Frequently asked questions
Stocks, Options, and Margin
Can I trade OTC Bulletin Board stocks (penny stocks) at E*TRADE?
Yes, you can trade OTC Bulletin Board stocks (also referred to as Pink Sheet or penny stocks) in your brokerage account. Typically these stocks — securities not specifically authorized to trade on the automated system offered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) — are either lower-priced securities or ADRs (American Depository Receipts) and are thinly traded. As a result, buy orders for bulletin board stocks must be placed as limit orders.
Note: E*TRADE Securities can't guarantee the accuracy of any quotation information on our site for these securities. You can usually place bulletin board trades on your own using our online system. However, sometimes the information you need may not be available for some thinly traded stocks. You may find it easier to get a current quote or place an order through one of our brokers over the phone by calling 800-387-2331. You may not sell short, buy or sell mutual funds, or trade stocks with a market value of less than $10 per share until seven business days after your account application is approved. All customers will be charged an additional $25 for Broker-Assisted trades.
What is options trading & how do I trade options?
An option is a contract to buy or sell a specific financial product officially known as the options' underlying instrument or underlying interest. To get started trading options, you need to first upgrade to an options-enabled account. Or if you haven't yet opened an E*TRADE brokerage account, get started now.
Important Note: Options transactions are intended for sophisticated investors and are complex, carry a high degree of risk, and are not suitable for all investors. For more information, please read the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options prior to applying for an account. An options investor may lose the entire amount of their investment in a relatively short period of time.
Can I trade on margin with an E*TRADE account?
Yes. Once you are approved for margin trading you can borrow against the assets in your brokerage account. When you borrow on margin, you pay interest on the loan until it is repaid. E*TRADE Securities offers some of the most competitive margin interest rates in the industry. The minimum balance required for a margin account is $2,000.
What happens when/if I receive a margin call?
Margin calls may be triggered by market fluctuations, maintenance requirement changes, option exercises and assignments, interest charges, or other events. You may hold other offsetting positions, which may alleviate a margin call. Margin call due dates vary by situation, but may need to be resolved immediately, by depositing funds, depositing securities, or liquidating a position. Please note, the firm can sell your securities without contacting you.
View maintenance margin requirements. (log on required)
ETFs & Mutual Funds
What is an ETF?
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are baskets of stocks or other securities designed to track a market, industry, or trading strategy. This means an index ETF attempts to match, not outperform, the market.
Does E*TRADE offer exchange-traded funds (ETFs)?
Yes. E*TRADE offers nearly every exchange-traded fund sold, that you can buy and sell without paying trading commissions. Learn more about ETFs.
Note: The fund's prospectus contains its investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information and should be read and considered carefully before investing. For a current fund prospectus, visit the Exchange-Traded Fund Center at etrade.com/etf.
Can I invest in mutual funds at E*TRADE?
Yes. E*TRADE offers more than 6,500 leading mutual funds, including 4,000+ no-load, no-transaction fee funds. Learn more about mutual funds.
Note: The fund's prospectus contains its investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information and should be read and considered carefully before investing. For a current mutual fund prospectus, visit the Mutual Fund Center at etrade.com/mutualfunds
Why do I need a margin enabled brokerage or IRA account to trade futures?
E*TRADE takes the protection of your assets very seriously. In order to ensure we are providing our customers with available financial safeguards, the Firm will only keep assets in the Futures account that are needed to satisfy the margin requirement of an existing futures position. Funds not required for futures margin will be automatically moved back to your linked brokerage or IRA account where they are given SIPC or FDIC insurance.
How does funding an Automated Money Movement work in my futures account?
If your linked margin brokerage account already has sufficient funds, there is no need to make additional transfers to separately fund futures trading. The minimum margin requirement for futures positions held overnight will be automatically transferred to your E*TRADE futures account, including commission and fees, and any deficiency funds required to satisfy margin calls. Conversely, any excess margin and available cash will be automatically transferred back to your margin brokerage account where SIPC protection is available.
Please note: The above applies only to linked margin brokerage accounts at E*TRADE. For unlinked E*TRADE accounts, there is no automatic transfer of minimum margin requirements or deficiency funding. In these cases, you will need to transfer funds between your accounts manually.
Is there a minimum funding requirement for futures?
There is no minimum funding requirement for futures.
What are the commissions for futures?
What futures markets can I trade?
CME Group, ICE U.S. and CFE listed products, as well as their options accordingly (at a 6 month out range).
What are the margin requirements to trade futures?
If a futures position is held overnight, customers must margin their futures account with 100% of exchange minimum margin requirements. Futures account intraday margining for all products except Bitcoin is 50% of initial margin requirements. These requirements can be increased at any time.
Eligible futures IRAs are set to 200% of initial requirements, and minimum equity is $25k at all times.7
Where do I find the margin requirements for futures products?
Are there any fees to receive live quotes for futures?
E*TRADE currently absorbs all CME Group and CFE quote fees for non-professional clients. ICE U.S market data fees are passed through to clients.
Who is the clearing firm E*TRADE uses for futures?
Wedbush Securities, Inc.
What is bitcoin and cryptocurrency?
Bitcoin is what is known as a cryptocurrency—a digital currency secured through cryptography, or codes that cannot be read without a key. Bitcoin is the most popular of several cryptocurrencies.
What is an IPO?
An IPO, or initial public offering, is the process by which a company lists and offers its shares for sale to the public.
How can I see which IPOs are currently available through E*TRADE?
To see current IPOs:
- Log onto your E*TRADE Securities account at etrade.com
- Hover over 'Trade'
- Select 'IPOs & Other New Issues'
- Select the 'Equity Offerings' tab to see the list of available offerings
- To learn more about an offering and view the preliminary prospectus, select the company name
Who can participate in an IPO?
There are certain regulatory restrictions as to which customers may participate in an IPO. For example, FINRA rules prohibit "restricted persons" (certain persons associated with the financial services industry) from participating in the purchase of new issue offerings. However, any eligible customer who completes and passes an investor profile may submit a conditional offer to buy for an IPO.
What are the participation criteria and eligibility requirements?
To apply to participate in an IPO, customers need to meet the following initial criteria:
- Be a U.S. resident
- Have an active E*TRADE Securities account
- Complete the Investor profile questionnaire in order to determine whether or not an account is eligible to participate in a particular offering
Eligible account types
Employees and all other account types are NOT eligible to participate in our equity new issue offerings.
What is an Investor Profile?
The first step in the IPO process is the Investor Profile Questionnaire. Customers will need to complete an Investor Profile for the account through which they would like to participate in an offering. The Investor Profile will determine whether or not an account is eligible for participation in a particular offering based on a number of factors including investment experience, objectives, residency, financial background, and affiliations with the issuing company or other financial institutions. Due to regulatory requirements, all accounts deemed eligible to participate are required to access and acknowledge the prospectus prior to submitting a conditional offer to buy for an offering. The prospectus contains important information about the issuing company and the offering.
E*TRADE will make an exception for a client with visual impairment to complete and submit "offline" (e.g. with the help of the Customer Service team) any and all required materials, documents, etc. related to the new issues process. Eligibility to participate will still be governed by the steps listed above. Further, eligibility does not guarantee that a customer will receive an allocation of shares.