E*TRADE vs. Betterment vs. Fidelity Comparison

Daniel Penzing
Written by
Last update:

About E*TRADE

E*TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: ETFC) is a financial services company headquartered in New York. The company was founded in 1982, and today has more than 8 million different users of its online trading system. The company provides solutions for investors across an array of asset classes, including stocks, bonds, options, currencies, and commodities. Click Here to get a full list of E*TRADE features.

About Betterment

Betterment was founded in 2008, and it’s unique in the sense that it is the only completely online investment platform. Its SmartDeposit feature automatically rounds up your card purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the difference. With this feature, you can automate your savings and end up with a nice stash of cash to invest.

The tax anxiety about investment returns is also addressed via its Tax-Coordinated Portfolio feature. It’s a service that takes care of your tax burden.

Another great thing about Betterment is that there are no setting up fees or minimum balance, and it has a reasonable fee structure. It’s a fee as low as Betterment, which is good news for anyone who’s on a tight budget.

Both accounts are pretty similar as far as fees go, but Betterment has a slightly lower minimum investment requirement. It’s a great option if you’re just starting out.

About Fidelity

Fidelity is a brokerage firm based in Boston, known for their discount brokerage pricing. Although they provide more than just online trading, they are one of the most popular online brokers for beginners. They have a very active blog, podcast, and community chat for example. They also offer extensive educational materials for beginner investors.

Prior to the rise of roboadvisors, Fidelity was one of the best online brokerages for investors that wanted human help from a financial advisor. They have a vast network of financial advisors, and for a long time, the fees associated with it were much lower than competing companies. These things combined are why Fidelity is one of the Top 10 Investing Companies for beginners in the U.S.

For online investors, their affordable pricing and ease of use make them a logical choice. If you’re looking for a human advisor, they also have a great network of advisors, and their fees are still quite reasonable. While the number of advisors may be shrinking, many investors consider it worth it to have a dedicated financial advisor who looks after their entire portfolio.

How Are They the Same?

All three of these investment firms offer easy to use online portals for managing your portfolio, while also providing personalized customer support plus extensive user guides and more.

How Are They Different?

What do E*TRADE, Betterment, and Fidelity have in common – besides a love for money? They are three of the largest and most popular discount brokerages in the country. Each of them offers a wide range of low-cost investment options for you to choose from, but they are also quite different.

Here’s a quick look at the three brokers and the primary way in which they differ from one another.

E*TRADE

You can pretty much do anything you want to with an E*TRADE account, but you’ll definitely have to pay a premium for the privilege. In most cases, you’re better off going with a less expensive broker if all you need to do is buy and hold low-cost funds. The brokerage is ideal for investors who want to actively trade stocks and ETFs.

Betterment

If you’re looking for a low-cost brokerage, you should consider Betterment. The brokerage specializes in providing low-cost investments designed to last you until you need them. Betterment also has a strong focus on customer service. It has been the best of the three brokerages for new traders.

Unique Features

Betterment and E*TRADE are two of the largest online investment companies, and both companies have been in business for over 20 years. In fact, E*TRADE is considered to be one of the oldest online investment companies in addition to being one of the largest. If you’re looking to open a new retirement account, either Fidelity and E*TRADE will fit the bill. However, Betterment offers some unique features that you won’t find either of those companies.

E*TRADE was among one of the first online trading companies, and it was the first to enable trading through a personal computer. It also has the distinction of being one of the first discount brokerages, and that’s not to mention its impressive list of proprietary trading platforms. E*TRADE supports a variety of trading instruments, such as stocks and securities, and provides support in various languages.

In terms of investment offerings, E*TRADE supports mutual funds, IRAs, interest-bearing accounts, and other financial instruments. Some of these instruments carry a hefty minimum purchase amount, even for small account holders, but it’s hard to pass up a company this large that also caters to the beginner.

E*TRADE

E*TRADE is one of the earliest and most popular online brokerages.

It is no longer the biggest online trading platform but a service that is not good enough is still better than a poor service when you have limited options.

In a nutshell, E*TRADE is a budget broker, so don’t expect high caliber customer service, but you also won’t pay for it either.

The customer service is generally very good with almost always professional and knowledgeable representatives ready to take your call.

Their web interface is very robust and is generally very responsive. It’s the best online trading platform among the top 3 brokers in terms of detail.

