With a trail of accolades from Barron’s, Kiplinger’s and Investor’s Business Daily (Best Online Broker, Top Online Brokerage Firm, and Best Overall Online Broker) over the last three years, it might be tough to understand why anyone would choose to go with any other online brokerage firm.
Who’s it for?
Beginners shouldn’t find Fidelity intimidating at all, given its detailed website and easy-to-understand content. It’s absolutely perfect for clients who seek thorough education about trading or investing. In addition, customer service is hands-down excellent. At 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s basically impossible to argue that Fidelity isn’t available to its customers. There are also over 180 branch locations throughout the United States for clients who require a brick-and-mortar location and face-to-face interaction.
For Advanced Traders
Advanced traders who make more than 36 trades in a given year are going to benefit from Active Trader Pro. (However, any Fidelity customer can use the platform and not pay platform fees.)
Commissions and Fees
Fidelity’s comprehensive commissions and fees are listed below:
|Stocks and ETF Trades||Fees|
|Standard Pricing||$4.95 per trade|
|Stocks and ETFs, broker assisted||$29.95 per trade|
|Pricing||65¢ per contract + $4.95 base|
|Standard Pricing||$49.95 ($75 for some); Fidelity family funds are commission-free|
|Bonds and primary market CDs||Fees|
|Pricing||$1 per bond ($250 max; $50 max if maturing in one year)|
|Bonds||On a net-yield basis|
|Pricing||$50 per transaction|
Minimum deposit for Fidelity:
Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, commercial paper, UITs, ETFs: The minimum deposit to open an account is $2,500, though it’s $0 for a rollover IRA. $2,500 (or $200 per month) for Roth or Traditional IRA.
Fidelity touts margin rates among the most competitive in the industry, as low as 4.00%. (Yes, as long as the debit balance is $1 million.) From $0 to $24,000, the effective rate is 8.325%.
Fidelity offers the following investment products:
- Mutual funds
- Retirement and IRAs
- Fixed income, bonds and CDs
- Sector investing
- Cash management and credit cards
- Managed accounts
- 529 college savings plans
- Life insurance and long term care insurance
Fidelity also offers awesome explanations of each investment product on their website. For example, check out “sector investing” at https://www.fidelity.com/sector-investing/overview.
Five promotions, five bullets (depending on the size of your investment, of course):
- Get up to $2,500 cash bonus
- Get up to 200 free trades
- Apple gift card up to $500
- 500 free trades for two years
- “IRA Match” from Fidelity
Platform and Tools
Now this stuff is cool – with these nifty tools, you can see the magic happening (aka your money growing!) right before your eyes. A broker is only as good as its funds’ ROI, true, but if it has a pretty awesome trading platform, well, that’s worth something, right?
Fidelity’s easy-to-use Active Trader Pro is nothing to sneeze at. It’s no Thinkorswim (T.D. Ameritrade’s platform is hard to forget, that’s for sure) but it’s still got great features, including fantastic charting. In addition, Fidelity’s patented Trade Armor integrates trading workflow with drag and drop order and alert entry with chart, news and realized and realized gain/loss positional information. There are over 60 indicators and advanced studies and charting, as well as tabbed charts, which also allow for up to ten combinations of time, frequency and indicators–whatever combination advanced traders would like to see.
In addition, Fidelity’s Wealth-Lab Pro is also a great tool and is actually desktop strategy-testing software that’s really for the advanced traders and investors who love to geek out over data. It allows customers to customize with or without code, test multiple strategies at one time and place trades manually or automatically. Traders must, again, meet the over-36 trade requirement and also have a minimum of $25,000 in assets.
Whether investors/traders choose to use an Apple device or Android, Fidelity’s mobile trading is high-quality and offers a lot of different options for both types of device. The main screen for mobile offers cards for notifications, several news feed, accounts, watch lists, an option to transact and more. It’s simple, clean and intuitive, and possibly the best of all, it’s bug-free.
However, complex charting and the research Fidelity is famous for is virtually nonexistent on Fidelity mobile trading, so if investors are looking for complexity within the mobile device, they may be disappointed.
Customer service are the first two words next to Fidelity’s logo when you log into the website. Coincidence? Probably not. Fidelity has an automated Virtual Assistant which allows website visitors to type their question and hit the “Ask” button. Questions about passwords, beneficiaries and other-service related topics are best asked there.
It’s easy to locate a Fidelity investor center by typing in zip code, otherwise, it’s possible to call a responsive 1-800 number for real-live interaction. Clients can also chat with a representative, with an option for current clients to log in. If new to Fidelity, potential clients need to type in first name and last name and email address and will undoubtedly be put on an email mailing list. LiveChat is available between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET on weekends.
Overall, customer service options through Fidelity are fairly straightforward. Even though Fidelity’s website is easy to use, the possibility of dropping in on a brick-and-mortar location may be more attractive to some investors than wading through Fidelity’s website.
The fine print:
- In order to receive the commission-free trades, clients must designate an existing Fidelity IRA or brokerage account or open and fund a new eligible Fidelity IRA or brokerage account with new net assets.
- Deposits of $50,—-$99,999 will receive 300 free trades, and deposits of $100,000 or more will receive 500 free trades.
- Trades must be completed within two years of being credited to the client’s account.
- Account holders must maintain a minimum account balance of $50,000 of new net assets for this free trade offer.
- Non-eligible accounts: business accounts, trust accounts, fiduciary accounts, non-prototype accounts, college investment trust accounts, 529 college savings plan accounts, Fidelity accounts managed by Strategic Advisers, Inc, Institutional Wealth Services clients, clients of registered investment advisors working with Fidelity Investments, annuities and Stock Plan Services accounts.
- Offer is not valid for non-U.S. residents.
Ease of Use
Fortunately, Fidelity’s instinctive platforms and website are clean, simplified, supremely intentional and geared toward beginning investors as well as seasoned traders. Whether customers need access to trader tools, mobile apps, or anything else that Fidelity showcases on its platforms, all of it is easy to use.
A lot of U.S. companies use Fidelity for their IRAs, which may hinder some individuals’ inclination to gravitate toward them for their individual needs (to say, set up a trading account).
However, overall, Fidelity is well-known throughout the industry as a time-tested, steady option for clients. With over $17.9 million retail brokerage accounts and over $1.71 trillion (that’s trillion, with a capital “T”!) in client assets, clients should expect a lot from Fidelity.
Fortunately, Fidelity delivers. With its full features and low costs across the board, Fidelity’s support is second to none. In addition, because its services are so comprehensive, Fidelity has the potential to grow with its new investors or traders, and can meet clients’ needs as they learn and build on their investment knowledge.