E-Trade is the granddaddy of online discount brokerage houses. I opened my E-Trade account in 1996. I worked for a financial firm at the time and found it funny the compliance officer asked me for my broker’s name and number. I stated I didn’t have a broker, and I made my trades online with E-Trade. They looked at me as if I had two heads; they never heard of an online discount broker. I signed up with E-Trade because I wanted the ability to make stock trades online and to do online stock research all without interacting with a broker. E-Trade pioneered this with their low flat pricing structure. Out of all of the brokerage firms I have used over the years, I find their web site has the best user interface. It is easy to use, offers lots of research, and makes it a pleasure to place trades. In addition, when I have had to call their customer service, I have never had an issue them. They were always prompt, helpful and solved my problems quickly.
Power E-Trade Pro
E-Trade is perfect for active traders, and their application for it is second to none. There is no additional charge to use this service. It’s available to any customer who executes at least 30 stock or options per calendar quarter. Power E-Trade Pro comes with:
- Live streaming CNBC TV – Keep up-to-date with the latest news
- Fast, and easy-to-use navigation console – For quick trades and execution
- Strategy Scanner – Quickly spot trends with their powerful technical screener
- Sector & Industry Tracker – A bird’s eye view of the market and sectors
- FREE NASDAQ TotalView – Find trading opportunities and have access to Level II quotes
- Streaming News & Watch Lists – Take action on stocks you are monitoring.
All that is needed is a minimum $2,000 deposit. For the more advanced traders, E-Trade now offers an API to automate trades.
E-Trade Mobile Pro
Complementary to their Power E-Trade Pro service, E-Trade excels in mobile device support. Trade anywhere, at anytime. They currently support these devices:
- Apple iPhone
- Apple iPad
- NEW Android OS
Pretty much all of the functionality of their web site can be done with their mobile applications. When using their app for the Apple iPad, I couldn’t find a reason why I would be forced to use their traditional web site. This is nice if you are an active trader who needs access to your account anywhere you go. As I’ve mentioned in my Apple iPad review, it’s a great device that is much more portable than a laptop computer, yet you don’t have the cramped screen of a smart phone. For the mobile trader, an Apple iPad with 3G support is your best bet. E-Trade’s commercials are always entertaining, and their latest commercial highlights their mobile device support.
E-Trade Commissions and Fees
|Stock & Options Trades||$7.99||$9.99|
|Margin Rate ($50K debit balance)||7.14%||7.14%|
|Bonds (online secondary trades)||$1.00||$1.00|
|Mutual Funds||7,600+ available – 1,100+ no load no transaction fee|
|IRAs||No annual IRA fees and no account minimums|
Their pricing is slightly higher than other discount brokerages, but not completely out of line with others.
As a computer professional, security is of the the utmost importance to me. I understand how much the Internet can be like the Wild West, and I want to sleep at night knowing my financial information is secure. This is why I use E-Trade’s RSA SecurID key fob. You receive a keychain-sized device that generates a personal 6-digit access code every 60 seconds. You then login with your username, password and key. This make unauthorized logins to your E-Trade account nearly impossible. In my opinion, all banks and brokerage online brokerages should offer this feature as standard.
|How to Qualify||Device Cost|
|Execute 30 or more stock or options trades per quarter||FREE|
|$50,000 or more in combined assets||FREE|
|All other brokerage, bank or lending accounts||$25 one-time fee per device|
E*Trade has been around for many years. E*Trade offers a wide base of services from brokerage to traditional banking services. While they aren’t the lowest priced brokers, their site is easy to use, trades execute fast, and their telephone customer service is responsive. While they offer services for the causal investor, their services appear to cater more towards the active trader. Be aware if you have under $10,000 with E-Trade, and do not trade often, they will charge an inactivity fee of $40.00 per quarter. If you keep a moderate sized balance and do more than 30 trades per quarter, E*Trade is a good fit for you. Customers who are traditionally buy-n-hold and a small amount to invest may want to consider other brokerage houses.