In this Charles Schwab review I take an in-depth look at one of America’s best brokers for customer service and I look at how Charles Schwab stacks up against the competition.
Charles Schwab is extremely focused on good customer service, so much so that even equity analysts think they company could make more money by adjusting to a product focus and away from a customer focus. This customer focus is exactly what you want when signing up for an online brokerage.
They offer two options for “free” money into your account, one is the $101 if you open your own brokerage account and one is up to $1,000 if you refer a friend and they sign up for Charles Schwab.
They also offers the Thinkorswim app for accounts that do not need to be funded. Thinkorswim is the best and most powerful desktop/mobile/web app provided by any online broker, and provides unparalleled investment advice and Level II market data.
Who is Charles Schwab?
The Charles Schwab corporation in 1971 and is still owned by the founder, Charles R. Schwab. The company is the seventh largest banking institution in the U.S. and has $8.5 trillion in client assets.
In 2020, Charles Schwas purchased both TD Ameritrade and USAA’s investment management accounts.
In 2021, the company moved the headquarters from San Francisco to Westlake, Texas.
In 2020, Charles Schwab allowed fractional shares to be traded.
Charles Schwab Ratings
- Charles Schwab is extremely focused on good customer service
- Offers two options for “free” money into your account
- Offers Thinkorswim for accounts that do not need to be funded
- The merger with TD Ameritrade may have negative unforeseen consequences for advisory or brokerage services.
- The trading platform does not allow paper or virtual trading
- The investment advice on each asset is not always timely
Why Charles Schwab?
Charles Schwab is known for five things:
- Schwab Customer Service
- Schwab Review of low costs and transparent account fees
- Schwab review of the satisfaction and security guarantees
- Schwab review of investing with a Robo-advisor.
- Unique Desktop Trading Platforms
1) Schwab Customer Service
Charles Schwab has one simple main number at 877-519-1403 and live chat for brokerage account. A host of other brokerage, banking, trading, and custodial customer service numbers can be found here: www.schwab.com/contact-us.
2) Schwab Review of low costs and transparent account fees
- $0 stock and option commissions*
- $.65 standard option fees*
- $0 ETF commissions**
3) Schwab review of the satisfaction and security guarantees
If for any reason you’re not completely satisfied, we’ll 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.
Schwab will cover:
- 1) Schwab Managed Portfolios
- 2) Schwab Private Client
- 3) Windhaven Strategies
- 4) Wasmer Schroeder Strategies
- 5) Schwab Personalized Indexing
- 6) Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium
As you can see, Charles Schwab takes client satisfaction and refunds very seriously. These refunds are simply not matched by other online brokers, and are a serious positive for Charles Schwab.
Charles Schwab covers losses in your Schwab accounts due to unauthorized activity. Plus, they help keep you secure with two-step authentication and tips on spotting scams.
4) Schwab review of investing with a Robo-advisor.
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios® is a robo-advisory using trading platforms service that helps build and manage your portfolio so you don’t have to. Add their Premium service for unlimited guidance from a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP) professional, now for a monthly subscription fee.
- Schwab offers a robo-advisor that builds, monitors, and automatically rebalances a diversified portfolio based on your goals.
- 24/7 live support from U.S.-based service professionals.
- Get started with as little as $5,000.
- No Monthly advisory fee
The robo advisor automatically re-adjusts investment needs and spending allowances as a person approaches retirement. Then the robo advisor will alert you if you are getting off track of your original retirement goals.
5) Unique Desktop Trading Platform
The Schwab new intelligent assistant recognizes voice commands so you can conveniently get your financial business sorted more quickly and efficiently. Just say the word to:
- make trades.
- get quotes.
- manage investments.
- transfer assets.
- deposit checks.
- set alerts or updates.
- get answers to investment questions.
All this on the mobile platform. Schwab offers the trading fees on the Mobile app are the same account fees as the main account. The Schwab mobile app allows commission free trading, stock and exchange traded funds, futures accounts, traditional IRA, and futures trading among others. In 2020 they allowed trading of fractional shares on the New York Stock exchange.
Charles Schwab also enrolls in $101 from Schwab to split equally across the top stocks in the S&P 500 plus education and tools to help you take the first step.
Charles Schwab does not allow paper trading in any form.
*Standard online $0 commission does not apply to over-the-counter (OTC) equities, transaction-fee mutual funds, futures, fixed-income investments, or trades placed directly on a foreign exchange or in the Canadian market. Options trades will be subject to the standard $0.65 per-contract fee. Service charges apply for trades placed through a broker ($25) or by automated phone ($5). Exchange process, ADR, and Stock Borrow fees still apply. See the Charles Schwab Pricing Guide for Individual Investors for full fee and commission schedules.
