Zecco vs TradeKing – Online Stock Trading Comparison

by David Ning · 37 comments

Zecco vs Tradeking was not even a fair comparison before Zecco increased their minimum requirements for free trades recently.  However, now that Zecco decided to compete more in the paid trading arena, it’s finally appropriate to write a Zecco vs Tradeking comparison.

Doesn’t Zecco Trading Offer Free Trades?

zeccoZecco Trading no longer offers free trades. The old structure gave you free trades if you:

  • had a $25,000 minimum balance in your account
  • executed at least 25 trades a month

However, this is no longer the case.

So pricing wise, Zecco and is remarkably similar.

Zecco vs TradeKing Trading Commissions (as of Apr, 2011)

Assuming you don’t quality for the 10 free trades, the commissions are as follows:

Equity Trades

Zecco – $4.50 vs TradeKing – $4.95

Options Trades

Zecco – $4.50 + $0.50 per contract vs TradeKing – $4.95 + $0.65 per contract for up to 8 contracts. $8.95 + $0.15 per contract from 9 contracts and up.

Broker Assisted Trades

Zecco – $19.99 vs TradeKing – $4.95

Margin Rates

Zecco -$0 – $49,999 (7.20%), $50,000 – $499,999 (6.70%), $500,000+ (4.70%)

TradeKing – $0 – $49,999 (6.50%), $50,000 – $249,999 (5.50%), $250,000+ (4.50%)

Thoughts on the Rates

Looks like Zecco still wins on rates even if you don’t qualify for free trades by $0.45 per trade and $0.15 per contract.  However, TradeKing kills Zecco in the broker assist department as TradeKing does not charge extra for broker assisted trades.  It almost sounds too good to be true.

Also, the margin rates of TradeKing is much better than Zecco.  While I don’t recommend using margin to buy stocks, it is common practice and the difference is huge.

Customer Service of Zecco vs TradeKing

Instead of writing a long winded version of this, consider the 2008 Smart Money’s annual broker survey in this category:

Worst: Zecco

Zecco or TradeKing?

  • The Case for Zecco Trading – $0.45 is $0.45.  For those that trade many times per month, any difference in price adds up.  Also, once you start hitting the 25 trades per month mark, you get 10 free trades per month (that’s $45 every month).  Sure, the customer service might not be very good but how many times do you actually need to call them?  Also, for those that don’t have $25,000, make more money in the stock market and you will get to the threshold in no time (that’s the whole point of having a trading account anyway right?)  By going with Zecco, you now have an added incentive to make more money.
  • The Case for TradeKing – For only $0.45 per trade and $0.15 per contract more than Zecco, TradeKing actually offers customer service that is best in the industry in case you need to call. It also offers unbeatable commission rates on broker assisted trades and awesome margin rates. If you borrow money to trade at all, then there is no comparison. Go with .


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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • flynt93 says:

    Zecco is merging with Tradeking. Look forward to the worst of both worlds.

  • Nari Soundar says:

    Zecco and Tradeking are MERGING.. so much for the benefits of Tradeking!

  • john werner says:

    Trade King’s execution sucks. They won’t let you enter an AON order for less than 101 shares. I tried to sell a 100 lot, and got executed on just one share which I still had to pay a $4.95 commission for. that worked out to a commission rate of 18%.

  • i hate trade king says:

    Tradeking’s record keeping blows donkeys. My 1099 was over a month late, and when it finally came it was wrong. Now I have to wait for an amended form which they won’t tell me when it will come. My accountant says I will have to file an extension so it’s going to cost me more in tax prep fees. These $4.95 trades are costing way too much.

  • bertie55 says:

    Trade king is staffed with incompetents and liars. If you call them they say anything just to get you off the phone as quickly as possible. Half the time their information is wrong, and anytime they promise you something it is a lie. Their systems are down way too often and their only response when you complain is to say, “tough luck”. They clear through Penson, which is by far the lousiest clearing firm on the street, and that just makes the overall service even worse.

  • gilbert_x says:

    TK services sucks and they are liars. I had a problem and the customer service rep promised I would be credited with 5 free trades. I never got the credit, and when I called up to ask about it, they denied they ever made the promise. ACCOUNT CLOSED.

