It seems that as soon as you start working, you start hearing about investing. While it may seem unattainable when you’re first starting out, investing can be a great way to help you achieve your financial goals. Whether you’re saving up to purchase a house, looking to grow your wealth, or simply planning for retirement, investing can be a great asset to you.
If you’re ready to explore the world of investing, then it’s time to seek out an online brokerage. There are several options out there, and E*TRADE may be one that you’ve even heard of in passing. So what does it do, and how do you start using it? Let’s explore those questions and more.
What is E*TRADE?
E*TRADE is a popular online broker that can be used by almost any investor, whether you’re a beginner or have years of experience. It offers two separate trading platforms, as well as mobile apps for each platform. You can also use E*TRADE as an educational resource to help you understand market trends and become a better investor overall.
How does E*TRADE work?
E*TRADE makes it easy to jump right in when you visit their website. All you need to do is click “Open account” at the top right of the homepage.
E*TRADE lets you know upfront what you’ll need to set up your account.
Then, you’ll select the account type that you want to set up.
You'll be able to choose:
A brokerage account. This investing and trading account allows you to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, bonds, and more.
IRAs. You can open and manage tax-deductible retirement contributions in both traditional and Roth IRAs. E*TRADE also provides rollover IRAs to consolidate assets from a former employer’s retirement plan.
Once you fund your E*TRADE account by transferring money from your bank account using the desktop platform or the e*TRADE mobile app. You'll be able to view your account balance, trade stocks, utilize charting tools, see all your retirement accounts in one and get customer support all online or using an Android or ios system.
How much does E*TRADE cost?
When it comes to online trading platforms, there is rarely one set price to keep an eye on. Instead, you need to consider the cost of each transaction that you’re interested in. Fortunately, E*TRADE is transparent about pricing.
Stocks & ETF trades
E*TRADE is commission-free, which means it does not charge a commission per trade for stocks or ETFs.
There are no transaction fee for more than 4,400 funds traded through their platform. Although there may be fees for other funds.
There are a few different pricing options for options. If you close short options positions that are priced at $0.10 or less, there is no contract fee.
If you place under 30 stock, ETF, or options trades per quarter, there is a $0.65 contract fee. For 30 or more, there is a $0.50 per contract fee.
Futures options have a $1.50 contract fee.
There is no cost for U.S. Treasury auction or U.S. Treasury secondary trades online. For online secondary trades, E*TRADE charges $1 per bond, with a $10 minimum and $250 maximum. Broker-assisted trades cost an extra $20 commission.
You can also have professionally managed investment accounts through Core Portfolios, Blend Portfolios, Dedicated Portfolios and Fixed Income Portfolios. Core Portfolios can begin with $500 and have a flat annual advisory fee of 0.30%. The highest fees of 1.25% are in Dedicated Portfolios for the first million.
E*TRADE’s brokerage account offers a full range of investment tools to help you make the investments. There are several types of investment choices to choose from if you decide to open a brokerage account.
You can think of purchasing stock in a company as purchasing a “share” or a small piece of the company. Stocks are traded throughout the day, which leads to frequent fluctuation in prices. You can purchase stocks in a variety of industries, and you can also sell them when the time is right.
Options are pretty much exactly what they sound like. If you purchase an option, you are purchasing a contract that gives you the right to buy or sell a specific stock (or other types of investment) for a specified price during a specified period.
E*TRADE offers the Power E*TRADE platform for trading options on stocks, indexes, and futures. This platform includes a snapshot analysis, spectral analysis, live-action, and risk slide tools. These tools can help you become more efficient in analyzing and trading options. You’ll have 4 levels to choose from, each of which is designed for a specific objective.
E*TRADE also offers the dime buyback program, which allows you to close short options positions with no contract fees.
Futures are a bit more complex. They’re contracts for the delivery or cash settlement of things like materials or goods. Most futures are traded and settled similarly to stocks. However, some futures are physically settled, meaning that an actual physical item trades hands.
To trade futures, E*TRADE offers the Power E*TRADE platform. You can use the platform to view real-time contract prices and trade, cancel, or modify your orders. The platform also gives you access to a full suite of tools to help formulate your trading strategies.
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
These are a collection of stocks, bonds, or other investments that all come together in one neat little package. You can buy or sell ETFs on the stock exchange, just as you would do with individual stocks.
Like ETFs, mutual funds are also a collection of investments. However, unlike ETFs, mutual funds are only traded once per day after the market closes. While you can place an order for a mutual fund anytime throughout the day, the final price that you’ll pay is determined after the market closes and that’s when your order will be completed.
Mutual funds also tend to be more costly than ETFs. They usually require a minimum investment amount, meaning you may need to purchase much more than one share, depending on the price at the end of the day. While E*TRADE offers more than 4,400 mutual funds with no transaction fee, others may charge a transaction fee.
Bonds & CDs
Remember these? Bonds and CDs are still alive and well, and offer a certain level of predictability if you decide to invest in them. E*TRADE can offer you direct access to over 50,000 bonds and other fixed-income products, whether you’re just starting out or if you’re an expert investor. You can choose from Treasury bonds, agency bonds, municipal bonds, corporate bonds, high-yield bonds, and brokered CDs.
