Both Fidelity and T Rowe Price are both large investment houses that have been in business more than 75 years. Fidelity has a wide range of brokerage product offerings to satisfy their 26 million retail accounts, including equities, fixed income, and mutual funds, and actively courts online traders. While T Rowe Price offers many of the same products, its primary focus is long-term focused investing through their proprietary mutual fund products. Neither platform supports crypto currency, futures, or commodity trading.
Although their offerings are comparable, there are some key differences between these brokers. We’ll look at these differences to help you determine which broker is best for your investing and trading needs.
- Account Minimum: $0
- Fees: $0 for stock/ETF trades, $0 plus $0.65/contract for options trade
- Account Minimum: $2,500 ($1,000 for IRAs)
- Fees: No commission online or by mobile app, accounts with smaller balances pay more for options and broker assisted trades
- Best for: Those looking for full-service wealth management
We found the Fidelity platform easier and more intuitive to use than T. Rowe Price. In part, this is because T. Rowe Price has a two-tiered process that initially brings you to the T. Rowe Price homepage that shows balances for T. Rowe Price mutual funds, but then to Pershing’s platform for non-mutual fund brokerage. Aside from that confusion, Fidelity’s menus and overall navigation is simpler and easier to use. T. Rowe Price required additional navigation to find certain tools that are easier to find on the Fidelity platform. Fidelity also has a robust search function that provides an alternative to working through sub-menus.
Fidelity segments many of its more advanced features and functions into Active Trader Pro, the downloadable trading platform. This segmentation of platforms works much better than T. Rowe Price’s split functions, as it allows Fidelity to optimize the web platform for basic users and a streaming platform for advanced investors and traders, leaving the investor to decide which is the better fit. Most investors will find Fidelity easier to use than T. Rowe Price regardless of which of Fidelity’s platforms they choose.
Desktop Trade Experience
Fidelity and T. Rowe Price both have static updating on their web platforms, not streaming quotes. Fidelity does offer the ability to view a watch list in streaming time. Both web-based platforms operated at a comparable level. Fidelity also offers a customizable desktop workstation that provides streaming quotes and offers the ability to enter conditional orders and multi-leg options strategies. T. Rowe Price only allows for two leg options and basic orders including limit and stop orders. Fidelity’s desktop workstation, unlike the T. Rowe Price website, also supports setting up trade defaults for order entry, the ability to stage orders for later, and place basket trades. When it comes to desktop trading, Active Trader Pro gives Fidelity a large advantage over T. Rowe Price.
Mobile Trade Experience
Fidelity’s mobile platform is comprehensive, offering similar functionality to the desktop application. That said, we should note that the app doesn’t have access to fixed income trading. In contrast, T. Rowe Price’s mobile platform continues to show similar limitations seen on its website, including an inability to enter orders beyond limit orders. The T. Rowe Price mobile app was also a bit confusing because of the two platform issues between mutual funds and the non-mutual fund brokerage. There are inconsistent menus for these platforms within the T. Rowe Price app, making navigation more challenging than it should be. Fidelity is the clear winner when it comes to both the desktop and the mobile trade experience.
Range of Offerings
While many of the product offerings at Fidelity and T. Rowe Price are similar, Fidelity offers trading in complex options strategies up to four legs, while you can only trade two leg options strategies at T. Rowe Price. Also, Fidelity offers trading in many more countries than T. Rowe Price.
|Fidelity vs. T. Rowe Price Range of Offerings|
|Asset||Fidelity||T. Rowe Price|
|No-Load, No-Fee Mutual Funds||3,457||3,500|
|OTCBB and Penny Stocks||Yes||Yes|
Both Fidelity and T. Rowe Price support basic order entry, limit, and stop orders, but Fidelity offers five types of conditional orders on their website, while T. Rowe Price does not offer any conditional orders. Fidelity supports trading in butterfly and condor options strategies not available on T Rowe Price platforms. Here again, Fidelity has a significant edge over T. Rowe Price, making it the clear choice if you are going to be using anything beyond the basic limit and stop orders.
Fidelity has a robust infrastructure for order routing called Fidelity Dynamic Liquidity Management that looks to multiple sources to offer the best buy and sell prices to earn their payment for order flow that earns price improvement on 86% of trades received with an average net price improvement of $0.0116 per equity share. T. Rowe Price, in contrast, clears through Pershing, whose website only speaks about their obligation to provide the most favorable terms for their clients, without specific information on order improvement and execution. Fidelity has been more transparent about their trading technology and the price improvement, so we are giving them the edge here as well.
