Summary

Recommended for investors and traders looking for solid research, low fees and great customer service

Charles Schwab is a US discount broker that was founded in 1971 and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

It is regulated by several top-tier financial authorities, such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Overall Rating
4.9
Fees
4.4
Account opening
4.4
Deposit and withdrawal
2.2
Trading platform
4.2
Markets and products
3.3
Research
4.3
Customer service
4.5
Education
4.5

Charles Schwab pros and cons

Charles Schwab offers free stock and ETF trading. Its research is high-quality and covers a lot of tools, including trading ideas and detailed fundamental data. Customer support is fast and gives relevant answers.

On the negative side, Charles Schwab charges high fees for some mutual funds and you can only trade assets available on US and Canadian exchanges. Schwab UK and other international versions of the broker require a minimum deposit of US$25,000.

Pros Cons
Free stock and ETF trading High fees for some mutual funds
Outstanding research Only US/Canada markets available
Great customer service
Charles Schwab main features and highlights
🗺️ Country of regulation USA, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore
💰 Trading fees class Low
💰 Inactivity fee charged No
💰 Withdrawal fee amount $0
💰 Minimum deposit $0
🕖 Time to open an account 1 day
🎮 Demo account provided Yes
🛍️ Products offered Stock, ETF, Fund, Bond, Options, Futures

Author of this review

Ádám Nasli

Author of this review

Ádám is a motivated finance expert with over two years of experience in banking and investment, and a professional degree in this field. He's eager to help people find the best investment provider for them, and to make the investment sector as transparent as possible.

Ádám Nasli

Broker Expert

Ádám is a motivated finance expert with over two years of experience in banking and investment, and a professional degree in this field. He's eager to help people find the best investment provider for them, and to make the investment sector as transparent as possible.

Everything you find on BrokerChooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

Charles Schwab review
Fees

4.4
To find out more about its trading and non-trading fees, visit Charles Schwab

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE
Charles Schwab offers free stock and ETF trading, some mutual funds and bonds are also free, while non-trading fees are low. On the negative side, some mutual fund fees are high.
Pros Cons
Free stock/ETF trading High fees for non-free mutual funds
Some mutual funds and bonds are free
Low non-trading fees
Charles Schwab fees snapshot
Assets Fee level Fee terms
US stock Low Free stock and ETF trading
EURUSD - Not available
Mutual fund High $49.5 for buying while selling is free; there are also around 4,000 free mutual funds
Inactivity fee Low No inactivity fee

How we ranked fees

We ranked Charles Schwab's fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.

First, let's go over some basic terms related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees and non-trading fees.

In the sections below, you will find the most relevant fees of Charles Schwab for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing the most important fees are commissions.

We also compared Charles Schwab's fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, E*TRADE and Firstrade. This selection is based on objective factors such as products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc. See a more detailed rundown of Charles Schwab alternatives.

To have a clear overview of Charles Schwab, let's start with the trading fees.

Charles Schwab trading fees

Charles Schwab trading fees are low. The fee structure is transparent and easy to understand. 

Stock fees and ETF fees

Charles Schwab charges no commission for stock and ETF trading, which is superb. 

Charles Schwab stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
US stock $0.0 $0.0 $0.0

If you prefer stock trading on margin, you should check Charles Schwab's margin rates.

Trading on margin basically means that you borrow money from your broker and can purchase more shares than you could with just the available cash in your account. You have to pay interest on this borrowed money – the interest rate is called the margin rate. It can account for a significant portion of your trading costs.

Charles Schwab's margin rates are high.

Charles Schwab annual margin rates
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
USD margin rate 8.3% 9.0% 8.8%

Charles Schwab's margin rates are volume-tiered. There is a base rate, plus a premium depending on the borrowed amount. At the time of the review, the base rate was 6.5%, resulting in the following financing rates:

Charles Schwab annual margin rate tiers
Debit balance Rate Base rate + / -
$250,000 - $499,999 6.575% Base rate +0.075%
$100,000 - $249,999 6.825% Base rate +0.325%
$50,000 - $99,999 6.875% Base rate +0.375%
$25,000 - $49,999 7.825% Base rate +1.325%
$0 - $24,999 8.325% Base rate +1.825%

Fund fees

Charles Schwab fund fees are high except for around 4,000 mutual funds that are free to trade. This represents almost half of the more than 10,000 fund offering. The standard charge is $49.95 per purchase while redemption is free of charge. In our comparison table, we halved Charles Schwab's fee to be comparable with other brokers that charge for both buying and selling.

Charles Schwab commission for a $2,000 fund purchase
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
Mutual fund $24.8 $20.0 $0.0

We really liked that Charles Schwab offers some 4,000 mutual funds where trading is free. These include Schwab Funds and thousands of other funds included in the Mutual Fund OneSource Select List of quality funds. However, should you sell these funds within 90 days of purchase, you will be charged a $49.5 redemption fee.

Bond fees

Charles Schwab has generally low bond fees. The bond fees vary depending on the type of bond you purchase. There is no commission for Treasury bonds, Treasury Bills, Treasury Notes and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS).

Charles Schwab commission of a $10,000 government bond trade
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
US Treasury bond $0.0 $0.0 $0.0

For other bonds, like corporate bonds and zero-coupon Treasuries, the commission is $1 per bond with a $10 minimum and $250 maximum. Note however that the bond price itself in these cases may also include a markup that reflects the bid-ask spread and is not capped.

Options fees

Charles Schwab options fees are low, at $0.65 per contract.

Charles Schwab stock index options commission of 10 contracts
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
US stock index options $6.5 $6.5 $0.0

Futures fees

Charles Schwab futures fees are average. Note that in our comparison for similar brokers, IB charges less for micro E-mini futures than for regular E-minis, whereas Charles Schwab charges the same fee for both.

Charles Schwab stock index futures commission of 10 contracts
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
US micro e-mini stock index futures $15.0 $15.0 -

Non-trading fees

Charles Schwab has low non-trading fees. There are no inactivity and account fees. IRA accounts are also free and there are no minimum balance requirements for any of those accounts.

There is no withdrawal fee if you use ACH transfer. Withdrawals to other banks by wire transfer cost $25. 

Charles Schwab non-trading fees
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
Account fee No No No
Inactivity fee No No No
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

Charles Schwab review
Account opening

4.4
To experience the account opening process, visit Charles Schwab

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE
Opening an account at Charles Schwab is easy, fast and fully digital. There is no minimum deposit for US clients, but other clients have to transfer a $25,000 minimum to start.
Pros Cons
Fast $25,000 minimum deposit for non-US clients
Fully digital
No minimum deposit

Can you open an account?

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Charles Schwab is a US discount broker that primarily targets US clients, but its services are available to clients in more than 40 other countries as well, including e.g. the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

The services available can vary by country. For example, clients from the UK and Hong Kong can't trade with futures or mutual funds, only stocks, ETFs, options and bonds are provided.

What is the minimum deposit at Charles Schwab?

The required Charles Schwab minimum deposit is different for US and non-US clients:

  • $0 for US clients
  • $25,000 for non-US clients

So for example, the Schwab UK minimum deposit is $25,000.

If you would like to use Charles Schwab's robo-advisor Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, you need to have a $5,000 minimum account balance even if you are a US resident. At Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium, the minimum is $25,000.

Account types

Charles Schwab has many different account types:

Charles Schwab account types
Account type Short description
Brokerage individual account Account is owned and used by a single individual
Brokerage joint account Account is owned and used by two or more individuals
Corporate Account Account is owned and used by a legal entity
Trust, Estate Accounts Account is held by a Trustee (separate legal entity) for your benefit. Estate accounts help you manage and distribute estate assets
Roth IRA Account
Traditional IRA Account
Rollover IRA Account
Individual retirement accounts only available for US clients
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium
Robo-advisor accounts only available for US clients
Schwab Charitable Account Tax-efficient account for a charitable giving, available only in the US
Checking, Savings Accounts Individual savings account with variable interest rates or unlimited ATM rebates 
Education, Custodial Accounts College and education savings plans, and custodial accounts
Small Business Retirement Account Retirement plans for small and medium-sized businesses

There are additional services that are not tied to account type. These include lending, annuities and insurance services. See all available services here.

In this review, we tested the Brokerage and Trading account, an individual account type.

How to open your account

The account opening process is user-friendly, fully digital and fast, it took us 1 day to complete. This simplicity and speed is not common at US brokers, we liked it a lot.

Steps for opening an account at Charles Schwab:

  1. Choose an account type.
  2. Add your personal information, like Social Security Number, residency and employment status.
  3. Set the account features, like adding margin or options trading.
  4. Acknowledge the terms and conditions.
  5. Verify your identity by uploading an ID or driver's license.

The online application took roughly 20 minutes and our account was verified the next day.

If you want to trade with futures, you also have to complete a separate registration.

Charles Schwab review - Account opening

Charles Schwab review
Deposit and withdrawal

2.2
To find out more about the deposit and withdrawal process, visit Charles Schwab

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE
Funding your account is easy and user-friendly at Charles Schwab and there is no deposit fee. However, you can only use bank transfer and there is a high fee for wire withdrawals.
Pros Cons
No deposit fee High fee for wire (bank transfer) withdrawals
User-friendly

Account base currencies

At Charles Schwab, the only available base currency is USD.

If you have a personal bank account in a currency other than USD you will be charged a conversion fee when transferring funds.

A convenient way to save on currency conversion fees is by opening a multi-currency bank account at a digital bank. These usually offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates, as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. Opening an account only takes a few minutes on your phone.

Compare digital banks

Deposit fees and options

Charles Schwab charges no deposit fees. US clients can use check, electronic (ACH) and wire transfers for depositing funds. For clients outside the US, only wire transfer is available.

Unfortunately, there is no option to use credit/debit cards or electronic wallets for deposits.

Charles Schwab deposit options
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No No No

We tested the ACH transfer and it took 2 business days.

You can only deposit money from accounts that are in your name.

Charles Schwab review - Deposit and withdrawal - Deposit

Charles Schwab withdrawal fees and options

Charles Schwab charges no withdrawal fees if you use ACH withdrawal, but wire transfers cost $25.

Charles Schwab withdrawal fees and options
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

How long does it take to withdraw money from Charles Schwab? We tested the ACH withdrawal and it took 2 business days.

You can only withdraw money to accounts in your name.

How do you withdraw money from Charles Schwab?

  • Log into your account.
  • Go to 'Transfers & Payments'.
  • Select the withdrawal method.
  • Select your Charles Schwab account as 'Transfer from'.
  • Select the account you want to withdraw the money to as 'Transfer to'.
  • Enter the amount you wish to withdraw.
  • Initiate the withdrawal.

Compare to other brokers

Charles Schwab review
Web trading platform

4.3
To try the web trading platform yourself, visit Charles Schwab

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE
Charles Schwab offers a good web-based trading platform with a clean design. On the negative side, the platform is not customizable.
Pros Cons
User-friendly Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
Clear fee report
Price alerts
Charles Schwab platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 4.3 stars Yes
Mobile 4.2 stars Yes
Desktop 4.0 stars Yes

Charles Schwab has three trading platforms which differ in the products they offer and the device they are available on:

Charles Schwab trading platforms
  Schwab.com StreetSmart Edge StreetSmart Central
Best for Investors looking for easy execution of trades Traders looking for sophisticated research Futures traders looking for sophisticated research
Tradable products Stock, ETF, fund, bond, options Stock, ETF, options, futures Stock, ETF, options, futures
Web trading platform Yes Yes (cloud-based) Yes
Mobile trading platform Yes No Yes
Desktop trading platform No Yes No

In this review, we tested the Schwab.com web trading platform. This trading platform is available in English.

Look and feel

The Charles Schwab web trading platform is user-friendly and has a clean design. On the negative side, it is not customizable.

Charles Schwab review - Web trading platform

Login and security

Charles Schwab provides one-step login authentication as a default, but you can enable two-step authentication.

Two-factor authentication can be enabled via a mobile device, desktop app or a physical token. If you would like to use a physical token, you have to order one through the 'Security Admin' page or on 'Schwab Advisor Center'. 

Mobile and desktop alternatives use Symantec VIP, which you have to download to your mobile device or desktop.

  1. When done, log in to 'Schwab Advisor Center', click on your name and select 'Authentication Device'.
  2. Open Symantec VIP and enter your 'Credential ID' and 'Security Code' to complete the process.

Upon first login, you have to register a new device, i.e. laptop, phone, etc. During the registration, you will receive a code via text, email or phone for registering your new device. After the registration, you can access your account using your regular ID and password combination.

Search functions

The search functions are OK. You can search both by company name or asset ticker.

However, the search results are not fully relevant. For example, when we searched for Apple, it appeared only in third place.

Charles Schwab review - Web trading platform - Search

Placing orders

You can use the following basic order types:

  • Market
  • Limit
  • Stop
  • Stop Limit

To get a better understanding of these terms, read this overview of order types.

There are also order time limits you can use, including more sophisticated ones:

  • Good 'til canceled (GTC)
  • Good 'til end of the day (GTD)
  • Immediate or Cancel (IOC)
  • Fill or Kill (FOK)
  • All or Nothing (AON)

Charles Schwab review - Web trading platform - Order panel

Alerts and notifications

You can set a wide range of alerts, including price or research alerts, as well as many others.

You can get notifications via email or SMS. If you downloaded the mobile trading app, you can also set mobile push notifications. 

The alerts can be found in the 'Services/Alerts' section.

Portfolio and fee reports

Charles Schwab has clear portfolio and fee reports. These can be found in the 'Accounts' section. 

You can download the reports, but only in CSV format.

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Charles Schwab review
Mobile trading platform

4.2
To try the mobile trading platform yourself, visit Charles Schwab

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE
Charles Schwab offers a great mobile trading platform with order confirmation and biometric login. In functionality and design, it is very similar to the web trading platform.
Pros Cons
User-friendly No price alerts
Touch/Face ID login
Order confirmation

This table shows which platforms are available for mobile devices at Charles Schwab.

In this review, we tested the Charles Schwab.com mobile trading platform. It is available both for iOS and Android devices. We tested it on Android.

In functionality and design, it is very similar to the web trading platform. It offers the same order types, search functions and has one-step and two-step login options.

The major difference is that you cannot set alerts. It would be much easier if you could set mobile push notifications not only on the web trading platform but on mobile as well.

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Charles Schwab review
Desktop trading platform

4.0
To try the desktop trading platform yourself, visit Charles Schwab

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE
Charles Schwab has a great desktop trading platform, which is highly customizable, offers many order types and has a clear fee report. However, it is available only for Windows.
Pros Cons
Clear fee report Only for Windows
Good customizability (for charts, workspace)
Good variety of order types

In this table, we summarized which platform is available for the different devices. At Charles Schwab, StreetSmart Edge is the only available desktop-based trading platform.

Before downloading StreetSmart Edge, you can also try a free demo of the platform, which is a great option.

StreetSmart Edge is available only for Windows. If you have a Mac, you can use StreetSmart Edge's web trading platform, which is cloud-based.

The platform is available in English.

Look and feel

The Charles Schwab desktop trading platform is well-designed and highly customizable.

On the negative side, we found it to be quite slow to load when clicking on the various tabs.

Charles Schwab review - Desktop trading platform

Login and security

Similarly to the web and mobile trading platforms, StreetSmart Edge provides only a one-step login by default. With Symantec VIP, you can enable two-factor authentication.

Search functions

The search functions are OK. You can search for assets by their name or ticker. However, the search results are not fully relevant. For example, when you search for Apple, it appears only in third place.

Charles Schwab review - Desktop trading platform - Search

Placing orders

You can use the following order types:

  • Market
  • Limit
  • Stop
  • Stop Limit
  • Trailing Stop

To get a better understanding of these terms, read this overview of order types.

There are also sophisticated features, like an option to set orders as Smart, Pre-Market or After Market. You can also select cost basis methods for handling orders, such as First In First Out, Last In First Out, High Cost, etc.

You can choose from many order time limits:

  • Good 'til canceled (GTC)
  • Good 'til end of the day (GTD)
  • Immediate or Cancel (IOC)
  • Fill or Kill (FOK)
  • All or Nothing (AON)

Charles Schwab review - Desktop trading platform - Order panel

Alerts and notifications

You can set alerts on StreetSmart Edge. There are fewer alert options than on the web trading platform, but both price alerts and order confirmations are available.

The alerts can be found in the 'Account Details/Alerts' section.

Portfolio and fee reports

StreetSmart Edge has clear portfolio and fee reports. 

These can be found in the 'Account Details' section. You can also export these reports in XLS, TXT and CSV formats.

