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
Get $600 or more
when you open and fund an E*TRADE account with code: BONUS21
no promotion available at this time
2 Free Stocks
after opening and funding an account.
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.
E*TRADE offers value to both beginner investors and frequent traders with a library of educational resources, professional-level trading platforms, and tools to help assemble a risk-appropriate, balanced portfolio. Active traders will appreciate the firm's $0 commission for all stock, ETF and options trades.
In October 2020, Morgan Stanley completed a $13 billion deal to purchase E*TRADE; the brokerage will continue to operate under the E*TRADE name and there are no changes to current prices, tools or offerings.
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 commission-free ETFs
All ETFs trade commission-free.
Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds
• Stocks • Bonds • Mutual funds • ETFs • Options • Futures
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 eight providers available at no cost.
Customer support options (includes website transparency)
Phone, email and chat support 24/7; 30 local branches
Where E*TRADE shines
Trading platforms: 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.
There are plenty of educational materials and demos on the E*TRADE website that let you peek at what each platform can do.
Free commissions: In 2019, E*TRADE dropped its once-high $6.95 trade commission to $0 for online stock, options and ETF trades. Options still carry a contract charge, but that was reduced to $0.65, with a discounted fee of $0.50 for active traders.
Mobile app: 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.
Investment selection: E*TRADE offers a breadth of investment choices that will please active traders and retirement investors alike, including futures and advanced options strategies, as well as more than 4,500 no-transaction-fee mutual funds. That mutual fund lineup easily rivals those at other brokers. 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.
Educational resources: E*TRADE is a great jumping off point for beginner investors, in part because of the educational resources it offers. Online, investors can view webinars on topics such as options trading, technical analysis and how to diversify a portfolio, and in-person events are regularly held at E*TRADE branches.
» New to investing? Check out our best online brokers for beginners.
The company also offers online investing courses from independent investment research company Morningstar, covering everything from stocks 101 to how to build an emergency fund. A thematic investing section of the E*TRADE website includes advice for how to invest in companies that align with specific values, like gender diversity, clean energy and cybersecurity.
E*TRADE also has strong in-person customer service, with 30 branches staffed by financial consultants. Customer support is also available by phone, email and live chat 24/7.
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.
» Interested in a robo-advisor? Here are our top picks.
Where E*TRADE falls short
Website transparency: Part of our analysis includes how easily and quickly customers and potential customers can find key information on a broker's website; E*TRADE came up a bit short in this area. Our testers were unable to easily find the company's required account minimum or guidance on how to close an E*TRADE account once open, both of which should be readily available.
The bottom line
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.
on E*TRADE's website
How do we review brokers? Here’s our methodology.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.