E*TRADE Review 2021: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

E*TRADE excels even outside of its $0 commissions, with superb educational resources, portfolio-building tools and a large mutual fund selection.

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

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.

E*TRADE

on E*TRADE's website

on E*TRADE's website

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Get $600 or more

when you open and fund an E*TRADE account with code: BONUS21

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easy-to-use tools.
  • Large investment selection.
  • Excellent customer support.
  • Access to extensive research.
  • Advanced mobile app.
  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

Cons

  • Website can be difficult to navigate.

Compare to Similar Brokers

E*TRADE
Fidelity
SoFi Active Investing
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Fees

$0

per trade

Fees

$0

per trade for online U.S. stocks and ETFs

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Account Minimum

$0

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Get $600 or more

when you open and fund an E*TRADE account with code: BONUS21

Promotion

Get $100

when you open a new, eligible Fidelity account with $50 or more. Use code FIDELITY100. Limited time offer. Terms apply.

Promotion

$5 to $1,000

in free stock for users who sign up via mobile app

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Full Review

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:

  • Frequent traders.

  • Beginner investors.

  • Research and data.

  • Retirement planning assistance.

E*TRADE at a glance

Account minimum

$0

Stock trading costs

$0

Options trades

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

Over 4,300

Tradable securities

• Stocks • Bonds • Mutual funds • ETFs • Options • Futures

Crypto offering

Investors have access to crypto-related products, but not cryptocurrencies themselves.

Trading platform

Two platforms available for free to all customers: • E-Trade Web • Power E-Trade

Mobile app

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 offering: 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.

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, using a multifaceted and iterative approach. 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.

DATA COLLECTION AND REVIEW PROCESS

We collect data directly from providers, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. Our process starts by sending detailed questionnaires to providers to complete. The questionnaires are structured to equally elicit both favorable and unfavorable responses from providers. They are not designed or prepared to produce any predetermined results. The questionnaire answers, combined with product 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.

RATING FACTORS

Evaluations vary by provider type, but in each case are based upon the weighted averages of factors that include but are not limited to: advisory and account fees, account minimums and types, investment selection, investment expense ratios, trading costs, access to human financial advisors, educational resources and tools, rebalancing and tax minimization options, and customer support including branch access, user-facing technology and mobile platforms.

Each factor can involve evaluating various sub-factors. For instance, when gauging the investment selections offered by robo-advisors, 80% of the score is based on the potential for diversification (how well-diversified a resulting portfolio of investments could be) combined with the availability of specialty portfolios and level of customization for investors. Expense ratios form an additional 10% of the score, and low or no management fee the remaining 10%.

FACTOR WEIGHTINGS

The weighting of each factor is based on our team’s assessment of which features are the most important to consumers and which ones impact the consumer experience in the most meaningful way. The factors considered, and how those factors are weighted, change depending upon the category of providers reviewed.

INFORMATION UPDATES

Writers and editors conduct our broker reviews on an annual basis but continually make updates throughout the year. We maintain frequent contact with providers and highlight any changes in offerings.

THE REVIEW TEAM

The review team comprises seasoned writers, researchers and editors who cover stocks, bonds, mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds, alternative investments, socially responsible investing, financial advisors, retirement and investment strategy on a daily basis. In addition to NerdWallet, the work of our team members has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, USA Today, Bloomberg News, Nasdaq, MSN, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance and other national and regional media outlets.

The combined expertise of our Investing team is infused into our review process to ensure thoughtful evaluations of provider products and services from the customer perspective. Our writers and editors combine to have more than 70 years of deep experience in finance, ranging from a former Wall Street Journal reporter to a former senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

While NerdWallet does have partnerships with many of the reviewed providers, we manage potential conflicts of interest by maintaining a wall between our content and business operations. This wall is designed to prevent our writers and the review process from being influenced or impacted by our business partnerships. This way, all reviews can provide an unbiased review that serves the interests of our users. For more information, see NerdWallet’s editorial guidelines.

For U.S. residents only.

on E*TRADE's website

Frequently asked questions