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Charles Schwab vs. Vanguard
Compare fees, research tools and customer reviews when choosing between these two trading platforms.
Charles Schwab and Vanguard are full-service brokerages with similar offerings, including a trading platform and in-house financial advisory services. But one platform is more competitively priced, especially if you can’t invest a healthy sum.
Which one is better?
- Choose Charles Schwab if you’re an active trader looking for a customizable platform.
- Choose Vanguard if you’re a buy-and-hold investor with a high account balance.
Charles Schwab and Vanguard both offer commission-free trades, but they appeal to different investors. The better broker comes down to how often you want to trade and your account balance.
Schwab puts powerful research tools at your disposal with no account minimums. Plus, its customizable desktop platform makes trading more efficient with hotkeys and multiple screens — good for advanced traders who use fundamental analysis. And if you’re new to trading, Schwab has videos, workshops and articles, making it a good option for beginner traders.
Vanguard is better suited for long-term investors. You get 25 free trades a year, but its lackluster trading platform makes active trading impossible. Instead, its low expense ratio and tiered system that cuts fees for customers with larger accounts make it an attractive option for high-balance investors seeking a low-cost portfolio. But watch out for its monthly account fee.
|Research and tools|
We awarded a bonus star for Vanguard’s client-owned structure.
To learn how our star ratings are calculated, read the methodology at the bottom of the page.
How do Charles Schwab and Vanguard compare?
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.
Vanguard is an investor-owned brokerage that specializes in low expense ratio ETFs. Its tiered investment services are best suited to long-term investors with high account balances, as it offers a personal advisor service for investors with at least $50,000 on hand. Investors that purchase its mutual funds and ETFs don’t pay commissions and become part-owners of the company.
|Stock trade fee||$0||$7|
|Option trade fee||$0 + $0.65/contract|
or $25 if it is a broker-assisted trade
|Minimum deposit to open||$25,000||$0|
|Tools and research|
|Reputation and customer reviews|
|Apple App Store reviews|
|Google Play Store reviews|
Charles Schwab and Vanguard both boast commission-free trades. But it’s the fees that set them apart. Vanguard limits you to 25 free trades in one year before it costs $20 per trade — and that’s on top of its monthly account fee. And although there’s no minimum deposit to open an account, you’ll need $1,000 to start investing. Its tiered system is kinder to investors with high account balances that don’t make trades often.
Schwab has no account minimum or monthly fees. And its robust platform, comprehensive trade education tools and 24/7 customer support make it a well-rounded platform for amateur and experienced traders.
If neither of these brokers seem like the right fit, consider other platforms.
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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