You can use this link to send me your experiences with a broker, and I will post extracts as I think appropriate.

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Brokers with no IRA setup or maintenance fees, in order of ascending price of limit orders for equities:

eOption, 1-888-793-5333, 1-847-375-6080
Products: Stocks, foreign stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options
Market Orders: $3.00
Limit Orders: $3.00
Mutual Funds: $14.95; applies to "All Mutual Fund Trades" except for periodic investments and withdrawals, which are $5.00.
Options: $3.00/trade+$0.10/contract
Minimum to Open: $0 for domestic accounts. $5000 for cash accounts for international clients. Additional $5000 deposit - which cannot be used for trading and will not count toward equity or buying power - for international margin and spread accounts. "For International accounts that wish to trade uncovered puts, the security deposit will be an additional $10,000.00."
Inactivity Fee: Seems to be $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00; $50.00 "Less Than 48 Hours". DTC Out:$25.00 per security. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on on-site table
Extras: Foreign accounts accepted; see some details under "Minimum to Open", above. Both free and paid cash management services, including checking. Incoming and outgoing ACH. Dividend reinvestment. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs, although it does have a termination fee. Also has direct access platforms.
Notes: "[A] division of Regal Securities, Inc." Clears through Penson Financial Services. Minimal research products. Seems to have a few unusual fees, as for worthless securities or conversion of convertibles.
User Comments: "On 14/02/2011, I submitted [to eOption] an application via email. I neglected to send a copy of the old broker's statement so was asked for it within about ten minutes of the sending of the application. I waited a week (in the meantime, [Just2Trade] approved and sent me information for two other accounts I transferred to them) and then sent an inquiry [to eOption]. Nothing. Another few days, still nothing. Finally on Friday the 25th, I sent them an email telling them to cancel the application. Still nothing. Finally, today, I sat for twenty minutes on their live chat and told them 'in person' to cancel everything. They do not respond to emails, it appears."(February 28, 2011)
Rates Updated: February 15, 2011

Firstrade, 1.800.869-8800, 718.961-6600
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs
Market Orders: $4.95
Limit Orders: $4.95
Mutual Funds: $9.95 for no-load funds. NTF funds also available.
Options: $4.95/trade+$0.65/contract
Minimum to Open: $0
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. DTC Out:$50.00/security. ACAT Out:$75.00. Partial ACAT transfers also available..
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Dividend reinvestment. Valet accounts (with annual fee). Several kinds of Standard and Poor's research. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Foreign accounts accepted, including non-resident aliens. Also has site in Chinese.
User Comments: "Bad service. Called from Thailand and was told to send a fax application first, to get an account number, then send the original by post. Did that. One week after sending the fax, no communication. Documents sent by EMS should have arrived two days ago."(August 11, 2005)    "Firstrade has been an excellent broker in every way, they are quick to respond to queries, their Valet service is excellent, good all around. I would recommend them to anyone."(November 12, 2006)    "I am an American living in Thailand and working in the UAE. I have traded with Firstrade for almost 2 years. I trade three accounts, 2 IRAs with mutual funds and 1 account with stocks. I have never had trouble with their online access and services. Trades are executed and confirmations received in a few seconds. I have deposited and withdrawn funds a few times - never any problem. Customer services responds to general questions via email in 24-48 hours. I have never called them. I recommend them for good basic service with low fees."(October 14, 2007)    "Good customer service every time I have had to contact them, mostly by e-mail, once by phone. The best experience is when I had already sent in my application to rollover my IRA, they posted a new promotion on their web site (free trades for 1 year). I asked if they would extend the offer to me, even though the promotion did not start when I sent my application to them, and they agreed to do it."(April 23, 2008)    "I own some preferred stock which was to be exchanged for common shares (Citi). E*Trade advised me of the offer by post as soon as they had the information. I own the same preferreds in a Firstrade IRA but did not hear from them even though all information comes to me in email. I inquired and have yet to receive anything but a runaround. They even suggested that the information went to the spam folder, but if they had looked, it would have been evident from my voting record that I get everything they send. They are 'investigating'; that message arriving August 19, 2009. They are not responding to my further inquiries, leading me to believe that they have discovered that they screwed up badly. I will be filing a NASD complaint for this error."(September 8, 2009)    "Firstrade... recently 'upgraded' (if you can call it that) their site but... now do not have real-time quotes, except for their X-Stream product which is limited to 20 symbols per page. All quotes on their 'home' page are at least 15 minutes delayed, in other words, useless. Also, they have steadfastly refused to allow the investor to sort their holdings in alphabetical order on said home page. [T]hey appear to be run by a Chinese company, and every time I call them, I get a person with an Asian accent...."(November 15, 2011)    "I've being using First Trade 4 or 5 years. I only have mutual fund accounts with them. I was very happy prior to the recent site upgrade.... I've contacted them numerous time via email where I attached documents showing at times the fund prices do not update at the end of the day[,] and on Fridays they often won't be updated until the following Monday at Close of Business leaving me with inaccurate account balances. I've never received a correct answer to this problem which continues to this date. In addition, seems you only get a statement generated if you had a transaction that month[,] which makes my end the year performance review impossible to perform accurately. I'm in the process of looking for another brokerage house."(January 2, 2012)
Rates Updated: February 21, 2017

TradeKing, 877.495.5464 (877-495-KING)
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs
Market Orders: $4.95
Limit Orders: $4.95
Mutual Funds: $9.95 for ALL no-load funds
Options: $4.95/trade+$0.65/contract
Minimum to Open: $0. $2000 minimum for margin accounts.
