Brokerage firms and bonuses discussion

Brokerage firms and bonuses discussion


I got by E-mail today a new set of Merrill offers, with the schedule below. They permit one offer for IRA and one for regular brokerage. It is not clear if your enrollment applies to both, (in which case the time limits might be a problem if you sign up now, but do not plan to fund until next year for one of them).

It is not clear why they sent the offer to me (I suspect it went to all the preferred customers of BOA). If you did not get it, the obvious thing is to call and request it.

There are several attractive features. The holding period is only 3 months, which is relatively low. It is good until April 2019, which means I could get the funds for the brokerage offer from required distributions from IRA’s for 2019, and still be free to use the money for living expenses in 2019. They sent it directly to me, so it appears good with no worries about offers previously taken this year, and their limits on what they will give annually.

Those with only limited amounts of investable funds might notice the offers start of $20,000, and as a percent of the funds invested, this is one of the most generous I have seen. It adds about 3% to the annual return from your portfolio. of $20,000.

You apparently have to have enroll in preferred rewards, but the balances deposited may make you eligible. For small accounts this may not work since they use a 3 month average and fluctuations could prevent qualifying. If you delay enrolling the average may not get the required values in time).

Merrill 900 200,000
Merrill 375 100,000
Merrill 225 50,000
Merrill 150 20,000


I had mentioned intrusive questions when I tried to open a new brokerage account at CIti and they wanted to know where my money came from, and they declined to open the account when I lacked the detailed records to answer their questions, but made a good faith effort to do so from memory, and even consulted a few handy records.

I recently learned the banking side has frozen my account and failed to pay one bill through their bill pay, without the courtesy of a phone call or letter to tell me that my Discover card had not been paid.

The checking account had only my last social security check in it where it had been deposited. The account had been little used receiving primarily the SS checks, which are the legal owed payments and below average.

This situation raises some interesting constitutional questions. Our tradition is that people are punished only for their own illegal actions, not those of their fathers. Yet after I mentioned a few year ago I had received an inheritance from my father (not unusual in size). I found myself being asked where he got his money, which I believe is just from a middle managers salary and saving it. However, he never shared details of his finances with me. I was not an executor of his estate, so I have no way of proving he lived a life above reproach, although everything I know tell me he did.

Of course, the due process tradition requires the government have some reasonable basis for seizing your property, and even for a search they are supposed to have reasonable cause. Having a private firm seize a bank account (containing only a month’s social security check) of a long term customer (over a decade at least and probably two) merely because they had a report that he had been a successful investor, and who had never done international transfers via them or any other firm.


Unfortunate to hear this. Best practice, in general, seems to be using these accounts minimally just for the sake of meeting the bonus requirements. Much easier to cease activity and close out for future churning.

Citi, in general, draws lots of ire for their poor consumer IT


Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately, you have not disclosed how to close out my account since they are in possession of my last social security check, and have declined to surrender the funds. I will probably give them to the rest of the year (am busy) and then change where my social security check go so they have no more of my money. .

You idea of minimal use is perhaps sensible, and since I became a gold client, I have been having my social security check sent there (for a few Thankyou points), and then used to pay one or two bills from such firms as Discover and Amex. Fortunately, Discover had been authorized to charge another bank account for the unpaid balance due, and CITIbanks failure to send the money as instructed, did not result in them failing to get paid.

On know your clients, I have met with three of their relationship managers and a bigwig from headquarters who took me to lunch. Any decision not to pay a bill when funds were on deposit should have been communicated to me (at the real address and land line phone they have on file).

I am inclined to raise a little fuss over this (at least a complaint to the Consumer Finance Agency), but they might be able to cancel the (little used) cards, I have with them, or deny me new ones. If it comes to this, it may be wise to take my investments out of their financial arm so I have them available.


Hmm, since you have direct/personal contact with Citi reps, perhaps contact them first to see about your missing funds and failure to perform the bill pay.

I wouldn’t worry much about a CFPB complaint prompting closure of your credit cards. I think you have every right to formally complain, given the circumstances. Reckon it very unlikely they’d even connect the dots, so to speak, from your brokerage/deposit accounts to your credit cards.


I learned of a new Ameritrade offer as described here:

It appears to be similar to their previous offers but with gift cards instead of cash,which makes it less valuable to me, given the difficulty of using gift cards. It is not available for IRA transfers. The $200 for $50,000 offer is .4% of the money moved, while at higher levels the percentage is .24%. They explicitly prohibit you from taking advantage of this offer more than once. If you had a lot of money to move, $2500 is greater than $200. However, I suspect they will soon come out with a new offer after this expired and would hope that that you could participate in the new offer. At worst, I suspect they wuld let you cancel participation in this one if you wanted the new one.

Since the offer is for gift cards, it is easier to find $200 in gift cards in these stores I could spend in a reasonable period than it would be for a much large value of gift cards.

I was told it is a new offer and having taken previous offers would not make me ineligible. I have some concerns because I just reduced my brokerage account with them to zero by giving the securities to charities (they just happened to have appreciated securities in them).

It could provide a new home for assets with CITI, since I am very unhappy with them over the failure to give me use of my social security payment. Also the recent market decline has pulled my assets with them below the value need to keep my designated priority status with them.


Has anybody successfully received more than 1 bonus offer per year at Merrill Edge? I’m not talking about spreading the same bonus offer over several accounts, but actually 2 different promo codes that were paid out within the same year.


The choice of stores is:
Bed bath …
plus garbagio stores for me

I will wait for $$ offer


I hit one problem recently with Merrill Edge. I had taken a promotional offer for bringing new money over for my individual account. I also had a joint account with my wife which had been used a couple of year ago to get a bonus.

