E*TRADE's account maintenance fee changes my attitude
Nov 10, 2000 (Updated Apr 20, 2002)
The Bottom Line
Unless you meet the requirements to avoid the account maintenance fees, E*Trade is a bad choice and I would move on to somewhere else.
The original review was written a while back and I wanted to add this update to express my disappointment with E*Trade.
I opened my account with E*Trade because there were no account maintenance fees. After I had my account for about 1.5 to 2 years, I get a notice telling me that unless my account meets certain requirements, I would be charged $15 every quarter. I was quite upset because I didn't meet that criteria but I let it go. About 3 months ago (I'm writing this in April 2002), I get another notice saying that the $15 charge was going to be increased to $25. That's $100/year to have an account with E*Trade. You think I'm going to put up with that? Heck no!
I called to find out what steps I would have to take to avoid the maintenance charge. To close out my account, it would cost me more than I had in it (thanks to the stock market the last two years). The only other option was to rollover my 401k accounts into an IRA held at E*Trade. The linked accounts of the IRA and the brokerage account must be $20k or greater to not be charged the account maintenance fee. Well, I just so happen to have about that much so I am taking steps to do that because it costs too much to close the account and E*Trade is convenient for me.
I no longer recommend E*Trade. It is nice but if you do not have the funds to avoid the maintenance fee, I highly recommend using a different brokerage. E*Trade does not charge for the IRA accounts or the checking/savings accounts but the whole advantage to using E*Trade is to have all your money handled by one bank and E*Trade no longer makes those accommodations. And who is to say they won't raise the fee AGAIN?
If you keep reading, you can see that my attitude has changed. Here is the original review:
Why I Selected E*TRADE
I created my E*TRADE account a couple of years ago for the sole purpose of trading stocks. I knew absolutely NOTHING about stocks but figured I'd dip in.
The fact I was paid $75 for opening the account certainly helped my decision to use E*TRADE services. The fact I could reasonably conduct online trading transactions was also a major attraction. There were other services that offered a trade for less than E*TRADE's $19.95 charge but after weighing the convenience and the $75, I chose E*TRADE.
After Opening My Account
I opened my account and put the minimum balance in it which was $1000. Sometimes, I think the minimum balance is as low as $500. It wasn't long at all before I bought my first stock, sold my first stock, and increased my portfolio to what it is today. Unfortunately, the market has not been in my favor but E*TRADE doesn't have anything to do with that... sort of.
Sometime in March, I purchased E*TRADE stock because I was satisfied with their service and researched a little into the company. The stock loss ground and is currently trading about half the price (around $15). I sit here wondering with lots of analysts why this is happening to E*TRADE.
E*TRADE purchased a banking service (TeleBank, as I remember it) which is now known as E*TRADE Bank. I'm currently using this service as a convenient means to transfer money to and from my brokerage account. This, as you can guess, certainly made my E*TRADE experience much more pleasurable.
Problems With E*TRADE
Although I praise E*TRADE, my experience hasn't been flawless. Earlier this year, I used to have some problems gaining access to my account through the web. This was a mix of browser errors and errors on E*TRADE's behalf. I could log in but not without a little aggravation. I made a couple of calls to customer service and eventually, the problem was resolved.
My Experience With Customer Service
E*TRADE's customer service has been very responsive to every call and met my needs. Time was reasonable without any long waits. Additionally, I seemed to always get connected directly with the person who could solve my problem. This is a huge plus for any customer support.
Would I Recommend This Service?
Of course. E*TRADE offers the online help that a new user might want to get a better grasp of his/her finances. News is offered and a complete online help defines terms that a new trader will need to understand to be successful. Overall, I think this is a wonderful service and more people will find out for themselves very soon.