Inactivity Fee: $50.00/year if "[n]o trades have been executed in your household account(s) in the last 12 months and The combined value of your household account(s) is less than $2,500."
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$50.00. DTC Out:$10.00 per security, $50.00 minimum. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary table
Extras: Dividend reinvestment, but for whole shares only, which is a major limitation. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs, although it does have a termination fee. For-fee check writing and debit cards. Customer blogs and articles. Seems to have more educational resources than most sites, all tilted toward traders.
Notes: Emphasizes interactive and digital tools. Little research, although it does have stock sheets from Thomson Financial. Citizens of some non-US countries can open accounts, if they have a social security number. "All customers including US citizens must be living in the USA to maintain a TradeKing account." As of mid-October 2010, TradeKing was finishing the process of changing their clearing agent from Legent Clearing to Penson.
User Comments: "Tradeking has been the perfect broker for me. The only thing I don't like is their fee for buying non-load mutual funds, seems high to me."(July 31, 2009)
Rates Updated: November 11, 2014

Scottrade, 1.800.619-SAVE (7283)
Products: Stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, CDs, international stocks
Market Orders: $7.00
Limit Orders: $7.00
Mutual Funds: $17.00. Load funds also incur a $17.00 redemption fee. Also has NTF funds.
Options: $7.00/trade+$1.25/contract
Minimum to Open: $7500 initial deposit
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. $20.00 for mandatory reorganization.. ACAT Out:$75.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Checkwriting. Also has site in Chinese. Personal broker. Provides a variety of Standard and Poor's research. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Has a specialized options-trading subsite called OptionsFirst (for US accounts). This is what they said about foreign accounts on April 1, 2004: "At the current time we can establish accounts for U.S., Chinese, Taiwan and Hong Kong residents only. This includes the 50 U.S. States, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands." However, on November 4, 2012, a user wrote: "Scottrade doesn't offer international accounts if you live outside of US. (If you are resident and have SSN it's possible to open an account)."
Notes: Low credit interest on cash balances. On February 13, 2008, Paul M. reported that "Scottrade now pays 0.42% on the cash in your account with no sweep options." On the same date, the money market funds which are the default sweep vehicles in my own two brokerage accounts were paying roughly 2.97% and 3.31%.
