The bottom line:
E*TRADE has long been one of the most popular online brokers. The company's $0 commissions and strong trading platforms appeal to active traders, while beginner investors benefit from a large library of educational resources.
Pros & Cons
Large investment selection.
Excellent customer support.
Access to extensive research.
Advanced mobile app.
Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.
Website can be difficult to navigate.
Compare to Similar Brokers
no promotion available at this time
Up to $600
when you invest in a new Merrill Edge® Self-Directed account.
$5 to $1,000
in free stock for users who sign up via mobile app
Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox
Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.
Where E*TRADE shines
Something for everyone: Whether you are a beginner or an advanced trader, E*TRADE has a platform and a mobile app for you. The E*TRADE Web platform and the mobile app offer real-time quotes and market commentary, stock and exchange-traded fund screeners and a good deal of account management. More active traders can turn to the Power E*TRADE platform and app to get technical studies, drawing tools, customizable options chain views, trading ladders and other features for complex strategies.
Tradable securities: E*TRADE offers a wide range of investment choices, from stock, bonds, ETFs and more than 4,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds, to futures and advanced options strategies.
Educational resources and support: The educational resources and support options on offer from E*TRADE are some of the best. You can watch webinars on diversification and technical analyses as well as on more-complex topics like options trading. There are online investing courses from Morningstar that cover a host of topics, and a thematic investing section covering how to invest in companies that align with your values.
Where E*TRADE falls short
Website transparency: Our testers examined E*TRADE's website and were unable to easily find the company's required account minimum or guidance on how to close an account, both of which should be readily available.
E*TRADE is best for:
Research and data.
Retirement planning assistance.
E*TRADE at a glance
Stock trading costs
No base commission; $0.65 per contract (volume discount available)
Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)
No annual or inactivity fee. $75 full transfer out fee; $25 partial
Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds
• Stocks • Bonds • Mutual funds • ETFs • Options • Futures
Investors have access to crypto-related products, but not cryptocurrencies themselves.
Two platforms available for free to all customers: • E-Trade Web • Power E-Trade
Two apps: • E*TRADE mobile • Power E*TRADE Available on iOS and Android.
Research and data
Free and extensive, with over nine providers available at no cost.
Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)
Phone, email and chat support 24/7; 30 local branches
More details about E*TRADE's ratings
Account minimum: 5 out of 5 stars
E*TRADE's account minimum is $0. This is typical of brokers these days — the vast majority of the brokers we review don't require a minimum to open or maintain an account. Keep in mind that some investments, such as mutual funds, may require a minimum initial investment.
Stock trading costs: 5 out of 5 stars
In 2019, E*TRADE dropped its once-high $6.95 trade commission to $0 for online stock, options and ETF trades. Many other brokers did the same, and now free commissions are standard in the industry. You'll still pay a fee to trade certain securities, including futures, as well as a per-contract fee for options trades (see below).
Options trades: 4 out of 5 stars
Options trades are commission-free, but they still carry a contract charge, which is $0.65. E*TRADE offers a discounted fee of $0.50 for active traders (defined as those who trade 30 or more times per quarter).
Account fees: 4 out of 5 stars
E*TRADE charges no annual or inactivity fee. There is a $75 full transfer out fee; it's $25 for a partial transfer. Most brokers impose a fee to transfer securities out of your account; that fee is often higher if you transfer out your full balance and close the account completely. E*TRADE waives the partial transfer fee if you have a remaining account balance of more than $5,000.
Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds: 5 out of 5 stars
E*TRADE offers more than 4,300 mutual funds that carry no transaction fee. Mutual funds not on the no-fee list will cost $19.99 per transaction. E*TRADE’s analysts regularly update a list of highlighted mutual funds called the All-Star Funds Report with the top no-load funds and ETFs offered.
Tradable securities: 4 out of 5 stars
E*TRADE allows investors to trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options and futures. The company does not offer forex trading, cryptocurrency or allow investors to trade fractional shares of stocks. Fractional shares are becoming more common in the industry; they let investors purchase stock based on a dollar amount they select rather than the price of a whole share. This may be particularly advantageous for investors who are working with limited money, but want to build a highly diversified portfolio.
