E*TRADE Review 2021

Easy to Use and Extensive Research Options

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E*TRADE E*TRADE Securities is the granddaddy of online discount brokerage houses. My first brokerage account with E*TRADE was opened in 1996. Back then, I was working for a financial firm at the time and found it funny when my employer's compliance officer asked me for my broker's name and number. I stated I didn't have a dedicated broker, and I made my trades online with E*TRADE. They looked at me as if I had two heads; they had never heard of an online discount broker.
Commissions & Fees - 9.5
Customer Service - 9
Ease of Use - 9.5
Tools & Resources - 8
Investment Options - 9
Account Options - 8

9.5

E*TRADE, the granddaddy of online discount brokers, is still a good choice for active investors. Its platforms are easy to use, customer service is responsive, and trades execute quickly. Plus, it now charges no commissions on online stock, ETF and options trades.

Open an E*TRADE Account Today

I signed up with E*TRADE because I wanted the ability to make stock trades online and to do online stock research without interacting with a broker. E*TRADE pioneered this with its low flat-pricing structure. Of all of the brokerage firms I have used over the years, I find E*TRADE's website has the best user interface.

E*TRADE is easy to use, offers lots of research, and makes it a pleasure to place trades. Also, I have never had any problems when I had to call customer service. The staff has always been prompt and helpful and have solved my questions quickly.

E*TRADE has evolved from a discount investment broker to a full-service investment platform with every conceivable tool. Here's a summary of just some of them.

  • Allows Trading in 77 international markets
  • No minimum account balances
  • No transaction fees on more than 1,300 no-load mutual funds
  • Integrated checking account from E*TRADE Bank

E*TRADE Features

Minimum Investment$0
Stock Trades$0
Options Trades$0/trade + $0.65/contract ($0.50/contract for 30+ trades/quarter)
Mutual Funds$19.99
Investment TypesStocks, OTC/Penny Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Options, Forex, Cryptocurrencies, Futures
Accounts Types
  • Taxable
  • Joint
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Rollover IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • SIMPLE IRA
  • 401(k)
  • Solo 401(k)
  • Trusts
  • Limited Partnerships
  • Partnerships
  • Coverdell
  • 529
  • Custodial
  • Non-Profit
  • Annuities
  • Checking
  • Savings
  • Money Market
  • CDs
AccessWeb Based, iPhone App, Apple Watch, Android App, BlackBerry App
Broker Assisted Trade$25
Virtual Trades
No Fee ETFs108
Customer ServicePhone: 24/7; Live Chat: 24.7; Email; Branch Office

E*TRADE Account Types for Investments

E*TRADE is a full-service brokerage, offering investments in stocks, bonds, and other fixed-income assets, more than 8,000 mutual funds, as well as exchange-traded funds (ETFs), target-date funds, options, and futures.

  1. In addition to regular, taxable brokerage accounts, you can also have a traditional or Roth IRA or a rollover IRA (from an employer-sponsored plan). Add to that a small business IRA, such as a SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA, an Individual 401(k), a Roth Individual 401(k), or a Profit Sharing Plan.
  2. Custodial Account— You can open a custodial account for a minor, as well as a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA).
  3. Investment Accounts for Businesses — E*TRADE also offers investment accounts for businesses. Your business can be a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. You can even open an account for an investment club. E*TRADE uses its own clearing agency, E*TRADE Clearing LLC, to settle investment transactions.

Investment Assistance by E*TRADE

E*TRADE provides financial consultants through its Securities, LLC, who can help you create an investment plan, choose investments, and manage portfolio risk.

  • Capital Management — If you’re looking for active and ongoing portfolio management, E*TRADE Capital Management is available to work with you.
  • Managed Accounts — If you don't want to deal with the responsibilities of day-to-day portfolio management, E*TRADE has you covered through its Capital Management's Managed Accounts. You must have a minimum of $25,000 to take advantage of this option, but it will entitle you to an actively managed portfolio of mutual funds and ETFs. The goal is to create and maintain a balanced portfolio that's consistent with your goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance. The service will also handle rebalancing and tax management of your portfolio.

Commission-Free Trading

In October 2019, E*TRADE joined a growing list of online brokers who have eliminated commissions on stock, ETF, and options trades. (However, keep in mind there's still a 65-cent contract fee for options).

