Charles Schwab Trading Platform Review 2017

charles schwab brokerage trading platform

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Schwab is a full-service brokerage firm that will impress new clients with high touch points, such as quick phone calls post sign-up, responsive live chat features, perhaps the best research in the industry, including proprietary stock ratings, intuitive trading platforms, streaming live events via Schwab Live, and competitive commissions’ costs.

Options traders will love Schwab’s OptionsXpress platform that was built with the proficient options trader in mind, and features such as the all-in-one ticket trade feature. Plus on-the-go traders will find Schwab’s mobile solutions, whether Smartphones, Tablets or Watches to be a pleasant user experience.

Charles Schwab Spotlight

CHARLES SCHWAB SPOTLIGHT
charles schwab

InvestorMint Rating

4.5 out of 5 stars

    • Promo: Get up to $500 cash with a deposit of $100,000+
    • Account Minimum: $1,000
    • Commissions: $4.95

Charles Schwab Customers

Charles Schwab pioneered low-cost trading that made it possible for the masses to access markets inexpensively, and the strategy of low-cost commissions combined with best-in-class customer service has resulted in Schwab managing well over $2 trillion in client assets.

Charles Schwab serves beginner traders and active, experienced traders equally well. Schwab’s platforms include:

  • StreetSmart.com, which is web-based and best for beginners;
  • StreetSmart Edge, which is desktop-based; and
  • Trade Source, a website.

Schwab’s OptionsXpress platform is designed for experienced options traders and includes advanced capabilities, such as Walk Limit that optimizes for the best National Best Bid or Offer (NBBO) price.

A wide variety of tradeable securities are supported to meet the needs of almost any trader across the spectrum:

  • Stocks
  • Options
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • Futures
  • Pink Sheets (OTCBB)
  • ETFs

For investors seeking life planning and retirement preparation advice, Schwab also has extensive support and resource capabilities. As a result, Schwab caters to not only the self-directed trader but the hands-off investor too.

Charles Schwab is an excellent fit for the following trader types:

  • Beginner traders
  • Hands-off investors
  • Options traders
  • Experienced traders
  • Retirees
  • Traders in need of quality research
  • Mutual fund and ETF investors

Charles Schwab Promo Deal

Charles Schwab offers tiered cash rewards as high as $500 for deposits.

  • Earn a cash bonus of $100 with a deposit between $10,000-$24,999
  • Earn a cash bonus of $200 with a deposit between $25,000-$49,999
  • Earn a cash bonus of $300 with a deposit between $50,000-$99,999
  • Earn a cash bonus of $500 with a deposit of $100,000+

Charles Schwab Pros and Cons

Charles Schwab has an abundance of positive attributes going for it, including high quality research, excellent customer support, low commissions for the most part, mobile trading, and intuitive trading platforms.

Charles Schwab Pros Charles Schwab Cons
Industry-Leading Research: Schwab is known for its industry-leading research that stands head and shoulders above most of its competition, with Fidelity as the lone standout exception.
Unlike many competitors who leverage third party research alone, Schwab has its own proprietary equity rating system and an extensive staff of research experts along with third party research from Morningstar, S&P Capital IQ, Market Edge and others.
Mutual Funds Costs: Despite competitive equity commissions costs, Schwab ranks among the most expensive platforms when it comes to mutual fund costs, pricing transactions at $76 per trade.
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios: Charles Schwab’s history of pioneering innovation continued with its launch of Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, a robo-advisor service, which charges no annual management fees nor account service fees. Real-time Manual Refresh: Mobile apps require manual refresh of real-time data. Watchlists do auto-refresh at 10 second intervals, but this somewhat defeats the purpose of real-time data.
OptionsXpress: Schwab’s acquisition of OptionsXpress extended its options capabilities to support experienced, active options and futures traders and features:

  • Virtual Trading
  • Advanced order entry
  • Options analysis of Greeks, risk and reward and more
  • Powerful screeners
  • Execution of virtually any options trading strategy via XSpreads
Extensive List of Tradeable Securities: Charles Schwab supports an extensive list of tradeable securities:

  • Stocks
  • Options
  • Bonds
  • Mutual Funds
  • ETFs
  • Futures
  • Pink Sheets
✅ Commissions: At just $4.95 per stock trade and $4.95 + $0.65 per contract for options trades, Schwab ranks among the lowest cost online brokers.
Schwab also has low expense ratios for index funds and ETFs.
Sales charges on mutual funds that carry loads are waived.
Schwab also has a wide breadth of 200+ commission-free ETFs.
Easy-to-Use, Powerful Trading Platform: Schwab offers numerous trading platforms:

  • TradeSource (website)
  • StreetSmart Edge (desktop)
  • StreetSmart.com (web)

StreetSmart.com is a good platform for beginner traders though is not as up-to-date as other platforms; it’s based on Java which is not supported by Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge browsers.
TradeSource will attract experienced traders more so than StreetSmart.com. TradeSource has intuitive order forms for stocks, ETFs, and options and provides full access to research, technical analysis and portfolio management.
StreetSmart Edge targets more advanced traders with screeners, tools and a customizable interface, but is not as intuitive to use as other platforms.
Schwab’s ETF Portfolio Builder tool allows investors create diversified portfolios based on risk tolerance.

✅Mobile Trading: On-the-go trading is possible via Smartphone (Apple & Android), Tablet (Apple only) and Watch (Apple only).
✅Customer Service: Schwab ranks among the best in the industry for its customer support with high touch points, fast responsiveness and accessibility via phone 24/7 as well as Live Chat, Email and local branch support.

Charles Schwab Securities

Other than Forex, virtually every other tradeable security is available through Schwab or OptionsXpress, a platform specializing in options.

  • Stocks
  • Options
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • Futures
  • Pink Sheets (OTCBB)
  • ETFs

Charles Schwab Fees

Charles Schwab has an industry-leading fee schedule, particularly as it relates to options and stocks:

Security Fees
Stocks $4.95 flat fee
Options $4.95 + $0.65 per contract
Mutual Funds $76 per trade
Margin rate range 6.25% – 8.50%
Broker-assisted trades $25 additional fee
Account Balance Minimum $1,000
Fees Inactivity Fees: $0
IRA Closure Fee: $50

Charles Schwab Platform Features

Type Capability
Desktop YES (SmartStreet Edge)
Web-based YES (StreetSmart.com)
Mobile YES (Apple and Android smartphones; only Apple tablets and Watch)
Virtual Trading NO
Screeners YES
(Stocks, ETF, Bonds, Mutual Funds, Options)
Customer support Phone Support 24/7
Email Support
Live Chat Support
Real-time quotes YES
Research YES
(proprietary equity ratings, Morningstar, S&P Capital IQ, Market Edge, and more)
Chart Tools YES
(> 30 indicators)
Commission-free ETFs YES
(largest industry selection)
No-transaction-fee Mutual Funds YES
(OneSource Funds)

Charles Schwab Summary

Schwab is a compelling choice as a one-stop solution for beginner traders, active traders, options traders, hands-off investors and just about every trader type in between.

Featuring 24/7 phone support, Live Chat, Email and local branch accessibility its customer support ranks among the best in the business. Schwab stands toe-to-toe with competitors like Fidelity and ETrade on commissions costs, high quality research, an extensive range of commission-free ETFs and powerful trading platforms.

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