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Charles Schwab Review: A Robust Brokerage for Many Investing Needs

Review Updated
Matt Frankel, CFP®
By: Matt Frankel, CFP® Our Brokerages Expert
Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
Charles Schwab is a consistent advocate of the individual investor, whether it's seasoned vets or beginners making their first trade. It has aggressively slashed fees on its mutual funds, removed common account fees, and eliminated its per-trade commissions, making it one of the most affordable places to open an account and trade stocks, ETFs, and funds. In the Charles Schwab review below, we’ll show you how the brokerage compares on commissions, fees, margin rates, trading platforms, and more.
Ratings Methodology
Award Icon 2023 Award Winner
Our Rating:
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line
Charles Schwab pioneered the low-cost brokerage model decades ago, and that legacy continues with its lineup of no-commission-fee offerings. The robust lineup of account types, investment vehicles, and high quality app round out the stacked feature set.
$0 stock and ETF trades
Account Minimum:

Alternatives to Consider

We recommend comparing brokerage options to ensure the account you're selecting is the best fit for you. To make your search easier, here's a short list of our best trading platforms of 2023.

Account Fees Account Minimum
Logo for Robinhood
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
$0 for stocks, ETFs, and options $0
Logo for SoFi Active Investing
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
$0 for stocks, $0 for options contracts $0
Logo for J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
$0 per trade $0

Full Charles Schwab broker review

This stock broker is a good fit for: Investors seeking a one-stop-shop brokerage solution. Schwab's commissions, investment options, and array of account offerings (investing and banking) make it a clear top pick to consider.


  • $0 commission trading
  • Robust mutual fund access
  • Investing and banking all in one
  • Nationwide branch network
  • High-quality investment app


  • Margin rates aren't the lowest
  • No cryptocurrency trading

Top perks

No commissions for stocks and ETFs

Offering $0 stock and ETF trades, Charles Schwab is one of the least expensive online discount brokers for basic stock and ETF trades. That said, most of the major discount brokers now offer commission-free trading.

No account minimums

Schwab recently eliminated account minimums on its retail brokerage accounts, making it one of the best stock brokers for beginners.

Fractional share investing

Beginner investors will find Schwab's Stock Slices valuable. All you need is $5 to begin investing in S&P 500 companies with share prices that are much higher.

International access

If you’d like to trade stocks on foreign markets, Schwab can help. It offers trading in more than 30 global markets. Sign up for a Schwab Global Account to be able to trade stocks online in 12 of the top-traded foreign markets, each with real-time quotes during market hours.

Customer service

One advantage of working with Charles Schwab is that it has a branch network of more than 340 locations across the country. It’s one of a handful of discount brokers that offer in-person help when you need it, which is a compelling advantage.

ETF investing

Schwab offers one of the largest marketplaces for low-cost ETF and index investing, including it's own line of branded ETFs that rival the lowest cost options we've come across.

Mutual fund investing

Similar to ETFs, Schwab has a diverse marketplace for mutual fund investors who are wanting to put their money into the mutual fund of their choosing. In addition to it's OneSource list of no load, no commission mutual funds, Schwab also offers its own low-cost mutual funds.

Investment account offerings

Schwab offers one of the widest array of account types we've seen, from taxable brokerages to IRAs, custodial accounts, trusts, and more.

Banking and cash management

Schwab is truly a one-stop shop for you money needs and it offers banking products such as the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account, CDs, and credit cards.

Managed portfolios

Schwab Intelligent Portfolio is among the best robo-advisors for passive investors. Further, Schwab offers managed portfolios and access to a network of financial advisors that rivals the biggest names in the market.

Branch access

Customers valuing in-person investing and banking relationships will want to add Schwab to their shortlist.

Fractional share investing

Schwab's Stock Slices allows investors to buy fractional shares of any S&P 500 stock with as little as $5. This is a great feature for accountholders with lower balances.

Investment app

Schwab's mobile app is among the best available from a big brokerage house. It has an iOS rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. While its Android rating of 3 out of 5 stars is lower than average, our research has found the ratings aren't aligned with the apps high quality overall. Many brokerage apps are slimmed down, less versatile versions of their online experiences. But Schwab's apps closely mirror its robust online experience, including for trading, account access and management, banking, and trading platforms.

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What could be improved

Margin rates

While Charles Schwab does have robust trading tools, its margin rates for traders aren't the lowest. Those looking for really low rates may want to consider Interactive Brokers.

No cryptocurrency trading

Schwab does not offer the ability to invest in cryptocurrencies.

Commission prices

Charles Schwab was the first big brokerage to eliminate commissions on online stock and ETF trades, and it sparked the commission-free revolution of late 2019. Nearly all of Charles Schwab's competitors followed suit, slashing commissions to zero.

Here are Charles Schwab’s trading fees based on the type of investment:
Stocks and ETFs Options Mutual funds
$0 $0.65 per contract $0 for OneSource mutual funds

Notably, Schwab offers thousands of OneSource no-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds (as well as commission-free ETFs), which allow investors to buy diversified funds without paying a fee to do so. Besides, the fee only applies to purchases, whereas other brokers with lower fees charge a fee to buy or sell a mutual fund.

Buying mutual funds

Fund investors will find that Charles Schwab boasts a massive selection of mutual funds, including mutual funds that can be purchased without paying a load, transaction fee, or commission.
Total mutual funds More than 10,100
No-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds More than 4,300

You can learn more about investing in mutual funds here.

