T. Rowe Price is a mutual fund company, and their funds and fund customers are its primary focus. While you can open a brokerage account to trade individual securities, the trading functionality such as order entry and tools like charting are limited compared to other online brokers. These limitations, combined with high trading costs and margin rates, place T. Rowe Price at a disadvantage compared to its competitors in the online brokerage space. That said, long term investors at T. Rowe Price may benefit from knowledgeable and capable investment professionals that can help them with their financial planning needs. We’ll take an in-depth look at T. Rowe Price’s offering and whether it is a good fit for your portfolio.
- T. Rowe Price’s focus is their proprietary mutual funds.
- Overall, T. Rowe Price is best suited to long term growth investors that want a full service experience and good research amenities.
- T. Rowe Price’s online and mobile platforms are weak when compared to what larger rivals offer.
- T. Rowe Prices doesn’t offer to foreign exchange, crypto currencies, or futures, and active traders will further be put off by high trading costs.
Who Is T. Rowe Price For
T. Rowe Price is best for long-term investors that want support in making their portfolio management and investment decisions, including planning for key life-events such as retirement and college costs. Individual and tax-advantaged retirement mutual fund accounts are T. Rowe Price’s primary business, but you can still open a more traditional brokerage account. Higher net-worth individuals preferring a focus on individual stocks or access to separately managed stock accounts may want to look elsewhere. Active traders will definitely look elsewhere as T. Rowe Price has comparatively high trading costs and a platform that will not meet their needs.
Good research and analysis
Automatic cash sweep account
Ability to link outside accounts
Weak trading platforms and amenities such as charting
Higher costs, margin rates, and minimums than competitors
No foreign exchange, crypto currencies, or futures
Cumbersome account opening process
- T. Rowe Price provides customers with professional advice and investment planning that helps to manage their finances for the long-term and adjust for key life events such as college expenses, buying a home, and retirement.
- Solid research and analysis is available to customers through a dedicated T. Rowe Price research department that also performs in-depth analysis for the broker's mutual fund managers.
- T. Rowe Price provides an automatic sweep of excess investor cash into multiple money market funds the customer can choose from. This feature helps to increase overall customer returns, but not all online brokers offer cash sweeps or pay interest on cash balances.
- T. Rowe Price provides that ability to link outside accounts and sync balance information so that customers have a full picture of their financial health at any given time.
- T. Rowe Price does not have strong trading features through their online or mobile platforms. Functionality for order entry, position management, and charting are all very basic offerings compared to other online brokers targeted at investors looking to trade.
- T. Rowe Price's trading costs, margin rates, and account minimums are all relatively higher when compared to competitors in the online brokerage space.
- T. Rowe Price does not have as wide a product offering as many competing online brokers. Futures, foreign exchange, and cryptocurrencies are not available for trading at T. Rowe Price. With a primary focus on long-term growth investing, T. Rowe Price does not appear interested in competing in these markets.
- The account opening process for an individual account was very cumbersome. It required multiple calls, an unnecessary fax, and took more time than expected. An options trading agreement had to be sent through the mail, as customer support indicated that there weren’t online, email, or fax options for submitting the form.
T. Rowe Price's brokerage account doesn't compare favorably with competitors when it comes to usability. The company has a two-tier platform for brokerage accounts, with the log on bringing you to the initial platform that shows mutual fund and brokerage account balances. You can select one of these to see the underlying account option. Choosing the brokerage account opens information for T. Rowe Price brokerage accounts through Pershing, their clearing firm. This dual system, along with differences between stock and mutual fund valuation and settlement, created some temporary differences in balances and asset allocation percentages. During our platform testing, the T. Rowe Price mutual fund balances page was playing catch up with the real-time account information on the brokerage page.
Overall, the T. Rowe Price platform lacks the intuitive design that most online brokers are moving towards. The menus were not consistent between the log on screen and the brokerage platform. Customizable watch lists, for example, are located under the tools menu, meaning most investors will need to search around to find them rather than having them as a persistent widget across platforms.
T. Rowe Price offers a web-based platform and a mobile platform. They do not offer a separate desktop workstation. The website functionality was acceptable, but the technology and web design feel dated. The website brings the brokerage account up in a separate browser window so you can easily navigate between the two platforms (initial log on and brokerage). The T. Rowe Price mutual fund side of the platform allows you to open functionality in separate browser tabs, but the brokerage account side sometimes requires you to navigate away from the base page rather than open a tab. This can be frustrating if your preference is to have more than one tab up at the same time, such as having your current orders page up while also researching stocks in a separate browser tab.
With the mobile app, every action is performed within a single screen. This can result in inadvertently navigating back to the initial screen in a way that requires re-establishing the connection to the brokerage account.
The T. Rowe Price trade experience was sufficient for basic orders, but the overall functionality is limited. Neither of the broker’s platforms allow you to enter contingent orders for stop losses, take profits, or use trailing stops. You can’t place a sell stop order in a cash account if you don’t hold the security in the account, resulting in the trader needing to first be filled on a buy order before placing a stop loss order on the position. These functionalities are available on other platforms.
T. Rowe Price doesn’t allow you to create customized orders using criteria other than price (limit orders), such as volume, percentage moves, and so on. While you can open an order ticket from a chart page, it simply opens a ticket order with the symbol pre-populated, with nothing dynamic about the charting, such as showing current orders on the chart or even drawing tools. Trading in options is also limited, with no ability to enter options strategies that have more than two legs on either platform. Advanced tools for analyzing different options strategies are also absent from T. Rowe Price’s platforms, making it a poor choice for anyone looking to trade options even though the base functionality is there.
Mobile Trade Experience
As with the website, the T. Rowe Price mobile app works fine for basic orders, but contingent orders and complex options strategies are unavailable. The same limitations of needing to wait for fill before entering a stop loss order exist on the mobile platform and the multiple platforms used in the app (mutual fund account and brokerage account) are a bit confusing. The menus are not consistent within the accounts on the app, making navigation harder than it needs to be. As with the web platform, multi-leg options strategies and advanced analytics for options are not available on the mobile app, there is no coordination between orders and charts, and your orders can’t be routed.
Range of Offerings
T. Rowe Price has a wide range of product offerings including, of course, its own mutual funds and ETFs that are all no-load funds. That said, T. Rowe Price also offers mutual funds from many mutual fund families with thousands of no-load, no transaction fee choices, as well as individual stocks, ETFs, and related options. The broker also offers fixed income and certificates of deposit (CDs). T. Rowe Price does not offer futures, crypto currencies, foreign exchange trading, or online fractional share trading (more on that below). Customers at T. Rowe Price can only trade international securities listed on US-based exchanges. Investors using T. Rowe Price can, however, trade the following:
- Stocks long and short
- Listed Options
- Mutual Funds (thousands of funds from T. Rowe Price and hundreds of other fund families)
- Fixed Income (U.S. Treasury, corporates debt, municipals, and U.S. agency debt)
- Fractional Shares (not available online, so this requires using tele-trader or representative-assisted trades requiring commission)
The basic order types, market, limit, stop, and stop limit orders, including limit fill or kill and limit all or none, are available on the platform. As mentioned, however, the website and mobile app do not support combining order types to create contingent orders, such as adding stops and/or profit-taking levels when entering a limit order. Trailing stops are not currently available at T. Rowe Price without using telephone support to enter the order for an additional fee. Options orders are limited to just two leg options strategies on both trading platforms. When selling, there was a dropdown list available in the symbol field showing current holdings, but it did not pre-fill the share amount.
Trading technology at T Rowe Price is weak relative to other online brokerage offerings. Order entry was very basic. There is no ability to enter conditional stop and/or profit taking orders at the same time and no integration of orders into rudimentary charts that lacked drawing tools. There was no automation, backtesting, order routing control, or support for more than two-legged options positions such as condor and butterfly strategies.
