If you’ve bought stocks through E*Trade, make sure you log into your account at least once a quarter. That way you can see if there’s any alerts on the account, like the one telling you about the “inactivity fee” for not executing at least one trade per quarter, the fee that they’ll sell some of your stocks to pay for. This happened to reader Brody, who writes:
I got an email alert today from E*Trade that I’d had some shares of stocks I was holding with the company sold. I didn’t execute the trades and thus I was a bit freaked out that someone else had made them on my behalf.
I called customer service, and they informed me that there is a well-hidden “service fee” for inactivity with E*Trade if you do not make a trade per quarter. Like a good value investor, I was sitting on my stocks and just letting it ride. I asked why I wasn’t given a heads up this fee was going to take place, and I was told the “alert” on my E*Trade account let me know that (even though there was no email sent to me).
Since I have just been sitting on these stocks for a while now, I guess I’ve been charged said fee a couple times; only now did I notice when they decided to liquidate my account to pay for them.
I’ve never liked E*Trade for stock trading. Too much noise and big headlines. I prefer the more bare-bones, no bullshit, Scottrade. As far as I know, they don’t punish people for not needlessly moving money around.