Schwab Intelligent Income vs. an Annuity: Which Is Better?

True, Charles Schwab’s program offers flexible income options for retirees, but when you run the numbers, a good old-fashioned immediate annuity produces more guaranteed lifetime income. Here’s a head-to-head comparison.

A small piggy bank stands nose-to-nose with a larger one.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Most people worry about running out of money in retirement. In response, Charles Schwab launched Schwab Intelligent Income™ in 2020. The program promises monthly income from a regularly rebalanced portfolio of diversified ETFs plus a cash account. Participants pay no commissions or advisory fees. This is the newest strategy to generate retirement income.

In contrast, the income annuity is a strategy that has been around a long time. It provides a guaranteed income for a lifetime or a fixed term. An income annuity can offer deferred or immediate payments.

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Ken Nuss
CEO / Founder, AnnuityAdvantage

Retirement-income expert Ken Nuss is the founder and CEO of AnnuityAdvantage, a leading online provider of fixed-rate, fixed-indexed and immediate-income annuities. Interest rates from dozens of insurers are constantly updated on its website. He launched the AnnuityAdvantage website in 1999 to help people looking for their best options in principal-protected annuities. More information is available from the Medford, Oregon, based company at or (800) 239-0356.