E*TRADE Review – Best for Active Traders

Joseph Meyer
Written by
Last update:


It may be based in California, but E*TRADE is an old school institution when it comes to trading. Established in 1983, it’s one of the most trusted names in online trading.

It makes sense because E*TRADE has been serving both institutional and retail investors since it was founded. It operates in both the US and Canada. It’s no secret that the cost of investing has gotten increasingly expensive. The rise of online trading has made it financially possible for an average person to invest in stocks.

E*TRADE is looking to capitalize on this trend by offering an intuitive platform so anyone can use it.

It really doesn’t matter if you have never invested in the stock market before or you are a veteran trader. You can use E*TRADE to start building your portfolio today.

Your money is also protected, as E*TRADE is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA is the largest independent regulator of securities firms in the US. It, too, is based in California.

Best of all, E*TRADE offers low-cost, individual stock and ETF trading. This means you can invest in individual stocks and ETFs without having to pay a seven-figure commission.

E*TRADE Features and Benefits

Low trading costs, commission-free trading, and an active trading platform give E*TRADE an edge over its competitors. The average investor won’t find the costs low enough to make a big impact on their return.

E*TRADE was one of the first discount brokers to enter the online trading market. It was founded in 1992. E*TRADE didn’t have any physical branches and didn’t even have a phone number until a few years ago. Today, E*TRADE has brick-and-mortar branches and a phone number. It also offers mobile trading, a large selection of investment products, and access to research tools.

E*TRADE separates its online trading services into the following four groups, each with its own commission and fee structure:

✓ Basic investing: This group includes standard, well-known investments such as stocks and mutual funds.

✓ Active trading: This group is for traders looking to make multiple trades per year.

✓ Options and advanced trading: This group is for options traders and includes options strategies.

✓ International investing: This group is for international investments.

E*TRADE also has a separate group of investments available only to retirement account holders. Retirement investors pay lower commissions and TERs (see below).

E*TRADE Tools and Calculators


E*TRADE does not charge a commission fee to access any of its investment accounts. The platform also provides a buy/sell option for stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds with no initial account or transfer fees.

E*TRADE Investment Management

(ETRM or “we”) believes you’re better with E*TRADE.

We’re here to ensure you have all the information you need to make the right decision for your investing and trading needs. So you can get all the facts, let’s start at the beginning. What is E*TRADE, really? Well, it’s a name, but it’s also a state of mind.

As America’s Premier Online Trading Company, E*TRADE is dedicated to delivering the best online stock trading experience. Whether you’re starting out or are a veteran trader, we offer the features you need to manage your investments … 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With low cost stocks, a wide variety of ways to buy … including E-Trade Free Trades and cash-back bonuses, exclusive market research, a trade ticket, and the tools, education and customer service you expect … well, it’s no wonder that 3,000,000 investors count on E*TRADE for all of their investing needs.

E*TRADE Caveats

If you’re a stock trader and are not a super high-level BS artist then E*TRADE is a decent fit for you. They post enough for you to hit some winners and rack up a nice average trade per month.

Their routing, however, is atrocious and extremely frustrating. Some stocks have required several connection attempts and as many as 2-3 back and forth emails.

E*TRADE seems to favor retirement and mutual funds over traditional actively traded products like stocks, for example, their mutual fund fees are substantially less. That may be just fine for some investors. No problem. If the 4 trades per month you make aren’t totally necessary in your eyes but could sure be handy. Then E*TRADE could still be a viable option.

Otherwise, you’ll spend more time on the phone with E*TRADE than working. And that’s just enough to make you regret not having a solid connectivity tool out there, in one place, getting you set up and connected to your real-time action immediately every time.

Will E*TRADE Work for You?

Whether or not E*TRADE will work for you depends on how you view your money. Many online brokers have made some drastic changes to their platform in recent years. While these changes have been helpful from an educational standpoint, they’ve also decreased diversity in the selection of investments. Too often, you’ll find that one bank or insurance agency that a broker has an exclusive partnership with has its products offered on the main screen.

While E*TRADE was a pioneer in digital investing, it does not lead the pack by any means. It has always had a niche for active traders who want to take advantage of its “Point and Figure” tool. E*TRADE’s research tools have always been some of the best around. So it should come as no surprise that it’s solidly in the upper crust of brokerage firms.

Overall, E*TRADE does an excellent job running the business side of things. I’ve always found the account management to be very responsive and helpful. Their customer service is good. They have a healthy and transparent commission structure. Their website is generally fast and easy to navigate. If you’re looking for a broker with an outstanding customer service experience, E*TRADE would be my top pick.