Charles Schwab Review

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Charles Schwab continues to be one of the leading on-line brokerage platforms. The company has been at the forefront of the industry ’ mho be active to perpetration free stock and ETF trade and completed two large acquisitions concluding year, with TD Ameritrade being most celebrated. Schwab has brought on an extra 15.8 million customers in the past year, so it is not a recess player in the industry. Schwab has customers spanning the integral range of investor types, from novice to very advanced .

As such, Schwab has a kind of platforms available to meet the divers needs of its customers. Schwab brokerage platforms include a browser-based platform with, a twist and highly customizable workstation, and mobile offerings. however, customers trading entirely in options or actively trade on margin, adenine well as those wishing to trade FX, cryptocurrencies, or futures may find better options elsewhere. We ‘ve besides reviewed the Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios robo-advisor military service individually.

Investing in cryptocurrencies, Decentralized Finance ( DeFi ), and early Initial Coin Offerings ( ICOs ) is highly hazardous and bad, and the markets can be highly volatile. confer with a qualify professional before making any fiscal decisions. This article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies nor can the accuracy or opportuneness of the information be guaranteed .

Key Takeaways

  • Schwab offers tools and product offerings for all investors and traders
  • The broker enjoys strong trade execution and provides excellent screeners for stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds.
  • Schwab offers the wide breadth of news, research, calculators, and education that is expected from large, established online brokers. 
  • Schwab offers a broad mix of products and tools, but limited offerings in cryptocurrency, and no forex trading
  • Customers have to actively opt in for returns on uninvested cash.
  • Schwab’s acquisition of TD Ameritrade’s online brokerage will combine another deep tool set and eventually give traders access to the trading engine thinkorswim.

Who Charles Schwab Is For

Charles Schwab is a broad service agent with more than $ 6.6 trillion in client assets on its platform. The company ’ sulfur growth through acquisition means TD Ameritrade ’ s thinkorswim trading locomotive will finally be available to Schwab ’ s customers. The TD Ameritrade trader-focused platform will be joining Schwabs StreetSmart on-line trade platform that already meets the needs of less intense investors. The wide range of fiscal products offered by Schwab is similarly sufficient for the modal investor, but may not be the best choice for active options traders or those who want trading access to forex ( FX ), cryptocurrency, and futures markets .


  • multiple platforms to meet needs of diverse customer base
  • spare stock and ETF trade
  • Full service with alive customer support, news, research, stock/ETF screeners, educational tools
  • ability to add external accounts to the chopine for a more dispatch fiscal picture
  • Robo-advisory services, and a physical branch network


  • still no automatize cash sweep to a money market explanation .
  • Charges for option trading may be prohibitive for active voice options traders–especially those using multiple leg strategies
  • Cryptocurrency trade is limited to Bitcoin futures, there is no FX deal, and futures require a separate platform
  • gross profit rates are higher than some competitors

Pros Explained

  • Schwab, with very deep resources and a commitment to multiple customer types, is an excellent choice for most investors. The broker also has multiple options for traders to access their account. These include a web-based interface, a mobile app, and a desktop application providing higher levels of customization and more sophisticated trading, charting, and analysis tools.
  • Stocks and ETFs can be traded for free at Schwab, and they continue to provide improved price execution on more than 90% of trades.
  • Schwab offers excellent customer service with live support via phone or chat, as well as all the information and tools the majority of people would need. In addition to account and position tracking and a full suite of calculators and reports, Schwab customers have free access to news, research, stock screeners and charting, as well as educational support and live content offerings during the day and through its retail branch network.
  • Schwab allows its customers to see a full picture of their finances by allowing them to see all their assets in one place on Schwab. Assets held outside of Schwab can be shown through a free aggregation service that allows customers to enroll investment and bank accounts, plus credit cards, loans, mortgages, and real estate from more than 15,000 financial institutions.
  • Schwab’s digital investment advising service, Intelligent Portfolio, is free for all accounts with at least $5k in assets, and there are no fees or commissions. Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolio Premium offering is available for accounts with at least $25k, and has a one-time planning fee and a monthly advisory fee.

