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rated:
There are a number of brokerage offers out there that provide bonuses for new accounts, and there are already threads discussing the Schwab and Ameritrade offers. However, there are others. Several of these require opening accounts in the hundreds of thousands. Since many lack this much money, they will be forced to decide which are worth doing. Unlike deals that involve only some time, when one is investing these sums, one likes to know the experience of others and whether there are any potentially expensive problems with any of these.

Thus, there seems a need for a single thread where these are listed and people can discuss the comparative merits of them.

Below are some I know of (I started with the list of brokerage deals at http://thefinancebuff.com/huge-bonus-offers-from-brokers-fidelit... and want to give them credit. They put some of the bigger ones in a nice table format, and provide links. (Although we are past the deadlines stated, I have discovered virtually all have been extended and are still in effect.) There is another list at http://www.maximizingmoney.com/online-trading-accounts-and-inves...

If there is someone who was watched these offers for a while, it might be nice to know how often they are made, or extended. Many firms put short deadlines on their offers to motivate you to act now, but seem to keep extending the offer, or periodically make similar ones.

Is there any scope for "churning" in which you take an offer and then later repeat the offer?

Here are some general comments.

Offers of this type are attractive for the total money received. Positions have to be held somewhere, so why not where they can give you an extra $600 or so. The money is not really locked up, since you can take it out (and not get the bonus).

Any of the major brokerage firms provide a way to buy and sell Apple, Ford, the major exchange traded funds, bonds, and mutual funds, and there are not gigantic differences between them in what you can do and at what costs. However, with large sums of money involved, small percentage differences in returns, or fees, or details like returns on idle funds, or how fast they transfer assets in can have a significant impact.

For instance, the Schwab offer seems to require you to keep your money with Schwab brokerage, and does not provide for you to invest idle funds in Schwab bank, for a slightly higher return. (all of .15% in checking, and .25% in saving), much less move it out to a Credit union for a few days of higher interest.

If only enough funds or positions are moved to qualify for a bonus, one may have the trouble of having two (or more accounts),but one can try out another firm. One may discover advantages that lead one to stay with them, or move all of you funds. Over several years the benefits of the new firm could be worth several times the bonus (and of course, you may suffer disadvantages that exceed the bonus, if there are either costs in shifting the assets, or unanticipated problems with the new firm).

Some of the considerations include: How much return will be lost when the funds are tied up during the transfer? CREF tells me transfers should take 5 - 7 days for IRA's. Firms will often close your positions out, and then hold the cash for a few days, and then mail the other firm the check. Your funds are likely to be out of the market for at least a few days. Just to illustrate the money that can be involved, if you believe you can earn 10% per year in stocks (a historical possibility) and are thinking of moving $250,000, this is $68.49 per day, and if you are out of the market for 7 days, this is $479.45, which is most of a $600 bonus. If you then try to bring the money back, there would be a similar cost. This makes some of these deals no longer look so attractive.

If you can transfer positions without fees, this may not be a problem. However, many IRA's are in propriety funds which cannot be transferred. You may find out that the retail funds in a brokerage IRA are more expensive than the proprietary funds in some other plans. When large sums are involved, you should look closely at annual expenses.

Are there any adverse tax consequences? If you find you have to convert funds to cash for an easy transfer, this can create a capital gain, and possibly prevent you from receiving the long term capital gains rate.

, What will be the cost in time and money of learning new brokerage firm's procedures? An active trader will be attracted by the offer of a large number of free trades, but if unfamiliarity leads you to make mistakes, it could cost you more than the value of the trades.

There may be hidden costs to closing accounts. Years ago I opened several accounts for bonuses, and found account closing fees that were inadequately disclosed.

Are you gaining or losing any valuable investment opportunities that are available only through certain firms (margin borrowing at better rates, the opportunity to trade Schwab ETF funds for no commission, etc.).

For instance, I have substantial money in the CREF Real Estate Fund, and currently if you take money out, they will not let you buy back in if your total position is over $150,000. I have found this a rather nice investment vehicle, and losing several years earnings from it could easily outweigh any small bonus from moving part of the investment elsewhere.

Offers with their own threads on Fatwallet include Ameritrade
http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1249566/

Schwab (although the title mentions an Apple Gift card, they have offers for cash rebates that go up to $600, which are more attractive).
http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1247361/

A direct link for the new Schwab offer is:
http://content.schwab.com/web/retail/public/cashbonusandtrades/

E Trade if offering up to $1,000 for a quarter million.
https://us.etrade.com/e/t/jumppage/viewjumppage?PageName=cashcon...

Fidelity is offering up to $2500 for over $1,000,000.
https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_casha.shtml

They also have offers for United or American airline miles which are arguably better (see discussion below):


The Sharebuilder $200 for $10,000 promotion. This was extended past the date mentioned in the Fatwallet thread, but appears to no longer be available.

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1249133/

However, they do have a promotion of $100 for $5,000 which appears attractive for those with little cash?

http://content.sharebuilder.com/MgdCon/Jump/Web/welcome/proseasy...

Some current Sharebuilder promotions are at:

http://content.sharebuilder.com/mgdcon/jump/consumer/AG/cmt/fund...

They also have a $100 bonus for transferring an account (over $500), whose Fatwallet thread is below (note the terms appear to prevent getting both Sharebuilder bonuses, but it is reported below that it has been done).

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1249121/

MerrilEdge is offering up to $600. See:
http://www.merrilledge.com/iraoffer?oc=17jzihs&cm_sp=gwm-selfdir...

They also have a $50 bonus for new 529 accounts. It might be unwise to open one of these and then close it if you later intend to take one of their larger offers.

Updated to add new information and remove wrong information.

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Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
Are there credit checks involved in opening these accounts ?

tajar96 (Jul. 04, 2014 @ 11:06a) |

I'm not aware of any.

