Schwab ira funds

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Finding the Best Charles Schwab Mutual Funds

Charles Schwab's mutual funds can be used to build a low-cost, high-quality portfolio for almost any investor. Although Schwab is best known as a reputable online discount brokerage firm, they also have a good selection of mutual funds ideal for the long-term investor.

Successful investors have strategies and carefully build portfolios based on those strategies. You should have an investing strategy, goals, and know your tolerance for risk. Once you decide upon these elements, you are able to begin searching for and choosing the best Schwab mutual funds to include in your portfolio.

The Best Schwab Mutual Funds

To rate any funds as best, it's important to understand what would make them qualify as the top-performing funds. A fund has to meet an investor's strategic criteria, acceptable risk, and rate of return—past performance, fees, and overall costs are also important.

Past performance alone is not an indicator of future performance; market, economy, and issuer performance should be analyzed and monitored to make sure a fund meets all of the investor's goals.

Considerations for the top performers are longevity, diversity, fees, return on equity, price to earnings, and the fund's beta. A fund's beta is a comparative volatility index, specifically the fund's volatility compared to the index's volatility. A beta of 1.0 demonstrates average volatility, while a beta less than 1.0 is less volatile than the index and more than 1.0 is more volatile. All of these funds have a beta of 1.0, which indicates an average amount of risk compared to the index they are designed to track.

The design of this rating is to find long-term returns, rather than short-term gains—these work well for a retirement portfolio or other long-term financial goals. These funds were all picked for their span of multiple industries and sectors, rounded strategies, and low fees, along with their 10-year and lifetime performances.

Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund (SWPPX)

The S&P 500 Index fund from Schwab was first offered in 1997. Currently, it consists of stocks from information technology, finance, and health care companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Johnson & Johnson, and JP Morgan. Risk is mitigated (but not eliminated) by investing across multiple sectors through multiple companies.

There are other minor holdings from communication, industrial, energy, utilities, and other companies. This is a very diversified fund—the holdings make up no more than 5.03% of the fund in any one company (Microsoft).

Its 10-year return is 10.44%, just below the S&P 500 Index itself—this follows along with the fund's goal of tracking the S&P 500 total returns. The five-year return is 6.67%, the price to earnings ratio is 22.96, and the return on equity is 24.54%. The expense ratio for the fund is 0.02% (per $10,000 investment), and its beta rests at 1.0. Over the fund's lifetime, it has returned 6.98%.

This fund has the lowest expenses of the Schwab offerings (.02%) while offering average risk and one of the higher returns.

Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund (SWTSX)

The Total Stock Market Index Fund is designed to track the performance of the entire U.S. stock market. Created in 1999, the fund has seen its share of market ups and downs, a testament to its resilience.

SWTSX concentrates almost one-quarter of its holdings in information technology—14% in health care, 13% in financial companies, and 10% in discretionary holdings and industrials. Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Berkshire Hathaway, and Google are among the holdings that make up the highest number of assets in the fund.

The diversity of this fund again mitigates (but does not eliminate) the risk by investing across multiple sectors and industries. The majority of the holdings are invested in Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon (10.5% between the three).

This fund's 10-year return is 10.10%, just below the Dow Jones U.S. Total Stock Market Index. The rate of return for a five-year period is 5.67%, and the fund's lifetime rate of return is 5.68%. Its price to earnings ratio is 22.64, and return on equity is 21.83%.

The expense ratio for the fund is .03% (per $10,000 investment), and offers an investor average risk and a competitive rate of return.

Schwab U.S. Broad Market ETF (SCHB)

One of the younger funds in this list, but still a performer, SCHB had its beginnings at the end of the Great Recession in 2009. It's designed to track the performance of the total return of the Dow Jones U.S. Broad Stock Market Index. Similar to the other funds listed, this fund is heavily invested in information technology, health care, and financial companies. Information technology makes up 22.37% of the holdings, and health care makes up 14.04 % of the fund.

This is also another fund that is made up of the giants of the industries—Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Berkshire Hathaway, JP Morgan, and Johnson & Johnson.

The Schwab U.S. Broad Market ETF has an expense ratio of .03%, with a price to earnings ratio of 22.66 and return of equity of 21.94%. The 10-year return for SCHB is 10.13%, the five-year return is 5.59%, and it has returned 11.16% over its lifetime.

Schwab Health Care Fund (SWHFX)

Slightly older than the rest of these funds, SWHFX demonstrates the strength of some of its siblings. This fund is designed to search for long-term growth and is designed differently than other funds listed—health care and pharmaceutical companies are the entire focus of this fund.

Health care and pharmaceuticals make up 100% of the holdings—the largest proportion of holdings are in Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Company, Pfizer, Amgen, and United Health.

Over a 10-year period, SWHFX returned 12.35%. The five-year return is 4.11%, while it has generated 8.65% over its lifetime. It has a price to earnings ratio of 18.66 and a return on equity ratio of 20.54%.

This fund is slightly more expensive to administer than other funds in this list, because it is not tracking an index. This requires it to be actively managed, giving it an expense ratio of 0.8%.

Charles Schwab provides many services in their quest to be the lowest cost investment service around.

Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Growth ETF (SCHG)

The Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Growth ETF is designed to track the Dow Jones U.S. Large-Capacity Total Stock Market Index. The holdings include stocks from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Visa, United Health, and Mastercard.

This fund follows along the design of the other funds in that has a majority of its holdings in information technology; however, in this fund, information technology holdings are much larger than others—35% belong to Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Communication services, consumer discretionary, and health care holdings make up a total of 41% of the fund.

SCHG has a notable lifetime performance of15.07% and a 10-year return of 14.85%. It has a price to earnings ratio of 29.92 and a return on equity of 26.12%. Its expense ratio is 0.04%.

Investing With Schwab

If you'd like to look over the funds offered by Charles Schwab, they provide detailed information on their product finder page. You can click on the symbols provided and view fund summaries, charts, distributions, fund performance, and the fund portfolio. All the information provided in this article is viewable so that you can find funds that work for your needs and tolerances.

Schwab's do-it-yourself (DIY) investment page gives you the means to build portfolios, calculate saving for retirement or college, conduct research, or do much more. If DIY is not for you, they provide a robo-advisor to help you create a portfolio and get your investments up and running. If you are not comfortable with either of these options, you can still contact Charles Schwab and talk to a financial advisor.


Last Updated on July 28, 2021 by pf team

Schwab index funds have been a solid choice for long-term investors for decades but recent reductions in management costs make Charles Schwab index funds more attractive than ever.

Schwab now offers a variety of index funds, ranging from US equities to international stocks with expense ratios at just a fraction of a percent.

Global real estate and inflation-protected bond funds round out the list of your choices.

schwab index funds

What is Charles Schwab?

In less than 50 years, The Charles Schwab Corporation has made an indelible mark on the investment world. The company started in 1971, predating its rival Vanguard which opened its doors 3 years later.

Schwab’s story is one of both evolution and revolution. What began as an investment newsletter service later evolved to include a broker-dealer business.

Changes to SEC regulations in the early 70s opened the door for Schwab, which then used the opportunity to launch its first retail brokerage branches.

Today, Charles Schwab has nearly 350 brick-and-mortar brokerages throughout the US. Over time, the brokerage began adding funds of its own, fueling its continued growth.

In 1997, the same year the company was added to the S&P 500 index, Schwab launched its iconic Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund (SWPPX).

Now the company offers more than 50 funds and ranks as the 3rd largest mutual company when measured by assets under management.

What does Charles Schwab offer?

As part of the company's mission statement, Charles Schwab vowed to empower individual investors. Schwab's client-first philosophy benefits investors through several types of investment services.

Brokerage accounts

With its retail brokerage roots, Schwab brings the world-class services investors expect to both its retail branches and online accounts.

Online trades as low as $0 keep investing affordable and within reach of everyone. Account options with no minimum deposit remove another common hurdle for investors.

With low investment requirements and the availability of $0 trades, a Schwab brokerage account offers an attractive way to start investing.

Trading solutions

Schwab's goal of empowering investors is evident in the tools the company offers. Research tools and market data abound but at the core of Schwab's offering is its StreetSmart Edge trading platform.

StreetSmart Edge gives investors powerful tools to make educated trading decisions but you’ll have other trading options as well.

The company also offers trades and research through its website portal and mobile apps, so your portfolio is available to you on the go.

Automated investing

For those who prefer hands-off investing, Schwab offers ways to automate your investment growth. Of course, you can set up automatic reinvestments so dividends and other earnings can continue to grow your account.

Schwab also offers a robo-advisor, an automated service that helps you build an ETF-based portfolio that keeps you diversified. Daily rebalancing, as needed, helps keep your account growth on track to meet your investment goals.

In the background, Schwab’s experts keep an eye on underlying funds to be sure they still match your strategy. You’ll gain the cost advantages of automation combined with expert oversight.

Schwab global account

It’s a big world out there and The Schwab Global Account puts access to the world's leading markets at your fingertips. Like other Schwab services, Schwab's global account is designed for accessibility.

With no account minimum and no trade minimum, you can trade on your terms and gain access to leading markets like Australia, Canada, and several European countries, as well as Asian markets.

Education savings accounts

If you're a parent, you're probably already familiar with the high cost of education. Schwab's education savings accounts provide a cost-effective way to save for education expenses whenever they occur, from kindergarten until college.

Withdrawals from your educational savings account (ESA) are tax-free when used for qualified education expenses. Allowed expenses can include tuition as well as supplies. Your earnings grow tax-deferred and there's no account minimum.

Retirement accounts

As you'd expect from a client-focused brokerage and fund provider, Schwab offers a full complement of retirement accounts. Choose from Traditional or Roth IRAs. You can also start a Rollover IRA to move retirement funds from another source into your Schwab portfolio.

If you're self-employed, a SEP IRA or a Simple IRA can also be effective ways to plan for your future using Schwab's investment services.

Trust, estate, and charitable accounts

For estate planning, you’ll find a support for trust accounts, estate accounts, and charitable accounts, as well as a suite of tools to optimize estate planning.

Schwab's knowledge center helps guide you through the process and expert help is just a phone call away if needed.

What is the difference between Charles Schwab basic index funds and fundamental index funds?

man holding a cell phone

Traditionally, index funds track a benchmark, with equities weighted according to market cap. This strategy, while having proven effective for investors, creates a portfolio heavily weighted towards the largest companies.

