Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios vs. E*TRADE Core Portfolios

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Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios vs. E*TRADE Core Portfolios

Charles Schwab and E*TRADE are two big investment brokerage companies that have joined the digital investment management industry by using some of their online brokerage skills. The fundamental differences between Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and E*TRADE Core Portfolios make it simple to choose the appropriate platform for you. E*TRADE charges a $500 fee to utilize the robo-advisor service, while Schwab charges a $5,000 fee. Schwab does not impose portfolio management fees for the basic product, but E*TRADE charges 0.30% of assets under management (AUM).Each platform allows for some customisation with sustainable investment alternatives, with Schwab additionally offering an income portfolio and E*TRADE offering a smart beta option. On-the-go investors may choose our top robo-advisor for mobile winner, E*TRADE. This comparison will provide you with the advantages, disadvantages, and features of each digital investment manager, allowing you to make the best decision for your circumstances.

  • Minimum Account Balance: $5,000 ($25,000 for Premium Account).
  • Fees are $0, while cost ratios vary from 0.03% to 0.18% on average. ($300 for installation + $30 per month for Premium)

  • With U.S. and foreign market cap and fundamental index ETFs, a wide choice of bonds, and commodities ETFs, Schwab’s portfolios are among the most diverse available.
  • Customer support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and branches make it simple to get assistance.
  • During market downturns, the mandatory cash allocation might be a beneficial aspect.
  • With the addition of SIMPLE IRAs, trusts, and custodial accounts to the standard retirement and taxable brokerage accounts, Schwab appeals to a wide spectrum of investors.

  • Account Minimum: $500
  • Fee: 0.30%

  • The availability of financial advisors is advantageous for investors who like to discuss their investments with a live adviser.
  • Investors who prefer a factor-based investing strategy may be interested in E*TRADE’s smart-beta investment portfolio.
  • The inability to extract tax losses may be a hurdle for people with taxable accounts.

Account Setup

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, like other digital financial advisers, asks consumers questions about their investment objectives, timeframe, and risk tolerance. Your comments are used by the platform to generate a broadly diversified ETF portfolio with an 8% to 10% cash allocation. To access the particular ETFs, you’ll need to register an account, but rest assured that the approximately 12 funds have modest management costs.

The base level of Schwab Intelligent Portfolios does not impose a management fee, but you must have $5,000 to create an account. Schwab’s $5,000 account minimum is greater than that of several rivals. For account-related inquiries, anybody may contact phone customer care or online chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Branch representatives are also accessible, albeit Schwab Intelligent Portfolios does not include financial planner sessions like the Premium version, which is available for accounts above $25,000 and has a $300 initial planning charge followed by a monthly fee of $30.

The free digital Schwab Financial Plan is available to all Schwab clients. This tool uses your financial and retirement information to assess your chances of meeting your retirement objectives. You may change the inputs to see different situations, and Schwab will provide suggestions to help you accomplish your financial goals.

E*TRADE Core was named the top robo-advisor for mobile. The setup is simple, and you’ll only need $500 to get started with this robo-advisor. You may complete the first inquiry and examine the suggested asset allocation whether or not you have an account. You will not be able to view the specific ETFs until you open the account. You may change the portfolio by retaking the quiz and selecting ESG and smart beta choices. The account is opened after answering standard personal inquiries, such as your Social Security number, and connecting an account to transfer payments.

E*TRADE Core Portfolios charges a 0.30% AUM fee and, like Schwab, invests in low-cost ETFs. Financial experts are available to Core Portfolios customers and prospective users weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET.

Both E*TRADE Core Portfolios and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios make it simple to open an account, but the significant distinctions include lower account minimums at E*TRADE Core Portfolios and the fact that Schwab Intelligent Portfolios does not charge management fees for the basic offering.

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Goal Planning

Users of Schwab Intelligent Portfolios may pick between a portfolio centered on the United States and one that is internationally diversified. You may tailor your investment objectives to include retirement, education, long-term wealth, house purchase, or income stream. To adjust your portfolio’s objectives and starting inputs, click to the settings tab.