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Charles Schwab review
Markets and products

3.3
To dig even deeper in markets and products, visit Charles Schwab

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE
At Charles Schwab, you can trade a lot of different asset classes, from stocks to futures. Unfortunately, the product portfolio covers only US and Canadian markets.
Charles Schwab asset classes
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
Stock Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No No
Fund Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes No
CFD No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No

Charles Schwab offers a wide selection of funds and bonds. The range of options and futures available is average.

The offered products can vary by country. For example, UK and Hong Kong clients can only trade with stocks, ETFs, options and bonds; mutual funds and futures are not provided.

Stocks and ETFs

Charles Schwab covers only North American markets. You can trade with stocks on the following stock exchanges: NYSE, NYSE MKT, NASDAQ, and OTC.

Practically all Canadian stocks can be traded online or through a broker via phone. Online quotes on most Canadian securities are provided by the Toronto Stock Exchange and are displayed in USD.

Charles Schwab stock and ETF selection
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
Stock markets (#) 4 5 5
ETFs (#) 2,300 2,300 2,300

At Charles Schwab, you can buy fractional shares of S&P 500 stocks instead of buying a whole share of a given stock. This way you can buy a "slice" of stock that represents a partial share, for as little as $5. For example, if a company's stock is trading at $100 a share and you buy $20 worth of it, you would own 0.2 shares (20% of 1).

A separate Schwab Global Account allows you to trade foreign exchanges like Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK, and most major European markets.
To establish a Schwab Global Account, you must have a Schwab One Account.

Funds

There is a great range of mutual funds available. You can find funds from the biggest fund providers, such as BlackRock or Vanguard, as well as many smaller ones.

Charles Schwab mutual fund selection
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
Fund providers (#) 600 520 450

Bonds

Charles Schwab has a wide bond selection. You have access to both government and corporate bonds.

Charles Schwab bond selection
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
Bonds (#) 60,000 88,000 38,500

Options

Charles Schwab offers an average range of options to trade. The following exchanges are available: BATS, BOX, C2, CBOE, EDGX, MIAX, MPRL and EMLD.

Charles Schwab options selection
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
Options markets (#) 8 5 5

Futures

Similarly to options, the selection of futures is average as well. You can trade with futures on the following exchanges: CBOT, CFE, CME, ICE, MGE, NYMEX, COMEX and EUREX.

Charles Schwab futures selection
  Charles Schwab E*TRADE Firstrade
Futures markets (#) 8 3 -

You can also trade Bitcoin futures.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

Charles Schwab offers a robo-advisory service called Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. It is great if you need an automated solution to manage your investments.

First, you have to answer questions about your investment goal, risk tolerance, and time horizon. Based on your preferences a portfolio is created and the robo-advisor will automatically rebalance the portfolio when needed. There is a $5,000 minimum amount to start, while there is no commission charged for this service.

If you choose Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium you will also get guidance from a personal financial expert. The minimum to start this premium account is $25,000 and there is also a $300 one-time fee. After this, a $30 per month fee is charged.

Charles Schwab review - Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

Charles Schwab review
Research

4.3
To check the available research tools and assets, visit Charles Schwab

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE
Charles Schwab has great research tools, including trading ideas and detailed fundamental data, although it's hard to navigate the web trading platform due to their abundance.
Pros Cons
Good interactive chart Hard to navigate among research tools
Data on asset fundamentals
Trading ideas for stocks and ETFs

We tested Charles Schwab's research tools on the web trading platform, except for the charting tools. We tested the latter on the desktop trading platform, as it seemed better than other platforms' charting tools.

In general, the research tools are great, but sometimes you can get lost in the web trading platform's abundance of riches. This will likely be solved during the redesign of the Research page, which is now in a beta version. We took a look at the beta page and seemed much easier to navigate.

Charles Schwab offers real time quotes without a subscription. Similarly to the trading platforms, the research tools are available only in English.

Trading ideas

Charles Schwab provides trading ideas for stocks and ETFs.

Trading ideas for stocks can be found in the 'Ratings' and 'Reports' sections. The Ratings section gives ideas on whether to buy, hold, or sell the given stock. Charles Schwab provides a rating for every US traded equity based on its own quantitative rating model. For some stocks there are also reports from third parties like Credit Suisse. Morningstar provides fundamental, bottom-up analyses for most stocks. For some sectors, a top-down sector analysis is also available.