On the other hand, it doesn’t have many technical indicators or charts. It doesn’t compare well with better platforms such as Tradingview.

Deposit and withdrawal are very smooth.

Summary: If you want a cheaper option with a robust platform, E*TRADE is a good place to start.

Betterment

Vs. E*TRADE vs. Fidelity Comparison

All of these online brokerages offer the following (in some cases, similar) products and services:

Fidelity, E*TRADE, and Betterment:

All operate online.

Sell stocks, annuities, and mutual funds.

Offer a full range of retirement-focused options.

Invite you to open an IRA.

Offer mobile trading.

Offer a wealth of research and educational material.

Fidelity, E*TRADE, and Betterment have comparable fees for trading stocks, although Betterment does not charge a fee for transferring assets or making account changes. Also, E*TRADE does not charge fees for retirement accounts and Fidelity does not charge fees for nonretirement accounts. If you want to set up your own retirement account, Betterment is the cheapest way to go. For non-retirement accounts, Fidelity is the winner.

Fidelity does not charge transfer fees, but customers that withdraw money from their accounts are charged a fee based on their account balance. Also, Fidelity charges a yearly maintenance fee for retirement accounts.

A Minimalist Philosophy

Bonus Chapter! Chapter Checklist: Act on Your Contemplations

Fidelity

Vs. E*TRADE vs. Betterment vs. Vanguard

While Vanguard, E*TRADE, and Fidelity all compete for wirehouse brokerage accounts, they each offer a very different experience for investors. In this article, we’ll break down their differences and attempt to help you decide which advisor may be right for you.

Product Offerings

Vanguard offers a handful of ETFs and mutual funds, mutual funds only, and individually managed accounts. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and Vanguard has done a great job beating the competition. Vanguard’s ETFs have some of the lowest expense ratios in the industry, and their funds are available to individual investors at a relatively low minimum investment. While their mutual funds are fee-less, Vanguard’s mutual funds don’t have rock bottom expense ratios the way their ETFs do.

Minimum Investments

Robo-advisors are online investment management services that use automated investing algorithms to construct portfolios of stocks, bonds, ETFs and mutual funds.

As the name suggests, robo-advisors use automated features that reduce the need for manual adjustments from human financial advisors. Some robo-advisors, like Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, have human advisors available to address any client concerns or to help provide further insight for personal investing needs.

In addition to a human touch, robo-advisors offer lower fees, lower minimum investment minimums and accessibility. In this article, I’ll compare the Betterment minimum investment, the Fidelity minimum investment, and the E*TRADE minimum investment, and I’ll also discuss other robo-advisor minimum investment requirements, such as the Capital One Investing minimum investment.

Annual Fees

All three firms charge a 1 percent expense ratio fee which is comparable to most other robo advisors.

The other major difference is that both Betterment and Fidelity keep more cash on and use financial leverage. E*TRADE gives a smaller percentage of your assets to a robo advisor, but keeps the cash as cash. The result is that E*TRADE is cheaper up front and more expensive as your account grows.

Standout Features

We started this whole comparison and review process with E*TRADE because it is the largest online broker online and one of the oldest online brokerages in history. Our introductory video below offers an overview of the company, including some of its more popular offerings.

Betterment

E*TRADE is a great broker but is much larger and more complex than Betterment and Fidelity. Fortunately, Betterment and Fidelity are both in the business of creating easy-to-use online asset management systems that give customers access to easy-to-understand plans and proceedures to help them invest their money.

Betterment has carved out a niche for itself as a result of its goal of reducing the complicated world of wealth management down to a user-friendly interface. A large part of Betterment’s appeal comes from the fact that you can create an account in minutes and begin taking your first steps to life your financial situation.

Like most other asset management systems, Betterment’s online interface is very user-friendly and easy-to-use. Betterment also works to make its dashboard easier to understand for those less experienced with investing. Betterment includes live automatic asset allocation and reallocation tools for those who might not know the first thing about financial markets.

E*TRADE

E*TRADE is one of the earliest and most popular online brokerages.

It is no longer the biggest online trading platform but a service that is not good enough is still better than a poor service when you have limited options.

In a nutshell, E*TRADE is a budget broker, so don’t expect high caliber customer service, but you also won’t pay for it either.

The customer service is generally very good with almost always professional and knowledgeable representatives ready to take your call.

Their web interface is very robust and is generally very responsive. It’s the best online trading platform among the top 3 brokers in terms of detail.