Trading costs for traditional brokerage services are high at T Rowe Price. The company also has high minimum balance requirements and margin rates relative to other online brokers. While stock and ETF trading is commission free, the company has other charges. This includes inactivity fees, which are not common in the competitive online brokerage space.
- Stocks and ETFs – No commission online or by mobile app
- Trade by tele-trader or representative is $9.95 per trade for accounts with at least $250,000, and $25 per trade for other accounts; no commission for T. Rowe Price ETFs
- Options – Accounts with at least $250,00 pay $9.95 plus $1 per contract, while accounts with smaller balances pay $19.95 plus $1 per contract. Teletrader rates are 10% less than regular telecharge rates, but with a minimum commission of $35
- Mutual Funds (non-T. Rowe Price funds) – No charge for no-transaction fee funds, and $35 charge for transaction fee funds
- Short Term Trading Fees:
- Non – T. Rowe Price Funds: short term trading fees apply for no-load and certain load, no-transaction-fee fund shares held for less than six months. The fee is the greater of $50 or 1%, max $250. These fees are in addition to redemption fees the fund may charge
- T. Rowe Price does not charge short-term trading fees, but future purchases may be restricted for those violating the T. Rowe Price excessive trading policy.
- T. Rowe Price fund investment minimums
- Brokerage Account - $5,000 initial investment; $1,000 subsequent investment; $100 systematic investment and redemptions
- Brokerage IRA Account - $1,000 initial investment; $500 subsequent investment; $100 systematic investment and redemptions
- Bonds and CDs
- Treasury Auctions and Treasury Bills - $50
- Agencies (FNMA, FHLMC), TIPS, Treasury and Coupon Notes and Bonds, and Treasury Zero coupon Bonds - $1 per $1,000 bond
- GNMAs and CMOs – $1 per $1,000 bond (minimum of $25,000)
- Corporate Bonds - $5 per $1,000 bond
- Municipal Bonds - $5 per $1,000 bond
- CDs purchased at par ($1,000) – minimums vary by issue
- Account Maintenance Fee - $30, waived for brokerage customers with $50,000 or more in T. Rowe Price mutual funds or ETFs, accounts with high balances, and those subject to their $40 cash management service fee
- Margin rates are based on account size, by breakpoint: Under $10K 1.75% over the Pershing Base Lending Rate (PBLR); $30K 1.25% over PBLR; $50K 0. 75% over PBLR; >50K 0.25% over PBLR. The PBLR was 6.125% on June 2, 2021
How this Broker Makes Money from and for You
T. Rowe Price has also joined the trend of offering no commission stock and ETF trading and, like others, payment for order flow plays a part. Although T. Rowe Price’s disclosure about order routing pushes responsibility for order routing to their clearing firm, Pershing, clearly there is value to the order flow Pershing receives from T. Rowe Price and Pershing receives payment for order flow for all the orders it routes.
- Price Improvement: T. Rowe Price’s clearing firm, Pershing, is responsible for order execution. Pershing’s website had content discussing how they are obligated to provide the most favorable terms for their clients, but then state that this is very subjective. Pershing then provided an overview about how they route orders to find the best execution relative to trade size, speed of execution, and so on.
- Payment for Order Flow: T. Rowe Price and Pershing may provide adequate execution and price improvement, but there is an inherent conflict of interest because Pershing definitely obtains payment for their order flow. While T. Rowe Price may not receive direct compensation for this order flow, the order flow they do provide to Pershing has benefits that are likely negotiated in T. Rowe Price’s agreement with Pershing as their clearing firm.