Other available trading signals include third-party reports from Ned Davis Research, Market Edge Second Opinion, CFRA and Argus.

Charles Schwab review - Research - Recommendations

Fundamental data

Charles Schwab offers a wide range of fundamental data. You can find endless data for various assets, from stocks to funds. For example, you can see financial statements for the past six years, peer group companies and a dividend calendar, just to mention a few.

Charles Schwab review - Research - Fundamental data

Charting

Charles Schwab has good charting tools, with easily editable charts. There are 56 technical indicators available, which is a high enough number, although it is lower than what you can find at some competitors.

Charles Schwab review - Research - Charting

News feed

The news feed is OK. It is easy to read but lacks visual elements like charts or pictures. It is provided by third parties such as Reuters and Briefing.com.

Other research tools you may enjoy

There are great screeners for stocks, ETFs and mutual funds. This is one of the most sophisticated screener tools we have tested. You can use a wide range of filters, from basic company information to technical indicators.

Charles Schwab review - Research - Screeners

Compare research pros and cons

Charles Schwab review
Customer service

4.5
To find customer service contact information details, visit Charles Schwab

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE
Charles Schwab has great customer service, which is available 24/7 and provides fast and relevant answers. On the negative side, there is no email support .
Pros Cons
Phone support No email support
Live chat
Fast response time

You can contact Charles Schwab in English via:

  • live chat
  • phone

Charles Schwab has a fast live chat, which provides mostly relevant answers.

Phone support was very helpful and gave relevant answers. The response time was OK as we connected with an agent within a few minutes.

The Charles Schwab support team is available 24/7, which is a big plus.

Charles Schwab review - Customer Service

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Charles Schwab review
Education

4.5
To check the available education material and assets, visit Charles Schwab

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE
Charles Schwab offers many high-quality videos and articles. However, the educational content is not well-structured.
Pros Cons
Demo account Not well-structured
Trading platform tutorial
Educational videos

At Charles Schwab you can learn in the following ways:

  • Platform tutorial videos
  • General educational videos
  • StreetSmart Edge demo account
  • Webinars
  • Quality educational articles

We really liked the webinars. There are a lot of them, around 4-5 each day, and they cover a wide range of topics, from stock to options trading.

On the negative side, the educational content is not well-structured and specific information might be hard to find.

Charles Schwab review - Education

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Charles Schwab review
Safety

To find out more about safety and regulation, visit Charles Schwab

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE
Charles Schwab is regulated by top-tier authorities like the SEC and clients enjoy high investor protection. Unlike with some European brokers, if you're trading on margin, there's no negative balance protection.
Pros Cons
Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority No negative balance protection
High level of investor protection
Banking background

Is Charles Schwab regulated?

Yes, it is regulated in the US by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and abroad by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

If you live in the UK, your account will be domiciled in the US and your account agreement will be with Schawb's affiliate, the US-based broker dealer Charles Schwab & Co, Inc. (CS&Co). Charles Schwab, U.K., Limited informs and helps clients access the services provided by CS&Co. 

Charles Schwab is based in the US, was founded in 1971 and carries the name of its founder, Charles R. Schwab.

Is Charles Schwab safe?

To be certain if a brokerage is safe, we highly advise that you check two facts:

  • how you are protected if something goes wrong
  • what the background of the broker is

In the spring of 2020 Charles Schwab experienced a platform outage due to heavy market volatility. We experienced this ourselves, as well as seeing reports in the news media and other outlets.

We believe such things affect brokers temporarily, therefore we did not update the respective scores in our broker review. If you happen to experience outages at this (or any other) broker, contact us at [email protected].

How you are protected

Charles Schwab operates several legal entities globally, but all customers are covered by the US investor protection scheme, called the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). This is because Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., the US legal entity, holds the assets on behalf of all other legal entities.

SIPC investor protection protects against the loss of cash and securities in case the broker goes bust. The limit of SIPC protection is $500,000, which includes a $250,000 limit for cash. This amount is substantially higher than the amount most investor protection schemes provide. 

Not all investments are protected by SIPC. In general, SIPC covers notes, stocks, bonds, mutual fund and other investment company shares, and other registered securities. It does not cover instruments such as unregistered investment contracts, unregistered limited partnerships, fixed annuity contracts, currency, and interests in gold, silver, or other commodity futures contracts or commodity options.