On the other hand, it doesn’t have many technical indicators or charts. It doesn’t compare well with better platforms such as Tradingview.

Deposit and withdrawal are very smooth.

Summary: If you want a cheaper option with a robust platform, E*TRADE is a good place to start.

Betterment

Vs. E*TRADE vs. Fidelity Comparison

All of these online brokerages offer the following (in some cases, similar) products and services:

Fidelity, E*TRADE, and Betterment:

All operate online.

Sell stocks, annuities, and mutual funds.

Offer a full range of retirement-focused options.

Invite you to open an IRA.

Offer mobile trading.

Offer a wealth of research and educational material.

Fidelity, E*TRADE, and Betterment have comparable fees for trading stocks, although Betterment does not charge a fee for transferring assets or making account changes. Also, E*TRADE does not charge fees for retirement accounts and Fidelity does not charge fees for nonretirement accounts. If you want to set up your own retirement account, Betterment is the cheapest way to go. For non-retirement accounts, Fidelity is the winner.

Fidelity does not charge transfer fees, but customers that withdraw money from their accounts are charged a fee based on their account balance. Also, Fidelity charges a yearly maintenance fee for retirement accounts.

A Minimalist Philosophy

Bonus Chapter! Chapter Checklist: Act on Your Contemplations

Fidelity

Vs. E*TRADE vs. Betterment vs. Vanguard

While Vanguard, E*TRADE, and Fidelity all compete for wirehouse brokerage accounts, they each offer a very different experience for investors. In this article, we’ll break down their differences and attempt to help you decide which advisor may be right for you.

Product Offerings

Vanguard offers a handful of ETFs and mutual funds, mutual funds only, and individually managed accounts. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and Vanguard has done a great job beating the competition. Vanguard’s ETFs have some of the lowest expense ratios in the industry, and their funds are available to individual investors at a relatively low minimum investment. While their mutual funds are fee-less, Vanguard’s mutual funds don’t have rock bottom expense ratios the way their ETFs do.

Customer Service

If you ever have any issues with your trades, customer service is the first thing you want to look at. E*TRADE has been in the business since the mid-1980s and is a NASD, NYSE, and FINRA member.

The company has well-trained customer service representatives available to talk to via phone or live chat.

Additionally, you can contact them by email. E*TRADE’s financial advisors respond within 48 hours on weekdays and can usually resolve problems in just a few clicks.

Fidelity also has very quick support representatives and can usually answer support requests within 24 hours. Their website also has a comprehensive knowledge base that may help with some financial questions.

On the other hand, Betterment doesn’t provide a phone number you can call for support. However, you can talk to support live on their website using your mobile device or desktop computer.

Moreover, Betterment’s customer support has been noted by some users as not being very responsive or helpful.

All 3 companies have free iPhone and Android apps that enable you to place trades on the go.

Security

When it comes to security, Betterment takes the cake (despite high rates). Both E*TRADE and Fidelity claim to have state-of-the-art safety precautions, but Betterment’s goal is “zero customer losses.” They have a dedicated security team that players 24 hours a day to monitor for threats and they use a center of operations outside of Wall Street. They even have an umbrella policy that covers for employee volatility.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that E*TRADE and Fidelity’s security is poor, but just that they’re a bit less focused on security than Betterment.

Regarding actual safety precautions, all three are about equal.

Who Are They Best For?

There is no way to tell which one of the brokerage firms is right for you. E*TRADE and Betterment both offer services that are beneficial for beginner investors while Fidelity caters to more experienced investors.

Depending on your financial goals and what you think you need from a brokerage firm, you may find advantages with each of these companies. Speak with a financial adviser to get the full picture.

Which Is the Best?

As you might already know, there are some big differences between robo-advisors and old-school financial advisors. These huge differences exist because robo-advisors are the first real innovation in the advisory industry in many years. Competition has definitely spiked, but not all robo-advisors are created equal.

Checking out the latest robo-advisors is certainly a viable option for financial management, but as always, you should do your due diligence before making a final decision.

In this article, we’re going to compare Betterment vs E*TRADE vs Fidelity and see which is the best robo-advisor.

No Minimums or Account Minimums

The majority of robo-advising services have no minimum required to get started. Most that do are in the few-grand range, which isn’t too bad when you consider that you are going to get access to a financial advisor.

Betterment, E*TRADE, and Fidelity all have no minimums, which is super convenient for beginners.