User Comments: "Scottrade is a great broker if you rarely have excess cash sitting in your account. However, the interest that they pay on excess cash is very poor, at the time of this writing [September 11, 2006] it is 3% (on $10,000) while other brokers are typically paying 4.5%. [My two money market funds are paying 4.36% and 4.45%. Ed.] This difference comes out to $150 per year in lost interest on $10,000 that one could have earned if they used a different broker. It takes a lot of $30 yearly maintenance fees or $15 trades to add up to the $150 per year in lost interest."(September 8, 2006)    "Scottrade's old trading platform used to be fast, functional and accurate. However, their new platform is extremely slow over a dial-up line and has many technical bugs and math errors which never seem to get addressed. They also lack the ability to write put options."(February 1, 2007)    "Compared to my benchmark rate at Vanguard, they're sitting on at least 200 basis points of my money as maintenance fee. This is why I want to leave Scottrade."(February 27, 2007)    "[Scottrade has] a security vulnerability in their website (specifically their Streaming Quotes tool) that I first notified them of several years ago. They have both failed to even acknowledge let alone fix it. The summary of the issue is that because of how streaming quote tool is first loaded, a third-party could impersonate the account holder and have visibility into the person's account and buy/sell securities within the account."(April 4, 2007)    "Scottrade... has been a complete ordeal. [They] required me to visit one of their brokers to set up my account. Upon doing so I found this particular broker to be an arrogant ass who went to far as to attempt to correct me when I used the terminology Investment Advisor Representative.... Because of his ignorance I had to find some information not mentioned on the application prior to opening my account and fax the additional information to him the next day. The broker chose to not call me and notify me when he received the information and he chose to not notify me when my account was activated and ready for funds. Upon attempting to seed my account I found that Scottrade does not accept ACH transactions.... After sending them a check to seed my account and having that check held for 12 days I was finally ready to trade. Unfortunately trading proved difficult as I found their site, at least by comparison with Ameritrade, very clunky and lacking some of the key tools I have come to rely on. I only made two trades, a purchase and a sale of a highly liquid big-cap stock. Both of these trades were executed exactly at my limit price despite the fact that the stock was trading about 10c below the limit price when I bought and about 20c above the limit price when I sold. Thanks to an open call contract I haven't closed my Ameritrade account yet. I have, however, closed my Scottrade account and will send that money back to Ameritrade, that is if I ever get it."(April 11, 2007)    "I sent in an application for business account to Scottrade on 3/27/2007. [Two weeks later] the account has not been opened. The representative seemed to have little knowledge of processing this type of account. I have resent the forms they required twice and they came back for more signatures which they could have told us about the first time.... Now this morning they want me to reapply from scratch and I flatly told them they can forget about the application and return the check I enclosed for account opening. This experience with Scottrade is indeed eye opening. I wonder how many new business Scottrade has turned away because of their poor customer service and [their representatives' lack of] knowledge of their new account procedures."(April 13, 2007)    "I've been with them for about nine months....[L]imit orders never execute at a better than limit price. Also, they don't pay high interest on the cash balance in the account. I don't like them too much.... Scottrade's website regularly crashes after some time with Firefox 2.0.0.6. Their little graph that shows your portfolio status when you log [into your] home page is ugly, always slow, and sometimes does not load...."(August 10, 2007)    "I've had a Scottrade account... for nine years, but active only for 7 1/2.... I normally use margin, which is exorbitantly costly at Scottrade.... The only other complaint I have about Scottrade is that in the middle of the night they shut the website down for 'batch processing.' They inform the reader that the process takes 30 minutes, which unfortunately is not the case. It may be hours, because I've never had the patience to keep trying after an hour or so. This has caused me twice to miss profitable buys."(September 23, 2007)    "I have been using Scottrade for about 6 years. In the beginning the trades were quick; even funding my brokerage account via ACH debit took anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to show up in my account if requested before 2:00 PM. I went to execute a stock buy a few days ago and it took approximately 4 minutes to execute; I ended up purchasing the stock for a much higher price. Yesterday, I initiated a ACH debit from my bank to my brokerage account. The funds will not be available for 3 business days. The stock that I was going to purchase has moved out of my range. I used to love Scottrade. It is now a sub-par company. I am looking for a new broker. I might just use my other broker, TD Ameritrade."(January 30, 2008)    "I've had Scottrade since 1993.... I have had no problems with them at all.... Everything else has been fine. The brokers have been knowledgeable on all but one occasion, and he had the senior broker help me. My limit orders have filled at lower-than-limit prices.... I don't do options and I have high speed. I use... IE, Mozilla Firefox and Mac Safari."