Charles Schwab Review 2021: Robust Investment Offerings and 24/7 Customer Service

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Charles Schwab is one of the largest discount brokerages in America, and it offers something for investors of all levels of experience and needs. New investors will appreciate that there are no minimums to open most accounts, and customer service reps are available to help 24/7 via phone or chat.

NextAdvisor named Charles Schwab as one of the best online brokers of 2021 because of its high-quality trading platform, commission-free trading, and research guides. “We’ve chosen Schwab as our primary custodian,” said Asher Rogovy, the chief investment officer at Magnifina, LLC, an investment advisory firm. “Schwab’s team is outstanding, and when it comes to your money, you shouldn’t settle for anything less.” 

Charles Schwab Review 2021 

Founded in 1971, Charles Schwab is a full-service investing brokerage that provides both an online platform and in-person support at over 400 of its branches across the U.S.

Schwab offers an online trading platform for those who want to invest on their own, a robo-advisor with the option for professional guidance, and customized plans for portfolios that are actively managed by a human. 

There are also robust investment offerings, notably over 2,000 index funds and ETFs, and more than 200 index mutual funds that bear no transaction fees. Plus, all index ETFs, whether they stem from Charles Schwab Investment Management or third-party providers, have zero commission fees.

Index funds are a basket of stocks that track a piece of the stock market. Investing in an index fund, like one that tracks the S&P 500, can help you diversify your investments among many different companies, rather than just one. It helps keep your investments safe in case one company takes a downturn. 

Pros and Cons of Charles Schwab 

Pros

  • No fees to open and maintain an account for brokerage or trading services

  • No minimums to keep accounts open

  • Robust suite of investing tools, educational resources, trading platforms and access to in-depth market research

  • 24/7 customer service via phone

Cons

  • Broker-assisted trades can be as high as $25

  • Myriad options, while exciting, can be overwhelming to investors just starting out

Charles Schwab at A Glance

Charles Schwab offers a comprehensive set of accounts and investments. 

  • Online brokerage accounts, robo advisors, and professionally managed accounts 
  • Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs, rollover IRAs, custodial IRAs, 529 college savings plans, educational savings plans (ESAs), individual 401(k)s, business 401(k)s, SEP IRA, Simple IRA
  • Tradable securities include: stocks, bonds, fractional shares, CDs, mutual funds, index funds, ETFs options, futures. There are more than 4,200 fee-free mutual funds. 
  • Mobile investing app available on iOS and Android 
  • 24/7 customer service via phone or chat 

Investments Available on Charles Schwab 

Charles Schwab has a vast range of investments, ranging from stocks to margin loans and money market funds. According to its website, it is the third largest provider of index funds, with over 2,000 index funds and ETFs. The average annual fee for index funds is 0.15%, which is a low expense ratio.

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Fixed Income Products 
  • Options 
  • Futures 
  • Mutual Funds
  • ETFs
  • Money Market Funds 

Charles Schwab Fees

For a full list of fees, readers can look at Charles Schwab’s pricing page.

FeeAmount
Trading and commission fees Online stock and ETF trades – $0
Online options – $0.65 per contract
Automated phone trades – $5
Broker-assisted trades for stocks, ETFs, and options – $25
Future trades (online and broker-assisted trades) –  $1.50 per contract
Mutual funds through Schwab Mutual Fund OneSource –  $0 for online and automated phone trade, $25 charge for broker-assisted trades Non-Schwab Mutual Fund OneSource trades – $49.95 per purchase, $0 redemption fee for online and automated phone trades
Schwab’s Mutual Fund OneSource service –  $49.95 short-term redemption fee 
Account minimum for brokerage and trading services $0 
Account maintenance fee for brokerage and trading services $0 
Account fees No annual or inactivity fee; $25 per transfer; $15 per transfer if submitted online
Investment management fees Schwab Intelligent Portfolios – no advisory fee or commissions, $5,000 minimum to get started
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios premium – $30 monthly fee, $300 one-time planning fee, $25,000 minimum to get started 
Schwab Private Client – Starts at 0.80% of assets under management, $1 million to get started
Schwab Advisory Network – no fee if referred, advisor fees vary, $500,000 to get started

Who Is Charles Schwab Best For?

Charles Schwab is a full-service discount brokerage that provides online brokerage accounts, robo advisors, and professionally managed accounts and services. Charles Schwab is robust in its offerings and with no account minimums or annual or inactivity fees. This makes Charles Schwab a great option for all types of investors, from beginner to experienced.

While the basic robo advisor doesn’t bear any fees, there is an account minimum of $5,000. For those who would like AI-powered automated guidance, they may find a robo-advisor with lower minimums to get started.

How to Open an Account with Charles Schwab 

  1. Figure out what you want from a brokerage. Knowing whether you intend to trade and manage your portfolio and do the research yourself, tap into a robo advisor, or get some professional guidance can help you figure out whether Charles Schwab is a good fit for you.
  2. Do your homework on fees, investments available, and resources. Read up on fees and costs related to trading and maintaining an account. It’s also important to know what types of investments are available, as well as resources, tools, and research to help you make informed investing decisions.
  3. Open an account online. According to the Charles Schwab website, it will take about 10 minutes to complete the application and open a brokerage account. Be sure to have your Social Security Number. If you’re employed, you’ll also need your employer’s address. Other information you’ll be required to provide include personal information such as your address, date of birth, email, and phone number.

    Unlike some digital-only discount brokerages, you can step foot into a brick-and-mortar location to get your questions answered or to get help with opening an account. There’s also 24/7 assistance via chat or phone. 

Charles Schwab Compared to Others

Charles SchwabVanguardTD Ameritrade*
Types of investing accounts Brokerage and trading, IRAs and other retirement accounts, managed accounts, college and education savings plans  Brokerage and trading, IRAs and other retirement accounts, college and education savings plans  Brokerage and trading, IRAs and other retirement accounts, managed accounts 
Fees $0 trading commission fees for online trades for stocks and ETFs; other fees vary  $0 trading commission fees on online trades for stocks, ETFs, and Vanguard mutual funds; other fees vary  $0 trading commission fees on online trades for stocks, ETF, and option trades; other fees vary  
Account fees No annual, inactivity, maintenance fees $20 annual fee on most accounts with a balance less than $10,000  No annual fee 
Mobile app Investing app available Investing app available Investing app available 
Customer service 24/7 via phone and app, brick and mortar locations  Reps available via phone 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST weekdays Reps available via phone 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST weekdays 
*TD Ameritrade is owned by Charles Schwab 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money do I need to open a Charles Schwab account?

For its brokerage and trading services platform, there are no account minimums.

What is Charles Schwab known for?

Charles Schwab is known for being a full-service brokerage that offers online trading, a variety of retirement accounts, and detailed research and tools for investors. There are no account minimums or maintenance fees and thousands of no-load mutual funds.

What is the minimum deposit for Charles Schwab?

There is no minimum deposit to open an account through Charles Schwab.

Does Schwab have hidden fees?

While there are no account maintenance or opening fees, and no online commission fees on stocks, ETFs, and Schwab’s own mutual funds, there are trading fees for options and non-Schwab mutual funds.

There may be additional fees, such as fund expenses, brokerage commissions, and other account fees. You can take a look at Charles Schwab’s pricing page online to get a full run-down.