Free Stock Trading

Want to trade stocks for free? While most brokerages charge a fee, there are special circumstances that can allow you to trade for free or close to free. Promotions are probably the easiest way for the typical retail investor to trade for free. With even a few thousand dollars you can trade free for up to 90 days. If you have a lot of money to invest, you have several options for free trading since the brokerages want you as a customer so that they can potentially sell you higher priced services down the road. Alternatively, if you’re willing to transfer your account frequently, you may be able to take advantage of a series of promotions to avoid paying for trades. But beware! Often closing and transferring an account will incur fees of its own. Alternatively, if you don’t want to keep transferring your account from promotion to promotion, you may be better off with a low priced discount broker.

Free Stock Trading Promotions

Every brokerage firms want to encourage investors to open an account, and many are willing to cover hundreds of dollars worth of commissions in order to do so. Here are the best free stock trading deals we could find:

No Funding Required – Just Open an Account

  • Promotion: 50 free trades for first 90 days
  • Consistently ranked for best customer service, no military requirement to open an account
  • Sign-up for USAA

Fund an Account With At Least $2,000

  • Promotion: Open an account with $2,000 and receive 60 days of free trades
  • Provides top tier research for a reasonable price, together with intuitive yet powerful analytics
  • Sign up for TD Ameritrade

Fund an Account With At Least $5,000

  • Promotion: 100 commission-free trades (stocks or options) to use in the first 60 days of opening an account with $5,000 or more
  • Basic free research and analysis software option with no account minimum
  • Sign up for Optionshouse
  • Promotion: 100 commission-free trades if you open an account with $5,000 or more, and the account must remain open for at least a year with a balance of at least $5,000
  • Best commission-free ETF trading with no account minimum, offers 10 of the most popular ETFs designed
  • Sign up for Firstrade

Fund an Account With At Least $10,000

  • Promotion: 60 days of free trades for deposits of $10,000 or more
  • Offers 90 commission-free ETFs from 3 fund families, with no annual fee
  • Sign up for E*Trade

High Funding Level Free Trading

  • Promotion: Open an account with $50,000 or more and receive 100 commission-free trades (must be used within 180 days)
  • Integrated banking (checking, savings, mortgages) products for those who want to consolidate their financial management
  • Sign up for Charles Schwab
  • Promotion:Three ways to qualify for 30 commission-free trades per month:
    1. Maintain $25k in your BofA deposit accounts
    2. Maintain $25k in cash in your Merrill Edge self-directed accounts
    3. Qualify for Platinum Privileges by maintaining $50k in a combination of your Bank of America deposit accounts and Merrill Edge brokerage accounts. Must have an active Bank of America personal checking account.
  • Interactive and easy-to-use retirement tools
  • Sign up for Merrill Edge
  • Promotion: Invest $1 million+ in Vanguard funds and Vanguard ETFs and receive 25 free trades per year. Subsequent trades are $2
  • World’s largest no load mutual fund company, but not ideal for those who want to trade stocks ($20 per trade)
  • Sign up for Vanguard
  • Promotion: Open an account with at least $25,000 and receive free trades for 60 days + $100 bonus
  • Open an account with at least $100,000 and receive free trades for 60 days + $300 bonus
  • Provides top tier research for a reasonable price, together with intuitive yet powerful analytics
  • Sign up for TD Ameritrade

Refer a Friend

  • Promotion: Receive 3 free trades each time you refer a friend to Scottrade
  • Offers free basic research reports, trading software and tools, and real-time data
  • Sign up for Scottrade
  • Andrew Zimmerman

    USAA stopped allowing non-members unfortunately…

    • Maxime Rieman

      Actually, USAA just stopped allowing non-members to open bank accounts (checking, savings, etc). Anyone can open a brokerage account with them.

      • wah5728

        Are USAA fees for a brokerage account competitive? And by chance can you provide examples of fees for trading stocks with a USAA brokerage account. Thinking of ridding my ‘financial advisor’ and the hefty fees associated with the affiliation and going it on my own as I had been doing for years.

        • Maxime Rieman

          Yes, the USAA fees are quite competitive. Stock trading commissions are $8.95, unless you make at least 25 trades per quarter or have over $50,000 in the account, in which case trades are $5.95.

  • 1BroLee

    Does USAA ask for fees for transferring assets both into and out of an account? Or

    fees for not maintaining a minimum balance?

    • Maxime Rieman

      USAA does not charge fees to transfer assets into an account and there are no fees for a full-brokerage transfer out. There are no account fees or inactivity fees.

  • czeigler

    Scottrade just made a horror story of my 1099 and will probably not issue a new corrected one per my broker Dave Shipour. This 1099 only showed the gains and no losses for the year even though my losses exceeded my gains. My accountant is now having to do a spread sheet and submit our taxes by paper and not electronically so the IRS can see the error in the 1099. If you need accurate tax statements don’t use this company!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Maxime Rieman

      So, Dave Shipour is your Scottrade representative? I’d be happy to look into this matter if you could send some additional information to markets@nerdwallet.com

  • Jeffrey Snyder

    how about loyal3…free trades all the way it says…is it legit?

    • Maxime Rieman

      Loyal3 offers commission-free trades, but has a fairly limited set of investment offerings since they have to have deals with each company. In addition, trades are batched, which means they aren’t executed immediately.

      Here are some more details:
      http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/loyal3-review/

  • Sean

    Does anyone have experience or advice on trade king online brokers.