Brokerage and IRA Account Minimums

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A very common issue for graduate students who are ready to start investing is that they have only a small amount of savings to contribute to their investment accounts or they have no savings but have identified some monthly cash flow. While some brokerage firms have minimum account balances of one or a few thousand dollars, others have no minimum or waive the minimum if a monthly deposit is initiated. This post outlines the minimum amounts of money needed to open accounts at various brokerage firms. This information was last updated on 3/31/2016.

Brokerage Firm IRA Minimum Taxable Account Minimum
Vanguard $1,000 or $3,000 $1,000 or $3,000 for mutual funds, ETF price for ETFs (~$50+)
Fidelity  $2,500 or none with $200/mo ongoing contribution $2,500
Charles Schwab $1,000 or none with $100/mo ongoing contribution $1,000
Scottrade none $2,500
T. Rowe Price $1,000 $2,500
TD Ameritrade none none
E*Trade none  $500

Graduate students who don’t have enough existing savings to open an investment account (at their brokerage firm of choice) should just continue to gradually build up their savings balance until it reaches the minimum or the minimum decreases. They can do so either in cash-equivalents (a checking or savings account) or at another less desirable brokerage firm with no minimum or a lower minimum.

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