Traditional indexing can also prioritize overvalued stocks in your portfolio, some of which may be headed for a price correction.

Schwab offers both traditional equity index funds and fundamental index funds, an innovation from Schwab targeting greater diversification and reduced risk.

Equity index funds

Similar to equity index funds from other providers, Schwab's equity index funds follow a chosen benchmark index, such as the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Index, or more specialized indexes.

Performance of these benchmark indexes should closely mirror the performance in your Schwab funds that track these indexes. No surprises here.

Fundamental index funds

Index-based portfolios tend to outperform actively managed portfolios but what if there was a way to reduce exposure to high-flying and probably overvalued stocks within a benchmark index?

Schwab’s fundamental index funds bring a touch of old-school objective fundamental analysis to index investing, creating a balance between market caps based index strategies and actively managed investments.

Fundamental index funds rebalance periodically, reducing exposure to some of the stocks that have performed best within the index.

Think of it as prudent profit-taking, but automated. The funds then reinvest in some of the securities that meet objective fundamental metrics.

Typically, these are companies with room for stock-price growth. Fundamental metrics measure company size rather than market cap.

Weighting within a fundamental index, called a RAFI index, can hinge on adjusted sales, dividends and buybacks, and retained cash flow, although the strategies used can vary by index.

Charles Schwab equity index funds

Schwab® S&P 500 Index Fund (SWPPX)

If you invest in The Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund (SWPPX), you’ll have a pretty good idea of how your investment performs daily simply by watching the news.

Over the past 10 years, SWPPX has tracked the S&P accurately, rewarding long-term investors with a 10-year average return of over 13%. Top holdings include names we all know, like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook.

The fund even invests in Berkshire Hathaway stock (BRK.B), so you’ll enjoy some of Warren Buffett’s success without having to pay $200+ per share for stock in Buffett's world-famous investment company.

Information technology stocks dominate the S&P index, making up over 20% of SWPPX’s holdings. Healthcare, financials, and communications companies make up double-digit percentages as well.

Tapping into S&P growth through SWPPX is more affordable than with many competing funds. You’ll pay just 0.02% as an expense ratio.

Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund® (SWTSX)

Schwab’s Total Stock Market Index Fund does what it says on the tin. You'll gain access to the entire US stock market, including large cap, mid-cap, and small-cap stocks.

Because asset allocation is based on market capitalization, many of the same names you'll find in an S&P index fund also appeared as top holdings in total market funds.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon top the list as equities held by SWTSX.

However, you'll enjoy a more diversified portfolio through Schwab’s Total Market Index Fund than you’ll find with indexes that track fewer companies.

In total, you’ll own more than 3,000 stocks by purchasing one fund. In keeping with Schwab’s new tradition of lower management fees, the expense ratio for SWTSX weighs in at just 0.03%.

For long-term investors, lower management expenses can lead to larger future gains.

Schwab 1000 Index® Fund (SNXFX)

If you're not yet familiar with the Schwab 1000 index, this proprietary index tracks both large-cap and mid-cap stocks, ranking the largest US stocks by market capitalization.

In effect, the index is similar to the S&P 500, but allows inclusion of 500 more stocks.

This structure gives you a more diversified portfolio than would an S&P focused fund and also gives you access to companies that still have plenty of room to grow.

When comparing performance over the past 10 years, SNXFX slightly trails Schwab’s SWPPX S&P 500 index fund, giving investors just under 13% as an average annual return.

In exchange for slightly lower performance, investors enjoyed more diversification with exposure to 500 additional companies. Yields for SNXFX were also higher than its S&P index brethren over the past decade, returning 1.79% compared to 1.73%.

SNXFX has an expense ratio of 0.05%.

Schwab Small Cap Index Fund® (SWSSX)

In the right economic environment, small-cap stocks can provide dynamic growth. The Schwab Small Cap Index Fund tracks the small-cap focused Russell 2000 Index, currently comprised of 1,992 stocks.

These are smaller companies, so you'll find many of the stocks held by the fund are names with which you're not yet familiar.

Some will be ongoing success stories, some will be tomorrow's giants and a few may falter. Expect a bit more volatility with this group than with large-cap focused funds.

Schwab’s Small Cap Index Fund holds its own in regard to long-term performance.

Over the past 10 years, the fund indulged performance-driven investors with an average annual return of 12.63%. Since its inception in 1997, the fund has returned nearly 9% on average.

Expense ratio for this well-diversified fund come in at 0.04% and the fund yields 1.32%.

Schwab Fundamental US Large Company Index Fund (SFLNX)

If you prefer to invest in proven success stories, take a closer look at Schwab’s Fundamental US Large Company Index. Large-cap funds aren't difficult to find. Look no further than Schwab’s S&P 500 Index Fund for an example of an efficient large cap index fund.

However, Schwab's Fundamental US Large Company Index Fund adds an interesting twist to large cap investing. The fund reduces exposure to large cap stocks that may have outrun their value based on fundamentals.

Nothing goes straight up forever, and SFLNX employs automatic reallocation based on fundamental measurements. As you'd expect with this sort of strategy, the fund’s portfolio has more turnover than you’d find with an S&P fund.

