Is Charles Schwab a Direct Access Broker? Is StreetSmart Edge a Direct Routing Platform? (2023)

Does Charles Schwab provide direct routing to markets/exchanges on its StreetSmart Edge trading platform or mobile app?

Is Charles Schwab a Direct Access Broker?

The answer to the question "Is Charles Schwab a Direct Access Broker?" is both yes and no. Schwab does offer direct-access routing on some of its trading platforms—but not on others.

Is StreetSmart Edge a Direct Access Platform?

If you want to use direct-access routing at Schwab, you’ll need to download StreetSmart Edge. This is the company’s very good desktop program. It is compatible only with Windows, a major drawback. Nevertheless, there is a cloud version for Mac users (the cloud version can also be used with Windows).

On both the desktop and cloud versions of StreetSmart Edge, there is a routing drop-down menu on the trade ticket. This is where it’s possible to select a destination for an order.

Next to the quantity field is a field marked Venue. Click on this and you’ll get a drop-down list of market venues. Unfortunately, there are only two of them, which is rather disappointing. They are ARCA and NSDQ.

Charles Schwab Direct Access Broker

A third routing choice is Smart. This is the software’s default option. It will send an order according to an algorithm set by Schwab using market data available at the time of order submission.

During our trial of StreetSmart Edge, we discovered that different ECNs have different order types. For example, ARCA can be used with market, limit, and primary-peg orders. NSDQ uses these plus limit invisible and market-peg.

Although the Venue drop-down box does have pre-market and after-hours selections, these are not market makers or ECNs. Instead, they are specific times that orders can be sent in using StreetSmart Edge.

Both the cloud and desktop versions of Edge have the same routing choices. During our research, we found the desktop version to have the better font and graphics display.

Other trading platforms at Schwab, including the broker’s mobile app and browser platform StreetSmart Central, do not have destination options.

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Direct Access Cost at Charles Schwab

Schwab does not tack on any surcharges for directly-routed orders. Combined with the company’s $0 commission schedule, this is extraordinarily nice. A buy order sent to a specific market maker will cost nothing. Sell orders still have exchange and regulatory fees, although these are very little.

Is Charles Schwab a Direct Access Broker Conclusion

There is one really important string attached to Schwab’s direct-access routing service that we need to point out here: it only applies to trades of stocks and ETFs. Options do not have any routing choices on any of Schwab’s trading platforms. By default, Schwab sends derivative orders to the Chicago Board Options Exchange, although it could use other regional exchanges in some cases.

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, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.