Charles Schwab's trading platform

This discount broker has several platforms aimed at different types of investors. In addition to a basic browser-based solution, Charles Schwab offers a streamlined web trading tool (Trade Source) plus a desktop platform (StreetSmart Edge) for advanced traders and sophisticated investors.

Trade Source: Think of Schwab’s Trade Source as a dressed-up browser-based trading tool. The key features include streaming quotes, clean charts, quick access to news on all of your portfolio holdings, plus the ability to quickly switch between ticker symbols thanks to its use of tabs. In addition, you can also link other financial accounts (even non-Schwab accounts) to Trade Source, allowing you to view your total financial picture from one screen, which makes it easier to see how all of your accounts (not just your Schwab accounts) are performing from day to day or month to month.

StreetSmart Edge: This is Schwab’s platform for active traders. As a desktop-based platform, it offers more functionality than you’d expect from a true trading platform: advanced stock charting, quick access to fundamental research, an all-in-one trade ticket (for placing conditional orders), and a customizable layout so you can modify your screen to show only what’s most important to you. Notably, the platform can also be fired up from the cloud, allowing you to open it through a browser if you’d prefer not to install another program on your desktop or laptop computer.

Mobile apps: Schwab offers mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows devices that give users streaming data and the ability to place complex trades (e.g., multi-leg options trades). The website also scales for smaller screens, so mobile users don’t have to install the app to check their balance or place a trade.

As long-term buy-and-hold investors, we don’t actively trade our accounts and therefore don’t need many of the bells and whistles. If a robust platform is especially important to you, we’d recommend using a demo account to try a broker’s platform out for yourself. Ultimately, whether a platform is "good" or "bad" comes down to personal preference more than anything else.
Compare the best IRA accounts
If you're interested in comparing IRA accounts, you're not alone! You can get the list of the best IRAs we've found (and compare them side-by-side) on these pages:

Charles Schwab margin rates

Here's a rundown of Charles Schwab's effective margin rates by margin balance:
  • Less than $25,000 margin balance: 9.825%
  • $25,000 to $49,999 margin balance: 9.325%
  • $50,000 to $99,999 margin balance: 8.375%
  • $100,000 to $249,999 margin balance: 8.325%
  • $250,000 to $499,999 margin balance: 8.075%
  • More than $500,000 margin balance: Call for information
Investors who use margin as a key part of their trading or investing strategy will find that Charles Schwab margin rates are toward the middle of the brokerage pack, although it’s one of only a handful of brokers whose rates start at less than 10% for smaller balances.

Customer service and support

Discount brokers can offer cutthroat commission prices because they eliminate many of the expenses associated with traditional brokerages. But big brokers still provide all the customer service you might need, whether over the phone, online, or through a branch office.Schwab offers 24/7 support over the phone, as many discount brokers do. But thanks to its vast brick-and-mortar branch network, customers can also get help in person at offices scattered across the U.S. It has more than 340 branches in 46 states, so the vast majority of Americans live within a short drive of one of its offices.

Research offerings

Whereas large wirehouse brokers have large research arms to supply their research internally, most discount brokers instead offer research from third-party services like Morningstar and S&P, for example. Below, we’ll run through a few notable research and screening tools available to Schwab brokerage customers.

Several equity research reports: Schwab has research from several major providers. Brokerage customers get access to Schwab ratings and research, plus access to research from Argus, Credit Suisse, Morningstar, MarketEdge, and Reuters, among others.

Daily market reports: Tap into a wealth of information by reading daily market reports, including Credit Suisse First Edition, Morningstar Morning Notes, Market Edge Daily Commentary, and more from your online account.

Screeners: Charles Schwab is no slouch when it comes to fundamental and technical screeners for stocks, ETFs, and funds. Notably, its screening tools are available on its website and through its SmartEdge desktop trading platform.

To be sure, most large discount brokers offer more research and screening tools than ever before. It’s fair to say that if you wanted to spend hours each day reading stock market research or tinkering with screeners, you wouldn’t run out of research to read or screeners to toy with, a statement that applies to virtually any of the household-name discount brokers.

This brokerage account is right for you if:

We think Schwab has a product offering that will suit the needs of most investors. If any of the following statements apply to you, then Schwab may be a good fit for your portfolio:
  • You use mutual funds and ETFs in your portfolio. Charles Schwab’s fund offerings are a particularly compelling reason to open an account. It offers its own line of low-cost mutual funds and index funds, in addition to thousands of mutual funds you can buy without paying a commission or transaction fee. Plus, with minimum investments of $100 or less, its mutual fund assortment is a great solution for investors who are just getting started.
  • You want to minimize trading costs and commissions. At $0 per stock and ETF trade, Schwab’s commission prices won’t break the bank. That said, Schwab’s options fees ($0.65 per contract) are firmly in the middle of the online brokerage pack, so it may not be a grand bargain for people who use options extensively.
  • You want online banking access. Schwab is more than just a brokerage and asset manager -- it’s also an online bank. Given this is a Charles Schwab brokerage account review, we haven’t spent any time talking about its online banking functionality, but its bank offers a key feature that separates it from many online banks: unlimited ATM fee reimbursements around the world. If you like the convenience of keeping all of your accounts in one place, Schwab makes the short list of brokers that offer a fully featured bank and brokerage in one place.
  • International stock trading is important to you. Few investors need access to international markets, since many large-cap foreign stocks are available on U.S. markets or over the counter on the "Pink Sheets." That said, Schwab offers easy online trading in 12 of the largest foreign markets when you have a Schwab Global Account. Note that international trading often comes with a higher commission, which varies by market.
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