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Brokers that offer free trades every year
Old 01-07-2013, 12:22 PM   #1
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Brokers that offer free trades every year

I was browsing the best brokers topics. I'm looking into WellsTrade since they offer 100 free trades per year with $25k assets to avoid any fees. Vanguard offers free trades but you need $1 mil in Vanguard only assets - that's too steep. Any other places to consider? I'd like to get some suggestions/comments.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:47 PM   #2
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Be careful with WellsTrade/PMA as they will be changing the terms. I believe (but have not read an WF announcement) that come April, they will no longer do the free trade stuff, but everyone before that will be grandfathered in. The minimum is now $50,000 and not $25,000. See Bogleheads • View topic - WellsTrade Changing Its Tune?

WellsTrade/PMA - 100 free trades per account per year including no commissions on many (but not all) Vanguard mutual funds

Vanguard - free trades on Vanguard mutual funds and Vanguard ETFs. You do not need $1million to get these free trades. You do have to have a heartbeat though.

TDAmeritrade - free trades if you sign up and follow the restrictions on about 100 ETFs including the most popular Vanguard ETFs

Fidelity - free ETF trades on about 30 iShares ETFs. Fidelity also lowered the minimums on their Spartan Index funds.

Schwab - free ETF trades on Schwab ETFs

MerrillLynch Edge/BoA - free trades if you keep lots of cash with them

Scottrade - I think they have some free trades, too.

Several brokers are giving cash bonuses or other deal to open new accounts and/or send new money to them.

Basically, if one is paying a commission nowadays, they are paying too much.
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Old 01-07-2013, 01:08 PM   #3
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Lol,
I just talked to vanguard concierge rep (for $1 mil or more) and he stated this requirement to me. No free trades if less than this. He also didn't know about free turbotax for $1 mil or more either. This lack of knowledge surprise me.
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Old 01-07-2013, 01:16 PM   #4
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Be specific: There is a difference between free trades of anything and free trades of Vanguard ETFs and Vanguard mutual funds. Also Vanguard concierge folks seem to only know about Vanguard mutual funds and not Vanguard Brokerage Services which seems to act as an arm-length sibling company.

I can confirm that we have well under $1 million at Vanguard and had unlimited free trades of Vanguard ETFs at VBS.
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Old 01-07-2013, 01:45 PM   #5
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Stock free trades
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:26 PM   #6
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Be careful with WellsTrade/PMA as they will be changing the terms. I believe (but have not read an WF announcement) that come April, they will no longer do the free trade stuff, but everyone before that will be grandfathered in. The minimum is now $50,000 and not $25,000. See Bogleheads • View topic - WellsTrade Changing Its Tune?

WellsTrade/PMA - 100 free trades per account per year including no commissions on many (but not all) Vanguard mutual funds
I called WellsTrade, it's still only $25k in a checking/savings acct to get the 100 free stock trades OR $50k in combined assets total. The other thing I was looking for is Free Wire transfers, and you'd need $1 mil+ and an invitation to get this.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:31 PM   #7
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I wired money once from my WF checking and they forgot to charge me. (And I don't have $1mm at WF.) Also with enough assets, most overseas ATMs are free. They give great exchange rates, too.

WellsTrade/PMA is the cheapest deal going presently. From the linked thread, folks are up in arms about things that won't affect them and the relatively high fee to close an account.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:46 PM   #8
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I wired money once from my WF checking and they forgot to charge me. (And I don't have $1mm at WF.) Also with enough assets, most overseas ATMs are free. They give great exchange rates, too.

WellsTrade/PMA is the cheapest deal going presently. From the linked thread, folks are up in arms about things that won't affect them and the relatively high fee to close an account.
I see the cost is $95 to close out a WF acct. I think TDAmeritrade used to charge $75 in the past, now it's no charge. If another brokerage wants the assets, they'll pay the fee to gain your business/assets. I'm sure it will depend on the amount. Fidelity has routinely volunteered to pay me back for any fees if I move assets to them. I got spoiled getting free wire services from TDAmeritrade, Fidelity and PNC Bank. Now it's almost a necessity to get this service, although I can probably live with ACH. It's rare for companies to charge for ACH.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:58 PM   #9
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Many years ago (before 2000), I opened an account with Ameriprise because they offered 10 free stock trades/month. I do not remember the account minimum, but perhaps it was $25K.

Over the years, they then slowly sneaked in charges, but called it handling fee, of $4/trade. Then, they upped it to $6/trade. Somewhere along the line, they also sneaked in a $10/quarter account maintenance fee. This is for a self-directed brokerage account, and I have never talked to an advisor. I do not recall receiving anything from them when these fees started, but could not be sure as I often not read all the emails sent to me. Or it could be in some fine prints in an account statement that I overlooked. I only discovered them when I tried to balance my account.

