THE GOOD

Exceptional trading tools with StreetSmart Edge:

StreetSmart Edge is a highly flexible trading platform offering a variety of exceptional trading tools to choose from. The Symbol Hub integrates several tools into a single window. You can track multiple ticker symbols in real time while conducting deep research into the financials of the individual companies. StreetSmart Edge also delivers powerful charting tools that allow you to quickly construct basic and complex charts to visualize stock data just the way you want. The platform's pattern recognition tool even highlights important stock trends automatically, giving you more information to assist in your trade decisions. The StreetSmart Edge platform can be downloaded to your home computer or accessed directly online as a cloud application.

No minimums required to use advanced tools:

Unlike many of the other top online brokers in the industry, Charles Schwab offers users access to advanced trading tools without a minimum account balance or trading frequency requirements. You can use the company's StreetSmart Edge trading platform for free, which makes it easy to monitor your orders and trade positions and conduct advanced research within a single integrated environment. Whether you make one or two trades per month or 30 trades every week, you will always have full access to the best research, analysis, charting, and screening tools that Charles Schwab has to offer.

Nationwide locations and 24/7 support:

If you run into difficulty with your account, there is nothing to worry about because Charles Schwab operates a nationwide network of more than 300 traditional retail brokerage offices where you can get one-on-one help when you need it. If there are no office locations near you, or if you need help in a hurry, just call the 24-hour telephone support line for immediate access to a Charles Schwab representative. The company also offers several alternative support services, including email support and a live online chat option on their website. With a solid reputation for quality customer support service, you can trust that Charles Schwab will deliver real answers from real people just when you need them, which is absolutely essential when you have money on the line.

Improving commitment to mobile apps:

Though Charles Schwab was once seen as behind the times in terms of mobile technology, the company has addressed this criticism by releasing several strong Schwab Mobile applications. You can now download full-featured apps for a variety of mobile devices. These secure apps give you the ability to manage your brokerage account, view your stock holdings, track your stocks in real time, and even execute trades instantly from wherever you are. You can even make a same-day mobile deposit to your account by taking a picture of your check, which is pretty useful when you need to fund a trade in a hurry. If you're looking to access advice from Charles Schwab experts on your iPad, download the Charles Schwab On Investing app for timely investing insights across a variety of investment products.

High customer satisfaction for self-directed investors:

Charles Schwab ranks as the overall market leader in customer satisfaction according to a 2012 survey of 3,733 self-directed investors by J.D. Power and Associates. With top scores in the categories of account offerings, information resources, and account information, Charles Schwab is clearly focused on providing the services that its clients need and want. If you're looking for an online broker with a proven reputation among online traders like you, Charles Schwab is hard to beat.

Thorough research materials:

Strong research tools plus access to expert opinions and analysis from investment professionals is a key to savvy investing online. Charles Schwab excels in this category, placing a wealth of data at your fingertips and delivering a variety of advanced tools that you can use to analyze your opportunities and support your investment decisions. You can also read free market commentary and analysis articles produced by Charles Schwab's in-house experts, giving you a unique perspective on investment topics that not all investors can see.

THE BAD

No virtual trading or demo available:

Most prospective clients are sure to be disappointed by the fact that Charles Schwab does not offer virtual trading. Virtual trading capabilities like those offered by other companies in the industry would allow you to test your strategies on Charles Schwab's web-based and StreetSmart Edge trading platforms without using real money. This is an excellent way to build familiarity with an online trading platform and determine whether it's a good fit for your investing needs. As it stands, you can't even try a free demo account to see how the platform works before making a commitment and depositing funds. Though the platform has received very favorable feedback from all types of users, the inability to open a demo account or conduct virtual trades is tough to overlook.

Must open separate account for optionsXpress:

In 2011, Charles Schwab purchased optionsXpress, which offers several features absent from Charles Schwab's online offerings, including access to futures and forex markets. Unfortunately, these services remain outside of a Schwab account, requiring you to open a separate account with optionsXpress to gain access to them. It would be much more convenient if the company simply integrated these services directly into the standard account. In fact, Schwab's competitor, TD Ameritrade, did just this when it acquired the online brokerage firm thinkorswim and integrated many of its trading tools and technology into a standard account.

