A Tale of Two Brokerages: Ameritrade and E-Trade Thoughts

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I closed my accounts with both Ameritrade and E-Trade recently, as I was moving all my stock trading to FreeTrade.com. When I cancelled my E-Trade account, there was a long hold time, and then the person who cancelled my account was rather rude – they said “Ok, it’s cancelled” and basically just hung up on me. In contrast, when cancelling my account with Ameritrade, the person actually asked me why (E-Trade didn’t even ask). I told them I was going to move to FreeTrade instead, and they said that the could either close my account as wished, or I could “freeze” the account. What’s that?

Basically, the account has a zero balance, and nobody can use it or reopen it without all the information needed to open any online brokerage account. But, I can re-open it at any time, and if I deposit and keep a $2,000 balance for 6 months, I’ll get 25 free trades. That’s basically what Ameritrade offers new customers, but this is cool because I already got a $75 bonus when I signed up a year ago. Ameritrade/Freetrade has impressed me with their pro-active customer service. Their websites aren’t the slickest, but they work and are dependable, and their fee schedules are mostly reasonable. E*Trade? I’ll never use them again, with their poor service and myriad of inactivity and other fees (unless they’re giving money away, of course).

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  1. Colin Rowley says

    Curious as to what you think of Scottrade. A couple of my buds use this service and are very pleased. Have you considered them at all?

  2. Hi Colin –

    I’ve never used Scottrade actually, I was going to but stopped when they cut down significantly on the number of no-transaction-fee (NTF) mutual funds that they offered from all of them to only a select few. They did this abruptly and with hardly any advance notice, which I felt was bad form. That was one of their major pluses – to be able to buy, say a little bit of a Vanguard fund with no fee.

    Otherwise, other than a few gripes about order transaction speed, they seem to be a pretty solid discount broker with low $7 limit orders. If FreeTrade and ChoiceTrade weren’t around, I might have gone with them.

  3. I’ve used Scottrade for a while mostly to invest in Vanguard funds, but I’m probably going to stop depositing more funds into it now that Vanguard is no longer NTF. Their customer service is good, with local branches to give you peace of mind. One time I placed an order for 3 funds but changed my mind and called them the next day to cancel. Somehow 2 of the orders went through anyways, so their system is not perfect. However, the resolved the issue in a very timely manner. I would recommend them if you like their NTF fund selections.

  4. i’ve been trying to open an etrade account for two months now. the forms were horribly glitchy and i gave up for a few weeks. then i really focused in again a month ago, only to have them close my accounts because my equifax address was wrong. they made me deal with the department of motor vehicles, wait for a new driver’s license, then fax in a copy. four days later, still no accounts.

    i was switching away from republican ameritrade for political reasons, but man oh man do i miss ameritrade’s customer service.

    i think i’m gonna try firstrade. they look super-friendly (and non-republican).

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