Charles Schwab is one of the most well-known investment companies in the world. Founded by Charles Schwab in 1971, the company offers banking as well as brokerage services to investors.
Schwab is consistently known as one of the best places to invest. And it in October 2020, it closed on its acquisition of TD Ameritrade, which further cemented its status as one of the largest and most capable brokers. Check out our full list of the best places to invest here.
We love Schwab for both its investment options (it has some of the lowest-expense ratio mutual funds available), it's commission-free platform, and it's solid banking products.
Learn more about Schwab in our Schwab brokerage review below!
- Full service brokerage with solid online and offline options
- Commission-free for stocks, options, and ETFs
- Robo-advisor portfolios with no management fees
Charles Schwab Details
$0 for Stock, Options, ETF trades
Traditional, IRA, Trust, and More
What Does Charles Schwab Offer?
Schwab is one of the oldest brokerage firms in the United States, and they've been consistently known for their low costs over the last few years. Plus, they've added in a ton of great features, such as banking.
If you're thinking about opening an account with Schwab, here's a breakdown of its key features and options.
In 2023, Schwab was named a top pick in our annual reader survey of the best stock brokers because of their low fees, robust options, and banking products. Read our full list of the best stock brokers here.
Low Trading Costs
There is no fee to open or maintain an account with Charles Schwab. Stocks, ETF, and options trades all trade commission-free and Schwab currently offers over 4,000 no-transaction-fee (NTF) mutual funds. There are per-contract fees, however, for options ($0.65) and futures trades ($2.25).
Unless you're trading futures, broker-assisted trades cost $25. See how Charles Schwab's prices compare using our Online Stock Broker Comparison Tool.
While commission-free trades is now a preqrequisite for brokers to attract active traders, most also try to differentiate themselves by offering an advanced trading platform. And Charles Schwab is no different.
In addition to its main platform, Schwab offers StreetSmart Edge® which includes streaming data, powerful charting tools, and more. Both of its trading platforms are available on both desktop and mobile (iOS and Android). However, StreetSmart Edge® is currently rated below 2.5/5 on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Schwab offers fee-free fractional share investing through its Schwab Stock Slices™ program. With Stock Slices™, you can invest as little as $5 in any of the companies that are listed on the S&P 500.
Your total amount invested can be invested in 1 to 30 stocks. If you choose more than one stock, your investment will be divided evenly among each selected security. For example, if you invest $250 and choose 5 different companies to invest that money in, $50 will be invested in each stock.
There are some notable limitations to the Schwab Stock Slices™ program, however. For one, it doesn't currently support automatic investing. And, as of writing, it doesn't allow fractional share investing in ETFs or non-S&P 500 stocks.
Charles Schwab calls it robo-advisory service Intelligent Portfolios. Clients who use the service will have their money automatically invested in diversified portfolios that are composed of low-cost ETFs.
But Intelligent Portfolios' most notable feature is that it comes with absolutely no advisory fee, which is virtually unheard of in the industry. However, the investment minimum for Intelligent Portfolios is higher than many of its competitors at $5k.
If your account balance is at least $25k, you can add unlimited CFP access by upgrading to Intelligent Portfolios premium. But you'll no longer get fee-free service at this level. You'll have to pay a $300 one-time planning fee when you sign up for Intelligent Portfolio Premium and then $30/month after that.
Socially Responsible Investing
Currently, Schwab offers 500+ SRI mutual funds and more than 50 SRI ETFs. It's also easy to compare them by using its mutual fund and ETF screening tools. However, it should be noted that there is no SRI strategy option for clients who use the Intelligent Portfolios robo-advisor service.
Personalized Wealth Management
Schwab is one of the few brokers that can offer everything from 100% DIY account control to custom portfolios built and managed by human advisors.
If you have at least $500k to invest, Schwab can refer you to a local advisor near you that's part of its Schwab Advisor Network®. There's no charge for the referral, but each independent advisor will have its own AUM fee structure.
And, finally, if you have an account balance of $1 million or higher, you're eligible for Schwab Private Client™. At this level, you'll receive a dedicated team of advisors to help you reach your investing goals. The advisory fees for Private Client™ start at 0.80%.
