No. of Recommendations: 0
Opps. A couple sentences of the previous got snipped in the posting rocess which I've re-inserted below.

"I'm considering opening an account with subject broker, a wholly owned subsidiary of Zions Bancorporation. Zions Direct has been recommended as a good place to buy bonds; $10.95/trade (plus markup, I'm sure)"[emphasis mine]

Zions (aka, Bonds for Less) doesn't markup, nor does Fido, nor E*trade. You buy at the inside market and pay a commish.

At Scottrade and AmeriTrade, you buy on a "net-yield" basis. In other words, the broker acts as principal, marks up the bonds, and sells them to you without an explicit commission. Depending on the size of the markup, the size of your ticket, etc., one system or the other might be to your advantage.

Yes, Zions Bank is under stress, and their debt is rated as junk (B3/BB+). But pull their financials and dig into the company generally and ask yourself whether it will survive. If the answer is "No", then stay away. If the answer is "Yes", then also consider the account protections that any broker offers its clients and act accordingly.

Best wishes whatever you decide.
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