Charles Schwab Vs. Fidelity | Bankrate

Charles Schwab and Fidelity are two of the most popular online brokers and for good reason. Both brokers offer services customers are looking for at attractive costs, helping them to rank well in Bankrate’s annual broker reviews.

Schwab was named Bankrate’s best broker overall as part of the 2023 Bankrate Awards, while Fidelity was named the best broker for beginners. Low costs, great customer service and strong research and educational offerings help make these brokers a good fit for just about any investor.

But deciding which one is right for you will depend on your individual circumstances and what you need from an online broker. Here’s how Schwab and Fidelity compare on some of the most common features.

Broker Category Charles Schwab Fidelity
Stock and ETF commissions $0 $0
Options commissions $0.65 per contract $0.65 per contract
Account minimum $0 $0
Tradable securities Stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, options, futures Stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, options, crypto
Account fees $50 transfer-out fee No annual, activity or transfer-out fee
No-transaction-fee mutual funds ~4,300 ~3,400
Account types Individual and joint taxable, IRAs, small business (SEP IRA, solo 401(k), etc.), managed portfolio, custodial, charitable and trust, among others Individual and joint taxable, IRAs, small business (SEP IRA, solo 401(k), etc.), custodial, 529, HSA, managed portfolio, charitable and trust, among others
Mobile app Schwab mobile app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store Fidelity mobile app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store
Fractional shares Stock slices – for purchases and dividend reinvestment For purchases and dividend reinvestment
Customer support 24/7 phone, chat and email, more than 300 branches Phone 24/7 availability, chat, email, 200+ branches

Schwab vs. Fidelity: Costs

Schwab and Fidelity both do a really good job of keeping costs low for customers. You won’t pay commissions on stock or ETF trades, which has become common in the industry after Schwab cut its commissions to zero in 2019.

In terms of mutual funds, both brokers offer more than 3,000 funds with no transaction fees, which should provide plenty of choice for fund investors looking to save for retirement or other investment goals. Schwab’s offering of no transaction fee funds is larger than Fidelity’s, but you shouldn’t have trouble finding a fund that fits your needs at either broker.

Fidelity does not charge account fees, so you won’t have to worry about getting nickel and dimed. Schwab does charge a $50 transfer-out fee, which is less than the industry standard of $75, but still above Fidelity’s zero-fee policy.

Schwab vs. Fidelity: Account minimum

Both Schwab and Fidelity have no account minimum, which allows new investors to open an account and fund them once they’re ready to start investing. You can access each broker’s educational resources before funding an account, making both places ideal for new investors.

Schwab vs. Fidelity: Tradable securities

Schwab and Fidelity both offer the standard securities that should meet the needs of most investors: stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds and options. Schwab also offers futures trading, which Fidelity does not, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most investors. Those interested in trading crypto, may find what they’re looking for at Fidelity, but you’ll be limited to the most popular cryptocurrencies. If you’re looking to trade forex, you’ll need to go with a different broker.

Schwab vs. Fidelity: Account types

Most investors will find the type of account they’re looking for at either Schwab or Fidelity. Both brokers offer the standard choices such as individual and joint taxable accounts, IRAs (Roth, traditional and rollovers), small business retirement accounts (SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA and solo 401(k)) and 529 plans. You can also choose from Schwab Intelligent Portfolios or Fidelity Go if you’re looking for a robo-advisor option.

One area where Fidelity stands out is the offering of health savings accounts (HSAs), which some people use to save for healthcare costs. The accounts can almost function as an additional retirement account because the money can be used for any purpose once you reach retirement age.

Schwab vs. Fidelity: Fractional shares

Both Schwab and Fidelity offer fractional shares on purchases and reinvested dividends, but you’ll have a much wider list of stocks to choose from at Fidelity than Schwab. Schwab’s fractional shares program is limited to the companies in the S&P 500, whereas Fidelity offers more than 7,000 stocks and ETFs in its Fidelity Stocks by the Slice program. Fidelity’s minimum trade starts at just $1 compared to $5 for Schwab.

Fractional shares allow investors the chance to buy high-priced stocks and make sure the full amount is invested instead of having to wait to afford a full share. Popular stocks such as Alphabet, Amazon and Tesla have, at times, increased into the thousands of dollars for one share in recent years.

Schwab vs. Fidelity: Customer support

Schwab and Fidelity are both leaders in customer service. You can get questions answered on the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which is becoming rare in the financial services industry. You’ll also have a variety of other options including online chat, email, online FAQ sections. You can also visit a branch in person, with Fidelity offering more than 200 locations and Schwab having more than 300. Investors shouldn’t have any trouble getting their questions answered at either broker.

Bottom line

The reality is that either Schwab or Fidelity is an excellent broker choice for investors. The differences between the two are very small and may only matter to those looking for very specific offerings such as futures trading or a certain mutual fund.

Before selecting a broker, be sure to think about the features that matter most to you. If you like certain things about each broker you can always open accounts with both and use whichever broker has the best offering in each category.

Editorial Disclaimer: All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into investment strategies before making an investment decision. In addition, investors are advised that past investment product performance is no guarantee of future price appreciation.

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