I’ve long touted TradeKing as a great discount broker because they have low commissions ($4.95 a trade) and no account minimums. Unfortunately, there’s been a change and they will now be assessing an annual $50 inactivity fee on accounts that have a “combined household account value of less than $2,500″ or have not made a single trade in an entire year. An account is part of a household if it has the same mailing address and/or tax ID and if you are assessed an inactivity charge, you will only be charged once.
At first you might think that this is unfair, to spring an inactivity charge, but the requirements to avoid this are fairly low. If you have more than $2,500 in your accounts, you won’t be assessed the fee. If you don’t have that much, just make one trade. If you make just one trade, you won’t be assessed the fee. Paying $4.95 (or $9.90 round trip) is better than $50.
In my mind, if you have less than $2,500 and aren’t making any trades, your money is better off somewhere else (like a high yield savings account) anyway until you’ve accumulated more savings.