E*Trade vs. Fidelity
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Although E*Trade has been around since 1982, they have continued to keep things fresh. Fidelity offers similar tools and a strong mobile platform, but the brokerage may not be able to compete with E*Trade Pro for active traders.
Fidelity and E*Trade are both well-rounded brokerages with multiple platforms and mobile trading. Each one has educational tools, news feeds, abundant research tools, and customizable charting. However, E*Trade may be better for options since acquiring OptionsHouse, but Fidelity offers international trading and other options for forex.
E*Trade vs Fidelity – Quick Comparison
Both brokerages offer extensive research and robo-advisory tools, but some resources from E*Trade are not available anywhere else. Here are a few highlights from our comparison.
- With robust research tools and extensive educational offerings, beginner to advanced traders have exceptional support to learn more about asset classes, trade methodologies, and options strategies
- Active traders will get the most use out of E*Trade Pro, but the brokerage has multiple platforms, including Power E*Trade that will satisfy most investors
- E*Trade Core Portfolios offers top-notch robo-advisory management with a human touch, but it’s hands-off so investors should look elsewhere if they want more flexibility
- Commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options with $0.65 per contract
- Streaming real-time data on all platforms
- Almost all asset classes available except international trading and forex
- Fidelity offers $0 trading commissions with a selection of over NTF 3,500 mutual funds
- Top-notch research tools and multiple platforms available for average traders and frequent traders through Active Trader Pro
- 24/7 customer service with live chat, email, and phone support
- Fidelity Go offers incredible account management and portfolio diversification with a human advisor that protects you from costly mistakes
- Fidelity leads the way in trade executions offering five times the price improvement as other brokerages
- Fidelity’s mobile apps offer optimal trading with all asset classes on iOS and Android
Fees and Commissions
Fidelity led the way in low-cost trading for many years, but as of October 2019, both Fidelity and E*Trade have the same fee structure.
With $0 commission fees for stocks, ETFs, and options available for both brokerages, the only difference may be in options contractors. While Fidelity and E*Trade both charge $0.65 per contract, E*Trade charges a bit less if you have a higher account balance.
For accounts with $250,000 or more, E*Trade only charges $0.50 per contract for options.
Winner: Fidelity is the best when it comes to free trading, but there are more options with E*Trade.
There are some other differences in fees that make E*Trade slightly better than Fidelity for mutual funds and broker-assisted trades.
- E*Trade offers NTF mutual funds, but for those with a fee, you only pay $19.99 per trade.
- For broker-assisted trades, E*Trade charges you $25, while Fidelity is higher at $32.95.
Margin rates are similar, but E*Trade starts off at a very high 10 percent for lower balance accounts. Fidelity wins with lower margin rates for all account balances.
For account fees, Fidelity charges nothing except for stock certification delivery fees, which will cost $100. In comparison, E*Trade charges more fees overall with a $60 IRA closure fee and a $75 stock certificate delivery fee.
You will also pay $2 per paper statement and $25 per domestic wire or international wire transfers.
Winner: Fidelity definitely has the lower cost when it comes to fees.
When it comes to investments, E*Trade tries to do it all, and they succeed in most categories, offering stocks, OTCBB/pink sheets, options, futures, commission-free ETFs, over 15,000 mutual funds, and different bonds.
Fidelity offers many of the same selections, but you won’t be able to trade in any futures or cryptocurrencies. They have nearly the same selections of mutual funds, although E*Trade has more no-transaction-fee mutual funds than Fidelity.
One thing that Fidelity does have over E*Trade is international trading and forex. Fidelity offers forex through its partner Fidelity Forex LLC, which requires a separate account approval.
Fidelity also wins when it comes to order types. You can place every type of order with Fidelity, while E*Trade does not allow multi-contingent trades.
Winner: Fidelity has more investments and order types, but stay tuned for E*Trade cryptocurrency trading, which should launch this year.
Online Advisors and Educational Offerings
Both E*Trade and Fidelity offer exceptional educational tools and robo-advisors. However, the costs are a little bit higher with E*Trade, and its advisor offers little flexibility if you want to make changes on our own.
