Charles Schwab Review

Richard Montana | August 2, 2022

Charles Schwab is a USA broker offering a vast range of investment products, platforms, tools and educational resources that you need to make informed decisions according to your own financial goals. I like how they have taken a modern approach to investing, providing a full range of brokerage, banking and financial advisory services through its operating subsidiaries. I think that Charles Schwab can be a good choice of brokerage for beginners because it offers something for investors with virtually any investment need. It is great that you can work towards all of your financial goals, with one firm. For the purpose of this Charles Schwab review, we will predominantly be looking at the flexible brokerage account where you can trade stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, and more.

Pros & Cons
  • Trade stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, and more with the flexible brokerage account
  • Get commission-free online trades plus $0.65 per-contract fees for options
  • Versatile and easy to use investing platforms for all of your devices
  • Intuitive tools and personalized support available around the clock
  • Transparent pricing and low costs
  • Quality order executions provide additional value for your trading
  • Get real-time trade analysis and decision support from experienced professionals
  • Sharpen your instincts with premium research from Schwab and third parties
  • Fortune 500 company with many years of U.S. market experience
  • No account opening and maintenance fees
  • Fractional shares as low as $5
  • Robo-advisor with 0% advisory fee
  • No account minimum required
  • Limited account funding options
  • High fees for managed accounts and financial advisor assistance
  • No direct access to cryptocurrencies

Summary

Founded in 1971, Charles Schwab is one of the largest US online brokers with a proven track record and a range of investment services and options including the buying and selling of Stocks, Mutual Funds, Options, Bonds, ETFs and other financial products. Charles Schwab offer a large selection of quality online research tools and educational materials to help clients evaluate investments and to formulate a trading plan. They provide flexible web based, desktop and mobile platforms to conveniently access and manage your trading account from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The brokerage account offers competitive fees and industry leading customer support, with dedicated account managers to help you through your investment journey. They are regulated by top authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom whilst also being listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

I really appreciate how Charles Schwab put the focus on you as the client with one mission, to help you reach your financial goals. They help make it easy for you to be an informed investor with lots of educational resources and one on one support. They operate in a transparent manner by clearly explaining the fees that they charge and help you understand the common costs you can incur. If for any reason you’re not completely satisfied, they will even refund your fee or commission and work with you to make things right. You won’t find that kind of promise everywhere, but you will find it here. In 2020, Charles Schwab officially closed on the acquisition of another top broker in TD Ameritrade. TD Ameritrade is therefore now part of Charles Schwab.

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Regulation

When it comes to choosing a broker, regulation if one of the most important things that I look for. I would always prefer to use a regulated broker as this gives me the peace of mind that they will operate in an open and transparent manner in order to comply with the strict rules and procedures that have been put in place to protect investors. Schwab is regulated under U.S. securities law, is registered with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) as a broker-dealer, and is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Additionally, Schwab is regulated by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) with respect to the futures and commodities trading activities it conducts as an introducing broker. I would personally consider this top-tier regulation and would therefore have no problem trusting the broker with my funds.

Funds

Assets in your brokerage account are protected up to $500,000 per investor, including a maximum of $250,000 in cash, by Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), in the event a SIPC-member brokerage fails. The broker can even cover losses in your Schwab accounts due to unauthorized activity. Plus, they help keep you secure with two-step authentication and tips on spotting scams.

Countries

Whilst Charles Schwab is a US broker that is primarily geared towards US clients, they do welcome investors from other countries through their subsidiary companies. Other countries include the United Kingdom, Australia, United Arab Emirates, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and more. The services can differentiate between countries, including the products available to trade and account types. If you find that they cannot accept clients from your country, please feel free to peruse our broker reviews for some alternative options.