- Interest on Cash Balances: T. Rowe Price offsets some of the negative with its handling of customer cash balances. The company has an automatic sweep that invests excess cash in an account into a mutual fund. This results in customers receiving more interest than those with accounts at companies that don’t pay interest on cash balances or only offer bank rates. Of course, T. Rowe Price benefits by having those assets in their funds, so it is a win-win even though short term interest rates are currently quite low. T. Rowe Price makes the process very convenient through the automatic sweep when compared to other brokerage accounts where the customer has to actively place excess cash into a fund or other short term liquid investment.
Account and Research Amenities
T. Rowe Price offers a number of amenities, but their suite of services and tools is not especially impressive. Investors do, however, get access to high-quality T. Rowe Price research when they open an account.
T. Rowe Price offers a stock screener that is straight-forward to use. The stock screener has a variety of predefined screens and an advanced screener that can be used to create a customized search from scratch or via the predefined screen set. The predefined stock searches include value, small cap value, growth, growth at a reasonable price, large cap growth, and high dividend yield. The advanced screener has a variety of filters under multiple categories including market profile and ratings, earnings and dividends, and fundamentals and technicals. The screener is simple compared to the offerings from other online brokers, but it works well.
ETF and Mutual Fund Screeners
The functionality of T. Rowe Price screeners for ETFs and mutual funds is identical to the stock screener, with the pre-defined screens specific to each security type. Again, the functionality is simple but it works well. For ETFs, the pre-defined screens are no transaction fee ETFs, equity funds focusing on value, equity funds focusing on growth, top performing low cost stock funds, low cost bond funds highly rated by Lipper, and general muni bond funds rated highly by Morningstar and have low expenses as rated by Lipper. For ETFs, the advanced screener has various category filters, including profile (net expense ratio, fund classification, asset type, manager tenure, minimum initial investment, and no transaction fee ETFs), performance, risk, holdings, analyst ratings, and technicals.
For mutual funds, the pre-defined screens are no transaction fee, taxable fixed income, global, large cap value, large cap growth, and specialty funds that include alternative asset classes and other strategies. The advanced search functionality and criteria are the same as the ETF screener. For more traditional T. Rowe Price mutual fund customers, there are more robust tools and functionality that can be used in conjunction with risk profile and portfolio building tools. T. Rowe Price funds can also be searched on the website without an account.
T. Rowe Price does not offer an options screener.
Fixed Income Screeners
The fixed income screener on the T. Rowe Price website is launched through a pop-up window that provides a basic search with an advanced search also available. The page shows the weekly economic release calendar, a daily market insight report from ICE Data Services, and a yield curve graph showing maturities from 1 to 15+ years for US Treasuries, corporate, municipal, and agency debt. The basic screener allows you to decide on bond type corresponding to the yield curves, as well as ranges for number of bonds, maturity, coupon, price, and rating. An individual cusip or ticker can also be chosen, as well as the state for municipal bond searches. The screener has a market information section that includes fixed income news, information about investing in bonds, a market strategist section, and information about tax brackets.
Charting features on T. Rowe Price are weak on both the website and the mobile app. While there is a button on charts to open an order ticket, orders do not appear on the chart, there are no drawing tools, and the studies are rudimentary.
Tools and Calculators
T. Rowe Price tools and calculators on the brokerage side were sparse. On the mutual fund side, however, T. Rowe Price offers a number of helpful tools, including a risk profile questionnaire that recommends a portfolio and calculators related to life planning such as retirement, paying for education, and other life events.
Trading Idea Generator
T. Rowe Price does not offer a trading idea generator. They do have robo Investing options for mutual funds, but nothing that suggests specific trade ideas based on a market outlook.
T. Rowe Price offers functional news and market information within its research area, with content from Argus, Dow Jones, FactSet, MTNewswires, Market Research Team, Thompson-Reuters, and Morningstar. On the website, the filter for the news waterfall is a simple toggle for "all headlines'' or "top headlines," and there is no ability to search news. The website also offers company specific news when looking at an individual security, but this feature was not present on the mobile app. You can also look for news from before or after market hours on the website, but not the mobile app. There are pages on both platforms for current market conditions, charting, and news. The events section shows upcoming economic releases, earnings releases, dividends, and splits. There is a market movers section on the primary page, and a tab to show how industries and sectors are performing.