There is a substantial difference in costs between Fidelity and T. Rowe Price, even though they both offer commission free online trading of equities and ETFs. Fidelity charges significantly less for options trades than T. Rowe Price. Options trades are $0.65 per contract at Fidelity and $9.95 + $1 per contract for accounts with at least $250,000 in the account at T. Rowe Price, and $19.95 + $1 per contract for smaller accounts. This means a trade involving 50 options contracts would cost $32.50 at Fidelity and $59.95 or $69.95 at T. Rowe Price, depending on your account size at T. Rowe Price. When it comes to fixed income, Fidelity charges $1 per $1,000 bond, while T. Rowe Price charges $1 per $1,000 bond for US Treasury and Agency issues, but $5 per $1,000 bond for corporate and municipal bonds.
A comparison of margin rates yielded mixed results, with Fidelity charging 8.325% for a $10,000 balance and 6.825% for account with $100,000, and just 4% for accounts of $1 million or more, while T. Rowe Price charges 7.875% for a $10,000 account and 6.375% for accounts above $50,000 with no further break points. T. Rowe Price charges $35 for mutual funds outside of the no-transaction mutual fund program, while Fidelity charges $49.95 and $75 for some mutual fund families. Finally, T. Rowe Price charges a $30 account maintenance fee for customer accounts without a high account balance or $50,000 in T. Rowe Price mutual funds, while Fidelity does not charge account maintenance fees. All in all, investors are getting a better deal at Fidelity than T. Rowe Price.
Account and Research Amenities
Both T. Rowe Price and Fidelity have screening tools for stocks, ETFs, and fixed income that all work well, but Fidelity’s screeners are better. Fidelity’s screeners allow users to choose different themes such as market cap, fixed income, and socially responsible investing. T. Rowe Price brokerage platform screeners do include socially responsible investing, which has gained in popularity. When searching ETFs at Fidelity, you can type a symbol to find ETFs that contain that stock. Fidelity also has an options screener to search for options that has nearly 200 individual criteria for the search.
While Fidelity offers third party research, T. Rowe Price only offers its own proprietary research to its customers. Fidelity also has a trade idea generator, while T. Rowe Price does not. Fidelity has above average charting available on its website and desktop platform, although the mobile app charting is limited. Overall, T. Rowe Price charting tools are weaker, with useful—but more basic—studies and no drawing tools. When it comes to account and research amenities, Fidelity once again has a significant edge.
While T. Rowe Price offers a number of helpful tools on its mutual fund platform, we found their brokerage platform offering of tools and calculators to be sparse. T. Rowe Price’s limitations are particularly noticeable compared to Fidelity’s robust set of calculators and tools that help you with just about any financial reporting need you can imagine. Fidelity provides you with more nuanced views of your portfolio performance and also is able to consolidate all your outside accounts to help track the major indicators like net worth over time. Fidelity’s portfolio analysis is much more comprehensive than T. Rowe Price’s offering.
The T. Rowe Price brokerage platform provides information on the brokerage platform, investing and asset allocation basics, and a helpful glossary of investment terms, but they do not provide in-depth educational tools. This contrasts significantly with Fidelity’s very strong educational offerings that are helpful for beginners and advanced investors and traders. Fidelity’s learning center includes articles, videos, webinars, infographics, and even interactive sessions with a trading strategy desk to ask professionals trading related questions. Fidelity has a significant advantage when it comes to attracting investors who want more educational resources from their broker.
Customer support by phone is available at Fidelity 24/7, while T. Rowe Price’s phone hours are 8am to 8pm EST. While Fidelity and T. Rowe Price both provide access to a live broker, only Fidelity offers live chat with a customer support representative, which is available on all of their platforms. If customer service is an important criteria for you, Fidelity is the better choice.
Both T Rowe Price and Fidelity have dual-factor authentication for their brokerage platforms and biometric/fingerprint logon for their apps. Neither of the two brokers has suffered substantial outages or data breaches in recent years. When it comes to security, both brokers score well.
For all but long-term mutual fund traders, Fidelity’s platforms and overall offering are simply better than T. Rowe Price on nearly every level, including Fidelity having more robust platforms with more competitive commissions. This is especially true for options trading. Moreover, Fidelity offers better stock/ETF screeners, better analytics, better reporting, and better investing tools than T. Rowe Price’s platforms.
In the rough and tumble world of online brokerage, T. Rowe Price is bringing a knife to a gunfight if they are looking to expand their customer base to more active traders and investors.
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