source is user friendly, but only offers basic information.
Schwab’s crown jewel of trading platforms is their StreetSmart Edge (review) available via the cloud or as a downloadable program. StreetSmart Edge is free of charge to clients who maintain a $1,000 minimum account balance.
Trading securities at Fidelity is straightforward with the broker's standard web browser platform, which includes a handy trade ticket. Fidelity also offers Active Trader Pro, an advanced trading platform for customers placing 36 or more trades in a rolling twelve-month period.
This category goes to Schwab for not having an active trader requirement for its high-end platform.
Fidelity has applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone 8. The interface is intuitive and user friendly. Users can transfer funds between Fidelity and non-Fidelity accounts, make a mobile check deposit, contact customer service, pay bills, and place trades.
Schwab has applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, and mobile web. The interface is easy to navigate. Users can transfer funds between Schwab and non-Schwab accounts, contact customer service, make a mobile check deposit, place trades, or pay bills.
Pretty close in this category.
Cash Management Features
Schwab has an FDIC-insured bank that offers its brokerage customers a checking account, which comes with free checks and a free Visa debit card.
Fidelity offers their clients the Cash Management Account. It comes with checks and a Visa Gold debit card as well. However, the account offers FDIC insurance up to $1,250,000, five times the normal amount. It does this by sweeping the cash balance into a maximum of 5 independent program banks, each offering the standard $250,000 protection.
Fidelity is the winner here.
Futures trading is available at Schwab's affiliate, OptionsXpress, which can be conveniently linked to a Schwab account. Fidelity does not have futures trading.
Fidelity does offer its clients access to global markets, giving traders 25 national exchanges in 16 different currencies. Schwab also provides its customers access to foreign markets. Investors can trade foreign securities in a regular brokerage account utilizing the firm's Global Investing Services desk. Schwab also offers a separate international account aptly titled the Schwab Global Account. This account allows investors to trade stocks in 12 foreign markets using 8 different currencies.
Overall, this category goes to Schwab.
Charles Schwab vs Fidelity: Results
There were three ties, Charles Schwab (review) won four
categories, and Fidelity Investments (review) was victorious in one category.
Schwab is the winner.
We also encourage investors to compare these two firms to other Brokerage Houses
that offer competitive pricing, excellent trading tools and client services.
Updated on 1/14/2016.
Review discount online brokerage firms comparison: Charles Schwab vs Fidelity Investments? Differences between investment companies. Recommendation for stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds investors. Fidelity versus Charles Schwab for beginner
investors, long term, individual retirement accounts, active/day traders. See what stock broker service is better, cheaper, offers lower fees, cost, rated higher and easier to use. Which broker should you choose?