E*Trade Advisors and Educational Tools
E*Trade Core Portfolios is a comprehensive robo-advisor service that offers professional account management for a relatively small fee. After inputting your goals, timeline, and risk level, the robo-advisor designs a completely custom portfolio with you and rebalances automatically based on market changes.
There are two types of investment portfolios available with this advisor. The first only allows investors to trade in ETFs, which offers indexed funds at low costs designed to match the current market trends. You can diversify at a low cost with this option.
The second is a hybrid portfolio that utilizes both mutual funds and ETFs. These portfolios give investments more opportunities for greater returns without incurring too much risk.
E*Trade does not allow for any self-directed trading with their robo-advisor tools. You have to open another brokerage account to make trades on your own.
There are some costs and minimal investments necessary to use E*Trade Core Portfolios, including a $5,000 minimum investment and a fee of 0.30% of your portfolio per year. Accounts available include taxable, join, traditional IRA, Roth IRA, rollover IRA, and custodial.
Overall, E*Trade’s robo-advisor does a great job of providing hands-off management, but it does not provide tax-loss harvesting or financial planning. You let the robo-advisor do the work for you.
While the robo-advisor offers minimal instruction and learning opportunities, E*Trade has an extensive learning center with lots of screeners and research tools. Even if you don’t have an account, you can access E*Trade’s variety of tools. They include investor education for beginners, intermediate, and advanced traders, as well as research tools like customizable charts.
For options traders, there are more tools available from E*Trade on the Power E*Trade desktop platform. With complex options analysis and spread ideas, TradeLab is the ultimate analysis tool that allows you to dig into strategies at a granular level.
StrategySEEK is another powerful tool on the Power E*Trade platform. This visual tool allows traders to find new opportunities, first by looking at the market and then assessing how much you want to invest. The strategy offered is detailed and lists all of the risks, as well as how to use the strategy step-by-step.
Finally, the LiveAction widget is incredibly powerful and one of the best proprietary tools from E*Trade. You can scan markets using live, real-time data, which allows you to hunt down specific technical patterns.
Fidelity Advisor and Educational Tools
Fidelity Go is a robo-advisor offered by the discount brokerage, allowing investors to effortlessly set up a portfolio based on their interests, goals, timeline, and risk. While the platform starts out with a quiz, all of your answers go together to create a diverse portfolio with a low-cost advantage.
In addition, Fidelity Go has no minimum amount to open, though you will need at least $10 to start seeing any investments. Fidelity also charges a 0.35% account management fee per year, though it is deducted quarterly from your account.
Your portfolio is built from more than 10 different funds that cover six asset classes, but to keep costs low, most of the mutual funds come from Fidelity Flex or Zero Index funds. There is automatic rebalancing, and you can make some tweaks to your investments by swapping out funds you don’t like with others.
Fidelity Go also takes a different approach to other popular robo-advisors. While the portfolio is set up and managed by a robo-advisor, a human broker is also in the mix, checking portfolios and rebalancing to correct any issues.
For education and research tools, Fidelity has some of the best screeners, planners, and webinars available. The education center is robust, offering you all kinds of articles, videos, and how-to guides for beginner investors.
In addition, every part of their Advanced Trader Pro platform comes with guidance, so you never feel lost while trying to place an order or when looking at different strategies.
Fidelity also offers a proprietary charting tool that uses Recognia data to list patterns and events. Seeing as how we come from a technical analysis background (of cryptoassets) here at The Tokenist, this was one of our favorite features when using Fidelity. With Active Trader Pro, you can customize your news feeds and even watch streaming videos from Bloomberg TV.
Every stock also has a “snapshot” page, which provides more insights as well as MSCI ratings for social, environmental, and governance factors.
Much of Fidelity’s research comes from great third-party provides like Ned Davis, Thomson Reuters, and McLean Capital Management. You can also use ETF research tools from six other providers. If you are an options trader, you will get an in-depth analysis from LiveVol.
Winner: We think E*Trade has the better offer here for education and research tools, but Fidelity Go’s robo-advisor is hard to beat. You can set up a portfolio in minutes, and it allows you to make changes if you want a certain fund included.