  • wallter says:

    Trade king execution SUCKS. I have lost more in slippage than I will ever save in commissions. I guess it’s true you get what you pay for, and with TK cheap commission ends up costing way too much.

  • winton says:

    Online trading has been unavailable all morning at trade king today. They sat to phone in orders. Well the phone lines are busy and its hard to get through. Besides, I signed up for an online brokerage account to trade online, not over the phones. Too many technical problems with trade king they are unreliable.

  • Adam says:

    Something you should know:

    The one big kicker that caused me to go with Zecco as opposed to TradeKing is their handling of speculation stock trading (PK’s and OB’s).

    TradeKing will charge an additional $0.01 per share for every share you buy on a stock that is valued less than $1.00. Zecco does not have such a charge – and while that may not be a factor for the big time traders, that can kind of charge can really add up for those looking to trade small. Also for new accounts, TradeKing will hold your money longer than Zecco and the signup process is more complex.

  • martin says:

    Trade king has become more interested in bells and whistles such as mobile apps and Api’s. Stuff most retail customers don’t need. This seems to be coming at the expense of getting the basics of the brokerage business right. Stuff like booking trades properly and correctly maintaining cash balances. I don’t know if Zecco is the answer, but it’s definitely time toleave TK and move on.

  • paul says:

    Whenever something isn’t wornking at trade king and I call Customer service, all they do is say: “yes it’s broken”. Well, I know its broken, That’s why I called. I don’t want you to tell me what I know, I want you to fix it. I almost expect to hear them say next time : “yes it’s broken, what are you gonna do about it, chump”

  • wilhelm says:

    Trade King is a complete wreck since their conversion to Penson. They handled the process horribly with very few of their back office systems working properly a month after the conversion. Customer support is dismissive when you call up to complain, they make it seem like you’re imposing on them when you have concerns about how your money is being handled. The true measure of customer service is how they handle difficult situations, and Trade Kinf has failed to make the grade.

  • evanigam says:

    Interesting comparison, crispy and detailed, nice work and thanks a lot for the information

  • Bob says:

    I just recently debated Zecco vs Scottrade and I decided to go with Scottrade. The extra features and the solid reputation won me over the cheaper trade fee and potential free trades.

  • Vico says:

    How about when you need to take your money out? Is it hard? Is Zecco better or Trade King?

    • MoneyNing says:

      Once you have your external account setup for ACH, taking money out (assuming they are available) is trivial so there is really no difference between the two (or any other brokers for that matter).

  • Greg says:

    Options House has the best commission and margin rates out of all the brokerage houses.

  • voluble says:

    Thanks Dayne for the heads up on the idiot CEO’s showing his ignorance in such an embarrassing and public fashion. I had literally just opened an account and was about to fund it with the first 50k of a 1.7 million dollar portfolio so I owe you one.

    If you were to ask him I would bet the CEO is as clueless as MJ as to why it is beyond the pale for a representative of any company, but especially one that trades in stocks to come out and advocate for the confiscation and re-allocation of wealth by force. The irony is simply lost on them.

  • MJ says:

    You idiot. What difference does the CEO’s opinion on healthcare have on how the company executes trades.

  • dayne dehaven says:

    i am leaving zecco because of the ceo. he shudda kept his opion on healthcare to hisself.

  • Frugal Trader says:

    Zecco or Tradeking? There’s no comparison for me. Zecco because it is cheaper. $0.45 is $0.45. It still adds up.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Tradeking. Fast execution. Responsive customer support. Low commission rates. (I know it sounds like an informercial but I highly recommend them).

    You can’t go wrong with Tradeking. I can’t say much about Zecco though since I’ve never tried them.

  • Oscar says:

    Tradeking is one of the best brokerages there are. I’m surprised everyone likes Zecco so much or even compares these two. They just aren’t in the same league in terms of support and trade execution.

  • George says:

    I’m in the TradeKing camp. I don’t know why people worry about $5 a trade when it’s a $0.01 difference can sometimes already mean $5.

    Go with the broker that can get you the best advantage of getting good prices and stop worrying about free trades.

  • Jim says:

    Peter, $700 certainly sounds like a lot but I only buy stocks once a month via my automated investment scheme into mutual funds. For me, Zecco saves me about $60 a year. Is it worth it? So far, yes because I haven’t called customer support yet but the fact that they get low ratings is always in the back of my mind.

