Cost to close stock broker account

Brokerage Account Closing Fees


See how much does your discount online stock broker charges in fees to close/terminate brokerage account or IRA in 2018: Merrill Lynch, TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, Etrade, Fidelity Investments, Vanguard, Ally Invest, TradeStation, Wellstrade, Interactive Brokers, Firstrade, USAA, and Capital One



List of IRA and non-IRA Account Closure Fees Charged by Stock Brokers




Account Closing Fees at Online Brokerage Firms


When an investor opens a new brokerage account, the last thing on their mind is potential fees to close the account. After all, they have conducted a thorough search to select the broker and are confident in their choice. However, circumstances change, and sometimes another broker may offer a range of services that better suit one’s trading objectives. Or, there may be a bad experience with the handling of a trade or poor customer service that motivates an account holder to move their funds.

A quick glance at the Closure Fees table below, shows than no online broker charges a fee to close a regular non-IRA account. There is no reason to do so since the process of account closure is straightforward and simple to administer. If you need the money for something you can pull it out easily. Sometimes that is better than leaving a minimal amount that will be subject to inactivity fees at some brokers.

For IRA accounts there is a different story, given the unique position of the IRA as a long term investment basket that most investors wont be able to touch for many years. It is hard to say if the IRA account closure fee is there as an disincentive, or really reflects some cost the broker bears to close the account. In any case, the fee is there and one should note if your current IRA broker will penalize you for closing the account.

The highest IRA account termination fee is by Wells Fargo Wellstrade at $95. Merrill Lynch and Just2Trade occupy the next level at $75. From there, 7 brokers charge a $50 fee to close the IRA account, and then a number of brokers stop at a minimal $20 closure fee. A few large brokerage firms do not charge a closure fee for either non-IRA or IRA accounts including Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade and Etrade. Perhaps the larger brokers’ customer volume offsets any advantage of a closure fee, since the bulk of their revenue comes from commissions rather than random account fees.

It should be noted that most brokers will charge a transfer fee (ACAT fee) to move an IRA account to a new broker, but this is often reimbursed by the new IRA broker as a way to encourage new customers to switch. Since those fees can run as high as $150 it is worth checking to see if your new IRA broker provides this incentive.


Reasons to Close a Brokerage Account


Leaving an account open creates the possibility of fraudulent activity taking place in it while you’re not looking. If you’re not going to use the account, it is better to officially close it to be on the safe side. Some brokers will still let you login and access account documents. This eliminates the primary advantage of leaving an account open.

Once an Individual Retirement Account has been drained, it’s time to close it. Regular withdrawals from a Traditional IRA must begin no later than 70½, so it will need to be closed soon after that. A retirement account will also need to be closed soon after the death of the owner.

Sometimes brokerage houses change their fees and commissions to such an extent that you may not want to conduct any trading with a broker you’ve been using. If you find another broker with better policies, you’ll want to leave your current broker and move to the new firm. If you do this, be sure to close the old account.

If you ever decide to come back to a broker-dealer where you previously had an account, you might be able to re-open the old account. If not, most financial institutions will keep your information on file and might be able to more quickly open a new account.

If your brokerage account has a zero balance, it is best to go ahead and close it. There is no reason to keep it open. Many brokerage houses today, including TD Ameritrade and Interactive Brokers, will let you practice their software without having an active account. If you need to re-open an account later, you can always do so. Remember that it’s easier to liquidate any securities and move the funds out before submitting a closure request to the broker.