Best Brokerage Promotions and Rewards Programs

Opening a brokerage account? Take advantage of these promos.

Few things will facilitate your success as an investor more than a brokerage account with a broker that’s suited to you. The best online brokerage is going to be one that has structured its commissions and trading platform to cater to investors like you, helping make it easy to understand the trades you’re making while charging a fair price.

That’s why you shouldn’t choose a brokerage account just because of a promotion offer. Chasing a broker bonus even though the service behind it isn’t right for you is a simple mistake that will cost you in the long run. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find the right combination of a free brokerage account that’s suited to your needs while also securing bonus cash or free trades you can use to pad your nest egg and keep your trading costs low. You might even discover that boosting your deposit to trigger a bonus offer is just the motivation you need to increase your savings.

Here’s a look at the best introductory offers from free online brokers and how you can get access to them so that you can be sure to take full advantage of opening a new brokerage account.

Best Brokerage Promotions

While the total cash value for each promotion can vary, you might be able to match your promotion to your planned trading behavior to really maximize its utility. Here are the best brokerage promotions available:

The Best Broker Promotions
BrokerPromotional or Introductory OffersDetailsQualifying Deposit
E-TradeE-TradeGet up to 500 commission-free trades, plus up to a $600 cash creditAccount must be funded within 60 days of account open$10,000
Ally InvestAlly InvestUp to $3,500 cash bonus and commission-free trades for 90 days for new accountsOpen a new Self-Directed Trading account by Sept. 30, 2018, and fund within 60 days of account opening$10,000
Charles SchwabCharles SchwabGet 500 commission-free online equity and options trades good for two yearsMake qualifying deposit within 45 days of enrollment in the offer$100,000
Fidelity Investments logoFidelityUp to 500 free trades for two years when you fund a new or existing eligible accountDeposits of $50,000 to $99,999 will receive 300 free trades, and deposits of $100,000 or more will receive 500 free trades$50,000
Merrill EdgeMerrill EdgeGet up to $600Offer valid for new individual Merrill Edge IRAs or Cash Management Accounts (CMAs)$20,000
Information accurate as of Aug. 30, 2018.

E-Trade

  • Up to 500 commission-free trades
  • Up to $2,500 cash credit
  • Must deposit at least $10,000 to qualify
  • Must fund account within 60 days of opening

E-Trade makes it easy to score up to 500 commission-free trades — a total value of $2,475 — by opening a new account and depositing up to $10,000 into your account. There are, however, some caveats — most notably that you have to make these trades within the first 60 days of your deposit. Likewise, the bonus cash is only available to very large deposits, kicking in at $200 for deposits of $25,000 or more and increasing all the way to $2,500 for deposits in excess of $1 million.

The short window for using your free trades does limit the value of this offer, but for a passive investor with a big nest egg, you might be able to front-load all of your trading and eliminate almost all of your trading costs with enough planning.

Click to see the pros and cons of online trading.

Ally Invest

  • Up to $500 in commission credits within the first 90 days
  • Up to $3,500 in bonus cash
  • Must deposit at least $10,000 to qualify
  • Must fund account within 60 days

Ally Invest is another broker where offers of free trading are real but come with specific requirements you must meet. In the case of Ally Invest, it advertises that you can trade for free for 90 days, however that does also come with a limit of $500 in credits for your free trades. So, if you’re hoping to engage in a flurry of activity early on to avoid paying commissions later, the total value of the offer is capped.

As far as the bonus cash, Ally has virtually identical tiers to those of E-Trade except for two key differences. The first is that there’s $50 in bonus cash for deposits between $10,000 and $25,000, and the second is that there’s an additional tier that offers $3,500 for deposits in excess of $2 million.

Read: The Best Robo-Advisors

Charles Schwab

  • Up to 500 commission-free online trades
  • Trades are good for two years
  • Must deposit at least $100,000 to qualify
  • Must fund account within 45 days

While E-Trade and Ally might have more strings attached in terms of how you can make use of their free trades, they’re also earned with much smaller deposits. Schwab does offer 500 commission-free trades along with two years to use them, a time frame that means even average investors might be able to get the full $2,475 in value it represents. However, in order to qualify for the offer, you have to deposit at least $100,000, a much larger opening deposit than many people, especially beginners, can make.

Still, for someone trying to find a new home for a large brokerage or retirement account, the fact that you have two full years to use up your trades could make it the offer that you can most realistically tap the full value of.

See: The Best Online Stock Brokers for Beginners

Fidelity

  • 300 free trades on deposits of $50,000 to $99,999
  • 500 free trades on deposits of $100,000 or more
  • Free trades good for two years
  • Must fund account within 60 days of opening

It’s interesting to note that many of these offers are very similar across multiple companies, and the 500 free trades for use within two years on deposits of $100,000 or more offered by Fidelity is identical to that of Charles Schwab’s offer. Fidelity, though, does offer a second promotional offer that can still claim 300 free trades on deposits of $50,000 or more.

Aside from that, if you have $100,000 or more to put into an account, there’s no real differentiation between the two, so your ultimate choice should be rooted in other factors such as the features and offerings of the brokerage that’s best suited to your needs.

Read This: The Best Investment Brokers

Merrill Edge

  • Up to $600 in bonus cash
  • Must deposit at least $20,000 to qualify
  • Must fund your account within 45 days and maintain your balance for at least 90 days

In terms of cash value alone, Merrill Edge has the lowest-value offer of the five best brokers for promotions and rewards, capping out at $600 where you can score nearly $5,000 worth of trades and cash elsewhere with a very large deposit.

However, what Merrill Edge lacks in volume, it makes up for in the relative simplicity of its offer. The cash bonuses start at $100 for a $20,000 deposit and range up to $600 for $200,000 or more, and unlike many of the free trades offered elsewhere, doesn’t come with any strings attached aside from the need to keep your deposit in your brokerage account for at least three months.

Click to see how to find a broker and start investing.

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    Methodology: To determine the best brokerage promotions, GOBankingRates gathered promotional information from the top brokerages and examined: promotional or introductory offers, details of the offers and requirements needed to get the offer.

    GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions, and other financial services organizations. Some brokerages mentioned in Best Brokers are clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement.