Charles Schwab review 2021: Trading Fees, Tools, Pros & Cons

Adam Rozsa
04.01.21
7 minute read

Established in 1971 by the namesake of the company, Charles Schwab provides a brokerage service to its customers to trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and more. It also offers retirement accounts and other financial products.¹

In this article, we are going to review how the Charles Schwab online broker platform works, including its products and services, fees, pros and cons, and more.

But before we start, a word.

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📝 Table of contents

Who Charles Schwab Is Best For?

Trading platforms are no longer for Wall Street investors only. We’re living in an age where everyone can invest, and platforms like Charles Schwab make that possible.

The fact that it offers no-fee stock trading will appeal to many small investors—everyday Americans who want to invest a few bucks in a stable blue-chip or a promising startup.

Still, its accessible options trades, along with its research programs and smart trading software can also appeal to more experienced investors.

Charles Schwab reviews seem to be positive from both camps as it does a great job satisfying the needs of a variety of users. It is also very easy to open an account, make a few quick investments, and see if the platform has what you’re looking for.

How Much Money Do You Need to Open A Charles Schwab Account?

With Charles Schwab, it’s possible to open an account without a minimum deposit; it’s also free to open the account itself. Also, the company doesn’t charge for depositing money on your Charles Schwab account. Plus, there are no inactivity and withdrawal fees either:

ActivityFee
Account Opening Fee$0²
Account Minimum Deposit$0²
Deposit Fee$0²
Inactivity Fee$0
Withdrawal Fee$0

Does Charles Schwab Have Trading Fees?

Depends on the product. While stock and ETF trading doesn’t have a fee, there is a fee if you’d like to trade futures or options. For the complete picture, take look at Charles Schwab’s trading fees:

Trade TypeFees
Stocks and ETFs$0²
Options Base Fee$0²
Options Fee$0.65 per contract²
Futures Options Fee$1.50 per contract²
Mutual Funds FeeUp to $49.95 per purchase²
Broker-Assisted Trades$25 (service fee)²

As you can see, Charles Schwab also charges you for trades that are placed by a broker, a service that many high-level traders use.

It’s worth noting that all broker-assisted charges are on the top of the contract charges. For example, if you place a broker-assisted trade for options, you will be charged $25 for that trade along with an additional $0.65 per contract.²

Charles Schwab Money Transfer Fees

Charles Schwab offers a few different deposit options and cash out options. It promises to complete all transfers within 0 to 2 business days, but the actual speed depends on the method you choose.

Transfer MethodFeesProcessing Speed
Between Charles Schwab Accounts$0³0 to 1 Business Days
Check$0³0 to 1 Business Days
Direct Deposit$0³Instant
Wire Transfers$25 ($15 online)³0 to 1 Business Days

Wire transfer withdrawals cost $15 to $25 per transfer depending on whether you opt for a traditional transfer or do it online. For the most part, however, account and transfer fees are non-existent and transparent.

Now, let’s say you’ve withdrawn your money from Charles Schwab. What’s the next step?

If you’re managing multiple international accounts, exchange money often or simply need a convenient way to send money abroad, get a Wise account.It’s a cheap, fast and transparent way of moving your money and converting it to multiple different currencies. Just like with a Charles Schwab brokerage account, you don’t have to worry about hidden fees–and it’s completely free to open an account.

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Charles Schwab Trading Platform

Charles Schwab Trading Platform

Charles Schwab customers are invited to trade directly on the Charles Schwab website, but more active traders may want to look into one of the trading platforms, including Trade Source, StreetSmart Edge, and the Charles Schwab mobile app.

These platforms are based around the company’s all-in-one trade ticket, which gives users quick access to many financial products, with features such as “buy”, “sell”, and “sell short”, as well as choices based on timing and order type.⁴

StreetSmart Edge

A trading platform built with options traders and day traders in mind. It’s an advanced platform that comes bundled with a variety of features, including the ability to view options chains, analyze charts, monitor orders, place auto-adjusting limit orders, and more.⁵

Charles Schwab bills StreetSmart Edge as trading software that is designed to “think like a trader”. It’s free to use and can be downloaded onto your computer or used through the cloud. It works with multiple monitors, contains a wealth of easily-accessible information, and makes it easier to find, evaluate, and place trades.

The system might not be for everyone, but it’s hard to argue with its features or its intuitiveness.

Trade Source

Trade Source is more suitable for long-term investment strategies and may appeal more to beginner and intermediate users as a result.It has a very clean interface that is easy to navigate and while the features aren’t as diverse or as extensive as StreetSmart Edge, it still allows you to stream real time data from a variety of stocks and place instructions to buy or sell when they reach certain points.

It’s very similar to the base-level trading software that you can find elsewhere, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, if you’re used to that software then you’ll adapt quickly to Trade Source, and once you’ve made a few trades and gotten to grips with the layout, you can decide if you’re ready to make the step up to StreetSmart.

Mobile Apps

Schwab Mobile is the most basic way to trade and serves as a streamlined, simplified, and easy-to-use app that works particularly well for beginners and intermediates. There is also a StreetSmart Mobile. Both apps are good for mobile trading, but serious traders might want to stick with the desktop and web-based platforms.

Charles Schwab Research Tools

With Charles Schwab research tools, you can gain expert-level insights into over 3,000 US stocks using Schwab Equity Ratings. There are interactive price charts, screeners, and access to premium stock market research programs like Market Edge, Reuters, and Morningstar.⁶

It’s a great way for beginners to learn the ropes and understand the market, but it also provides the kind of in-depth research required by experts.

Charles Schwab Customer Support

There are plenty of options to contact Charles Schwab customer service as the company both offers a 24/7 phone and chat support to its customers. To reach out to Charles Schwab Customer support, call them at 800-435-4000 or start a live chat using the ‘Chat’ button on their website.

Is Charles Schwab Any Good? Pros & Cons

Before we round off this Charles Schwab brokerage review with some quick questions and answers, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using this platform.

The Pros of Using Charles Schwab

  • It is very easy to open an account. It takes just a few seconds, and you will be ready to go in no time.
  • There are no minimum deposits to worry about, and it’s possible to trade even on the smallest of budgets.
  • You can trade stocks and ETFs completely free of charge.²

The Cons of Using Charles Schwab

  • Mutual funds can be a little expensive.
  • High fees for users who opt for wire transfers, ranging from $15 for online transfers and $25 for standard wire transfers.³
  • Might be a little confusing for complete beginners first (although it has a short learning curve).

Bottom Line: Is Charles Schwab Good For Beginners?

Bottom Line: Is Charles Schwab Good For Beginners?

Charles Schwab can be a great choice for beginner traders as there are no fees for opening an account, no inactivity and no deposit fees. Plus, you can trade stocks and ETFs without an additional fee.

On the other hand, trading mutual funds can be quite expensive as fees can reach up to $49.95 per purchase.² Similarly, wire transfers can also get a bit pricey, as Charles Schwab charges $15 for an online and $25 for a standard wire transfer.³

Lastly, Charles Schwab offers a variety of trading options and platforms. As you can see from our Charles Schwab app review above, it works great on mobile and offers easy and fast trading. The learning curve isn’t very steep and if you already have experience with trading apps, it’s non-existent.

Is Vanguard Or Charles Schwab Better?

Both Charles Schwab and Vanguard are excellent options. There is no “better” option, but there might be a better option for you. It all depends on your budget, needs, and situation.

They are cheaper in some areas and more expensive in others. Generally, we find that Charles Schwab is a better day traders, as you won’t be hit with heavy fees and commission for making short-term investments, it’s very easy to move your money around, and there are several great ways to research and analyze.

Vanguard, on the other hand, focuses more on long-term investors; stock traders who want to buy and hold, keeping their eye on gradual, long-term gains as opposed to hourly or daily changes.

For information about Vanguard, take a look at our guide to Vanguard fees.

No matter which broker you choose, you can always sign up for a Wise account to convert or send the withdrawn money. You can save up to 7x compared to other money transfer services and there are no hidden fees. Plus, you can even get your own Wise multi-currency card to use at ATMs all over the world.

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Save up to 7x with Wise


Sources:
  1. Schwab Still Roots for the Small Investor – USA Today Money
  2. Charles Schwab Pricing – “All Account Fees and Minimums”
  3. Charles Schwab Pricing – “All Money Transfer Fees”.
  4. Charles Schwab All in One Trade – All Page
  5. Charles Schwab Trading Software – All Page
  6. Charles Schwab Research – All Page

All sources checked on 31 March 2021


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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