No-Commission ETFs

Plunging brokerage fees add to the allure of exchange-traded funds.

One of the drawbacks to investing in exchange-traded funds is that you have to pay commissions every time you buy or sell, just as you would to trade a stock. But now, commissions at some brokerages have fallen so far -- that is, to zero -- that ETFs have become even more competitive compared with traditional index funds.

Leading the brokerage pack is, which offers up to 40 free trades a month. Zecco charges no annual fee for regular accounts (but $30 for IRA accounts) and requires $2,500 to start. Others offering free trades are Wells Fargo and Bank of America. B of A provides up to 30 free online trades per month to customers who have a total of $25,000 in various bank accounts. Wells Fargo offers 100 commission-free trades a year if you have at least $25,000 worth of bank and brokerage assets or outstanding loan balances.

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Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance