Discount online brokers account closing fees. Brokerage firms charges for canceling account in 2019.

Overview of Closing a Broker Account

If you need to close an investment account, the process isn’t that complicated. Hopefully you’re closing the account because you have found a better brokerage firm, and not because you have given up on investing. Here is the lowdown on how to (properly) close your securities account.

Step 1: Liquidate Your Holdings

The first thing you want to do when you’re ready to close your investment account is to sell all assets. It’s possible to close a brokerage account without doing this, but then the broker-dealer will be forced to liquidate all positions at its own choosing. It’s better for you to decide when to sell and at what price.

Step 2: Transfer Cash Out of Your Account

After you have sold all your holdings, it’s time to move the proceeds to an external account. This could be a bank account, like a checking or a savings account; or it could be a brokerage account with a different firm or even the same firm.

Most brokerage houses today have an on-line ACH withdrawal service that will allow you to quickly transfer cash to an external bank account or a brokerage account that has banking features. Choosing this method makes the process quick and easy, and usually there is no charge for the service.

Other methods of money transfer are available. For example, you could wire funds from your brokerage account to an external bank account, although there’s often a fee for this service. You could also request a paper check be mailed to you, and there may be a charge for this as well.

Step 3: Submit a Written Request to Your Broker

Once your account has a $0.00 balance, it’s time to send a request to the brokerage firm to close the account. Ideally, this will be a written request so that you have a record of it. You could call, and many broker-dealers have 24/7 phone service, but using this method won’t give you a record of your request.

Many brokerage firms have online messaging within their websites. This is a good option that will produce a response in most cases within one or two business days. Some brokers also have an on-line chat function where you can submit a request to a representative in real-time. Virtually all brokers still have a snail mail address, and you can simply write a letter requesting your account be closed. Don’t forget to include your account number on your correspondence.

Some brokerage firms have brick-and-mortar locations, and you could visit one of these branches and request your account be closed. TD Ameritrade, Schwab, Fidelity, and E*Trade are examples of broker-dealers that have physical locations.

Many brokerage houses also still have a fax machine. Although this may seem like something out of the 1980’s, it’s usually an available option, and it would give you a written record of your closure request.

Most brokers today have a variety of mobile applications, and customer service usually can be contacted through these programs. A few brokers only offer a phone link with no messaging service, although most platforms do allow the user to send a written message.

Alternative Method To Cancel Broker Account: Transfer an Account

If you want to close a trading account, but would prefer not to liquidate your securities, there is the option of simply transferring the account to another firm. This is the ideal method if you want to move to another brokerage firm but don’t want to sell anything. Transferring an account will close it at the original broker-dealer, and all holdings will be moved into a new account at the new brokerage firm. This will change your account number, but all securities and cash will still be in your account. Companies usually charge a fee (called ACAT fee) for account transfer: List of ACAT fees.

Reasons to Close Your Account

Bringing an account you no longer want to a zero balance isn’t good enough. You need to actually close the account even if it has a $0.00 in it. This is because an open account can be hijacked and used for fraudulent purposes. Cybercrime today is an increasing problem, especially in the world of finance; so it’s important to keep an unused account closed. Otherwise, an account with your Social Security number attached could be used without your knowledge.

Example of Closing an Account: Merrill Edge

To demonstrate how easy it is to close a brokerage account, we’ll use Merrill Edge as an example. Say that you had a few stocks and mutual funds in your account. You’ll want to sell these first, and you can do so by going to the positions page on the Merrill site. The link can be found under the ‘Accounts’ tab where there is an ‘Account Holdings’ choice. Here you will be able to sell each security. There is a convenient sell link next to each ticker symbol.

When you’re ready to submit your closure request, simply go to the customer service section, which can be found under the ‘Help & Support’ tab. Here there are several options presented where you can contact the firm. For example, there is an on-line chat function and a messaging service. Choose either one of these and let the broker know that you want to close your empty account.

Merrill Edge’s mobile app also has a message function. This option could be used to send the broker a written request. The company’s phone number is also displayed, and agents are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if you need any assistance.

How to Cancel a Brokerage Account Recap

Brokerage firms have been the target of cyber crime in the recent past, so it’s important to close any investment account that’s not being used. Doing so prevents unauthorized access to your financial information, an increasing problem in the age of the Internet. A few simple steps will accomplish your task.