HKnight (Jul. 04, 2014 @ 11:13a) |

Some do, like Schwab, which I found out after the fact.  If you do a search here in the FWF archives, I recall a thread ... (more)

monto888 (Jul. 04, 2014 @ 1:41p) |


Current

Ameritrade: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1249566/ 

E Trade is offering cool bonuses for regular accounts and IRA. They may still have upto $1,000 for $250,000+ ($100 for $25,000; $200 for $50,000; $500 for $100,000; and $1,000 for $250,000+) for IRA (roll over or retirement accounts): https://us.etrade.com/e/t/jumppage/viewjumppage?PageName=cashconsol_ira_1000_instructions&em=2701 

Fidelity is offering up to $2500 for over $1,000,000. https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_casha.shtml 
Fidelity also has offers for United or American Airline miles, which are arguably better (available at airlines' websites for earning miles).

Merrill Edge is offering up to $600. ($100 bonus for $25,000; $150 for $50,000; $250 for $100,000; $600 for $200,000+. See: http://www.merrilledge.com/cmaoffer?oc=1-ab831g They also have a $50 bonus for new 529 accounts. It might be unwise to open one of these and then close it if you later intend to take one of their larger offers.

Sharebuilder IRA: Get $75 with $10,000+. $150 for $25,000+. $250 for $50,000+. And get $600 for $125,000+.
http://cdn.content.sharebuilder.com/MgdCon/jump/retirement/nov12acq/ 

Optionshouse IRA:
To be eligible for the $200 cash bonus, fund with a minimum of $25,000 and use promo code ROLL200.
To be eligible for the $300 cash bonus, fund with a minimum of $50,000 and use promo code ROLL300.
To be eligible for the $400 cash bonus, fund with a minimum of $100,000 and use promo code ROLL400.
To be eligible for the $600 cash bonus, fund with a minimum of $250,000 and use promo code ROLL600.
The offer will expire December 31, 2013. Go to https://www.optionshouse.com/signup/?promo=ROLL300 (under promo= enter the appropriate code for your fund amount). http://landing.optionshouse.com/promo/ira_rollover/cj?CJAID=9999999999 
Expired

Schwab: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1247361/
Although the title mentions an Apple Gift card, they have offers for cash rebates that go up to $600, which are more attractive, but offer no longer available; not even at http://content.schwab.com/web/retail/public/cashbonusandtrades/

Sharebuilder $200 for $10,000 promotion has ended. http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1249133/ 
Sharebuilder may now have the $100 bonus for $5,000. http://content.sharebuilder.com/MgdCon/Jump/Web/welcome/proseas/index.htm 
Some current or expired Sharebuilder promotions are at: http://content.sharebuilder.com/mgdcon/jump/consumer/AG/cmt/fundedBrokerage/index.htm 
They also have a $100 bonus for transferring an account (over $500), whose Fatwallet thread is below (note the terms appear to prevent getting both Sharebuilder bonuses, but it is reported below that it has been done).
http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1249121/ 


Please update info here with direct links to online brokerages and bonuses that are not linked with affiliates or sponsored affiliates.

rated:
The (newly updated) Fidelity AA/United miles deals are better than the $600:
https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_aa2.shtml?MSC...
https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_ual.shtml?MSC...

Basically:

Works on existing accounts, not just new;

No tax on bonus miles (biggest pro);

Can do 1 promotion once every 12 months (or 6 months between spouses' individual accounts);

15k miles for $25k, 25k miles for $50k, 50k miles for $100k new deposits;

Must keep for 6 months. Churning (depositing $10k, withdraw and repeat 10 times) loophole is dead.

rated:
do you recommend any of these deals?

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I got both sharebuilder bonuses ($200 for $10k and $100 for xfer)

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nanotube said:   The (newly updated) Fidelity AA/United miles deals are better than the $600:
https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_aa2.shtml?MSC...
https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_ual.shtml?MSC...

Basically:

Works on existing accounts, not just new;

No tax on bonus miles (biggest pro);

Can do 1 promotion once every 12 months (or 6 months between spouses' individual accounts);

15k miles for $25k, 25k miles for $50k, 50k miles for $100k new deposits;

Must keep for 6 months. Churning (depositing $10k, withdraw and repeat 10 times) loophole is dead.


How strict are they about this:
>>Net new assets are defined as an individual’s external new money in minus money out, including distributions and transfers.<<
Thinking of withdrawing then redepositing, wondering if it would work and how long I should wait between transactions?
Or will I be wasting my time?
Thanks!

rated:
Your link to The Finance Buff got cut off. Here is the full link: http://thefinancebuff.com/huge-bonus-offers-from-brokers-fidelit...

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misterspaghetti said:   I got both sharebuilder bonuses ($200 for $10k and $100 for xfer)

Thanks for sharing your experience.

I updated my post to be more tentative.

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nanotube said:   The (newly updated) Fidelity AA/United miles deals are better than the $600:
https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_aa2.shtml?MSC...
https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_ual.shtml?MSC...

Basically:

Works on existing accounts, not just new;

No tax on bonus miles (biggest pro);

Can do 1 promotion once every 12 months (or 6 months between spouses' individual accounts);

15k miles for $25k, 25k miles for $50k, 50k miles for $100k new deposits;

Must keep for 6 months. Churning (depositing $10k, withdraw and repeat 10 times) loophole is dead.


Which is better depends on how you value the miles, which in turn depends on how you might use them (do you wish to fly American or United and are flexible enough to use them).

The tax benefit may be important, especially since many people with a spare $100,000 have high enough incomes to pay taxes, and many are in high brackets.

Is there anything to keep someone with adequate funds from taking advantage of both a miles promotion and the cash one, possibly opening both at the same time?

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Here is a little more on the Merrill 529 offer. I am putting it down here since it is peripheral to what I hope would be a useful thread for those with significant money to invest, and I didn't want to confuse that topic with a discussion of this relatively small offer. However, one starting a relationship with Merrill might want to consider this also.

A hidden benefit of discussing this with them might be to find out how good and ethical their representative is since this plan would clearly be unsuitable for many who had nice tax benefits from their own home state's plan.

"The $50 bonus is a one-time credit that will be applied to the newly opened NextGen College Investing Plan Account after the relevant qualification criteria are met. The $50 bonus will be paid during the calendar month after which the 90-day funding criteria are met; only one bonus per account. The $50 bonus will be applied to your account and invested in the various securities offered by the Plan based on your new-investment allocation in effect on the date that the bonus is provided."

However, according to one source, the Maine plan is one of the worst in the nation, so it may not good for permanent use (i.e. eventually you might want to close it, or move the money to a better plan). The exception would be for low income Maine residents, due to a state matching program. The article below also has information on other plans):

http://www.forbes.com/2005/02/10/...vings.html

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RE: Fidelity bonus . A while ago got confirmation in writing from its CSR that the airline miles would be forthcoming for me, individually. Put in the big bucks. Airline miles never came and could not get cash equivalent after several tries. No more Fidelity thanks.

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More on the Merrill $50 offer for their 529 plan (Maine)

I called Merrill regarding their promotions, confirming they existed. The 529 offers seem to be in addition to other offers (It appears you can open an investment account, and an IRA for their $600 bonuses, and your wife can do the same, each for $200,000), and it is possible you could get $50 for each kid with a $5,000 deposit for at least 90 days.

On my first call I was told he could see no reason why you could not get the $50 on accounts for each kid. On a second call, I was told you would be limited to one per parent. This is something that some might want to clarify. One way to do this might be to open the first one (if it seems worthwhile), and then ask about the bonus on a second one for another kid, being very specific, and possibly getting the answer in writing.

I see one joker for those who think they might open one, and then move it out after the required holding period. I recall that the US government allows only one transfer of plans for tax free treatment on the withdrawal. Merrill says you can transfer money in from another plan (I know you can withdraw from one and put it in another within the required time limits without owing taxes). However, if you did so now, you would appear to be restricted from moving it out until next year. If you put new money in, you would be free to move it out later.

Thus, for those planning to invest in the Merrill Maine plan, there is an issue of whether to do it by transfer, or by a check. Presumably, if you take funds out of a plan for which you already got a tax benefit, you would need to refund the tax benefit (if you had put more money into your account than you got a tax benefit for, the state would expect to recapture this.)

Just to illustrate what I am talking about, Maryland allows up to a $2500 deduction each year for each plan. If you had put say $10,000 in for one year, you could then have taken up to $2500 against Md. state taxes for that year. It appears you could transfer $5,000 to fund this account without Md. asking for money back. Then in a future year, you could bring the money back to a Md. plan and get a tax deduction that year.

You might want to move it out because you own state had a tax benefit for new contributions to its plan (which I believe funds brought from another plan would qualify for), or because the Maine plan had relatively high fees, and or a poorer choice of funds and you wished to move it to another state's plan.

Their 529 and retirement plans are handled by desks that do not work weekends or holidays, as well as the desks that handle details of transfers, etc.

Trying to get information on the fees I got told there were none, which merely means that the expenses are all covered by the different funds (which of course have expenses). Most of the funds are age related ones, but there are a few single fund ones. The do have one equity index Black Rock Equity Index Portfolio (100% domestic equity) and I pressed on that and finally was told he could not answer that. This bothered me since the no fee claim is probably factually correct (great marketing), but it merely means the expenses are covered in some other way, probably being bundled in with the mutual fund fees. The somewhat dated article I cited warned they could be high.

The link below lists the funds and it does show the expense ratios.
https://olui2.fs.ml.com/Publish/C...3D4DAF948A

For the one I would choose, the Black Rock Equity Index portfolio, the gross expense ratio quoted was .37%, which is reasonable. One web site said the $25 per year fee for the Maine plan had been dropped in 2012. The fixed fee plus fund fees, may be why the older Forbes article warned that this might not be a good deal, even for low income Maine residents. Assuming this was used, a year's expenses would be $18.57, which would be reasonable.

Other funds have fees as high as .9% which is $45, and closer to the $50 fee.

The above are for the "Direct Series Portfolio" which have lower charges. There is also another version which is sold by Merrill Lynch representatives, where the fees are higher and the funds somewhat different. Most (80%) 529 plans are sold through representatives, and my free advice is to avoid these. The other plan is what you would probably get if you walked into a Merrill Lynch office and asked for a 529 plan.

If I then took money out and put it immediately in one of my state's (Maryland) plans, it would appear to count as a contribution that could be used to reduce Maryland taxes, or carried forward to a future year when it could.

rated:
I was thinking about doing the Fidelity bonus for either United or AA miles. Now snork615's experience has made me worried.

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Schwab usually allows the bonus on a couple of accounts, which is nice if you have both a rollover and Roth IRA.

It would be helpful to list all of the transfer out fees by brokerage. I think Ameritrade waives the transfer out fees if you have an Apex account, which I think is just governed by account size.

rated:
I was under the impression that in-kind transfers satisfy the requirements as well, which would result in your assets not being out of the market for any period of time. So for example, you should be able to move your vanguard mutual funds into a fidelity account for 6 months without having to sell, and then move them to another brokerage to collect the next bonus.

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snork615 said:   RE: Fidelity bonus . A while ago got confirmation in writing from its CSR that the airline miles would be forthcoming for me, individually. Put in the big bucks. Airline miles never came and could not get cash equivalent after several tries. No more Fidelity thanks.