The goal dashboard in Schwab Intelligent Portfolios displays a graph with the present value and future average, best- and worst-case scenario outcomes depending on your goal target date. You’ll also discover your risk profile and contributions, as well as sliders to change your risk profile and contributions. Changes are instantly reflected on the graph depicting future results. Another free tool for delving into different goal-based situations is the Schwab Financial Plan.

E*TRADE Core Portfolios has fewer goal-setting options than Schwab. The first investor questionnaire offers three objective options: accumulate money, retire, or pursue a specific purpose. Users may choose the main offer, a smart beta portfolio, or a socially responsible investing (SRI) portfolio. When compared to certain rivals, E*TRADE’s longest time horizon is 11+ years, and asset allocations are relatively aggressive, with bigger equity allocations at different risk levels. For example, if you enter a “house down payment” target and require the money in five to seven years, the platform advises a moderate 60% stock and 40% bond allocation rather than a more conservative asset mix for this intermediate time frame.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios outperform E*TRADE Core Portfolios for investors that favor shorter-term objectives, income, and broadly diversified goal-oriented portfolios. Those with long-term investment objectives looking for a basic digital investment adviser will, nevertheless, be satisfied with E*TRADE Core Portfolios’ minimum goal planning options.

Account Types

The most regularly utilized account types, such as basic taxable accounts, custodial accounts, and individual retirement accounts, are available in both Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and E*TRADE Core Portfolios (IRAs).Schwab also provides customers with access to trusts and SIMPLE IRAs.

Schwab account types:

E*TRADE account types:

  • Individual taxable
  • Joint taxable
  • Custodial
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Rollover IRA

Account Services

Schwab and E*TRADE both provide full self-directed trading. Both companies have physical locations. Following previous consolidations, Schwab clients now have access to all TD Ameritrade account services, while E*TRADE users now have access to Morgan Stanley goods and services. This implies that each corporation has banking, borrowing, and financial counselors.

Cash Management

Neither Schwab nor E*TRADE provide cash management accounts as part of their digital robo-investing offerings. It’s worth noting that Schwab keeps 8% to 10% of each portfolio’s cash in an interest-bearing account. This amount will be kept and varied according to asset allocation.

Through separate accounts, both digital investment advisers provide a variety of financial services such as high yield cash and checking accounts, CDs, and more. Schwab provides it through Charles Schwab Bank and E*TRADE via Morgan Stanley Private Banking.

Portfolio Construction

Both systems build your portfolio based on your replies to the first questionnaire and contemporary portfolio theory (MPT).Customers of Schwab may choose between three investing strategies: global, U.S., and income oriented. The worldwide approach covers overseas ETFs in both stocks and bonds, as well as ETFs in the United States. The assets are drawn from a portfolio of 51 ETFs that cover 20+ asset types. The equities category includes both market capitalization weighted and fundamental weighted stocks. Fixed income assets include US Treasuries, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, and a variety of other fixed income assets. REITs, commodities, and cash round out the diverse range of assets accessible. Every portfolio must have a cash allocation, which means that some funds are sitting rather than being completely invested in the market. The necessary cash is a helpful feature during down markets, but it may impair performance during bull markets.

E*TRADE Core Portfolios include core, ESG, and smart beta options. The core option consists of eight asset classes spanning five equity assets. These ETFs invest in domestic and foreign equities, including value and small caps. The two bond funds invest in business and government bonds. E*TRADE Core Portfolios, unlike Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, tries to reduce cash in the account with a 1% objective and rebalances anytime the cash balance climbs.