E*TRADE Mobile App

Complementary to the Power E*TRADE Pro service, E*TRADE excels in mobile device support. Trade anywhere at any time. The app currently supports these devices:

  • Apple iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch
  • Android Phone and Tablet
  • Amazon Fire Phone
  • Kindle Fire
  • Windows Phone

If you want market information at a moment’s notice, E*TRADE has capitalized on the new functionality available in the second iteration of the Apple Watch software, which provides you with the ability to integrate E*TRADE Apple Watch app data directly into your watch face — a first for the industry.

Pretty much all of the functionality of the website is available on the mobile application. When I tested the iPad version, I couldn't find any reason I would be forced to use their traditional website. This is nice if you are an active trader who needs access to your account anywhere you go.

Apple Pay Functionality (New)

E*TRADE now offers Apple Pay functionality for E*TRADE debit cardholders. The simple, efficient payment option caps off an end-to-end experience for their customers. You can now use the cash in your account for daily purchases, and you can now link E*TRADE debit cards directly to Apple Pay and enjoy safe, secure, card-free payment.

Power E*TRADE Pro

To make advanced trading software more understandable and relevant to regular Main Street investors, the E*TRADE Pro function has been upgraded. E*TRADE Pro is perfect for active traders, and the app for it is second to none. There's no additional charge to use this service. It's available to any customer who executes at least 30 stock or options trades per calendar quarter or maintains a minimum brokerage account balance of $250,000. Power E*TRADE Pro comes with:

  • Point-and-click order entry — just click the security symbol from the panel you’re in and the trade happens
  • Professional-grade advanced trading tools — advanced options screener, analytics, strategy optimizer, and margin analyzer give you some of the best tools in the business
  • Real-time technology — track the markets with live streaming watch lists, straight-off-the-wire market news, sector, and industry tracker, and on-air CNBC TV
  • Sector & Industry Tracker — a bird’s-eye view of the market and sectors
  • Scan the market for trading ideas — using built-in backtesting, as well as a probability calculator to evaluate the likelihood of an investment hitting a certain price

While viewing the orientation videos, the customer can launch a suggested layout. The E*TRADE Pro user orientation has been updated for a more seamless experience. The feature also provides at least two screens for personalization, including a total of six customized screens (up from four).

Not only is the design more streamlined, but the revamped tool allows you to:

  1. Build multiple options strategies
  2. Run through various scenarios based on expiration dates and price points
  3. Easily customize graphing features
  4. Seamlessly send any strategy directly for trade execution.

E*TRADE Screenshots

    E*TRADE Account Protection

    Securities within your account are protected by SIPC for up to $500,000, including up to $250,000 for cash. E*TRADE also has “excess SIPC coverage” purchased from London insurers that covers up to $600 million ($150 million per customer), including up to $900,000 in cash. This coverage is for broker failure and not for declines in the market value of your portfolio.

    E*TRADE also has FDIC insurance coverage of up to $250,000 per customer if you have funds on deposit with E*TRADE Bank. Also, E*TRADE's Complete Protection Guarantee provides $0 liability for unauthorized use of your accounts, including trades, transfers, ATM usage, and bill paying.

    E*TRADE Security

    As a computer professional, security is of 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 Symantec Virtual Digital Security Token. You receive a keychain-sized device that generates a new personal 6-digit access code every 60 seconds. For individuals who have smartphones, Symantec also offers an app that effectively does the same as the key fob. It's available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Windows smartphones.

    You then log in with your username, password, and key code. This makes unauthorized logins to your account nearly impossible. In my opinion, all banks and brokerages should offer this feature as standard.

    E*TRADE Promotions

    $0 Commissions for online stock, ETF, & options trades. Join E*TRADE today!

    E*TRADE Alternatives

    HighlightsAlly InvestTD AmeritradePublic
    Rating9.5/109/107/10
    Min. Investment$0$0$0
    Stock Trades$0/trade$0/trade$0/trade
    Options Trades$0.50/contract$0.65/contractN/A
    Mutual Funds
    Virtual Trading

    Here's our full E*TRADE vs TD Ameritrade comparison

    E*TRADE Pros & Cons

    Pros



    Commission-Free Trades
    —E*TRADE no longer charges commissions on online stock, options and ETF trades.

    Comprehensive Trading Platform
    —The trading capabilities, research and investment tools on the platform are first rate. This makes online trading as easy as it could possibly be.

    Best User Interface
    —It’s the perfect investment platform for the investor who is self-directed and wants to manage his or her own portfolio without the need to involve customer service in the process.

    Low Minimum Deposit
    —There is no minimum deposit, which opens the platform to investors of all sizes and levels of investment experience, including small and new investors.