It combined with her ROTH (and possibly three 529 plans, whose role is not clear) served to put her relationship value above $100,000, which qualified her Platinum Preferred status and 2.675% back on a credit card, and other credit card benefits.

I had sold some of the stock there, reducing the value to zero, and then found there was not easy way to link it to my Freedom CU account (due to Freedom checking account having too few digits) for ACT transfers to be set up electronically with out a paper form and manual processing. Merrill had their computers programed to say this could not be done now, please try later, rather than saying it cannot be done (Schwb, Alliant credit Union, and even BOA) could handle it.

In calling and talking a representative, I was told that they combined all accounts with the same social security number to decide if you had taken too much money out. Hence if I managed, to take the proceeds of my sale out, it would pull my balance down below what was required to get the $900 I had been promised.

While such a procedure mioght make sense, it was not stated in the terms and conditions. Especially when of the accounts is joint with another person, it is easy to imagine that the other person makes decisions independently of a promotion received by someone else.

Still, I decide not to risk it and have a fight, and reinvested the proceeds of the sale I had just made.


Yeah, I’ve been doing multiple Merrill bonuses for years. A mix of their elevated offers, at $900-1k for the $200k tier, for cash and IRA accounts. They allow one of each account each type per promo, so I’ve had 4 total (cash then Roth for an offer, then cash and TIRA for a second offer) in 2018, for instance. The sales rep “relationship managers” note a $2.5k annual cap, but that doesn’t seem to be hard coded into the system.


I’ve heard of the 2.5k cap, which sounds like you also exceeded.
Did both bonuses for the cash account get paid out in the same year? Did you also enroll in both offers in the same year they were paid?


Does this indicate a best strategy for joint account vs individual accounts at Merrell Edge? For the enhanced bonus being offered now, I was going to start with individual accounts of for me 1 x CMA and 1 x Traditional IRA of $50k each.


The Merrill bonuses credited after the required time duration, six months in my case. I try to space things out a few weeks between applications.

Merrill often makes sales calls, so I’ve casually inquired to see when a bonus will credit. In general, I try to avoid extra eyes on my accounts – a year ago, I had done the regular $600 bonus but less than two weeks later, the elevate $1,000 offer reappeared, so I tried to have my relationship manager revise the offer code. That triggered something in their system, such that it automatically disqualified that CMA account from both offers. I didn’t press too hard and quietly transferred that account out a few months later. After that incident, I’ve not had an issue with the subsequent 4-5 accounts/promos.


My understanding is that Merril imposes limits by Social Security number, and treats joint accounts as being attached to that of the first number. If opening a new account, who is considered primary might make a difference. When I asked if a promotion might be available to both a personal account and I joint one, I learned because I was first listed on the joint, this would not work.

A couple of years ago, a representative managed to arrange things so bonuses could be earned on both accounts.

However, if you are trying to get preferred status with the Merril/BOA combination, the joint accounts are applied to both. If the wife has fewer assets in her name, a joint brokerage account might push her total over the $100,000 relationship target for 2,625% back credit cards, and a higher rate soon on grocery purchases (via a Cash card).




Looking at Hustler Money Blog it appears Ameritrade now has a very similar offer (of the usual type for them) with cash instead of gift cards but a similar schedule of rebates.

However, the attractive offer of $200 for $50,000 appears absent. To get something for only $25,000 is attractive here and represents a high percentage.

" Offer valid for one new Individual, Joint or IRA TD Ameritrade account opened by 6/30/2019 and funded within 60 calendar days of account opening with $3,000 or more. To receive $100 bonus, account must be funded with $25,000-$99,999. To receive $300 bonus, account must be funded with $100,000-$249,999. To receive $600 bonus, account must be funded with $250,000 or more. Offer is not valid on tax-exempt trusts, 401k accounts, Keogh plans, profit sharing plan, or money purchase plan. Offer is not transferable and not valid with internal transfers, TD Ameritrade Institutional accounts, accounts managed by TD Ameritrade Investment Management, LLC, current TD Ameritrade accounts or with other offers. Accounts funded with $3,000 or more are eligible for up to 500 commission-free trade internet equity, ETF, or option trades executed within 60 calendar days of account funding. All other trade types are excluded from this offer. Contract, exercise, and assignment fees still apply. No credit will be given for unexecuted trades. Limit one offer per client. Account value of the qualifying account must remain equal to, or greater than, the value after the net deposit was made (minus any losses due to trading or market volatility or margin debit balances) for 12 months, or TD Ameritrade may charge the account for the cost of the offer at its sole discretion. TD Ameritrade reserves the right to restrict or revoke this offer at any time."


talking to my representative, I was told I was not eligible for additional incentives on ordinary brokerage accounts. The reasons were not completely clear, but seemed to be related to I being a buy and hold investor whose account had not been profitable. It is unfortunate that they send out offers by E-mail they you are not eligible for.

However, apparently I was eligible for new money into an IRA account.


How did you find out that you were ineligible without having to wait until the end of the offer period?

What’s your strategy for transferring out without getting hit with the $50 fee?


This sounds like a rogue employee. If you qualify for the offer as stated in the fine print, you’ll get the bonus.


One can call up or secure message at any time, they’ll tell you which offer and the exact date the bonus should credit. Something like 10 days after the required time duration.

As for transfer out fees, most firms will reimburse with a copy of your statement documenting it. Schwab, Merrill, TDA, ETrade, etc. all reimburse as an unspoken rule.