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Schwab Intelligent Portfolios – GlobalE*TRADE Core Portfolios
Individual StocksNo – only in a brokerage accountNo – only in a brokerage account
Mutual FundsNo – only in a brokerage accountNo – only in a brokerage account
Fixed IncomeYes – only ETFs in the digital advisorYes – only ETFs in the digital advisor
REITsYesNo – only in the brokerage account, not Core portfolios
Socially Responsible or ESG OptionsYesYes
Non-Proprietary ETFsYes – a few non-proprietary ETFs are available, the majority are Schwab ETFsYes
Mutual FundsNo – only in a brokerage accountNo – only in a brokerage account
ForexNo – only in a brokerage accountNo – only in a brokerage account

Portfolio Customization

Neither platform is very customizable, albeit Schwab Intelligent Portfolios goes a step farther than E*TRADE Core Portfolios. Customers of Schwab may choose from three portfolio types: U.S. or worldwide emphasis, income, or both. Schwab customers may eliminate up to three ETFs from their portfolio. Clients of E*TRADE have access to core, SRI, and smart beta portfolios.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios are more varied, with a higher cash allocation. E*TRADE Core Portfolios include fewer ETFs and a cash allocation in the low single digits. While E*TRADE’s portfolios are less diverse, lacking REITs, commodities, basic ETFs, and a foreign bond allocation, the business places a focus on small caps as well as large- and mid-cap value equity funds. There is no one-size-fits-all diversification strategy for any asset allocation. Depending on the investing market climate, each portfolio will provide different results.

Portfolio Management

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios examines the portfolio on a daily basis and rebalances as required to maintain the client’s chosen asset allocation. E*TRADE’s portfolios are also checked regularly and rebalanced on a regular basis. E*TRADE is activated semiannually or when asset allocations deviate 10% from their goal. Users may adjust the asset allocation of their portfolio at any moment by utilizing the tools on each site.

Neither platform provides a capability for aggregating external accounts inside the robo-advisor. This function is included in the Schwab Financial Plan, but it is not connected with Schwab Intelligent Portfolios unless you enroll for the premium service.

Tax-Advantaged Investing

Tax-loss harvesting is a tax-saving method that involves selling shares at a loss to offset taxable profits. This will result in a smaller tax bill. For individuals who have a taxed account, this is a reasonable method.

Tax-loss harvesting is available to Schwab Intelligent Portfolios customers with accounts valued more than $50,000. While E*TRADE’s Core Portfolios do not provide tax-loss harvesting, E*TRADE does assist consumers in lowering their taxes by investing in municipal bond ETFs inside their taxable accounts.

Key Portfolio Management Features
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios – GlobalE*TRADE Core Portfolios
Automatic RebalancingAs neededSemi-annually, or when the target allocation deviates by 10% or more
Reporting FeaturesOnline portfolio monitoring and monthly statementsOnline portfolio monitoring and monthly statements
Tax Loss HarvestingYes – Available for accounts worth more than $50,000No
External Account Syncing/ConsolidationNoNo


Most big financial institutions have good security processes and fraud prevention, as is the case today. Advanced encryption, biometrics, and two-factor authentication are available in Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and E*TRADE Core Portfolios. Securities at Schwab are insured by the SIPC, with extra coverage given by Lloyd’s of London for up to $600 million. Schwab goes a step further, guaranteeing the reimbursement of any damages incurred as a result of unlawful account activity. The Morgan Stanley excess coverage includes E*TRADE’s SIPC insurance, which covers up to $1 billion in insured losses.

There is no insurance that protects investors from normal market fluctuations, including losses in investment values.

User Experience


Schwab Intelligent Portfolios’ desktop user experience is clean with easy access to all important information available from the home dashboard. You can view your goals, portfolio, performance, and activity with one click. Adjusting settings and asset allocations is a breeze. The sidebar lists information such as statements, transfers, FAQs, and educational content.

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E*TRADE Core Portfolios also has a solid user experience on the desktop. The home page is clean with easy navigation. FAQs are front and center to help with common questions that pop up. It’s easy to review your portfolio’s performance, rates of return over various time periods, and compare results with relevant benchmarks.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and E*TRADE Core Portfolios both offer a clean, comfortable desktop experience.

Mobile App

E*TRADE Core Portfolios and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios do not have their own mobile app. You’ll need to use the bigger Schwab and E*TRADE mobile applications to access your portfolio. At each organization, mobile customers will have a comparable experience on the mobile platform as they do on the desktop. E*TRADE gets the mobile prize as the winner of our top robo-advisor for mobile category.