Crypto availability: 2 out of 5 stars
While E*TRADE investors can't buy or trade cryptocurrencies directly, the platform does provide access to crypto-related products, such as Bitcoin futures and cryptocurrency unit trusts.
Trading platform: 5 out of 5 stars
E*TRADE has two trading platforms — E*TRADE Web and Power E*TRADE. Both are free and available to all customers, with no trade activity or balance minimums.
E*TRADE Web offers free streaming market data, free real-time quotes, live market commentary, analyst research stock screeners and more. From the dashboard, you can track your accounts, create watch lists, view market data and make trades, including complex options strategies.
And for truly active traders, there's Power E*TRADE, the result of the company's acquisition of OptionsHouse several years ago. The web platform offers real-time data, more than 100 technical studies, over 30 drawing tools, streamlined trade tickets, customizable options chain views and trading ladders.
Mobile app: 5 out of 5 stars
Our star rating here is based on how iOS and Android users score the broker's mobile apps. E*TRADE has two free mobile apps, available for iOS and Android. The E*TRADE mobile app allows you to easily manage your account, place trades and get real-time quotes and news, including Bloomberg TV. It offers advanced mobile features like stock and ETF screeners, as well as multi-leg options trades. The E*TRADE app is available for Apple Watch as well.
The Power E*TRADE app offers many capabilities on the go: Traders can access the customizable options chain, a selection of popular technical studies, charts, streaming quotes and news. The app can be used for trading complex strategies, including four-legged option spreads, and futures traders can enter futures orders directly from the futures ladder.
Research and data: 4 out of 5 stars
To earn five stars in this category, brokers must offer at least 15 third-party research providers at no fee, as well as a strong selection of research tools. E*TRADE offers research from 9 providers at no fee, but the broker's analytical tools are user-friendly for both retirement investors and active traders, and they're available free of charge. In the past year, E*Trade has added Morgan Stanley to its lineup of research offerings, which already included Moody’s, MarketEdge, and Morningstar.
Customer support options: 4 out of 5 stars
Customer support is available 24/7 via phone, email and chat.
E*TRADE also has strong in-person customer service, with 30 branches staffed by financial consultants.
If you'd rather skip learning and cede investment decisions to the experts, E*TRADE’s robo-advisor service, E*TRADE Core Portfolios, will manage your portfolio for you for an annual advisory fee of 0.30%. The minimum investment for that service is $500. Robo-advisors are computer-based investment advisors who build and manage client investment portfolios.
Is E*TRADE right for you?
E*TRADE’s investing tools, educational resources, large selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and innovative trading technology will suit all types of investors. Active traders will love the $0 commissions, and beginners will easily get up to speed with the company's deep educational resources.
For U.S. residents only.
How do we review brokers?
NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers by assets under management, along with emerging industry players. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.
We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The questionnaire answers, combined with demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.
For more details about the categories considered when rating brokers and our process, read our full methodology.
Frequently asked questions
Opening an account at E*TRADE can be done completely online, and the broker says the process takes just 10 minutes. (Investors who don't want to complete the application online can also call E*TRADE directly or mail in an application.) You'll select an account type — taxable or retirement, such as an IRA — and fill out some personal information, including your name, contact information and select financial details. Once the account is approved, you can fund it by transferring money from your existing investment or bank account. E*TRADE says the transfer process takes about three days.
Keep in mind that depositing money into your account does not mean you're invested; once your account is funded, you'll need to select investments.
Yes, like many brokers, E*TRADE charges no commission to trade U.S.-listed stocks, ETFs and options (though options trades still incur a per-contract fee). These days, most online brokers make money not through commissions or account fees, but by earning interest on uninvested cash in brokerage accounts, charging interest on margin loans and selling client investment orders to market makers.
Yes, E*TRADE is on our list of the best brokers for beginners, which heavily weights factors like commissions and fees, account minimum, customer service and educational resources. We also look closely at a provider's mutual fund offerings, as mutual funds tend to be popular investment choices for beginners. E*TRADE perhaps most stands out for offering above-average educational programming on its website, including articles and webinars that teach fundamental trading strategies and investing concepts. The broker also offers in-person events at local branches.