Huge Bonus Offers From Brokers: TD Ameritrade, ETrade, Fidelity, Merrill Edge

bonus

The stock market recovered. People warm up to looking at their brokerage accounts again.

I don’t know who started the “stealing customers” campaign. Right now the major discount brokers are all running promotions to lure customers from their competitors.

TD Ameritrade, E*Trade, Fidelity, and Merrill Edge are offering big bonuses — as high as $2,500! — for moving money to them.

Here’s a summary of the bonus offers from TD Ameritrade, E*Trade, Fidelity, and Merrill Edge. Schwab used to have a similar offer but it’s no longer active online. Note Vanguard and Wells Fargo are not in this sign-up bonus war.

As with any other offers of this size, you have to read the fine print and/or call customer service to confirm eligibility. Some are only for IRAs. Some brokers offer the bonus only to new customers. Some offer it to both new customers and current customers who bring more assets from another broker. If you are moving money to an existing account, you may have to register your account with the promotion first.

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade offers 101 commission-free ETFs, 32 of which are from indexing leader Vanguard. If your total account value is $100k or more, you qualify for the preferential Apex service, which means no service fee on most things, including free wire transfers and no transfer-out fee.

TD Ameritrade
Bonus (account size) $600 ($250k+)
$300 ($100k+)
$100 ($25k+)
Current customer eligible? Yes, but must open new account
IRA eligible? Yes
Non-IRA eligible? Yes
Must open acct by* 3/31/2014
$$ must arrive w/in 60 days
Must stay for 9 months
Fine Print IRA
regular

* Note: The offer keeps getting extended. If the table above shows the offer expired, click on the link anyway. Chances are the offer is still active.

E*Trade

E*Trade offers an easy-to-use website. Logging in with security token comes standard on all accounts.

E*Trade
Bonus (account size) $600 ($250k+)
$300 ($100k+)
$200 ($25k+)
Current customer eligible? Yes
IRA eligible? Yes
Non-IRA eligible? Yes
Must open acct by* 12/31/2014
$$ must arrive w/in 45 days
Must stay for 6 months
Fine Print IRA
regular

* Note: The offer keeps getting extended. If the table above shows the offer expired, click on the link anyway. Chances are the offer is still active.

Fidelity

Fidelity offers 65 commission-free ETFs from industry leader iShares. If your total account value is $250k or more, you qualify for Premium Services, which gives you a higher level of customer service and free wire transfers.

Fidelity
Bonus (account size) $2,500 ($1 mil.+)
$1,200 ($500k+)
$600 ($250k+)
$300 ($100k+)
$200 ($50k+)
Current customer eligible? Yes
IRA eligible? Yes
Non-IRA eligible? Yes
Must open acct by* ?
$$ must arrive w/in 60 days
Must stay for 9 months
Fine Print link

* Note: The offer keeps getting extended. If the table above shows the offer expired, click on the link anyway. Chances are the offer is still active.

Fidelity also has other bonus offers giving frequent flyer miles to new customers onlyUnited, Delta, American — 50,000 miles for an account with $100k or more.

Charles Schwab

There is no active bonus offer from Charles Schwab at this time.

Merrill Edge

Merrill Edge offers 30 free online trades per month through its Platinum Privileges program if your total account value is $50k or more and you have an active Bank of America personal checking account.

Merrill Edge
Bonus (account size) $600 ($200k+)
$250 ($100k+)
$150 ($50k+)
$100 ($25k+)
Current customer eligible? ?
IRA eligible? Yes
Non-IRA eligible? Yes
Must open acct by* ?
$$ must arrive w/in 30 days
Must stay for 90 days
Fine Print link

* Note: These offers keep getting extended. If the table above shows the offer expired, click on the link anyway. Chances are the offer is still active.

***

You don’t have to liquidate everything: just do a partial in-kind transfer and leave some positions behind to keep the account open. An in-kind transfer means your investments stay in the market at all times; you won’t trigger any capital gains tax either. Keeping the account open also makes it easier for your current broker to welcome you back with another bonus in the future.

You can keep using your current account for new purchases if you’d like. Therefore you don’t have to worry about the availability or commission at the new broker.

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Comments

  1. indexfundfan says

    I love these bonuses. I’m now waiting for my holdings to “age out” at TD Ameritrade. After that, it looks like they will be transferred to Fidelity.

  2. bruce says

    Spoke to a Schwab representative on 2/27/2012 3:15PM EST 800-750-9073, requires a holding period of twelve (12) months. If you transfer your money to another broker before 12 months, you will not qualify.

  3. Mel Langer says

    One important correction to the article. Partial transfers with almost all brokers listed, will incur a fee. The fee is not as large as it would be for closing the entire a/c…but a fee nevertheless. Be aware of this.

  4. Alex says

    @TFB: where do you see that existing TDA customers are eligible if opening a new account? I have a dormant near-zero-balance account at TDA, and want to make sure I’m eligible before I start the process (and incur a fee at WF). Can one have two regular brokerage accounts at the same firm? Thanks!

  5. Harry Sit says

    Alex – You should send a message to customer service to confirm (refer to offer code 207). That way you have it in writing. The fine print didn’t say anything about existing customers not being eligible. It only said you must open a new account, not fund an existing account. Yes you can have two regular brokerage accounts at the same firm. On a similar offer in 2011, TD Ameritrade allowed the bonus to an existing customer opening a new account. See

    http://www.indextown.com/archives/2011/06/04/td-ameritrade-new-account-bonus/

  6. Pat says

    Fidelity customer service is great….if you’re transferring in a large amount, ask if they’ll reimburse the transfer fee from the other brokerage (i.e. Schwab charges $50 for a partial transfer or $75 for a full transfer…..Fidelity has reimbursed those fees for me)

  7. ec on says

    Fidelity promised me an offer in writing last year, verified a 2d time; I deposited as per offer; Fidelity refused the bonus although met all terms!

  8. Ron says

    TD Ameritrade now allows you to get two bonuses for two account transfers. I moved $250K x 2 to get $1000 x 2 bonuses. Not yet advertised. No more than two bonuses allowed.

  9. cdog says

    Ron, did you have to create seperate login ids for each account? Or can you view both accounts under your dashboard?

  10. ARD says

    Major houses will match or go beyond for HNW (250K) accounts. Talk to the supervisor in CS or your local branch manager can do the same.

    You can ask for limits that are not published to the public.

  11. wdjax0n says

    TD refuses to allow me any promotion, as did one 10 years ago with Waterhouse Securities predecessor and one 6 years ago with Ameritrade.

  12. John B says

    I’m getting an empty page from the Schwab link. Is the offer gone, or does anyone have a working link? I thought it worked when I checked it last weekend.

  13. BN says

    Harry and others-

    For large portfolios, wouldn’t the time (5-7 days) out of the market for most rollovers potentially cost more than the bonus would make up for?

    • Harry says

      You transfer the positions in-kind. No selling, not out of the market for a single day. Best for ETFs that any broker can hold.

  14. TFB fan says

    TFB — I love this page and have it bookmarked. Any chance we could get a 2014 update?

    Thanks!

    PS Where did all the 1M transfer bonuses go? Looks like only Fidelity is still running one.

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