**ETFs at Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”) which are U.S. exchange-listed can be traded without a commission on buy and sell transactions made online in a qualifying account. Unlisted ETFs are subject to a commission. Please see pricing guide for additional information. Schwab does not receive payment to promote any particular ETF to its customers. Schwab’s affiliate Charles Schwab Investment Management, Inc. (“CSIM”) serves as investment advisor to the Schwab ETFs, which compensate CSIM out of the applicable operating expense ratios. The amount of the fees is disclosed in the prospectus of each ETF. Some transaction fee mutual funds are not included in the $0 fee rate.
Desktop Trading Platform – Streetsmart Edge
This Charles Schwab review 2023 of the Streetsmart edge trading platform aims to help Charles Schwab newcomers and experienced users of online brokers alike choose a trading platform that can trade in the mobile app, trade a stock and ETF portfolio, trade mutual funds, and compare the trading platform to other brokers.
Streetsmart Edge is intuitive trading software. It aligns your workflow, so you can focus on the market – not on your platform. Provides a wealth of 2 minute videos which help train Charles Schwab account users on using the Streetsmart Edge platform.
Intuitively offers an online brokers to provide research – opportunities – trading workflow for mutual funds, etf trades, a taxable brokerage account, forex trading, stock and etf trades, active traders, options trading, all with no account minimum. Streetsmart Edge does not offer any form of paper trading.
This Charles Schwab Review of Streetsmart edge and the Streetsmart edge mobile app should help Schwab customers make an informed decision about the schwab mobile app and Schwab as a discount broker after all. The tools you use to trade are very important, and need to fit with your personality, skill set, and experience level.
Charles Schwab does not advocate the use of technical analysis using the trading platform and the mobile app to make trades.
Charles Schwab’s Platform and Research Tools
In general, the thinkorswim platform is much better than what Charles Schwab offers.
The Charles Schwab website, however, is a comprehensive set of tools for schwab customers to research a mutual fund, benefit from stock slices, trade stocks, custodial accounts, all with nothing for the account minimum.
The “Insight and Ideas” section is very good, and all in one day the Ideas section offered:
- 3 Reasons to Consider Putting Your Cash at Work (Bank Accounts)
- Help Your College Grad Become an Investor
- Roth 401(k) vs. Roth IRA (IRA Accounts)
- Paying For College: Are Scholarships Taxable?
- 529 Accounts: When a child doesn’t go to college (Personal Financial Situation)
- Today’s Options Market Update (Options Trading)
- Weekly Trader’s Outlook (Stock Market Research)
- Look to the Futures
All of these articles were written in real-time on Friday May 6th, and is an excellent overview of Charles Schwab resources.
Charles Schwab is registered with:
- the SEC
- 4 Self-Regulatory Organizations
- 53 U.S States and territories
- Certain $25,000 fines for failing to implement risk management controls
Charles Schwab Educational Resources
Whether trading the most basic mutual funds, or engaging in trading
Offerings Charles Schwab include:
Exchange member engaged in exchange commission business other than floor activities
Broker or dealer retailing corporate equity securities over the counter
Mutual fund underwriter or sponsor
Mutual fund retailer
Put and call broker or dealer or option writer
Investment advisory services
Relationships with other brokers internationally
No account minimum
Penny stocks listed on the pink sheets for $4.95 per trade
Charles Schwab Educational Resources
Initial questions and answers for the Schwab Start Kit.
What are Schwab Stock Slices?
Schwab Stock Slices is an easy way to buy fractional shares for a set dollar amount. You have the option to buy shares in up to 30 U.S. companies in a one transaction. The stocks you purchase through are individual stocks in your account that you can hold and sell independently.
What’s a fractional share?
A fractional share is when you own less than one whole share of a company. Fractional shares allow you to purchase stocks based on the dollar amount, so you may end up with a fraction of a share, a whole share, or more than one share.
What is the S&P 500® and what does market capitalization (market cap) mean?
The S&P 500® is widely regarded as the best single gauge of large-cap U.S. equities. According to the Survey of Assets, USD 13.5 trillion is indexed or benchmarked to the index, with indexed assets comprising approximately USD 5.4 trillion of this total (as of Dec. 31, 2020). The index includes 500 leading companies and covers approximately 80% of available market capitalization.
Market cap is the a common measurement of a company’s size and is computed by taking the outstanding principal shares and multiplying these by the price of the stock.
Do fractional shares pay dividends?
Yes, in proportion to the shares you own.
What are the full terms and conditions of the Stock Slice program?
The Schwab offer is only available to eligible new customers. To be eligible to receive the $101 cash bonus, you must be an individual who does not have a Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”) account (other than a Schwab Stock Plan Services account) and who: (1) opens a Schwab One individual taxable retail account and deposits $50. THIS WILL BUY THE top 5 stocks by market capitalization in the S&P® 500 Index (unless the orders are cancelled by you—see details below).
Note that if one company has multiple share classes of stock in the top 5, only the one with the most voting rights will be purchased. Please also note that the above process is specific to the Schwab Starter Kit offer and will not apply to any other trade orders you might place.
