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Fidelity vs. Charles Schwab

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Investors looking for discount brokerages have no shortage of options in today’s society. Fidelity and Charles Schwab aren’t exactly up-and-coming disruptors, but the two veteran firms are still great places for you to park your cash. Both have a wide variety of account options and securities, including commission-free ETFs. If you’re new to investing, it might be hard to discern which of these giants is right for you, so we’ll compare Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab side by side.

Fidelity vs. Charles Schwab: Overview

Best For
  • Easy-to-navigate yet functional platform strikes the perfect balance between expert tools and comfort for beginners
  • Mobile trading app is fully-optimized and mirrors full functionality of the desktop platform
  • Wide range of education and research options make learning more about securities and the market easier and less time-consuming
Best For
  • 3 trading platforms perfectly in sync makes matching your platform to your skill level a snap
  • Excellent futures trading education for new traders
  • $0 account minimum means anyone can start trading

Who’s Fidelity for?

Fidelity, a pioneer in the online brokerage space, created the first investment webpage in 1995. The company compiles over 70 years of experience and has masterminded some of the most famous funds of all time, including Peter Lynch’s Magellan fund. In addition to brokerage services, Fidelity also offers retirement planning, life insurance, wealth management and traditional banking services.

Read Benzinga’s full Fidelity Review

Who’s Charles Schwab for?

Like Fidelity, Charles Schwab can offer decades of experience in the investing landscape and has fully embraced the online aspects of the industry. Schwab offers many of the same investment and banking services as Fidelity, including a healthy list of commission-free ETFs. Together with Vanguard and Fidelity, Charles Schwab makes up part of the “big three” of online discount brokers. An account with one of these firms is often the best way to invest.

Read Benzinga’s full Charles Schwab Review

Fidelity vs. Charles Schwab: Platform and Tools

What Fidelity Offers

Fidelity has a tremendous platform in Active Trader Pro, along with plenty of other tools to help guide your trades. The Active Trader platform incorporates real-time analytics, allowing you to receive buy and sell alerts instantly based on a cohesive analysis of price movements.

Trade Armor can be used to explore potential trade outcomes so you can decipher proper entry and exit points. Finally, Active Trader Pro’s Daily Dashboard can be used to start your trading day with pertinent news and information about your holdings.

Fidelity Retirement Score

What Charles Schwab Offers

Charles Schwab’s active platform is called StreetSmart Edge and it has tools to rival TD Ameritrade’s impressive thinkorswim. You’ll get a live commercial-free broadcast of CNBC on the platform itself, along with 24/7 market updates and press releases. The All-In-One Trade Ticket allows you to complete multiple trades across different asset classes all from the same screen for quick and efficient trading. Schwab also offers web-based trading on desktop and mobile services on its popular investment app.

Charles Schwab Offers

Bottom Line

Fidelity and Charles Schwab both offer sophisticated trading platforms befitting experienced traders, but aren’t so complex that novices get lost. Both platforms succeed in simplifying complex processes and maintain max  efficiency. You can’t go wrong with either.

Fidelity vs. Charles Schwab: Research Offerings

What Fidelity Offers

Fidelity’s research offerings include Fidelity Viewpoints, an all-in-one market news and analysis website with sections devoted to personal finance, investment ideas and market basics. You’ll also get access to leading market research firms like MSCI, Zack’s, Ford Equity Research, ValuEngine and more. Fidelity also rates the accuracy of the information from these research firms, which gives you a chance to cut through the noise of investment news and get to the stories that matter.

What Charles Schwab Offers

Schwab gives you access to leading sources of stock news and analysis like Reuters, Morningstar, Credit Suisse and the Associated Press. Stock screeners allow investors to pick out securities based on over 100 different criteria using both technical and fundamental analysis. Stock quotes are displayed with customizable charts, company headlines and buy/sell ratings from Schwab and Morningstar.

Using Intutive Trading Tools On Our Web, Mobile, Software Platforms

Bottom Line

Fidelity gives you access to more industry-leading research firms, but Schwab’s stock screeners are more extensive and easier to navigate. Schwab also has portfolio analysis tools for users with accounts outside of the firm. If you’re new to investing, Fidelity’s glossary of investment terms and topics are especially beneficial.

