The tools offered by Charles Schwab are ok, but they are nothing to get excited about.
Specifically, their charting software is where they go wrong. The charts have poor graphics and resolution, making them hard to read and understand. It is very difficult to recognize a trend on a Schwab chart. The charts still cover the standards such as volume bars, moving averages, and other indicators.
The stock screener presented on the Charles Schwab platform is best amongst its peers. It is easy to use, effective, and informative. You can screen based on a wide variety of fundamental and technical indicators with this tool.
What makes the Charles Schwab screener unique is its ability to screen specifically for foreign stocks with the exclusion of domestic rivals. This is useful when attempting to research emerging markets.
Charles Schwab has standard level two within their platform; however, they don’t offer any other special features. Schwab was the first online discount broker in the industry and has maintained its simple platform with simple tools for the novice trader.
Commissions for this discount brokerage are definitely above average. For an individual who doesn’t make more than 120 trades per year, Schwab charges $12.95 per stock trade. If you are the type of investor who trades frequently enough to meet the 120 requirement, then you only pay $8.95.
Options trades are $8.95 plus $0.75 per contract. This online broker is specifically known for its superior broker assisted trades; however I have never used the service. A broker assisted trade will set you back $25.
There are no idle account fees with Schwab which is a plus; however, there is a $50 dollar fee for a full transfer to another broker. A partial transfer costs $25.
Customer Service: D
Schwab is probably the most popular online broker for stock trading, but its customer service is horrendous. When I tried to merge my two separate accounts with them they really screwed things up.
In fact, they accidentally mislabeled one of them as belonging to my sister, who also trades with Schwab. When they realized the error, they froze the account entirely and would not allow me to sell my recently acquired position.
The stock fell fast and I lost thousands. Finally, they tried to console me with 5 free trades at $12.25 value per trade.
Trade speed and reliability: A
Trade speed and execution is excellent with this discount brokerage. I have never had a problem with or a delay on any of my stock and options orders. The website has been consistantly fast and reliable ever since I opened my account 6 years ago.
Opening a brokerage account online takes about 15 minutes. You must provide your contact information, select the account features you want, and decide how you’ll fund your new account. Finally Schwab will ask you to verify the information and create a login name/password if you’re a new client.
Funding your account electronically is suggested with Schwab, since their customer service is poor.
When I first funded my account via check, the money didn’t appear in my account for 10 days. Fortunately, this discount broker is not opposed to an instantaneous wire transfer.