Expense ratio also comes in higher at 0.25%. However, this number is still well below the cost of many actively managed mutual funds.

Schwab Fundamental US Small Company Index Fund (SFSNX)

Following a similar allocation strategy to that used by Schwab’s large-cap fundamental index fund, SFSNX tracks an index of more than 900 small-cap stocks.

The fund is weighted heavily towards industrials, consumer discretionary stocks, and financials, which combined make up nearly 50% of the fund's holdings.

This mix marks a stark departure from the tech and healthcare dominance found in S&P index funds. You own stocks like Teledyne, GNC Holdings, and Skechers.

You’ll also own hundreds of brands you may not yet know — but which might someday be giants.

Momentum trading and hype have a way of carrying stock prices too far in many cases. SFSNX’s fundamental reallocation strategy reduces exposure to stocks that may have run a bit too far, too fast.

The fund then reinvests in stocks that may be undervalued based on their fundamentals. You’ll pay 0.25% as an expense ratio, which again is much less expensive than many actively managed funds.

Charles Schwab international index funds

Schwab Fundamental International Large Company Index Fund (SFNNX)

With nearly $1.3 billion in assets under management, SFNNX proves that you don’t need active management to attract investors for international companies.

Household names like Samsung, Toyota, Honda, & Nestle make up some of the fund’s largest holdings. Nearly 25% of its investments are in Japan and another 16% are for UK-based companies.

Dividend fans should take a closer look at Schwab’s SFNNX. Currently, the fund yields over 3%. However, overall performance lags behind US large-cap indexes.

Average 10-year performance for SFNNX is under 5%. As a Fundamental index fund, expect some reallocation as individual stocks become a bit top-heavy.

Again, expense ratios are higher than with some of Schwab’s standard equity index funds. You’ll pay 0.25% as an expense ratio.

Interestingly, SFNXX has a price to earnings ratio of just 12.66%. When compared to the S&P’s price to earnings of over 20% (24.28% at the time of this writing), there may be added value in SFNXX at these prices.

Schwab Fundamental International Small Company Index Fund SFILX

Made up of about 1,700 smaller companies, SFILX focuses on international investments in developed countries. Neither SFILX nor SFNNX, its large-cap kin, invest in US stocks, although some of the holdings are brands well-known in US households.

For example, the fund owns shares in Hitachi and Quantus. Exposure is heavily skewed toward Japan, with nearly 35% of the fund’s assets invested in Japanese stocks.

Expect higher turnover with small-cap index funds — especially in a fundamental index fund — often leading to higher management costs. You’ll pay 0.39% as an expense ratio, which is still low compared to many actively managed funds but higher than large-cap passive funds.

SFILX’s 10-year average performance comes in at just over 7% with a stronger-than-average 2.34% yield.

Schwab International Index Fund® SWISX

Another option for large-cap non-US companies, The Schwab International Index Fund invests in countries with developed equity markets.

Stocks from Japan, the UK, and France make up over 50% of the fund’s holdings. You’ll find big names like Nestle, Toyota, and HSBC among the fund’s top assets.

Low portfolio turnover translates into lower fees and with just 5% turnover, SWISX delivers steady gains with an affordable 0.06% expense ratio.

Yields are strong with this fund as well. With a 2.67% yield, you can afford to weather a soft year here and there if international markets lag US performance.

Charles Schwab real estate index fund

Schwab Fundamental Global Real Estate Index Fund (SFREX)

As you might expect from a fund that tracks a global index heavy on REITs, yields for The Schwab Fundamental Global Real Estate Index Fund are higher than for broad market funds. Current yield is over 3.5%.

The fund’s short-term returns are strong as well, with a 1-year annual return of over 12%. Since inception in 2014, SFREX investors have earned an average of 7.63%.

Nearly half of investments focus on US real estate. China, Hong Kong, and Japan follow, each with 8-9% of the fund’s assets.

Charles Schwab treasury index fund

Schwab® Treasury Inflation Protected Securities Index Fund (SWRSX)

In times of uncertainty or if you’re in-between investments, it’s hard to put a price on the safety of US bonds. SWRSX invests nearly 100% of the fund’s assets in US Government Securities.

For those nearing retirement and who want to begin reducing risk, The Schwab Treasury Inflation Protected Securities Index Fund may be a good choice. Trailing 12-month yields are steady at 2.29%, giving your savings a built-in hedge against inflation.

Final thoughts

With trading fees as low as, well, free — and no minimum investment requirements on many types of funds, Schwab makes a compelling offer to those new to investing or those looking for a new brokerage to call home.

While Schwab doesn’t have as many funds as some other providers, you could make a successful argument that the broker offers enough variety to meet the needs of most investors.

Whether you prefer large-cap, small-cap, or something in-between, Schwab funds have a low-cost solution ready to go. Mix and match to build your own portfolio or take advantage of Schwab’s robo-advisor if you have a bit more to invest.

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Charles Schwab Review 2021: Robust Investment Offerings and 24/7 Customer Service

We want to help you make more informed decisions. Some links on this page — clearly marked — may take you to a partner website and may result in us earning a referral commission. For more information, see How We Make Money.

Charles Schwab is one of the largest discount brokerages in America, and it offers something for investors of all levels of experience and needs. New investors will appreciate that there are no minimums to open most accounts, and customer service reps are available to help 24/7 via phone or chat.

NextAdvisor named Charles Schwab as one of the best online brokers of 2021 because of its high-quality trading platform, commission-free trading, and research guides. “We’ve chosen Schwab as our primary custodian,” said Asher Rogovy, the chief investment officer at Magnifina, LLC, an investment advisory firm. “Schwab’s team is outstanding, and when it comes to your money, you shouldn’t settle for anything less.” 

Charles Schwab Review 2021 

Founded in 1971, Charles Schwab is a full-service investing brokerage that provides both an online platform and in-person support at over 400 of its branches across the U.S.

Schwab offers an online trading platform for those who want to invest on their own, a robo-advisor with the option for professional guidance, and customized plans for portfolios that are actively managed by a human. 

There are also robust investment offerings, notably over 2,000 index funds and ETFs, and more than 200 index mutual funds that bear no transaction fees. Plus, all index ETFs, whether they stem from Charles Schwab Investment Management or third-party providers, have zero commission fees.

Index funds are a basket of stocks that track a piece of the stock market. Investing in an index fund, like one that tracks the S&P 500, can help you diversify your investments among many different companies, rather than just one. It helps keep your investments safe in case one company takes a downturn. 

Pros and Cons of Charles Schwab 


  • No fees to open and maintain an account for brokerage or trading services

  • No minimums to keep accounts open

  • Robust suite of investing tools, educational resources, trading platforms and access to in-depth market research

  • 24/7 customer service via phone


  • Broker-assisted trades can be as high as $25

  • Myriad options, while exciting, can be overwhelming to investors just starting out

Charles Schwab at A Glance

Charles Schwab offers a comprehensive set of accounts and investments. 

  • Online brokerage accounts, robo advisors, and professionally managed accounts 
  • Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs, rollover IRAs, custodial IRAs, 529 college savings plans, educational savings plans (ESAs), individual 401(k)s, business 401(k)s, SEP IRA, Simple IRA
  • Tradable securities include: stocks, bonds, fractional shares, CDs, mutual funds, index funds, ETFs options, futures. There are more than 4,200 fee-free mutual funds. 
  • Mobile investing app available on iOS and Android 
  • 24/7 customer service via phone or chat 

Investments Available on Charles Schwab 

Charles Schwab has a vast range of investments, ranging from stocks to margin loans and money market funds. According to its website, it is the third largest provider of index funds, with over 2,000 index funds and ETFs. The average annual fee for index funds is 0.15%, which is a low expense ratio.

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Fixed Income Products 
  • Options 
  • Futures 
  • Mutual Funds
  • ETFs
  • Money Market Funds 

Charles Schwab Fees

For a full list of fees, readers can look at Charles Schwab’s pricing page.

Trading and commission fees Online stock and ETF trades – $0
Online options – $0.65 per contract
Automated phone trades – $5
Broker-assisted trades for stocks, ETFs, and options – $25
Future trades (online and broker-assisted trades) –  $1.50 per contract
Mutual funds through Schwab Mutual Fund OneSource –  $0 for online and automated phone trade, $25 charge for broker-assisted trades Non-Schwab Mutual Fund OneSource trades – $49.95 per purchase, $0 redemption fee for online and automated phone trades
Schwab’s Mutual Fund OneSource service –  $49.95 short-term redemption fee 
Account minimum for brokerage and trading services$0 
Account maintenance fee for brokerage and trading services $0 
Account fees No annual or inactivity fee; $25 per transfer; $15 per transfer if submitted online
Investment management fees Schwab Intelligent Portfolios – no advisory fee or commissions, $5,000 minimum to get started
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios premium – $30 monthly fee, $300 one-time planning fee, $25,000 minimum to get started 
Schwab Private Client – Starts at 0.80% of assets under management, $1 million to get started
Schwab Advisory Network – no fee if referred, advisor fees vary, $500,000 to get started

Who Is Charles Schwab Best For?

Charles Schwab is a full-service discount brokerage that provides online brokerage accounts, robo advisors, and professionally managed accounts and services. Charles Schwab is robust in its offerings and with no account minimums or annual or inactivity fees. This makes Charles Schwab a great option for all types of investors, from beginner to experienced.

While the basic robo advisor doesn’t bear any fees, there is an account minimum of $5,000. For those who would like AI-powered automated guidance, they may find a robo-advisor with lower minimums to get started.

How to Open an Account with Charles Schwab 

  1. Figure out what you want from a brokerage. Knowing whether you intend to trade and manage your portfolio and do the research yourself, tap into a robo advisor, or get some professional guidance can help you figure out whether Charles Schwab is a good fit for you.
  2. Do your homework on fees, investments available, and resources. Read up on fees and costs related to trading and maintaining an account. It’s also important to know what types of investments are available, as well as resources, tools, and research to help you make informed investing decisions.
  3. Open an account online. According to the Charles Schwab website, it will take about 10 minutes to complete the application and open a brokerage account. Be sure to have your Social Security Number. If you’re employed, you’ll also need your employer’s address. Other information you’ll be required to provide include personal information such as your address, date of birth, email, and phone number.

