Low Cost Stock Broker Alternatives 2011

If you’re thinking about switching online stock brokers, perhaps due to a price increase, here are some low-cost options. To avoid the common $50 to $75 ACAT transfer-out fee for moving your entire portfolio somewhere else, you can sell all your positions, transfer out the cash, and then have them close the account. You may be subject to capital gains taxes. Otherwise, look for a broker that will cover your transfer-out fee.

Still want free trades? WellsTrade still offers 100 free trades per year with assets of at least $25,000. They may be feeling squeezed as well, but with the ability to cross-sell with other Wells Fargo products like checking accounts and credit cards, they are probably still making money. Bank of America also offers free trades, but with a $25,000 cash balance only.

If you’re looking to build a low-cost, index fund portfolio, I would recommend opening a Vanguard Brokerage Services account with their unlimited free trades for all Vangaurd ETFs. Indeed, many other brokers offer some sort of free trades on a limited list of ETFs including Fidelity, Schwab, and TD Ameritrade. I personally like the selection at Vanguard the best.

If you want to trade individual stocks, the rock-bottom low-cost broker appears to be Just2Trade at $2.50 a trade. They never seem to do any promotions.

I also have an account with OptionsHouse at $3.95 a trade which uses the same Penson clearing firm. A FW member TheHimalayas posted that they were allowed to switch over to OptionsHouse with no ACAT fees because of this, but I haven’t verified this myself. I am happy with my OptionsHouse account, and the fact that they grandfathered us existing members at $2.95 a trade doesn’t hurt.

OptionsHouse also has a bunch of promos going on. If you open a new account with at least $3,000 and use the code FREE100, you’ll get 100 commission-free trades for stock or option trades executed within 60 days of funding the new account. Alternatively, you can get up to $100 in ACAT fees rebated to you when you transfer your account with a minimum value of $3,000 with the promo code ACAT100REFUND. They also have a 100 free trades + $125 in transfer fee rebates offer for IRAs with the promotion code IRAFREE.

Finally, another solid option at the $4.95 price point is TradeKing. TradeKing will credit your account transfer fees up to $150 charged by another brokerage firm when completing an account transfer for $2,500 or more when you send them a copy of your account statement with proof of the transfer charge.


  1. ING Sharebuilder offers $100 for switching over an account of at least $500

  2. TheHimalayas says:

    Thanks for the attribution. Regarding BoA/BofA having free trades with $25K cash: what has changed since the first of the year is that there is also a new “CMA account maintenance fee” of $25 per quarter, per household.


  3. these are great, thanks! I have always used a stock broker, but I will check out these resources. Who doesn’t like saving money, right? 😉

  4. Im a personal fan of Vanguard. My 2 active accounts are with Vanguard and Sharebuilder. I love Vanguards Brokerage Service and feel they give me a great deal, but I’m a Flagship member so take that with a grain of salt.

  5. HedgeHoncho says:

    I just can’t switch for $1000. It’s not worth the hassle/time for me.

  6. Did the Optionshouse IRA promo, got the credit without them even asking for proof, and got the free trades, and grandfathered at 2.95, didn’t like the signing and mailing business, why can’t it be done all online? They must have misplaced my app, it took over a month to get it open, since it was an IRA I wasn’t in a big rush.
    Also got in on TradeKing through it’s free playbook offer, which can be combined with all the other offers, since I transferred out of WF during there change over, there was no transfer out fee, I got reimbursed for my initial wire transfer, I received a hard copy of the Playbook, customer service is outstanding, I set up ACH, and did a transfer out test for the max ($10,000 in 1 day) to my surprise the $10,000 arrived in my account the very next day, impressive, so no complaints about TK yet, hopefully it stays this way, as far as OH goes, the opening process I didn’t like, with the snail mail, TK is done all online, no snail mail, plus I like the fact that one can do business through e-mail with TK, for those that don’t have a fax on hand, back to OH, I only use it for my IRA, I put in for a 2 contract option order and it was partially filled, 1 contract! That has never happened to me before,how can a measly 2 contract order not get filled? I know people are going to say use AON, but who would think you need to use AON on a 2 contract order?Option orders up to 20 contracts should never be partially filled and never require AON, but whatever, sorry for the long post.

  7. Alaska 33 says:

    Totally free trades(100 per year) and free brokerage account through Wells Fargo…just maintain a balance of $25,000…and you can count part of your mortgage as part of the $25,000.

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