How Does Schwab Compare?
Schwab is one of the most popular investment firms in the United States - with some of the lowest fees on both trades and expense ratios.
That's why Schwab is consistently one of the top online brokers to invest at.
See this quick comparison here:
How Do I Open An Account?
You can open a Schwab account online in about 10 minutes. The sign-up process is one of the easiest that we've seen.
If you run into any problems, you can contact Schwab's support team at any time of the day or night at 800-435-4000. Or if you'd like to sit down with a local Financial Consultant to open your account, you can find one near you using this directory.
Is It Safe And Secure?
Yes, in addition to securing its website with bank-grade encryption, Schwab offers a variety of tools to help you secure your account include two-factor authentication, Voice ID, and security alerts.
Through SIPC insurance, your brokerage accounts assets are protected up to $500,000. And Schwab has purchased an additional $600 million of insurance through London insurers. Keep in mind that these insurance policies only protect against brokerage failure, not against losses due to investment depreciation.
Schwab offers cash management solutions as well including a high-yield savings account, certificate of deposit (CD), and more. Deposits in any of these cash accounts are protected by FDIC insurance up to $250,000.
How Do I Contact Schwab?
There are several ways to reach a consultant or customer service representative at Charles Schwab. By phone, the company can be contacted 24/7 at 800-435-4000. An online chat option is also available through their website.
Investors near a local brick and mortar location can also meet with a representative. There are now over 400 branches spread throughout the United States, with 140 of those locations shared by Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade employees.
Investment consultants are always on hand to answers investor questions or help stop issues before they lead to a financial loss. These consultants are up to date on the latest research as they spot new opportunities and other factors that could change investment prospects in the stock market.
Is It Worth It?
Charles Schwab is a classic company that has reinvented itself for the needs of new investors. They are extremely competitive with their commission-free stock and ETF trades and have some of the lowest-cost mutual funds. Their dedication to researching each detail of the stock market can help anyone unsure of how to make the most of their portfolio.
An eye on details also means consultants may catch a mistake that even the most experienced investor might have missed. Their straightforward customer service also reassures clients and keeps communication open between all parties.
Charles Schwab FAQs
Let's answer a few of the most common questions people ask about Schwab:
Is Charles Schwab owned by Bank of America?
Not anymore. The Charles Schwab corporation was a subsidiary of Bank of America for a few years after it was acquired for $55 million in 1983. However, Charles Schwab (the person) led a buyback of the company in 1987 and took it public just a couple of months later.
Does Schwab have hidden fees?
There are no monthly fees with Schwab or commissions for self-directed trades. However, Schwab clients are charged $25 for trades that are broker-assisted.
Is Charles Schwab good for beginners?
Yes, with its wide variety of low-cost index funds and ETFs and it's zero-fee Intelligent Portfolios, Schwab is one of our top choices for new investors.
Does Charles Schwab offer a bonus for new clients?
Yes, if you're referred by an existing Schwab client, you could earn a Bonus Award of $100 to $500 after you open and fund a new account.
Charles Schwab Features
No-Transaction-Fee (NTF) Mutual Funds
Basic Account Fee
Intelligent Portfolios AUM Fee
Intelligent Portfolios Premium AUM Fee
$300 set-up fee and $30/mo
Schwab Advisor Network® AUM Fee
Varies by advisor
Schwab Private Client™ AUM Fee
Starting at 0.80%
6.575% to 8.325% (as of December 2021)
Customer Service Number
Customer Service Hours
Mobile App Availability
iOS and Android
Charles Schwab Review
Commissions & Fees
Ease Of Use
Tools & Resources
Charles Schwab is a leading brokerage that offers commission-free trading, low-cost index funds, fee-free robo-advisor portfolios, and more!
- Commission-free trading
- Zero-fee robo-advisor portfolios
- Fractional share investing
- Great customer service
- Investment minimum for Intelligent Portfolios is on the high side ($5k)
- Only supports buying fractional shares of companies in the S&P 500
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.
Editor: Clint Proctor Reviewed by: Claire Tak