This is old news but since it wasn’t included when I gave TFB Awards three years ago I thought I’d mention it now. WellsTrade is an online brokerage service offered by Wells Fargo Investments, LLC. Its most attractive feature is 100 free trades a year.
To qualify for 100 free trades, you only need $25,000 in any combination of banking, brokerage, and credit balances with Wells Fargo (mortgage balance counts at 10%). The brokerage piece is the key. Bank of America also offers free trades but the qualifying balance has to be 100% on the banking side. You can’t use the brokerage balance to qualify.
100 free trades per account include open-end mutual funds in addition to stocks and ETFs. No other brokerage accounts let you buy Vanguard mutual funds for free. Small online broker Zecco offers free trades with $25k balance but the free trades don’t cover open-end mutual funds.
The catch with WellsTrade is that you have to open a Wells Fargo checking account. It’s a feature-rich checking account called PMA. The checking account is also free if you have $25,000 in the brokerage account. You don’t really have to use the checking account much, just enough to keep it open; Wells Fargo closes dormant accounts. If you do use it, it has quite a few freebies, although it doesn’t pay much interest.
The cash account in the brokerage account does not pay much interest either. It’s less of an issue now because even good money market funds don’t pay much.
Inside the brokerage account, the tax lots are tracked well. It offers specific lot identification, which helps minimize taxes. End of year statements and supplementary tax information are detailed and clear. Customer service reps are competent and helpful.
WellsTrade does not offer online trading for bonds. It wins the TFB Award 2009 for Best Brokerage Account for Stocks, Mutual Funds and ETFs.
To open an account, apply online, or call 866-243-0931.
Wells Fargo does not pay me in any way if you open an account.
Elsewhere on the Internet: FatWallet thread.