Fidelity vs, Charles Schwab: Commission and Fees

Fidelity’s Fees

Fidelity’s fees are competitive with any firm in the industry. You’ll pay $4.95 in commission for stock, ETF, and options trades (with an added 65 cents per options contract). There’s also an impressive list of 265 commission-free ETFs from Fidelity and iShares. Fidelity won’t nickel and dime you over the small stuff, either. You won’t pay a fee if you transfer money out of your account or you have insufficient funds in your account.

Fidelity Vs, Charles Schwab: Commission And Fees

Charles Schwab’s Fees

Like Fidelity, Schwab charges $4.95 commission on trades of stocks, options, and ETFs. Many mutual funds can be traded commission-free as well. Schwab compares well to Fidelity with 250 commission-free ETFs, some with expense ratios that are lowest in the industry. Futures contracts cost $1.50 to trade.

Charles Schwab’s Fees

Bottom Line

Fidelity and Schwab are currently battling it out to see who can drop fees the lowest. Neither broker has account minimums and both charge $4.95 commission on trades. Both brokers have a wide selection of commission-free ETFs and mutual funds. Fidelity gets a slight edge just because you won’t even be charged a fee for insufficient funds.

Fidelity vs. Charles Schwab: Security

What Fidelity Offers

Fidelity has several layers of security to protect customer accounts and information. First, Fidelity works with SIPC and FDIC to help customers recover funds lost via fraud. Fidelity also offers a customer protection guarantee, which vows to repay any funds lost due to unauthorized activity.

Online users enjoy encrypted messaging and email, timed logoffs and a two-factor authentication system built by cybersecurity firm Symantec. Fidelity’s voice authentication system also ensures that only you can make changes to your account.

What Charles Schwab Offers

Schwab participates in FDIC and SIPC and also has a multilayered security approach. Schwab trains all of its employees to adhere to specific privacy guidelines and limits the number of people with access to any one customer’s information. You’ll also get the Schwab Security Guarantee, which protects against unauthorized activity and refunds any losses caused by fraud.

Bottom Line

Both firms take security very seriously. Your funds are protected from unauthorized activity by a personal guarantee and SIPC coverage. Fidelity and Schwab both offer encryptions like two-factor authentication and voice authentication, so investors can feel safe putting funds into either brokerage. Schwab might get a slight edge for limiting how many employees can read your information.

Fidelity vs. Charles Schwab: Customer Support

What Fidelity Offers

Fidelity users can access help via the Virtual Assistant, a 24/7 automated system that functions like a chat room. Just type in your questions and the assistant will respond immediately. If you can’t find a suitable answer there, live chats with a human reps are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Phone support is also available 24/7, but email can take anywhere from three to five business days.

What Charles Schwab Offers

Schwab offers 24/7 phone and chat support, including calls to representatives in specialized areas like retirement planning, global trading, options and futures. The website lacks a virtual assistant, so users who don’t want to chat will have to click on the education center link and locate articles about specific topic.

Bottom Line

Fidelity’s virtual assistant is a simplified approach to getting answers, but it’s easier to contact a real person using Schwab’s 24/7 chat support feature. However, customer support is clearly high on both company’s agendas and both offer service superior to most other competitors.

Fidelity vs. Charles Schwab: Tradable Asset Classes

What Fidelity Offers

Fidelity account holders can trade equities like stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds, along with options, bonds, CDs, money market funds and annuities. You won’t find futures or cryptocurrencies, but Fidelity does have access to IPOs and international trading in 25 different countries with 16 types of currency. Fidelity also recently introduced some zero expense ETFs and mutual funds, the first of their kind.

What Charles Schwab Offers

Schwab offers the same investment and banking options like stocks, bonds and options and  also offers futures trading, which you won’t find at Fidelity. On the international scene, Schwab gives customers access to 30 different world markets.

Bottom Line

Both Fidelity and Schwab have a large list of stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, futures, annuities, CDs and insurance. Fidelity recently introduced the first ever zero expense rate ETFs, one-upping the 0.03% expense ratio on Schwab’s core funds. Neither broker offers cryptocurrency trading and only Schwab allows users to trade futures contracts. Schwab also has access to more foreign markets.

