Brokers With The Lowest Fees
Investing your money is a serious business that requires careful planning from every angle. Among the most important of these involves taking costs into account – since a middleman is involved in most trades, you will almost always need to pay a third party, whether your trades are profitable or not. Whether you want to invest in forex, individual stocks, contracts for difference or anything in between, the trading broker you use needs to get paid, and you may quickly find that fees and charges add up to make a significant dent in your profits.
This guide will explain the different ways trading platforms can charge their clients, helping you to choose brokers with the lowest fees so you can go home with the biggest possible cut. We have also compiled a list of the cheapest trading brokers in 2022.
- Fees are charged at various stages in the trading lifecycle and for a number of reasons
- Online brokers often charge fees whenever a trade is entered, usually via spreads and commission
- Brokerages also frequently charge non-trading fees, such as account inactivity penalties
- Traders may need to pay maintenance, deposit, withdrawal and other fees
How Do Trading Brokers Make Money?
Every trader wants to minimise costs when they trade, so many online brokers naturally advertise low fees to attract customers. However, while a brokerage may not directly charge money at the point a trade is made, the investor will still have to pay the broker in some way to make their play.
For example, a forex broker which advertises that it does not charge commission will likely make money on the spread – the difference between their buy and sell rates in currency trades. This makes finding FX brokers with the lowest fees challenging.
There are various ways that fees and hidden costs may be charged when you make a trade. At the same time, traders must look out for additional costs that will come up outside trading, such as payment fees for deposits and withdrawals.
Moreover, the fees and other costs differ from asset to asset. The crucial part for a trader is knowing exactly what kind of trading and non-trading fees to expect from a broker, so they can make an informed choice about which one will be most cost-effective overall.
- Commission & transactions fees
- Fixed & variable spreads
- Rollover/overnight charges
Commission & Transaction Fees
One of the most common ways for a broker to make money is to charge the client for each transaction they make. This may come in the form of a flat fee per transaction, a percentage of each sum invested, or a hybrid of the two.
Brokers often charge the client a commission or transaction fee per trade – that is, whenever you buy or sell an asset or otherwise open or close a position. While flat fees may appear more economical than percentage – particularly if you are dealing in larger amounts – they can quickly add up if you make a lot of transactions. You may well need to pay both to enter and exit a position, so be sure to factor this into your target price.
Many platforms which allow trades in different asset types will charge different rates for each type of trade. Lloyd’s bank’s share dealing platform charges investors £1.50 to invest in funds, £11 for each trade of a share, index tracker or ETF, and a 1% currency exchange fee for international transactions. So, a trading broker with the lowest fees in one area may end up being quite expensive for investors who like to make trades in diverse assets.
In fact, even reputable commission-free services will often charge transaction fees in certain circumstances. For example, eToro charges no commission for buying and selling stocks, but does for leveraged trades, since these are derivatives. Carefully reading the terms of each broker will ensure you know when to expect charges, including margin rates. One thing that can mitigate the cost of commissions is when a broker offers a set number of free trades, for example, one per month.
Traders will naturally be on the lookout for the brokers with the lowest fees, so it should be a top priority to make a shortlist to compare which fees, if any, apply to the type of trades you plan to make. The same shortlist will help you compare other costs associated with online brokers, such as the spread.
If a broker doesn’t charge any transaction fees or commission on trades, how do they make money? Of course, most platforms will make decent returns from non-trading fees. Besides these, one of the biggest sources of revenue for a broker is the markup they charge customers when they make a trade – the gap between the broker’s buy and sell price, known as the spread.
When you buy an asset on the spot market, you are able to set a price when you make an order which will be filled if the market price reaches that level. But brokers often offer two different prices depending on if you’re buying or selling an asset – bid and ask prices – and make money from the difference. This is called the spread.
In very simple terms, if the broker offered an ask price of £1.05 and a bid price of £1.00 on an asset, you would need to pay £0.05 more to buy that asset than you would make from selling it. The broker pockets the difference, essentially incorporating their fees in the price of the trade.
The spread is a characteristic feature of forex trading – it is normally the way “zero-commission” brokers make a living. In the forex world, the smallest unit of price movement between a currency pair – usually 0.0001 – is called a “pip”, and this unit is used to measure the spread between two currencies.
When you are looking for trading brokers with the lowest fees in forex, it is best to search for those platforms which charge low or no commission and have a tight spread.
