Online Brokerage Firms Charging Account Inactivity Fees

Does your discount stock broker charge inactivity fees in 2017? List of annual and monthly account inactivity fees for TD Ameritrade, Scottrade, Etrade, Fidelity Investments, Just2trade, Vanguard, Charles Schwab, Tradeking, Optionshouse, Wellstrade/Wells Fargo, Optionsxpress, Interactive Brokers, Merrill Lynch/Edge, Firstrade, Capital One Investing, TradeStation, and Sogotrade.

Account Inactivity Fees Charged by Brokerage Firms

Brokerage Inactivity Fee Maintenance Fee
TD AmeritradeNoNo
Capital One InvestingNoNo
Charles SchwabNoNo
Choicetrade$15 quarterly fee if customer makes less than five trades in a calendar quarter$50 annual IRA fee, $25 IRA setup fee
FidelityNoSimple IRA: $350 per plan collected annually from the employer; or $25 per participant collected annually from participants' accounts. HSA: $48, waived in some instances. $12 annual Low Balance Fee for each noncore Fidelity mutual fund if balance is under $2,000.
Interactive Brokers$10 per month minimum commission requirement to avoid $10 monthly fee (rises to $20 monthly if account balance is less than $2,000)$7.50 quarterly fee for IRA accounts ($30 per year)
Just2tradeNo$50 annual fee (waived for accounts with over $10,000.00 in assets and at least 40 trades)
Lightspeed TradingMinimum monthly commission for accounts under $5,000 is $25$30 annual IRA fee
MB TradingNo$30 annual fee for IRAs
Merrill EdgeNoNo
Motif InvestingNoNo
SogotradeNo$35 annual IRA fee
TradeKing$50 annual inactivity fee if BOTH apply to an account(s):
  • Combined account value of the household account(s) is less than $2,500
  • No commission-charged trades have been executed in the account(s) during the last 12 months
TradeStation$50 annual fee if client makes less than 5 trades and average account balance is less than $2,000.No
VanguardNo$20 annual maintenance fee for regular accounts with balance less than $50,000. Annual IRA fees: $25 for SIMPLE IRA, $15 for 403(b)(7), $20 for Individual 401(k)/Roth 401(k) plans, $20 for 529 plan
WellstradeNo$25 Minimum Balance Fee, if account is less than $5,000; $30 monthly service fee if PMA Package has less than $50,000 in all accounts

Brokerage Maintenance Fees

In 2017 a majority of discount online brokers did not charge account maintenance fees for regular brokerage, non-IRA accounts. However, IRA accounts (Traditional, ROTH, Simple IRA, SEP IRA, 401(K) and others) are a different story: as you see from the table above many companies impose maintenance fees (also called annual or custodial fees). These charges could really add up over the years - you are not only loosing the total amount of the fees but also all the interest or investment gain that might have accumulated on that money over many years.

The worst companies in regard of maintenance and inactivity fees are Interactive Brokers and Lightspeed Trading. They cater mostly to very active traders (day-traders) for whom these fees just don't matter. On the other hand, the majority of long-term, buy-and-hold investors do care about the fees. As you see, the firms that fiercely compete over this large group of customers, such as TD Ameritrade, Etrade, Scottrade, Charles Schwab, USAA brokerage and others, do not charge account fees.

Does Your Broker Charge Inactivity Fees?

Some online brokers charge account inactivity fees: the fee is imposed when a customer does not make a specified amount of trades during a month (Interactive Brokers), a quarter (LightSpeed Trading) or a year (TradeKing).

There are also companies that impose special fees that could destroy a small account investor - Low Balance Fees. These fees could be charged if a client has account balance lower than required by a brokerage house (Interactive Brokers, Just2trade), or it could be charged if the amount invested in a mutual fund is too small (Fidelity Investments, Vanguard). Most companies do not charge Low Balance Fees.

Brokerage Promotions

Many companies mentioned in this article offer incentives for new clients to open an account. Some of these promotions work only for non-IRA accounts, others - for both IRA and non-IRA accounts. It is definitely worth to check these out.

TD Ameritrade: Trade free for 60 days + get up to $600.

Tradeking: Get $1,000 in free trade commissions at TradeKing.

Optionshouse: Open and fund an OptionsHouse account to get up to $1,000 in free commissions for 60 days.

USAA: Open USAA Brokerage Account.

Scottrade: Open account and start saving with Scottrade today.

Motif Investing: Get up to $150 when you start trading at Motif Investing.

Charles Schwab: Make $100,000 deposit and get 500 commission-free online equity and options trades.

E*trade: 60 days of free trades for deposits of $10k or more.

Firstrade: None

Optionsxpress: None right now.

Capital One Investing: None

Merrill Lynch/Edge: None

Interactive Brokers: None

Wellstrade: None

Fidelity Investments: None

Updated on 1/27/2017.

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