Core portfolios is an automated investment management product, also known as a robo advisor. This allows E*TRADE to build your portfolio for you, monitor and rebalance it, and do what needs to be done to manage your portfolio based on your goals. Each portfolio is unique and its strategy is based on what you tell E*TRADE about your investment and savings goals, as well as your income and the level of risk that you’re comfortable with.
To use this robo advisor from E*TRADE, you need to have $500 in starting funds. You’ll also need to pay a 0.30% advisor fee annually.
Premium savings account
E*TRADE doesn’t require a minimum deposit to open a premium savings account, so you can open it even if you don’t have a whole lot to invest right now. You can earn 0.05% APY with your account.
Like many bank accounts these days, you can access and manage your account with E*TRADE’s mobile app.
If you’re interested in opening an IRA with E*TRADE, you can use the IRA Selector tool to see what accounts you’re eligible for. There are no annual IRA fees and no account minimums for a traditional IRA, but there may be transaction fees, fund expenses, brokerage commissions, and service fees.
The nice thing about the Traditional IRA is that your pre-tax contributions to the IRA lower your annual taxable income. Then you can withdraw assets from your E*TRADE IRA account for qualified purchases, such as a first-time home purchase, higher education costs, or some major medical expenses.
You may also want to use the IRA Selector tool if you’re interested in a Roth IRA because there are certain income limits to qualify. Your Roth IRA will be funded only with after-tax contributions, but after meeting certain criteria you could meet the requirements for qualified distributions that are tax-exempt.
A rollover IRA is a great option if you have an IRA or 401(k) from a previous job hanging around somewhere. E*TRADE’s retirement specialists can help explain your options and guide you through transferring your old retirement assets to this new account. There is no annual fee for this IRA account, but you can have E*TRADE build a retirement portfolio for you for as little as $15 annually.
Who is E*TRADE best for?
E*TRADE’s mobile and online platforms make it easier and less intimidating to begin your investing journey. You can use the resources on E*TRADE’s website to learn more about investing options before you begin if you’d like. You can also opt for E*TRADE’s Core Portfolios if you want to allow a robo advisor to do the hard work of selecting your investments for you.
Experienced and active traders can also find value in E*TRADE’s platform and trading tools. With the various investment options offered by E*TRADE, you’re sure to find accounts that make sense for your goals.
Who shouldn’t use E*TRADE?
People who want access to foreign exchange markets
While E*TRADE is a full-service broker that offers plenty of investment opportunities, it’s limited in foreign exchange markets. You can only access those markets via futures trading.
Pros & cons
Overall, E*TRADE is user-friendly. The mobile app is great if you’re someone who likes to manage your finances on-the-go. You can also use the regular website if you’re checking in at work or home. The user experience on both the website and mobile app both offer tools that are easy to access and understand.
E*TRADE’s robo advisor platform is a great opportunity for beginners to start investing their money without investing a lot of time. If you’re hesitant to get involved with investing, this can be a great way to gain experience and learn as you go.
For some, E*TRADE may be more expensive than some of its competitors. There are minimum deposits on some accounts, which can be prohibitive if you’re nervous to start investing in the first place. If you don’t plan to trade often, the costs to trade options and mutual funds may also seem costly. The starting cost to set up an account with E*TRADE’s robo advisor platform may also be more expensive than if you were to use a competitor’s platform.
Unlike some online brokerages, E*TRADE does not offer a credit or debit card option with its accounts. If you’re looking to open an account that allows you to access your money with this method, you may be better off looking elsewhere.
E*TRADE vs. competitors
TD Ameritrade offers many of the same products as E*TRADE, and then some. You’ll find all of the same investment and retirement options from this brokerage, as well as a robo advisor platform. TD Ameritrade offers 529 plans for education, which can help you set up a fund for your child or other person’s college education. You can also open specialty accounts with TD Ameritrade, including trusts, sole proprietorship, and non-profit corporate accounts.
If you’re looking for a way to invest while also working with an institution that you already trust, TD Ameritrade may be a good option for you. With over 175 branches worldwide, you most likely have access to someone who can help you get started face-to-face.
Looking for a company that can help you out repeatedly with some important decisions? Then Ally might be right for you. In addition to investment and retirement products, Ally offers financing for mortgages, auto loans, and even personal loans.
Like many companies, Ally offers the option to take investing into your own hands with self-directed trading. You can also choose the Ally robo advisor option if you’re looking for something that you can more or less set and forget.
You’ll be able to start trading with an IRA or brokerage account as soon as the funds that you’ve added to the account have cleared.
Can I trade bitcoin futures?
E\*TRADE offers the option to trade XBT-Cboe Bitcoin Futures (/XBT) and BTC-CME Bitcoin Futures (/BTC).
Is it safe to use E*TRADE?
E*TRADE highlights five different ways that it protects your assets. This includes checking and savings accounts that are FDIC insured.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for a reliable company to help you get involved with investing, E*TRADE has plenty to offer. The fact that this company offers different ways to trade and monitor your account makes it accessible for any user.
While there are limited options for getting involved in foreign markets, E*TRADE can offer a low-cost way to invest in U.S. markets in a variety of ways. You can also use E*TRADE as your resource to becoming a better investor as you gain more experience. And if you’re not comfortable managing your investments, you can use the E*TRADE robo advisor platform to create and manage your portfolio for you.
At the end of the day, E*TRADE is a reliable company that can offer investment opportunities to beginners and experienced traders alike.
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