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Smart Buying

Best Ways to Get Free Trades at Online Brokers

Learn the ins and outs of trading commission-free.

Full-service broker. Merrill Edge customers who enroll in Preferred Rewards (from Merrill’s parent, Bank of America) can qualify for up to 30 free stock trades a month. There’s a catch: You’ll need to maintain at least $50,000 in combined monthly balances at Merrill and BofA. Stashing at least $100,000 with the firm gets you up to 100 free trades a month. Either way, customers also qualify for perks such as cash-back bonuses on credit cards and lower rates on car loans and mortgages.

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Discount broker. Robinhood, an online-only brokerage launched in 2015, offers commission-free stock trading on its mobile app (available for Apple and Android devices). There’s no minimum deposit to open an account, and placing a trade takes just a few taps and a swipe on your device. The drawbacks: You can trade only stocks and exchange-traded funds through the app, and you won’t get any research or tools. For accounts with less than $25,000, Robinhood also limits day trading—buying and selling the same stock in the same day.

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Limited-time offers. Fidelity and Schwab provide free trades for up to two years as a bonus for opening a new account. Fidelity dishes out 300 commission-free trades if you deposit between $50,000 and $99,999, and up to 500 free trades if you stash $100,000 or more. At Schwab you get up to 500 free trades with a deposit of $100,000 or more. Both firms earned high scores in Kiplinger’s 2017 survey of online brokers (see We Pick the Best Online Brokers).

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