Charles Schwab was started in 1973 and they have long been one of the leaders in the space. Currently they have more than $3.2 trillion in assets from their clients and offer a variety of financial services. They have almost 11 million client accounts that are active, as well as almost 2 million retirement plan clients. While based in the United States, they have a strong international presence also. As you will see in this Charles Schwab brokerage review, they cater for any and all types of investors.
- Highly respected industry broker
- Have assets worth more than $3.2 trillion in client accounts
- Competitive commissions
- Long operational history
- 1. 1) Options Broker Trading Offer : Massive range of options
- 2. 2) Options Trading Costs : Extremely Competitive Cost Structure
- 3. 3) Accounts : Variety of available accounts
- 4. 4) Trading Platform : 3 proprietary platforms
- 5. 5) Usability of the Website – Very easy to use
- 6. 6) Customer Support : Available 24/7
- 7. 7) Methods of Payment : Online transfer or cheque
- 8. 8) Additional Offers : Bonus for Newcomers
- 9. 9) Regulation & Deposit Protection : SIPC member
- 10. 10) Awards : Numerous prestigious awards
- 11. Conclusion – great all-round option
Trader Rating Total
USA (FINRA / SIPC)
Yes, Charting tools, virtual money, indicators
1) Options Broker Trading Offer : Massive range of options
There is a wide range of different investment products available for clients as seen in this review of Charles Schwab. You can tailor your approach given your specific goals and strategies. You have access to a variety of different Charles Schwab stock trading, options, fixed income products, ETFs, offshore mutual funds, American depository receipts (ADRs) and margin loans. In particular, there is a wide range of mutual funds to choose from. You are even able to buy ETFs and mutual funds without having to pay any form of commission, transaction fee or load. There are almost 25 ETFs available that are free of commission and more than 4,000 of these transaction fees less mutual funds.
Despite this large number of options, it is still very easy for the client to navigate through the various investment types thanks to the handy sort features and different categories. You can also use the Schwab ETF Portfolio Builder, which is a tool that helps you to create an ETF portfolio that is balanced and diversified, dependent on what your tolerance for risk may be. They have comprehensive research tools that will help you when making your decisions so you have all of the tools you will ever need at your disposal as seen in this Charles Schwab stock trading review.
2) Options Trading Costs : Extremely Competitive Cost Structure
This review of Charles Schwab showcases how they are extremely competitive when it comes to their fees and commission structures. They are on par or ahead of the majority of their competitors in this regard, without sacrificing on the quality of their offering. For stock trades that are, there is a flat rate of $4.95 in place, which is $2 cheaper than many of their competitors, as was seen in the broker comparison section. They are on a par with the likes of Fidelity in this regard. For those who are trading options, there is a flat rate of $4.95 in addition to $0.65 for each contract. There are more than 4,300 mutual funds on offer with Charles Schwab that do not contain any commission fees, with more than 244 commissions free ETFs also available.
There is an additional 1,000 or so mutual funds that will carry some sort of fees. If you choose one of these funds, there is generally a $76 fee for each buying trade and it will cost nothing when you try to sell them, which is one of the best offerings in the sector. They have seen a lot of progress since they decided to get rid of the funds which implemented carry loads or had some form of sale charge on the front end. Any funds that do have these payloads, Charles Schwab waive them.
- Extremely competitive fees and commission structures
- Wide variety of commission free ETFs and mutual funds
- Competitive stock and options charges
3) Accounts : Variety of available accounts
There are two different types of accounts for international clients as seen in this review of Charles Schwab. One of these is for individuals and it is called the Schwab One International Account and there is an account for their corporate clients that is called the Schwab One International Corporate account. They are both solid options for those trying to get access to a multitude of different types of investments in the US. There are also two main types of accounts for individuals who are based in the US. You can open a single account or a joint account for your trading purposes.
