- Trading Platforms
- Education and Research
- Executions and Routes
- Ease of Use
- Customer Service
ETRADE is one of the most popular online stock brokers offering flat-rate commissions, research tools, and advanced trading platforms. ETRADE is packed with powerful features and tools to help both investors and active traders. Read this review to see if ETRADE is a good broker for your trading needs.
ETRADE is one of the largest and most well known U.S. online brokers that offer a dizzying array of products to its 3.4 million customers. In addition to brokerage services, it also has various banking products, retirement management and planning services, managed and automated accounts, robo-advisory services and financial consultants to appeal to the widest demographic of investors and traders. They also have branch offices located throughout the country with licensed financial advisors. It can be a bit daunting trying to decipher all the products and promotions but the site is quite intuitive and packed with webinars and tutorials.
Commissions and Fees
ETRADE institutes a per-trade commission structure that is tiered based on trade volume. Stocks, options and ETFs are $6.95 per trade and drops to $4.95 per trade after 30 trades per quarter. Options trades cost $0.75 commission per trade and drops to $0.50 per trade after 30 trades per quarter. Futures trading costs $1.50 per trade with no tiering. Bonds are $1 per trade with no tiering. Broker assisted trades add an additional $25 fee in addition to commissions.
Accounts require a minimum of $500. There are no annual or inactivity fees. There are over 2,500 transaction-fee-free mutual funds. Early redemption fee for these funds if held less than 90-days trigger a $49.99 penalty. Margin rates range from 6% for $1 million or more on a sliding scale to 8.75% for $9,999.99 and below.
Platform Features and Tools
ETRADE has three main platforms and their mobile versions.
ETRADE Web is the gateway browser-based online/web platform best suited for desktops/laptops and the general population of customers who are likely long-term, buy-and-hold, mom-n-pop investors. All the multitudes of products can be access through the website portal/platform. This is a rich source of educational content, fundamental analysis tools and analyst research along with tutorials. Since it’s tab menu and brower-based, expect web page reloading and refreshing on trade confirmations and investment product activities.
ETRADE Pro is the standalone platform suitable for active intra-day trading and swing trades. The platform has all the tools including detailed charts and point-and-click level 2 screens. Access is granted to customers who meet specific requirements of either $250,000 account equity or execute 30 or more trades per quarter. The platform fee is $99 per month or free with at least 30 trades per month.
Optionshouse is being marketed as the new advanced trading platform. ETRADE acquired it in July 2017 as a move to beef up its derivatives trading offerings. It’s worth noting that Optionshouse merged with TradeMonster in October 2014 and subsequently merged platforms. This platform specializes in options and derivatives trading with beef up options analytics that literally walk you through various options strategies, set-ups and potential outcomes. This platform is suited active options traders looking for a rich depth of strategy application. Stock trades are also available but personally, I prefer ETRADE Pro. It has all the bells and whistles of a real-time online trading platform. It’s being integrated into the rest of the ETRADE ecosystem.
ETRADE Mobile app is incredibly functional and integrated with accounts so I can actually leave the screens during position trades. There’s something to said for being able to stay connected away from your trading station and literally helped me re-discover that there is a whole living breathing world outside during trading hours. While I don’t initiate trades from the mobile app, I do close out positions and monitor open trades on it. Like having a gun and not needing is better than to need it and not have it. It’s very assuring to know I can check on positions when I take them and have the ability to make trades away from the desktop system. Button-based action windows make for easy navigation. I found it pretty amazing that level 2 data can actually be viewed in real-time streaming mode.
ETRADE Pro has solid stable charting with the usual functions and indicators and the ability to link them to other windows like news, watch lists and level 2. OptionsHouse also has great charting with a ton of studies and strategy indicators.
Both ETRADE Pro and Optionhouse have fully configurable charts that can be segmented by time frames and tie periods with all the conventional indicators like stochastic, moving averages, Bollinger Bands, MACD and pivot points. Users can also draw trend lines on both platforms. Optionshoues allows for notes to be writtern direction onto the chart,
The level 2 window (called a market depth window) on ETRADE Pro also function as an execution window allowing the user to point and click which will execute a trade in under one second, which is my favorite methods of placing trades, instead of keying in prices by hand. The level 2 windows can also be configured to include more or less details in the window.
Users can subscribe to various news feeds like Dow Jones, Bloomberg and third party sources like Briefing.com. The news can be filtered by key words to monitor for specific news catalysts. I like to use evergreen key words that usually gurantee a price reaction like “FDA approves” or “raises guidance” or “lowers guidance” or “CFO CEO resigns”. The platform also provides free access to live TV from CNBC.
The scanner is quick and useful for finding intra-day candidates that are gapped up or down, hitting new highs/lows and heaviest volume movers by price range. You can set your parameters to sort through the stocks you are comfortable with by price range, volume, exchange and so on. Scanners tend to show candidates when they hit the most transparency so it’s prudent not to jump headfirst into everything that pops up. ETRADE Pro also gives you the ability to backtest your scanners (using technology from Trade Ideas).
Executions on ETRADE Pro are instant through the Level 2 order entry window. I just point-and-click the price limit and click BUY TO OPEN or SELL TO CLOSE button and fills are instant. Orders are generally routed a limited assortment of ECNs on market makers. Hot keys can also be programmed in for even faster reaction.
ETRADE Web orders are menu driven and can be klunky as they ask for confirmation before executing. These orders are probably routed to marker makers. The order fills are relatively fast upon reloading the page but it’s best to only use this method for trades you don’t need fast executions on.
I really like the watch lists on the ETRADE Pro platform as you can configure what information you want. I like to keep it simple with columns only for name, last price, $ change, bid, ask, volume. It lets me quickly eyeball and sort my stocks by $change to see which are up or down the most. The bird’s eye view really helps you shape your own conclusion on the performance of the market away from the benchmark indices.
The ETRADE Pro is hands-down the platform for active stock traders in the ETRADE ecosystem. Investors and swing traders may consider ETRADE Web for non-time sensitive trades. Optionshouse is for serious options traders looking to diversify their strategies. Overall the ETRADE family of platforms is very comprehensive as a whole compared to most of the national online brokers. The mobile app is more than just a companion piece; it is an actual platform that is integrated with trading and research functions. It is one of the most complete mobile trading apps on the market. The educational content is top notch and free to customers. The 24-hour customer support is also a great feature but naturally call volumes are heavy during market hours.
What Type of Trader it Is Best For
ETRADE is suited for investors, stock traders and options traders. The diversified platforms cater to the styles of each type of customer. The mobile app is excellent. Beginners will really benefit from all the tutorials and videos. Active traders will be best accommodated on ETRADE Pro. The broker is used by many active traders such as Nate at Investors Underground and Timothy Sykes.
- Great selection of trading platforms for stock and options traders
- Best mobile trading app among national online brokers
- Infinite idea generating research tools
- Integrated with robo-advisor, retirement planning and financial consultants
- Per-trade commission is good for block trades
- Generous promos for new accounts like 600 free trades
- Per-trade commission gets expensive to scale in and out of positions
- Limited selections of order routing options