Cons Explained

  • Schwab continues its practice of sweeping excess cash balances to banks, even though they offer lower interest rates than money market funds. Customers need to act proactively if they want to sweep excess cash into higher yielding money market funds at Schwab.
  • Options traders utilizing spreads and other multi-leg strategies such as butterflies and condors may want to look for more competitive rates elsewhere. At Schwab these traders pay the $0.65 per contract commission on each leg. While both the workstation and mobile app accept four leg options strategies, only the workstation provides more sophisticated options analysis tools.
  • Schwab’s foreign exchange and cryptocurrency offerings are weak or non-existent. Schwab only offers futures/options on futures trading in Bitcoin through futures/options contracts at CME Group, and they only exchange foreign exchange for foreign stock purchases (for a fee). While Schwab does offer futures trading, it requires a separate platform that active futures traders may not like. 
  • Schwab’s base rate is currently 6.5% for balances above $500,000 with effective rates between 6.58 and 8.33 percent. Those trading on margin may prefer lower rates available elsewhere.


Like all the on-line brokers, Charles Schwab struggles to contain all the features and platforms it has aimed at different types of investors. overall, site navigation across Schwab ’ s multiple platforms is largely intuitive and the account apparatus procedure only takes ten minutes online. The platforms include :

  • The website.
  • StreetSmart Edge, a desktop workstation that is highly customizable. 
  • The Charles Schwab mobile application. 
  • A less-used mobile app called StreetSmart Mobile
  • The StreetSmart Central platform that Schwab has streamlined for investors who are trading futures and options. 

The good news is that the overview of the platforms is more complicate than actually using them. Schwab does a courteous job of allowing its customers to see all of their assets on its site, even assets outside of Schwab ’ s platform by providing a free collection .

Checking balances, checking positions, and obtaining position-specific research can all be done with a simple snap. Choosing one of your portfolio holdings or entering a symbol provides current news for that security vitamin a well as other information including charts, ratings, earnings, fiscal statements, peers, ratios, dividends, and inquiry reports. so, all the information is right at your fingertips in an intuitive way across platforms. Calendars showing earnings and economic releases, with expectations and actuals, is available on the web site, and the Edge workstation links to that web page. The mobile platform doesn ’ triiodothyronine have this tied of robust information as easily available, which is to be expected with its position introduction and monitor focus.

Trade experience

All platforms have real-time data streams. Edge and the web site have draw tools available for charts, but the vane interpretation is limited compared to the downloadable platform. Trades can be entered from a chart in Edge by clicking a trade button in the recess of the chart that launches an order submission window. There are no drawing capabilities for charts on mobile. multiple orders can be staged on the web site and Edge, but not through the mobile app .

StreetSmart Edge offers impressive customization options, including what information you want in the clear account balances line, the ability to save specific malcolm stock or ETF searches, and customize order tickets. Preferences and stock/ETF/mutual fund screens can besides be saved on the web site. StreetSmart Edge is the only Schwab platform that shows profit and probability graph for options strategies. Both StreetSmart Edge and the mobile platform allow for trading four leg options strategies such as butterflies and condors using courteous dropdowns that allow the user to choose the scheme where an order ticket is created to match the chosen options scheme ( vertical, calendar, ratio spreads, butterfly/condor, etc. ) .

The web site only allows options deal in basic and spread positions consisting of two legs. StreetSmart Edge is besides the only platform option for contingent and conditional orders. The web site and mobile would not allow entering a limit order with a eventuality that, upon execution of the specify order, a one-cancels-the-other ( OCO ) decree is created to add both a hold on passing and profit taking order against the new position .

mobile Trade have

The mobile app works well, but has some obvious limitations for serious traders. This includes not being able to enter contingent orders and specify chart ability. That said, the basic actions that the average investor looks for like obtaining balances, getting news program and research on securities, and entering trades were easy and intuitive. The mobile app provides a chart, the Schwab research rat, a quote compendious, news, information such as earnings ( and next earnings announcement ), and market capitalization and allowance requirements for person securities. An easy dropdown menu for options orders makes setting up a spread or four leg choice scheme easily, but there is no profit graph or alike analytics to what is available on the workstation .

