Wells Fargo Lowers Requirements for Free Stock Trades

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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.

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  1. It looks like the competition is heating up. However, what these big banks offer are still not very attractive as compared what we can get from smaller players such as Zecco, Sogo, or Sharebuilder. Big guys have way too much overhead.

  2. Jonathan,

    What is the Wells Fargo website like for trading? What tools are available? How does it compare to Ameritrade?

  3. Sun: How is this not better than Sogo or Sharebuilder?

  4. The BofA offer is currently not available in CA but I see Wells Fargo PMA is. The minimum is higher than Zecco but I see Wells Fargo also includes mutual fund buys under the free transactions whereas Zecco is at $10 per order. That would let me consolidate my Vanguard funds and my stock orders under one account.

  5. I don’t have an account with WF. From reading a few reviews, it seemed like their interface was pretty nice. Customer service is an unknown, but when I asked them my barrage of questions about all their fine print they seemed knowledgeable. They used to charge $20 a trade, which probably explains their lack of popularity until now.

    If you have $25k already in stocks and aren’t an active trader, I would say this is definitely better than Sogo or Sharebuilder. Neither are free nor do they offer free mutual fund trades.

  6. Here are a couple of media articles about this:

    Associated Press

  7. Sweet. I have a $255,000 Mortgage through them, so it looks like I will just qualify.

  8. It looks like all the maintenance fees are waived if the brokerage account is linked to a Wells Fargo PMA Package, which is required for this offer. So it still looks to be a good deal.

  9. Getting Green says

    Does anyone actually use Wells for investing? Their free checking accounts are nice, but their savings accounts, credit cards rewards programs, and investing options really just are terrible. There are so much better options available.

  10. Andrew Maury says

    Thanks for the heads up on that. I’ve been using Wells for a long time, but have never actually tried Wells Trade. Interesting that I haven’t gotten an email or letter from WF about this.

    I have been pretty happy with the customer service I’ve received while having a checking and savings account – very friendly and knowledgeable.

  11. Zecco must have crappy marketing team. I signed up during the pre-release date (from this website) for an account and have never recieved an email from them till today to fund my account.

  12. Andrew Maury says

    Getting Green – just wondering, how is this a terrible option for investing? 100 free trades seems pretty good to me.

  13. I opened my first checking/atm account and credit card with Wells back in the early 90s. I also (by chance – went through a mortgage broker) have my mortgage with them: Jumbo 30 year fixed, 5.25% first 15 years Interest-Only (which at this point I plan to have for the full 30 years). Because of my mortgage I qualify for all kinds of free stuff – like free checking and now this 100 free trade wellstrade account. The nice thing about their credit card (which I don’t use for purchases because there aren’t rewards, but which I keep open because it was my first card and has the longest history) is that every 6 months or so they offer me 2.9% no xfer fee promo for 6 months – which they let me deposit/transfer into my wells checking account – which is linked to high rate savings like HSBC. The also give me like a $1 for every $1000 transferred. So every six months I get money at a lower rate than savings, and make money… I’ve done this 4 or 5 times so far. Pretty nice to be able to repeat the balance transfer game without having to open a new credit card each time…

    I currently have Roth IRAs at E*Trade ($9 commissions because of my balance), Scottrade ($7 commissions), and Sharebuilder (Cheap to buy, expensive to sell). With this deal I’m considering transferring them all to Wells – I’ve been wanting to move the Sharebuilder shares to a lower cost brokerage so that I can sell for less, and I’ve been considering moving the scottrade shares to another brokerage so that I can get dividend reinvestment. This account seems like the perfect solution (for now) – no commissions, dividend reinvestment (I assume), and the paperwork will be consolidated with my PMA statement…

    Why do I have 3 Roth IRAs? E*Trade was a 401(k) -> IRA Rollover that I later converted to a Roth. Scottrade was a Roth I originally started at E*Trade and transferred to Scottrade when E*Trade added a yearly fee (2001 maybe?). Sharebuilder I opened to be able to buy partial shares of many companies which wouldnt make sense to do in a normal account due to comissions (I bought partial shares of Berkshire Hathway (B) for instance – at this point I own a full 1 share). I usually split my yearly roth contribution between Scottrade (for mutual funds) and sharebuilder (for individual stocks).

