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E*TRADE vs. Fidelity: Which Should You Pick?

Review Updated
Matt Frankel, CFP®
Emma Newbery
By: Matt Frankel, CFP® and Emma Newbery

Our Brokerages Experts

Eric McWhinnie
Check IconFact Checked Eric McWhinnie
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.

Over the past couple of decades, the way Americans invest has evolved tremendously. The emergence and evolution of online brokerages has allowed millions of people to buy stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and more at a bare minimum of expense, and virtually instantaneously.

Of course, not all online brokerages are the same. While most popular brokerage platforms share similarities, there are some primary differences investors should consider before opening an account. Two of the most popular online stock brokers are E*TRADE and Fidelity, so here's a rundown of the key similarities and differences that should factor into your decision between the two.

E*TRADE vs. Fidelity: At a glance

Offer


Rating
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 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.
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Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
5.0/5 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.
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Commissions Commission-free; other fees apply

$0 commission for online U.S. stock and ETF trades. No fees to buy fractional shares.

Account Minimum $0 $0, ($1 minimum per fractional share transaction)
Next Steps

Comparing the costs

Like most brokerages, E*TRADE and Fidelity have dramatically lowered their pricing structures in recent years. Both have zero-commission online stock and ETF trades. For mutual funds, both brokerages offer an extensive list of no-transaction-fee mutual funds, but if you choose a no-load fund that's not on the list, E*TRADE is the cheaper of the two.

Broker Stock trades Option trades Mutual funds (no-load)
E*TRADE $0 $0 + up to $0.65 per contract $0
Fidelity $0 $0 + $0.65 per contract $49.95
Data source: E*TRADE and Fidelity.

Also, for clients who trade frequently -- which E*TRADE defines as at least 30 stock, option, or ETF trades per quarter -- E*TRADE has an even more favorable commission structure. The per-contract options commission drops to just $0.50, even better than Fidelity's rate.

Mutual fund access

Both E*TRADE and Fidelity offer excellent access to mutual funds and have a long list of no-transaction-fee options. As of the latest available information, Fidelity has the larger total selection of funds. It boasts over 10,000 funds, while E*TRADE offers over 6,500.  Fidelity also offers a small selection of broad-market index funds with zero expense ratio. However, E*TRADE offers all of its mutual funds on a no-load basis -- roughly 3,000 more than Fidelity.

To be perfectly clear, all these numbers are quite large. Unless you have a specific mutual fund in mind that you'd like to buy, you shouldn't have much of an issue with finding a suitable commission-free mutual fund on either platform.

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Minimum opening deposits

Most online brokerages no longer have a minimum account balance. Fidelity and E*TRADE are among them. You can literally open an account with a dollar and start investing. That said, of the two, only Fidelity offers fractional shares, meaning you can buy a dollar's worth of various stocks or ETFs.

Alternatives to Consider

We recommend comparing brokerage options to ensure the account you're selecting is the best fit for you. To make your search easier, here's a short list of our best trading platforms of 2024.

Account Fees Account Minimum
Logo for Robinhood
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 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.
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$0 for stocks, ETFs, and options; $5 monthly for Robinhood Gold $0
Logo for SoFi Active Investing
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 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.
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$0 for stocks, $0 for options contracts $0
Logo for E*TRADE
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 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.
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Commission-free; other fees apply $0

Trading tools and research

Both brokerages offer clients access to independent research from a number of providers. Fidelity offers a particularly large amount of research, from almost 20 independent providers.

And, while we at The Ascent are more buy-and-hold oriented, both brokerages offer special platforms for active traders. Fidelity has its Active Trader Pro software, and E*TRADE offers the company's Power E*TRADE trading platform.

International stock trading

E*TRADE used to have a global trading platform that allowed investors to trade directly on international stock exchanges, but it was discontinued. Fidelity still provides investors access to foreign markets.

To be clear, you can invest in international stocks that trade on U.S. markets, including those that trade as American depository receipts (ADRs), with either brokerage. However, if you want to be able to trade directly on an international stock exchange, Fidelity is the way to go.

As of this writing, Fidelity's brokerage clients can trade on international stock markets in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, and the U.K. In all, Fidelity clients can trade on 25 foreign markets, and can use U.S. dollars or each market's local currency.

