Best Brokerage and IRA Transfer Bonuses – October 2019

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Fidelity, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, E-Trade, Interactive Brokers, Ally Invest all now offer free stock trades. Vanguard offers free trades on all ETFs, not just their own. The new differentiators are things like user interface, customer service, and interest on cash sweep accounts. How about some cash in my pocket too?

The recent shake-up is a reminder brokers are transitioning to maximizing assets under management, as opposed to attracting traders that rack up those commissions. You can often get a cash bonus for switching teams, based on the size of assets that you move over. This usually involves an ACAT transfer of your securities, including tax cost basis history. Here’s a current list of the top brokerage transfer bonuses, along with some additional commentary on Fidelity and Vanguard.

Schwab

  • Link: Up to $2,500 bonus offer
  • $200 bonus for $50k, $300 for $100k, $600 for $250k, $1,200 for $500k, $2,500 for $1m+.
  • New or existing customers moving over new assets. Valid for retail brokerage accounts.
  • Make a qualifying net deposit of cash or securities within 45 days.
  • Maintain net deposit amount (less any market losses) for one year.

TD Ameritrade

  • Link: Up to $1,000 bonus offer
  • Note this matches or is better than their standard up to $600 offer.
  • $100 bonus for $25k, $200 for $50k, $500 for $100k, $1,000 for $250k+.
  • Valid for new taxable or IRA accounts.
  • Open by 1/30/20, funded with new funds or securities within 60 days.
  • Maintain net deposit amount (less any market losses) for 12 months.

Chase YouInvest + Sapphire Banking

  • Link: $1,000 Sapphire offer / Standard offer
  • Sapphire offer: New or existing customers. Brokerage and/or IRA. Must transfer a total of $75,000 or more in new money or securities into eligible Chase checking, savings and/or investment accounts. You must open a new Sapphire banking account by 11/19/2019, complete the $75k transfer within 45 days of opening, and maintain that balance for at least 90 days from the date of funding. Get $1,000 bonus.
  • Standard offer: $200 for $25k, $300 for $100k, $625 for $250k. Transfer within 45 days, maintain for 90 days.

Merrill Edge

  • Link: Up to $1,000 bonus offer / $900 Preferred Rewards offer / $600 Standard offer
  • $100 bonus for $20k, $250 for $50k, $500 for $100k, $1,000 for $200k+ in new assets to BofA/Merrill. If you have a lot more than $200k, you can call them at 888-637-3343 for a custom offer.
  • Expires October 17, 2019. This is a special link that is more than the standard offer. The page says “This limited time offer is valid only for MoneyShow attendees.” but reports of enforcement vary. If they do enforce, you may have to provide proof of attendance to San Francisco Money Show or accept the standard bonus amount.
  • Up to 100 free trades per month with Bank of America Preferred Rewards program.
  • Valid for new IRA or retail brokerage accounts (CMA).
  • Make a qualifying net deposit of cash or securities within 45 days.
  • Maintain net deposit amount (less any market losses) for 180 days.

E-Trade

  • Link: Up to $2,500 bonus offer
  • $200 bonus for $25k, $300 for $100k, $600 for $250k, $1,200 for $500k, $2,500 for $1m+.
  • New non-retirement brokerage accounts only.
  • Open by 12/31/19, funded with new funds or securities within 60 days.
  • Maintain net deposit amount (less any market losses) for 6 months.

Ally Invest

  • Link: Up to $3,500 bonus offer
  • $50 bonus for $10k, $200 for $25k, $300 for $100k, $600 for $250k, $1,200 for $500k, $2,500 for $1m, $3,500 for $2m+.
  • New non-retirement brokerage accounts only. (You must not have closed an account within the last 90 days.)
  • Open by 12/31/19, funded with new funds or securities within 60 days.
  • Maintain net deposit amount (less any market losses) for 300 days past bonus deposit (~370 days after opening).

Fidelity

  • Fidelity used to offer a variety of transfer bonuses, but they didn’t do a good job of curbing abuse and some folks got multiple bonuses without actually bringing in new money. Right now, I can’t find any transfer bonus links. Instead, here are a few reasons why you might want to move your money to Fidelity anyway (you can try out the other brokers above and take their money for doing so first).
  • Fidelity does not sell equity order flow to market makers and high-frequency traders.
  • Fidelity offers a relatively competitive default cash sweep option. As of 10/10/19, the Vanguard Federal Money Market fund pays 1.90% SEC yield, the Fidelity Government Money Market fund pays 1.58% SEC yield, Schwab pays 0.12%, TD Ameritrade pays 0.01%, and E-Trade pays 0.01%.
  • Fidelity has a variety of in-house stock and bond mutual fund options, which trade with no transaction fee at Fidelity and now have no minimum purchase amounts.
  • In my experience, Fidelity has had the most knowledgable customer service reps.

Vanguard

  • Vanguard has never offered a transfer bonus, to my knowledge. Instead, here are a few reasons why you might want to move your money to Vanguard anyway (you can try out the other brokers above and take their money for doing so first).
  • Vanguard has the most competitive default cash sweep option. As of 10/10/19, the Vanguard Federal Money Market fund pays 1.90% SEC yield, the Fidelity Government Money Market fund pays 1.58% SEC yield, Schwab pays 0.12%, TD Ameritrade pays 0.01%, and E-Trade pays 0.01%. This may or may not matter to you, depending on your idle cash balances.
  • Vanguard does not offer free trades on all stocks, but they do offer free trades on 1,700+ ETFs from any provider. Vanguard is not really built for heavy traders of individual stocks.
  • Vanguard has a variety of in-house stock and bond mutual fund options, which trade with no transaction fee at Vanguard.

Transfer notes.

  • Many brokers will charge an “Outgoing ACAT fee” of $50 to $150 when you leave them. I recommend contacting your destination broker and asking them to reimburse you for this fee. If you qualify for one of these bonuses, your account is probably big enough for them to consider it. You may have to send them a statement showing the fee.
  • Before moving, I would download all your old statements and tax cost basis information to make sure it transfers over correctly.
  • An ACAT transfer can take a week or so to complete, so you won’t be able to make any sell transactions during that time.
  • Consider performing a “partial” ACAT transfer where you only move over specifically designated shares (ex. only all 455 shares of BRKB) if you wish to keep some of your original brokerage account open. I would still transfer over all shares of any specific ticker, so that the tax cost basis carries over neatly.
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Comments

  1. ParatrooperJJ says:

    I’ll note that ETrade as of today has reinstated commissions for OTC listed stocks.

  2. One thing I have noticed with Etrade is it takes like a week to gain access to funds xfer’d. With Fidelity, they let me trade on it instantly. Both accounts have margin, so that is not the issue.

  3. I contacted Merrill Edge both via chat and by phone. When I mentioned the $1000 offer, both representatives asked if I had attended the San Francisco trade show. The chat CSR gave me other links to use:

    https://www.merrilledge.com/offers/900offer [for Preferred Rewards members good through April 15, 2020]
    https://www.merrilledge.com/cmaoffer [their standard offer]

    The phone representative offered to contact the “back office” to see if they would give me the $1000 offer even though I didn’t attend the San Francisco trade show, so I’m waiting to hear back from him in a couple days.

  4. Does TD Ameritrade have any activity requirements? If you buy say 100g of stocks and hold for a few years will they charge you?

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