The mobile app defaults to the compendious view ( brokerage and futures totals ) and you can either click on an account or click positions from the menu at the top leave. The “ Markets ” page on the mobile app contains a thoroughly snapshot of the markets, sectors, and besides a list of breaking newsworthiness along with Schwab ’ s own market updates. Stock specific news is available when bringing up an person stock or ETF, and news can be filtered. Traders and active investors will likely default to the StreetSmart Edge chopine, but less demand investors can reasonably invest and monitor portfolio positions entirely through the mobile app.

compass of Offerings

Charles Schwab has a very wide scope of securities available on its platform and the asset classes most investors expect are all here. Schwab besides offers fractional shares, allowing investors with less capital to get exposure to stocks with a high price per contribution. On the downside, Schwab ’ s only cryptocurrency offer is Bitcoin futures, then active traders in the cryptocurrency market will want to look elsewhere. While Schwab has futures trade, and Fidelity does not, it requires the use of a separate platform ( the less-used StreetSmart Mobile or the web-based StreetSmart Central ), so it could be cumbersome for active agent futures traders. Schwab besides does not offer foreign exchange trade, although they do provide fee-based extraneous substitute services related to international stock purchases .

  • Stocks long and short (2,864 stocks are currently on Schwab’s Easy To Borrow list for short sales)
  • OTCBB (Penny stocks)
  • Mutual funds (no-load–9,860 funds, no transaction fee–4,220 funds)
  • Bonds (Corporate–18,000 unique offerings; Municipal–nearly 70,000 unique offerings; Treasury–nearly 400 unique offerings, CDs–nearly 20,000 unique offerings; International–access to foreign bonds publicly offered and sold in the US, exempt supranational, and foreign bonds offered and sold overseas under Regulation S.)
  • Futures/Commodities
  • Futures options
  • Simple and multi-leg options up to 4 legs (spreads, butterflies, condors) (Edge and Mobile, not website, where limit is two option legs)
  • Robo-advisory/Intelligent Portfolio Builder (managed via the website, but account is viewable on mobile)
  • Full service investment advisor services and a wide retail/physical presence
  • Fractional Shares (for as little as $5)
  • International (Schwab Global Accounts can purchase stocks in 12 non-U.S. markets in eight currencies AUD; CAD; EUR; GBP; HKD; JPY; NOK; USD. Fees apply on foreign exchange transactions for purchasing foreign stocks)

order Types

Charles Schwab offers all basic order types, including grocery store, limit, stop, and trailing stops, a well as market if touched ( MIT ), market on near ( MOC ), commercialize on open ( MOO ) type orders. All or none ( AON ), fill or kill ( FOK ), and immediate or cancel ( IOC ) orders are besides available, while tax fortune survival for closing positions can be done at the individual batch degree or by using a rule such as first in, beginning out ( FIFO ) or death in, first out ( LIFO ) at the account level. StreetSmart Edge allows traders to enter more sophisticated orders, such as a specify order with a OCO contingent order such a stop loss and a profit taking horizontal surface .

trading technology

Charles Schwab utilizes a proprietorship wheel-based router for regulate management purposes, such as handling commute outages, performing real-time execution quality reviews and handling volatile markets. Most orders in stocks and multiple-exchange listed options are routed to third-party wholesalers, balancing performance quality in terms of increase price improvement and better execution choice statistics with its own cost savings. quarterly information regarding execution quality is published on Schwab ‘s web site .

There is no trade simulator available to Schwab clients, nor is there the capability to automate and backtest a trade system .


Charles Schwab ’ south costs are reasonable considering the wide offer to customers. There is no cost to trade fairness and ETFs, and you get streaming quotes, good functionality, tools, calculators, and educational resources, angstrom well as newsworthiness and research with the software. The unblock collection service is besides appealing for those wishing to see their stallion fiscal visualize in one position. While options charges are not excessive at $ 0.65 per trade, active options traders, specially those utilize multiple leg options strategies, may find a better manage elsewhere. similarly, those trading on gross profit may prefer lower rates available elsewhere .