    Accommodates Different Investor Levels
    —You can operate efficiently on the platform as a full-blown do-it-yourself investor, use financial consultant assistance, or have your entire portfolio professionally managed through Managed Accounts solutions.







    Cons



    Oriented Toward Active Traders
    —E*TRADE offers lower transaction fees for active trading, but how many investors make 150 or more trades per quarter, so as to be in a position to get the benefit of those lower fees?











    Summary

    Although I started out with E*TRADE, I no longer use it as my primary broker. E*TRADE has narrowed its services to focus more on investing than the previous full gamut of financial services.

    Today, E*TRADE isn't the lowest priced broker (Here's a list of my favorite online stock brokers), but the site is very easy to use. Also, trades do execute fast, and from my experience, the telephone customer service is responsive.

    E*Trade is well suited to small investors who prefer buy-and-hold and execute only a few trades per year. The tools on the site are first-rate, and assistance is available as needed.

    Larry Ludwig

    Larry Ludwig was the founder and editor in chief of Investor Junkie. He graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor of science in computers and a minor in business. Back in the ’90s, I helped create some of the first financial websites for firms like Chase, T. Rowe Price, and ING Bank, and later went on to work for Nomura Securities. He’s had a passion for investing since he was 20 years old and has owned multiple businesses for over 20 years. He currently resides in Long Island, New York, with his wife and three children.

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    9 Comments

    1. I signed up just when they eliminated all the decent interest bearing cash management accounts. (May 2018) They cannot say when they are setting up new ones – or if they are. Uninvested cash earns .04.

      Not impressed.

    2. I don’t understand these comments about the Optionshouse trading platform powered by Etrade. It is essentially the same platform that Optionshouse used since I have been with them 8 years ago. Granted the interface changed a little back in 2014 or 15 I can’t remember exactly when they merged with OptionsMonster. I did not like the change and they did do away with some features I really liked. But this Etrade platform on Optionshouse brought back everything I missed and some. The rates are almost unbeatable if your an active options trader. I was grandfathered in so I still pay $5 for 5 contracts and no commissions if trades are closed out .10 or less. So I can’t find a deal better than that but new accounts pay 6.95 for 5 contracts I believe which is pretty good. The research and other features are fantastic. I highly recommend!

    3. I had an account with Optionshouse and they moved to Etrade. The old OH platform was very user friendly. Nothing too fancy or complicated but it gave you what you needed. I even used a couple of their tools to make money. Then, they combined with Etrade which led to a redesign of the platform. The most useful features are gone and the interface is very hard to navigate. Just looking at it gives me a headache. Moving my $ to TD’s Think or Swim platform. It takes a while to get used to but is far superior and has a ton of tools that I need to learn how to use! It is more expensive but is worth it imo.

    4. I’m surprised by your positive assessment of the interface. I’m a digital native and this is one of the few interfaces that has left me utterly lost. I could absolutely not figure out how to navigate it, which actually is a first in my life (and I’ve used some bad insurance sites). I had to contact support, which emailed me several days later with 5 step instructions on how to navigate to my account. There I saw two accounts but couldn’t figure out which is which since they had the same name. Again, I contacted support and they explained to me that my two accounts are one of these and the other entry is not an account. Clear as fog.

    5. Avoid E*Trade at all costs, they’re incompetent. They purposely delay the sending of notices so they can rack up penalty charges on accounts. They blatantly lie about the reasons for the delays. They charge exorbitant fees for closing/transferring accounts. Horrible customer service. After more than 15 years with them, I’m in the process of closing all my accounts and will *never* do business with them again.

    6. I’ve been with E-Trade for quite a while now. I started out with Brown & Co., but E-Trade bought them up. I am very happy with their customer service and their website.

      I also own shares of their stock and am not so happy with it. I haven’t lost much money, but the reverse split was funky. I will probably sell these shares in January.

      1. eTrade’s customer service may usually be good, but I have been given the run-around on reimbursement of reorganization fees for lopsided stocks. At a time when several businesses are offering waivers and consolations to their new and loyal customers, eTrade has been assessing fees like it’s business as usual. Three of the said 4 fees are right in the heat of the pandemic. I was told to call, but I already had called several times (in addition to today). There were at least five times in a 33-minute hold that someone came on the line and put me back on hold. People should know the truth before attempting to invest with them.

    7. Hi Jacob,

      I am going to review TradeKing soon. I haven’t used Sogotrade but will add it to my to do review list. It takes some time for me to review them since I actually use them and test out their features.

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