What Is a No-Fee ETF?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2019
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A no-fee ETF is an exchange traded fund (ETF) that does not include a commission that the investor must pay to buy or sell the product. An ETF is a specific type of financial product that allows investors to buy into an assortment or basket of stocks and equities. Like stocks, exchange traded funds are liquid, meaning that investors can usually buy in or sell out at any time during a market day. They can also be easily tracked on various large market exchanges, which makes them a more solid form of investment, and allows investors to “day trade” or “swing trade” with them, depending on any existing terms of use.

In the greater financial world, the no-fee ETF is defined as an ETF product offered by a brokerage where a standard buying and selling commission does not apply. Experts point out that this no-fee advantage is usually offered as an introductory special offer, incentivizing a single investor to join up with a particular brokerage firm. As part of a special deal, the firm will often give the investor a set number of no-fee ETF trades. This type of offer can also apply to stocks, where beginning investors get a chance to invest with no commissions as part of an initial offer.


Some investors may confuse the term no-fee ETF with other kinds of exchange traded funds or ETFs that externalize costs of management or, in other words, expense ratios. Like other kinds of financial products, ETFs can generate some expenses in terms of the labor that is required to bundle all of the individual stocks and equities into one fund. Although in some cases, the investor pays a percentage of the gains as part of management costs for an ETF, in other cases the costs are factored into the price fluctuations of the fund, so that the investor doesn’t have to pay a certain amount for management costs.

It’s important for beginners to understand that no-fee ETFs are generally examples of a per-trade agreement. As mentioned, customers of brokerage firms often receive a set number of no-fee ETF trade opportunities. That means that investors or traders who are getting accustomed to dealing in ETFs with a no-fee advantage may have to realign their objectives when their allotted no-fee opportunities run out, and they are forced to pay commissions on these types of trades.


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