Have you called Fidelity? Their CSR are pretty friendly and can correct a lot of things over the air. They are only cautious because of the obvious churners (like last year's big wave from flyertalk) that just shuffle money in and out to achieve the goal with no intention to trade at all. But if you explain to them you really intend to keep the funds in Fido and show them you actually did trade with the funds (nothing wrong to try their 30 no-fee ETFs) they will give you the miles.

rated:
alanmax said:   

How strict are they about this:
>>Net new assets are defined as an individual’s external new money in minus money out, including distributions and transfers.<<
Thinking of withdrawing then redepositing, wondering if it would work and how long I should wait between transactions?
Or will I be wasting my time?
Thanks!


You'll be wasting your time now. You are 1 year late to the party - people on flyertalk have abused this pretty hard and now this method seems to have been shut down.

But hey, I don't see anything wrong with keeping the fund in there. You can rebuild most portfolios using ETFs or Fidelity MFs with the fund you deposited. Worst case, you need to just bare with them for 6 months and move out if you don't like them.

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Dear Nanotube: went back and forth via chat with Fidelity for a week and they blamed the airline. Still no go, stranded on the ground. Now with OptionsHouse for low commissions, they sometimes run bonus offers and always pay. Also Sharebuilder always pays when all terms met and is a great way to assemble your own ETF/mutual fund.

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alanmax said:   nanotube said:   The (newly updated) Fidelity AA/United miles deals are better than the $600:
https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_aa2.shtml?MSC...
https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_ual.shtml?MSC...

Basically:

Works on existing accounts, not just new;

No tax on bonus miles (biggest pro);

Can do 1 promotion once every 12 months (or 6 months between spouses' individual accounts);

15k miles for $25k, 25k miles for $50k, 50k miles for $100k new deposits;

Must keep for 6 months. Churning (depositing $10k, withdraw and repeat 10 times) loophole is dead.


How strict are they about this:
>>Net new assets are defined as an individual’s external new money in minus money out, including distributions and transfers.<<
Thinking of withdrawing then redepositing, wondering if it would work and how long I should wait between transactions?
Or will I be wasting my time?
Thanks!


OVERLY!

rated:
nanotube said:   

But hey, I don't see anything wrong with keeping the fund in there. You can rebuild most portfolios using ETFs or Fidelity MFs with the fund you deposited. Worst case, you need to just bare with them for 6 months and move out if you don't like them.


The new link seems to say 9 months, rather than 6.

Clarification. The 9 months seems to be for the cash offers, and he is correct for the miles offers.

rated:
nanotube said:   The (newly updated) Fidelity AA/United miles deals are better than the $600:
https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_aa2.shtml?MSC...
https://scs.fidelity.com/other/offers/registration_ual.shtml?MSC...

Basically:

Works on existing accounts, not just new;

No tax on bonus miles (biggest pro);

Can do 1 promotion once every 12 months (or 6 months between spouses' individual accounts);

15k miles for $25k, 25k miles for $50k, 50k miles for $100k new deposits;

Must keep for 6 months. Churning (depositing $10k, withdraw and repeat 10 times) loophole is dead.


For those who do not fly, or do not expect to be able to use the miles for travel, which airline offer is best?

It might be useful for those later to the party to have links to the Flyer discussions, since they have probably discussed various details and potential problems.

If miles are value at 1 cent each, it appears the 50,000 miles are worth more than the $300 they are offering for a $100,000, and as pointed out miles are not taxable income.

Of course, if you have a lot of money, the total reward is greater with much larger deposits.

If married and truly sharing finances, it may be possible to invest $200,000 for a 100,000 miles.

It appears the rules (or other problems) prevent doing both miles offers, or both with a cash offer also?
"Promotional offers are limited to one per individual per rolling 12 months."

One attraction to the Fidelity offers is that they are reported to be repeatable (while the others may not be). If you lack funds to take all of them, there may be a case for starting with a Fidelity one, and then doing another.

rated:
In thinking about a strategy based on moving money more than once, there appear to be several approaches.

One approach is to calculate rates of return from bonuses on your funds and use this as an aide. I have done these calculations and will make several posts based on my calculations. . Notice these are incremental rates of return, and your total return would be whatever the underlying investments earns plus the bonus for a new account, or new funds.

The spread sheet is attached (hopefully) and comments and corrections of errors would be appreciated.

rated:
Obviously, the problem involved in selecting brokerage houses for bonuses gets difficult (and a lot more is relevant than the bonuses), although in some cases the problem can be simplified.

For instance, my wife has about $40,000 in an annuity in a Roth (the reason for having an annuity in a Roth is no longer valid). The fees are high enough at VALIC that it appears converting to cash and buying diversified funds in a brokerage accounts would be wise, so the question then becomes where to go. Offers of miles are not available for retirement accounts. She does not qualify for offers that need more than $50,000. This leaves the candidates as Merrill, Ameritrade,or E-Trade , all of which would net a $100 bonus, although the holding periods required differ.

It is not clear she would want the trouble of moving again for $100. Merril might be a good candidate for the ultimate home, since they apparently will give free trades for large accounts, and not all of them need be used in the qualifying accounts. If only one transfer is planned, they might be the logical destination. They offer one of the highest incremental rates of return, since their required holding period is only three months. Of course,if one does not plan repeated moves the incremental rate of return is irrelevant, but the source of it, the shorter required holding period may be. An unplanned event may lead to a short holding period, or a better opportunity may emerge that one may wish to take advantage of.

However, if it looks like she would be willing to do repeated transfers, it might be good to make a move to them the last transfer, perhaps going to E-Trade for 6 months, then Ameritrade for 9 months, and then hoping there was still a Merrill offer and going there, having earned $300 for some work.

If she was willing to do repeated transfers and we believed the offers would always be there, one might start with Merrill where leaving the money there for 3 months has an incremental return of 1.6% per year (one of the highest excluding 529 plans and the one time Sharebuilder option, then go to E Trade where the incremental return would be .8%, and then back to Merrill, etc. In theory, this could generate an extra $200 every 9 months, if the firms would allow it.

