But some are different. They love hand-selecting every stock or bond they buy, poring over regulatory filings and analyst reports before settling on a decision. Or they thrill at calling a near-term bottom, loading up, and cashing in at the top.
Zacks Trade is one such trading platform. It’s not the best-known discount online broker out there, nor the most user-friendly. And it lacks the sort of broad-based appeal that big-name platforms command. But for serious traders and investors who’ve tried big-name discount brokers like Charles Schwab and found them lacking, Zacks Trade is a cut above. Here’s why.
Let’s take a closer look at Zacks Trade’s account types, platforms, available products, fee structure, and news and analysis tools for traders.
Zacks Trade offers three main account types: traditional (taxable) brokerage accounts, traditional IRAs, and Roth IRAs. Consult IRS guidance and your tax professional for information about IRA contribution limits, withdrawal restrictions, early withdrawal penalties, and other important things to know before opening a tax-advantaged retirement account.
Zacks Trade Platform Options
Zacks Trade has three distinct platform options, plus two handy smartphone- and tablet-friendly platforms that work on Android and iOS operating systems, respectively. All are included with membership and cost nothing extra to use.
Zacks Trade Pro
Zacks Trade Pro is a powerful trading platform designed for active, sophisticated traders, including those who do day trading for a living. It provides direct access to 19 different national securities markets.
Unlike most modern online brokerage platforms, Zacks Trade Pro is not cloud-based. You need to download it to your primary computer’s hard drive, and it may not work behind a firewall.
Otherwise, it’ll feel familiar, if inordinately feature-rich, to anyone versed in online equities trading. The endlessly customizable interface allows for as much or as little detail as you’d like, with visibility into your account and margin balances, filled and pending orders, market value, and other portfolio data at a glance. Use the alerts feature to set custom alerts based on share price, volume, margin, price, and time.
Zacks Trader is a cleaner trading interface that incorporates many of the same powerful features as Zacks Trade Pro without the clutter and customization potential. It’s ideal for traders new to Zacks Trade and for less-experienced traders in general. Because it’s browser-based and lives in the cloud, it’s ideal for use behind a firewall.
This is Zacks Trade’s account dashboard. It’s the best place to get a high-level look at your entire account at a glance. Use it to:
- Access statements, tax documents, and account performance reports
- Move money into or out of your Zacks Trade account
- Update your account configuration or security settings
- Make simple trades with a few clicks
Because it lacks the robust real-time data and reporting capabilities of Zacks Trade Pro and Zacks Trader, you shouldn’t use Client Portal as your primary trading platform.
Available Investment Products and Trading Commissions
Zacks Trade offers competitive pricing on market-traded securities and bonds.
Stocks, Options, and ETFs
Zacks Trade allows account holders to trade stocks in 19 different countries (covering about 90 distinct exchanges), plus hundreds of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and options for thousands of publicly traded firms.
Zacks’ U.S. stock and ETF trading commissions are generally on the low end of the discount brokerage range — $0.01 per share or $1 minimum for smaller trades — for securities trading at $1 or more per share. For stocks and ETFs trading below the $1 threshold, the commission is 1% of total trade value.
Options trades are priced more reasonably relative to competing discount brokerages: $1 for the first contract and $0.75 for each additional contract. For international equities trades, Zacks levies country-specific commissions that may exceed standard U.S. commissions, sometimes substantially. Non-dollar-denominated trades may incur flat currency conversion fees, as well.
Zacks Trade has hundreds of mutual funds in its database. Relative to other discount brokerages, commissions are on the high side (a little under $30). Bear in mind that mutual fund trade orders placed during regular trading hours will settle after hours, so these instruments aren’t appropriate for short-term or high-frequency trading.
Zacks Trade offers access to investment-grade corporate bonds issued by hundreds of private corporations. There’s a low, flat charge per bond purchase, plus a two-tiered percentage-based levy.
Zacks Trade account holders can buy and sell government-issued bonds, which may offer unique federal and state tax advantages. (Consult a tax professional for advice specific to your situation.) Government bond trades follow the corporate bonds’ pricing structure, but the percentage-based levy is even lower.
Margin Trading and Rates
In a nod to speculative traders, Zacks Trade allows margin accounts — lines of credit against which account holders can borrow to fund trading activities rather than use their own funds. Margin trading is a high-risk, high-reward activity that’s appropriate only for sophisticated investors. Even more so than cash trading, margin trading carries a significant risk of principal loss.
Zacks Trade’s margin program has four pricing tiers, with interest charges falling as account size grows. The lowest tier (highest margin rates) covers accounts of up to $100,000. The highest (lowest margin rates) is reserved for accounts larger than $3 million.
Additional Fees and Minimums
Prospective Zacks Trade account holders should be aware of some other potential account fees and limitations.
For starters, the platform strongly recommends a $2,500 investment minimum. It’s possible to open and fund an account with less, but you won’t be able to trade on margin, and you may struggle to achieve your investing goals using Zacks Trade’s available features and tools.
Otherwise, Zacks Trade imposes a per-withdrawal fee after one complimentary withdrawal per month. The fee is higher for withdrawals made by paper check or wire transfer.
