vs. E*TRADE: Comparison of Trading Platforms

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Public vs. ETrade

New traders or those considering a move to an online broker may find the sheer number of platforms to be overwhelming. Sadly, many trading platforms do not have high service standards and are not necessarily low-cost even though they’re based online.

But, there are some great platforms with excellent reputations and affordable fees. In this article, we’ll explore two such platforms in a head-to-head vs. E*TRADE comparison.

Join Public to get up to $300 of free stock when you make a deposit.* vs. E*TRADE Overview

The main difference between and E*TRADE is the approach they take toward investing. is a mobile-first platform that features a beautiful user interface and favors simplicity. Users can trade stocks, ETFs, and crypto through

On the other hand, E*TRADE is a more traditional brokerage that offers far more account types (including retirement and joint accounts) and a broader range of investment products. E*TRADE does not support crypto, but does offer access to mutual funds, bonds, options, and futures. E*TRADE also offers more tools for data and research, but may be a bit overwhelming for new investors.

Public Overview

Public was formed in 2018. It was originally known as Matador and it’s a mobile-first trading platform with a very user-friendly interface and commission-free trading. This is a great platform for new or experienced investors alike, it has a collaboration feature that allow investors to work with other users. It’s easy to see what your contacts are buying or selling, and you can use this information to form strategies or ask more experienced users questions.

This makes pretty special. It’s a user-friendly investing with social features that encourage cooperation. At any time, you can log into your account to review and share strategies and check the progress of your investments.

For people with very little investing experience, this is a great way to learn and grow confidence at the same time. The core ethos of is to make investing accessible, so there’s no minimum investment to open your account and no trading commissions.

Top Pick
Get Free Stock from Get Free Stock from offers fractional shares so anyone can start investing. You'll love the social aspect that makes it possible to connect with other investors. Get a free stock slice worth up to $300 when you open an account through our link.

  • Commission-free trades of stocks and ETFs
  • Buy and sell 27 different cryptocurrencies
  • Fractional shares
  • Easy to use and beginner-friendly
  • Connect with a supportive community of investors
  • "Themes" help you to find investments that interest you
Offer valid for U.S. residents 18+ and subject to account approval. This is not a recommendation. You can lose money with any investment. Open To The Public Investing is a member of FINRA & SIPC. Regulatory and firm fees apply. New customers receive free stock with value $3-300; 0.3% receive the max value. Cryptocurrency trading provided by Apex Crypto LLC (NMLS ID 1828849). Apex Crypto is licensed to engage in virtual currency business activity by the New York State Department of Financial Services. See

E*TRADE Overview  

E*TRADE was one of the earliest online brokers in the U.S. and in 2019, it became one of the first brokers to transition to commission-free trading on ETFs, stocks, and options.

E*TRADE has a pair of mobile apps and three downloadable web-based solutions. This is a great platform for new investors, casual traders, and anyone that wants to start investing. This platform has a host of useful features, including news feeds, research tools, screeners, and more. The interfaces are clean and easy to understand and there are many educational resources to explore.

Investment Options provides access to more than 5,000 different stocks and ETFs that you can purchase as full or fractional shares with no traditional commissions. You can filter searches via a specific category if you don’t have a specific company in mind. conversations to get a feel for how they operate.

You’ll also find Themes, which are essentially lists of different types of investments. Themes are incredibly helpful for finding stocks or funds that appeal to your interests. Here are four examples of popular search themes:

  1. Plant-Based Movement: Plant based food companies.
  2. Women in Charge: Publicly traded companies with female CEOs.
  3. Green Power: Energy companies that specialize in renewable and sustainable power generation.
  4. Reuse and Reduce: Companies that repurpose waste materials. also facilitates cryptocurrency trading with access to more than 25 different types of coins, which is one of the ways that it stands out from E*TRADE.

E*TRADE investors have access to a wide variety of assets, including stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, commodities, and futures across all their platforms. You cannot trade cryptocurrency or foreign exchange but there is indirect exposure via futures and ETFs.

Let’s take a look at ten E*TRADE offerings:

  1. Bitcoin futures
  2. OTCBB or penny stocks
  3. Fractional shares via DRIP
  4. A built-in Robo-advisor
  5. Futures commodities
  6. Futures options
  7. Single and multi-leg options contracts
  8. Corporate, treasury, CD, international and municipal bonds
  9. Both long and short stocks
  10. Mutual funds (more than 9,000).

Pricing and Fees charges no commissions on stock and ETF trades. There are no account maintenance fees, no minimum deposits, and it’s free to open and close a Public account. Like any brokerage, there are some miscellaneous fees that some users will encounter for things like wire transfers, paper confirmations, mailing of checks, etc.

