Finding an online stock broker that’s inexpensive and with solid features to match can be a challenge. One popular broker is Zecco, and today I’ll outline some of their features.
Zecco Review: Free Stock Trading & Pricing
Let’s talk about pricing first, since that’s what a lot of investors are interested in. Many online brokers charge over $10 a trade. However, Zecco allows you 10 free trades a month if you can meet certain requirements: you need to make at least 25 trades per month or keep a minimum balance of $25,000. If you don’t make that many trades in a month or you have less than the minimum balance, then you’ll be charged the regular fee of $4.50 per stock trade. For options trades, you’ll pay $4.50 plus $.50 per contract. There aren’t any inactivity fees or account minimums, though margin accounts do require a $2,000 minimum.
Before you can start trading, you’ll want to fund your account. You can do so by linking a bank account using ACH; wire transfer; mailing a check; or transferring funds from another broker.
While online trades involving stocks and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are either free or $4.50 a trade, broker-assisted trades will cost you $19.99 per transaction. For options trades, you’ll pay $4.50 plus $.50 per contract for online trading. For broker-assisted trading, it’s $19.99 plus $.75 per contract.
If you’re working with mutual funds, you’ll pay $10 for no load internet trades; $19.99 for no load broker-assisted trades.
Zecco Tools and Education
There are a lot of tools here that help stock investors and options traders alike. For instance, when you’re ready for riskier activities such as options trading, you’ll be able to make use of a profit and loss calculator, a probability calculator, an options calculator, and volatility chains to help you decide if a certain security’s risks are worth it to you.
Zecco’s tools are mostly free, but they also have premium tools which you can access via a free two-month trial. These tools are for tax planning and performance tracking. There’s also access to streaming quotes via Quotestream II for $20 a month or QuoteGrid for $8 per month.
If you want to brush up on investing and trading or you need more extensive information, the education section has articles on trading stocks, options, and Forex topics. You can also peruse the glossary.
Both new and veteran investors might welcome the community features of ZeccoShare. Here, you can view market news, top holdings among members, trading activity, active groups, and top performers. To find out what traders and investors are talking about, scan the active threads or answer the poll.
The site features a number of blogs, too. You can read a morning briefing called “Zecco Breakfast Bell” and the thoughts of traders from around the world. If you don’t want to read these blogs on the site, you can add them to your RSS feed reader, which struck me as quite convenient. Skip the editorials blog, as it hasn’t been updated since 2006, from what I’ve seen. Somehow, that strikes me as a missed opportunity, but the other blogs seem interesting.
Zecco Zimulator & Demo
Another fun-looking feature is the Zecco Zimulator, which is a free trading game. You can practice trading without losing any real money. If you’re already on Facebook, you can play the game there, too. And here’s something that’s new: they have a Forex Trading platform on their site for those who trade foreign currency.
For an overview of what to expect, you can take a look at the Demo, which features screenshots of the Trading Center. Get a feel for the layout of features like the account overview, the balance page, executions, and quotes. You can also check out the history section as well as the messages and mutual funds sections.
When you need help, you can turn to a number of options such as live chat, email, phone or the online help center.
Although the prospect of 10 free trades is attractive, I’m not the type of investor who’s likely to qualify for them. Also, the fees for broker-assisted trades, while low in comparison to some other online brokers, is still higher than the flat $4.95 fee that is charged by TradeKing.
Also, at this time, Zecco is not the only broker offering free stock trades — in fact, I’d like to invite you to check out our coverage of broker promotions and information on free online stock trading.
Finally, with regards to Zecco’s features, it struck me as I wandered around ZeccoShare that I didn’t come across references to any mobile applications for the iPhone, Blackberry, or Android. Considering how many people want to easily access their financial life on the go, it seems like a potentially expensive oversight.
Check out Zecco and some of its competitors before you decide to sign up. Take into consideration the online broker’s ease of use, its tools and its fee structure, and you should end up as a satisfied investor.