How Does ETrade Make Money?

ETrade is a well-known zero-commission financial institution in the United States. However, with no trading commissions, how does ETrade make money? Create an account, fund it, and begin trading.

What is ETrade?

eTrade is an online stock brokerage firm that enables investors to buy and sell stocks, mutual funds, and other securities online.

eTrade was one of the first online brokerages and remained one of the most popular. The company is headquartered in New York City.

eTrade’s website is easy to use and provides investors with a wealth of information and resources. The company offers a variety of investment products, including stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs.

eTrade has a strong focus on customer service. The company offers live chat, phone support, and a robust FAQ section.

eTrade is a good choice for investors who are comfortable with technology and who want to have the ability to trade online. The company offers a variety of investment products and has a strong focus on customer service.

How does eTrade work?

eTrade is an online stock brokerage that facilitates the buying and selling stocks and other securities. The company makes money primarily through commissions and fees charged to customers for trades executed.

eTrade is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which protects the securities and cash of customers of member firms up to $500,000 (including $250,000 for claims for cash).

The company offers many other services, including banking, retirement planning, and investing advice. These services are often fee-based.

In addition to the fees it charges customers, eTrade also generates revenue from the interest it earns on the cash balances of customers’ accounts.

When you open an account with eTrade, you deposit money into the account. This money is then used to buy securities you select, such as stocks or mutual funds.

eTrade does not provide investment advice but offers tools and resources to help you make investment decisions.

You can buy and sell securities through eTrade’s website or mobile app. eTrade charges commissions on trades, which are generally lower than those charged by traditional brokerages.

eTrade also offers other services, such as retirement accounts and margin accounts.

How does ETrade Make Money?

eTrade makes money by charging commissions on trades and providing other services, such as retirement and margin accounts. eTrade does not earn interest on the money customers deposit into their accounts.

Instead, eTrade invests this money in securities, such as stocks or mutual funds, on behalf of its customers.

Have you noticed how their advertisements emphasize the importance of “funding your account”?

As a trading and investment platform, you might expect their advertisement to read “trading with us is commission-free,” but that is not the case.

How Does ETrade Make Money

There are three main ways that eTrade makes money:


eTrade charges its users a commission for each trade that they make. The commission is a percentage of the trade value and varies depending on the type of security being traded.

For example, the commission for buying and selling stocks is $6.95 per trade, while the commission for buying and selling mutual funds is $19.95 per trade.


eTrade also charges its users various fees for using its platform. These fees include account maintenance fees, inactivity fees, and withdrawal fees.


eTrade makes money from the interest it earns on the cash its users have deposited in their accounts. The interest rate that eTrade pays its users is variable, and it depends on their account type.

For example, a trade’s standard interest rate for cash balances is 0.05%, while the interest rate for margin accounts is 3.75%.

So, there you have it! These are the three main ways that eTrade makes money.

Etrade earns money from the deposited money, much as banks do. Let’s examine how Etrade earns money from its operations.

ETrade Business Model

E-Trade earns money in two ways: through order flow and interest on the free float. Etrade earns interest on customer funds by investing them in money market funds. Users also profit when Etrade’s margin to buy or sell stocks.

How Does ETrade Make Money

Let’s take a closer look at Etrade’s business, its products, and the pricing structure for each of those products.

What Products and Services Does Etrade Offer?

Etrade generates revenue through various products and services, and its day trading platform for retail investors is only the tip of the iceberg. Let us quickly review the company’s services.

Revenue Model of ETrade

Brokerage Account – This is the platform that Etrade uses to offer retail investors zero-commission US stock trading. Additionally, they offer low-cost trading of futures and options contracts, as well as bonds.

Portfolio Management Service – A service provided to retail and institutional investors with varying risk tolerances. Portfolios can be managed automatically or manually.

Bank Account – E*Trade offers higher-interest savings and checking accounts for individuals, families, and businesses.

Retirement Accounts – ETrade offers retirement (IRA) accounts for tax savings, minors’ savings, and individuals starting their savings at an age greater than 59.5 years old.

How does Etrade profit from money?

They earn interest on the pooled funds by investing them in money market funds.

Now that we know how much money Etrade earns from interest let’s look at how they earn money from commissions.

Trading Commissions

Around 10%-20% of the millions of traders are active. Additionally, active traders trade large and regularly. And a sizable portion trades futures and options, the most lucrative (and riskiest) segment of the stock market.

This 20% of active traders earn twenty times (x20) the revenue they lose by providing free trading (more on that later).

