Managing your investment portfolio is a headache, and can come with a daunting amount of fees. Many people want to get their first taste of investing, but don’t know where to start. Everyone intends to plan for their future, but breaking into the investment game can be time-consuming and confusing.
The answer, for many, comes in the form of online investing with brokerage firms. Still, though, the options are plentiful, and it’s hard to determine the best choice. Ahead, we’ll take a look at Charles Schwab, and let you know if they’re worth considering for your investment future.
What is Charles Schwab?
Charles Schwab is a bank and brokerage firm with headquarters in San Francisco California. It’s been in business since the late 60’s and has been publically traded since 1987. Charles Schwab is widely recognized as a reputable organization in the investment community and has netted several awards and words of praise in the recent past. Some of the most notable mentions include “Highest in Investor Satisfaction” by J.D. Power in 2016 and 217, and one of Fortune’s “World Most Admired Companies.”
Schwab prides itself on their around-the-clock customer service to their investors. They seem like they want the investor to succeed above all, unlike other firms that offer little to no guidance. The information they provide is perfect for seasoned, savvy investors and their attention to detail will help new investors get started.
How Charles Schwab Works
Charles Schwab works like any online investment platform. You create an account, transfer any accounts from your old brokerage provider if you have them, add some money to your account, and then you’re ready to start investing. If you’re new to online investing, there are several resources available at the beginning. Schwab is one of the easiest platforms to grasp for new investors and doesn’t tend to intimidate as much as some.
The account minimum is around the average at $1,000, but that’s close to the industry standard. If you agree to transfer at least $100 a month, though, Schwab waives the account minimum. On index funds, however, there is no longer a minimum balance. If you want to invest in these funds, you can do so with a small amount and watch it grow.
For a trading platform, Schwab uses StreetSmart and StreetSmart Edge. The former is a web platform, and the latter is a desktop platform that targets advanced investors. It’s relatively easy to navigate and intuitive for beginners. There, you’ll be able to monitor your portfolio, as well as receive relevant information from Schwab and independent sources.
If you want to use Charles Schwab as your primary form of banking as well, you have a few options at your disposal. Just like any bank, there are checking and savings accounts where you can access your earnings, but Schwab offers no ATM fees worldwide. People who travel tend to use banks like Schwab for their accounts so that they’ll always have international currency when they need it.
Commissions and Fees
Commission is one of the biggest selling points Charles Schwab has. Recently, they changed their commission structure from $8.95 to $4.95 for options trades, which puts them among the cheapest in the industry. On top of that, there are over 200 commission-free exchange traded funds (ETF) from which to choose
As far as fees, there are hardly any of which to speak. All the research is free, which is impressive when considering the quality of the advice. There are no fees or trade minimums on their platform. Schwab also offers over 3,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds, with no annual inactivity fee. Their fees and commissions are among the lowest in the industry, so this part shouldn’t scare you away.
Steps to Get Started
- Choose your account type.
- Decide if you want kind of account works best for you and make your selection.
- Keep your investment strategy in mind, or ask for assistance over the phone or online from a Schwab associate.
- Provide your information.
- Use your Social Security number, address, and other necessary information to get your account started
- Create a login ID.
- Make sure your ID and password are memorable to you or write them down so you won’t forget.
- Set your account features.
- Decide what kind of investments you want to make.
- Take a look at the available features, and see which ones are most important to you.
- Put money in your account.
- The minimum balance is currently $1,000, but remember that they waive this fee if you transfer at least $100 per month.
- If you’re moving an account from a previous brokerage provider, go to your account, select “Transfer Account,” and follow the steps listed.
Pros and Cons of Charles Schwab
- Low commissions overall
- Commission-free ETFs
- Free, top-notch research materials
- Easy-to-use investing platform
- Around-the-clock customer service
- Pricey transaction-fee funds
- Some users reported problems with banking overseas
The public perception of Charles Schwab is generally positive. They are well respected in the investing community, and not without reason. Their research is solid, and new investors seem to be particularly fond of their platform. They’re available online or by phone at all times of the day, which goes a long way for a lot of users. As far as negatives go, many of the user reviews seem to focus on specific problems rather than overarching negatives that take away from the user experience.
There are several other online brokers that you should consider before making your decision. One of the most famous of the bunch is E-Trade. They are another option that’s ideal for beginners and experienced investors. They have a bit more on the commission side at $6.95, but if you exceed 30 trades per quarter, the commission matches Schwab’s. They have a $500 account minimum, and their online platform doesn’t seem to be as intuitive as Schwab’s.
Ally Invest is another online broker option that competes with Schwab. They have no account minimum, but also don’t offer and commission-free ETFs. Their platform is exceptional, but their fees can add up over time. They have the same commission as Schwab, but Ally Invest appears to cater itself towards more experienced investors rather than those who are new to online investing.
Should You Get Charles Schwab?
If you’re looking for a way to invest online, Charles Schwab is a reliable option. Their service and research are exceptional, and their platform is easy to use even if you’re new to investing. Their commission and fees are among the lowest in the industry, which will help you save money as you get an investment portfolio off the ground.
One of the places that Schwab excels is in their customer service. They are constantly trying to help their clients succeed. If you look for yourself, you’ll see quite a few reviews that cite customer service as one of the selling points of Schwab, and that’s no accident. There are other options in the space that provide favorable results, but Schwab is one of the better selections. Hopefully, this review helped you make a decision, and we wish you best of luck in your future investing!