Charles Schwab vs Fidelity

Fidelity vs Charles Schwab


Compare Charles Schwab versus Fidelity Investments—which is better for fees, IRA/Roth accounts, online stock trading, and mutual funds investing in 2022?


Fidelity vs Schwab Comparison


If you’re looking for a large and trustworthy brokerage house, look no further than Fidelity and Charles Schwab. Both have trillions of dollars in client assets and decades of experience. But which one is the top dog? That’s what this article is going to find out.


Cost


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Fidelity $0 $49.95 $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Charles Schwab $0 $49.95 $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Firstrade $0 $0 $0 per contract $0 $0


Services


Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
Fidelity
Charles Schwab
Ally Invest


Promotions


Fidelity: Get $0 stock commissions.

Charles Schwab: Get commission-free online stock trades.

Ally Invest: Up to $3,000 cash bonus + $0 commission trades.



First, Let’s Analyze Investment Choices


Self-directed traders at Fidelity have access to the following financial instruments:

  • Options
  • Funds (mutual, closed end, and exchange traded)
  • Equities
  • Fixed income
  • Annuities
  • Life insurance and long-term care insurance

These products can be accessed in a wide variety of accounts, including custodial, joint, retirement, trust, and small business accounts.

The picture looks much the same at Schwab, with one important addition: Schwab has futures trading. Besides life insurance, Schwab also offers (through a partnership with Crump) disability insurance. The brokerage house has a wide variety of account types.

Besides the major American exchanges, both broker-dealers also offer access to the over-the-counter marketplace and a selection of foreign stock exchanges. Fidelity has 25 foreign exchanges. These include Hong Kong, Ireland, and South Africa. Schwab has 12 exchanges, including Australia, Norway, and the UK.

The above products and services represent just what’s possible with self-directed trading. Both firms also have large selections of investment-advisory services. At the low end of the cost spectrum is the robo model. Both firms have it, and Schwab actually offers it for free (with a large cash position and a $5,000 minimum). Fidelity’s robo program doesn’t use a large cash position, has no minimum, and charges nothing for accounts below $10,000. Above that level, the price is 0.35% per year.

Both firms have old-school, in-person advisory services. Costs and minimums vary by package chosen.

Winner: Pretty even overall


Second, We Need to Look at Their Websites


Self-directed and robo clients will find their accounts after logging into user-friendly websites that have lots of tools. Despite all the resources, both sites are easy to navigate.

Fidelity’s site begins on a Summary page (the landing page can be changed) that starts with lots of tiles with various themes, like this year’s IRA contributions, a net worth calculation, and today’s market movers.


Fidelity vs Schwab


Getting down to trading, there’s much to like. The broker’s order form has 8 trade types, 4 of which are trailing orders. There are several duration choices, including on the close or open. And this is just the standard stock trade ticket. Bonds and mutual funds have their own order forms, and there are advanced order tickets for equities. We especially like the conditional ticket with OCO orders and basket trading, which offers the ability to buy multiple securities in a single order.

Charting on the Fidelity site is nearly full screen and offers up to 10 years of price data. Tools include roughly 90 technical indicators, company events, 19 plot styles, lots of drawing tools, comparisons, and more.

Over on the Schwab site, the situation is pretty similar. Gone are the tiles, but there are many other resources. First up is a trade bar at the bottom of the site (Fidelity’s site doesn’t have this widget). Schwab’s trade bar delivers vital data like volume and bid-ask spread in real time. A medium-sized chart can be displayed, although orders can’t actually be submitted through the widget.


Schwab or Fidelity


The order ticket appears on the website. Here, we found 6 order types, 2 of which are trailing. There are 5 time-in-force choices. As with Fidelity, options and mutual funds have discrete tickets.

Charts on the Schwab website are not available in full-screen, although a chart can be detached. We counted around 70 indicators. Other tools, like comparisons and drawing widgets, are there.

The one issue that really separates the two brokerage firms here is the browser-based trading platform. Schwab has one, but Fidelity does not. Schwab’s platform has an all-in-one ticket where futures and securities can be traded. Charting this time can be accomplished in full-screen mode with well over a hundred technical studies.

Winner: Schwab


Third, It’s Desktop Software


This time Fidelity does come up with a discrete platform. Called Active Trader Pro, it lives up to its name. There are several professional-level tools on ATP, including Level II quotes, basket trading, and advanced option tools.


Fidelity versus Schwab


StreetSmart Edge is Schwab’s desktop software. It has a lot of the same tools that ATP has, including Level II quotes, integrated option strategies, and direct-access routing.


Schwab versus Fidelity


Both programs have advanced charting tools and streaming video news. Schwab uses CNBC, while Fidelity uses Bloomberg.