They also have specific retirement accounts and savings accounts that may also suit your needs. With these accounts, there is no fee that has to be paid when you initially open up an account and there is also no maintenance fee that is required either. There may be some different types of charges that do need to be considered. You can decide between making an initial minimum deposit of $1,000 or commit to monthly deposits of $100. No matter what the size of your account may be or how often you make trades, there is always going to be a flat $4.95 rate charged for online share trades.
- Two different account types for international clients
- Two main trading accounts for domestic individual clients
- Charges remain constant no matter how often you trade or your account size
4) Trading Platform : 3 proprietary platforms
There are three different types of platforms on offer as seen in this review of Charles Schwab. Their web based platform is StreetSmart.com, their desktop based platform is StreetSmart Edge and their other web based platform is StreetSmart Central. All types of customers will have access to each of these types of trading platforms no matter how much funds they have in their account or how active they are trading. There are some brokers that require you to be at certain limits in order to gain access to certain trading platforms.
One caveat with Charles Schwab is that you need to be an account that has been approved for portfolio margin for futures trading in order to get access to the StreetSmart Central trading platform. The StreetSmart Edge platform is a very solid trading platform that will take a bit of time for you to get used to it. You have plenty of options when it comes to customization and you can choose from a variety of layouts and colour schemes. There are many different useful indicators that are part of these platforms which will help you with your trading activity. If you are an options trader, everything is very clear, concise and easy to execute. You have a lot of options when it comes to charting and is one of the best of its kind on the market currently.
- 3 different trading platforms
- All proprietary software
- Wide range of indicators and charting tools
5) Usability of the Website – Very easy to use
The main website for Charles Schwab is very well laid out and everything is very easy to read thanks to the white and blue colour scheme. The have respective sections depending on what your goals may be. As they have a diverse offering of financial services, this is essential when it comes to finding the information that is important to you. They have everything structure din a manner whereby you are told the information you need without being inundated with fluff or useless information. They always have their legal terms and regulations in a prominent position at the foot of all pages.
These are well laid out in paragraph form, rather than being a long wall of text that is common with other brokers. There are five main sections that are part of the website. They are for their invest centre, their banking section, their trading section, their area for those seeking investment advice and the section that provide you with insights on a variety of different sectors and financial news. This means that an investor can look after all aspects of their trading under the same roof.
- Clear and concise website
- Easy to read
- Concise deliverance of rules and regulations
6) Customer Support : Available 24/7
There is a high quality of customer support with Charles Schwab. Just like a lot of their competitors, you can get in touch with the team around the clock, any day of the week by telephone. This means that you can have any issues or questions you may have answered in a quick manner. They also have a quality live chat option that can be even quicker than the telephone option if you want rapid answers.
They also have many physical branches dotted across the US and abroad, where they hold regular workshops and you can meet with one of their consultants if you wish to do so in person. You can also email them any enquiries or questions that you may have. They certainly invest a lot of time, energy and money into ensuring that their customer’s needs are taken care of. Even during the busy trading hours during the week, you can quickly get in touch with the team, something which cannot be said for a lot of their competitors. This can often be the difference between making a profitable trade and making a loss if you need an instant resolution to an issue.
- Customer support available 24/7
- Choose from telephone, email, live chat and meetings at physical branches
- Very responsive
7) Methods of Payment : Online transfer or cheque
When it comes to opening up a Charles Schwab brokerage account, you do not have to pay any fee for opening up the account or for its maintenance going forward. You do need to either make a minimum investment of $1,000 or more starting off or you will need to commit to investing at least $100 in your account every month going forward. If you are setting up an account, it doesn’t take too long at all. The methods by which you can add funds to your brokerage account is to either transfer money from one of your existing bank account or you can also transfer money from another brokerage account that you may have.
If you prefer more traditional options than online banking, you have the ability to mail Charles Schwab a cheque or you can also visit one of their physical branches and give them the cheque there. Depending on what sort of bank you are using or brokerage account, there may be some fees involved in sending the funds to your Charles Schwab account.
- You can deposit via bank transfer, brokerage account transfer or by cheque
- Required minimum deposit of $1,000 or commit to $100 monthly
- Quick and easy account setup
8) Additional Offers : Bonus for Newcomers
When you sign up for an account with Charles Schwab, you are able to get as many as 500 trades that are commission free for either equity of options trades. These will be active for as long as two years after you have finished setting up your account. If you are an options trader, this means that as part of this free trade, you won’t have to pay any base level of commission and there will be no fee per each contract for the initial 20 contracts in a given trade. In order to achieve this bonus, you will need to sign up for an account and deposit at least $100,000 into this account.
You will have to make this deposit inside of the first 45 days of setting up your account and it is available for both new and existing customers that fit inside these parameters. This offer is likely not going to be ideal for beginner who is just getting started with their Charles Schwab brokerage account experience. There is a comprehensive education section that will help you develop your skillset and expertise when it comes to a variety of different aspects to the investment game. It is superior to a lot of others seen when looking at an options broker comparison. As one of the best options brokers, this should not surprise anyone.
9) Regulation & Deposit Protection : SIPC member
Everyone that is interested in a Charles Schwab brokerage account needs to be aware of what sort of regulatory framework is place at this broker. Their brokerage products are not insured by the FDIC, there is no bank guarantee and your investment may end up losing value. The Charles Schwab Corporation has a wide range of brokerage, financial advisory and banking options and services available through their respective subsidiaries.
For their broker-dealer offering, it is looked after by the Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. subsidiary, which is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and they are the party that offers the investment products and services, including the brokerage account options. The SIPC is tasked with overseeing liquidation of any broker dealer members that are closed when they go bankrupt to they are in dire financial trouble and the assets of customers are in question. A customer will have securities worth as much as $500,000 protected if their broker is a SIPC member, as well as cash amounts of up to $250,000.
- Member of the SIPC
- Securities worth up to $500,000 protected and cash of as much as $250,000 protected
- Numerous Charles Schwab subsidiaries look after various aspects of their business
10) Awards : Numerous prestigious awards
Charles Schwab is one of the leading providers of financial service and brokerage accounts in the world, with more than $3.2 trillion worth of assets being part of their client accounts. As a result, they have been on the receiving end of numerous awards over the years. They have been named as the Highest in Investor Satisfaction with Full service Brokerage Firms by J.D. Power for three consecutive years. They are part of FORTUNE magazine’s top 50 most admired companies in the world and they were ranked as number one in innovation, utilisation of corporate assets and for social responsibility when it comes to the securities and asset management section of the awards.
They placed second overall when all variables were considered. Barron’s is a respected reviewer of financial services firms and they gave Charles Schwab four out of five stars in terms of the best online broker out there online in 2018. This came after they considered the areas of costs, security education, customer service, portfolio analysis and report, research, types of investments offered, mobile offering, usability and trading technology and overall experience.
- Winner of numerous prestigious awards
- Three years in a row Highest in Investor Satisfaction with Full Service Brokerage Firms by J.D. Power
- Part of FORTUNE’s top 50 most admired companies in the world
Conclusion – great all-round option
There are numerous positives that can be seen throughout this Charles Schwab stock trading review along with some drawbacks. There is not going to be a broker that ticks all of the boxes. They have a staggering amount of investment products to choose from, with countless ETFs and mutual funds that do not carry any sort of commission. Overall, their cost and fee structure is top notch and one of the best in the industry today. They have three different quality proprietary trading platform offerings from traders to choose between, each of which has its own unique features. There are numerous tools implemented that will help you when performing analysis.
There is top quality support available on a 24/7 basis which can help you with any issues you may be experiencing. You have a couple of different account types to choose from and there is a bonus offer for those depositing at least $100,000. Their website is easy to use and they have won numerous prestigious awards over the years, showcasing the esteem with which they are held in the sector. Overall, to conclude this Charles Schwab brokerage review and determine if Charles Schwab is good, they are a low cost broker that has a lot of options available for different types of investors, it is a great choice for anyone.
- Multiple account options and financial products
- Excellent customer service
- Powerful platform and research tools
- Relatively low commission
- $1,000 initial minimum deposit