Charles Schwab vs Fidelity

4-star brokerage firm rating

Fidelity review
4-star brokerage firm rating

Charles Schwab review

Fidelity vs Charles Schwab 2015: Account Pricing, Commissions, Fees

Fidelity Investments

Charles Schwab

  • Stocks and ETFs: $7.95
  • Stocks and ETFs broker assisted: $32.95
  • Stocks and ETFs FAST (automated service phone): $12.95
  • Options: $7.95 + $0.75 per contract
  • Mutual funds: $49.95 ($75 for some funds; Fidelity funds are commission free)
  • Bonds (U.S. Treasury Auctions, including TIPS Auctions, U.S. Treasury Bills, Notes), primary market CDs: on a net yield basis
  • GSE (Agency Securities), secondary CDs, Municipals, Corporates (BBB- or higher), CATS/TIGRS, Corporates (BB+ or lower): $1 per bond ($250 max.; $50 max if maturing in one year)
  • Commercial Paper: $50 per transaction
  • Investment products: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, commercial paper, forex, foreign stocks, UITs, precious metals, ETFs
  • Fidelity minimum deposit to open account: $2,500 ($0 for Rollover IRA; $2,500 or $200/mo. for ROTH and Traditional IRA)
  • All Fidelity fees

  • Stocks and ETFs: $8.95
  • Stocks and ETFs broker assisted: $33.95
  • Stocks and ETFs phone trades: $13.95
  • Options: $8.95 + $0.75 per contract
  • Mutual funds: $76 to buy, $0 to sell. OneSourceĀ® Mutual Funds - free
  • CDs, Corporate Bonds, Municipal Bonds, Government Agencies, Zero-Coupon Treasuries, including STRIPS and Mortgage-Backed Securities: $1 per bond, $10 minimum, $250 maximum
  • Preferred Stocks and REITs: $8.95
  • Commercial Paper and Foreign Bonds, Unit Investment Trusts: call for pricing
  • Investment products: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, futures, Treasury issues, options, CDs, insurance, ETFs, annuities, non-U.S. securities and ADRs, WEBs and Canadian foreign orders
  • Charles Schwab minimum deposit to open account: $1,000
  • All Charles Schwab fees

Fidelity vs Charles Schwab: Pros

Fidelity Investments

Charles Schwab

  • Great research tools with large selection of independent research from 12 firms
  • Commission-free Fidelity mutual funds
  • Free DRIPs (dividend reinvestment plans)
  • Rich selection of investment products
  • Good banking services (checking, savings accounts, and credit cards)
  • No surcharges, except for $0.0192 per $1,000 of principal in addition to commission that is added to sell orders

  • Personal guidance is available at no additional cost
  • 300+ offices for personal visits and deposits
  • Great, varied research
  • Rich selection of investment products, including large number of mutual funds - over 14,500
  • No surcharges on penny stocks, large orders, or after-hours trading
  • No account maintenance or inactivity fees
  • Very good customer service (but no chat)
  • Free DRIP (dividend reinvestment plan)

Fidelity vs Charles Schwab: Cons

Fidelity Investments

Charles Schwab

  • Very high commissions - $49.95 ($75 for some funds) - on non-Fidelity mutual funds
  • Minimum mutual fund purchase is $2,500
  • $12 annual Low Balance Fee for each noncore Fidelity mutual fund if balance is under $2,000
  • $75 (minimum) mutual fund Short Term Redemption Fee (if a mutual fund is sold less than 180 days after purchase)
  • High margin rates
  • Foreign currency wires cost up to 3% of principal
  • No free streaming quotes (these are available only to active traders, which requires 120+ trades per year via the Active Trader Pro platform)

  • High commissions on stocks, options, mutual funds and ETFs
  • High margin rates
  • Company doesn't list all its fees on its website
  • Advanced trading platform available only to clients executing three or more trades per month
  • Long, complicated new account setup and funding
  • No free streaming quotes (requires 120+ equity and options trades in the last 12 months, or 30+ equity and options trades in either the current or previous quarter, or $1 million in assets)

Charles Schwab vs Fidelity Investments: Comparison Summary

Charles Schwab (Charles Schwab Review) and Fidelity Investments (Fidelity Investments Review) are some of the best known and largest online brokerage houses in the nation. When it comes to costs, both companies lowered their commissions to a much more reasonable levels: $7.95 at Fidelity and $8.95 at Schwab for stock and ETF trades (though these rates are still higher than average in the industry). Both firms offer their customers lots of NTF (no-transaction fee or commission-free) mutual funds. But transaction-fee mutual funds are the most expensive among all brokerage houses: $49.95 ($75 for some funds) at Fidelity and $76 to buy at Schwab.

Fidelity Investments provides its customers with very rich selection of investment products, access to great independent third-party investment research from 12 companies as well as many low cost Fidelity-family mutual funds.

Charles Schwab is well known for its excellent customer service. The company is a good choice for beginner investors, though it did not make it into our list of Best Brokerages for Beginners. Charles Schwab also doesn't charge retirement account fees, however there are better options for a Brokerage IRA Account.

We recommend Fidelity Investments to anyone who likes to research investments extensively before buying, or wants to invest in Fidelity-family mutual funds. Charles Schwab is a good choice for clients who need some hand-holding: to talk with a representative over the phone or face-to-face. We also encourage investors to compare these two firms to the companies in our Top Discount Brokers list that offer competitive pricing, excellent trading tools and client services.
This article was updated on 2/10/2015.

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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?

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