Ameritrade, with its .53% incremental return due to its 9 month required holding period would be used only if one thought one of the other offers could be used only once, or if one decided it would be prudent not to move in and out of any one firm too often. Going through all three firms in rotation could generate $300 in 18 months, while using just the two highest returning firms would generate $400 every 18 months. The longer rotation would avoid going back to a firm one had left only 9 months earlier (1 year may be a magic number that worries the firms, and is reportedly the limit used by Fidelity).

I set out the above practical problem partially just to illustrate how one might think about a problem, and partially in the hope that someone would know some relevant facts that I was unaware of (not having been a customer of any of these brokerages recently).

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Bonus (6.14kB)
Disclaimer
Sharebuilder is offering bonuses for existing accounts

For a limited time, get up to $500 when you put $10K-$100K in a ShareBuilder account. Get your bonus with a deposit, transfer, or even by rolling over an old 401(k).

To get your bonus,
- go to sharebuilder.com/DM/500Transfer to start.
- Then either:
===> boost your current account (use code 2Deposit500) or
===> open a new one (use code 500Deposit2).
- Last thing: put the funds or securities in your account by 3/28/13.

Happy new year!

rated:
Matr0skin said:   Sharebuilder is offering bonuses for existing accounts

For a limited time, get up to $500 when you put $10K-$100K in a ShareBuilder account. Get your bonus with a deposit, transfer, or even by rolling over an old 401(k).

To get your bonus,
- go to sharebuilder.com/DM/500Transfer to start.
- Then either:
===> boost your current account (use code 2Deposit500) or
===> open a new one (use code 500Deposit2).
- Last thing: put the funds or securities in your account by 3/28/13.

Happy new year!


Do you have a link for this?

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ProfessorEd said:   

For those who do not fly, or do not expect to be able to use the miles for travel, which airline offer is best?

It might be useful for those later to the party to have links to the Flyer discussions, since they have probably discussed various details and potential problems.

If miles are value at 1 cent each, it appears the 50,000 miles are worth more than the $300 they are offering for a $100,000, and as pointed out miles are not taxable income.

Of course, if you have a lot of money, the total reward is greater with much larger deposits.

If married and truly sharing finances, it may be possible to invest $200,000 for a 100,000 miles.

It appears the rules (or other problems) prevent doing both miles offers, or both with a cash offer also?
"Promotional offers are limited to one per individual per rolling 12 months."

One attraction to the Fidelity offers is that they are reported to be repeatable (while the others may not be). If you lack funds to take all of them, there may be a case for starting with a Fidelity one, and then doing another.


See this post at flyertalk for discussions on the OLD Fidelity bonus offer (if mods don't mind):
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/milesbuzz/1097731-consolidated-fi...

Well, most would value the miles at 1.5~2 cents/mile when you redeem for flights.

I would say AA and United are basically personal preference: which one you prefer to fly with, whose hub is closer to you or do you like Oneworld vs Star Alliance partners. It's not like Delta, whose miles are worth significantly less (because you need almost 2x Delta miles to redeem for a flight).

I don't know where you saw 9 months. In the links I gave, here is what it says:
Your Fidelity Account® must remain open with the qualifying funding for six months from the date that the qualifying assets are first received in the eligible account.
Also:
For new money deposited into existing accounts, all deposits must be made within 60 days of registering for the offer.

Technically two family members can each do one per 12 months, but one person would do it 6 months after the other when the funds are freed so I think you are right, with $100k that would mean 100k miles per year. I got 50k last year and now am working the second one.

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If you are attracted by Merril's 30-free trade per month program you may want to read their fine print. Last I checked, the "platinum advantage" Merril program requires at least $50k in a BoA checking or a Money Market sweep account to qualify for the free trade benefits. Stock/MF assets do not count toward the $50k.

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misterspaghetti said:   Matr0skin said:   Sharebuilder is offering bonuses for existing accounts

For a limited time, get up to $500 when you put $10K-$100K in a ShareBuilder account. Get your bonus with a deposit, transfer, or even by rolling over an old 401(k).

To get your bonus,
- go to sharebuilder.com/DM/500Transfer to start.
- Then either:
===> boost your current account (use code 2Deposit500) or
===> open a new one (use code 500Deposit2).
- Last thing: put the funds or securities in your account by 3/28/13.

Happy new year!


Do you have a link for this?


sharebuilder.com/DM/Brokerage500

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nanotube said:   If you are attracted by Merril's 30-free trade per month program you may want to read their fine print. Last I checked, the "platinum advantage" Merril program requires at least $50k in a BoA checking or a Money Market sweep account to qualify for the free trade benefits. Stock/MF assets do not count toward the $50k.

Thanks. I may have misunderstood their sales pitch in a phone call.

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rlaw said:   misterspaghetti said:   Matr0skin said:   Sharebuilder is offering bonuses for existing accounts

For a limited time, get up to $500 when you put $10K-$100K in a ShareBuilder account. Get your bonus with a deposit, transfer, or even by rolling over an old 401(k).

To get your bonus,
- go to sharebuilder.com/DM/500Transfer to start.
- Then either:
===> boost your current account (use code 2Deposit500) or
===> open a new one (use code 500Deposit2).
- Last thing: put the funds or securities in your account by 3/28/13.

Happy new year!


Do you have a link for this?


sharebuilder.com/DM/Brokerage500


In my spreadsheet, the highest rate of return is 4% for a 529 plan at Merrill Lynch. Since such plans are suitable for only some investors, I will discuss this option in a separate later post.

The next highest incremental rate of return from bonuses was an extra 2.67% at Sharebuilder, but the $200 for a $10,000 account offer seems to have been withdrawn, to be replaced by the new set of offers given above. Now, $10,000 brings only $75, which computes to a respectable incremental 1%.

