E*Trade has been in business since 1982 and has used that time to cement its offering, investment portfolio and reputation to become one of the best online stock trading platforms. The company is regularly voted as one of the top ten in reviews and in education materials and is considered to be a sleek and efficient stock trading portal for the more advanced user. It’s not ideally suited to the beginner, however, even with the research and education tools, because the platform can be complex to navigate and understand. That said, if you can leap the initial learning curve hurdle, it’s worth it for those who want to invest in their financial future.
E*Trade review: The basics
Account minimum amount: None
Commission fee: None
Account fees: Transfer fees may apply
Investment products: Stocks, Options, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Futures, Bonds and CDs and IRAs, managed portfolios, retirement portfolios, small business, bank and brokerage
E*Trade’s investment tools are among the best on the market and very easy to use. The Power E*Trade platform includes research and trading tools plus its available as a slick mobile application. You are only charged for active trades that exceed more than 30 per quarter and you get to customize your investment options using the app’s multiple features and tools.
The E*Trade Web platform is the simplest platform around. From here you can invest, track markets, and learn new techniques from a central space. It’s the original platform offered by E*Trade so isn’t quite as sparkly as Power E*Trade.
E*Trade review: Tools and services
- Choice of two mobile platforms
- Market data is lacking
There are two mobile platforms available from E*Trade – the basic E*Trade mobile app and the Power E*Trade app. Both are available on the App store and Google Play, and both come with some impressive functionality. They’re easy to use and work neatly in tandem with your chosen platform.
The one thing that does bring E*Trade down, however, is a lack of visibility and access to information about markets and brokers. The information may be on the site, but we couldn’t find it and soon gave up as we circled the same page for the fourth time. It’s not great, especially considering the vast swathes of information and transparency of competitors such as TD Ameritrade.
E*Trade review: Trading options and Forex
- Long and varied list of investment options
- Broker-assisted trades cost $25
You can go simple or you can go complex, the choice is yours, and E*Trade is ready to help turn your financial vision into a reality. The investment choices overview gives you a quick and instant snapshot of what each investment type does and what it means (helpful for those just starting out) and you can quickly open an account. In fact, E*Trade is one of the most accessible trading brokers when it comes to getting started, with account buttons on every page along with special offers and accessible contact and support buttons.
The E*Trade premise is that they don’t want you to feel shoved into an investment box. When you create your account, you can choose from any one of their different types, ranging from brokerage to core to premium savings and more. Each one is targeted at a different investment type and goal. It does feel a bit confusing at first – are the accounts customized? Can you create your own? Is this a set investment plan? But the application process fine-tunes this for you and you’ll find it easy and painless to get started.
If you fancy a spot of currency trading you'll need to look elsewhere, though, as there are no forex options available through E*Trade.
E*Trade review: Service and support
- Impressive education platform
- Poor customer reviews
E*Trade doesn’t fare well when it comes to customer reviews on Consumer Affairs. It received a one-star rating from 37 reviews over the past year and the general overview of the comments was that the website was too complicated and the systems convoluted. From this, we can take that it's perhaps not the best for beginners, but those who know their way around stock trading might stand a better chance.
That said, the education offering is excellent. So excellent, in fact, that your best bet is to make a cup of coffee and set aside a long, long time to read through it all. If you’re starting out, this is where you begin with your research. If you’re already knowledgeable about investment, this is where you go to refresh your memory or expand your skills. You can learn about everything from the basics to advanced trading to retirement and tax planning.
Should you use E*Trade?
E*Trade has exceptional mobile apps and platforms, helpful customer support teams that are actually responsive, an impressive (and free) education resource, and some superb investment products. While its portfolio is not as extensive as some of its competitors it is a solid and reliable stock broker platform that has a long-standing presence in the market. You won’t enjoy the website, it lacks transparency and simple navigation, but you can get past most of its problems using the excellent search feature. E*Trade is a good place to go if you’ve got experience in investing or if you’re a confident beginner with some understanding of the market.