  14. “Sun: How is this not better than Sogo or Sharebuilder?”

    because they don’t have as high of minimum balances.
    I am young, I don’t have an IRA, I dont have any debt. (NONE). Sogoinvest is good for me because i’m getting $1 trades for 90 days, and after that i’ll probably sign up for one of their premium services and still get cheap trades. The trade execution is great. Then I use scottrade for real time quotes and charts, and just keep the $500 minimum balance in it to keep the account open (plus no inactivity fees).

  15. Today I came across a broker that I had never heard of before, Think or Swim (TOS): link.

    Give their site a lookover. They pay the outgoing transfer fees from your old broker (up to $100) and will transfer back within 30 days for free if you are not satisfied.

  16. A comparison of various brokers:

  17. AnonymousCoward says

    So I called the toll-free number to ask if I need a checking account to get the offer in the brokerage account. The guy was so rude I find it unbelievable! Do they want customers or not?!?! Guess I won’t be transferring my $400K+ assets over there!

    So for the record, you NEED to open a PMA checking account and link it to the brokerage account to get the free trades. You can’t just have a brokerage account with $25K+ to get the free trades.

  18. Sorry to hear that. That’s just how it is with big call centers, all have bad reps. Both people I talked to were very nice. I’d try again.

    Yes, you need a PMA checking account, it’s noted clearly in the offer (and stated in my post). But you just need to open with $100 and then you can have it sit there with nothing in it. They’ll even fund with credit card as a purchase (only up to the $100). With $25k in combined balances there are no fees for the checking account.

  19. I took advantage of this offer and opened a brokerage account with Wells Fargo yesterday. I opened the account via speaking to a live person at Wells Fargo instead of going online. The process was very straightforward and easy. This new account will replace my Scottrade brokerage account for the following reasons:
    1) User interface and navigation on Wells Fargo Brokerage web site is much much simpler and cleaner than Scottrade. Wells Fargo screen layouts make perfect sense. Scottrade’s navigation has been confusing and hard to find the things that you want to do (e.g. view statements and order status).
    2) I can electronically transfer money to and from W.F. Brokerage and other non-W.F. financial institutions very easily. Scottrade does not have this feature.
    3) 100 free trades are a great offer. This is enough for my level of trading volume. Scottrade charges $7 per trade.
    4) 100 free trades also cover no-load mutual funds including non-W.F. mutual funds. I also trade with TD Ameritrade, which charges $50 per trade of no-load mutual funds.
    5) I live in San Francisco where Wells Fargo Bank branches are almost at every street corner. With the PMA checking account linked to my brokerage account, I can deposit checks and have the funds immediately available for trading, or transfer money from Brokerage to Checking Account and then withdraw cash immediately. Some users complain about being forced to open a checking account. This does not bother me at all. I don’t have to use it if I don’t find it useful.
    6) Customer service at W.F. Brokerage so far has been GREAT. I called twice today to ask some follow-up questions. The hold time to get thru the line was less than 60 seconds (try this with E*Trade customer service where you could go eat a meal, take a nap and then they will probably get to you).
    7) You can customize your main page on W.F. Brokerage to see or hide all sorts of investment info (order status, news, watch lists, etc.). You cannot do this on Scottrade web site.

    What is W.F. Brokerage lack of compared with TD Ameritrade? One thing for sure is the Streamer offered by TD Ameritrade. W.F. Brokerage does not have streamer service.

