Charles Schwab offers traditional banking as well as online stock trading services and retirement investments. There are affordable prices for frequent traders and many no-load mutual funds. It has hundreds of offices for personal visits and deposits. There is 24/7 support.

Charles Schwab has a tiered commission schedule, based on your balance or number of trades per year. If you trade more than 120 trades per year or you have a balance of more than one million the charge is $8.95 per online trade. If you execute fewer than 120 trades per year, the fee is $12.95. Online option trades are $8.95 plus $.075 per contract. These rates are not bad, however there are competitors that offer lower trade rates.

The basic investments include stocks, options, mutual funds, futures and exchange–traded funds. Schwab offers all of the fixed income investments we looked for including bonds, treasury issues and CDs. There are 2,000 no-load mutual funds, annuities, money market funds and margin loans. Clients also have trading access to non-U.S. securities.

The Charles Schwab trading platform includes all of the tools you would expect for this type of software. There is a customizable desktop with alerts, level I quotes, level II quotes, option chains, screeners, watch lists, charts and graphs. There are also educational resources such as streaming news and analyst research reports including market commentary from Market Edge®. You can also attend live online workshops.

Schwab has about 300 offices nationwide. You can contact a representative by phone or email. Most departments including brokerage, active trader and new client services are available 24/7.

Charles Schwab Summary:
8.7/10

Charles Schwab provides a variety of investments suitable for traders and investors. The commission schedule is tiered so that the more trades you make and the higher your account balance, the less you pay for online trades. The trading platform contains good trading tools. Clients receive streaming news, research and market commentary. Online workshops are also available. Customer service is 24/7.

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Charles Schwab

Pros
Easy to understand fee schedule, low option fee price and 24/7 customer support.

Cons
Margin rates can be as much as 8.5%. They charge $25 for broker assisted trades.

The Verdict
: 8.68/10

Charles Schwab enjoys a strong brand because of excellent investment products, a powerful trading platform and always-on customer service.