Customer Service

Both Schwab and E*TRADE provide excellent customer service. Both systems include extensive FAQs. Both firms also provide phone customer care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During the week, E*TRADE has authorized financial experts accessible via phone, but no chat. While Schwab has staff available to answer Intelligent Portfolios queries 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios – GlobalE*TRADE Core Portfolios
Phone contact availableYes – 24/7Yes – available 24/7, and with an investment advisor during the weekdays
Pre-funding phone consultation with certified advisorNoNo
Online chat availableYes – Human chatNo
Website FAQ sectionYes – ComprehensiveYes – Comprehensive

In terms of client service. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios outperforms E*TRADE Core Portfolios in terms of 24/7 live customer support and human chat.


The basic offering of Schwab Intelligent Portfolios does not include a portfolio management fee. With a 0.30% AUM charge, E*TRADE Core Portfolios stands out a little more, although this is in line with many other digital investment advisers. Both platforms make use of ETFs with minimal fund management costs. If you want access to human financial advisers in addition to customer support, the additional investment management cost at E*TRADE may be justified. It’s also worth noting that Schwab Intelligent Portfolios’ no-fee investment management comes with a mandatory cash allocation. For investors who desire to stay fully involved in the financial markets, this capital allocation may be a disadvantage.

If you prefer to work with an investing adviser, E*TRADE is the way to go. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium provides financial advisers for a modest monthly membership price of $30 with a one-time $300 setup charge, but the account minimum is significantly higher at $25,000.

CategorySchwab Intelligent Portfolios – GlobalE*TRADE Core Portfolios
Management fees for $5,000 account$0$15/year
Management fees for $25,000 account$0$75/year
Management fees for $100,000 account$0$300/year
Termination fees$0$75 for full transfer out and $25 for partial transfer out. The $25 is eliminated on Core Portfolio accounts with at least $5,000, and if the transfers are made to another E*TRADE account.
Expense ratios0.03% – 0.18%0.05% – 0.12%
Mutual fundsN/AN/A

Our Take

Both Schwab and E*TRADE’s digital investment advisers benefit from being part of large investment brokerage businesses. E*TRADE Core Portfolios and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios are both excellent robo-advisors. Schwab has a little more depth in some of its features, such as goal planning, but practically every area was too close to call. Newer investors may like E*TRADE Core Portfolios’ $500 minimum, financial counselors, and improved mobile experience. Cost-conscious investors can’t match Schwab Intelligent Portfolios’ free investment management, but they’ll need at least $5,000 to participate. If you already have an account with E*TRADE or Schwab, you may prefer the convenience of creating a managed account with the same business.


Can I lose money with a robo-advisor?

Yes. Because investment values fluctuate, investing in financial markets is intended for the long term. People engage in these risky assets because, over time, stocks, bonds, and associated fund investing have provided larger returns than certificates of deposit (CD) and cash accounts. The return on your original investment is not guaranteed, as with a CD or bank savings product.

Why not choose a target date fund instead of Schwab or E*TRADE robo-advisors?

Another option to robo-advisor investing is to invest in a target date fund with an end date that corresponds to your expected retirement date. Investing with Schwab Intelligent Portfolios or E*TRADE Core Portfolios provides you with better diversity, customisation, and control over your investment portfolio.


Investopedia’s objective is to offer thorough and impartial evaluations and ratings of robo-advisors to investors. Michael Sacchitello and his team of researchers and expert writers spent months evaluating all aspects of a robo-platform, advisor’s including the account setup process, goal planning tools, account service options, portfolio construction offerings, portfolio management, mobile and desktop user experience, educational content, fees, and security. We collect crucial data points as part of this assessment, which are weighted by our quantitative model, which generates a strong star-scoring system.

With the individual investor in mind, we developed a detailed rating system to identify the top overall robo-advisors as well as the best robo-advisors in nine important areas. Each adviser is then graded across various characteristics to determine performance in each relevant area. The total award score is a weighted average of the categories.

Investopedia asks authors to back their work with original sources. White documents, government statistics, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts are among them. Where necessary, we also cite original research from other credible publications. You can read more about the guidelines we use to provide accurate, balanced material on our website.

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