E*TRADE fees have become more competitive in recent years due to the demand for online brokers and increased competition. This platform charges $0 commissions on any ETF and stock trades. There is no limit to the number of shares that you can trade at this base commission rate, but there are some fees and charges to look out for:

  • An option contract is priced at $0.65 at less than 30 quarterly trades and this drops to $0.50 per contract when the quarterly trades exceed 30.
  • The cost to trade OTC stocks (OTC, gray market, OTCBB, and OTC-traded foreign securities) is $4.95 if the investor has executed at least 30 stock, options, and ETF trades during the quarter.
  • Access to a live broker is charged at $25. This fee is not applicable for extended hours trading and overnight sessions (between 4am – 7am EST).
  • Futures transactions are charged at $1.50 per contract, per side plus fees, and Bitcoin futures contracts are $2.50 each, per side plus fees.
  • Margin interest rates can vary from 8.7% with a $10,000 balance down to 5.45% with a minimum $1,000,000 balance.

Of course, E*TRADE users may also be assessed fees for things like wire transfers and mailing of checks.

Ease of Use is specifically designed to be user-friendly. In fact, we believe it is the most user-friendly trading platform out there. Logging in is simple and all the functions are easy to understand. Searching for stocks, ETFs, other contact portfolios, and getting comfortable with investing is easy.

Stocks can be browsed via categories, simply click on companies that interest you and their details are at your fingertips. The news feed can be accessed on the home page, you can join discussions, follow fellow investors, build a chat group and send messages.

E*TRADE has all the tools that a trader or investor needs across their various platforms to improve the overall experience. The website has a simple design, it’s easy to navigate, and placing an order requires the investor to select an order type and the quantity required. A final preview stage allows you to review the prospective trade before you commit for extra peace of mind.

The interfaces are customizable, to display the news, market information, account details, and more in a preferred format. It’s easy to create watchlists with the symbol lookup and these can be personalized with more than 100 metrics as required. Recent upgrades to the platform have introduced trading strategies accessed via a drop-down menu and strategy planning with risk tolerance.

E*TRADE is packed with useful tools, including charting, technician analysis, education, risk analysis, and more. As you find your workflow and gain experience, it’s easy to place all your favorite tools onto a single page layout that you can fully personalize.

The E*TRADE trade ticket is more complex than the standard ticket found on the web-based platform. This provides a snapshot analysis that users can use to understand options trade probabilities quickly. The platform also projects the profit and loss associated with specific orders. Both real-time snapshot quotes and streaming real-time market data are available on the mobile apps and web-based platforms.

The quotes are refreshed at on-demand and any delayed quotes have a 15-minute delay. An investor can trade directly, using the charts and they can select tax lost from a portfolio of an order ticket. The desktop, web-based, and mobile platforms all offer stage order for later entry, stop-limit orders, trailing stops, and conditional orders.

Overall, the E*TRADE user interfaces are well designed, but they favor data over ease of use.

Data and Research

Because is geared towards meeting the needs of new investors, it has minimal research and data options. There is sufficient data to help you make a sound investment decision. But, the best research feature is the ability to interact with other investors to take part in large trends. It’s easy to pick an investment and check if the companies match your investing goals.

E*TRADE has a plethora of high-quality investing tools that are upgraded on a regular basis. The standout features are:

The Live-Action Scanner

This has over 100 pre-defined screens that can scan the market in real-time to monitor live prices and analytical metrics. An investor or trader can scan for indices, stocks, and ETFs based on volatility metrics, unusual activity, fundamentals, and price movement. Live Action helps the investor to find oversold or overbought stocks quickly to find new opportunities for their portfolio.

The Stock Screeners

The E*TRADE Stock Screener can be customized with up to 47 criteria across 6 categories, such as price/volume, analyst opinions, fundamental metrics, market segment, earnings/dividends, technicals and more. The results can be viewed with up to six different views that can each have different data points.

The Options Screener

There are a number of tools and screeners that can work alongside the standard tools to analyze options. The aforementioned Live Action tool can pick up unusual activity and the Spectral Analysis tool can visualize prospective trades to maximize the profit and loss in a specific options strategy. This doubles as a fantastic learning tool that makes the trade explicit and Greeks connections easier to understand.

The Mutual Fund and ETF Screeners

The ETF screener has sixteen predefined strategies to assist new investors. They scan ETFs using a variety of criteria, including performance, expense ratio, fund category, Morningstar rating, risk, and more. The screeners can search for optionable ETFs and the customized screens can be saved and turned into a handy watchlist.  The mutual fund screener has a number of screens that help the investor to use predefined strategies.

