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June 05, 2007

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I have a Charles Schwab account. Actually, I have a "regular" IRA, a ROTH IRA, a regular IRA for my wife, a general "clearinghouse" trading account that I use mainly for transferring deposits to my IRAs and for setting up automatic investing, and two 529 accounts for my sons...all through Schwab.
Because my "household" balance (total for all 6 accounts) exceeds $50,000, I only incur fees for trades ($9.95/trade) and $25.00 annually for each 529 account.
That's it.
I've been extremely pleased with my experience with Schwab.

I looked at Scottrade a few years ago. My investments are a mixture of individual stocks and mutual funds, both index and actively managed. A number of the actively managed funds I own were not available through Scottrade, so I would've had to sell those funds in order to transfer the account. For me, mutual fund selection is pretty important. (I have Schwab, which is pretty good. I've heard E*Trade is better.)

I had Scottrade for a number of years, they were good, but not great. I now use Banc of America (yes Banc and not Bank) for a few reasons:

1. BofA has some long hours on their customer service (including on weekends), I've had nothing but great experiences with them.

2. Dividend reinvesting. BofA has it (this was the reason I switched).

3. Fees. It says $14 a trade, but that's if you don't have any other accounts with BofA, Depending on the accounts and $ you have, you can pay Zero for trades.

4. For people who already have BofA accounts, it is a great convenience to have you brokerage with them (you can use it as a sweep account and earn 4.4% or so interest on your cash).

I have my ROTH IRA with Firstrade. I also have a normal brokerage Scottrade account. They are basically the same except for one important point. Firstrade does free dividend reinvesting. This is a very important feature for me. I like the user interface and better research tools of Scottrade, but love the drip of Firstrade. Firstrade is great at keeping the cost down, but they could stand to work on their reporting and research. If you are looking for the best place to open a cheap, but reliable account Firstrade is the way to go. I have given a couple of accounts away and along with 50 bucks to get them started in the world of investing. I just recommend they buy an index mutual fund, so they don't have any fees.

I second the surprise on E*Trade's #2 status. I had an account with them for 9 years, and cancelled it a few months back. It seemed like every time I turned around, they were dinging me for another junk fee. Their favorite was the $40 "maintenance fee".

The other thing that irritated me about E*Trade was that they would coerce you into doing other things if you wanted to avoid their junk fees. For example, I would either have to be forced into trading more frequently, take money out of my OSA to their lower-yield brokerage account to maintain a minimum balance, or open yet another account at E*Trade Bank. As far as another account with them goes, I wasn't about to give E*Trade another angle to coerce me with. Finally I had had enough, and just closed the brokerage account.

I've recently opened an "Investor Checking" combo account with Schwab (pays 4.25% APY).

FMF ... How long ago did you have a brokerage account at Schwab? Looks like they lowered their fees back in July 2006:

http://www.schwab.com/public/file?cmsid=P-1036363&refid=P-1830301&refpid=P-1778106

Any other fees you think they haven't addressed yet, but should?

It's been YEARS since I had an account there. Maybe 5-7 years.

E*Trade is garbage. I've been using Ameritrade and have never had a problem. But just recently opened an account with TRADEKING and they have been excellent. By far the lowest trade costs. If anyone wants to open an account there, please contact me and I can send you a referral. Thanks.

I while back I was looking for a new broker, and for some reason had a bias against using one of the big banks. But in the end, because I do my banking there, I chose to use WellsFargo, and I have been pleasantly surprised. The fact that I bank there makes everything go really smoothly (transferring money, etc), and I guess Consumer Reports is using baseline pricing, but if you have some assets (25K or more I think), you get big deals on trades. In fact, I get _free_ trades (up to 50 per month)! There online tools may not be the best, but I didn't find E*Trade to be much better.

I've been pretty happy with E*Trade over the past year and half that I've been with them. As with [email protected], I have multiple accounts with them so my total balance is over the $50k limit to avoid extra charges and I get $9.95 trades.

They've finally opened up a local brick & mortar office here in Houston, though I haven't been in there yet (no reason to go in).

Surprisingly I've used firstrade for about 5 years now. Nice online broker. Great actually. DH loves everything about them. I use them for our Roth IRAs.

have anyone of you guys used www.zecco.com?? i think that is a great $0.00 per stock trade!!! any ideas

I've used Ameritrade (TDAmeritrade) since 2000. At the time, only E*Trade and Ameritrade were heavily reported on. I went with Ameritrade because they had access to all stocks/mutual funds at the time. For the type of investor I am (I only buy stocks, never sell) I think sharebuilder or a discount broker would be better.

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