    Unlike some digital-only discount brokerages, you can step foot into a brick-and-mortar location to get your questions answered or to get help with opening an account. There’s also 24/7 assistance via chat or phone. 

Charles Schwab Compared to Others

Charles SchwabVanguardTD Ameritrade*
Types of investing accounts Brokerage and trading, IRAs and other retirement accounts, managed accounts, college and education savings plans  Brokerage and trading, IRAs and other retirement accounts, college and education savings plans  Brokerage and trading, IRAs and other retirement accounts, managed accounts 
Fees $0 trading commission fees for online trades for stocks and ETFs; other fees vary  $0 trading commission fees on online trades for stocks, ETFs, and Vanguard mutual funds; other fees vary  $0 trading commission fees on online trades for stocks, ETF, and option trades; other fees vary  
Account fees No annual, inactivity, maintenance fees $20 annual fee on most accounts with a balance less than $10,000  No annual fee 
Mobile app Investing app available Investing app available Investing app available 
Customer service 24/7 via phone and app, brick and mortar locations  Reps available via phone 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST weekdays Reps available via phone 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST weekdays 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money do I need to open a Charles Schwab account?

For its brokerage and trading services platform, there are no account minimums.

What is Charles Schwab known for?

Charles Schwab is known for being a full-service brokerage that offers online trading, a variety of retirement accounts, and detailed research and tools for investors. There are no account minimums or maintenance fees and thousands of no-load mutual funds.

What is the minimum deposit for Charles Schwab?

There is no minimum deposit to open an account through Charles Schwab.

Does Schwab have hidden fees?

While there are no account maintenance or opening fees, and no online commission fees on stocks, ETFs, and Schwab’s own mutual funds, there are trading fees for options and non-Schwab mutual funds.

There may be additional fees, such as fund expenses, brokerage commissions, and other account fees. You can take a look at Charles Schwab’s pricing page online to get a full run-down.

How to create a 3-fund portfolio with CHARLES SCHWAB [Using Schwab Index funds and Schwab ETs]

Charles Schwab’s Top Index Funds, ETFs for Retirement

It's possible to build a diversified retirement portfolio with just a handful of low-cost index funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs). The following funds are some of the top choices available from online brokerage Charles Schwab to help you properly allocate your retirement savings. They will give you exposure to U.S. and international stocks and bonds, as well as a few other asset classes.

Index mutual funds and ETFs track an underlying market index and most are passively managed. They typically have lower fees than actively managed funds, making them a popular choice among retirement savers.

Key Takeaways

  • Charles Schwab has a wide range of index funds and ETFs that make it possible to build a diversified retirement portfolio with only a handful of mutual funds.
  • Index funds and ETFs typically have lower fees and commissions.
  • Some of Schwab’s top funds for retirement give investors exposure to U.S. and international stocks, bonds, and real estate.

U.S. Stocks

The Charles Schwab Total Stock Market Index (SWTSX) fund invests in almost the entire U.S. stock market. It has more than 3,000 stock holdings, which gives your portfolio exposure to large, mid, and small-cap stocks with one fund. It has a low expense ratio of 0.03%.

There is also an ETF version of this fund, the Charles Schwab U.S. Broad Market (SCHB). This one is equally cheap, with fees of just 0.03%. 

For exposure to the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., consider the Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund (SWPPX). It tracks the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and has an expense ratio of just 0.02%.

International Stocks

To include international stocks in your portfolio, the Schwab International Index (SWISX) mutual fund invests in large-cap stocks in non-U.S. developed markets and has an expense ratio of 0.06%.

Choosing the right asset allocation for a retirement portfolio includes determining a number of factors, including your risk tolerance and time horizon.

If you are willing to take on more risk, the Schwab Emerging Markets Equity ETF (SCHE) invests in large- and mid-cap emerging markets stocks and has a 0.11% expense ratio.


A well-diversified retirement portfolio should also include bonds. The Schwab U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund (SWAGX) covers 3,000 U.S. government and investment-grade bonds with maturities ranging from short to long term. The expense ratio is only 0.04%. The ETF version is the Schwab U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (SCHZ), which has the same expense ratio.

Other Asset Classes

Finally, Charles Schwab offers an array of specialty funds you can add to your retirement portfolio to fit your investment goals. Investors looking for a real estate play should consider the Fundamental Global Real Estate Index (SFREX). This mutual fund has an expense ratio of 0.390%.

The Schwab U.S. Tips ETF (SCHP), meanwhile, provides exposure to U.S. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, which are inflation-adjusted bonds. It carries an expense ratio of 0.05%.

The Bottom Line

Most top fund companies, Charles Schwab included, have a roster of funds that can provide suitable options for all investors. By using low-cost index funds and ETFs that cover all your asset allocation needs—and working with one provider—saving for retirement can be easier.


Funds schwab ira

Best Roth IRA accounts in October 2021

A Roth IRA offers many benefits to retirement savers, and one of the best places to get this tax-advantaged account is at an online brokerage or robo-advisor. Although a Roth IRA requires the account holder to pay taxes on the money going in, it allows any contributions and earnings to be withdrawn tax-free. This gives workers a chance to contribute to a tax-advantaged account, let the money grow tax-free and never pay taxes again on withdrawals in retirement.

