Charles Schwab Review

Charles Schwab
Fees
Trading Platform
Research Tools
Investment Choices



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Charles Schwab shares many similar characteristics with their competitor TD Ameritrade, in that You Get What You Pay For.

While an $8.95 trade fee seems on the high end when compared against many discount brokerage firms, it is less expensive than the top full service brokerage houses. Charles Schwab is not a discount broker, they are, however, an all-encompassing full service online brokerage house, offering a number of investment options and services for less than many of their direct competitors (TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE, etc).

While Schwab’s fees are above those of many discount brokerage, their investment experience and services beat out most of their cheaper counterparts.

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Trading Platform

Charles Schwab offers a web-based trading platform (streetsmart.com) and their more comprehensive desktop based platform, Street Smart Edge. Both platforms offer piles of data, access to leading market reports, analytic & industry news including live streaming news channels.

While streetsmart.com offers a wide selection of real time information streaming online 24/7 including quotes, conditional orders, charting functionality and watch lists, Street Smart Edge (having a greater learning curve) provides advanced users with a more in-depth functionality active traders may have become accustomed to when using other trader platforms.

Street Smart Edge offers:

  • An intuitiveness that can align a traders “style” with their platform
  • Fully customizable features including color scheme and general layout
  • Snap-grid functionality
  • A notification system alerting traders of successful filing and ordered triggers
  • Visually enhanced, cleaner charting than on streetsmart.com
  • Platform preferences are manually set to accommodate trader’s level of skill
  • Available at no cost to Schwab account holders
  • Market, limit, stop-limit, trailing-stop & trailing-stop limit equity orders
  • Chart pattern recognition
  • “Tab” based platform enables users to better organize their interface

Charles Schwab offers mobile trading with its mobile applications for smartphones, tablets, and mobile web. In addition to basic account management, these applications allow you to stream live CNBC and other relevant industry news, research investment opportunities and place trades while monitoring your orders and current positions.

Retirement Plans

As Scottrade is known for their unparalleled approach to customer service, Charles Schwab certainly is widely recognized for their retirement investment opportunities.

Schwab’s commitment to providing a solid selection of retirement plans is compounded by the resources schwab.com offers for investors looking for additional information. Schwab.com, with its many tutorials (both, on the basics of investing & tutorials geared specifically toward retirement saving), investment & retirement calculators, short & long-term (depending upon time to retirement) retirement strategies & access to personal retirement consultants ensure Schwab account holders have access to all the tools necessary to make informed decisions.

Charles Schwab offers the following IRA account options:

  • Rollover IRA – No taxes or penalties at time of transfer
  • Roth IRA – Not tax-deductible
  • Traditional IRA – Withdrawals at time of retirement taxed as general income
  • Custodial IRA – (Traditional or Roth) for children under the age of 18
  • Inherited IRA – Inheritance of non-spousal Traditional or Roth IRA

In addition to personal retirement planning and investment, Schwab offers retirement solutions for businesses of all sizes. Whether you are an owner-only business or have 100 employees, Charles Schwab has products that may be able to accommodate your business.

Below are some retirement solutions for businesses offered by Schwab:

  • Individual 401k – Owner-only, no employees
  • SEP-IRA – Good for small business owners
  • SIMPLE IRA – Employer matching (up to 3%) for up to 100 employees
  • Company Retirement Account (CRA) – Companies with established retirement plans
  • Business 401k – Businesses of any size

Banking Features

Charles Schwab not only provides investment options, they also have full-service checking, savings & home loan banking services.

Here are details about the specific products Schwab’s banking division offers:

Checking

  • $0 Account minimum
  • $0 Monthly maintenance fees
  • ATM Fees refunded worldwide
  • Variable APY Variable interest rate on balance
  • Free checks and debit (Visa) cards
  • FDIC insurance

Savings

  • $0 Account minimum
  • $0 Monthly maintenance fees
  • ATM Fees refunded worldwide
  • FDIC insurance

Customer Service

In addition to 24/7-customer support via phone and email, Charles Schwab offers live chat for both account holders and prospective customers. Although different live chat systems, you can log onto schwab.com without signing up and have a live chat conversation with one of Schwab’s representatives.

For the trader requiring a more personal investment experience, Charles Schwab recommends stopping into one of its many brick and mortar, local branch offices located throughout the country.
Brokerage

800-435-4000 – 24/7 Access
800-272-4922 – Tele-broker
800-421-4488 – Lost or stolen Schwab Visa
800-345-2550 – TTY services for the hearing impaired
888-403-9000 – Bank customer service representative
800-680-8031 – Mortgage customers

Overall

A “balanced-brokerage house” is probably the best way to describe Charles Schwab.

Schwab is toward the top of the industry in investment opportunities, banking services, customer service & technology including their trading platforms and mobile applications.

Their full-service brokerage offerings align with the needs of their most novice investors to the professional trader. Schwab’s retirement options are geared both for the person with many years to retirement and the individuals rapidly approaching their golden years. Schwab really does cover all of the bases.

Schwab offers a premium product and below the average premium price. Whether you’re a novice or professional, Schwab is worth taking a serious look at.

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Review Information

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed
Charles Schwab
Author Rating
4

Comments

  1. David Ebert says

    I agree with Galina completely. Although I have never had a Schwab brokerage account, the fact that their ad on CNBC ALWAYS pops up basically full screen EVERY TIME you leave the page is complete garbage. For that reason alone, I will never, ever use their service. Plus I would never use a broker as a financial advisor. Look at how often they are wrong because they’re preference is to charge commissions over your benefits.

  2. Galina says

    Worst brokerage ever. Stay away if you do not want to lose money with no reason. Customer service is terrible. They sold options from my account due to margin call. Guess what? I never received it. I was told their system doesn’t work good enough.
    This firm has no courtesy.

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