Without a doubt the most advertised online stock broker, E*Trade was one of the first to offer low cost trades and secure account information online. As a slew of competitors have entered the market, E*Trade had done it’s best to adapt and provide services that others cannot. But is it enough to make them a viable option for trading online? Let’s take a look.
One of the most confusing aspects for users of E*Trade is their pricing structure. Unlike other brokers that offer flat fees, E*Trade has decided to make things slightly more complicated. You can see from the table below that E*Trade pricing is based primarily on volume. If you are a recreational trader like most, then you fall into the right-most, more expensive column. You will also notice that broker assisted trades carry a hefty $45 charge no matter what category you belong to, which is the most expensive add on when using E*Trade.
In addition to a somewhat expensive pricing list, E*Trade also has an extensive list of services that are provided for a fee. Sadly, I fell victim to one of them, a $40 account inactivity fee which I fought to the death. If you decide to use E*Trade, make sure to make at least 1 trade every quarter, or your account will also be subject to this fee. Most of the other fees such as paper statements and non-sufficient funds transfers are standard among most online discount brokers.
E*Trade Customer Service
One of the big things that E*Trade has going for it is the availability of customer service phone support, 24/7/365. Another plus is the ability to log into your account and have a secure message sent, which is always responded to within 48 hours, according to an E*Trade representative. Winning multiple awards in 2009 for customer service, E*Trade continues to be one of the best in the business at taking care of you.
E*Trade Technology and Trading Platform
Another area where E*Trade excels is in their available trading tools. Continuing to add a few new options every month, E*trade currently offers a wide variety of trading tools to help you make informed investing decisions. These tools include streaming quotes and charts, stock, mutual fund, and ETF screeners, and an investor resource center where you can converse with other investors about making trades. E*Trade’s interface is clean cut as seen below (My assets are a little low) and almost everything you need to execute a trade is one click away.
If you review everything E*Trade has to offer, which include the very comical commercials below, then they are an excellent choice for an experienced investor that doesn’t mind spending a little extra for quality. However, with that said, E*Trade is slowly losing ground in the online discount broker game and unless they consider reducing their costs and fees by a significant amount, they will continue to do so.