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Charles Schwab account opening

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Getting started with Charles Schwab

Are you a new investor considering opening a brokerage account at Charles Schwab but don't know how to do it? Are you wondering how long the process takes and how difficult it is?

Opening a brokerage account can seem daunting, but we'll show you it's often easier than you think. Account opening at Charles Schwab is in fact a great experience that needs no prior knowledge.

Opening an account at Charles Schwab is easy and intuitive
András
András Régely
Investments • Stock Market • Market Analysis

Together with my brokerage analyst colleagues, I have thoroughly tested the services of Charles Schwab by opening a real-money account. Here’s what you need to know about account opening if you want to start investing with Charles Schwab:

  • Account opening at Charles Schwab is fully online and takes 1 day.

  • You will need to prove your identity and residency with documents.

  • Choose an account type that suits your needs.

  • The only available base currency is USD.

  • The minimum deposit at Charles Schwab is $0.

  • Browse the best brokers for beginners for some great alternatives.

Before we start, let's check if Charles Schwab is available in your country:

Yes, you can open an account at Charles Schwab if you live in the United States!
the United States
BrokerChooser score
4.7 4.7 /5
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Account opening at Charles Schwab vs other competitors

Account opening at Charles Schwab is fully online, meaning you can do it from the comfort of your chair. In fact, you don't even need a chair: you can simply do it on the go on your mobile phone.

See how we rated the account opening experience and how long it takes to get started at Charles Schwab compared with its main competitors:

Charles Schwab account opening vs similar brokers
Account opening score
5.0 stars 4.4 stars 4.4 stars
Account opening fully online
Yes Yes Yes
Time to open account
1 day 1-3 days 1-3 days

Opening an account is always free of charge, but the time it takes differs from broker to broker. At some brokers, it's as quick as signing up for a new Gmail account. At others, it might take a couple of days as they run a background check on your data. At Charles Schwab, it usually takes 1 day to have your account up and running.

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Navigating the complexities of trading can be challenging. If you're a new investor, you'll need a broker with a user-friendly trading interface and robust educational materials. So where to find such brokers? Start with our toplist of brokers we rated as good for beginners.

How to get a verified trading account at Charles Schwab?

First, you need to go to Charles Schwab's website and fill a registration form to apply for an account. It takes the broker a bit of time to review and verify your application - usually 1 day - after which you can make your first deposit and start trading.

The journey at Charles Schwab

Opening a brokerage account is not unlike opening a bank account. As you go through the steps, you’ll find that it is a simple and familiar process. Once your brokerage account is set up, you’ll find that the experience is similar to what you get with a bank account that you use for savings and transactions. See, it’s just another way of managing your money!

The sign-up procedure is usually self-evident; just follow the instructions carefully. Here's what awaits you at Charles Schwab:

The account opening process is user-friendly, fully digital and fast, and it took us 1 day to complete. This simplicity and speed is not usual 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 futures, you also have to complete a separate registration.

Account opening at Charles Schwab

The following steps are typical toward the end of the application process or after verifying your identity:

  1. You'll have to fill out a trading experience survey. It might seem scary at first, but it is nothing to worry about. This is standard procedure, as brokers need to make sure that you have some basic financial knowledge and are aware of the risks of trading.

  2. Next, you'll have to choose an account type and a base currency.

  3. As a final step, you'll need to fund your account before you can start trading.

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Which Charles Schwab account to choose?

Brokers usually provide multiple account types. When choosing an account, consider how experienced you are in trading, and pick an account that suits your needs. Some factors to take into account: your investment goals, risk tolerance, trading frequency, and any associated fees or account balance minimums.

If you're a beginner, we recommend selecting the most basic account offered by the broker, which is the standard account.

Find out more about Charles Schwab's specific account types in our comprehensive Charles Schwab review for 2024.

Which base currency should you choose?

At Charles Schwab, the only available currency is USD. If possible, try to deposit money to your brokerage account in USD.

Why is all this important? If you fund your trading account in the same currency as your bank account, you won't have to pay a conversion fee. Conversion fees apply if:

  • You make a deposit in a different currency than the currency of your brokerage account.

  • You trade assets denominated in a different currency than your brokerage account's base currency.

A convenient way to save on currency conversion fees is by opening a multi-currency bank account at a digital bank.

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BrokerChooser score
4.7 4.7 /5
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Fund your account and start trading at Charles Schwab

Once you have filled out the registration form, uploaded your documents, finished the trading survey and selected your account type and base currency, Charles Schwab will verify your account shortly. After successful verification, you need to fund your account to be able to begin trading.

This is where you are in the account opening process at Charles Schwab
  • Choose your funding method.

  • Enter the amount to be deposited and other necessary details for the transaction.

  • Double-check if payment details are correct.

  • If all looks OK, click to submit your deposit request.

At Charles Schwab, the minimum deposit is $0. This means that you can deposit as little money as you wish.

Brokers that don't require a minimum deposit do so to encourage people to try their services without requiring a large initial commitment. Many brokers no longer require a minimum deposit nowadays; so if you want to compare Charles Schwab and its rivals along other criteria, you can do so using our broker comparison tool.

At Charles Schwab, the only available option to deposit money to your account is via bank transfer.

Broker
Minimum deposit
Bank transfer
Charles Schwab
$0
E*TRADE
$0
Fidelity
$0
Deposit requirement and funding methods

After successfully funding your account, you're all set to start trading.

To explore Charles Schwab’s top competitors, head over to our top list of the best brokers for beginners, whose low fees and user-friendly features benefit new investors like you.

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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.

András Régely
Author of this article
As a Broker Analyst at BrokerChooser, I'm dedicated to providing data-driven insights that simplify the world of investments. With a solid academic background, including an MSc in Accounting and Finance from LSE, I bring a deep understanding of financial markets to my role. My mission is to assist retail investors in finding the perfect broker fit by leveraging my trading experience and analytical skills. At BrokerChooser, I merge my passion for trading with a keen eye for market trends, helping clients navigate online brokers confidently and effectively.
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