Charles Schwab Competitors


Who are the top rated, largest Charles Schwab competitors? Charles Schwab vs competition: compare fees, rates, and services.



Charles Schwab Competitors Overview


Charles Schwab is a leading discount broker, offering its clients a variety of financial products and trading tools. But how does Charles Schwab compares to some of its biggest competitors? Let's take a look.


No-cost Mutual Funds and ETF's


Schwab offers its clients access to more than 3,500 OneSource mutual funds, which carry no loads and no transaction fees. Furthermore, customers have access to over 175 commission-free ETF’s.

In comparison, TD Ameritrade has 296 commission-free ETF offerings. This broker also has access to more than 11,000 mutual funds, of which nearly 2,000 carry no transaction fee and no load.

Fidelity offers over 10,000 mutual funds, 3,375 of which have no transaction fee, and many of those have no load. Furthermore, traders have access to 84 commission-free ETF’s.

The Ally Invest mutual fund screener returns 8,095 securities that are open to new investors. From this group, there are 1,672 funds that have no load.


Schwab and Competitors Costs


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Ally Invest $4.95 $9.95 $4.95 + $0.65 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
TD Ameritrade $6.95 $49.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0


Ally Invest is clearly the best priced brokerage firm in this comparison. Moreover, for customers making 30 or more trades in a quarter the pricing drops to $3.95 for stock and ETF trades, and just 50 cents for options contracts.


Research


Schwab offers in-depth research for stocks, ETF’s, and mutual funds. Customers have access to free stock reports from Morningstar, S&P Capital IQ, Thomson Reuters, Credit Suisse, and others. Fidelity also has a plethora of research tools with good-quality reports from independent providers.

TD Ameritrade has the best selection of independent, third-party investment research from 13 firms (Standard & Poor's, Morningstar, Jaywalk, TheStreet, etc.)

Ally Invest website boasts some pretty good charting. Upper and lower technical indicators can be added to a chart, along with company events, such as splits, earnings, and dividends. Comparisons can be made to stocks, indexes, and commodities, a rare feature. Graph styles include mountain, OHLC bars, and candlesticks.


Customer Service


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, and the reps have a history of being trained and actually knowing what they’re talking about.

Ally offers customer service around the clock over the phone. Broker also has associates who can be reached through an on-line chat function.

TD Ameritrade has phone service staffed 24/7. Representatives are available certain hours of the day who speak Spanish, Cantonese, or Mandarin. The brokerage has more than 600 brick-and-mortar branches located across the United States for old school investors who want more personal investment assistance.

Fidelity can be contacted via an on-line chat system or phone. The phone service is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The chat service is on-line from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm EST.


Trading Tools


Schwab's website is easy to navigate. A basic trade bar is able to display a chart, although it can't place a trade. The broker also provides a sophisticated desktop platform. It only requires a $1,000 account balance. There is an app for Apple Watch, and the broker has a mobile app that streams CNBC news at no charge.

TD Ameritrade offers several different platforms, all with free Level II quotes. First is the standard web site, which is user friendly. Next is Trade Architect, a Java-based platform launched from the web site. Finally, there is Thinkorswim. This platform is a stand-alone program. It offers stock analysis, market news, account info, and order entry. All platforms are free to use with no frequent trader requirement.

Ally's website is very easy to use and a pleasure to work with. Ally Invest LIVE is a simple browser-based trading system that is free for all clients. There is a trade ticket at the bottom of broker’s investment site.

Fidelity's website is also easy to navigate. The site has a trade ticket for quick order entry. Frequent traders can use an advanced platform. Fidelity recently announced an app for Apple TV.


Mobile Trading


Schwab has applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, and mobile web. The interface is intuitive and user friendly. Users can transfer funds between Schwab and non-Schwab accounts, make a mobile check deposit, place trades, pay bills, and contact customer service.

Charles Schwab's competitors also offer mobile trading platforms. Fidelity has an app for Windows 8, certainly an advantage for some customers. TD Ameritrade offers mix of three different mobile apps for investors with every experience level: beginners, advanced investors, and day traders.

Ally Invest customers can use the regular Ally mobile app, which now has investment functions. It can be used to place trades for equities and options. Limited market news is available. A charting feature can show price histories of stocks along with technical studies and comparisons. Option chains are on the app as well.


Schwab's Pros and Cons


Compared to competitors, Schwab has the second best (after TD Ameritrade) offering of commission-free ETF's and top selection of mutual funds with no load and no transaction fees. Its mobile platform is very good compared to its rivals. Its selection of physical branches is attractive for customers who want some extra financial guidance, though there are fewer of them than at TD Ameritrade. StreetSmart Edge is the second best (after TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim) trading platform of the four brokers surveyed.

Schwab faired less well on pricing, being undercut by Ally Invest. It's mid-range trading platform, StreetSmart.com, also performed less well than its competitors.


Our Recommendations

Beginner Investors: we recommend TD Ameritrade, Ally Invest and Schwab.

IRA accounts: all four brokers.

Stocks/ETFs Traders: TD Ameritrade and Ally Invest.

Options Traders: Ally Invest.

Long Term, Inactive Investors: all four brokers.

Mutual Funds Investors: all four brokers.


New Customer Offers

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

Ally Invest: Up to $3,500 cash bonus + commission free trades for new accounts.

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.



Detailed Brokerage Reviews

TD Ameritrade (click here),

Ally Invest (click here),

Charles Schwab (click here),

Fidelity Investments (click here).



Charles Schwab Competitors reviewed by Brokerage-Review.com. Rating: 4.5