E*Trade Review

Updated June 30, 2013
Bottom Line

E*Trade doesn't have the cheapest commission fees (Est. $10 for most investors), but experts praise its outstanding customer service, easy-to-use interface and impressive research and tools.

Ease of use

Impressive customizable interface. Signing up with E*Trade, one of the most established online brokers, is fairly straightforward and there are often incentives for new account holders. E*Trade's banking services are a big plus, experts say. Also winning applause is E*Trade's improved interface that offers customizable data, news and charts by using a simple drop-and-click method "that adds up to a great user experience," according to Kiplinger.com, which ranked the company first among online brokers in 2012. You'll need at least a $500 deposit to open an account, and E*Trade also consistently runs promotions like offering 60 days of free trades and even cash if you open an account valued at $10,000 or more.

ProsLow initial deposit ($500), Upgraded research and tools, Banking and mobile servicesConsRelatively high trading costs

Pricing and services

Many trading options; fairly high trading costs. E*Trade doesn't claim to be a discount broker -- and it isn't. Costs are on the high side; unless you make 150 or more trades per quarter you'll pay a fairly high commission (Est. $10) per trade. E*Trade 360 offers account information, watch lists, trades and streaming data along with plenty of other customizable tools that even frequent traders will find useful. The company offers more than 50,000 bonds, trading in 35 countries in U.S. dollars and access to nearly 80 international markets.

Options, Forex (foreign-currency trading) and other goodies like 1,300 no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds are available. (Transaction-fee funds will run you about $20.) E*Trade is also a leader in mobile tools, with cloud-based technology, according to StockBrokers.com. If you want a lower-cost traditional broker, reviewers recommend Scottrade (Est. $7 per trade).

Customer service

24/7 assistance and dozens of U.S. branches. E*Trade has boosted its customer service in recent years, and it's one of the reasons the company was ranked first in Kiplinger.com's survey. E*Trade beat out the competition in Kiplinger.com's tests by responding quickly to emails and offering accurate information. Some reviewers give the firm high marks for customer service, and the 2012 SmartMoney survey calls its 24/7 chat feature "a nice touch." Educational resources -- especially for retirement -- are robust and top-notch. In addition to chat, 24/7 phone service and email, the company has 30 branches in the U.S. for personal portfolio reviews and assistance.

Our Sources

1. Barron's

Back Online!, Theresa W. Carey, March 9, 2013

Barron's praises E*Trade's 360 interface and its tools -- including resources for short-term traders -- but ranks the company tenth out of 24 online brokers, primarily because of high fees. E*Trade gets a total 4 out of 5 stars.

2. Reviews.com

E*Trade Review, Ed Carlson, June 7, 2013

Reviews.com gives E*Trade 5 out of 5 stars. While the fees may be high, E*Trade provides a "great user experience" and "exceptional trading tools and technology."

3. Kiplinger.com

Best Online Brokers , 2012, Nellie S. Huang, Nov. 2012

Kiplinger.com names E*Trade first place overall in its analysis of major brokers, with Fidelity a close second. While its costs are higher than many firms', it has excellent investment options, user experiences and research.

4. Stockbrokers.com

Online Broker Review 2013, Blain Reinkensmeyer, Feb. 19, 2013

StockBrokers.com editors review 17 online brokers; E*Trade is the top choice for mobile. Blain Reinkensmeyer notes that it continues to be innovative in the mobile space, including embracing cloud-based technology; it's ranked second overall, with a low score for commissions and fees.

5. MarketConsensus.com

Top 5 Best Online Trading Sites for Individual Investors, Editors of MarketConsensus.com, Feb. 2, 2013

MarketConsensus.com editors rank E*Trade third out of five brokers, citing its wide range of investment choices. The write-up is short, but the site includes a helpful graph comparing editors' top five choices for online brokers.

6. NerdWallet.com

Best Roth IRA Account Providers of 2013, Joanna Pratt, April 11 , 2013

After studying more than 70 Roth IRA account providers, NerdWallet.com editors name four brokerage firms, "each meeting the needs best of a different group of retirement investors." TD Ameritrade is named best for the involved investor; OptionsXpress for the sophisticated investor; E*Trade for day traders; and ShareBuilder for new investors.

7. Keynote.com

Performance Index: Brokerage, Editors of Keynote.com, As of July 2013

Keynote.com ranks online brokers weekly, based on response time for placing a stock order and the success rate of order completion. An archive lists results as far back as 2007. As of July 2013, Fidelity and Charles Schwab generally led in the overall categories; E*Trade was ranked third.

8. CashMoneyLife.com

E*Trade Online Brokerage Account Review, Ryan Guina, June 30, 2013

This ad-driven website recommends four leading online brokers for IRAs. E*Trade gets 5 out of 5 stars for its tools, banking, trade prices and investment options.