Zecco Trading Free Commission Update

Early this week, I had an unpleasant experience with Zecco when I was charged $4.50 commission when buying a few shares of CSUN. What I was upset is the commission itself. I pay more than $4.50 commission with other brokers (Scottrade $7.0 and TradeKing $4.95). I was unhappy about how it happened: The order went through even though there wasn’t enough fund in the account, then the next day I got a “Sell out notice” threatening liquidation of my positions because of the 6 cents debt. And my account is a cash account, not margin account.

The talk with a CSR after receiving the margin call didn’t help much in understanding how to get 10 free trades per month. After the call, I had the impression that in a given month, I could have free trades on some days but not on others, depending on whether my previous day’s account value is above $2,500 or not. And their FAQ isn’t quite clear either. What does “you’ll receive 10 free trades per month thereafter as long as you maintain a minimum balance of $2,500″ mean? Do I have to *maintain* $2,500 or more in my account all the time to keep getting 10 free trades? Actually I only need to reach the $2,500 minimum once to receive 10 free trades for the rest of the month. The account is then reevaluated at the beginning of the month for free trades of that month. But this isn’t what I read from their FAQ page.

Zecco Trading Buying PowerThen today I got a call from Chris at Zecco, who basically explained to me how the free trades works (and confirmed what Jonathan said about account minimum and free trades): I only need to have my account value above $2,500 once in the month in order to receive 10 free trades for the rest of the month. Whether I will have free trades next month depends on the account value on the last day of this month. For example, I will get 10 free trades in January 2009 if my account value at the end of December 31 is more than $2,500. If the account value is below $2,500, then no free trades in January, until either adding new fund to bring the value about $2,500 or rising stock prices push the value over $2,500. If that happens, I will get free trades till January 31, 2009. The process repeats  for February and so on.

But I am not monitoring my account balance every day and I only trade when the opportunity is right. So how do I know whether my account is eligible for free trades this month when I log into my account today and see only, say, $2,450? Well, it’s a tedious job to find out because you have to really go through your daily account records of the month to see if there’s any day you have more than $2,500 in your account. To do that, first you need to click ACCOUNT RECORDS on the left from your account (above picture), then click Buying Power and you will see the following screen.

Zecco Trading Buying Power Details

By default, the Buying Power is based on account value of the day before (December 18, 2008 as shown in the picture). Then you have to change Date from the top of the screen to check the value of each day’s value. If you want to trade on December 31, but don’t know whether you have earned any free trades in December, then you will have a lot of clicks to do :)

I am glad that Zecco helped to get the issue resolved and clarified things up. I will be even happier if they can somehow make it easier for customers to know if  they can trade for free without having them go through records one by one to find out themselves. Since Zecco already has the account value information, I imagine it won’t be a big job to just display in my account whether I have free trades or not based on that information.

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