(December 12, 2009)    "I have an account with Scottrade and I found out while trying to place an online trade that they have a policy that if a stock is down substantially on 1 day you can not buy it online; you have to call a rep to place the trade."(February 4, 2010)    "It might seem like you are only paying $7 a trade, but because of various self-serving undocumented algorithms the [used by the] market makers who actually do your trades and *pay* Scottrade..., you will not get best execution. I had a limit order with Scottrade for an NYSE listed security. After the NYSE opened, the security dropped below my limit bid, then the *offer* for the security dropped below my bid, but still Scottrade did not fill me. Why? Because their "policy", though they admitted that it is documented nowhere, is to only fill after a security first trades on the NYSE. This allows their market maker to trade ahead of you and use your trade as insurance. You cannot opt out of this type of biased trading. The other problem with this is that more and more securities are traded off the listed market; in many cases most of their daily volume is off the listed exchange. I have a formal complaint filed with FINRA, but FINRA is just made up of the brokerage firms, so one has very little voice. Best to avoid this very poor brokerage choice. The commission might have been $7, but they just lost $618 of my dollars. Not much of a bargain."(March 25, 2010)    "I have been with Scottrade a long time, and have had no problems."(May 30, 2010)    I tried to convert a Traditional IRA with Scottrade to a Roth IRA... and sent in all the forms and then I was told that their clearing [firm] could not handle a conversion because there were options in the account. In one day... both Merrill Lynch and Etrade were able to make the conversion for accounts I held with those firms, and the Etrade account also held options. My past experience has been that Etrade is far superior to any other firms as I also have accounts with Schwab and Ameritrade."(December 31, 2010)    "OptionsFirst... monthly reports are always the last of my five brokerage accounts to arrive on line. When I have had securities put to me you would think they would know what the cost basis is but they list it as zero. They are aware of this shortcoming but after two years have not yet fixed the problem. Their site is also difficult to navigate."(February 9, 2011)
Rates Updated: December 9, 2014

Fidelity Investments, 800.343-3548
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, insurance, commercial paper, CDs, IPOs, precious metals, managed portfolios
Market Orders: $7.95
Limit Orders: $7.95
Mutual Funds: $0.00 for Fidelity funds. $75.00 when buying other no-load funds. NTF funds available.
Options: $19.95/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $2500
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$38.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate. A casual comparison on September 23, 2007, suggested that their margin rates were high. "BrokerageLink accounts are not eligible for margin loans or short sales ...."
Extras: Extensive cash management and independent research. Seem to be no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Dividend reinvestment, including partial shares. (Thanks to Alan for the update.)
Notes: July 2, 2014: According to Yahoo! Finance, citing The Wall Street Journal and a letter from Fidelity to their clients abroad, "Fidelity Investments... are telling U.S. clients who live outside the country that they can no longer buy or trade mutual funds in their brokerage accounts."
User Comments: "Fidelity does not stand by their statements. I bought a Sears bond in July 2003 listed as uncallable.... It was called...."(April 19, 2004)    "Fidelity in particular advertises superior inventory, with access to the shares in their mutual funds. I've had numerous short trades cancel on Fidelity that subsequently filled on Izone."(July 24, 2008)    "I did two stock purchases one day and the next sold the same stocks. They restricted my account for 90 days so I could only buy a stock if I had cash in my account to cover it, as they claimed I did not have the cash in their Fidelity Cash Reserves [Account](their so-called core account). However I had over $465,000 in other money market accounts with Fidelity which I told them should be counted as cash under the Federal regulation. They were obdurate and would not change the restriction. I have and have had accounts with many brokers where I have had balances in banks and money market mutual funds and have never run into this type of thinking.    One of my stocks is splitting into a US traded stock and another stock listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Unless you have over $500,000 in assets at Fidelity they will not let you make international trades. However, they told me in a case like this they would let me sell the Toronto stock when I receive it into my account."(May 30, 2010)
Rates Updated: February 3, 2010

Merrill Edge, 1.888.637.3343
Products: Options, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, bank products
Market Orders: $8.95
Limit Orders: $8.95
Mutual Funds: "No-Load/No Transaction Fee Funds - No charge"
Options: $8.95/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $2000
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:"$30 voluntary, $50 mandatory". DTC Out:"Partial account transfer, per security - No charge".
Maximum Margin Rate: According to proprietary base rate and table, easily accessible on site
Extras: Cash management services, including free checkwriting and debit cards. Seems to have no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs, although it does have a termination fee.
Notes: "Merrill Edge is the marketing name for two businesses: Merrill Edge Advisory Center... and a self-directed online investing platform. Both are made available through Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated." "MLPF&S is a registered broker-dealer,... and a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation."
