Charles Schwab vs TD Ameritrade vs Etrade vs Fidelity


Compare trading and investing fees, IRA (Traditional, ROTH, and SEP) accounts, stock/mutual fund/ETF pricing, and brokerage service differences.



TD Ameritrade vs Etrade vs Charles Schwab vs Fidelity: Comparison Charts


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
TD Ameritrade $6.95 $49.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0
Etrade $6.95 $19.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0
Fidelity $4.95 $49.95 $4.95 + $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Charles Schwab $4.95 $76 ($0 to sell) $4.95 + $0.65 per contract $0 $0

** Vanguard is charging $20 annual maintenance fee (waived if user chooses to receive statements and other information electronically).

Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
TD Ameritrade
Etrade
Fidelity
Charles Schwab


TD Ameritrade vs Charles Schwab vs Etrade vs Fidelity: Overview


Fidelity, E*Trade, Schwab, and TD Ameritrade are four top rated brokerage firms who attract a lot of customers. So which broker delivers the best value? Let's find out.


The Cost of Trading


Trading stocks and ETF's at E*Trade and TD Ameritrade costs $6.95 ($4.95 at E*Trade for clients making 30 or more trades per quarter), while Schwab and Fidelity are at $4.95. Options at first two brokers an extra $0.75 per contract and at Schwab and Fidelity - $0.65 per contract.

Completing a trade with a live broker at TD Ameritrade is a rather steep $44.99, while Schwab charges $33.95. Fidelity is slightly lower than Schwab at $32.95, and E*Trade charges only $25.

Brokerage accounts at all four companies carry no maintenance fees or inactivity fees. Schwab requires a minimum of $1,000 to open an account (this obligation can be waived by opening a Schwab checking account during the application process). Fidelity has a minimum opening requirement of $2,500, while E*Trade requires at least $500, and TD Ameritrade is at $0.


Investing in Funds


Schwab provides more than 5,000 mutual funds for its clients. More than 3,500 are OneSource funds, which have no load and no transaction fee. Mutual funds that carry a transaction fee are a pricey $76 to buy, but they are free to sell.

There are more than 11,000 mutual funds at TD Ameritrade. Approximately 2,000 have no load and no transaction fee. Transaction-fee funds carry a $49.99 charge.

E*Trade customers can buy and sell more than 8,000 mutual funds. Of these, nearly 1,300 are available without a load or transaction fee. There is a $19.99 charge for transaction-fee funds.

At Fidelity, investors have access to more than 10,000 mutual funds, of which less than 1,000 have no load and no transaction fee. A charge of $49.95 is assigned to transaction-fee fund purchases.

ETF investors won't be disappointed with any of the four brokers. Schwab provides more than 200 exchange-traded products that carry no commission, E*Trade has 118, TD Ameritrade provides 101, and Fidelity offers 84.


Customer Service


Schwab representatives are available over the phone 24/7. The broker also has reps who speak Chinese. Additionally, the firm maintains a system of branches for customer assistance. At present, Schwab has more than 300 locations.

E*Trade has far fewer branch locations than Schwab, with only 30 currently. The broker does provide customer support over the phone around the clock.

Clients of TD Ameritrade can contact a customer service representative over the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Like E*Trade and Schwab, the broker also has a branch network. Currently, there are more than 100 locations.

At Fidelity, customer service reps can be reached all hours of the day. The broker has more than 180 locations throughout the United States for clients who want personal assistance.


Trading Tools


E*Trade offers an attractive website that's easy to navigate. Advanced trading platform is available (Etrade Pro review), in both desktop and browser formats. However, traders must meet minimum trading thresholds.

Schwab's website is not as good looking as E*Trade's, but is simple to use nonetheless. Users can place orders using the standard browser, or with StreetSmart Edge (review), the broker's most advanced trading system. Investors must have a $1,000 account balance to use StreetSmartEdge.

TD Ameritrade provides three trading platforms. The most basic is the website, which is easy to navigate. Second in line is Trade Architect, a web-based and Java-based system. Last but not least is Thinkorswim (review). This is an advanced platform for sophisticated traders. The broker has no active trader requirements for any of these platforms.

Fidelity's website is user friendly and easy to use. A trade ticket is available for quick order entry. Active traders who meet certain minimums can use the firm's advanced platform. The broker recently launched an app for Apple TV.


Mobile Trading


Schwab clients can trade on Kindle Fire, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, Android, and mobile web. The platform is intuitive. Several important features are on the app, such as mobile check deposit, funds transfer, and live streaming of CNBC.

TD Ameritrade's app also has live streaming of CNBC. The broker offers a total of three mobile apps. They can be used on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Android. One app can be used on Windows 10. Traders can deposit a check, read market news, or watch financial videos from Reuters and CNBC.

E*Trade offers mobile trading for Android phone and tablet, Windows phone, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, Amazon Fire phone, and Kindle Fire HD. The app displays charts and offers mobile check deposit. Regrettably, live streaming of CNBC is only available to active traders.

At Fidelity, traders can use mobile apps with Android, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Windows phone. Users can deposit a check, pay bills, and sign up for alerts. Live steaming of Bloomberg market news is available at no cost.


Cash Management


A checking account at E*Trade comes with checks and a debit card at no cost. ATM fees are rebated for accounts with more than $5,000 on deposit.

TD Ameritrade clients can open a checking account that comes with checks and a debit card. The broker reimburses all ATM charges. The first $500,000 is FDIC insured.

Schwab has an FDIC-insured bank that offers brokerage customers a checking account. It has checks and a debit card at no cost. The broker also refunds ATM fees.

Fidelity offers a hybrid brokerage-cash management account. Investors can have checks and a debit card added free of charge. ATM charges are refunded, and FDIC insurance covers the account for a full $1,250,000.


Recommendations


Thanks to better trading technology, free streaming quotes, including Level II, TD Ameritrade is recommended for active traders (commissions are negotiable for those who trade often), as well as for long-term investors and for anyone who is new to investing. Mutual funds investors will be happy with thousands of no-commission mutual funds offered at the company.

Fidelity Investments is suggested to clients who want to build a nest-egg investing mostly in the company's own family of mutual funds and ETFs.

Charles Schwab is good brokerage firm for long-term, "buy-and-hold" investors.

Etrade is our recommendation for IRA accounts (Traditional, ROTH, SEP, 401(k), and Rollover).

To make sure you picked the best possible match for your needs, we highly recommend reading detailed reviews (containing new customer incentives) for TD Ameritrade (learn more), E*trade (learn more), Fidelity Investments (learn more), and Charles Schwab (learn more).


Promotions

TD Ameritrade: Trade free for 60 days + get up to $600.

Charles Schwab: Make $100,000 deposit and get 500 commission-free online equity and options trades.

Fidelity Investments: Get 500 free trades with $100,000+ deposit.

Etrade: At E*TRADE, get $6.95 trades + 65₵ per options contract.