On the bright side, Zacks Trade waives fees for account activities or conditions for which other brokerages charge, including:
- Account inactivity
- Outgoing account transfers
- IRA custodianship
- Order cancellation
Zacks Trade makes a slew of powerful trading tools available to all account holders. The best place to learn about and use these tools is through your Zacks Trade Pro dashboard. Some highlights include:
- Algos: Algorithms that uncover unusual market patterns lesser-equipped traders might overlook (and that standard charting tools won’t catch)
- Basket Trader: A convenient way for high-volume traders to import and execute bulk trades
- Market Scanners: Zacks Trade’s proprietary stock screener software
- Labs: Tools covering advanced options strategies, options probability analysis, and market volatility analysis
- SpreadTrader: A framework for creating and placing complex spread orders quickly and accurately
- Rebalance Portfolio: An automated rebalancing tool that eliminates the need to place individual trades
Bear in mind that “complimentary” does not necessarily mean “free reign.” You may be required to pay for detailed reports or products from these services. And if you enroll in any free trials of premium products or services, you’re likely to be renewed as a paying customer when the trial ends unless you cancel ahead of time.
Zacks does have one powerful free research tool: its in-house shop, Zacks Investment Research. This Chicago-based outfit has been in business for more than 40 years and is renowned for producing insightful takes that too many market observers miss.
Global Market Access
Zacks Trade caters to U.S.-based investors and international traders alike. Those based outside the U.S. can access a single Zacks Trade platform from over 200 national markets, from Canada to Australia. Regardless of location, Zacks account holders can trade in about 90 markets in nearly 20 countries, although the platform’s customer service team is only available during extended North American business hours.
Zacks Trade’s key advantages include relatively low trading and account costs and a wealth of information and analytics for serious traders and investors.
- Mostly Low Trading Commissions. By and large, Zacks Trade charges lower commissions than the competitors who also cater to serious traders (as opposed to more novice-friendly brokerages known for free commissions). That’s excellent news for advanced, high-volume traders who’d like to pay as little as possible — and have the confidence to place and execute complex trades with minimal support. Bear in mind that commissions on non-U.S.-listed equities may be higher than those for U.S.-listed equities.
- Few Additional Account Fees. Zacks Trade’s account fee schedule is reasonable. Other than excess withdrawal fees and currency conversion fees, you won’t encounter too many financial surprises here.
- Powerful Trading and Analytics Tools for Serious Investors. Zacks Trade account holders have access to a vast array of powerful trading and analytic tools, like watchlists and advanced market data, plus research insights from dozens of respected outlets and some niche shops too. That’s great for investors with the confidence and know-how to interpret professional-grade research reports. Having such broad-based access under the same digital roof sure is nice.
- Three Trading Platforms to Choose From. Zacks Trade has three distinct trading platforms: Zacks Trade Pro, Zacks Trader, and Client Dashboard. The last isn’t really appropriate for complex trades, but it’s great for account management purposes. Between them, Zacks Trade Pro and Zacks Trader support pretty much any use case. Zacks Trader comes in handy for on-the-go and behind-the-firewall trading.
- Truly Global Market Access. Zacks Trade is available to investors in over 200 countries around the world, all of whom have access to about 90 different exchanges in roughly 20 countries. It’s hard to do better in a single, consumer-facing trading platform.
Consider these drawbacks before committing to Zacks Trade. The biggest downsides include high commissions for mutual funds — a key component of many hands-off investors’ portfolios — and a somewhat outdated flagship trading platform.
- Caters to Sophisticated, Hands-On Traders. Zacks Trade is built for sophisticated, active traders who value access to vast quantities of research and powerful trading tools over hands-off convenience and ease of use. That’s not a knock on Zacks Trade — the platform knows its market — but it’s important for inexperienced investors intrigued by Zacks Trades’ low commissions to understand pricing isn’t everything. Low-cost platforms like Schwab are nearly as affordable and far more beginner-friendly.
- Relatively High Mutual Fund Commissions. The only exception to Zacks Trade’s generally low-cost commissions regime is its mutual funds vertical, where commissions are a bit higher than average for a discount brokerage. That’s in keeping with Zacks Trade’s focus on active traders, for whom mutual funds may be an afterthought.
- Zacks Trade Pro May Not Work Behind a Firewall. Zacks Trade Pro is a desktop program that may not work behind a corporate firewall. That’s bad news for prospective clients expecting to access the full power of Zacks Trade from a work computer. Zacks Trader stands in just fine for quick trades, but it’s not quite the same.
- Recommended Investing Minimum May Rule Out First-Timers. While it’s possible to open and fund an account with less, Zacks Trade strongly recommends bringing at least $2,500 to the table. This recommended minimum account balance may be too steep for novice investors.
- No Futures, Commodities, or Forex Trading. Zacks Trade doesn’t offer trading in futures, commodities, or forex (other than for currency exchange purposes). If you’re looking to make a market in any of those areas, whether by placing day trades or longer-term orders, you’re better off with another trading platform.
Unlike some better-known discount brokerages, Zacks Trade does not try to be all things to all investors. From top to bottom, this platform is built for serious, active investors who love diving deep into regulatory filings and poring through book-length research reports. If you love the thrill that accompanies a winning trade, you’ll find your Zen place here at Zacks Trade.
And if you’re not a born day trader? You’re fortunate to have a bevy of other low-cost online brokerage options. Your hands-off, user-friendly match is out there.
That’s not to say you should write off Zacks Trade today and never look back. Like discount brokerage solutions, people can change. If you should find yourself seduced at some future date by the thrill of market execution, you’ll know where to find it.