Today, Investors can trade shares of U.S. stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and options with Fidelity Investments’ Fidelity Account for no commission fees. In addition, the Fidelity mobile app allows investors to trade fractional shares.
A Fidelity account stands out for its low fees and variety of investment options. Broker-assisted trades are costly, but otherwise, the brokerage has a few downsides. This Fidelity review is here to help you decide whether to use Fidelity.
With its diverse investment options and competitive pricing, Fidelity may appeal to beginning and experienced investors.
- An established brand with full-service brokerage capabilities
- Investors of all types have a wide range of options
- Fees/commissions are low or nonexistent on most products
Who does Fidelity serve, and what it offers?
A full-service online brokerage, Fidelity offers a wide range of investment products, including stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, options, and precious metals. It is possible to open a joint or individual brokerage account with Fidelity for beginners and more experienced investors. Additionally, you may open a Solo (401)k or IRA for retirement savings through Fidelity.
Other things that set Fidelity apart from other online brokerage companies include fractional share trading; not all online brokerages offer the option. On the other hand, cryptocurrency and futures trading isn’t among the investment options provided by Fidelity. In addition, executing a trade requires the help of a broker, which means paying an extra fee.
- Options for all types of investments:
The range of investment options that Fidelity offers, including Fidelity and non-Fidelity funds, makes it relatively easy to build a diversified portfolio.
- Traders with low costs:
Online trades of U.S. stocks, ETFs, and options are conducted with no commission fee by Fidelity, like many other brokerages.
- Minimum balance is not required:
Unlike some brokerage companies, there is no minimum deposit required to open an account with Fidelity.
- A wide range of research tools:
Fidelity generously provides research and analytical tools to investors to make informed investment decisions.
- Trades facilitated by brokers will cost you:
There will be an additional fee for obtaining broker assistance in executing a trade.
- Neither crypto nor futures:
If you plan to trade cryptocurrency or futures, you will have to look elsewhere.
- Fees for mutual funds are high:
The trading fees associated with non-Fidelity funds can be steep.
- Initial withdrawal period:
The opening and funding of Fidelity accounts online can take just a few minutes, but your bank information must be verified for withdrawals after ten business days.
How Does Fidelity’s Fee-Free Fund Work?
Free money management can seem quite enticing, but many of us are frightened by the possibility of hidden fine print — and of the manager somehow swiping money from our pockets to theirs. Fidelity isn’t usually a field that attracts people who want to work for free.
Its new ZERO funds offer an industry-leading expense ratio of exactly 0.00%. So Fidelity wants to work for you without charging you anything.
Where’s the catch?
The prospectus appears to be all right, from what I can see. These funds are the equivalent of a Black Friday doorbuster. Its goal is to entice you to open an account and use its other products and services for which it makes money.
This fund and the Fidelity ZERO International Index Fund are pretty straightforward. But, first, retail investors need to own a brokerage account with Fidelity and purchase shares through that account. (Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs, HSAs, and stock plan services account all qualify.)
Fidelity’s ZERO index funds are accessible to anyone who does not handle money on behalf of others and does not have a lot of money. That is about as simple and fair as fine financial print gets.
How can Fidelity make money with its ZERO mutual fund strategy?
A mutual fund costs a lot to operate. However, the cost of managing 505 mutual funds isn’t much more expensive than running 504 mutual funds, especially if the 505th fund is an index fund. Moreover, the company has already put in place the infrastructure to handle another (or a million) customer since it is one of the largest asset managers in the world.
Fidelity will have a third-party subadvisor, Geode Capital Management, managing its index funds as the subadvisor. A fee of 0.0525% will be collected annually from Geode for the international fund and 0.0125% for the total market fund, based on the value of assets under management.
Of course, the funds will be offered at zero expense ratios, keeping with Fidelity’s promise to provide them. The $5.25 fee you will pay for the Fidelity ZERO International Index Fund will be delivered from Fidelity’s pocket, not yours. For example, if you invest $10,000 in the fund, your proportion of fees (all of it) will be paid by Fidelity.
Does “free” really matter?
This is the first time Fidelity has announced an expense ratio of 0%, though they aren’t the first funds to have an effective expense ratio of 0%. The iShares Russell 2000 ETF, for example, had a combined expense ratio of 0% last year. The fund made $79.6 million in securities lending revenues, covering all costs by lending out many of the small-cap stocks it owned to short-sellers.
The iShares ETF may have had a stated expense ratio of 0.19% per year, but it had a negative return on investment. Many investors, many of whom would not usually bother with securities loans, actually made money. It has a negative effective expense ratio, characteristic of many ETFs and index funds.
Your overpaid fund manager may cause you to delay retirement by pushing up your fund fees to 1.5% per year if you’re currently paying 1.5% in fund fees per year. No evidence switching from a low-cost fund to a no-cost one will significantly improve your financial situation, given that so many funds have expense ratios of 0.10% or less.
The Fidelity funds do have some fine print that shouldn’t concern you. However, there’s no reason to consider a free fund inherently better than a low-cost index fund since the difference in index fund charges is so tiny.
Fidelity user experience
You can quickly move between different pages of Fidelity’s website if you’re familiar with its layout and website design. However, if you don’t know where one page of Fidelity’s website leads, you may get lost. On the other hand, it is easier to navigate through the various screens and tabs of the mobile app.
Fidelity offers phone support, live chat, and secure messaging for customer service. You can reach Fidelity Support by phone, and you can also use live chat, but it might take time to call someone. We were positioned at number 24 in line when we attempted to get in.
Our customer support agent was also available promptly with less than a minute hold time. The hold time likely depends on the volume of calls when the call was made. On the phone, we spoke with a knowledgeable customer service representative who answered all of our questions, including asking about minimum deposits and how to withdraw money from a brokerage account.
Fidelity investor education
To assist investors in preparing their portfolio strategies, Fidelity Learning Center provides many educational resources. These include:
You can take advantage of Live Webinars, On-Demand Webinars, Fidelity classes for Beginning Investors, Interactive Coaching sessions, Investment guides, and Articles.
Fidelity offers excellent tools to help you make informed decisions, unlike some online brokerages that take a bare-bones approach to investor education. The Fidelity customer’s access to these tools is free, which is great if they haven’t yet implemented a dedicated financial advisor because they cannot or don’t want to pay fees.
- SIPC coverage
- Online security
- Customer protection guarantee
FIDIC covers all Fidelity brokerage accounts, including money market funds and securities. In addition, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) protects investors in the event of brokerage failure. A maximum of $500k is covered, plus an additional $250,000 for cash held inside your brokerage account.
Several strategies are employed by Fidelity to protect client accounts online. For example, Fidelity My Voice offers voice recognition through two-factor authentication for account access and verification, locking tabs to prevent money transfers, and security alerts via SMS when accessing your invoice by phone.
Customer protection guarantee
Fidelity offers its customers the Customer Protection Guarantee as a way to reimburse investors for losses caused by unauthorized account activity. This guarantee covers both cash and securities held in Fidelity brokerage accounts. Fidelity provides this coverage automatically; however, to take advantage of it, you must notify Fidelity as soon as you become aware of any suspicious or unauthorized activity.