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A comprehensive review of Charles Schwab

Security, trading fees, tradable assets and more

4/5 star rating

Charles Schwab is one of the leading brokers in the United States. The California-based company was founded in 1971, and focuses on offering a better and more modern way to build and manage wealth. The platform allows people to access a wide range of financial products such as ETFs, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, CFDs, and more. In addition to this, they also offer other financial services such as banking, home loans, retirement accounts, and more. Charles Schwab’s success has led to the company being listed on the NYSE, and today it is one of the largest brokers in the world.

This review guides you through everything you need to know about the services offered by Charles Schwab so you can decide if it is the right broker for you.

Pros & cons

Pros

  • Commission-free stock, options, and ETF trades
  • No minimum deposit for US customers
  • Extensive research tools available
  • Section for large fund users
  • Well-reviewed mobile app
Cons

  • Product selection focuses on the US market
  • High minimum deposit for non-US clients
  • Educational platform lacks structure
  • High fees for bank transfer withdrawals

What can I do with Charles Schwab?

Charles Schwab is a full-service investment platform that offers a wide range of investment and trading services. They offer free stock and ETF trading, alongside other financial market assets like bonds, mutual funds, money market funds, annuities, options, futures, margin lending, and more. One thing you cannot do on Charles Schwab, however, is trade cryptocurrencies.

A special thing about Charles Schwab is access to other financial services. On this platform, you can open retirement accounts, get to enjoy investment management offers, customised investment management, and other banking services. Users also get access to the investment and research tools, and other specialised solutions. 

Which assets can I trade?

The assets you can trade on Charles Schwab include:

  • Stocks
  • Mutual funds
  • ETFs
  • Money market funds
  • International stocks
  • Bonds and fixed income products
  • Options
  • Futures
  • Margin loans
  • Insurance
  • Annuities

Payment Methods

Charles Schwab is very rigid in terms of payment options, and this is perhaps one of its weakest points. The only accepted payment method is bank transfer, and the only accepted currency is the United States Dollar.

What devices can I use Charles Schwab on?

Charles Schwab has made it easy for people to access their investment and trading platform from a range of devices. It is a web-based software, which means you can access the website via a browser on any internet connected device. Additionally the Schwab Mobile app is well reviewed and allows users to access their accounts on the go. Here are the following devices you can use Charles Schwab:

  • Computers: desktops and laptops
  • Tablets 
  • Android Phones
  • iPhones

How easy is it to use Charles Schwab?

Using Charles Schwab for investment or trading purposes is easy. The Charles Schwab platform has an intuitive interface, making it easy to navigate even for new users. For investing in stocks, mutual funds, bonds, ETFs, and other financial markets, Charles Schwab dedicated a section of its website to those asset classes. They also have sections for retirement accounts, investment management, banking, and other services on their portfolio. By separating the services on offer like this, it makes it easy for users to find what they’re looking for.

For trading assets, Charles Schwab comes with a wide range of investment and research tools for its users. Trading most assets on Charles Schwab are free, meaning that you get a great deal while also having access to a user-friendly platform.

As an investor, you tend to deal with fewer technical tools than traders. Regardless, Charles Schwab has several research tools available to help you become a better investor, including portfolio overview, portfolio evaluation, expert fund picks, calculators, and more. Their educational platform houses the learning center, trading community, and local workshops. 

Countries supported

Charles Schwab is available virtually everywhere around the world, as it is a huge brokerage service regulated in countries all over the globe.

Regulation 

Charles Schwab is regulated and authorised by various financial regulatory agencies in the United States and abroad. In the United States, Charles Schwab is registered with and regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), along with other regulatory agencies in the US such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) 

In the UK, Charles Schwab is adequately supervised and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This gives it access to the wider European market and other continents. They are also regulated by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which helped them offer reliable trading services in Asia.

Account Verification

Since Charles Schwab is an internationally regulated financial markets service provider, it abides by anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) policies. This means users are required to verify their accounts with the platform before carrying out some key operations.

  • ID Verification: for ID verification, Charles Schwab accepts a scanned copy or driving license or national ID documents.
  • Proof of residency: to verify your address, the following scanned documents are accepted: a government-issued utility bill or other documents such as a bank statement from the past three months. 

Customer support

The customer support team at Charles Schwab is professional and very responsive. Their average response rate is very quick and their staff are trained, informative, and helpful. You can reach them 24/7, and they are efficient in providing relevant answers and solutions to customer problems. 

You can reach the support team via any of these channels:

  • Live chat
  • Telephone

The Stockbroker

First impression

At first sight, Charles Schwab is an excellent trading and investment platform. Its web platform is very intuitive and easy to navigate, and the vast array of different services on offer are well laid out and separated from each other to ensure it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. On the dashboard, you can see information on all the products and services offered by Charles Schwab and select the one you want.

If you wish to explore other services such as retirement investments, banking services, investment management, learning resources, or research material, you can also easily access them from the dashboard. This dashboard is similarly easy to navigate on the Schwab Mobile app.

Overall, services on Charles Schwab are varied and easy to navigate, making it easy to understand why it is such a highly regarded trading platform.

What currency pairs can be traded?

Charles Schwab doesn’t support forex or cryptocurrency trading at the moment. Hence, there are no currency pairs for traders to trade. 

Are there fees for trading?

Charles Schwab has varying trading fees for its multiple asset classes. Here is a quick summary of the fee structure on the platform:

  • Stocks and ETFs: $0 for online trades, $0-$5 for automated phone trades, and $0-$25 for broker-assisted trades.
  • Mutual funds: $0 for online and phone trades, $0-$25 for broker-assisted trades.
  • Options: $0 base commission + $0.65 per contract for online trades; $0.65 per contract + $5.00 service charge for phone trades; and $0.65 per contract + $25.00 service charge for broker trades.
  • Futures: $1.50 per contract for both online and broker-assisted trades. 
  • Fixed-income assets: $0 for online trades and $25 for broker-assisted trades.
  • Active trading: $0 

What is the minimum spread?

Since Charles Schwab doesn’t allow users to trade forex or cryptocurrencies, there are no minimum spreads on the platform. However, they have spread for options trading. According to their client information, the spread for underlying securities and broad-based indexes are 100% of the long contract premium. The minimum amount for these spreads is $5,000.

Can I trade assets with leverage?

You cannot trade with leverage on Charles Schwab. However, you can access margin lending on the platform, which can be used for your various stocks and ETF investments. Usually, the leverages are 2:1 or 3:1 for these trades. You should keep in mind that the prices of assets fluctuate. Hence, you should be careful when using margins for investment. While you could earn lots of money when it works out, you can also lose out when you lose.

What are the margins required?

The margin requirements on Charles Schwab vary based on asset types. For equities, it is usually $2,000 or 100% of market value for long, short, and other equity positions. For options, the minimum requirement is either $2,000 or 100% market value (whichever is lower) – and the same is true for debts such as corporate bonds, municipal bonds, and treasury bills. The broad-based index has a minimum requirement of $25,000.

Can I open long and short positions?

Yes, you can. Charles Schwab supports opening long and short positions for most of its trading assets. 

 In trading, having a long or short position means betting on an asset to either go up in value or drop value over time. When a trader or investor believes the price of an asset is going to surge higher in the future, then they are going long. Meanwhile, shorting is when a trader speculates that the price of an asset would go down and sells it in order to buy it at a cheaper rate later.

Are there withdrawal and deposit limits?

There are deposit and withdrawal limits when using Charles Schwab. However, the amount differs for each client, and it is indicated on a client’s dashboard. 

Summary of Charles Schwab Broker

When it comes to traditional financial investment and trading, Charles Schwab is one of the best platforms around. They are one of the brokerage firms to revolutionise the stock trading sector, and they continue to offer various investment and trading services for free. While they don’t offer forex and cryptocurrency trading, you can trade and invest in equities, bonds, mutual funds, and more. Furthermore, they have other services, such as retirement accounts, banking services, investment management, and more. The registration process is easy, and Charles Schwab also grants users access to an educational center and trading tools. 

Conclusion

Charles Schwab is one of the leading financial markets investment and trading platforms in the world today. The platform allows users to trade stocks and ETFs for free while offering low charges for mutual funds investments and providing access to a wide range of other investment types. The platform is well regulated across the world, and the company’s customer support team is available 24/7 via live chat and phone call, so you can be sure you’ll get the right support if something goes wrong.

One thing to note, however, is that Charles Schwabv only accepts bank transfer and payment via their Schwab banking service as a payment method, and all payments must be made in USD. This can be inconvenient for non-US traders, as you could incur conversion fees when making payments.

How to set up an account with Charles Schwab
  1. Visit the official Charles Schwab website
  2. Navigate to the ‘OPEN ACCOUNT’ section at the top right corner
  3. Choose the account type you wish to open (select brokerage for trading and investing stocks and others)
  4. Choose whether it is an individual or joint account
  5. Insert social security number or employer address and phone number to continue
  6. Move to the next stage where you are required to provide your personal details such as name, address, social security number (for those in the US)
  7. Proceed to create your login credentials like username and password
  8. Choose your preferred mode of contact (phone or email)
  9. Proceed to provide other required details and verify your ID 
  10. Your account will be verified in 1-2 days
By Pooja Kadia
Pooja is an avid blockchain enthusiast, who believes in exploring the space to its maximum potential. She is the co-founder of Cryptochain Sphere, a website dedicated to educating people on blockchain and cryptocurrency space. She believes in creating engaging content to facilitate the community driving blockchain adoption.
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