Charles Schwab review: Get access to free stock trading, IRA accounts and robo-advisor options

view original post

Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

When you want a more simplified approach to investing, using just one broker can help. It can be easier to monitor your portfolio and manage your investment needs when you’re not juggling multiple accounts at various brokerage firms. However, it can be difficult to find an option that allows you to do a little bit of everything.

Investors looking for a platform that has a large number of features should look no further than Charles Schwab. With Schwab, users can trade stocks, bonds, ETFs and some mutual funds for $0 commission, as well as put their money in a tax-advantaged IRA or choose from one of two robo-advisor services if they want to automate their investment management.

Below, Select reviews Charles Schwab’s offerings to give you all the details on its investment options, features and fees so you can decide if it’s right for your money.

Subscribe to the Select Newsletter!

Our best selections in your inbox. Shopping recommendations that help upgrade your life, delivered weekly. Sign-up here.

Charles Schwab review

Charles Schwab

Information about Charles Schwab has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by Charles Schwab prior to publication.

  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. No account minimum for active investing through Schwab One® Brokerage Account. Automated investing through Schwab Intelligent Portfolios® requires a $5,000 minimum deposit

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. Schwab One® Brokerage Account has no account fees, $0 commission fees for stock and ETF trades, $0 transaction fees for over 4,000 mutual funds and a $0.65 fee per options contract

  • Bonus

  • Investment vehicles

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs and ETFs

  • Educational resources

    Extensive retirement planning tools

Pros

  • $0 minimum deposit for active investing
  • No commission fees for stock and ETF trades and no transaction fees for over 4,000 mutual funds
  • Offers extensive retirement planning tools
  • Users can get on-demand advice from a professional advisor/Schwab expert
  • Robo-advisor Schwab Intelligent Portfolios® available as a no-fee automated service option (with Premium version available for a fee)
  • Trading platform StreetSmart Edge® available for more active investors
  • 24/7 customer support access by phone or chat
  • Charles Schwab offers over 300 brick-and-mortar branches across the U.S. for in-person support

Cons

  • Specific transactions may require commission fee
  • Robo-advisor Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium charges a one-time planning fee of $300, then a $30 per month advisory fee. For that price, you get unlimited 1:1 guidance from a CFP, interactive planning tools, plus a personalized roadmap for reaching your goals

Charles Schwab investment options

Charles Schwab offers a wide variety of securities that you can trade commission free, including stocks, bonds, ETFs and some mutual funds. Zero-commission trading essentially means that you will not be charged by the brokerage for buying or selling any securities. Schwab investment options also include fractional shares, options, futures and CDs.

Fractional shares are a nice perk that not all brokerages offer. Fractional shares allow investors to get a piece of a pricey stock without having to buy a whole share. Schwab users can purchase fractions of shares starting at $5 and are currently limited to stocks listed in the S&P 500.

Those looking to be more hands off with their investments can do so through Schwab’s two robo-advisor options: Schwab Intelligent Portfolios® and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium™. Using computer algorithms and market data, robo-advisors are essentially software platforms that invest on your behalf so you don’t need to rely on a human to manage your investment portfolio. They automatically rebalance your portfolio from time to time based on your risk tolerance, market conditions and other factors.

Schwab customers can also invest specifically for retirement in traditional, Roth, Rollover, Inherited or Custodial IRAs, plus Schwab offers a Personal Choice Retirement Account® (PCRA).

Features

Charles Schwab stands out for offering an array of options to meet all your investing needs, but it also has educational resources and extensive investment research to help you plan for your goals and retirement.

Beginner investors can use Schwab’s ETF Select List to determine which funds are best suited for them. There is also the Personalized Portfolio Builder tool, which helps investors create a diversified portfolio based on information provided around their financial goals. And advanced investors can get access to research and earnings reports, plus real-time news from sources like Morningstar and Credit Suisse

Charles Schwab offers 24/7 customer support access by phone or chat, as well as over 300 brick-and-mortar branches across the U.S. for in-person support.

Schwab’s app is reliable for investors on the go. It’s available to download for free in both the App Store (for iOS), where it has 4.8/5 stars (and over 500,000 reviews), and on Google Play (for Android), where is has 3.7/5 stars at the time this article was written.‎

Fees

Minimum deposit and balance requirements vary depending on the Schwab investment vehicle you select. There is no account minimum for active investing through the Schwab One® Brokerage Account, but automated investing through Schwab Intelligent Portfolios requires a $5,000 minimum deposit (and no other fees).

Schwab’s premium robo-advisor service, on the other hand, charges a one-time planning fee of $300, then a $30 per month advisory fee. For that price, you get unlimited 1:1 guidance from a CFP, interactive planning tools, plus a personalized roadmap for reaching your goals. Not all robo-advisors offer an option that provides access to live financial planners, and the price is a solid deal. Robo-advisor-only services such as Betterment, for example, offer one-time advisor consultations for $199 to $299 (and that’s just one consultation). Betterment users can get unlimited access to a financial advisor through the premium plan, but that plan requires a $100,000 minimum balance.

Specific trading transactions may require commission fees. While there are no commission fees for stock and ETF trades and no transaction fees for over 4,000 mutual funds, there is a $0.65 fee per options contract. Many of the expense ratios (basically management fees) for Schwab’s funds are extremely competitive, some as low as 0.05%.

Bottom line

Charles Schwab is an all-around solid brokerage option. Investors can trade commission-free, allocate some funds to a robo-advisor and put their money into their choice of an IRA — and they can do this all on one platform.

If you’re looking to invest but not actively buy and sell individual stocks, you may want to just go through a robo-advisor that also offers IRA options. Both Betterment and Wealthfront are top-rated automated services that offer low-cost diversification and regularly rebalance your portfolio for you. Read our full Betterment review and our full Wealthfront review.

Catch up on Select’s in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.