Whether you are a new investor trying to get into the game of investing or a seasoned trader, picking the right broker is the first step to any investment plan. It is crucial to get off on the right foot, and this article will break down a few of the largest players in the online brokerage space.
Robinhood is commonly referred to as a pioneer in the free trading space. This platform caught fire shortly after launching by offering commission-free trades on stocks and ETFs. It has since expanded into the world of options and even cryptocurrency. Although it does not allow for retirement investing, there are still several great features that users love. Second only to commission-free trades, Robinhood's focus on a seamless and simple user experience is what makes it stand out from the crowd.
Charles Schwab is a tried and tested platform that has been around since the 1970's and takes a different approach than Robinhood. Charles Schwab wants to been an all-encompassing platform where users can dabble in several types of investment vehicles. Schwab focuses on retirement accounts while offering commission-free trades as well. If you are looking for a more immersive and detailed experience, Charles Schwab is your go-to platform.
Robinhood Review 2021: Best Investing App?
Charles Schwab Review 2021: Best Brokerage?
||Invest With Charles Schwab|
|Assets||Stocks, ETFs, Options, Crypto||Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Options, Futures, Bonds|
|Mutual Funds||No||Over 3,500 No Transaction Fee Funds|
|Robo-Advisor||No||Yes ($5,000 Minimum)|
|Best For||Everyday Investors||High Net Worth Investors|
Robinhood is an online broker based out of Menlo Park, California. It offers a large array of investment services and products. The company pioneered commission-free trading and their rapid success forced industry titans like Charles Schwab to follow suit and drop their commissions.
The app was clearly designed with Millennials and Gen Z in mind as evidenced by the minimalist design and gamification of investing.
Robinhood offers stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrency, and options as part of its competitive services. And better yet, Robinhood will offer these securities at no extra cost to you! You may wonder how this is possible. It's all through the impressive online brokerage features.
Robinhood does make money, but it is in less conventional ways than what most brokerages do.
Since launching in March of 2015, the app has paved the way for dozens of investing apps to follow suit and offer specific features to investors for low-to-no cost.
Today it can be easy to forget that we actually used to have to pay commissions every time we wanted to buy or sell a stock. These days are largely behind us thanks to Robinhood.
You enjoy the luxury of keeping costs low while trading the 1000’s of different securities that Robinhood offers. Not to mention you can enjoy trading on an award-winning mobile application.
Robinhood’s app is offered on both the IOS App store and the Google Play store.
It is 100% free to download and, speaking especially from personal experience, is very beginner-friendly. It took much of the complexity out of investing when I began using the app in 2018 and still provides the seamless beginner-friendly experience that won it the Google Play Award recently for best use of material design.
If you are a small investor, Robinhood’s $0 account minimum may stand out as an attractive feature of its online brokerage account.
Big or small, Robinhood is fully welcoming of all sizes of users. However, why start at zero when you can use a friend’s referral code to receive a free stock upon opening a brokerage account. A free stock? Worth how much? What company? How does it work? All very important questions that deserve answers that will be addressed below.
When signing up for a Robinhood account with our link, you will receive a free stock when your account gets approved.
These stocks are chosen from Robinhood’s extensive inventory of securities that it holds. According to the Robinhood’s website, stocks are valued anywhere between $2.50 and $200.
Robinhood also notes that there is a 98% chance that you will receive a stock that is worth between $2.50 and $10.00. Therefore, while the odds are low that you will hit the jackpot on a $200 stock, the chances of you receiving a $5 stock are high: not a bad start to your new brokerage account.
You'll also get a unique link when you sign up that you can give to your friends so that both of you will get a free stock when they sign up.
Robinhood’s fractional shares initiative allows you to buy fragments of a company’s stock if you cannot afford it or only want to allocate a smaller percentage of money toward it.
For example, let's take a company like Amazon. It is currently trading at $3,138 per share. However, with Robinhood, you can buy shares of Amazon in $1 increments. This is great for beginner investors looking to build a diversified portfolio on a budget.