That’s why many experts think the Roth IRA is the ideal retirement account.

Best Roth IRA accounts to open in October 2021:

How a Roth IRA works

A Roth IRA requires you to contribute after-tax savings to the account, rather than pre-tax savings, as with a traditional IRA. Then it allows you to withdraw qualified earnings tax-free at retirement. So you pay taxes today in exchange for keeping your savings and earnings tax-free in the future. That’s one of many ways that a Roth IRA beats a traditional IRA.

It’s best to think of a Roth IRA as a “wrapper” that can go around many types of accounts to protect them from the taxman. Many companies offer a Roth IRA, including banks, brokerages and robo-advisors, and each allows you to make various types of investments.

What you can earn in a Roth IRA all depends on what you’re invested in. At a bank you can invest in CDs, which are safe and insured by the FDIC so that you won’t lose principal (up to $250,000 per depositor, per bank).

At brokerages and robo-advisors, you can invest in assets such as stocks and bonds that can earn much more over time, but aren’t protected and can lose money. While a CD specifies what you’ll earn each year, these other investments can fluctuate, sometimes drastically.

Overview: Top Roth IRA accounts in October 2021:

If you’re looking to maximize your retirement savings, here are several of the best Roth IRA accounts to consider:

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab does it all: great education and training for newer investors, high-caliber tools for active traders, responsive customer service and no trading commissions on stocks and ETFs. Schwab shines all around, and it remains an excellent choice for a Roth IRA.

Schwab charges nothing for stock and ETF trades, while options trades cost $0.65 per contract. And mutual fund investors can find something to love in the broker’s offering of more than 4,000 no-load, no-transaction-fee funds. With no account minimum, it’s even easier to get started.

In addition to a fully featured trading platform called StreetSmart Edge, the broker offers mobile trading as well as a more basic platform. More advanced investors should find the array of research — from Credit Suisse, Morningstar, Market Edge and more — helpful, too

Read Bankrate’s Charles Schwab review.


Wealthfront is one of the top independent robo-advisors, and it brings a lot to the table for investors looking for someone to do the investing work for them. Wealthfront picks your investments based on your risk tolerance and time until retirement. All you’ll need to do is add money to the account.

Wealthfront chooses from investments in 11 asset classes, giving you a wide assortment of funds and increasing its diversification, which can reduce your risk. Besides picking your investments, Wealthfront also brings some serious tools, including a robust financial planner that can help you track all your assets in one place.

The management fee for Wealthfront is a reasonable 0.25 percent, right in line with the industry standard. If you want to hold cash outside your IRA (or amass cash waiting to go into it), you can also quickly open a “do anything” cash management account – with a debit card, competitive interest rates and early access to your paycheck – at no additional cost or monthly fee.

Read Bankrate’s Wealthfront review.


If you’re looking to have someone else do the investing and portfolio management for you, Betterment is an excellent choice. Betterment is a robo-advisor that does all the heavy lifting — selecting the appropriate investments, diversifying the portfolio and allocating funds — so that you can focus on something else. And it does that at a reasonable cost, too.

Betterment is one of the oldest and largest robo-advisors, and the company offers two tiers of service: Digital and Premium. In either case, Betterment will craft your portfolio based on your risk tolerance, time horizon and goals so that your portfolio meets the needs of your financial life.

Betterment Digital manages your investments from a selection of about a dozen exchange-traded funds and charges just 0.25 percent of your assets annually. You’ll get automatic rebalancing, so that your portfolio stays in line with its target allocation, automated tax-loss harvesting (which applies only to taxable accounts) and access to financial advisors via in-app messaging.

If you want the Premium package, you’ll need at least $100,000 in your account and will pay 0.4 percent in fees, but you’ll receive unlimited access to a team of certified financial planners.

Read Bankrate’s Betterment review.

Fidelity Investments

With its clean layout, helpful customer representatives, lack of commissions and all-around low fees, Fidelity is an excellent broker for beginning investors or those opening their first Roth IRA. Fidelity also features a well-developed educational section, which is great for customers who are new to the new investing game and want to get up to speed quickly.

Those investors opening their first Roth will appreciate how Fidelity makes it easy to invest, down to the little details like the layout of its web pages. It’s easy to place an order or find information.

Fidelity also takes a customer-first approach with its fees. The broker has slashed nearly all its fees, including pricey transfer fees. It also chopped fees on its mutual funds, becoming the first broker to bring the expense ratio of mutual funds to zero (for a handful of its own funds).

When you’re ready to advance, Fidelity can also provide research, offering reports from nearly 20 providers. You get all this for zero commission, too.

Read Bankrate’s Fidelity review.

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers does everything that traders and professionals need, and does it at high quality. It excels at global trading and reach, speedy execution and its advanced trading platforms. In short, Interactive Brokers is great for advanced traders.

Interactive Brokers might be best known for its $1 commissions on trades up to 200 shares, and the broker charges a half-cent per share for additional shares. If you’re rifling through shares as an active trader, though, you may appreciate the broker’s volume-based discounts. Options pricing has no base commission and a per-contract fee of 65 cents, making it highly competitive.

