Charles Schwab Review: Weigh the Pros and Cons of Brokerage
With over 30 million customers, Charles Schwab is one of the largest stock trading platforms. Schwab offers low-cost products and user-friendly tools suitable for a wide range of investors, including commission-free stock and ETF trading, as well as a robo-advisor that charges no advisory fees.
It also made our list of the best online stock trading platforms for 2022. And its recent acquisition of TD Ameritrade, another major brokerage, means Schwab clients may soon have access to advanced research tools from the TD suite, including the thinkorswim platform. Just look elsewhere if you want to trade cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum directly, because – like its main competitors – Schwab only offers access to digital currencies through products like token contracts. bitcoin futures, which are generally recommended for very experienced investors.
Schwab at a glance
- Minimum account investment: $0
- Fees: $0 commission on US stocks, ETFs and options trades
- Marketable securities: stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds, futures
- Account Types: Taxable Brokerage Account, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Managed Accounts, 529 College Savings Plans
Advantages and disadvantages of Schwab
|No commission for stock and ETF trading||High fees for managed accounts and financial advisor assistance|
|Fractional shares as low as $5||No direct access to cryptocurrencies|
|Robo-advisor with 0% advisory fee|
Where Schwab stands out
Charles Schwab is known for offering a wide range of products at low prices for all types of investors, from beginners to seasoned traders. Here are some highlights.
Fractions of shares: A stock in a large company can cost hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, like Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company containing names like GEICO and Kraft Heinz. But you can get proportional shares, also called fractional shares, of S&P 500 stocks for as little as $5 at Schwab. The S&P 500 is an index that tracks the largest US companies and is generally considered representative of the entire US stock market. While great for beginners, other brokerages such as Fidelity Investments offer a wider selection of fractional stocks.
Free robo advisor: Schwab Smart Wallets are automated wallets built with low-fee ETFs. Portfolio asset allocation is based on your answers to a questionnaire about your financial goals. An algorithm manages these portfolios and rebalances your asset allocation if necessary. Additionally, Schwab’s robot also has tax loss harvesting features. This allows you to sell declining investments to offset capital gains taxes, which you incur when you sell stocks for profit. But the minimum investment of $5,000 can be quite high for some investors. You can find bots with little to no minimum investments from companies like Betterment, Wealthfront, and Fidelity.
Debit card : In addition to securities, the Charles Schwab Corporation also offers a range of banking products like the Schwab Bank Visa Platinum debit card. This remunerated current account reimburses you for ATM fees worldwide.
$0 commission: Schwab does not charge commissions for online trading of US-listed stocks, ETFs and options. However, Schwab charges a trading fee of $5 for phone trades and $25 for broker-assisted trades. The firm also charges commissions of $6.50 for trading Canadian stocks online and $25 for doing so through a broker.
Where Schwab is falling behind
Despite its massive reach, Schwab may not be the best brokerage for everyone. Here are some downsides, but keep in mind that product offerings may change as Schwab has purchased TD Ameritrade.
No direct cryptocurrency trading : You cannot directly invest in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ethereum and dogecoin with a Schwab account. However, you can access bitcoin futures if you open a Schwab futures account. Generally speaking, a futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell an underlying asset at a fixed price at a specific time. Alternatively, you can invest in coin trusts, which hold large pools of cryptocurrency. Both are considered highly volatile and intended for sophisticated investors.
High managed account fees: If you want a portfolio managed by a team of human advisors at Schwab, you may face high fees. Managed account fees at Schwab can be as high as 0.90% and the minimum investment is $25,000.
High minimum investment for robo-advisor: Most of the leading robo-advisors do not require a minimum investment. But to get an account with Schwab’s robo-advisor, you need at least $5,000. The trade-off is that Schwab’s robo-advisor doesn’t charge any ongoing advisory fees. The industry standard is usually 0.25% per year, or $25 per year for every $10,000.
What do you find at Schwab?
|Shares||$0 trading commission|
|AND F||$0 trading commission|
|Choice||$0 trading commission, $0.65 fee per contract|
|Mutual fund||Access to thousands of mutual funds, including Schwab Mutual Fund OneSource Select List, a pre-selected list of funds, with no transaction fees and no transaction fees.|
|Obligations||$0 for newly issued individual bonds|
|Robo Advisor (Schwab Intelligent Portfolios)||Automated portfolio built with low cost ETFs. No consulting fees. The minimum investment is $5,000. Offers automatic tax loss collection services.|
Schwab research and tools
Schwab offers a sleek, mobile-friendly trading platform that simplifies stock research. You can click on the “search” tab and find links to various tools such as stock filters. This allows you to easily filter stocks based on industry sector, market capitalization, and other factors. And for most stocks, you’ll find a Schwab Equity Ratings report that rates the stock. You can also access Schwab’s thematic actions page. This allows you to explore stocks based on specific themes such as blockchain technology and clean energy.
Additionally, you would have access to StreetSmart Edge. This platform provides you with streaming market information from various media sources. You can also track indices via customizable charts. For example, you can monitor the performance of an index daily or throughout the year. This platform also identifies top winners, which you can then put on a watchlist.
If you click on a stock, you can get detailed information about the company, including earnings reports, third-party analyst ratings, and metrics like earnings per share. Additionally, you can perform different technical analytical procedures such as looking at the simple moving average of a stock.
Schwab mobile app
Charles Schwab’s popular mobile app lets you monitor your portfolio and access real-time quotes and streaming market news. You can also use it to trade stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds.
As of this writing, the Charles Schwab mobile app is rated 3.5/5 on the Google Play Store and 4.8/5 on the Apple Store.
Customer service at Schwab
You can reach Schwab Customer Service by telephone at 1 (800) 435-4000. You can also go to their website to chat online. Additionally, you can locate a branch by visiting the official Schwab website. Schwab operates more than 300 banking centers across the country.
Is Charles Schwab good for beginners?
Schwab should satisfy most beginners. Brokerage allows you to invest in stocks and ETFs without commission fees. You can also invest in fractional shares for as little as $5. Schwab’s research tools for beginners are also very user-friendly.
What is the minimum amount to open an account with Schwab?
You can open a traditional brokerage account through Schwab with as little or as much money as you want. There is no minimum investment in the account.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Charles Schwab?
Schwab offers a variety of low-cost investment products that will appeal to beginners. There is no minimum to open a brokerage account, and you can trade US-listed stocks and ETFs online without paying commissions. Your account also comes with free access to fund filters and other research tools. However, you cannot trade cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum directly with your Schwab account. You would have indirect access to crypto through products such as bitcoin futures and coin trusts, but these can be highly volatile and incur high fees.
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