Why I love Etrade:
- Beautiful Site Design
- Simple Intuitive Navigation
- No fee IRA
- Painless and elegant funds transfers
- They just approved me for options trading
- Quick and attentive email customer service
- Fee refunds for ATM fees if you use ETrade Bank
Why I hate Etrade:
- Their mutual fund information is often wrong:
- HENLX, wrongly told me the IRA minimum was $2000 (it really was $250). Wrote them, the fixed it.
- FLSCX, wrongly told me the IRA minimum was $250 (it really is $10,000).
- SEMKX, wrongly told me that it was a no-load no-transaction fee fund. They don't even offer it.
After them telling me that these funds are open, I then did the research and decided to put money into them (5 to 10 hours per fund). That's a lot of wasted time.
- Not buy and hold friendly for small investors. I paid about $250 over 3 years (on an account with a value at times as low as $500) to hold my account. I started with $1k, ended with $500. This was over the crash in '01 but my biggest losses weren't because of the market but because of their $40 quarterly inactivity fee.
If you're opening an IRA, E*Trade is great. If you're a small investor looking for a brokerage account - I'd say you're better off at Scottrade - $7 trades and no account or inactivity fees. Sharebuilder is interesting, but make sure you read the fine-print of their fees. Those $4 trades are cheap, but their other fees are ghastly. I have no opinion of Ameritrade.
This has been a precursory and non-scientific comparison. I use Etrade. I am happy with my IRA account, and I will be canceling my brokerage account January 1 (when I can then transfer more funds into my IRA). I'll let you know how my search for another non-retirement brokerage goes in a few years once I have enough funds to actually open a non-retirement brokerage account.