Mobile platforms

As you'd expect from brokerages these days, both E*TRADE and Fidelity offer mobile trading apps. E*TRADE is a pioneer in mobile trading, and its mobile app is highly rated, with a 4.6 out of 5 on the Apple App Store. Plus, E*TRADE also offers an active-trader-focused app version of its Power E*TRADE platform, which has a 4.5 out of 5 rating on the App Store. For Android users, E*TRADE and Power E*TRADE have Google Play Store ratings of 3.9 and 3.8 respectively, so reviews seem to be slightly less favorable on that platform.

The Fidelity Mobile app is also highly rated, with a 4.8 out of 5 rating on the App Store and a 4.4 out of 5 on the Google Play Store. It's fair to say that if mobile functionality is a priority, both of these brokerages should have what you're looking for.

ATM and debit card access

The majority of online brokerages allow clients to obtain a debit card connected with their account. These two are no exception, and both also offer fee-free ATM access.

If you open a Fidelity® Cash Management Account, the brokerage will reimburse all non-bank ATM fees. Clients who add a debit card to their Fidelity brokerage account will not qualify for out-of-network fee reimbursements.

E*TRADE reimburses five ATM fees per month. It also offers unlimited fee reimbursement for clients with $50,000 or more in E*TRADE accounts, or who make at least 30 stock, ETF, or option trades per quarter.

Both brokers are pretty evenly matched here.

In-person investing help

To be clear, one of the perks of using an online brokerage is that you don't need in-person help to invest. In addition to user-friendly online and mobile platforms, both brokers offer well-staffed help lines and plenty of educational tools.

Still, sometimes you may want to speak to an investment advisor face to face. In this area, Fidelity is the clear winner.

E*TRADE does not have any physical branches. It merged with Morgan Stanley in 2020, which brings benefits such as access to research and other services. But you can't go into a Morgan Stanley branch to discuss your E*TRADE account.

Fidelity has more than 200 branches across the United States as well as a live chat function for technical issues. If you want a mix of customer support options, Fidelity stands out.

Which is right for you?

Fidelity and E*TRADE are both excellent online brokerages, and there's a reason they're among the most popular in the business. However, as with most financial comparisons, there's not a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of which is better.

The better choice may depend on some of your personal investment priorities, as well as your current financial situation. With that in mind, here's a breakdown of the key advantages each of these brokerages has over the other:

You might prefer Fidelity if:

  • You want to be able to trade on international stock exchanges.
  • You aren't an active trader.
  • You want ready access to face-to-face investment help.

You might prefer E*TRADE if:

  • You want top-notch trading tools.
  • You're looking for a specific no-load mutual fund.
  • You trade options and plan on making at least 30 trades per quarter (10 per month).
E*TRADE
Open Account for E*TRADE

On E*TRADE's Secure Website.

Ratings Methodology

Our Rating:

Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 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

Fees:

Commission-free; other fees apply

Account Minimum:

$0

Special Offer Circle with letter I in it. Open a new eligible E*TRADE brokerage account, fund your account within 60 days of opening, and earn a cash bonus of up to $1,000, depending on the size of your deposit. Offer good for one use per customer, on a single account.

Open and fund and get up to $5,000

Open Account for E*TRADE

On E*TRADE's Secure Website.

The Ascent's best stock brokers

Uncover the names of the select brokers that landed a spot on The Ascent's shortlist for the best online stock brokers. Our top picks pack in valuable perks, including some that offer $0 commissions and big bonuses.

FAQs

  • There's no single best stock broker, it all depends on what your needs are and investment style. Think about the type of account you might need, what your investment goals and strategies are, and what tools you might need to support them. Most top brokers offer commission-free trading, but it's worth looking at other fees that could eat into your investments.

  • E*TRADE is now part of Morgan Stanley, but it offers different accounts and products to suit a broader range of investment needs. The company says you get Morgan Stanley's decades of experience as well as E*TRADE's trading tools, making it a win-win. 

  • Neither E*TRADE nor Fidelity charges monthly fees. Both offer commission-free trading on U.S. stocks, ETFs, and some mutual funds. Check out their fee schedules to understand what services you might be charged for.

Our Brokerages Experts