The bottom line:
Pros & Cons
Ample research offerings.
Robust trading platform.
Access to international exchanges.
Trails competitors on commissions.
High account minimum.
Low interest rate on uninvested cash.
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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 and minimums: These are largely a thing of the past among brokers, but Zacks still charges a commission on stock and ETF trades, and requires a four-digit minimum balance to maintain an account.
Poor mutual fund selection: The company has no transaction-fee-free mutual funds, and no funds with minimums under $100. (Many brokers offer thousands of options that fall in this category.)
Lack of tools and educational resources: The quality of educational content and financial planning tools (e.g. retirement calculators) varies greatly between brokers — but Zacks is unusual in that it has none of these things at all.
Zacks Trade is best for:
Investors seeking access to a human broker.
Investors looking to trade on foreign stock exchanges.
Zacks Trade at a glance
Stock trading costs
One cent per share, with a $1 minimum. For penny stocks, $1 minimum or 1% of trade value.
$1 for first contract and 75 cents for each additional one.
Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)
Interest rate on uninvested cash
Zacks Trade does not pay interest on uninvested cash.
Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds
Three free platforms: Zacks Trade Pro offers extensive tools and customizable format for active traders; Zacks Trade is a scaled-down, web-based version; Client Portal allows for simple trades and provides access to account documents and balances.
Zacks Trade recently scrapped their old app and launched a new one, and the new one does not yet have enough iOS or Android ratings to evaluate its overall popularity.
Research and data
More than 20 free research subscriptions.
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. No educational resources.
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 have completely dropped their trading commission to $0 on U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs, which makes Zacks Trade stand out for its comparatively higher fee — 1 cent per share, with a minimum of $1 (or 1% of trade value, in the case of penny stocks).
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 few account fees — the broker does not charge a fee to transfer out assets via ACAT as other brokers do. Users get one free transfer per month, after which they can transfer out money by ACH for $1, by check for $4 or by wire for $10.
There is an inactivity fee of $15 per month which can be waived by trading or by maintaining a balance above $25,000.
Interest rate on uninvested cash: 1 out of 5 stars
Unlike many other brokers, Zacks Trade pays zero interest on uninvested cash.
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: 4 out of 5 stars
Zacks Trade offers stocks (domestic and foreign), 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.
Treasury bonds, corporate bonds and municipal bonds are available, although they're subject to additional fees. For corporate bonds that's $3 per bond, plus 0.1% of face value up to $10,000, and then 0.025% of face value thereafter. For Treasurys, it's $3 per bond, plus 0.025% of face value up to $1 million, after which it's 0.005% of face value. Bond investors who aren't looking to pay those fees can also find bond funds on Zacks Trade.
But 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 mutual funds with minimums below $100. Zacks Trade was also unable to provide data on how many ETFs it offers with expense ratios below 0.50%.
Like Interactive Brokers, Zacks Trade offers competitive margin rates (although they're not quite as low as Interactive Brokers). Rates top out at 8.83% for accounts with balances below $100,000.
Trading platform: 4.5 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 Trade 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.
Zacks Trade does not offer IPO access, but it does offer access to over-the-counter (OTC) stocks for a commission of $1 or 1% of trade value, whichever is larger. It also offers extended trading hours — 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday.
Like Interactive Brokers, Zacks Trade offers investors very good order execution quality, and does not accept payment for order flow (PFOF).
Mobile app: 3 out of 5 stars
Zacks recently relaunched its own iOS and Android apps, and neither have enough ratings yet on their respective app marketplaces to calculate an overall average rating. Previously, mobile trading was conducted through the app Handy Trader, which we reviewed at 3 stars. We've used this score while we wait for more scores to come in on Zacks' newly-launched app.
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?
NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers by assets under management, along with emerging industry players. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.
We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The questionnaire answers, combined with 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).
For more details about the categories considered when rating brokers and our process, read our full methodology.