ByPhilip Palermo Lead Senior Editor - For the Home

Philip leads the For the Home section, guiding home security and smart home content. His writing and photos have been featured on Engadget and several local Washington newspapers.

E*TRADE Review

E*TRADE is firmly entrenched at the top of the online stock trading industry because it offers every resource that any level of investor would need. Although the costs and fees are among the highest around, E*TRADE compensates by providing a great user experience along with exceptional trading tools and technology.

The Claim

E*TRADE promises to give every type of investor the tools they need to succeed in the online stock world. Its website states that you can "take on the markets with intuitive, easy-to-use trading platforms and apps, specialized trading support, and stock, options, and futures traders of every level."

Is it true?

Yes. In our full review of the best online stock trading platforms, we found E*TRADE to have the most impressive collection of tools and resources of any platform on the market. If you’re new to investing, E*TRADE has a considerable library of educational videos, articles, and webinars to help you learn the basics of investing. And, for the more seasoned trader, E*TRADE also provides in-depth financial reports, market news, and investing commentary from its expert analysts.

It’s also true that E*TRADE backs its service up with excellent customer support. It employs Financial Consultants who are available 24/7, free of charge for one-on-one assistance. You can also book an appointment to visit a local E*TRADE branch at any time if you’d rather chat face to face.

Product Overview

Best for

Investors new to online stock trading

Not for

High-volume investors looking for the lowest commission fees


Price 0–29 trades/QTR: $6.95 per trade

30+ trades/QTR: $4.95 per trade

Standout features Access to all investment types

Excellent mobile app

Online trader community

Large offering of financial resources
Ratings Barron’s: 4/5

Kiplinger: 3.8/5
Services Stocks




Mutual Funds



Fees Broker-assisted trades: $25

Account transfers: $25 for partial transfers, $75 for full transfers
Terms $500 account minimum

Access to all investment types

One of the major bonuses of selecting E*TRADE as your broker is that your trading options are not limited. E*TRADE offers access to nearly every investment product that you’d want to trade, with the only exception being international index funds. That even includes futures, options, and forex markets, all of which are difficult to find at other brokerages. If it’s variety you’re looking for, or if you don’t want your choices restricted, E*TRADE would make a solid choice.

Excellent mobile app

The mobile app is so thorough that it feels like you are essentially holding E*TRADE’s regular trading platform right in your hand. That’s been backed up by user reviews, too — the E*TRADE app has an impressive 4.7 out of 5 rating on over 60,000 reviews in the App Store and 3.9 out of 5 on over 11,000 reviews in Google Play. The app gives you access to educational videos, CNBC videos, market news, and real-time quotes. In addition, E*TRADE Mobile has a barcode look-up feature so you can scan a product while shopping and see what publicly traded company owns that product. To top it off, the app has a check deposit feature, so you can fund your account on the run.

Online trader community

E*TRADE has all of the standard features provided by other brokers, but one feature that stands out is its trader community. You can connect with other traders, analyze opinions, read the community sentiment, and see what stocks are being actively traded. It adds a unique social element to trading.

Large offering of financial resources

When it comes to offering financial resources aside from trading and investing, E*TRADE has it covered better than most. It offers all kinds of banking services, including credit and debit cards, and access to a variety of other resources, like small business tools, retirement planning, and college savings plans. E*TRADE doesn’t just fall into the category of full-service broker; it helps define it.

Possible drawbacks

Higher commissions

While E*TRADE offers incredible resources on an easy-to-use platform, it's not the cheapest broker around. Investors and casual traders will get their money’s worth, but if you’re an active trader, you’re probably better off trading elsewhere, due to E*TRADE's high commissions.

Minimum balance requirement

E*TRADE also requires a $500 minimum investment balance on all new accounts. It's not an unreasonable number compared to the sums required to get in the door at traditional brokerages, but it may seem like a lot for a novice trader.

The Competition

Ally Invest
TD Ameritrade
Our review
Our review
Mutual Funds

*Offers commission-free or transaction-free trading

E*TRADE vs. Ally Invest

While we think E*TRADE’s excellent educational resources make it the best option for those just getting their feet wet in the investing world, Ally Invest is a better choice for traders who don’t need as much hand-holding. That’s because it has just about the cheapest fees we saw in our evaluation — $4.95 per trade, with no extra charge for an inactive account. Ally also doesn’t require an account minimum, so it’s a great option for low-volume investors.

E*TRADE vs. TD Ameritrade

On the surface, these two online stock platforms look a lot alike: Both charge $6.95 per trade, don’t carry an inactivity fee, and boast extensive libraries of investment tools. However, TD Ameritrade has the edge in its two world-class investment platforms, Trade Architect and thinkorswim. Trade Architect is designed with the beginner in mind, featuring a simple, easy-to-navigate interface and investment tools. Thinkorswim, on the other hand, is a favorite of expert traders, with features most brokerages would charge a fortune for. Despite its higher commissions, TD Ameritrade is a fine option for both beginners and experts, though we still preferred E*TRADE’s educational tools for those new to investing.

E*TRADE vs. Fidelity

If you’re a seasoned investor looking to gain the next edge, Fidelity impressed us with its best-in-class research. It partners with over 20 firms, including Recognia, Ned Davis, and McLean Capital Management to bring you insights that are usually only available to traditional brokerages. This is clearly a platform designed with serious investors in mind — you’ll need a minimum of $2,500 just to open an account.


Can you roll over a 401(k) to an E*TRADE account?

Yes. If you’d like some more control over your retirement funds, you can roll over an old 401(k) into an E*TRADE IRA account. You’ll just have to get in touch with your former plan administrator and have them send over a check to E*TRADE. You can find more information about the specific steps on E*TRADE’s website.

Can you start trading immediately after opening an E*TRADE account?

You can start trading on E*TRADE once you have put funds into your account and they have cleared. If you’ve used the online money transfer tool, it usually takes about three business days for funds to clear. Check deposits can take four business days before those funds become available for investment. As for wire transfers, the cash from those funds are available on the same day.

How long does it take to withdraw money from E*TRADE?

After you sell a stock, it generally takes about three days for that money to become available. You can then transfer it to your bank account, which will take another two to three days depending on the time of day you initiate the transfer. All in all, the whole process can take as long as six days.

Can you buy commodities like gold on E*TRADE?

Yes, you can trade commodities like gold, silver, metals, and currencies through E*TRADE’s futures trading platform. Keep in mind, you’re not actually buying the physical gold; you’re purchasing a fund based on the price of gold with the hope that it will increase.

Will E*TRADE offer bitcoin futures?

E*TRADE has opened trading in bitcoin futures from the Cboe Futures Exchange and CME Group. However, your futures account must be prefunded in order to trade in bitcoin futures. Just be aware that bitcoin futures involve tremendous risk. If you’re just starting out, it’s important to consider your risk tolerance and ability to sustain financial loss before committing.

Does E*TRADE offer certificates of deposit (CDs)?

Yes. There are a large number of high-yielding, FDIC-insured brokered CDs as well as other fixed-income products through E*TRADE Securities. You can learn more about these once you’ve made an account and logged in to the Bond Resource Center.

The Bottom Line

E*TRADE stands out as one of the best online stock trading platforms for anyone who’s new to the trade. It has the largest collection of educational resources we saw, with a platform that’s simple to navigate for beginners. And while its $500 minimum account balance and $6.95 trading fees aren’t the absolute lowest around, we still think it’s a great option for beginners.

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