User Comments: "Margin rates are very high.... Exercise and/or assignment is not posted and if you ask you will get multiple answers from free to $50.00"(October 21, 2010)    "I had to call and talk to their trading desk to confirm that their option exercise and assignment fee is equal to the regular option trading fee... The first phone rep just assumed there was no cost."(January 22, 2011)    "Late in 2010 I converted a traditional Merrill IRA to a Merrill Edge Roth IRA. I specifically asked at that time if I would be able to do 'cash protected puts' in the Roth IRA and was told by their employee that I would. After the conversion I was not able to do so and when I called I was then told that Merrill Edge does not allow 'cash protected puts' in an IRA."(February 9, 2011)
Rates Updated: November 27, 2011

E*Trade Financial, 1.800.387-2331, +1.678.624-6210
Products: Stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds
Market Orders: $9.99
Limit Orders: $9.99
Mutual Funds: $19.99 for no-load funds. NTF funds available.
Options: $9.99/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $1000; $2000 for margin accounts
Inactivity Fee: Seems to be $0.
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$30.00 (also charges $20 for involuntary reorganizations). DTC Out:$25.00. ACAT Out:$60.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Extensive financial services. Foreign investors: Sites in many countries and languages; however, on October 31, 2007, Alex D. reported that they no longer open accounts for Latin American clients. Seem to be no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs unless you request paper statements and confirmations. Dividend reinvestment.
User Comments: "I contacted E*Trade Customer Service with some simple questions about insurance coverage on my two brokerage accounts. The E*Trade response was slow, less than satisfactory, and even a bit hostile!"(May 8, 2006)    "I was a BrownCo customer and when E*Trade took that over, I became a customer of E*Trade. On August 16, 2006, per E*Trade's request, I sent them the necessary information to establish a money market fund account associated with my brokerage account and requested two ATM cards for my wife and myself. As of December 17, my wife had not received her card yet. I called them many times during that four months, and they were not responsive. During the last call, the representative said that he had put the request through and once it was out of his office, he had nothing to do with it. I tried to get through to his supervisor but he was not responsive either. I decided to close the account with them. They had the guts to charge me the fee for closing the account They were incompetent and unresponsive."(December 28, 2006)    "I have been with ETrade for almost 3 years. The last year has been all down hill. Services are overpriced and customer service is non-responsive, hard to get to, and less than helpful. I am changing brokers; what pushed me over the edge was customer service's condescending attitude and refusal to inform me why denied when I recently applied for options trading upgrade. I would not recommend ETrade to anyone!"(January 24, 2007)    "I was a Brown customer for over 30 years. I became an E-Trade customer upon the take over. It is like dealing with the "Keystone Cops." Since early December I have been trying to open a savings account linked to my brokerage accounts. Customer service is frustrating and stupid. Lots of platitudes, no action. Imagine my shock when I executed a trade for $12,000 and when I checked my account I was on margin for $1,250,000 .....ooops. I'm on this site to move my money!!!"(January 31, 2007)    "E*Trade is terrible. I'm a longtime Brown & Co customer that got transferred to E*Trade; no real problems until it came time to consolidate some other accounts. We started with a simple Roth for my wife -- two total mutual fund transfers and one cash liquidation. They got the cash -- and immediately put it in a "restricted" status -- meaning we can do nothing with it -- and even [we faxed] the requested additional IDs, [it's still restricted and they can't explain why]. Customer Service has ever-changing BS reasons why the other two transfers aren't done.... Worse, E*Trade never tries to contact us to tell us what's going on -- we have to contact them and get the run-around. After several months of futility, we've had it....Stay away from E*Trade...."(June 20, 2007)    "I have been an E-trade customer since they absorbed my HarrisDirect account some time ago.... On Sept. 21, 2007 I mailed a form requesting to open a SIMPLE IRA plan, which I had downloaded from their website. I sent it Priority Mail and the delivery confirmation indicated it had been delivered on Mon. Sept. 24th. I found the form a bit confusing and placed a sticky note on the form indicating that it was critical the account be opened before Oct. 1st since law forbids opening and funding a Simple IRA in the final quarter. I stated this on the sticky note and asked that if there were any problems to please let me know, providing both home and cell phone numbers. Since I heard nothing I assumed things were being handled, but on Oct. 1st I began to worry and used their online customer service center to send a written query. To make a long sad story short, nothing was done. I apparently had filled the form incorrectly. It is now Nov. 5th, 2007 and still nothing."