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Stock chartOne of the biggest trends in online trading has been the convergence of brokerage business models. Brokerages want your business, and it’s getting increasingly hard for any one of them to stand out. Features like low minimums and prices increasingly overlap, particularly among firms that compete for the general and retail market. Specialized services (like brokers who focus on day traders and foreign currencies) have an easier time pursuing clients on tools. However, many have taken a new approach … account bonuses.

A financial advisor can help you find the trading platform that best fits your goals, experience and risk profile.

Many brokerages offer you cash, stocks or other rewards for opening an account with them.  Here are some of the best offers.

The Ten Best Brokerage Bonuses

TradeStation – Between $0 – $5,000 Cash 

This online trading platform offers direct cash deposited into your account depending on the size of your deposit when you open your account. While you need a substantial deposit to take advantage of this offer, it’s still a strong one.

  • Initial Deposit: $5,000+, Bonus: $50
  • Initial Deposit: $25,000+, Bonus: $200
  • Initial Deposit: $100,000+, Bonus: $300
  • Initial Deposit: $200,000+, Bonus: $600
  • Initial Deposit: $500,000+, Bonus: $1,200
  • Initial Deposit: $1 Million+, Bonus: $2,500
  • Initial Deposit: $2 Million+, Bonus: $3,500
  • Initial Deposit: $5 Million+, Bonus: $5,000

Webull – Free Stock Lottery

When you open a new account with Webull you receive a stock, chosen at random, with a value between $2.50 and $250. If you fund your account with at least $100 you receive another free stock, again chosen at random, with a value between $8 and $1,600.

Charles Schwab – Bonus Cash

Charles Schwab offers a decent cash bonus for new investors depending on the size of their initial investment, although the thresholds are fairly high.

  • Initial Deposit: $25,000 – $49,999, Bonus: $100
  • Initial Deposit: $50,000 – $99,999, Bonus: $300
  • Initial Deposit: $100,000+, Bonus: $500

M1 Finance – Bonus Cash

This automated investment firm offers one of the most straightforward bonus programs on the market. If you sign up and invest at least $1,000 you will get a $30 signup bonus. In addition if you transfer money from another brokerage account you can get an additional signup bonus based on the size of your account:

  • Initial Deposit: $10,000 – $19,999, Bonus: $40
  • Initial Deposit: $20,000 – $49,999, Bonus: $75
  • Initial Deposit: $50,000 – $99,999, Bonus: $150
  • Initial Deposit: $100,000 – $249,999, Bonus: $250
  • Initial Deposit: $250,000 – $499,999, Bonus: $500
  • Initial Deposit: $500,000 – $999,999, Bonus: $1,000
  • Initial Deposit: $1 Million – $1.9 Million, Bonus: $2,500
  • Initial Deposit: $2 Million+, Bonus: $4,000

Ally Investment – Bonus Cash

One of the lesser-known investment platforms, Ally offers a decent cash back bonus. Although better than many of its competitors, Ally’s bonus is still better than many of its competitors.

  • Initial Deposit: $10,000 – $24,999, Bonus: $100
  • Initial Deposit: $25,000 – $99,999, Bonus: $250
  • Initial Deposit: $100,000 – $249,999, Bonus: $300
  • Initial Deposit: $250,000 – $499,999, Bonus: $600
  • Initial Deposit: $500,000 – $999,999, Bonus: $1,200
  • Initial Deposit: $1 Million – $1.9 Million, Bonus: $2,000
  • Initial Deposit: $2 Million+, Bonus: $3,000

Betterment – Free Management Fees

Spanish man reading an investment reportBetterment is a robo-advisory service, so it can’t offer you free shares of any specific stocks. Instead the firm offers you a price break. Investors pay a monthly management fee based on a percentage of assets in your Betterment account. Depending on the size of your initial investment, Betterment will waive some of that management fee as a signup bonus described below. After that you will pay a management fee of 0.25% on any balance up to $100,000.

  • Initial Deposit: $15,000 – $99,999, Bonus: 1 Month Free
  • Initial Deposit: $100,000 – $249,999, Bonus: 6 Months Free
  • Initial Deposit: $250,000+, Bonus: 12 Months Free

Tastyworks – Free Shares or Free Options

Tastyworks offers one of the better free trade bonuses on the market today. Investors can choose between one of two choices:

  • 100 Shares of stock, chosen at random from a pre-assembled list of stocks;
  • 10 Options (either long calls or puts) to use on either new or existing positions.

TD Ameritrade – Bonus Cash

TD Ameritrade offers a decent bonus program by industry standards. It isn’t the best on this list, but when paired with the firm’s overall strong trading platform it is still worth noting.

  • Initial Deposit: $50,000 – $99,999, Bonus: $150
  • Initial Deposit: $100,000 – $249,999, Bonus: $300
  • Initial Deposit: $250,000 – $499,999, Bonus: $600
  • Initial Deposit: $500,000+, Bonus: $1,000

Acorns – Bonus Cash

New investors can receive $10 as an initial investment when they sign up for Acorns. While low, this is a generally strong bonus program given the small investment, long-term growth model of Acorns.

Merrill – Bonus Cash

Merrill Edge offers a bonus cash program depending on the size of your initial deposit. While the thresholds are still high, this is one of the more generous programs on this list. New investors will receive cash deposited into their account in the following amounts:

  • Initial Deposit: $20,000+, Bonus: $150
  • Initial Deposit: $50,000+, Bonus: $225
  • Initial Deposit: $100,000, Bonus: $375
  • Initial Deposit: $200,000+, Bonus: $900

The Bottom Line

Young female investorOnline brokers want your business. They want it badly enough to offer you a bonus for becoming a customer. While these offers are note worth choosing a trading platform for on their own, if you can get a little bit of free money in your account just for opening it up … well, that’s always a good thing, isn’t it? Just remember, though: On its own a bonus isn’t a good reason to pick one brokerage over another. This is a long-term relationship and you should make the decision based on which broker fits your financial goals and experience. All things being equal, though, a brokerage bonus can be a nice way to start that relationship off.

Tips on Investing

  • If a signing bonus isn’t the right reason to pick a broker, what is? That sounds exactly like a question for a financial advisor. If you don’t have a financial advisor, finding one doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s matching tool can help you find a financial professional in your area – in minutes – to help you understand these issues and many more. If you’re ready, get started now.
  • No matter which brokerage you choose, one way you can get a quick and relatively accurate overview of your investing is by taking advantage of a free, easy-to-use investment calculator.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/JuSun, ©iStock.com/Morsa Images, ©iStock.com/FatCamera

 

Eric Reed Eric Reed is a freelance journalist who specializes in economics, policy and global issues, with substantial coverage of finance and personal finance. He has contributed to outlets including The Street, CNBC, Glassdoor and Consumer Reports. Eric’s work focuses on the human impact of abstract issues, emphasizing analytical journalism that helps readers more fully understand their world and their money. He has reported from more than a dozen countries, with datelines that include Sao Paolo, Brazil; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Athens, Greece. A former attorney, before becoming a journalist Eric worked in securities litigation and white collar criminal defense with a pro bono specialty in human trafficking issues. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and can be found any given Saturday in the fall cheering on his Wolverines.
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