Platforms

You can take charge of your ideas with intuitive trading platforms and tools. Clients can choose between 3 flexible and powerful trading platforms; StreetSmart Edge web based, desktop and mobile for iOS and Android devices. The platforms are intuitive and user friendly with embedded innovative trading tools that enable you to analyse the markets for potential trading opportunities. Each platform includes free price streaming, real-time data, ability to create and save multiple layouts, customisable tools, expand the platform to multiple monitors, and more. You can stay on top of your trading wherever you are with the Schwab Mobile trading app. I think this is a great way to access your account and follow the latest market news from anywhere, at any time.

Charles Schwab Platforms

Charles Schwab Platforms

StreetSmart Edge Platform Features:

  • User-friendly layout that makes it easy to use and navigate
  • Fully customisable so you can create a layout that works best for you
  • Research and analyse various markets in great detail
  • Get streaming data, quotes, and breaking news
  • Find customised trading opportunities using a great selection of integrated tools
  • Analyse trade ideas with charting and studies
  • Screen for and analyse opportunities
  • Create watchlists and view in-depth charts
  • Quickly and easily place and manage trades in just a few clicks
  • Trade using the All-in-One Trade Ticket
  • Manage risk by adding limits to your orders
  • Monitor multiple accounts simultaneously with minimal fuss
  • Monitor the market and your portfolio
  • Download as software or access online

Tools

There is a range of premium trading tools available to clients that can enhance the overall trading experience for efficient market analysis and trade planning. You can trade stocks, ETFs, options, and more using innovative tools on the software, web, and mobile trading platforms.

  • Custom screeners to scan the markets according to your specific criteria
  • Idea Hub® can source options trade ideas based on the market sentiment and individual trading strategy
  • Schwab Equity Ratings® offers exclusive A-B-C-D-F scores on nearly 3,000 U.S. stocks
  • Trade & Probability Calculator can conduct risk versus reward scenarios
  • Built-in to the platform research tools provided by Charles Schwab and third parties
  • All-In-One Trade Ticket for conveniently trading stocks, ETFs, and options in a single order entry window
  • Real-time streaming data helps to keep users informed of the latest market movements
  • Unique Gain/Loss Analyzer can help to analyse your past trading performance and see what you are doing well and where you can improve
  • Customised alerts and conditional orders help time your trades according to your strategy
  • Additional cutting-edge tools provided for trading options and futures

Education

Charles Schwab offer a variety of educational materials to help improve your trading skills and to learn new ones. There is a dedicated online learning centre, local workshops, seminars, webinars and live daily broadcasts from Schwab experts. The online community enables users to share with and gain insight from thousands of other Schwab traders. I like how there is plenty of expert insights to help you invest. The world of investing is vast and nuanced, so they help you get your brain around it all with thousands of curated, easy-to-search articles on everything from today’s market and tomorrow’s forecasts to investing and trading strategies.

  • Expert commentary
  • Investing strategies
  • Financial planning tools

Markets

With a Charles Schwab brokerage account, you have access to trade a fantastic selection of financial instruments across various asset classes including Stocks, Mutual Funds, Options, Bonds, CDs, Futures, ETFs and more. I think they have something for everyone regardless of your interest. There should be more than enough to build a diversified portfolio according to your own preferences. Even if you only plan to invest in one particular sector at the moment, it can be good to choose a broker that has plenty of options available should you wish to branch out in the future.

Mutual Funds

Access thousands of no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds at Schwab.

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

Pay $0 online commissions2 on 2,000+ listed ETFs across a range of asset classes and fund companies.

Money Market Funds

Choose from a wide range of alternatives for all of your cash needs.

Stocks

Pay $0 online commissions, get help evaluating listed stock opportunities, and enjoy fast trading and execution.

International Stocks

Trade stocks from over 30 countries and access more than 50 international stock exchanges.

Bonds and Fixed Income Products

Get a comprehensive selection and specialized help, all at a low price.

Options

Take advantage of sophisticated options tools, education, and specialized support, all at a great price.

Futures

Access additional markets at any time of day during the trading week with futures and futures options.

Accounts

Charles Schwab make investing available to everyone with $0 equity trades, no account minimum deposits, no fees to open or maintain your account and commission free online stock and ETF trading. They provide a wide variety of accounts for all your financial needs, to help you reach your goals.