  • Peter says:

    I have a Zecco account and I love it. I was trying to convince my friend to switch and I looked at his commissions from his Tradeking account. He was doing 20-30 trades on average a month so even at 10 free trades a month, that’s about $600 (~$5 x 12) for the free trades + about $5 – $10 a month (another $100 or so a year), totaling $700.

    For $700, I can forgo the super infrequent phone call to customer service (especially since it’s not that customer service is non-existent).

  • MN,

    Thanks for the review. As a buy and hold investor (mostly) I do prefer Zecco only because it charges some of the lowest fees around. The potential problem with Zecco however is that their business model is not proven yet.. They used to offer 40 free trades/month back in 2006, then switched to 10 free trades/month and now they only offer free trades if you hold a balance of over 25K.. I wonder if they would still be around 1 decade from now 🙂

    Dividend Growth Investor

  • Yoda says:

    My picks are Zecco, then TK. I have an account for both (TK for options trading, Zecco for stocks). I do that because I generally don’t need any help with stocks while I’m still new to options. I don’t have any problems so far (touch wood) and I’d recommend anyone employ the same strategy.

  • Calvin says:

    Yeah the $25k requirement sucks but I have no complaints with Zecco since $4.50 is still one of the lowest out there. I don’t even remember when I signed up but one day a couple years ago I just decided to login and start using it and I’m happy so far.

    I think everyone always blows the complaints out of proportions but that’s just my 2 cents.

  • Josh says:

    Trade King all the way. I love the way their learning center (which no one talks about). I learned so much stuff that other people would’ve paid to learn. For me $5 a trade is more than fair for what they provide. Execution is fast and the website is always up. I haven’t tried Zecco but I just don’t think you can go wrong with Trade King.

  • Tim says:

    Zecco’s customer service is fine. I keep hearing everyone talk about their customer service and it’s adequate for most people unless you know nothing about trading stocks and need to email/call them every single second. I have an account at Zeeco and I love it.

  • MoneyNing says:

    moneycometh: TradeKing’s same price for broker assistance definitely raises a flag but there seems to not be any complains about this so I will take their word until proven otherwise. I will give an update if I find anything out though.

    What do you mean by Zecco and the $25,000 balance requirement? There’s no minimum balance but in order to qualify for free trades, you need $25,000 in your account or execute 25 trades.

    I think your “I would make sure I knew what I was doing” hit the nail on the head because most people who trade in these accounts don’t.

  • moneycometh says:

    Trade King, not charging for assistance from a broker sounds suspicious. Most companies do not even offer this opportunity. There has got to be a twist to this whole entire thing.

    For Zecco, 25 trades per month for 10 ten additional shares for free is not going to be accomplished by many who join them. I would go with Zecco because a 25,000 balance is not required. Before joining, though, I would make sure I knew what I was doing.

  • MoneyNing says:

    vaughn: I do not have an Scottrade account but will gladly do a comparison against zecco or tradeking (or both) in the future so stay tuned. $2 per trade is quite a difference though since Scottrade charges $7 a trade.

    Regarding research tools, I didn’t add these into the comparison because:
    1. You can pretty much get everything online via a 3rd party
    2. Streaming quotes are offered everywhere.

    For professional traders though, they might want to look at a broker that offers trading platform software (ie a non-web version) that’s faster and more customizable. I know Etrade has one and I’m sure the more trader friendly brokers like thinkorswim or optionsexpress will also.

  • vaughn says:

    How does Scottrade compare? I remember $7 a trade being a bargain versus Ameritrade and Etrade. How about an analysis of research tools and streaming data?

  • MoneyNing says:

    PM-Exchange: Wanting to keep your money in the bank is understandable. Just beware that most people always sell when the market is at the bottom (or near the bottom) because they think they’ve lost too much money while buy when the market is at the top (when they think it will never go down).

    It’s all a cycle and as long as you trust that the capitalism of your country is going to be strong mid to long term, having a diversified portfolio will outperform money in the bank.

  • PM-Exchange says:

    So far I am not pretty luck with Online stock trading and with such a low experiences in trading on my own ,I rather keep save my money to the bank

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