T. Rowe Price offers its own proprietary research and investment insights for all its clients. This gives you access to daily fund prices, a global markets weekly update, a monthly and quarterly market review, and the T. Rowe Price Insights newsletter. Other options for purchasing premium research were not present, although account holders with assets of at least $250,000 get complimentary access to a Morningstar premium membership and Investor Magazine. Accounts with at least $1 million in assets receive complimentary access to The Wall Street Journal Online.
Dividend Reinvestment Program (DRIP)
T. Rowe Price offers its customers a dividend reinvestment program.
T. Rowe Price has an automated cash management program for brokerage accounts that sweeps into or out of a customer-selected money market mutual fund. Funds are taken out and put back in the sweep account as needed to fund other investment activity in the brokerage account. Providing income to account holders and making the sweep work automatically is a nice feature that does not exist with all brokerage companies; some brokers do not offer interest on cash balances as a way to offset the costs of zero commission trading.
SRI/ESG Research Amenities
T. Rowe Price doesn't offer the ability to screen for socially responsible investing (SRI) or environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) in the screening tool for stocks, ETFs, or mutual funds, although the company does sell funds based on that criteria.
T. Rowe Price does not offer too much portfolio analysis for individual accounts. You can’t see a chart of your account compared to major indexes and there are no analytical reports. You can see account composition, both unrealized and realized gains and losses, and projected cash flows, but no analysis. That being said, there are tools to analyze and assist with taxes and the balances displayed are all in real time. Additional analysis can be carried out with a little effort using some of the tools and calculators provided by the broker.
While there is information available on the brokerage platform related to investing basics, the importance of asset allocation, and a glossary of investment terms that is helpful, but there are no in-depth educational tools.
- Customer service available by phone weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. eastern time. Wait times were not too bad during market hours.
- There are professionals available to place trades via telephone for those willing to pay the additional commission.
- An online help center that provides information ranging from account information, login help, account performance, fees and minimums, transactions, statements and other information.
- There is a general info email, but no live chat or chat bot.
Security and Reliability
T. Rowe Price systems are secure and reliable.
- Multi-factor authentication is available.
- There were no reported instances of outages.
- T. Rowe Price has no reported data breaches in the past five years.
- T. Rowe Price also provides excess Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) insurance through policies purchased through Lloyds of London with a per-client limit of $1.9 million on uninvested cash.
T. Rowe Price lists its commissions, fees, and minimums clearly in a fee schedule on the website. Only the T. Rowe Price increase over the Pershing Base Lending Rate was provided on the website, and the base lending rate was not listed. T. Rowe Price offers commission free trading, but rather than disclose that this is provided in part through payment for order flow, they stated that execution was done by Pershing. Whether T. Rowe Price or Pershing, there is payment for order flow on brokerage accounts at T. Rowe Price, but the amount was not disclosed. The information reviewed lacked a detailed outline and illustration about the risks of margin trading, although there is a margin disclosure statement when you search the site as a whole.
T. Rowe Price has an impressive platform for mutual fund investors that is paired with a generic online brokerage. The mutual fund platform provides many helpful financial planning tools for its customers, who also gain access to market research from T. Rowe Price. While this is nice research, it is likely not enough to entice pure brokerage customers to consider T. Rowe Price over other online brokers. The brokerage platform lacks many of the features other online brokers offer, and T. Rowe Price's fees and minimums are higher than many of these same competitors.
Investors primarily utilizing T. Rowe Price for mutual funds may want to add a brokerage account to consolidate all their activity in one place, but those looking for a separate, full featured brokerage account with robust tools will do better elsewhere.
Compare T. Rowe Price
T. Rowe Price can be a great option for those interested in full-service wealth management. See how they compare against other online brokers we reviewed.
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