Trade Experience and Security
E*Trade offers multiple platforms that cater to the average investor as well as active traders and options traders. The main website platform is mostly for beginner investors who want to learn about investing and like semi-active trading.
For more active investors who like options, Power E*Trade offers options strategies, analysis, and charting. E*Trade Pro offers advanced, high-velocity traders the perfect platforms. All platforms provide real-time, streaming data, and you can place tickets right from the chart while you track it on-screen.
E*Trade also has advanced order-routing technology that looks for the best trade executions to increase your chances of a price improvement.
However, it may not compare to Fidelity’s order-routing and trade execution system, which was found to provide five times the price improvement in comparison to other brokerages.
Active Trader Pro is Fidelity’s desktop advanced platform, and it does just about everything that a frequent trader wants including streaming data and customizable charts. You can always check your order ticket, and guidance is provided, which can prevent costly mistakes.
Winner: Fidelity ultimately offers the best trade experience for average investors, but we think high-velocity day traders would choose E*Trade Pro for its charting and tracking tools.
Mobile and New Trade Tech
In the past few years, mobile trading has grown significantly, and many brokerages have been urged by their customers to add more features. Fidelity has done just that with a customizable mobile app that lets you place every type of order possible and trade in every asset. The startup home screen offers a dashboard that can be customized with your own news, watchlists, stock quotes, and tools.
E*Trade has also expanded on mobile, adding a mobile app for every platform. Power E*Trade is the most robust and offers futures trading with ladder functionality.
You can also access complex, customized charting and additional research tools on the mobile app. Synced watchlists are available on all apps, and you can access all tradable securities. While Etrade.com is available on mobile, you would probably have an easier time downloading the mobile app.
Winner: E*Trade has a few more research tools than Fidelity, but the two are almost equal in this category. Each app was designed to enhance your trading experience on-the-go.
Frequently Asked Questions: Fidelity vs E*Trade
Is Fidelity or E*Trade better for retirement?
E*Trade offers lower prices for active traders, but there are still some benefits for passive investors who want to save for retirement thanks to the brokerage’s fee-free mutual funds. There are more than 2,600 mutual funds available that have no fees, as well as more than 100 commission-free ETFs.
While you don’t need to invest a minimum to get started with IRAs on E*trade, some mutual funds have their own minimums. You also need enough in your account to at least buy a share with ETFs.
What really sets E*Trade apart from Fidelity is the retirement planning tools. You can use the My Virtual Advisor tool to design a portfolio based on inputs for your risk level, income, and retirement timeline. You can see a model portfolio in just a few minutes.
Investors at Fidelity can access over 3,500 no-transaction-fee funds. Fidelity does offer more low-cost mutual funds through its own zero-cost index. The brokerage was the first to include market index funds with a zero expense ratio.
These included their own mutual funds known as the Fidelity Zero Indexes. Basically, investors are able to build a perfectly balanced and nearly fee retirement platform with these zero-cost expense ratio funds.
Fidelity automatically sends all cash from retail brokerage and retirement account into the Fidelity Government Money Market Fund or SPAXX with its high cash sweep rate. As of 2019, the fund had a 1.61% interest rate.
Which offers better customer support: Fidelity or E*Trade?
Both brokerages offer 24/7 live chat, email, and phone support. However, E*Trade also has physical branch locations in 30 different areas.
In our test, live chat representatives were knowledgeable and responded quickly to requests, though we were redirected to phone support which had a small wait time for E*Trade.
However, the representative was quick to answer our questions and directed us to a broker who was waiting to help. We found that each brokerage to have excellent customer service.
Which One is Right for You?
Fidelity and E*Trade are neck and neck with their platforms and tools. We like Fidelity Go as a robo-advisory service because of its low-cost, flexible approach to account management and investing. There are also a variety of low-cost or no-cost mutual funds that can earn you money with Fidelity.
However, E*Trade has more educational tools and multiple ways to research a variety of stocks. If you are an active trader, you probably would like E*Trade Pro’s platform the most as you can customize charts and streaming data for technical analysis.