Whilst there is no minimum deposit required for US clients, non-US client are subject to a $25,000 minimum deposit which is much larger than the majority of other online brokers.

It is worth noting that $0 commission does not apply to all trades including large block transactions requiring special handling, restricted stock transactions, trades placed directly on a foreign exchange, transaction-fee mutual funds, futures, or fixed income investments.

Options trades will be subject to a $0.65 per-contract fee. Service charges apply for trades placed through Charles Schwab broker ($25) or by phone ($5).

Upon opening an account, you gain access to the Schwab Trading Services™ at no additional cost which provides access to all StreetSmart® trading platforms, educational materials and priority access to a dedicated trading specialist to assist you. Whilst there are no fees to use Schwab Trading Services, be aware that other charges may apply.

They offer automated and managed portfolios where a robo-advisor can build, monitor, and automatically rebalance a diversified portfolio based on your specific requirements, risk preferences and investment goals. There are no advisory fees and no commissions although there is a one-off planning fee of $300, and a $30 a month advisory fee following on from that. Charles Intelligent Portfolios require a $5,000 minimum account balance whilst the Charles Intelligent Portfolios Premium have a $25,000 minimum requirement.

There is a vast range of accounts offered by Charles Schwab, these include:

  • Individual Brokerage Account (for one individual)
  • Joint Brokerage Account (for two or more individuals)
  • Corporate Brokerage Account (for legal entities)
  • Retirement Accounts (Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, Rollover IRA)
  • Automated & Managed Portfolios (Schwab Intelligent Portfolios & Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium)
  • Estate & Charitable Planning Accounts (Trust Account & Schwab Charitable)
  • Banking Accounts (Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account linked to Brokerage Account)
  • Education & Custodial Accounts

Support

Charles Schwab provide 24/7 customer support via online chat, telephone and email. They have over 300+ branches and welcome visits. Their experienced financial experts are on hand to give you support, real time analysis and more, as and when you need it. They are perhaps one of the best brokers that I have come across in terms of support.

Funding

You can fund your Charles Schwab account using a variety of simple methods. This includes wire transfer, check and Electronic funds transfer (EFT) via Schwab MoneyLink® to transfer funds or assets from an external account. Clients are provided with detailed instructions and online funding tools once they have opened an account. The funding options are limited compared to other online brokers as some users may prefer the convenience of an online payment processor or cryptos. If you want a better selection of payment methods, Trading 212 have quite a few more in comparison.

Conclusion

Charles Schwab is one of the largest and longest serving US brokerages with strict regulation and a vast range of trading products and services offered, including free stock and ETF trading. I found them to have competitive fees, customizable trading platforms, advanced trading tools, a good selection of educational materials and multiple account types. Its research is high-quality and covers a host of tools, including trading ideas and detailed fundamental data. All of this is backed by excellent 24/7 customer service. However, they do not currently support CFD or cryptocurrency trading whilst account funding options are also very limited. That being said, they have a wide selection of investment products that provides you with the right choices to build a diversified portfolio and reach your goals. Plus, you can get expert help to guide your investing decisions depending on your own needs. Overall, I feel they are a good choice for anyone in the USA who is looking to trade and invest in a regulated environment with an industry leader. Otherwise, you may want to consider Fidelity as an alternative option.

Charles Schwab Logo

Min $0 Deposit

Charles Schwab is a leading US brokerage offering a vast range of investment products across high quality platforms for all of your devices with powerful tools and educational resources to help guide you along the way.

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

About the Author

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Richard Montana
Richard has many years of experience in broker research, testing, analysis and reviews. He knows what to look for through years of trading himself with different brokers and listening to the feedback of others.

Review Methodology

For all of our broker reviews, we research, validate, analyse and compare what we deem to be the most important factors to consider when choosing a broker. This includes pros, cons and an overall rating based on our findings. We aim to help you find the best broker according to your own needs. You can read more about our review process.