Wells Fargo is now offering 100 free online trades per year if you have $25,000 in brokerage equity, loan balances, or deposits with them (down from $250,000). This seems to be in direct response to Bank of America’s Free Trade program, which requires $25,000 in cash deposits.
Much Easier To Qualify
Although Wells Fargo is offering less trades than BofA (100/year vs. 30/month), it’s easier to qualify at Wells since you can use both brokerage and loan balances:
Wells Fargo accounts used for balance qualification include checking, savings, time accounts (CDs), retirement (IRAs), brokerage, trust (excluding irrevocable trusts), loans, outstanding credit cards and line of credit balances, and 10% of outstanding mortgage balance (certain mortgages not eligible).
I called them and confirmed that you can simply move over $25,000 in existing stocks and mutual funds to qualify for the free trades. You can even have, for example, $12,500 in taxable brokerage and $12,500 in an IRA and get 100 free trades for both accounts. Nice! There are no annual fees if you maintain the $25,000 all in one brokerage account, but if you split it across accounts you may be subject to maintenance fees (fee schedule). You will also need to open a PMA checking account with them.
Free Mutual Fund Trades Too
In addition to the stock trades, Wells Fargo is offering free mutual fund trades. This includes all no-load fund families that they offer, not just the ones on their no-transaction-fee (NTF) list, and includes names like Vanguard, Fidelity, Dodge & Cox, and Bridgeway. This could be great for people who want to consolidate all their holdings from different fund families into one account.
Don’t Have $25k? Try Zecco
Zecco.com continues to offer the lowest requirement for free stock trades, just a $2,500 minimum opening amount including stock equity. See my Zecco feature review for details. Zecco’s hurdles include their young brand and doubt that their business model will be able to keep the trades fee in the long run.