  • No commissions for online trades in equities, ETFs, or OTCBB trades
  • Options are $0.65 per round trip, per contract. There are no per-leg fees on options
  • Trade 20 contracts, round trip. Commission is $13.00 ($0.65 x 20)
  • Sell covered call on 500 shares: 5 options contracts, commission $3.25 ($0.65 x 5) 
  • Fixed Income: no commission for T-Bills, Notes, Bonds, Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS), and new CD issues. Secondary market transactions for corporate, municipal, agency, and zero coupon bonds and CDs is $1 per bond, with a $10 minimum and $250 maximum commission. 
  • Margin rates are based on account size, by breakpoint: Under $25K 8.325%; $50K 7.825%; $100K 6.875%; $250K 6.825%; $500K 6.575%. 
  • Mutual Funds: No commission on Schwab’s Mutual Fund OneSource platform funds when done online; up to $49.50 for other mutual funds
  • International stocks: currency transaction fees apply based on amount converted, with rate based on transaction size tiers; 100 bps if <$100K; then 75 bps to $250K; 50 bps to $500K; 30 bps to $1 million; and 20 bps if >$1 million
  • Account Size and Fees: 
  • Basic Accounts: No minimum account size for basic accounts. 
  • Schwab Intelligent Portfolios:
  • Basic Platform: $5,000 account minimum, no advisory fee or commissions
  • Premium Platform: $25,000 account minimum; one time planning fee of $300; and monthly advisory fee of $30
  • Schwab Private Client Accounts: $1 million account minimum. Fees start at 0.80% and move lower based on asset levels
  • Futures: $1.50 per contract
  • $25 additional fee per trade if placed with a live broker (no fees for broker assisted futures trades)
  • No maintenance, minimum account, inactivity, or software access fees
  • No deposit, withdrawal, account closing (other than ACAT cost), check, or direct deposit fees. There is a $50 full transfer fee and a $25 partial transfer fee.
  • Wire fees are $15 per transfer for online requests; $25 per transfer for phone/paper requests

How This Broker Makes Money From You and for You

The race to zero fees has increased competitive blackmail in the asset management industry and changed the occupation model for many on-line brokers. however, $ 0 commissions does not mean that everything is complimentary, as brokers can still make money from you ( and for you ) in less obvious ways .

  • Price Improvement: Charles Schwab uses proprietary technology to route orders and the broker rates highly for obtaining price improvement on customer orders. Schwab’s website indicates their first priority on routing orders is to obtain good execution for clients, and they appear to largely do this. Schwab reports achieving price improvement on 94.8% of orders, an average of $24.74 in savings per order, and average execution speed of 0.05 seconds. 
  • Payment From Order Flow (PFOF): Commission free trading in stocks and ETFs, streaming quotes and other client amenities has Schwab obtaining revenue elsewhere. Schwab does receive PFOF and the figures are disclosed on the website.
  • Portfolio Margining: Qualifying accounts also can benefit from portfolio margining that lowers margin cost based on overall risk in a portfolio, and a stock loan program where Schwab shares revenue with clients that allow shares in their account to be lent out. Margin rates are not especially competitive. 
  • Interest on Cash Balances: Schwab also generates significant revenue from excess cash in accounts that are by default put into bank accounts instead of higher paying money market funds. While these bank deposits are insured for more than federal protection levels through Lloyds of London insurance policies Schwab takes out, they pay lower rates than money market funds that other brokers automatically put customer cash into. Schwab customers need to be proactive if they want their excess cash put into higher yielding money market funds.  

Account and Research Amenities

Schwab, as a ahead brokerage firm catering to a broad customer basis, has a comprehensive set of amenities to support its clients

malcolm stock Screeners

Charles Schwab has sophisticated screeners with pre-built screening reports, a well as the ability to create customize stock screens by monetary value, company performance, valuation, fiscal potency, and evening technical indicators. There are 11 built-in screens for Stocks/Equities on the web site, and StreetSmart Edge has 30 pre-built lineage screening reports .

There is besides an Idea Hub on StreetSmart Edge that helps customers scan for options trading ideas, and there is the ability to build and save customized security screens in Edge and the web site. The common fund and ETF screeners can besides filter for socially responsible investments ( SRI ), and Edge besides has another screening tool built into the workstation, rather than a pop fly exchangeable to the web site .

ETF and Mutual Fund Screeners

Charles Schwab ’ second web site has 16 built-in ETF screens, and 11 screens for reciprocal funds. StreetSmart Edge besides has the ETF screener, but the reciprocal fund screener needs to be accessed from the web site. StreetSmart Edge has its own screener that has a number of predefined screens, and the ability to customize screens based on user-determined criteria, but some of the screens pop up a screen of the same functionality of the network pages. Schwab ’ s screeners can besides look for ETFs and Mutual funds that are socially conscious. Schwab besides has a dedicated area for its own reciprocal funds .