Fidelity vs. Charles Schwab: Ease of Use

What Fidelity Offers

Fidelity’s website is clean and easy to navigate. Active Trader Pro is an efficient platform that allows users to create 50 orders at once or just make simple market order trades one by one. There’s a lot here for experienced traders, so if you’re new to the game, you might face a learning curve when you use advanced features.

What Charles Schwab Offers

Schwab’s website has so many pull-down boxes that it can be tricky to find what you’re looking for at first. The StreetSmart Edge platform can also be a little intimidating for new traders, but the web and mobile platforms are simple, uncluttered and provide lots of information.

Bottom Line

Fidelity and Schwab are definitely geared toward professional traders, but both companies have education centers where inexperienced investors can read up on the markets and trading. Fidelity’s website is a little easier to navigate, but both companies have easy-to-use mobile trading apps and simple desktop platforms.

Final Thoughts

Fidelity and Charles Schwab are two of the most customer-friendly brokers in the industry today. Both provide a variety of low-cost funds for no commission and charge under $5 to trade stocks. Futures traders will definitely prefer Schwab, but new traders might have more appreciation for Fidelity’s simplicity (and zero expense ETFs).

Both firms are excellent options for investing, saving and retirement planning and the better choice here is just a matter of personal preference. You really can’t go wrong with either.

Best For
Stock Research
Overall Rating
Get started securely through Fidelity Investments’s website
Commissions
$4.95
Account Min
$0 for IRAs. Some accounts may require a minimum opening balance of $2,500
1 Minute Review

Fidelity is a comprehensive and responsive brokerage suitable for both new and experienced traders alike. With complete access to the full U.S. stock and options markets, a set of state-of-the-art education and research tools, as well as a wide fee-free fund selection, Fidelity is equally useful for the veteran swing traders to novices opening their first accounts. Mobile traders will be especially happy with Fidelity’s app, which mirrors full capabilities of the platform. Though there isn’t much to criticize about Fidelity, the broker does have a few areas where it can afford to improve. Margin rates are significantly higher than most other brokers, especially for traders borrowing less than $25,000. It also doesn’t offer any access to the futures markets. Despite these minor flaws, Fidelity remains a strong choice for most investors.

Best For
  • Easy-to-navigate yet functional platform strikes the perfect balance between expert tools and comfort for beginners
  • Mobile trading app is fully-optimized and mirrors full functionality of the desktop platform
  • Wide range of education and research options make learning more about securities and the market easier and less time-consuming
Pros
  • Complete range of both independent and managed services available at exceptionally affordable prices
  • Offers access to both domestic markets and 25 foreign markets, as well as a wide range of options contracts and over 10,000 mutual funds
  • Mobile app that is well-integrated and works just as well as the desktop platform
  • Wide selection of education tools and resources available free of charge
Cons
  • Margin rates higher than many other competing brokerages
  • No access to futures trading
  • High fees for buying a non-Fidelity mutual fund (with over 3,300 fee-free funds available)
Best For
Fund Investing
Overall Rating
Get started securely through Charles Schwab’s website
Commissions
$0
Account Min
$0
1 Minute Review

Charles Schwab is a solid choice for traders of all skill levels. It offers full access to the U.S. equity and options markets as well as 30 international markets. Traders can create a diverse portfolio with $0 commissions and no account minimums. Schwab’s margin trading is expensive but Schwab makes up for it with affordable futures and options trades, along with a comprehensive mobile offering.

Best For
  • 3 trading platforms perfectly in sync makes matching your platform to your skill level a snap
  • Excellent futures trading education for new traders
  • $0 account minimum means anyone can start trading
Pros
  • Wide range of available assets to trade, including futures and 30 global markets
  • SmartStreet Edge platform is powerful enough for advanced traders, yet easy enough for new traders to utilize
  • Unique educational resources (like infographics and podcasts) make learning fun
Cons
  • Margin rates are more expensive than competitors
  • More limitations on available margin than competitors
  • Expensive mutual funds

Turn to Webull

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