To summarize the different regulators, legal entities and investor protection amounts, see the handy table below:

Charles Schwab investor protection and legal entities
Country of clients Protection amount Regulator Legal entity
US and all other countries, except for UK, Hong Kong and Singapore SIPC: $500,000 ($250,000 cash limit) Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
UK SIPC: $500,000 ($250,000 cash limit) Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
Hong Kong SIPC: $500,000 ($250,000 cash limit) Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission Charles Schwab, Hong Kong, Ltd.
Singapore SIPC: $500,000 ($250,000 cash limit) Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Charles Schwab Singapore Pte. Ltd.
All countries – Futures accounts No protection Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Charles Schwab Futures, Inc.

Additional brokerage insurance, beyond SIPC protection, is provided to Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. accounts through underwriters in London. Charles Schwab’s coverage with Lloyd's of London and other London insurers, combined with SIPC coverage, provides protection of securities and cash up to an aggregate of $600 million, and is limited to a combined return to any customer from a Trustee, SIPC, and London insurers of $150 million, including cash of up to $1,150,000. This additional protection becomes available in the event that SIPC limits are exhausted.

Charles Schwab does not provide negative balance protection. However, this is only relevant if you're trading futures or shorting equities or options.

Background

Charles Schwab was founded in 1971 by Charles R. Schwab. The longer track record a broker has, the more proof we have that it has successfully survived previous financial crises.

Company history: When trading and commissions on Wall Street were deregulated in 1975, company founder Charles Robert Schwab seized the opportunity to create a new kind of brokerage – a discount brokerage. He didn’t offer any frills such as stock recommendations or investment advice, simply concentrating on the execution of trades. This was a novel approach back then. Even when the company became bigger, Schwab retained the image of a "West Coast outsider."

In 1983, Bank of America acquired the company, but four years later Charles Schwab bought it back. In September 1987, the company went public, just one month before the market crashed. The Charles Schwab Corporation was added to the S&P 500 Index in 1997.

Charles Schwab has a banking license, and as such is subject to tougher regulations than brokers.

It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which is a big plus for safety as the company releases financial statements regularly and transparently.

Having a banking license, being listed on a stock exchange, providing financial statements, and being regulated by a top-tier regulator are all great signs for Charles Schwab's safety.

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Charles Schwab review
Bottom line

Visit Charles Schwab if you are looking for further details and information

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Compare to its best reviewed alternative: E*TRADE

Charles Schwab is one of the biggest discount US brokers, regulated by top-tier authorities.

It was one of the first brokers, starting in late 2019, to charge no commissions for stock and ETF trades. Its research is outstanding, covering many tools, including trading ideas, Morgan Stanley analyst reports on equities, and detailed fundamental data. Customer service is great, providing relevant answers within a short time.

It does have some drawbacks, though. Except for the around 4,000 mutual funds that are free to trade, mutual fund costs are high and the product portfolio covers only US and Canadian markets. Lastly, the educational platform is not well-structured.

As trading and non-trading fees are generally low, research tools are great and the account opening is seamless, feel free to try Charles Schwab.

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Charles Schwab review
FAQ

Below you can find links to all aspects of Charles Schwab in this comprehensive collection.

Lower fees, lower costs?

We detailed this in our Charles Schwab fees article.

What about the minimum deposit?

Our ultimate guide to the Charles Schwab minimum deposit is updated regularly.

How to start your Charles Schwab account?

Look no further than our evaluation of the Charles Schwab account opening.

How's their trading app?

Here's our expert view after checking the Charles Schwab trading app.

Is the quality of customer service satisfactory?

All you need to know about the Charles Schwab customer service.

Legit or scam?

Is Charles Schwab legit features all the key aspects you need to look at to see if a broker is safe and legit.

Free or premium? Or both?

A glance at actual costs and whether Charles Schwab is really free.

Is this broker good for beginners?

We checked it in Is Charles Schwab good for beginners.

Should you buy your silver bullets on Charles Schwab?

Research for silver bugs in the Silver buy on Charles Schwab guide

I want to trade options, are they available at Charles Schwab?

We explored the topic in Can you trade options on Charles Schwab?

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