This Schwab Starter Kit offer is limited to one per account, with no more than one account enrolled per client and does not apply to Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® accounts, the Schwab Global Account™, joint accounts, trust accounts, custodial accounts, IRAs, ERISA-covered retirement plans, other tax-qualified retirement plans and accounts, education savings accounts, or accounts managed by independent investment advisors.
That is an example of the thorough educational resources Charles Schwab provides with account registration.
Is Charles Schwab good? Is Schwab safe?
Yes Charles Schwab is both good and safe, based on the ratings above Schwab offers competitive pricing, products, offers, account protection, and intelligent portfolios that equal other big names in the online discount broker world.
Charles Schwab investments and mutual funds are all protected by their satisfaction guarantee, and also by the SIPC (Securities Investment Protection Corporation) up to $250,000. If such a huge bank went under, the economy would also be having huge problems (i.e., 2008) but even in that Charles Schwab maintains a Tier I capital ratio at 7% which is 2% higher than that required by the federal reserve at 5%.
Credit Suisse opened stock coverage on Charles Schwab and ranked it as an Outperform and a $55 target price. The analysts believe that Charles Schwab has more room to grow than the other online brokers because it’s revenue per average client assets is lower than competitors such as Morgan Stanley, BofA, E*Trade, and AMTD. Credit Suisse also provides evidence that Charles Schwab is trading well below the market average of P/E to the $S&P 500 and can be considered a value stock with the upside of a growth stock if they focused on mutual funds and Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) services. Schwab also offers more than 2,000 mutual funds at no cost, which is attractive to retail investors. In 2020 Schwab also caught up with competitors by offering fractional shares trading.
A few lawsuits have resulted in a negative verdict Charles Schwab. These have generally been small, with the largest public version of $18 million for an action by FINRA starting Charles Schwab needed to pay back investors $18 million for improperly marketing their YieldPlus Bond Funds. Given the size of the bank, and the paucity of large verdicts against Charles Schwab, this is another positive for the safety and fiduciary duty Charles Shwab executes in managing your money.
Account Types Charles Schwab*
- Stock trading
- Exchange-Traded Funds (EFTS)
- Money Market Funds
- A Schwab global account
- Mutual funds
- $0 account fees
- $ 0 trading fees (.65 standard options
- Schwab funds
- Commission free trading
- Futures trading
- Bitcoin futures contracts
- Active traders (Street Smart Edge)
- Margin Loans
- Forex trading
*There are no account minimums FOR ANY CHARLES SCHWAB’S PRODUCT
*Protected by the SIPC (Securities investor protection corporation) up to $250,000 per account.
Your Relationship With Charles Schwab
There are three main types of investment relationships Charles Schwab offers to clients. It is important to think about what your investing needs are before you pick a relationship that Charles Schwab offers.
The two main types of relationships Charles Schwab offers are the Broker-Dealer Relationship Summary (FORM CRS-BD) and the Investment Advisory Relationship Summary (FROM CRS-IA).
If you are looking to make most investment decisions yourself, and to use Charles’ Schwab as primarily a broker executing your decisions, you want the FORM CRS-BD.
If you want ongoing help and guidance or want Charles Schwab to act as your Investment Advisor (RIA) you want FORM CRS-IA which will detail Schwab intelligent portfolios, Schwab Private Client, Schwab Advisor Network, and other managed portfolio solutions.
Charles Schwab Offers Bonus Referral Awards
When referred and become a new Charles Schwab client, you can get up to $1,000. Simply enroll and make a qualifying deposit.
Bonus Award Net Deposit
- $1,000 $500,000+
- $500 $100,000-$499,999
- $300 $50,000-$99,999
- $100 $25,000-$49,999
Other discount and online brokers (Such as E Trade Financial) offer much more general referral programs. If this is important, you should research similar offerings for the best deal.
Charles Schwab does not advocate the use of technical analysis using the trading platform and the mobile app to make trades.
Charles Schwab’s Margin Rates
Debit Balance Effective Rate
- $0-24,999.99 – 9.075%
- $25,000-$49,999.99 – 8.575%
- $50,000-$99,999.99 – 7.625%
- $100,000-$249,999.99 – 7.575%
- $250,000-$499999.99 – 7.325%
Your interest rate depends on your debit balance and Schwab’s base rate. Interest accrues daily and is posted monthly. Before using margin please refer to Schwab’s Margin Borrowing Overview
Charles Schwab FAQs
Have My Account, Trading Platforms, and Brokerage Services Been Moved to TD Ameritrade?
No, the merger between Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade should have no effect on how you log into your account and other account specific activities. Gradually, TD Ameritrade offers and research will become available as the merger completes.
How do I fund a paper trading account with Thinkorswim?
You only need to answer account setup questions to use Thinkorswim’s entire product suite, you do not need to actually make a deposit.