How do you use E*TRADE?

Features

E*TRADE stands out mostly for its educational resources that help you invest your money, no matter which route you choose.

There is a library of in-depth articles and videos, as well as free analyst research and investing tools. While some reviews indicate that the E*TRADE website is cumbersome, E*TRADE has a strong mobile platform.

New users can also score a limited-time bonus right now: Get up to $3,500 when you open and fund a new eligible retirement or brokerage account within 60 days of account opening, using promo code: REWARD22. Deposit minimums start at $10,000, and the more you deposit, the more you earn. This offer ends Mar. 1, 2022.

The E*TRADE app is available to download for free in both the App Store (for iOS), where it has 4.6/5 stars, and on Google Play (for Android), where it has 4.3/5 stars at the time this article was written.‎ The free Power E*TRADE advanced trading app, which is what we recommend for seasoned traders, has 4.5/5 stars in the App Store and 3.8/5 stars on Google Play.

Portfolio Analysis

All types of investors will find E*TRADE's portfolio analysis tools helpful. The portfolio reports and analyses are available in real-time and they are customizable to suit their specific needs. They also have the ability to view holdings for all US brokerage accounts, which gives them a cross account view of their portfolio. 

As far as gains and losses are concerned, E*TRADE uses a time-weighted performance method, eliminating the distorting effects of money flowing in and out of their portfolio. With this method, the effect of cash flows is eliminated by assuming a single investment at the beginning of a period and calculating the average annual total return at the end of the period. One caveat, however, is that none of the E*TRADE platforms support internal rate of return calculations. 

For active investors and traders utilizing portfolio margining, both margin and buying power are reported in real time. This data includes a buying power summary, requirements by position, and a calculator in real-time. 

When it comes to taxes, E*TRADE users are able to use a variety of tax or financial software with E*TRADE Securities, including TurboTax, H&R Block, GainsKeeper, and Quicken. They can also download capital gains tax reports, calculate the tax impact of a future trade, or view unrealized short- and long-term capital gains. 

Although E*TRADE clients cannot maintain a trading journal directly on the platform, it does offer a notes functionality to keep track of trades and strategies.

Video

Range of Offerings

E*TRADE customers can trade a wide variety of assets including stocks, bonds, funds, commodities, and futures on all of their platforms. However, they will not be able to trade cryptocurrency or foreign exchange (you can get indirect exposure through ETFs and futures). To help them decide if E*TRADE is best for their investing needs, below is a full list of the online broker’s offerings:

  • Stocks long and short (6,100 on the easy to borrow list) 
  • OTCBB (Penny stocks) 
  • Mutual funds (9,083 total; 4,533 no transaction fee; 5963 carry a front-end or back-end load) 
  • Bonds (Corporate, Municipal, Treasury, CD, International) 
  • Futures/commodities
  • Futures options
  • Single-leg and multi-leg options contracts
  • Bitcoin futures
  • OTCBB stocks (penny stocks)
  • Fractional shares available through E*TRADE’s DRIP 
  • Robo-advisor integrated into the online brokerage platform

Choose Your Method of Investing

E*Trade lets you buy stocks either online or via mobile device, such as a smartphone. You must download an app if you want to trade stocks on your mobile device.

Trade with E*TRADE

Get up to $3,000! PLUS $0 Commissions for online stock, ETF, & options trades.

E*TRADE’s platforms make it easy to buy and sell stocks with the swipe of a finger. The commissions are higher than some other online brokerages, but E*TRADE combines extensive research tools with reliable customer service to provide unique value to customers.

An E*TRADE account gets you access to current events and economic news, as well as theories and strategies for maximizing returns. E*TRADE was a trailblazer as an online brokerage and you won’t find many platforms that make it easier to save and invest.

Check out Benzinga’s full E-Trade Review

Top features you’ll love

Power E-Trade

Power E-Trade is the broker’s flagship trading platform, which it brought over from rival broker OptionsHouse, acquired a few years ago. The well-regarded web-based platform provides more than 100 technical studies and more than 30 drawing tools to help investors analyze the trading action. 

It also provides tools to help you trade more profitably: 

  • Overlay technical patterns on the stock chart to help you understand what’s going on
  • Show your risk-reward on options trades, breakevens and more
  • Scan for unusual stock activity, such as high-volume stock and option trades

Other tools include a snapshot analysis, which provides a visual representation of the risk and reward of an options trade. Similarly, a spectral analysis tool offers visual representations of potential options scenarios. The platform also offers streaming of Bloomberg TV right onto your desktop.

Open an Account

ETrade allows you to complete all of your account application forms online. Start by clicking the “Open an Account” button on the ETrade homepage. Choose the type of account you want to open, such as a regular investment account or an individual retirement account. You’ll have to provide the same information as if you were opening an account with a traditional firm, including your name and address, date of birth, Social Security number and relevant financial information, such as your employer’s name and address. According to the E*Trade website, the whole process shouldn’t take more than 10 to 12 minutes.

Bottom line

E-Trade caters well to two different groups – beginning investors and more-advanced traders – that often have quite different needs and expectations. But the broker does a good job serving both adequately:

  • Discounted options commissions (with a reasonable threshold) put E-Trade among the leading online brokers for commissions. 
  • The wide selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and research should be a boon for newer investors or those focused on long-term buy-and-hold investing with funds. 
  • The high-quality trading platforms and range of available securities make the broker more interesting for active traders, too. 

If you’re looking to avoid having to reach a threshold to get your discounted options commission, check out Ally Invest, which offers a lower standard commission. Or check out Robinhood for no commissions at all. Investors on the hunt for a strong broker for beginners will find Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments, and TD Ameritrade to all be highly capable and investor-friendly.

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