I should get off my butt, and transfer my money elsewhere. I still have $200K in this account.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:23 PM   #10
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I think BofA is starting to offer a deal like Wells Fargo's PMA in some markets.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:27 PM   #11
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I think you can drop Scottrade from the list--been there quite a few years and no free stuff that I can recall..
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:15 PM   #12
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The free trades on vanguard ETFs are nice. However, even if I could get free trades elsewhere the fees for non-vanguard etfs/stocks are so low as to be a non-issue for me. Up to 500k assets they are 7$ and between 500k-1M is $2 a trade. It's not worth the trouble of opening another account somewhere else.
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:39 PM   #13
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TDAmeritrade - free trades if you sign up and follow the restrictions on about 100 ETFs including the most popular Vanguard ETFs

MerrillLynch Edge/BoA - free trades if you keep lots of cash with them
Just had an online chat w/TDAmeritrade - offering free stock trades for 60 days, I can't deposit $2k into my existing acct but only if I open up a new acct (silly requirement). Ironic, since this is the brokerage I'm trying to liquidate from. They seem more concerned about getting new accounts vs. keeping existing ones.

MerrillEdge is very similar to WellTrade except they offer more free equity trades, 30 trades/month and the same minimums, only $25k. Their fees seem to be less than WellsTrade.

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It's not worth the trouble of opening another account somewhere else.
Already with Vanguard, but after discussing stock asset transfers to them, they didn't offer me any free trades to liquidate and made it clear I wouldn't qualify for Flagship until I converted the stocks. I see this as having Flagship status w/o getting any Flagship benefits. Vanguard isn't a very good option.

Fidelity may be my end choice, they've always offered me free perks to transfer asset in and the most flexible, but this will increase my holdings from 63% to 89%.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:59 PM   #14
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The differences in details between MerrillEdge and WellsTrade are important. For the former, only cash accounts qualify to meet the minimum. So you need to have $25,000 sitting dead in a CD or MoneyMarket account.

For WT, you can have the money in your favorite emerging markets ETF. You do not need to keep any cash around. But you need to keep a PMA checking account, too. This has been problematic for some folks who like to use a different checking account. For us, WF is the workhouse account with all our life going through it.

If you don't do at least a few transactions a year in your PMA checking, they will close it. And ACH transfer a couple of times does not count towards this. Get the details. OTOH, PMA checking is one of the best checking accounts we have ever had.

As for fees, I don't see how MerrillEdge can be cheaper than free at WF. I have issues with BoA where I had a checking account for 3 weeks that they totally screwed up, so I had to take my business elsewhere.

We have accounts at TDAmeritrade (for 18 years) and last September got a $1,000 bonus when my spouse opened a new IRA with them. We use Vanguard ETFs with them.
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:53 PM   #15
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The details between MerrillEdge and WellsTrade are important. For the former, only cash accounts qualify to meet the minimum. So you need to have $25,000 sitting dead in a CD or MoneyMarket account.

As for fees, I don't see how MerrillEdge can be cheaper than free at WF.
MerrillEdge criteria:
Maintain total combined balances of $25k+ in BofA deposit accts: checking, savings, CDs or IRAs OR $25k+ in cash balances in your Merrill Edge self-directed account(s): Bank Deposit Accounts sweep option w/Cash Mgmt Acct (CMA) or Retirement Assets Savings Pgm (RASP) sweep with IRA OR Qualify for the Platinum Privileges® program, which requires that you have an active Bank of America personal checking acct and maintain at least $50k combined balance in BofA deposit accts and/or your Merrill Edge brokerage accts.

As far as fees, I was doing a comparison of all fees between the two, Merrilledge had lower fees on wires, outgoing transfers, termination fees and any trades over the free limit. WF also charges incoming and outgoing wires, that would be problematic for me.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:11 PM   #16
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"cash balances" is not "stocks" nor "mutual funds" nor "bonds". It is a money market account or a cash sweep account as noted in your quote. It's dead money.

But hey, give it a try and let us know.
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:52 PM   #17
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"cash balances" is not "stocks" nor "mutual funds" nor "bonds". It is a money market account or a cash sweep account as noted in your quote. It's dead money.

But hey, give it a try and let us know.
We must be talking about different criteria or the WF rep is wrong. Are you under grandfathered criteria re:min balances? I read on other forums the combined min was only $25k across banking + brokerage totals for existing clients. I'd be an entirely new client with no accounts.

To get free trades and avoid $30 monthly fees the WF rep told me I have to keep $25k (in a checking, savings acct) dead money too. I can't just buy $25k of ETF's or stocks or until my combined banking/brokerage total went over $50k. This is the same as Merrill's policy. Actually, Merrill said I can avoid keeping $25k in a checking acct if I have $50k in a brokerage (all stocks), then I would only need to have $100 in a checking acct.
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Old 01-09-2013, 06:53 AM   #18
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I would go by what the web sites say. But you yourself wrote that one needed only $50K combined for WF, so that's $0 in checking and $50K in ETFs or other investments. No cash hanging around. I know I don't keep $25K in cash deposits at WF.

I looked up the MerrillEdge "Platinum Privileges" and it appears to be the same wording as in combined $50,000 balance in BoA checking & ML brokerage accounts. Plus the fine print says they give you up to $600 cash bonus for opening a new account. I think you should open accounts with them and let us know how it works out.
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