It appears the Sharebuilder is a very high ranked candidate. It also has the lowest investment requirement, so for some (with less than $25,000) that may be the only candidate.

For most with more money, this deal should probably be done once, possibly with money not required to qualify for another bonus.

However, Sharebuilder is one that makes it clear you cannot repeat (at least that was the rule for $200 offer), and would not give this bonus if several years earlier they had given you one. If you have more money, it may be possible to get several bonuses by splitting funds among family members. For instance, a married couple might be able to open one account for each, and get two bonuses. I was able to get the $200 bonus for a joint account with my wife, even though both of us had received small bonuses some years ago.

It appears custodial accounts for children can also earn bonuses, but that would require a real gift to them of $10,000 (which they get control of at 21 in most states). Whether this is wise depends on a lot more than being able to earn $200 a small onetime bonus.

There is a separate thread on the $200 Sharebuilder offer, which may have useful information, notably on how to minimize your commissions.

From the postings above there are new Sharebuilder offerings, one of which appears to be $500 for a $100,000 account. It is not clear from the above whether taking the a smaller offer prevents later taking the $500 offer, or even bringing extra money in to bring the total to $100,000.

In a case like this it is useful to analyze the $500 offer on an incremental basis. You get another $425 for bring in another $90,000, which is an increment return of 0.6296%, which is not so good, being comparable to what can be earned elsewhere through bonuses.

Ameritrade and E Trade have offers of $500 for bringing in $100,000 (E trade's is only for IRA's), but because of the shorter holding period E-Trade 's has an incremental rate of return of 1%.

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nanotube said:   

See this post at flyertalk for discussions on the OLD Fidelity bonus offer (if mods don't mind):
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/milesbuzz/1097731-consolidated-fi...

Well, most would value the miles at 1.5~2 cents/mile when you redeem for flights.

I would say AA and United are basically personal preference: which one you prefer to fly with, whose hub is closer to you or do you like Oneworld vs Star Alliance partners. It's not like Delta, whose miles are worth significantly less (because you need almost 2x Delta miles to redeem for a flight).

I don't know where you saw 9 months. In the links I gave, here is what it says:
Your Fidelity Account® must remain open with the qualifying funding for six months from the date that the qualifying assets are first received in the eligible account.
Also:
For new money deposited into existing accounts, all deposits must be made within 60 days of registering for the offer.

Technically two family members can each do one per 12 months, but one person would do it 6 months after the other when the funds are freed so I think you are right, with $100k that would mean 100k miles per year. I got 50k last year and now am working the second one.


Thanks for the correction and links. Their cash offers required 9 months and I had just presumed that applied to the miles offers. With a six month period, the airline offers are even more attractive, especially for one who may want to move the money out again. Their 15,000 miles for $25,000 offer now appear to yield at least 1.2% and the 50,000 for $100,000 yields 1%, which is appreciably higher than their cash offers for those thinking of moving cash accounts.

The highest rate of return of their cash accounts is the $200 for $50,000 to yield .53%. If a couple had $50,000, two $25,000 accounts could yield over twice as much if used for miles.

It sounds like what you are doing is having the wife invest say $25,000 for six months, and then withdrawing to a bank account or another brokerage, and then the spouse bring the funds or securities back for another six months, and alternating. I would think that especially if these were securities, someone might notice and eventually object.

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ProfessorEd said:   More on the Merrill $50 offer for their 529 plan (Maine)

I called Merrill regarding their promotions, confirming they existed. The 529 offers seem to be in addition to other offers (It appears you can open an investment account, and an IRA for their $600 bonuses, and your wife can do the same, each for $200,000), and it is possible you could get $50 for each kid with a $5,000 deposit for at least 90 days.

On my first call I was told he could see no reason why you could not get the $50 on accounts for each kid. On a second call, I was told you would be limited to one per parent. This is something that some might want to clarify. One way to do this might be to open the first one (if it seems worthwhile), and then ask about the bonus on a second one for another kid, being very specific, and possibly getting the answer in writing.

I see one joker for those who think they might open one, and then move it out after the required holding period. I recall that the US government allows only one transfer of plans for tax free treatment on the withdrawal. Merrill says you can transfer money in from another plan (I know you can withdraw from one and put it in another within the required time limits without owing taxes). However, if you did so now, you would appear to be restricted from moving it out until next year. If you put new money in, you would be free to move it out later.

Thus, for those planning to invest in the Merrill Maine plan, there is an issue of whether to do it by transfer, or by a check. Presumably, if you take funds out of a plan for which you already got a tax benefit, you would need to refund the tax benefit (if you had put more money into your account than you got a tax benefit for, the state would expect to recapture this.)

Just to illustrate what I am talking about, Maryland allows up to a $2500 deduction each year for each plan. If you had put say $10,000 in for one year, you could then have taken up to $2500 against Md. state taxes for that year. It appears you could transfer $5,000 to fund this account without Md. asking for money back. Then in a future year, you could bring the money back to a Md. plan and get a tax deduction that year.

You might want to move it out because you own state had a tax benefit for new contributions to its plan (which I believe funds brought from another plan would qualify for), or because the Maine plan had relatively high fees, and or a poorer choice of funds and you wished to move it to another state's plan.

Their 529 and retirement plans are handled by desks that do not work weekends or holidays, as well as the desks that handle details of transfers, etc.

Trying to get information on the fees I got told there were none, which merely means that the expenses are all covered by the different funds (which of course have expenses). Most of the funds are age related ones, but there are a few single fund ones. The do have one equity index Black Rock Equity Index Portfolio (100% domestic equity) and I pressed on that and finally was told he could not answer that. This bothered me since the no fee claim is probably factually correct (great marketing), but it merely means the expenses are covered in some other way, probably being bundled in with the mutual fund fees. The somewhat dated article I cited warned they could be high.