Tools and Calculators

There is a StrategySEEK tool that assists with a strategy based on specific investor-defined criteria, such as target price, time frame, investment amount, security, and more. The E*TRADE web platform has a suite of handy calculators, including retirement planning, IRA distribution, taxable equivalent yield, Roth IRA, loan repayment, and more.


Every E*TRADE platform has charting functions that are built by Markit Digital and Chart IQ. There are a number of charts included: bar, candle OHLC, line, and many more. There are more than 145 chart studies included, indicators, and drawing tools that can be saved and used to trade directly from within the chart. No matter your investing style, E*TRADE has dynamic, automatic pattern recognition and risk-reward analysis charts to meet your needs.

Real-Time News Streaming

E*TRADE has free access to a number of streaming news platforms, including Morningstar Intra Day articles, Bloomberg TV, market commentary, videos, research reports, and more. There are daily bond market and stock reports from, a daily active trader commentary, weekly stock investing article, and a monthly commentary to read too.

Trading Idea Generators

E*TRADE uses Argus to deliver reports that can be used to create actionable trade ideas for options strategies that can be useful for new and more experienced investors alike. This includes daily market reports, market commentary, a weekly newsletter, intraday trade ideas, and a monthly portfolio selection report. This interfaces with the Live Action tool with pattern recognition and charts that automatically draw resistance and support lines. This helps traders to identify technical patterns easily to evaluate the viability of potential trades.

Third-Party Research

All E*TRADE clients have access to research and ratings from Thomson Reuters, Morningstar, Trefis, Research Team, TipRanks, MarketEdge, Moody’s, and Argus for free! Recent additions include Trendwatch and Likefolio which deliver useful insights and resources for new and experienced investors. Any investor with more than $100,000 also has free access to Credit Suisse.

Cash Management

All E*TRADE clients earn 0.01% interest on cash balances in their accounts. Cash is swept into a money market fund automatically if the client is using a managed account.

Pros and Cons Pros:

  • offers access to cryptocurrency trading with 25 supported coins at the time of writing this article. This is a popular way to diversify, and crypto is not available on E*TRADE.
  • This platform is simple to use, all activity takes place on the app and the clean interface is intuitive and easy to navigate.
  • has a built-in social element that helps new and experienced investors to leverage community-driven power to get input on strategies and trading ideas.
  • allows users to trade fractional shares, which is an attractive feature for new investors. Many people find it hard to overcome the large barrier to entry when shares cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per share.

Public Cons:

  • has no custodial or retirement accounts.
  • does not provide access to investments like mutual funds, bonds, options, and futures.
  • provides limited data and research tools.


  • E*TRADE has an impressive suite of high-quality tools integrated into its trading platform. The web-based platform alone has 30 drawing tools, and 100 technical studies to assist investors.
  • E*TRADE has automated investment management built into the platform with a robo-advisor that can help the investor to build and manage their portfolios.
  • The mobile apps are perfect for investors that have an on-the-go approach to investing. The apps have all the interactive charts and technical analysis tools to stay connected to their accounts and the markets.
  • E*TRADE offers a wider range of investment products and account types.


  • There are discounted commissions on options trades but they are only useful for high-volume traders. At $0.50 per contract, this is viable, but this reduced rate requires a minimum of 30 trades per quarter. Overall, the fees are more complicated compared to
  • E*TRADE offers fractional share purchasing, but they can only be accessed via the robo-advisor or the dividend reinvestment plan. The fractional shares cannot be accessed if you want to trade or invest using a self-directed portfolio.
  • An investor that wants to trade foreign exchange currencies or direct access to international markets should look at other platforms.
  • E*TRADE does not offer cryptocurrency trading. vs. E*TRADE: Final Thoughts

To wrap up the vs. E*TRADE comparison, both brokers are free to use and there are no hidden costs to open or maintain an account. is the better option for new or casual investors that like some collaboration and interaction with their peers. E*TRADE outclasses in terms of research tools and investment types.

The best approach may be to open an account with and E*TRADE to gauge which one suits your investment style.

Join Public to get up to $300 of free stock when you make a deposit.*

*Offer valid for U.S. residents 18+ and subject to account approval. This is not a recommendation. You can lose money with any investment. Open To The Public Investing is a member of FINRA & SIPC. Regulatory and firm fees apply. New customers receive free stock with value $3-300; 0.3% receive the max value. Cryptocurrency trading offered by Apex Crypto LLC. See

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