Need to call in for StreetSmart Edge cloud access:

If you want to get started with the cloud version of the StreetSmart Edge trading platform instead of the desktop version, you can expect a short delay. Instead of simply logging in to the platform with your account details, you are required to call in to a company representative to request access. This is a relatively minor annoyance, but an annoyance no less.

No access to forex or futures markets:

If you want access to forex or futures markets, you will have to look elsewhere as Charles Schwab won't suffice. To gain access to these markets, you have to open a separate trading account with optionsXpress, a Charles Schwab subsidiary that remains a separate entity. Having access to stock, options, futures, and forex trading in a single platform is common with other major brokers, but Schwab simply doesn't offer it.

THE DETAILS

Trading Costs and Fees
Broker Assisted Trades $8.95 + $25 service charge
Futures Contract Fee Not offered
Maintenance Fees $0
Margin Rates 6-8.5% [$25k-$2.5 million]
Minimum Account Balance Fee $0
Mutual Funds Fee - Load $0
Mutual Funds Fee - No-Load $0
Options Contract Price $0.75
Options Flat Fee $8.95
Stock Flat Fee $8.95
Other Fees
ACH/EFT Withdrawal $0
Bounced Check $0
Check Withdrawal $0
Domestic Wire Withdrawal $25
Forced Margin Sellout Unknown
Full Account Transfer $50
IRA Annual Fee $0
Partial Account Transfer $25
Stop Payment on Check $0
Telephone Orders $8.95 + $5 service charge

FEATURES

Title
  • Bonds You can trade bonds.

  • Commission-Free ETFs You can trade commission-free exchange-traded funds.

  • Easy to Borrow Stocks You have access to easy-to-borrow stocks that you can sell short.

  • ETFs You can trade exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

  • International Markets You can trade markets outside of the U.S.

  • Mutual Funds You can trade mutual funds.

  • Options You can trade options.

  • Pink Sheet and OTCBB Securities Market Access You can trade pink sheet stocks and over-the-counter (OTC) securities.

  • Stocks You can trade stocks.

  • Forex You can trade forex or foreign exchange markets.

  • Futures Markets You can trade futures markets.

  • Android The broker offers an app for Android devices.

  • Create Alerts You can create alerts with one or more of the mobile trading applications.

  • Cross-Platform Integration The mobile trading application integrates with your trading account in real time, including watch lists, alerts, and other account information.

  • Favorable App Store Reviews The broker's iPhone application has received three stars or greater from users in the Apple App Store.

  • iPad The broker offers a dedicated app for the iPad.

  • iPhone The broker offers an app for the iPhone.

  • Mobile Deposits You can deposit checks or electronic funds into your account with a mobile application.

  • Mobile Research You can conduct research using one of the mobile applications.

  • Mobile Website The broker offers a separate mobile website for accessing your account on the go.

  • Other Tablet The broker offers an app for another tablet device besides the iPad.

  • Place Trades You can place trades using your mobile device.

  • Portfolio Tracking You can track your portfolio using a mobile device.

  • Streaming Quotes The broker offers streaming quotes on mobile devices.

  • Watch List You can create watch lists using a mobile app or device.

  • BlackBerry The broker offers an app for BlackBerry devices.

  • Virtual Demo You can demo the mobile trading platform by using a virtual trading account.

  • Windows Mobile The broker offers trading on Windows Mobile devices.

  • Alerts You can set up personalized alerts for your portfolio or other investment products.

  • Automated Trading The broker allows you to place trades by setting automated triggers to execute a trade.

  • Conditional Orders You can place orders that, when executed, immediately triggers or cancels another trade.

  • Customizable Interface You can customize the layout and look of a trading platform.

  • Level II Quotes The broker gives you access to the book order of individual stocks so you can see live buyers and sellers of that stock.

  • Option Chains You can simply find an options premium by following the corresponding maturity dates and strike prices.

  • Options Exposure You can view a detailed display of your options positions' possible sensitivity to key risks using industry-standard greek calculations.

  • Options Tools The broker offers a variety of options trading tools.

  • Platform - Advanced The broker offers an advanced trading platform.

  • Platform - One-Size-Fits-All The broker offers a platform that is fitting for traders of all levels.

  • Quick Order Entry You have the option to quickly enter or cancel orders faster than normal.

