Brokerage Firms Charging Inactivity or Maintenance Fees: Charles Schwab, Merrill Edge, Etrade, Vanguard


Does your discount stock broker charge inactivity fee in 2018? List of annual maintenance and monthly account inactivity fees for TD Ameritrade, Etrade, Fidelity Investments, Ally, USAA, Just2trade, Vanguard, Charles Schwab, Webull, Wellstrade, Robinhood, Interactive Brokers, Merrill Lynch, Firstrade, M1 Finance, TradeStation, and Wells Fargo.



Account Inactivity Fees Charged by Brokerage Firms


Brokerage Inactivity Fee Maintenance Fee
Ally InvestNoNo
TD AmeritradeNoNo
Charles SchwabNoNo
Choicetrade$20 quarterly (stock plan A); $35 quarterly (stock plan B); $50 quarterly for entity accounts. Waived for either plan if 5 or more trades are performed within the calendar quartersee inactivity fee
EtradeNoNo
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.
FirstradeNoNo
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
M1 FinanceNoNo
Merrill EdgeNoNo
Motif InvestingNoNo
RobinhoodNoNo
SogotradeNo$35 annual IRA fee
TastyworksNoNo
TradeStation$50 annual fee if client makes less than 5 trades and average account balance is less than $2,000.No
USAANoNo
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
WebullNoNo
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
ZackstradeNoNo


Brokerage Maintenance Fees


In 2018 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, 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.

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.

Ally Invest: Up to $3,500 cash bonus + commission free trades for new accounts.

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

Fidelity Investments: Get 500 free trades with $100,000+ deposit.

Firstrade: $0 commissions + up to $200 in transfer fee rebates.

Merrill Edge: Get up to $600 when you open new Merrill Edge account with at least $20,000.

E*trade: At E*TRADE, get $6.95 trades + 65₵ per options contract.

Interactive Brokers: Open account and get $200 for a friend you refer.

Motif Investing: None

USAA: None

Wellstrade: None


Discount Broker Account Fees


For the most part, fees for account set up, maintenance, inactivity, or IRA annual custodial fees aren't an issue. The majority of brokers don't charge for those services. Of those who do, many will waive the fee if certain minimums are met such as account balance or the number of trades per quarter or year.

Account maintenance and inactivity fees range from $0 to $360 (Interactive Brokers). The median fee of those greater than zero is $30. All the companies that charge this fee will waive it under certain conditions. Investors with Interactive Brokers accounts must be sure to understand how to avoid the $360 fee because if that gets overlooked, any savings on trades during a year could be wiped out in an instant.

Only six brokers charge IRA custodial fees. Those range from $30 to $75, with the median fee being $35. The only company willing to waive the fee in certain cases is Muriel Siebert.


Updated on 11/28/2018.