The link below lists the funds and it does show the expense ratios.
https://olui2.fs.ml.com/Publish/C...3D4DAF948A

For the one I would choose, the Black Rock Equity Index portfolio, the gross expense ratio quoted was .37%, which is reasonable. One web site said the $25 per year fee for the Maine plan had been dropped in 2012. The fixed fee plus fund fees, may be why the older Forbes article warned that this might not be a good deal, even for low income Maine residents. Assuming this was used, a year's expenses would be $18.57, which would be reasonable.

Other funds have fees as high as .9% which is $45, and closer to the $50 fee.

The above are for the "Direct Series Portfolio" which have lower charges. There is also another version which is sold by Merrill Lynch representatives, where the fees are higher and the funds somewhat different. Most (80%) 529 plans are sold through representatives, and my free advice is to avoid these. The other plan is what you would probably get if you walked into a Merrill Lynch office and asked for a 529 plan.

If I then took money out and put it immediately in one of my state's (Maryland) plans, it would appear to count as a contribution that could be used to reduce Maryland taxes, or carried forward to a future year when it could.


In my spreadsheet the highest extra return is 4% per year for putting $5,000 in a Merrill 529 Plan (Maine) for $50. This can be done for multiple children or accounts (including for you). Again, the first question is whether you want a 529 plan at all. If you do, the question is whether their plan (Maine) is the right one. Most states have tax benefits or other benefits for using the plan sponsored by themselves, and in most cases that means that for long run use, your own states plans will be the best choice.

However, a viable strategy might be to open the Merrill plan (not the Select plan, but the low cost one), and then after 3 months move it to what you hope will be a permanent home in your state. Now at the start of the year, there is time to do this, and then get the tax benefit for contributing to a home state plan. (Naturally, you need to look at the details of your state tax law to see if there are any problems with this). In some cases, it might pay to use the provision of the Federal law that permits penalty free withdrawals if the money is put into another plan within a short period (60 days) so that there is a clear record of contributions to your own states plan. I presume that if you wish smaller contributions in your home state, a $5000 withdrawal might be made and then two checks for $2500 written (in Md. the maximum contribution to one plan for one child for one parent that generates a state tax deduction).

I do not know whether Merrill Lynch would let you later open new accounts to repeat the process, but if they did I could imagine in the next year bringing the money back to Merril.

However, a 529 plan is a special cases, that is relevant for only some investors. However, for those that want them, the tax advantages plus the incremental 4%, makes them a good candidate for opening accounts for bonuses, and should be near the top of the list.

Since the $5,000 required by Merrill is a small sum, many may be able to do it with funds left over after qualifying for a larger bonus.

However, the $5,000 may also prevent you from having enough funds to qualify for a transfer bonus. Thus, ideally your 529 planning should be coordinated with planning on where you hold your other investment funds.

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nanotube said:   If you are attracted by Merril's 30-free trade per month program you may want to read their fine print. Last I checked, the "platinum advantage" Merril program requires at least $50k in a BoA checking or a Money Market sweep account to qualify for the free trade benefits. Stock/MF assets do not count toward the $50k.[/Q

The link to their program is at: http://www.merrilledge.com/zero-dollar-trades

The key sentence in the fine print is "You automatically enjoy status in the Platinum Privileges® program if you have an active Bank of America personal checking account and maintain at least $50,000 as a combined balance in your Bank of America deposit accounts and/or your Merrill Edge brokerage accounts".

"you: Due 529 plans and retirement accounts count (if in ML Edge )
Last text message receivedBerdine: I can certainly clarify. Any checking account with Bank of America will qualify and active meaning funded and open. Any Merrill Edge account type is counted towards the qualification."

This appears to be tied to individual social security numbers, but by proper choosing who holds 529 plans it appear my wife's Roth plus two or three 529 Plans might meet this standard. Bank interest rates are so low that keeping large balance in a BOA account to meet their requirement unwise.

I am told their 529 plan $50 is limited to one per child. If one is reaching to hit $50,000 and planning on a 529 plan or plans, some thinking ahead as to which spouses opens a 529 plan may be wise.

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ProfessorEd said:   nanotube said:   

See this post at flyertalk for discussions on the OLD Fidelity bonus offer (if mods don't mind):
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/milesbuzz/1097731-consolidated-fi...

Well, most would value the miles at 1.5~2 cents/mile when you redeem for flights.

I would say AA and United are basically personal preference: which one you prefer to fly with, whose hub is closer to you or do you like Oneworld vs Star Alliance partners. It's not like Delta, whose miles are worth significantly less (because you need almost 2x Delta miles to redeem for a flight).

I don't know where you saw 9 months. In the links I gave, here is what it says:
Your Fidelity Account® must remain open with the qualifying funding for six months from the date that the qualifying assets are first received in the eligible account.
Also:
For new money deposited into existing accounts, all deposits must be made within 60 days of registering for the offer.

Technically two family members can each do one per 12 months, but one person would do it 6 months after the other when the funds are freed so I think you are right, with $100k that would mean 100k miles per year. I got 50k last year and now am working the second one.


Thanks for the correction and links. Their cash offers required 9 months and I had just presumed that applied to the miles offers. With a six month period, the airline offers are even more attractive, especially for one who may want to move the money out again. Their 15,000 miles for $25,000 offer now appear to yield at least 1.2% and the 50,000 for $100,000 yields 1%, which is appreciably higher than their cash offers for those thinking of moving cash accounts.

The highest rate of return of their cash accounts is the $200 for $50,000 to yield .53%. If a couple had $50,000, two $25,000 accounts could yield over twice as much if used for miles.

It sounds like what you are doing is having the wife invest say $25,000 for six months, and then withdrawing to a bank account or another brokerage, and then the spouse bring the funds or securities back for another six months, and alternating. I would think that especially if these were securities, someone might notice and eventually object.


