Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

This device is too small

If you're on a Galaxy Fold, consider unfolding your phone or viewing it in full screen to best optimize your experience.

Skip to main content

E*TRADE Core Portfolios Review: Top Broker with Focused Investments

Review Updated
Matt Frankel, CFP®
By: Matt Frankel, CFP®

Our Brokerages Expert

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

Most major online stock brokers have introduced their own robo-advisor platforms, and E*TRADE's version is called E*TRADE Core Portfolios. Importantly, the robo-advisor shines with its customer service, competitive fees, and low account minimum of just $500. In this E*TRADE Core Portfolios review, we'll take an in-depth look at how this robo-advisor platform works, what it costs, and its features.

Ratings Methodology

Our Rating:

Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line

With great access to customer service, low-cost investments, and automatic rebalancing, E*TRADE Core Portfolios is a great option for anyone with at least $500 to start investing.


$0 per trade, management fee 0.30%, expense ratio 0.06%-0.12%

Account Minimum:


Full E*TRADE Core Portfolios review

This robo-advisor is a good fit for: Hands-off investors that want to put their investments on cruise control and manage their money needs under one roof.


  • Low account minimum
  • Great customer service
  • Access to low-cost ETFs


  • High management fee
  • No tax-loss harvesting

Top perks

Customer service

E*TRADE Core Portfolios has a highly rated customer service department and flexible support hours. Clients and potential clients can speak with a specialist weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. EST.

Low account minimum

E*TRADE requires a $500 initial investment, which is on the lower end of the range among the best robo-advisors -- some don't have a minimum deposit requirement, while others require minimums of $5,000 or more.

Low-cost investments

E*TRADE Core Portfolios invests client assets in portfolios made up of low-cost exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, which have underlying expense ratios ranging from 0.06%-0.12%.

Portfolio choice

In addition to its standard customized portfolio options, E*TRADE Core Portfolios allows investors to choose specific focuses, such as tax-advantaged portfolios and strategies that exclusively invest in socially-responsible ETFs.

Automatic rebalancing

Like most other robo-advisors, E*TRADE offers periodic rebalancing of client accounts to maintain the target asset allocation. E*TRADE rebalances only twice a year, significantly less frequently than some rivals, but it's still a nice feature.

Integrates with other E-TRADE accounts

E*TRADE Core Portfolios integrates with other accounts on E*TRADE's platform, which allows clients to see all of their accounts in one place, and facilitates smooth transfers into and out of the Core Portfolios account. Any existing E*TRADE account can also be easily converted into a Core Portfolios account.


Buying your first stocks: Do it the smart way

Once you’ve chosen one of our top-rated brokers, you need to make sure you’re buying the right stocks. We think there’s no better place to start than with Stock Advisor, the flagship stock-picking service of our company, The Motley Fool. You’ll get two new stock picks every month, plus 10 starter stocks and best buys now. Over the past 21 years, Stock Advisor’s average stock pick has seen a 494% return — more than 3x that of the S&P 500! (as of 8/10/2023). Learn more and get started today with a special new member discount.

What could be improved

Management fee

E*TRADE Core Portfolio charges a 0.30% annualized management fee, far lower than you'd pay for a human financial advisor, but on the higher end of our favorite robo-advisor platforms.

No tax-loss harvesting

Unlike some of its competitors, E*TRADE Core Portfolios doesn't offer tax-loss harvesting strategies, which can save many investors a lot on their taxes. The platform does offer a portfolio of tax-sensitive ETFs specifically designed for clients who are worried about tax implications, but this is still a downside of E*TRADE's offering.

Access to human advisors

According to E*TRADE's website, "For Core Portfolios clients, interaction with E*TRADE Capital Management will generally be limited to the web-based interface." You can speak with a Core Portfolios specialist, but this is more along the lines of technical support, not financial advice.

Alternatives to consider

If you want a lower management fee: Betterment offers both a lower management fee and has no account minimum, in addition to including tax-loss harvesting. But Betterment isn't a fit for investors seeking a full-featured broker that allows them to manage some of their investments by themselves while setting aside other fund for automated strategies.

RELATED: Best Robo-Advisors For Beginners

If you want want the best of both worlds, a robo-advisor and access to human advisors: SoFi Automated Investing offers its robo-advisor customer unlimited access to registered investment advisors. SoFi Automated Investing also has lower fees with no management fee and expense ratios on its funds.

How E*TRADE Core Portfolios works

E*TRADE's application process is seamless, making it a great broker for beginners who are filling out a new brokerage account application for the first time. New clients first fill out a quick but thorough questionnaire to help E*TRADE assess their risk tolerance and investment goals. Next, clients see a recommended portfolio, plus an alternative. For example, E*TRADE might think you have a high risk tolerance based on the questionnaire, but if the recommended portfolio seems too risky, there’s a second option that might be a better fit.

There are some customization options, including tax-advantaged investments, investing exclusively in socially-responsible companies, or using so-called "Smart Beta" ETFs to potentially boost returns. You can also open an E*TRADE Core Portfolios account as a standard individual or joint brokerage account, a custodial account, or an individual retirement account (IRA).

Once you've accepted a portfolio option, chosen customizations, and made your opening deposit, you can start investing with a simple click of the mouse. E*TRADE monitors portfolios and rebalances them semi-annually to make sure the target investment allocation is maintained, and accounts integrate nicely with other E*TRADE brokerage and bank accounts.

Pricing and fees

Like most robo-advisors, E*TRADE Core Portfolios has two types of ongoing investment fee. You'll pay a flat management fee to E*TRADE, equal to 0.30% of your assets per year. This translates into $3 for every $1,000 in your account. In addition, your portfolio's investment funds (exchange-traded funds, or ETFs) have their own fees, known as expense ratios.

In terms of all-in pricing, E*TRADE is in the middle of the pack when it comes to our favorite robo-advisors. The account management fee is on the higher end, while its ETFs are quite reasonably priced.

Account management fee 0.30%
Investment fund fees 0.06%-0.12%
All-in fees 0.36%-0.42%
Other account charges $75 transfer-out fee

Customer service and support

There are two types of support that robo-advisor clients might need -- investment advice from a human being, and help with technical issues. Here’s how E*TRADE Core Portfolios stacks up.

When it comes to technical support, E*TRADE Core Portfolios shines. It has a highly-rated customer service department, and the hours are flexible. You can call and talk to a Core Portfolios specialist anytime from 8:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. EST.

On the other hand, E*TRADE Core Portfolios clients generally don't have access to human financial advisors. Some rival robo-advisors provide access to financial planners who can provide guidance if, say, a client wants to save to buy a house. E*TRADE Core Portfolios clients don't get this level of advice.

E*TRADE Core Portfolios is right for you if:

  • You value good customer service.
  • You want to keep your finances in one place and are an existing E*TRADE customer (E*TRADE brokerage or banking), or want to move assets to the broker.
  • You want to invest in socially responsible companies or Smart Beta ETFs that can potentially boost long-term returns.
  • You have at least $500 to start investing.
  • You aren't concerned with getting financial advice from a human advisor, and aren't worried about tax-optimization strategies.

Our Brokerages Expert