Review of E*Trade

E*Trade was founded as a retail financial services company back in 1982. It's headquartered in New York City and it currently has 30 retail branches throughout. It also operates as an online brokerage, and was in fact one of the first brokers to offer services over the internet making it one of the longest running and most trusted online brokers available in the market today.

When it first began operating online, E*Trade was priced at the higher end of the market. The target market was investors and traders that were willing to pay premium charges in exchange for advanced tools and research resources. These days it's far more competitive in terms of its commission and fees, yet still offers an impressive range of features that will be very appealing to most traders out there. Going along with that, E*Trade continues to improve it's services making them just as competitive as most others around.

We have carried out a comprehensive review of E*Trade as an online options broker and below we have provided all the relevant information you need to know about this broker and what it has to offer. In our opinion this is one of the best online brokers on the web for trading options.

Commissions, Fees & Minimum Deposit

Thankfully, most online options brokers these days have commission structures that aren't too complicated. E*Trade is no different from the majority of its competitors in this respect and it's easy enough to understand the costs you will incur for trading options.

Their basic fee for an options trade is $9.99, plus $.075 per contract. This is reasonably competitive in the marketplace, especially because they charge the same even for complex options orders. Even better is the fact that you can reduce the basic fee to $7.99 if you make 150 or more trades in a quarter. Exercising or assigning options costs $19.99.

There is no fixed account fee providing you are active, but there are fees for various other things such as returned payments or paper statements. These charges are in line with most other brokers though and there's nothing that is excessive.

You will need to deposit a minimum of $500 to open an options trading account at E*Trade.

Trading Platform, Tools & Features

There are two main trading platforms available at E*Trade, both of which are perfectly good for their purpose. The basic platform that's available to everyone is the web based E*Trade 360, which has everything that most traders will need. You can get a clear graphical view of all your accounts, balances, and positions which makes it very easy to assimilate all the relevant information.

A quote streaming tool is included for free, and is very easy to use. You can customize it to suit your personal requirements and you can also add your own watch lists and create alerts to notify you when certain securities hit specific prices. Overall this tool is great for tracking current prices and their movements.

You can place your orders directly from the 360 platform, and the order placement tool at E*Trade is up there with the best for options traders. Simple and complex orders are really easy to place and everything is really intuitive. Beginners and experienced traders alike are bound to appreciate this.

The other main trading platform is E*Trade Pro. This desktop based application is available for free to active traders or can be accessed for a monthly fee for those that trade less frequently. It has a lot of extra features and should really appeal to those that like advanced functionality. You can easily track performances across specific sectors and industries and there are several sophisticated options trading tools. You even get access to live streaming of CNBC TV.

If being able to trade or study potential trades while on the move is important to you then you will be impressed with E*Trade Mobile. Compatible with most smartphones and tablets, this platform has all of the main functionality you will need. You can place trades, check your balances, open positions, and carry out research with ease.

It comes with voice recognition and an interesting barcode scanning feature too. You can use this to scan the barcode on a product and, if available, you will receive details on the company that produces it.

Research & Analysis

E*Trade provides most of the standard research and analysis tools you would expect from an online options broker. When you open a quote for a security you will see a useful snapshot page that gives you a quick overview of the primary information you will want to see. From that page you can easily access additional information such as related news, earning reports, and third party analyst reports.

Providers of third party research reports include Credit Suisse, S&P, and Thomson Reuters. These reports will not only help you with your in-depth company analysis, they can also help you with investment or trading ideas.

There are useful trackers and strategy screener tools, and the charting software is impressive. Overall, E*Trade performs very well in making your research and analysis as easy as possible.

Customer Service

The quality of customer support at E*Trade is very good and it compares favorably to most other brokers. You can submit queries via an online contact form or you can contact them directly via email or telephone. They also have a live chat service, although this can only be used for general queries and not account specific ones.

Telephone support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and there is also an extensive help section on the website.

Summary

E*Trade is the kind of broker that should be appealing to all kinds of investors and traders. They offer a wide range of different products and services and have a fee structure that is competitive for low and high volume trading. The research and analysis tools are of a high standard and are useful for active traders and casual investors alike.

Their basic web-based platform is really easy to use and even complete beginners should be able to navigate their way around easily enough. For those looking for something that is much more advanced, the E*Trade Pro desktop application should impress. There is also E*Trade Mobile for anyone looking to trade from their phone or tablet.

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