For trading stocks, futures, and bonds, Etrade charges the following fees.

Options fees are $0.65 per option. $0.5 per contract if you trade more than 30 contracts per quarter.

Charges for Futures Trading: $1.50 per futures contract

Bond Trading Fees: $1 per bond, with a minimum of $10 and a maximum of $250.

Etrade commissions and fees on futures and options, as well as bonds

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Since Etrade is more concerned with volume than with premium pricing, the more successful traders in each segment, the higher the commissions created for them.

According to their financial reports, Etrade received $421 million in net commission income in 2019.

How does Etrade generate revenue from fees and service charges? Aren’t you hoping it’s greater than your commission income? Let us investigate.

Charges for services.

Now it’s time to determine the revenue generated by Etrade’s portfolio management, retirement accounts, and other key portfolio services. They receive compensation for these services as well as fees and usage charges.

Do you mind explaining all the charges you will give me here?” First, the fee and charge structures for portfolio management are studied.

Portfolio TypeMinimum InvestmentFee
Core Portfolios$5000.30%
Blend Portfolios$25,0000.35% to 0.75%
Dedicated Portfolios$150,0000.95% to 1.25%
Fixed Income Portfolios$250,0000.35% to 0.75%

Etrade charges $25 for premature withdrawals, excess contribution withdrawals, and recharacterizations of retirement accounts (changing from Roth IRA to Traditional IRA).

Additionally, margin lending charges vary from 5.45 percent to 8.95 percent, depending on the available debit balance at the trading time.

In 2019, Etrade received $588 million in fees and service charges. After examining Etrade’s earnings, let us examine the losses associated with their free offering.

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How much money does Etrade make, and how much does it lose?

Etrade does incur a financial loss for their free bid. However, since nearly 80% of traders are not participating in the markets, they do not suffer a significant loss.

In 2019, Etrade lost $23 million in securities trading fees.

With $421 million in trading fees from active traders, the $23 million in revenue loss is a small price for their business model.

Business Model and Marketing Strategy of ETrade

Etrade’s business model extracts the maximum amount of float possible. Although institutional investors account for a sizable portion of Etrade’s float, they are scarce.

How Does ETrade Make Money

As a result, their marketing strategy is geared toward convincing retail investors to fund their “FREE” trading accounts with them.

Since they provide a relatively low-risk incentive for retailers with $10 minimums, they produce a higher float on retail investments.

Etrade’s business model is very straightforward.

  1. Etrade provides free brokerage and bank accounts to retail investors, reducing the investor’s risk.
  2. Additionally, their advertising focuses on the number of people who finance their investment accounts.
  3. Investors are then upsold on additional trading and saving opportunities, such as automatic index ETF investing fund management software and retirement accounts.
  4. This provides the organization with an additional income stream on an already cash flow-generating collection of accounts.

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ETrade SWOT Analysis

Strength of ETrade

  • Excellent complimentary offering
  • Broad scope
  • Large customer base
  • Can operate with a small staff

Weaknesses of ETrade

  • A service-based offering greatly raises the need for additional personnel (though the use of automation has kept their employee count relatively low for the size of their business.)

ETrade Opportunities

  • Easily expands into new markets
  • Expands outreach to low-income groups 
  • Can be sold as a green company

Threats for ETrade

  1. With the advent of discount brokerages, Etrade competes with firms such as Webull, Aly Invest, and others.

Final Thoughts on Revenue Model of ETrade

That concludes today’s discussion of the Etrade business model! I hope you now understand how Etrade makes money.

Don’t forget to look at the other business models we’ve discussed previously, such as Sodexo, Nearbuy, and MEGA.

Frequently Asked About Questions about ETrade

What are the benefits of using Etrade?

eTrade provides its customers with a convenient and cost-effective way to trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other securities.

It also offers a wide range of resources that customers can use to research and manage their investment portfolios.

What are the risks of using Etrade?

The risks of using Etrade include the potential for losses in the value of investments, the possibility of cyber security breaches, and the potential for disruptions in the operation of the site or mobile app.

What are the fees associated with Etrade?

eTrade charges its customer’s commissions and fees for using its services. These fees vary depending on the account type and activity level.

What is the minimum deposit required to open an account with Etrade?

The minimum deposit required to open an account with Etrade is $500.

Is Etrade a good choice for beginners?

eTrade is a good choice for beginners because it offers a wide range of resources to help them learn about the financial markets and make informed investment decisions. It is also a convenient and cost-effective way to trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other securities.

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