(November 5, 2007)"On Saturday, I received an email from [E*Trade] saying that my order to sell ten contracts was rejected. This order had been in place since May. Since they provide only limited email service on weekends, I called them to inquire where their collective heads were.... The gentleman I spoke with was very polite but had no clue why it had happened. He told me that... I would have to wait until Monday, suffering the consequences if the price I set was reached. I then received two more emails telling me that it would take anywhere from one to four days to discover the problem. Obviously, that was unacceptable. I then started to dig on my own to see if I could determine why it happened. I discovered that the symbol on my portfolio was different from the order symbol. Their system changed it on my portfolio but the trading system obviously does not speak with the portfolio system. I then communicated this to them. The only response was that they were glad that they did not have to make the trade for their book. So much for trust."(June 17, 2008)    "My... experience has been that Etrade is far superior to any other firms as I also have accounts with [Scottrade and] Schwab and Ameritrade."(December 31, 2010)    "I am a US citizen living in Italy.... Recently, I asked [E*Trade] to replace the ATM card for [my] individual account. After saying that they sent it to me and after I waited six weeks for it to arrive, I asked again where it was. I had to wait about two weeks for a response. The response was that they do not send ATM cards to foreign countries anymore. I asked if they would send it to my former secretary and she would send it to me but the response to that (after three days) was that they had to send it to the address on the account. The writer then said 'I guess you will not have access to the money in that account.'"(May 21, 2013)
Rates Updated: January 22, 2011

TD Ameritrade, 800-454-9272 for new accounts, 800-669-3900 or 402-970-5805 for Client Service
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, forex, commodity and index futures
Market Orders: $9.99, +$2.00 for paper confirmation if requested, for accounts below $10,000
Limit Orders: $9.99, +$2.00 for paper confirmation if requested, for accounts below $10,000
Mutual Funds: $49.99 for no-load funds. Also has NTF funds.
Options: $9.99/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $0, $2000 for margin account. "There is no minimum funding required to open an account[;] however, special promotional offers may have requirements. Electronic funding minimum is $500."
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$38.00, even for mandatory reorganizations. DTC Out:"Free". ACAT Out:$75.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Debit cards and check writing, presumably for a fee. Funding by ACH transfer. Much independent research. Seem to be no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Separate UK, Canada, and Singapore sites.
Notes: August 27, 2013: TD Ameritrade is forcing clients from certain countries to close their accounts, or to maintain them as as static holding accounts only, with no further investment possible. Here is an extract from the letter received by a client: "[W]e have made the business decision to no longer open new accounts or handle new business transactions for clients located in certain foreign countries.... As a result, we've had to limit your account to liquidating (closing) transactions only. This means that you will not be able to open new positions or make deposits into your account...." I don't know to which countries this decision applies.
User Comments: "In the Summer of 2006 I was contacted by phone and asked to move our Family Limited Partnership account back to TD Ameritrade from Brownco/E*Trade. I told the broker that the account was moved from Ameritrade a couple years ago due to the policy of not providing checking or real time quotes to partnership accounts.... He called back sometime later and assured me that the account would receive both checking and real-time quotes. In addition, in consideration for my time, efforts and expense, TD Ameritrade would credit the account $500 upon a full transfer. We agreed to move our Family Limited Partnership account to TD Ameritrade, which is a time consuming process. For the first month, I could not get quotes (and thus account balances) on my screen. After a lot of phone calls and emails stock quotes finally appeared in my account. A few months later, a $250 charge appeared on my account for providing quotes. After a lot of phone calls and emails the charges were reversed. Things went swimmingly for a couple months until a $125/month charge again appeared my statement. Again, more emails. Again the charge was reversed. Today I got a phone call that TD Ameritrade is not going to honor the assurance made last summer. Stock quotes (even delayed) will not be included with this TD Ameritrade account.... Something is amiss with a marketing program that buys accounts for cash while making misrepresentations about what basic and customary services will be provided. After [writing to the CEO of TD Ameritrade], I got a phone call indicating they would not give me real time (or even delayed) quotes. The account balance in question exceeds $500k. The IRA account is slightly larger. Both will be transferred to a another broker."