Options Screeners

The options page has tabs for trade, viewing option chains, a stage set of screeners that includes pre-defined screens for stocks that meet user-defined criteria such as high P/E ratios, volatility, put-call proportion, and others. The exploiter can besides set up their own blind that can be saved. There are besides option trade assessors, and a scheme builder, and tied a scheme finder that suggests a trade based on what the customer thinks is going to happen, such as higher or lower prices, timeframe, volatility expectations and other criteria. however, options strategies are limited to basic spreads on the web site. There is besides an Idea Hub on StreetSmart Edge that helps identify options trading opportunities .

Fixed Income Screeners

The fix income screener allows the user to select a chemical bond type, such as corporate, municipal, treasury, means and use secondary menu to look at industry or sector, or states for municipals. Maturity dates, coupon, price, and ratings are available filter options. Schwab besides has a compact disk and treasury run builder .

Tools and Calculators

Schwab customers besides have access to a very wide-eyed kind of calculators and tools for everything from margin, portfolio analysis and allocation, retirement and income guidance, tax efficiency, and options pricing probabilities to name a few. similarly, there are multiple reports available and easy to access, such as for tax report .

trade Idea Generator

An Idea Hub provides ideas in different areas of the market utilize predefined screens that include open sake, excitability, volume, earnings calendar, and even provide good candidates for cover calls strategies. Schwab besides has an options scheme finder based on the users expectations for a security related to monetary value direction, clock, volatility, gamble, and other factors .

News and Research

All the brokerage house platforms provide Schwab inquiry, angstrom well as multiple other sources, such as Morningstar and Reuter ’ s Analyst Opinion Information that shows a survey of analyst ratings for a stock. similarly, multiple news offerings are provided in accession to Schwab ’ randomness deep offerings, and that data can be filtered and diverse sources included or not. Associated Press, Business Wire, GlobeNewswire, and are among the offerings. early news program and research is besides available for a fee, and many of these services have extended trial periods available .


Charting features on the web site and mobile are limited, with well more chart functionality available through StreetSmart Edge, including the ability to hit a deal button correct on the chart to open an order window with rate entrance that provides aid and psychoanalysis for options strategies. StreetSmart Edge besides provides charting on Recognia, and allows journaling of trade activities with notes and snapshots of charts. Schwab does not, however, offer newspaper trade or backtesting of strategies .

Dividend Reinvestment Program

Schwab customers can specify dividend reinvestment for dividend-paying stocks .

Cash Management

surfeit cash in Charles Schwab accounts are put into bank accounts rather of higher paying money grocery store funds. These accounts pay lower rates than money commercialize funds that early brokers mechanically put customer cash into. Schwab customers need to be proactive if they want their excess cash put into higher yielding money market funds .

SRI/ESG Research Amenities

Schwab supports investors interested in socially creditworthy investing. Schwab ’ s robust screeners for reciprocal funds and ETFs offer an SRI percolate option, so investors can set up highly customizable searches that limit results to socially responsible options. My flying filters for US fairness reciprocal funds and ETFs that meet the SGI criteria returned more than 120 options in each class. Schwab besides has individually managed accounts that focus on socially responsible investing.

portfolio analysis

Charles Schwab has all the portfolio analysis tools one would expect, including calculators of all kinds, including margin, portfolio mix, retirement and income guidance, tax efficiency, life events, options price and probabilities. real-time information is available for portfolio balances, margin and buying power calculations, and most analysis, and there are tools for portfolio rebalancing, benchmarking, inner rate of reelect, and tax impingement analysis and other tax account tools. There is besides real-time information for short and long term capital gains, gains/losses net of deposits and withdrawals, while realized gains and losses use historic price based on transaction price and provide the date and price information on the master transaction for wash sales .

The ability to aggregate fiscal information from other institutions, as previously outlined, is a decent feature allowing customers to see a broad video of their fiscal discipline. trade journals are besides available, although scheme backtesting is not presently offered .

department of education

As a company looking to provide services across the Schwab besides provides a great share of information and contented for investors and traders, including an average of five hours of casual live program, discussing trade strategies, wealth management, economic psychoanalysis, and a issue of articles and consequence specific investing topics such as investing for retirement and college .

There are many articles and batch of helpful content about particular products, investing topics, and life goals such as investing for retirement and college .

Customer Service

  • Customer service is available to potential and existing customers by phone or chat with a live person 24/7. The average hold time was 102 seconds. 
  • You can also speak with a broker, with a surcharge for trades placed through the broker.
  •  The chat feature and customer service by phone provided helpful and timely support. 
  • The website has a most commonly asked questions area broken out by topic that was easy to navigate and had a lot of information.

security and dependability

  • Schwab’s platforms are secured according to industry standards. 
  • Two-factor authentication available on all platforms, as well as fingerprint or facial biometric entry on the mobile app. 
  • Customers can choose between a physical token or a soft token delivered via mobile app for two factor authentication. 
  • Schwab’s systems are very reliable, having had platform performance in excess of 99.9%. 
  • Schwab also provides a security guarantee, and there have been no data breaches publicly disclosed on Schwab’s website.


Pricing structures, fees, and information delineate leverage and margin trading were all well displayed and disclosed on Schwab ’ s web site. Schwab breaks down these costs by intuitive sections that include deal fees and commissions ; account fees and minimums ; investing management fees and minimums ; and money management fees. The leverage and margin sections included video recording and text data outlining the benefits and risks associated with leverage deal, and provided an explanation of a margin call. Beyond the fee agenda, Schwab besides provides content related to their services, fees, and obligations, a well as a section explaining common investment company fees .

Schwab provides detailed information about their decree routing serve, including their stress on putting the customer first and getting the best execution through their proprietary decree routing system. Schwab besides provides statistics on price improvement and average savings per orderliness for customers, but does not disclose that they receive payment for orderliness flow in this same section of the web site. Schwab ’ randomness put is that their execution efforts benefit customers, but they are loath to disclose their payment for orderliness menstruate, even though that tax income is what helps Schwab put up customers with deputation loose trade and the many early amenities it offers.

Our verdict

Charles Schwab has long been one of the largest operators in the on-line brokerage quad, and this situation has been far bolstered through the holocene acquisition of TD Ameritrade. Its large size and economy of scale allows Schwab to provide its divers node base with a wide-eyed range of products, services, education, and support for closely all investor types, particularly relating to equities, reciprocal funds, ETFs, and fixed income. Schwab offers exempt trade and streaming quotes for stocks and ETFs, and web, background, and mobile applications that are by and large intuitive and influence smoothly. Considering it is such a large web site and there is indeed much content available, Schwab does pretty well with its web site navigation and corresponding menus ; these menus contain a distribute of choices, but they were set up by category and by and large intuitive .

While Schwab ’ s breadth of services, depleted costs for equity and ETF trade, and full suite of services is a beneficial option for the majority of investors and traders, Schwab may not be the best choice for some smaller subsets of the investing/trading universe. This includes high volume options traders because of the $ 0.65 commission per leg, futures traders because of the need for a disjoined platform, those trade on margin because lower rates are available elsewhere, and people looking for opportunities to trade currencies or cryptocurrencies not presently available at Schwab .

Which Charles Schwab Account Should I Open ?

Charles Schwab offers the wide spectrum of report types, from the normally used individual retirement accounts ( IRAs ) and taxable individual brokerage accounts to 529 design and custodial accounts. The account you choose depends entirely on the invest goal you have in mind. If you are fair looking for a taxable brokerage account for deal, the standard Schwab One account gives you access to stocks, fractional share trade, ETFs, and therefore on. If you are looking for a brokerage account with more international options, however, you will probably lean towards the Global Account which gives you access to 12 international markets in local currency .

If retirement is the finish of the score, Schwab has the Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs, rollover IRAs, familial IRAs, simplified employee pension ( SEP ) IRAs, and more. Saving for a child ‘s education is besides covered by multiple account types. Simply put, Charles Schwab has all the score types you ‘ll need for your specific investing goals .

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Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with indifferent, comprehensive reviews and ratings of on-line brokers. Our reviews are the result of months of evaluating all aspects of an on-line broker ’ mho platform, including the user experience, the choice of trade executions, the products available on its platforms, costs and fees, security, the mobile feel and customer service. We established a evaluation scale based on our criteria, collecting thousands of data points that we weighed into our star-scoring system.
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