If you're a long-term investor looking to take advantage of compound interest, a dividend reinvestment plan or DRIP can allow you to do just that.
With a DRIP, you can set up your dividends to be automatically used to buy more shares of the underlying company. For example, if Apple pays you a $5 dividend, Robinhood will automatically use it to buy $5 worth of Apple Stock if you enable the DRIP.
This is an effective strategy to make sure you're not sitting on too much cash and the majority of your portfolio is put to work for you.
For investors that follow the advice of Warren Buffet and practice dollar-cost-averaging, the ability to set up recurring investments will likely make your life easier.
Robinhood now allows investors to set up their Robinhood account to automatically purchase shares for you on a schedule that you choose. So if you wanted to buy $100 worth of Amazon every week, you could set up your Robinhood to automatically pull $100 from your checking account and invest it in Amazon every Monday.
Long-term investors will likely find this feature useful for automating more of their investments.
Robinhood Cash Management provides a great solution to earning interest on uninvested cash in your brokerage account. This is something to take note of if you are a patient investor and often have a lot of cash lying around in your brokerage account as you wait for the right opportunities to test the waters.
The account also provides a debit card you can use to spend money directly from your Robinhood account if you'd prefer to keep all of your finances in the same place.
Robinhood Gold is a monthly paid service starting at $5 per month that gives you access to features that are not offered in the normal Robinhood brokerage account.
Margin trading, investment research, and extended trading hours are some of the most notable features supplied to Robinhood Gold members. However, these features do not come free and a monthly fee will be billed to you for investing in this account.
Check out the “Robinhood Fees” section for more information regarding fees on Gold accounts.
If there was one aspect of Robinhood that lacks, it would be its customer support.
With a track record of unresponsiveness and limited access to actual representatives, Robinhood’s customer support can be easily deemed as difficult to deal with. With this being said, the company still has an extensive FAQ page on its website that should do a good job of answering the most basic questions you may have.
While many of Robinhood's features can be accessed free of charge, Robinhood still needs to make money some way. It does this in part by adding fees on certain features that it provides.
If you are a a Robinhood Gold members, you will be charged a monthly fee of $5 for accessing its exclusive resources and tools. However, if you aren't planning on investing with margin, paying $5 may be unnecessary. If you are looking for these features, the $5 may be well worth it for you. There are no fees on margin as well.
For Margin associated with the Robinhood Gold account, the first $1,000 that you use is included in the $5 monthly fee.
Remember that this money still needs to be paid back, however. After that, the daily interest rate on margin is calculated as 5% divided by 365 charged monthly. So, the longer you take to pay back margin, the more interest you will pay on it.
Charles Schwab is an online broker based out of San Francisco, California and boasts more than 29.6 million accounts. That is more than double Robinhood's 13 million. Often referred to as 'Schwab', this titan of industry has been around since 1971 and offers a variety of investment products, services, and features to help investors reach their goal of financial security.
This brokerage offers several account types ranging from individual brokerage to educational and custodial accounts for children. As far as investable assets go, they pretty much have everything that an investor could want: stocks, bonds, annuities, money market funds, and futures to name a few.
With Schwab, there is little that can't be done in the game called investing.
Schwab hit the scene in the early '70's to invent help individuals take ownership of their financial futures. To help them accomplish this, Schwab has invested in several tools and features that investors love and are easy to use. Let's dive deeper into a few of them.
Often, younger investors care most about the different features available with brokerage accounts. With Schwab, users can feel satisfied knowing they can trade to their heart's content with no commissions, account fees, or maintenance fees for all stocks and ETFs.
This offering is on par with several other brokerage companies like Robinhood above. However, with Schwab, investors have a large swath of investment and research tools to help them make the right decisions. Something that is severely lacking on Robinhood.
