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Charles Schwab vs. Fidelity

Two powerhouse trading platforms for both beginner and advanced investors.

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Charles Schwab and Fidelity are two well-known brokerage firms that offer similar features. Both platforms are intuitive for beginners and advanced enough for experienced investors that know their trading tools and want to customize their layout. But Schwab has a few distinct advantages over Fidelity.

Which one is better?

Charles Schwab is our choice because you can trade more securities, including futures. Plus it charges lower fees, giving investors better value. While Fidelity is an attractive option for both new and experienced investors because of its intuitive, customizable platform, Schwab offers similar comprehensive software that keeps up.

Overview

Charles SchwabFidelity
Fees

★★★★★ 4/5

★★★★★ 3.5/5

Available securities

★★★★★ 5/5

★★★★★ 4/5

Customer support

★★★★★ 5/5

★★★★★ 5/5

Mobile app

★★★★★ 4.8/5

★★★★★ 4.8/5

Research and tools

★★★★★ 5/5

★★★★★ 4.5/5

Reliability

★★★★★ 3/5

★★★★★ 3/5

Bonus star

1

We awarded a bonus star for offering access to precious metals.

To learn how our star ratings are calculated, read the methodology at the bottom of the page.

How do Charles Schwab and Fidelity compare?

Charles SchwabFidelity
Charles Schwab logo
Fidelity logo
Finder’s rating

★★★★★ 4.4/5

Charles Schwab is a well-known broker offering commission-free online trades, extensive research and around-the-clock phone support to a range of investors. It caters to a wide range of investors including active traders and fundamental traders.

★★★★★ 4.2/5

Fidelity Investments offers a respectable mix of beginner support and advanced tools, making it a practical choice for both new and experienced investors. It offers a comprehensive lineup of tradable securities and guidance supported by stock research.

Stock trade fee$0$0
Option trade fee$0 + $0.65/contract
or $25 if it is a broker-assisted trade
$0 + $0.65/contract
Government bond trade fee$1$0
Corporate bond trade fee$1$1
Annual fee0%0%
Minimum deposit to open$0$25,000
Benefits
  • Commission-free trades. Stocks and ETFs trade commission-free online.
  • Competitive phone and broker-assisted trade fees. Service fees for trades placed through a broker or over the phone are comparable to its competitors.
  • No minimum. Charles Schwab doesn’t require a deposit to open a brokerage account.
  • Research tools. Robust, proprietary research tools and third-party insight from Market Edge, Ned Davis and Morningstar.
  • Commission-free trades. Stocks and ETFs are free to trade online.
  • 24/7 support. Around-the-clock customer service and 140 Fidelity branches for in-person support. An added perk is the ability to share your screen with a representative.
  • Access precious metals. Diversify your portfolio by buying gold, silver and palladium coins and bullion.
  • Versatile platform. Investors can customize its desktop platform to leverage its advanced charting tools.
Drawbacks
  • High deposit for signup bonus. You’ll need a $100,000 minimum deposit to get its $500 account bonus.
  • No forex or crypto. Schwab brokerage accounts can’t trade foreign exchange currencies or cryptocurrencies.
  • Service outages. A handful of service outages have been reported for Charles Schwab.
  • Expensive robo-advisor. Fidelity’s annual advisory fee for its robo-advisor portfolio is higher than most of its competitors.
  • High fees for phone and broker-assisted trades. Placing trades on the phone or through a broker comes with hefty service charges.
  • No futures, forex or crypto. Investors can trade a variety of securities except futures, forex and crypto.
  • Account closures. Customers complain that their accounts were closed without explanation.
Tools and research
  • Independent research. Access research and analysis from third-party providers like Morningstar and Credit Suisse.
  • Schwab equity ratings. Get propriety A through F grades on over 3,000 stocks.
  • Charts, quotes and news. Use real-time charts, data and digital tools to find investment candidates and monitor your investments.
  • Customizable trading platform. Create multiple layouts with various tool combinations across multiple monitors. And use hotkeys to save time.
  • Trader education. Watch live broadcasts and prerecorded videos, attend virtual or local workshops or delve into articles along a self-guided trading path to help increase your trading knowledge and skills.
  • Dashboards. Utilize a daily dashboard to get an overview of your positions and a stock dashboard to delve into detailed stock info and interactive charts.
  • Advanced charting. Sophisticated charting tools with real-time analytics to identify trading opportunities.
  • Equity summary score. Synthesize stock ratings from independent analysts and research firms, like Zack’s Investment and Ford Equity Research, into one summary score.
  • Customizable trading platform. Configure your personal trading layout using customizable tools on its desktop software with options to drag a tool to a second monitor. Create shortcuts and hotkeys to speed up navigation.
  • Lessons. Fidelity offers courses, videos and webinars for beginner and intermediate traders on how to use their research tools.
Reputation and customer reviews
  • Reviews are mixed.
  • Customers praise its customer service and comprehensive research tools.
  • Customers complain that Schwab closed or locked their accounts with no warning.
  • Reviews are mixed.
  • Customers praise its intuitive platform and comprehensive research tools.
  • Customers complain about account closures and difficulties accessing their accounts because of verification purposes.
Apple App Store reviews

★★★★★ 4.8/5

★★★★★ 4.8/5

Google Play Store reviews

★★★★★ 4.2/5

★★★★★ 4.6/5

Support
  • Phone. Call 866-855-9102.
  • Live chat. Start a chat through the website.
  • Phone. Call 800-972-2155.
  • Email. Fill out a secure online form on Fidelity’s website for a response from the team within 48 hours.
  • Live chat. Visit the Contact Us page on the Fidelity website to chat with the Virtual Assistant.
Learn more

Read our review

Read our review

Bottom line

Charles Schwab and Fidelity are two big names for brokerage accounts. Schwab may be a better option for futures traders, but choose Fidelity if you want to invest in precious metals.

Although both have comprehensive research tools and an intuitive trading platform, Schwab’s ultimately has more competitive commissions and fees.

Still undecided? Compare a few more trading platforms for self-directed investors.

Frequently asked questions

How we rate trading platforms

★★★★★ 5/5 — Excellent

★★★★★ 4/5 — Good

★★★★★ 3/5 — Average

★★★★★ 2/5 — Subpar

★★★★★ 1/5 — Poor

We analyze top online trading platforms and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include fees, securities available for trade, customer support, customer feedback, platform resources and overall reliability.

For a complete breakdown of how we score each category, read the full methodology of how we rate trading platforms.

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