Account Transfer Fees

Updated Sunday, July 10, 2011

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Looking to change brokers?  Did you know that moving your account could incur fees that end up costing you in excess of $100?  Did you also know that you can often get your new broker to pay for these fees?  If you are savvy you can even receive free money to change brokers!  That's where we come in.  Don't switch brokers until you read this article.

Your Transfer Options
First things first.  You have three basic options at your disposal, each of which may trigger different fees or taxable events.  These options are:
  1. Liquidate and Move: Sell all of your positions and withdrawal the funds from your old broker.  If you do not have any positions at your old broker then even better.  Next, open a new brokerage account and transfer in your funds.  Your expenses include the commissions incurred in selling your securities and the possibility of triggering taxable events.
  2. Full Transfer: Open a new brokerage account and request a full account transfer.  A full transfer out fee and an account closing fee may be assessed by your old broker.  Securities are never sold so a taxable event is not triggered.
  3. Partial Transfer: Open a new brokerage account and request one or more partial transfers (one request per security).  A per security fee may be assessed by your old broker.  Securities are never sold so a taxable event is not triggered.
How Do Account Transfers Work?
Requesting a full or partial transfer between brokerages is made possible by the Automated Customer Account Transfer System (ACATS) which is managed by the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC).  To utilize ACATS, open a new account and request an account transfer from your new broker.  They will contact your old broker to facilitate that process to move your securities and funds.  The ACAT process can take several days or even weeks, depending on the institutions involved.

A transfer can only be done between similar account types.  For example, if you want to move an IRA account that is in your name then you need to open an IRA account in your name at your new broker in order to successfully request a transfer.  Other types of financial institutions have different account transfer systems with different fees.

Your Broker Options
Whether you should liquidate and move, request a full transfer or request a partial transfer depends on the nature of your current account, your current broker and your destination broker.

Below is a breakdown of the account transfer fees associated with each broker.  Transfer and closing fees are all assessed by your old broker.  Requesting a full transfer out will trigger an account closing fee, if applicable.  Transfer fee reimbursement, when applicable, will cover the cost of the transfer fees but no more.  Transfer bonuses are credited in full regardless of fees assessed.

Select the links in the far right column to ensure that you receive these special offers.

BrokerFull Transfer Out FeePartial Transfer Out FeeAccount Closing FeeTransfer Reimbursement and Other Offers
Fidelity$0$0$50 IRAsUp to $100 fee reimbursement with $25,000 account transfer
Firstrade$50$10$0Get 250 commission-free equity trades, up to $100 transfer fee rebate and $250 cash rebate at Firstrade.com. Transfer reimbursement requires $25,000 account transfer.
Interactive Brokers$0$0$0None
Just2Trade$50$50$75 IRAsUp to $100 reimbursement with $10,000 account transfer
Merrill Edge$95 ($75 IRAs)$25$75 IRAsReimburse any fee with $25,000 account transfer
OptionsHouse$50$0$0Up to $100 fee reimbursement with $3,000 account transfer
optionsXpress$60$0$50 IRAsGet Packing. Time to move your account to optionsXpress for FREE. Requires $2,000 account transfer.  Valid for IRAs.

Regardless of transfer fee get $100.  Requires $500 account transfer and execution of 3 trades within 12 months.  Excludes IRAs.
Scottrade$0 $0$0Up to $100 fee reimbursement with $10,000 account transfer
ShareBuilder$75$15$0$100 transfer bonus (no matter the fee) with $500 account transfer, offer excludes IRAs
SogoTrade$75$50$0Up to $100 fee reimbursement with $25,000 account transfer
TD Ameritrade$75 ($0 Apex Accts)$25 ($0 Apex Accts)$0Reimburse any 'reasonable' fee but would not provide minimum account balance nor maximum fee
TradeKing$50$0$50 IRAsSwitch to TradeKing and get up to $150 in transfer fees reimbursed. Requires $2,500 account transfer and excludes IRAs.
Wells Fargo Advisors$95$95$0No
Zecco$50$50$30 IRAsSwitch your trading account without liquidating.  Zecco will reimburse your transfer fees up to $150.  Switch to Zecco today!

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