Be careful with these offers if you've recently withdrawn "existing" money/securities from a Fidelity account. Its computation and explanations of "new money" can be inconsistent, arbitrary and not clearly documented in the offers.

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horizon6 said:   

Be careful with these offers if you've recently withdrawn "existing" money/securities from a Fidelity account. Its computation and explanations of "new money" can be inconsistent, arbitrary and not clearly documented in the offers.


Do you have any guidance as to how repeatable their offer are, or what you need to do to avoid problems if you take one offer, eventually move your money out and then eventually (say in a year) wish to come back to them? They have a reference to once per rolling 12 month period, but it is easy to imagine them not liking it if it seems like you have come and gone before.

An obvious issue would relate to retirement versus non-retirement accounts. Would having recently taken an offer for a retirement account, prevent taking one for non-retirement account. Because of the taxation of withdrawals, it is unlikely that the same money would be if a retirement account had recently been moved out, and then you decided they were a good place for a regular non-retirement account.

Other firms are vague as to whether you could take future offers once you had taken one (except for Sharebuilder which made it clear that any previous promotion prevented taking advantage of their $200 for $10,000 promotion.) The relevance of this is that if they are the only "repeatable" firm you may wish to start with them. Otherwise you might start with another firm that has a shorter holding period.

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ProfessorEd said:   horizon6 said:   

Be careful with these offers if you've recently withdrawn "existing" money/securities from a Fidelity account. Its computation and explanations of "new money" can be inconsistent, arbitrary and not clearly documented in the offers.


Do you have any guidance as to how repeatable their offer are, or what you need to do to avoid problems if you take one offer, eventually move your money out and then eventually (say in a year) wish to come back to them? They have a reference to once per rolling 12 month period, but it is easy to imagine them not liking it if it seems like you have come and gone before.

An obvious issue would relate to retirement versus non-retirement accounts. Would having recently taken an offer for a retirement account, prevent taking one for non-retirement account. Because of the taxation of withdrawals, it is unlikely that the same money would be if a retirement account had recently been moved out, and then you decided they were a good place for a regular non-retirement account.

Other firms are vague as to whether you could take future offers once you had taken one (except for Sharebuilder which made it clear that any previous promotion prevented taking advantage of their $200 for $10,000 promotion.) The relevance of this is that if they are the only "repeatable" firm you may wish to start with them. Otherwise you might start with another firm that has a shorter holding period.


Wish I had the answer you're looking for but unfortunately that the reason for the statement "Its computation and explanations of "new money" can be inconsistent, arbitrary and not clearly documented in the offers." Would welcome someone who knew what the look-back period was and a reference source for that so we could know how a withdrawal of funds would affect your eligibility for any of the Fidelity offers. So far definitive sources are lacking and calling doesn't provide a reliable answer. Maybe someone is "here" from Fidelity" and has access to a "source".

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The most obvious way for a happily married couple with substantial wealth to benefit from moving funds between brokerage accounts would be to alternate be her and him. She might open accounts and hold them for the required period, then move them out to another firm. After a short period he might open a new account and bring the money back to the firm.


It might also make it possible to take advantage of the dollar amounts that give the highest percentage returns. For instance, for Ameritrade, E-Trade , and Merril, the offers for $100,000 are more attractive as a percentage of the amount moved than for larger sums. For E-Trade and Ameritrade, two $100,000 offers earn $500 each for a total of $1,000, while to get that from one transfer requires $250,00. For Schwab 2 $100,00 accounts yields $300 each, or $600, while $250,000 is required to get $600 in one account. In both cases, the $50,000 left could be put elsewhere, such as with a $50,000 offer at Fidelity, or two $25000 airline offers at Fidelity.

By taking a $100,000 offer at one firm by a wife, and another $100,000 at another firm, bonuses might be earned, and then the two might reverse positions, earning another set of bonuses.

I don't see any direct rules disallowing this, but I could see how they might argue it was not new money if they realized what was happening. Things like the same addresses, linkages to the same bank accounts, who were the beneficiaries, etc might make it obvious who were married couples.

Schwab told me they had a family limit of $5,000 in bonuses, which would allow for quite a few accounts.

If such a strategy was contemplated, it would seem best not to open joint accounts (which otherwise might have advantages), and possibly do things to make it less obvious the two were married (not having the same payable on death provisions, phone numbers, etc.) and possibly having one use a work address.

Especially for couple with enough money so that more than one of the attractive offers could be taken, this might be more profitable than cycling among firms.

Obviously, if the marriage is shaky and one has most of the assets in his name, this may not be wise. In community property states, the assets coming into a marriage are separate assets if not commingled, and I imagine such a strategy could convert separate property into marital property. If the couple lacked wills, or had different wills, I could imagine this might change what happened if one of them died.

An advantage to smaller accounts being reversed might be to reduce the risk of something unwanted happening on death or divorce. If a couple with a little more than $250,000 moved this in and out, on the death of one person, how wealthy he was would be a matter of luck. He would have most of the family assets if they were in his name on death or divorce, or very little if they were not. If they had $100,000 in two firms that was being moved back and forth, on death or divorce each might have at least $100,000. If the death of one spouse tied the funds in his name up, the other spouse would still have at least the $100,000 to live on.

What happens on divorce is complex (and varies with the state), but I could imagine one party taking advantage of such a situation to grab more than they would have otherwise received.

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which ones allow pump and dump?

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Adding to ProfessorEd above, note that if you have say $151K, you're best off opening 3 $50K accts at 3 different places for $600 rather than the typical $300 you'd get if you went all-in at one brokerage. A little more labor, I suppose.

Skipping 151 Messages...
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tajar96 said:   Are there credit checks involved in opening these accounts ?
  Some do, like Schwab, which I found out after the fact.  If you do a search here in the FWF archives, I recall a thread listing other firms that also do a hard pull

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