Interactive Brokers also does surprisingly well on mutual funds, offering more than 4,100 without a transaction fee, and you can also trade about 50 different ETFs commission-free. In addition, the company offers a “lite” version of its service, which charges no commissions on stocks or ETFs and has no account minimum, competing effectively against Schwab and Fidelity.

At Interactive Brokers, you can trade almost anything that trades on a public exchange: stocks, bonds, futures, metals and more. Plus, you can access virtually any world market to make a trade, so the investing world is really at your fingertips. Altogether, these attributes make Interactive Brokers the best for active traders.

Read Bankrate’s Interactive Brokers review.


Fundrise is a relatively new player on the scene, and it’s known for getting investors access to real estate. Real estate is a popular investment, and because it tends to pay cash dividends, it can be a smart investment inside a Roth IRA, where dividends are earned tax-free. Fundrise won’t be a good choice for all investors, but for those looking for this niche, it could be a snug fit.

Fundrise creates real estate investment trusts, or REITs, using investors’ money to buy real estate or mortgages. It also offers a more speculative set of funds that use investors’ money to develop residential real estate. These investments tend to offer sizable dividends and some opportunity for appreciation over time. Like many alternative investments, Fundrise’s offerings require you to lock in your money for years, though you may be able to get it out with a penalty.

Fundrise’s returns have been solid so far, earning an average of 10.1 percent annually since 2014, compared to the 10 percent average annual return of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index over long periods. And it’s relatively easy to get started with an account minimum of $500.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

If you’re a fan of Schwab’s investor-friendly street cred but don’t want to invest your Roth IRA yourself, consider its robo-advisor: Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. This service will create a portfolio based on your financial needs, including when you want the money and how much risk you want to take.

One of the biggest positives of Schwab’s robo-advisor is its management cost: zero. That’s right, you won’t pay Schwab anything for managing your account, but you’ll still have to pay for the funds that you’re invested in, as you would anywhere. Schwab invests your money in its in-house funds, and these funds remain some of the market’s cheapest. So you’re putting the relatively low Roth annual maximum contribution into nearly full effect.

Schwab’s base service does not offer human advice, but you can upgrade to its premium tier and receive unlimited access to certified financial planners, if you need their help for those less-routine tasks. The cost for this upgrade is reasonable for what you’re getting: $30 a month, and a one-time $300 setup fee.

Perhaps the key downside for potential customers: Schwab requires a $5,000 minimum deposit to get started in the base service, though admittedly that’s less than one year’s maximum IRA contribution. If you want the premium tier, you’ll need $25,000 to get going.

Read Bankrate’s full review of Schwab Intelligent Portfolios.


Vanguard is great for investors who are looking to minimize costs, especially if they’re long-term buy-and-hold stock investors. Vanguard has long been known for its low-cost mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, and it’s expanded that reputation into its brokerage, too.

Vanguard was founded on the principle of helping investors take advantage of the stock market in a low-cost way. So not only does the broker offer zero commissions on stock and ETF trades, it also provides more than 3,400 mutual funds without a transaction fee.

The brokerage adds to its reputation with education and planning tools. Investors will find videos, podcasts and articles that provide market commentary and help them make sound investment decisions. You’ll find tools to help you plan for retirement as well as for college and other financial goals.

Read Bankrate’s Vanguard review.

Merrill Edge

Merrill Edge is the web-based broker from the storied and well-regarded Merrill, now owned by Bank of America. Merrill Edge is a great fit for those who already have an account at the bank. And for those who need customer service in person, it might be just what they need.

Merrill is a solid, full-service broker that does a lot right. It provides deep research from the broker’s large team of analysts, and it offers solid educational resources for new investors looking to get up to speed.

But where it really out-distances the competition is its ability to provide in-person assistance to clients. If you’re near one of more than 2,500 Bank of America locations offering the service, you can access customer support right at the bank. If you need a more personalized financial plan, Merrill’s team can also manage that.

Merrill is a great fit for current Bank of America customers, because your accounts are integrated on one platform, and you can access it all from the bank’s site.

Read Bankrate’s Merrill Edge review.

How much do you need to open a Roth IRA?

It doesn’t take a lot to get started with a Roth IRA. But every bank, brokerage and robo-advisor has its own requirements. However, it’s usually not difficult to find one that will allow you to open an account with no money.

While minimums aren’t a problem, one of the most important parts is not contributing too much. Investors need to be aware what the annual maximum contribution is and not go over it. For tax year 2021, you can contribute $6,000 to a Roth IRA (or $7,000 for those age 50 or older) as long as your income doesn’t exceed a certain amount. The maximum amount is tied to inflation and grows over time, so you’ll need to watch for changes.

One thing you won’t have to worry about, however, is having too many Roth IRA accounts. You’re allowed to have as many as you like, but you may not contribute more than the annual maximum. If you have three Roth accounts, you can divide that annual maximum among the accounts in any way you see fit.

The Roth IRA is a powerful retirement tool, and so it’s important that you pick the Roth IRA provider that’s going to give you the best results. Here are the best Roth IRAs to open.

Learn more:

Schwab vs Fidelity vs Vanguard (DETAILED REVIEW)


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