(March 11, 2007)    "I signed up for a "free research service from Ameritrade" which turned out to be a third party marketing group that sold my e-mail address to penny stock spammers. Besides this deal-breaker, Ameritrade has always executed my trades, both stock and options, quickly and exactly according to my instructions. Their online trade fees are reasonable and their site is easy to use and has all of the features I need from them."(April 11, 2007)    "I have several accounts at [TD] Ameritrade. Unfortunately, Ameritrade issues a separate ID number for each account. This procedure fails to work with users of Intuit Quicken (at least, in the Macintosh version), since Quicken only one financial institution called Ameritrade and expects that each user will have one user ID."(May 28, 2007)    "Several times their software indicated that trades had been accepted when they were actually not, and this cost me money. Their response was to try to blame me and/or [the] "market maker." Additionally, they started charging me for trades prior to their 30 day free trade period expiring (though they did, eventually, correct this). All in all, very frustrating experience, particularly dealing with them on phone (once I finally got through). Couldn't recommend them at all."(December 9, 2007)    "TD Ameritrade is the worst broker. Their paperwork is impossible to understand, they never respond to complaints, they keep advertising and promoting their service but could save a lot of money if they would listen to their customers. Any intelligent broker should have a suggestion box that is easy to use."(December 25, 2007)    "I've seen good and bad from the TD Waterhouse / Ameritrade merger, but the net result is a reduction in quality and service as far as I'm concerned. Compared to the old TD Waterhouse days, the website has improved and has more features, which is a plus. However, the new monthly statement is terrible - practically indecipherable: a grab-bag of double-entries, 'journal' entries, and other unprocessed data that appears to be intended for CPAs or auditors rather than real people (and I'm an engineer, so I'm accustom to looking at loads of raw data) It is almost as if TD Ameritrade is defying you to make any sense of what is happening in your account. Too bad, as the old TD Waterhouse statement was much better. In addition, the Quicken data download has similar problems with a bunch of double-entries, missing data and worthless descriptions. Again, it used to work with Waterhouse; why did Ameritrade break it? Finally - and this probably doesn't affect many people - I regularly have money deposited to my account via international bank wire from overseas. No problem with Waterhouse, but soon after Ameritrade took over, I stopped getting paid! I spent about an hour on the phone trying to figure out what happened, and the Ameritrade phone rep. gave me a BS excuse that, due to U.S. 'anti-terror' law, they were prohibited from accepting international bank wires. What?!? I told him that, if that was true, they better be contacting the FBI, because TD Waterhouse (now TD Ameritrade) regularly accepted international bank wires and I have the records to prove it. He then replied that this policy could not be changed and that was that. Useless. I'm actively looking for a new broker, which is unfortunate, because I had no problems with TD Waterhouse before the merger."(January 17, 2008)    "I've been with TDAmeritrade since they took over TDWaterhouse. My margin loan is over a million dollars and so they give me a rate of 'prime - 1.75%'. This is a negotiated rate which I received when I began the process of transferring my account to Brown and Co. several years ago, and TDAmeritrade offered me this rate to stay with them. [On the afternoon of March 18, 2008, Prime-1.75% would have been 3.5%, using the prime rate from money-rate.com; TDAmeritrade's published minimum was 6.75%! Ed.] The only problem is that twice now they seem to have 'forgotten' this promise and reset my rate to a much higher one. Each time it was appropriately corrected, but caused me considerable stress as it did require some diplomatic arguing of my case. For this reason I'm no longer confident of TDAmeritrade's promise of excellent service and I'm looking to move elsewhere and am especially attracted to a broker who's margin rates are pre-set at a very low number and don't require any schmoozing...."(March 18, 2008)    "I have been with TDAmeriTrade for almost a year but I am very disappointed.... The thing that made me decide not to trade with them anymore was I found out they did not recalculate my trailing stop order when my ETF distributed dividends. Not only did they not recalculate the order like Fidelity did, they canceled my order without notifying me. No phone calls, no emails to my registered email address, no email to my TDAmeriTrade account to let me know my order was canceled!    I have an ETF ADRE in TDAmeriTrade's account. I set a trailing stop order on September 24th, 2009 in case there is a big drop in the market. On October 28th the market did have a big drop and I was surprised to find the order was canceled only four days after I had set it and my ETF was still in my account and the order was not executed. I contacted their manager and he said it is industry standard to cancel the order when dividends distribution was recorded. In doing so they are protecting their customers' assets. And it is not their responsibility to notify the customers that the order has been canceled and it is customers' responsibility to check their accounts to find the information and re-set the order.    