  20. This WF deal sounds great! I’m going to check it out. I’d like to consolidate some accounts at TD Ameritrade and Vanguard all to WF. The only concern I have is how much it will cost me and how difficult it will be to transfer all my stuff over. I have several mutual funds both at Vanguard and TD Ameritrade, and at TD Ameritrade I make auto monthly contributions to my mutual funds, so not sure how that will transfer over. Also, I own fund OBCHX at TD Ameritrade that is not apparently available at WF. Also, not a lot of WF branches in Chicago, where I live, so I’d likely have to do this over the phone/internet. Definitely, still seems worth considering. I’ve been especially upset with TD Ameritrade jacking up their prices on mutual funds after their merger with TD Waterhouse.

    How’s the transfer process from Scotttrade seem Wilsonc? Let us know how it goes…

  21. Anyone know what the fees are for voluntary reorganization or mandatory reorganization? I didn’t see them anywhere?

  22. I just noticed firstrade.com is currently offering following offer:
    Fund in $2,000 or more
    Receive 100 commission-free trades.

    Fund in $25,000 or more
    Receive 100 commission-free trades and up to $100 ACAT rebate.

    Fund in $50,000 or more
    Receive 100 commission-free trades and up to $100 ACAT rebate as well as a $100 cash bonus credited to the account.

    I have been using firstrade.com for a while (i have an international acct for non-residents)…overall they have a nice easy website with lots of tools.

  23. Answer from WF email – pretty quick.

    In the case of voluntary reorganization, the transfer agent may frequently charge some sort of fee as outlined in the offer. However, Wells Fargo Investments does not charge a fee.

    There is no fee for a mandatory reorganization.

  24. Niks – The firstrade thing sounded good, so I went to look. Two main problems for me from the terms – “IRA and other retirement accounts are not eligible” and “Qualified commission-free Internet equity orders (maximum value $6.95 per trade) must execute within 45 days of account funding.”

    I wouldn’t use any where close to 100 trades in just 45 days. Good deal for someone who actively traded, though.

  25. Perhaps one of the features of this deal is that it lets you use ETFs like people use Mutual Funds – meaning its now free to rebalance periodically and you get to enjoy the low cost of ETFs and other advantages.

  26. Just to let you know that BofA will start offering the no-commission trade program in California on February 20th. So I was told, at least, by one of their associate on the phone yesterday.

  27. Adam:
    My account transfer from Scottrade to Wells Fargo was completed yesterday (2/23/07). It took approx. 1.5 weeks from start to finish of which one full week was waiting time for Scottrade to release the transfer as I kept watching my Scottrade account to empty out every day when nothing happened until one week later. It only took 1 day for Wells Fargo to notify Scottrade to release my assets. I knew because the sales rep at Scottrade called me up the next day after I faxed in my account tr’f form to W.F. and attempted to convince me to stay with Scottrade. I politely said “no, thanks” and since then, I kept checking my Scottrade account to see how long it would take to zero out my account. It ended up taking one full week to see my account go down to zero. It then took one extra day to see all my assets posted to my W.F. account. Now I am free to trade with W.F. (yah!!!).
    Other users here mentioned other smaller brokerage firms (Zecco, etc.). I believe they are all good. For myself, I will only put my hard-earned money with a big well-known stable brokerage firm like W.F. to get my peace of mind. A firm that I know will not be easily out of business tomorrow. Happy trading!!!

  28. My account was transferred from Sharebuilder to Wells this past week.

    I’m not thrilled with WF’s interface – unlinke most, if you need help finding how to do something, you can’t search their help.

    There is no section to enroll your securities in Dividend Reinvestment on their website (and no mention of how to do this), however if you call or secure email them, they will do so.

    Be sure to state you want all current and future securities to be enrolled for the account.

  29. I contacted Ameritrade (where I have most of my accounts) and asked them if they would match the 100 free trades and surprisingly they said yes.

    The possible downside is that Well Fargo accounts will continue this offer for existing accounts (free trades indefinitely) and that Ameritrade will not continue to match this but I’m figuring that the brokerage marketplace will continue to become competitive and that fees will keep dropping or at least not go up.

  30. Neither Etrade nor Scottrade would not match the Wells Fargo promotional offer so I’ll be moving those accounts over to Wells Fargo in the near future as well. I’ll leave my Ameritrade accounts where they are since they were willing to match the offer.

    My balances with Ameritrade were much more significant than with the other two brokers so I can’t help but wonder if that was a factor.

  31. “Wells Fargo Investments. Not FDIC insured” this fine print make me nervous. Anybody have any concern over this?

  32. No brokerage is FDIC insured – it’s not a bank. Wells Fargo’s brokerage arm is a member of the SIPC and your accounts are insured by them.

  33. W.F. accounts sound good.
    But be aware if you’re going to open IRA accounts they have the following fees:

    Annual Custodial Fee: $30
    Termination Fee: $50

    Looks pretty steep compared to other no fee IRA accounts like Scottrade or Zecco.

  34. My mistake: Zecco does have IRA annual fee of $30.
    W.F. offer stands out then~

  35. The termination fee of $50 is a standard fee among all the major brokerage firms (TD Ameritrade, Schwab, Scottrade). These firms want to charge you for leaving them. I opened an IRA Rollover Account with Wells Fargo a couple months ago and was NOT charged with any custodial fee. Even if there is now a $30 custodial fee charged by Wells Fargo, it can easily be made up for by the 100 free trades you will be getting.

  36. Scottrade does NOT have IRA termination fee.

    I’m not saying W.F. program is worse. Just FYI.

  37. SensuousCancer says

    The custodial fees are waived on everything if you have it linked to a PMA (Portfolio Management Account) checking account. I filled out the forms online yesterday and saved it until I am ready to move things from TD Ameritrade.

    Fees waived when you get the PMA Package:

    Free checks – any style (excluding 3-on-a-page)
    No Wells Fargo ATM Access fee
    No monthly service fees on PMA-linked checking and savings accounts
    No annual fee on Platinum Check Card
    No point-of-sale fees
    $29 annual fee waived on Enhanced Rewards program credit card
    Annual fee waived on a select line of credit
    No maintenance fee on WellsTrade
    Annual custodial fee waived on IRA
    Free Bill Pay
    Bonus interest rate on checking and savings

  38. Krishna Mohan says

    I opened WF brokerage account and trasferred all my asset to WF. I will say the interface is bad compare to AMTD (But I am not particular about it).

    WF gives 4.62% (30 days yield interest) on brokerage cash which is far better than AMTD that give .5%.

    After researching all the brokerage WF is best.

  39. Why do you keep pushing Zecco? They obviously can’t handle the traffic that they are getting. I’ve had an account with them for over 4 months and I still cannot get a single execution. I’ve spoke with their barely-english-speaking customer support staff at least three times and they can’t figure out why their system won’t let me trade.

    I guess you get what you pay for.

  40. I’ve made over 30 trades already in my “Explore” Zecco account. If you have 25k, why not try Wells Fargo? Otherwise, you’ll have to pay something – I would try Tradeking at $5/trade, or Scottrade at $7/trade.

  41. I have a scottrade account with about 3K balance. I am planning to open a WF PMA account with 22K & transfer from ST to WF. do you guys think the 100 free trade offer is going to stay for a long time or just WF trying to attract people now and will take off the offer…

    Also, I have WF branch in my city. is it easy to go in there and open a PMA account and also apply for transfer from ST or is it easy to do it online.

    The BOA 30 trades/mo. looked good but no way i am planning to do tat many trades. i would be surprised i use up the WF 100trades/yr. more of a buy & hold stratergy.


  43. sanjuannabe says

    I’ve been trading Wells for a year. Easy platform; quick, knowledgable csr’s. No trailing stops is a huge bummer. Called Merril/BofA on their 30 free/mo offer and their platform won’t do trailing stops either. The thing is that both of these are reloading: 100/yr w/ Wells, 30/mo w/ BofA. 100 free on a platform that does more advanced trading is cool – but then we start paying after the 100 – or switch? Not worth it to me…

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