In 2019, Schwab earned the top award for self-directed investing from J.D. Power. A huge accomplishment and a nod to the free research and analysis available on the platform. With the research platform that is powered by Schwab, investors have access to 3rd party data from companies like Morningstar and Credit Suisse and can also perform their own analysis. Some popular self-directed tools include Schwab equity ratings, select lists of mutual funds and ETFs predicted to outperform their peers, and other technical analysis like StreetSmart Edge.
StreetSmart Edge is Schwab’s downloadable technical charting platform. Schwab’s StreetSmart Edge platform lets you to mark up charts, analyze trends, and gain an upper-hand when deciding to make trades.
This research comes standard by giving your business to Schwab and is something that makes them stand out in a very crowded field.
In the highly competitive brokerage landscape, there are few that stand out as leaders in the arena of retirement planning. Schwab offers several options including a Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, Rollover IRA, and Inherited IRA. These accounts and several others help investors plan for and crush it once they retire.
Similar to Schwab's brokerage account, these features come free for all users. This of course, does not include the fees that might be imposed by the SEC and other account fees which are fairly standard in the industry. Users who choose to invest for retirement with Charles Schwab will also have access to investing in mutual funds, CDs, and bonds. This is a standout offering compared to brokerages like Robinhood which don't offer retirement accounts and only allow the trading of stocks, ETFs, options, and crypto.
For investors who want to put money away but need more liquidity, Schwab offers a high yield savings account. Though at a lower rate than Robinhood’s Cash Management Program, Schwab offers a 0.05% yield on clients’ savings. Which is right in line with the national average. If having cash on hand but still earning interest is your goal, then Robinhood absolutely wins out here.
If you are new to investing and think that a Robo advisor may suit your needs best, Schwab has you covered. Through its full-service Robo advisor, Schwab will build, monitor, automatically rebalance, and diversify your portfolio across multiple asset classes.
Signing up is fairly simple and will ensure that you get the best plan for your personal situation. Simply follow the steps below:
Schwab has a fantastic track record of providing top-quality customer support. Offering support 24/7, Schwab is acting on its “client first” policy by keeping live representatives on call if you have any pressing questions regarding all parts of your Schwab experience.
Schwab also employs thousands of financial advisors so if you decide that your financial situation has risen to the level of needing additional support, you'll be able to get connected with a local financial advisor and make a plan. If you feel your situation is a little more in depth and could use an in-person visit, Schwab has over 300 physical locations where you can visit to discuss your finances.
Though this platform is free of commissions and account minimums. There are a few fees that could sully the rosey view most of us have about Schwab.
There is a $0.65 price per contract for options trades, which makes Schwab more expensive in this category than Robinhood. This does not, however, mean that Robinhood is the better choice for options trading. It's up to you to decide which is a better fit, because cheaper doesn't always mean better!
Schwab charges up to $49.95 on mutual funds. Since Robinhood doesn't offer mutual funds, it is hard to draw a comparison between the two online brokers. However, other online brokers may offer cheaper rates if this number is steep for you .
Schwab requires between a $5,000 minimum for the most basic Robo-advisor, and a $25,000 minimum for their premium Robo-advisor. However for the premium Robo-advisor, Schwab charges a one-time planning fee of $300 and you will pay a $30 per month advisory fee after that.
If you are looking to trade options and cryptos more than stocks and ETFs, Robinhood may be a better choice. It has commission-free options capabilities compared to Schwab’s contract-based fee system. Schwab has many retirement accounts and valuable robo-advising. This could make it your best bet if you want to save for the future and have an automated portfolio.
Schwab's physical branch locations could also be a plus for some investors who would appreciate the ability to walk in and talk to a financial professional about their investments. Robinhood is 100% online which allows them to pay a higher APY on uninvested cash, but they are not able to provide the personalized service that Charles Schwab can.
Most importantly, it is about where you see yourself fitting in. Both online brokers offer many different bells and whistles, but each have their own specialties. Take a close look at both areas of expertise and make a smart decision about what suits you. Then, take action!
I hope this article brought you up to speed on the key differences between these popular brokerages! If you have any questions regarding Robinhood or Charles Schwab please feel free to leave a comment on this post.