The problem with his story is that I have another ETF QQQQ with Fidelity. That ETF distributed dividends on the same day, October 30, so I assumed they have the same ex-dividend day. I also had a trailing stop order on the ETF. I did not have any information about whether this ETF was going to distribute dividends or not,... [but] when I saw the actual dividends distributed in my account on October 30, Fidelity had already recalculated the trailing stop order for me.    I thought the whole purpose of trailing stop orders is to protect investors while they are not watching.I thought the whole purpose of trailing stop orders is to protect investors while they are not watching. If I monitor my investments everyday and every minute, I don't need to set the trailing stop order.... I had no choice but to move my business to Fidelity."(November 24, 2009)    "I have been a TDA customer for a couple of years. Their fees are somewhat high but they have a good and helpful support team and response to e-mails is very fast (usually within a few hours). However, their order status screen does not indicate the stipulated cost basis for sell orders which is very important under the new IRS rules. Recently I selected a cost basis other than my default using their drop-down list but when the trade executed, I found out they had used my default basis anyway and since it was past the settlement date, nothing could be done about it. Since then whenever I use anything other than the default, I send an e-mail to the client services asking them to check the entry but it is a headache. I have repeatedly asked them to add this one little extra item to the order status table but so far without any success."(September 1, 2011)
Rates Updated: August 28, 2013

Trading Direct, 1.800.925-8566
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
Market Orders: $10.95
Limit Orders: $10.95
Mutual Funds: $21.95. NTF funds available.
Options: $9.95/trade+$1.00/contract
Minimum to Open: $0; $2000 for margin accounts
Inactivity Fee: $60 on accounts with no trades for that trading year, with exceptions.
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$30.00. DTC Out:$20.00/security. ACAT Out:$65.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+1.75%
Extras: Seem to be no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Dividend reinvestment is available for an extra charge. Accepts foreign accounts, including non-resident aliens. Valet accounts available for a fee.
Notes: A division of York Securities. Clears through Ridge Clearing and Outsourcing. No money market sweep accounts, and very low interest on credit balances.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: February 3, 2010

Investrade Discount Securities, 1.800.498-7120
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds
Market Orders: $7.95
Limit Orders: $11.95
Mutual Funds: $15.00 for no-load funds.
Options: $1.50/contract, $14.95 minimum
Minimum to Open: $0, $2000 for margin accounts, $5000 for international accounts
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00 ($50.00 "Less than 48 Hours"). DTC Out:$25.00/security. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+1.50%
Extras: No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Dividend reinvestment. Streaming real-time quotes for active traders. Foreign currency conversions. Cash management accounts including checking, credit card, and bill payment. Customer-directed routing for broker-executed trades, which have a surcharge. Foreign accounts accepted.
Notes: "A division of Regal Securities, Inc." Clears through Penson Financial Services. Has a "processing fee" for pink sheet and bulletin board stocks.
User Comments: "I shorted QQQQ; had 70% of the short value in my account in cash, i.e. after adding the short sale proceeds I had 170%. IDS charged me margin interest on the other 30% and paid no interest on the big pile of cash in my account. What a rip-off!"(June 13, 2007)    "I've had an account with Investrade for nine years. Early on they made an egregious error, and three free trades in compensation hardly made up for an ultimate cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other than that, until they recently switched clearing firms, I've been happy with them. Their clearing firm leaves something to be desired. It sometimes reports day-ending balances tardily. In fact, in either July or August, they didn't post new balances for a week in the midst of stunning sell-offs, and for two days a client couldn't even obtain correct balances over the phone."(September 23, 2007)
Rates Updated: August 26, 2010

Seaport Securities Corp., 1-800-SEAPORT, (212) 482-8689
Products: Stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds
Market Orders: $14.95. There seems to be a $1.00 "postage and handling" fee in addition.
Limit Orders: $14.95. There seems to be a $1.00 "postage and handling" fee in addition.
Mutual Funds: $35 on no-load funds. No NTF funds.
Options: $14.95/trade+$1.25/contract
Minimum to Open: $0
Inactivity Fee: $50/year, if there have been no trades between July 1 and June 30.
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. DTC Out:$10.00 "Per Transfer Request". ACAT Out:$60.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+2.00%
Extras: Dividend reinvestment. Valet accounts with debit cards and check writing, presumably for a fee. Seems to have no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs, although there is a termination fee.
Notes: Clears through Penson Financial Services. Seems to have no research.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: November 27, 2011