Winner: Tie


Fourth, Let’s Examine Their Mobile Apps


Schwab has two apps, a regular app and a StreetSmart Mobile app. The latter can be used to trade futures contracts. The regular app is much better in terms of usability and functionality. Plus, it can trade options and mutual funds. Other tools on the standard app include an artificial intelligence and mobile check deposit.


Schwab vs Fidelity


Fidelity’s app has a lot of the same features that Schwab’s regular app has. These resources include Touch ID, mobile check deposit, bill pay, horizontal charting, and an AI. Mutual funds and options have discrete order tickets.


Fidelity or Schwab


Both apps have tons of educational materials and market news resources, including live video streaming, podcasts, articles, and more.

Winner: Very close


Fifth, Let’s Inspect Margin Borrowing


Not surprisingly, both companies in this survey offer margin accounts. Schwab starts at 9.825% and drops to 8.075% for debit balances above $250,000.

Fidelity starts at the exact same interest rate (9.825%) and drops to the exact same rate for debit balances above $250,000 (8.075%). But Fidelity drops further for balances above $1 million, reaching a very low 5.825%.

Schwab’s website has a link for Margin Requirements on stock profiles. It is located underneath the green Trade button. It shows margin info for the stock or ETF in question. Fidelity’s site doesn’t have this.

Winner: Overall, pretty close


At Last, Here Are Some Miscellaneous Services


Extended Hours: Both firms offer pre-market and after-hours trading. Fidelity beats Schwab in total hours by 8 minutes.

DRIP Service: Dividend reinvesting for stocks and funds is available free of charge at both brokerage houses.

Banking Tools: Schwab’s debit card offers ATM fee refunds around the globe, while Fidelity restricts this policy to US-based cash machines. But Fidelity has an FDIC-sweep program that delivers 5 times the normal amount of insurance. Schwab doesn’t have this.

Individual Retirement Accounts: Both firms offer the same IRA types (Roth, traditional, Inherited, Custodial, SEP, SIMPLE, and Rollover) with the same fee schedules.

Fractional Shares: Fidelity offers partial-share trading in the entire marketplace of US stocks and ETFs. Schwab restricts its fractional-share service to the stocks that make up the S&P 500.

Initial Public Offerings: Both investment firms have IPO sections on their websites. Both also have minimum account requirements to get in on these offerings.

Periodic Mutual Fund Investing: Once again, both firms have it.

Winner: Fidelity


Our Recommendations


Mutual Fund Investors: Schwab has 6,046 funds, while Fidelity customers have access to 9,587 funds. But Schwab has more no-transaction-fee funds. Take your pick.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: Very even here.

Beginners: Either will work.

Stock and ETF Trading: Fidelity’s full lineup of fractional-share trading gives it the edge here.

Small Accounts: In the realm of robo accounts, Fidelity looks much better for anything under $10,000. For self-directed trading, small traders will probably benefit from Fidelity’s whole-dollar investing service.


Promotions


Fidelity: Get $0 stock commissions.

Charles Schwab: Get commission-free online stock trades.

Ally Invest: Up to $3,000 cash bonus + $0 commission trades.



Charles Schwab vs Fidelity: Results


These two titans are very similar in their products and services. Schwab has the obvious edge in futures and website trading, while Fidelity is the better choice for fractional shares.

Anyone looking for the top-rated brokerage firm on the market should go with TD Ameritrade or read TD Ameritrade review.


Fidelity vs Schwab: Commissions



Fidelity Investments


Charles Schwab

  • Stocks and ETFs: $0
  • Stocks and ETFs broker assisted: $32.95
  • Options: $0.65 per contract
  • Mutual funds: $49.95 to buy; $0 to sell. $49.95 if sold within 2 months
  • Bonds and CDs (new issues): on a net yield basis
  • Bonds and CDs (secondary issues): $1.00 per bond ($250 maximum)
  • Investment products: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, commercial paper, UITs, ETFs
  • Fidelity minimum deposit to open account: $2,500 ($0 for Rollover IRA; $2,500 or $200 per month for ROTH and Traditional IRA)

  • Stocks and ETFs: $0
  • Stocks and ETFs broker assisted: $29.95
  • Stocks and ETFs phone trades: $9.95
  • Options: $0.65 per contract
  • Mutual funds: $49.95 to buy, $0 to sell
  • Futures: $1.50 per contract
  • 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: $0
  • Commercial Paper and Foreign Bonds, Unit Investment Trusts: call for pricing
  • Investment products: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, futures, Treasury issues, options, futures, CDs, insurance, ETFs, annuities, non-U.S. securities and ADRs, WEBs and Canadian foreign orders
  • Charles Schwab minimum deposit to open account: $0 for cash account, $2,000 for margin account


About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for Brokerage-Review.com, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.
Updated on 4/9/2022.




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