Zacks Trade Review 2021: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

Zacks Trade offers penny-a-share trades, a robust trading platform and, unlike most brokers, doesn't charge extra for broker-assisted trades.

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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Zacks Trade

on Zacks Trade's website

on Zacks Trade's website

Fees

$0.01

per share

Account Minimum

$2,500

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Ample research offerings.
  • Robust trading platform.
  • Access to international exchanges.

Cons

  • Trails competitors on commissions.
  • High account minimum.

Compare to Similar Brokers

Zacks Trade
Merrill Edge
SoFi Active Investing
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Fees

$0.01

per share

Fees

$0

per trade

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$2,500

Account Minimum

$0

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Promotion

Up to $600

when you invest in a new Merrill Edge® Self-Directed account.

Promotion

$5 to $1,000

in free stock for users who sign up via mobile app

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Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.

Full Review

Where Zacks Trade shines

Trading platforms and research: Zacks is an introducing broker to Interactive Brokers, which means the company’s trading platforms and research mirror that of Interactive Brokers — they are powerful and professional-level.

Free access to a broker: If you’re inclined to place phone trades, those are completely free at Zacks, a rare offering among brokers.

Access for international investors and to foreign stock exchanges. Because of the broker's relationship with Interactive Brokers, Zacks is available in 218 countries and territories; customers can trade on more than 90 international exchanges.

Where Zacks Trade falls short

Commissions: These are largely a thing of the past among brokers, but Zacks still charges a commission on stock and ETF trades.

Poor mutual fund selection: The company has no transaction-fee-free mutual funds, and no low-cost or low-minimum funds (defined by NerdWallet as expense ratios below 0.50% and a minimum below $100 — many brokers offer thousands of options that fall in this category).


Zacks Trade is best for:

  • Active traders.

  • Investors seeking access to a human broker.

  • Investors looking to trade on foreign stock exchanges.

  • Options traders.

Zacks Trade at a glance

Account minimum

$2,500

Stock trading costs

One cent per share, with a $1 minimum.

Options trades

$1 for first contract and 75 cents for each additional one.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

None (one free withdrawal per month, after which it's $1 for ACH, $4 for a check and $10 for a wire).

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

None

Tradable securities

• Stocks. • Fractional shares. • Bonds. • Mutual funds. • ETFs. • Options.

Trading platform

Three free platforms: Zacks Trade Pro offers extensive tools and customizable format for active traders; Zacks Trader is a scaled-down, web-based version; Client Portal allows for simple trades and provides access to account documents and balances.

Mobile app

The Handy Trader app lets you trade stocks, options and more, plus monitor your portfolio.

Research and data

More than 20 free research reports and access to 80 premium trials.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)

Phone, chat and email support Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time, including access to a broker at no extra cost.

More details about Zacks Trade's ratings

Account minimum: 2 out of 5 stars

These days, most brokers require no minimum to open an account (of course, you must fund the account in order to purchase investments). Zacks Trade is one of the few brokers we review that has held on to its higher account minimum, which creates a barrier to entry for beginners. Admittedly, beginners do not seem to be the target audience here.

Stock trading costs: 4 out of 5 stars

Again, most brokers dropped their trading commission to $0 on U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs, which makes Zacks Trade stand out for its comparatively higher fee. However, among brokers that cater to advanced traders and still charge a minimum, Zacks Trade’s fee is on the low end at 1 cent per share.

Options trades: 2 out of 5 stars

There’s no base commission for options trades, which earns Zacks Trade some marks, but the per-contract fee is on the higher side at $.75 (and $1 for the first contract). Many brokers charge no base commission and set their contract fee at a lower $.65.

Account fees: 5 out of 5 stars

Zacks Trade earns points here for charging no account fees — the broker does not charge a fee to transfer out assets via ACAT as other brokers do. Users who withdraw frequently may encounter a charge there, but it would be rare: Zacks Trade offers one free withdrawal per month, then charges $1 for ACH transfers. There are also no inactivity fees or annual fees here.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds: 1 out of 5 stars

If you want to invest in mutual funds, Zacks isn't ideal: Trades cost $27.50, and Zacks offers zero no-transaction-fee funds.

Tradable securities: 3 out of 5 stars

Zacks Trade offers stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and options, as well as fractional shares of stocks, an increasingly popular offering that allows investors to purchase small pieces of a stock, rather than a full share.

As noted above, the company is not a good fit for mutual-fund investors — not only are no transaction-fee-free funds offered, but the company has no low-expense ratio funds (defined by NerdWallet as funds with an expense ratio of .50% or less) and no mutual funds with minimums below $100.

Crypto offering: 1 out of 5 stars

Zacks Trade investors can't buy or trade cryptocurrencies directly, and the broker doesn’t offer access to crypto derivatives or trusts. There are plans to add crypto to the platform in the future.

Trading platform: 5 out of 5 stars

Zacks offers three trading platforms, all of which are free and available to all customers. Among other features, the downloadable Zacks Trade Pro lets you customize the layout to suit your needs, offers custom charting, more than 120 technical indicators and an Options Strategy Lab to help you assess how profitable an options trade might be.

The web-based Zacks Trader is the lower-calorie version of the Pro platform, offering interactive charts, streaming market data and other tools.

All of these tools are created by Interactive Brokers, another discount broker, and Zacks Trade simply rebrands them for its own customers (more on this below). Zacks also offers Client Portal, which provides access to account documents and balances and can facilitate simple trades, as well as a mobile app called Handy Trader.

Mobile app: 3 out of 5 stars

Again, Zacks mobile app, called Handy Trader, comes from Interactive Brokers, but it gets low marks by users. It does boast fast execution, and it offers real-time data, instant orders and charts.

Research and data: 5 out of 5 stars

Zacks Trade offers investors free access to more than 20 research and news reports, including Zacks Investment Research, plus about 80 subscription reports, at varying prices. Since the company serves as an introducing broker to Interactive Brokers, it offers the same research as that provider.

Customer support options: 3.5 out of 5 stars

While Zacks' phone and chat lines are staffed only during regular business hours (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday), the company offers a rare service: access to a broker, for free. Unlike pretty much every other broker out there, Zacks doesn't charge an extra fee for making trades over the phone, so if you often find yourself without internet service, or just wanting a little extra help, Zacks could be a good solution for you.

Is Zacks Trade right for you?

Zacks offers basically what Interactive Brokers offers — same platform, same mobile app — but at a slightly higher price in exchange for better customer service, including free broker-assisted trades.

Zacks is a good fit for people who are relatively savvy — active investors but aren't yet ready to go it entirely alone and might want a little hand-holding and/or a backup plan for their online trades.

How do we review brokers?

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DATA COLLECTION AND REVIEW PROCESS

We collect data directly from providers, and conduct firsthand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. Our process starts by sending detailed questionnaires to providers to complete. The questionnaires are structured to equally elicit both favorable and unfavorable responses from providers. They are not designed or prepared to produce any predetermined results. The questionnaire answers, combined with product demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

RATING FACTORS

Evaluations vary by provider type, but in each case are based upon the weighted averages of factors that include but are not limited to: advisory and account fees, account minimums and types, investment selection, investment expense ratios, trading costs, access to human financial advisors, educational resources and tools, rebalancing and tax minimization options, and customer support including branch access, user-facing technology and mobile platforms.

Each factor can involve evaluating various sub-factors. For instance, when gauging the investment selections offered by robo-advisors, 80% of the score is based on the potential for diversification (how well-diversified a resulting portfolio of investments could be) combined with the availability of specialty portfolios and level of customization for investors. Expense ratios form an additional 10% of the score, and low or no management fee the remaining 10%.

FACTOR WEIGHTINGS

The weighting of each factor is based on our team’s assessment of which features are the most important to consumers and which ones impact the consumer experience in the most meaningful way. The factors considered, and how those factors are weighted, change depending upon the category of providers reviewed.

INFORMATION UPDATES

Writers and editors conduct our broker reviews on an annual basis but continually make updates throughout the year. We maintain frequent contact with providers and highlight any changes in offerings.

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on Zacks Trade's website