This is not good. According to various sources, including this article at ABC News and one in the SF Chronicle, E-Trade is looking to buy Ameritrade. Boo. I especially like the quote “Every one of these brokers has customers because of a negative experience with another broker”. So true.
I have had bad experiences with E*Trade Brokerage (here, here, and here), and I have always liked Ameritrade’s “simple, but just works” model, along with their superior customer service over E-Trade. E-Trade seems to have a major focus on very active traders as well (although Ameritrade also has their Apex program). But Ameritrade has lower minimums, slighly less services, and less overall fees than E-Trade.
I personally use Ameritrade I-Zone now, with $5 trades and online-only access. I’m happy with it, and would really hate to see it go. Something to keep an eye on.