Charles Schwab Broker Review: A Look At Commissions and Platforms

Charles Schwab Broker Review
  • Customer Service
  • Commission Fees
  • Trading Platforms
  • Research Tools
4.0

Even if you’re a new investor, you’re probably familiar with Charles Schwab. After all, it’s an iconic brand with more than 3 trillion dollars in client assets. The investment platform provides services ranging from options and stocks trading to retirement solutions.

Charles Schwab serves more than 10 million brokerage accounts, more than a million banking accounts, and a million retirement-plan participants. For more than 40 years at this point, the company’s main objective remained the same – keep their customers as satisfied as possible.  

Last year, they cut their stock commissions and introduced a brand-new Satisfaction Guarantee. If one of their customers isn’t completely satisfied with their services, they will receive a full refund of any commission or management fees. 

But enough about the past, let’s take a look and see whether or not Charles Schwab reigns supreme in 2018 or not.Charles Schwab Broker

Charles Schwab Fees and Commissions

Charles Schwab is less expensive than its main competitors – TD Ameritrade and ETrade – it has a 4.95 rate for regular trades. ETF traders will also be satisfied with the service since Charles Schwab offers 244 free ETFs. Moreover, mutual funds are also a strong point. 

The platform offers more than 5,500 funds – more than 4,300 of which are OneSource funds. If you go for a fund that’s not designated as a OneSource fund, you’ll have to pay a 76-dollar transaction fee per trade – the 2nd highest in the industry.

Platforms, Features, and Tools

At the moment, the service offers access to three platforms – StreetSmart Edge, StreetSmart Central, and StreetSmart.com. All of these platforms are available to all users, regardless of their trade activity or account minimums.

Their desktop platform, SS Edge actually requires a slight learning curve to become completely familiar with it. However, the platform is not so hard to use and most inexperienced users should be able to familiarize with it in a matter of days.

What’s more, Edge is fully customizable – it has two different color schemes and a number of custom layouts. These layouts allow you to have quick access to any screen you want. Additional features include the High/Low streamer and the AVOT indicator. Both of these are perfect for active traders who are trying to keep tabs on stocks intraday.

You also have the handy Launch Tools button, which allows you to have instant access to a wide range of features. Also, when you purchase stocks, markers pop up on your charts to show you when and at what prices you purchased them. This feature is particularly handy and it’s exclusive to the Charles Schwab platform.

Charles Schwab Mobile App

The platform has apps for all major devices – you have a mobile app (available for both Android and iOS), a tablet app (available only for Apple products), and even an Apple Watch app. And no matter which platform you use, the experience is always enjoyable.

However, the mobile app is certainly not perfect. In fact, it lacks functionality in two specific areas – quotes and alerts. The app doesn’t even allow you to set the most simply stock price alerts. What’s worse, although you have real-time quotes, they require constant manual refreshing.

The app has some surprisingly useful features – fingerprint logins, support for four-legged trades, and heat-mapping are all there. If you need some new options trade ideas, you can always use Idea Hub, and filter through lists like Earnings, Big Movers, and Premium Harvesting.

Other Things to Note

A few years ago, this platform became the first broker with its own AI-advisor service. The Schwab Intelligent Portfolios is a fully-automated portfolio-management service available to all Charles Schwab users. The service doesn’t charge any annual or service fees. As of 2018, SIP had more than 25 billion dollars in AUM (assets under management). The service expanded to offer discounted counseling services, known as Schwab Intelligent Advisory.

The Bottom Line

As we said in the beginning, Charles Schwab is a reputable brand that has a rather balanced offering. It offers its users access to a wide variety of innovative research and trade tools, low trading costs, a few hundred commission-free ETFs, and a few thousand commission-free mutual funds. 

It has a great customer service – the agents are all very knowledgeable and will answer any question you have. The customer service also has a great connection time and you won’t have to wait more than a minute to connect with an agent.

But Charles Schwab is not only great for independent investors. People interested in personalized strategies for their investment portfolios and making the most of retirement should find the platform extremely useful.