  • Real-Time Charts The broker offers access to charting tools that update in real time.

  • Smart-Order Routing Technology The broker sends orders to different market centers that seek to fill your order quickly and at the best available price.

  • Spread Builder The broker offers a tool to build your own spreads between multiple investment products.

  • Streaming Real-Time Quotes The broker provides streaming real-time quotes so you can see up-to-date prices of investment products.

  • Trailing Stops You can set a stop-loss as a percentage below the market price that adjusts as the price fluctuates to help you secure profits and cut losses.

  • Watch List You can create watch lists to keep an eye on investment products that interest you.

  • Account Balances Displayed Your account balances are displayed on the page where you access detailed portfolio information or account reports.

  • Account History Reports You can create reports or view statements of your portfolio or account information.

  • Download Statements You can download your account statements to your computer.

  • Export Data You can export your portfolio or account statements.

  • Gain/Loss You can run reports to view your gains and losses to determine the impact on your taxable income.

  • Order Status You can quickly view your current trading positions and open orders.

  • Portfolio Planner You can view your current portfolio allocation and create a plan to measure against it.

  • Real-Time Updates Your account balances update in real time, adjusting for any open positions.

  • Courses The broker offers educational trading or investment courses.

  • Education Levels The broker offers a variety of education levels based on experience.

  • Live Seminars The broker offers live in-person seminars around the country that you can attend.

  • Webinars The broker offers webinars to help you learn about investment products.

  • Glossary The broker has a glossary that defines important investment terms.

  • Online Community The broker has an online community to have discussions and share advice with other traders.

  • Blog The broker keeps an updated blog that includes company and investment information.

  • Charts The broker offers access to charts so you can conduct research on investment products.

  • Company Publication The broker produces and distributes a company publication to account holders.

  • Market Commentary The broker offers market commentary from outside experts.

  • News The broker provides daily market news and updates.

  • Research Reports The broker offers a selection of research reports.

  • Screens You can screen investment products to narrow down the type of investment you are looking for.

  • Tailored Research The broker provides you with research tailored to your current portfolio, watch lists, or interests.

  • Third-Party Research The broker offers independent investment research from outside parties for free.

  • Upgraded Research The broker offers upgraded research at an additional cost.

  • 24-Hour Support The broker offers some form of 24-hour support, which is usually phone support.

  • Additional Languages The broker offers additional languages besides English for some aspect of its business.

  • Email The broker offers email support to customers.

  • Facebook The broker has an active Facebook page where you may be able to post questions and get a response.

  • Fax The broker has a fax number displayed on their website.

  • Live Chat The broker offers live chat on their website.

  • Phone The broker offers phone support to customers.

  • Retail Location The broker has a retail location where you can talk to a representative live in person.

  • Twitter The broker has an active Twitter page where you may be able to post questions and get a response.

  • Dedicated Tech Support The broker offers dedicated support strictly for technical issues.

  • Asset Protection Guarantee The assets in your account are protected from any unauthorized activity.

  • FINRA Listed The broker is regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

  • SIPC Member The broker belongs to the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which acts as trustee or works with an independent court-appointed trustee to recover any missing funds.

  • Special Security Measures The broker offers additional security measures to protect your account.

  • Banking Services In addition to trading services, the broker offers online banking services.

  • College Saving Plan The broker offers a college savings account.

  • Credit Card The broker offers access to a credit card through its banking services.

  • Debit Card The broker offers access to a debit card through its banking services.

  • IRA The broker offers access to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) that provides tax advantages for retirement.

  • Retirement Planning The broker offers retirement strategies and advice.

  • Small Business Tools The broker offers specific services or plans for small businesses.

  • Tax Tools The broker offers tax planning tools to provide tips and help with your investment strategy.

  • Wealth Assessment Tool The broker offers an interactive program that calculates your wealth so you can see how these factors will affect your retirement.

  • Introductory Offer The broker has a special offer for new traders who open an account.

  • Customer Rewards Program The broker offers a referal program or customer rewards program.

  • Free Trading Demo The broker offers a free trading demo so you can try one of the trading platforms.

  • FAQs The broker has an FAQ page or pages to answer common questions.

  • User Guides The broker offers some sort of user guide to help understand the product.

  • Virtual Trading You can make trades with a virtual account to test your strategies.

Comparable


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