I’ve had experience with the discount brokerage Zecco (not an affiliate link) for a little over a year. I made my first stock purchase in December of 2008 and finally sold my first stock this week so I thought it was an appropriate time to write a review.
The sign-up process was a little time consuming. It required printing out multiple forms, sending them through the mail, and a couple phone calls with Zecco’s customer service to ask some questions about some unclear instructions.
After the sign-up, transferring funds was fairly easy. The most common option is linking a bank account to your Zecco account, which can take up to 5 days. You can also wire funds from you bank to Zecco, send in a check, or transfer from another brokerage.
After around 3-5 days, you’re ready to trade.
Zecco was renowned for their commission free trades, but since March 2009 they’ve started charging $4.50 per trade which is a pretty good rate, especially if you’re a buy and hold customer. Options trades are also $4.50 with a $.50 contract.
If you have a $25,000 net equity balance, or make 25 trades a month, you get 10 free trades a month.
Otherwise, Zecco is straightforward with their business and great for novice or experienced traders who are looking to avoid unnecessary fees. There is no account minimum, service fee, or inactivity fee.
Zecco also hosts Roth, Traditional, and Rollover IRAs for just a $30 a year maintenance fee.
You can purchase stocks, options, and mutual funds directly from the trading center and they don’t make you jump through any hoops to get this process completed. There are five purchasing options: market, limit, stop limit, stop, and trailing stop.
I was happy with how easy it was to buy back in December, and selling was also a simple process. Allow three days after a sale until funds are available to transfer.
Zecco doesn’t automatically enroll you in automatic dividend reinvestment. You have to e-mail their customer service and state which holdings you’d like reinvested. Once this is done, it’s a fairly easy process, but I’d like to see this become much easier for customers to choose in the near future.
They also don’t do partial shares so if you’re dividend is not enough to cover a whole share it’s placed in your cash balance.
The site interface is my one complaint about Zecco. The trading center feels cramped and a little dated. The sidebar is also difficult to navigate and after a year it still takes me a while to find what I need.
However, my favorite aspect of the trading center is the “Positions” box which holds the stock information. The box provides not only the shares and current price, but also the price you bought the stock at, the profit and loss percentage, and the profit and loss dollar amount.
With this information you’re always up-to-date with how your holdings are doing and you don’t have to dig further into the site’s performance bar to find this information like some other sites.
The research area does a good job of answering questions and presenting information concisely. There’s no wasted space and it’s easy to find what you want. It could use a re-design to make it feel less dated, but their presentation of information here is stellar.
I would recommend Zecco to the new investor who wants to test out purchasing stocks or mutual funds for the first time. The price is right and their overall presentation will allow you to get some experience trading and handling stocks, without getting gauged by fees.
If you are a more experienced trader you may want to steer away from Zecco for your major holdings. If you are a stickler about website layout, you may find it a bit frustrating navigating Zecco’s site. The fact that they don’t offer partial shares is also a pain for more experienced investors who want to optimize their dividends.
But if you’re looking for an affordable discount brokerage for easy trading, Zecco is right for you.