Zecco Stops Commission Free Trades

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Zecco sent an email out to customers last Friday about a huge change in their account. It turns out that offering commission free stock trades is not a sustainable model and Zecco will be moving away from that as of March 30th, 2011. When I first learned about Zecco in mid-2007 and their offer of free stock trades, I was skeptical and wondered if Zecco was a scam (it’s not). When they moved to require a minimum $25,000 balance in an account to get 10 free stock trades, I suspected that it was only a matter of time before free trades are gone.

Businesses can lower their bottom line when they operate online and online banks have proven this with their high interest savings accounts for years. Unfortunately for brokers, stock trades aren’t free and there’s still a minimum cost associated with that transaction.

While Zecco hasn’t had the best reputation in terms of customer service (according to Smart Money), it’s clear that they care because the CEO has been active in their forums. Unfortunately for them, their new pricing structure looks a lot like that of TradeKing, 7 spots higher on the Smart Money rankings. TradeKing also offers a $150 transfer fee reimbursement… that doesn’t bode well for those looking to jump off the Zecco ship.

Here was the email:

Thank you for being a Zecco Trading customer. I hope you’ve been enjoying the exciting improvements we’ve rolled out in the last few months.

When Zecco Trading first launched in 2006, our focus was to deliver a good, solid service at a bare bones price. In the four and a half years since that launch however, our customers’ needs have evolved quite a bit. While investors today certainly value low commissions, they also demand a great trading service with a rich set of advanced features.

So, we have been working hard to continuously improve the Zecco Trading experience. In just the last year or so we’ve introduced major improvements in our quotes and research offering as well as launched important new tools like Zecco Streamer, Zap Trade and the new Zecco Mobile iPhone app. We’ve also made substantial improvements in customer service and upgraded our core infrastructure to dramatically improve performance and reliability.

To better support this balance between offering remarkable value and continuing to deliver the innovative new technologies, tools and services that Zecco Trading customers require, we are modifying our commission structure. Starting on March 30, 2011, our new commission rates will be:
Equity trades: $4.95 per trade*
Options trades: $4.95 per trade, plus $0.65 per contract
With this change we are no longer offering 10 free trades per month. As before, there are no minimum balance requirements or inactivity fees to open or maintain a Zecco Trading account.

Under this new pricing structure, Zecco Trading’s pricing remains 30% to 50% lower than our competitors. I hope you agree that, when you consider the features, the quality customer service we provide, and the price, Zecco delivers the best value on the Stree

{ 19 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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19 Responses to “Zecco Stops Commission Free Trades”

  1. Josh Levine says:

    Zecco and Tradeking both use the same clearing firm, Penson, so it kind of makes sense that their fees are similar.

    One major difference between the two is how they handle IRAs. Zecco charges 30 dollars per year plus a 30 dollar termination fee. Tradeking charges no annual fee but charges 50 dollars per withdrawal. Tradeking’s fees probably work out better for the majority of investors.

  2. zapeta says:

    I’m surprised the free trade thing lasted as long as it did. Its too bad for Zecco because that was what set them apart, otherwise they’re just another discount broker.

    • skylog says:

      you summed it up. not much of a warning there either. i mean, i guess it is nearly a month, but it just seems a little quick to me.

  3. thunderthighs says:

    Ah, I had somehow missed this in my inbox, thanks for the heads-up. So I guess this is the end of Zecco for me for the foreseeable future

  4. cubiclegeoff says:

    Not a surprise that the free trades went away. Other companies with better options are getting cheaper, and with ETFs being traded freely at many companies, not really worth going to a substandard company.

    • thunderthighs says:

      Exactly what I was thinking, there is much better out there than Zecco. But unless I’m missing something, I wanted to ask, is there anyone here who plans to continue using Zecco? If so, why do you prefer Zecco to other brokerages?

  5. Scott says:

    I’ve been taking advantage of the free trades at Zecco to invest in Vanguard ETFs. My strategy doesn’t work well without free trades, so I’ll move my accounts over to Vanguard at the end of the month.

  6. MoneyNing says:

    I think part of the problem is that there’s no end in sight for Zecco’s plan to raise prices, since all they do is drop, drop, drop their benefits.

    It would be nice to just come out with a solid business plan and stick with it. Instead, they lure customers to their platform and then change the rules.

  7. Vic says:

    I can’t believe people are complaining about losing free trades. You’ve had free trades for 4+ years. If you are not able to make money after commissions and taxes then you are doing it wrong. Stick with a low fee Vanguard fund if you are not able to make money trading. If you do your homework, fees become irrelevant. I’d rather pay a higher commission if the order gets filled vs a low commission and just sitting there in my order queue.

  8. Wells Fargo provides free trading in their Wells Trade Account if you maintain at least $25K in your account. Having $25K is not as hard as you think because it can include any or all Wells account totals combined.

  9. I use TradeKing. They are really affordable and I like their interface and style. It’s a good site for basic trading, but I want to use Charles Schwab at some point. My blog/site is working on a really great article reviewing different online discount brokers. We’ll break it down by income and goals and give ppl a really good idea of what the best fit for them is. Check it out in a few weeks.

  10. MARTA says:

    I JUST SWITCHED TO Bank of America. 30 free trades/month with 25K in BOA any accounts.

  11. Goner says:

    Both WF and BofA require that you have $25K just sitting there doing nothing (earning 0.0001% interest or some such) so that you can get free trading. No thanks!

  12. SlownSteady says:

    I was sorry to see Zecco drop its commission-free trading, but wasn’t surprised; I enjoyed it while it lasted. Having free trades expire at the end of each month didn’t make sense: I often used up seven or eight trades close to the end of the month; if the rolled over, even for a year, I’d likely never have used them.

    There are other reasonable discount brokers out there; I like Just2Trade, eOption, Lightspeed and SoGoTrade.

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