Charles Schwab Review
- Trading Platforms
- Mobile Trading Platforms
- Education and Research
- Executions and Routes
- Ease of Use
- Customer Service
Charles Schwab is one of the original discount brokerages who paved the way for trading as we know it today. Schwab offers competitive commission pricing, modern trading platforms, and a variety of other benefits. Read this review to see if this is the right broker for you.
About Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab is a United States discount brokerage in operations for over 40 years. While it’s brokerage operations started in 1975, it’s history goes back to 1963 when founder Charles R. Schwab launched investment newsletter Investment Indicator.
Type of Broker
Charles Schwab is a discount brokerage firm, with no true direct market access. It does, however, offer limited direct order routing with a very limited choice of ECNs. As you can see in their direct access documentation, the only routes offered are:
- Schwab Pre-Market
- SmartEx (Schwab owned)
- Schwab Post-Market
The minimum deposit for a regular Schwab brokerage account is $1,000.
Commissions & Fees
Schwab ETF OneSource (commission free ETFs from 16 providers)
All other ETFs
$4.95 + $0.65 per contract
$3.50 per contract
Futures Options Trades
$3.50 per contract
All of Schwab’s trading software options are free to all clients enrolled in the no-charge Schwab Trading Services program. The platforms include:
- StreetSmart Edge
- Schwab.com Web Trading
- Charles Schwab Mobile
Fees to Transfer
Online between Schwab accounts
Online between outside accounts and Schwab investment accounts via Schwab MoneyLink
Schwab Mobile Deposit
Wire (from Schwab account)
Wire (into your Schwab account)
Depends on sending institution
Automatic Investment Plan
Schwab Bank Bill Pay
Automated Investing & Financial Advice
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios
No advisory fees
No account service fees
Schwab Intelligent Advisory
0.28% of assets under management
Schwab Private Client
Starts at 0.90% for equities
Starts at 0.75% for fixed income
Schwab Advisor Network
No charge for referrals
Platforms & Tools
Schwab offers three unique trading platforms, all with their own benefits and drawbacks. All three are free to all Schwab clients.
StreetSmart Edge is Schwab’s premier trading platform, it essentially their ThinkOrSwim competitor, an all-encompassing trading platform with a suite of advanced features for active traders, all while keeping a free price-tag.
Recently desktop only, Schwab recently added a cloud-based web version of StreetSmart Edge.
Stock and ETF Screeners
Search for stocks using descriptive measures like Volume, Price Change, Sector, Momentum, etc.
24 hour, ad-free broadcast of CNBC
Real-time News Feed
Aggregated feed of stock market related news
Real-time charting with multiple chart types available. From candlesticks to line charts, from monthly to tick charts, the charting package is robust enough for most traders
A condensed view of a company’s fundamentals including earnings, analyst ratings, short interest, list of executives, etc.
Manage risk using StreetSmart Edge’s alert system, setting alerts for specific prices, or other technical signals.
Drag and drop layouts to different monitors while using a multi-monitor setup, or just set up your platform in the fashion you prefer.
Schwab Web Trader
Schwab has two web trading options: their run-of-the-mill web trading platform, and their cloud based version of StreetSmart Edge. Your average investor is unlikely to need more than the regular web trader, however, the active trader benefits greatly from StreetSmart Edge.
You can watch a video rundown of Schwab’s Web Trader here.
Schwab’s mobile app, while practical, is pretty unremarkable. Its features are almost identical to the mobile apps of the rest of the “big five” brokerage firms, with TD Ameritrade’s ThinkOrSwim app far surpassing Schwab Mobile, feature wise.
The one standout feature of Schwab Mobile is their Deposit Check feature, allowing you to immediately scan a check and deposit into your brokerage account. This is a handy feature, offered by a few other brokers, like ETRADE.
Base Rate = 7.00%
$ 0- $24,499.99
Base Rate + 1.825%
$25,000 – $49,999.99
Base Rate + 1.325%
$50,000 – $99,999.99
Base Rate + 0.375%
$100,000 – $249,999.99
Base Rate + 0.325%
$250,000 – $499,999.99
Base Rate + 0.075%
Schwab offers a wealth of third-party research tools and sources, more than enough for even the most astute of traders/investors.
In addition to Schwab’s Proprietary Research, they supply multiple third-party research sources including:
- Market Edge
- Credit Suisse
- Ned Davis Research
- Standard & Poor’s
- Reuters Research
Schwab was rated a “Best Online Broker” for research tools by Investor’s Business Daily in 2017.
While Charles Schwab has phone and live chat support, their customer service record is pretty bad.
In the last year, 38 ratings have been submitted to Consumer Affairs with an average rating of 1.2 stars out of 5.
What Type of Trader is Schwab Best For?
Schwab is ideal for the trader who also invests long term, and requires a wealth of research to aide said investing. With their robust trading platform StreetSmart Edge, their huge library of research, and competitive industry rates, it is hard to go wrong with Schwab unless you have very specific trading needs like direct market access.
Pros & Cons
- Huge library of research
- Advanced trading platform
- Limited direct market access (better than many brokers that have none at all)
- Diverse selection of trading opportunities. All types of securities are offered, as well as international securities
- Piece of mind of a top five brokerage firm
- Customer service has a bad reputation for not solving issues
- The hyperactive trader might want more functionality out of their trading platform, and may opt for TD Ameritrade’s ThinkOrSwim