Once you’ve invested in an asset, there usually isn’t much more for you to worry about except when to offload it – even if their value reduces, you won’t physically lose any money on your shares until you actually sell them. But if you make a leveraged trade – with a contract for difference, for example – you are effectively borrowing the asset, and unless you close your position on the same day you will likely need to pay interest.
As the name suggests, overnight or rollover charges are made when a leveraged trade is kept open past the end of the trading day. The overnight charge may be equivalent to a day’s worth of the benchmark interest rate, but even brokers with the lowest fees will often apply their own charge to that amount, usually as a percentage of the open position’s total value on top of the benchmark interest rate.
Note, Islamic trading accounts, available at XTB, usually waive overnight fees.
Besides the charges that will hit investors as they make trades, there are numerous ways that online brokers make money from account holders:
- Platform fees
- Deposit & withdrawal fees
- Account management fees
- Subscription fees
- Inactivity fees
- Exit Fees
Some brokerages and trading platforms charge their customers a fee for using their tools. These can come in the form of a flat monthly or annual fee or a percentage of the total value of your investments.
Before the rise in online trading platforms, brokers were commonly divided between those which offered a complete service with human advisors and access to a fuller range of assets, and discount brokers which offered fewer services at a lower price. Today, a large number of online trading platforms provide access to self-directed investment with no charge to use their platform. Investors who are willing to do their own research may feel that one of these platforms is their best bet when looking for the broker with the lowest fees.
Deposit & Withdrawal Fees
Another cost that can quickly add up is the fee brokers charge to make deposits and withdrawals on their platform. The charge could be a flat fee or a percentage, and in some cases this depends on whether you use a card or send the transfer through a bank. Binance, for example, charges £1 for bank transfers and 1.8% for credit card purchases when making deposits with fiat currency in the UK. Additionally, some platforms may not charge deposit fees, but will charge for withdrawals or vice versa – eToro offers users free USD deposits, but charges a flat $5 fee for all withdrawals.
It is also common for traders to be charged an additional transaction fee for making a purchase in a different currency. This may be the case when trading forex with a foreign currency, when buying stocks on a foreign stock exchange, or when making a deposit to a platform that operates in a foreign currency. While eToro is an affordable platform in some respects and does not charge a fee for deposits in its operating currency of USD, it will charge a conversion fee for deposits and withdrawals in other currencies, including GBP.
Similarly, some cryptocurrency trading platforms may charge you a transaction fee when you use fiat currency to buy cryptos or NFTs. Kraken, for example, charges customers a 1.5 percent transaction fee per cryptocurrency purchase, along with an extra charge to customers who make the purchase with their credit card or fund it through a bank. This can make finding crypto brokers with the lowest fees difficult.
Account Management Fees
Several London-based brokerages which offer clients a fuller service including things like customised support, consultation with a personal broker, or financial planning and portfolio management, are likely to charge the customer account management fees.
Investing is a complex business that takes real expertise to master, so the promise of expert guidance on your portfolio may seem tempting. But it is wise to remember that it is your money on the line, and not the broker’s. In fact, the brokerage will stand to gain from a string of trades made in your name – even bad trades – as they rack up transaction fees as well as account management fees. In short, traders looking for the brokers with the lowest fees should be wary when it comes to account management overheads.
Some brokers offer clients optional extras that can be obtained by paying subscription fees. For instance, a service that offers delayed market data as standard might give customers the chance to subscribe to real-time streaming market data for an additional fee. Other services available by subscription may include access to analysis tools, market advice or snapshots of market data.
One cost that can sneak up on hands-off investors comes in the form of inactivity fees – a charge that some brokerages levy on customers who leave their accounts inactive for too long.
In some cases, it is simple to avoid these fees, as all you need to do is log in periodically. However, some online brokers require clients to actually make a trade within a specified timeframe to keep their accounts active and avoid a charge.
This is another often unexpected expense that may hit traders when they want to close their investment account or move their investments elsewhere. While your broker may offer the lowest fees for buying and selling your assets of choice, you may find yourself paying through the nose if for any reason you decide to jump ship.
A broker or trading platform may charge a fee for each investment you wish to move, sometimes charging more in exit fees than they charged to make the transaction in the first place and often charging an additional fee on top of that to close your account. For traders who have a diverse portfolio, these charges can quickly add up.
Dealing With Broker Fees
Fees and charges are a part of life for a trader, but with a multitude of brokers and trading platforms available through the internet, anyone can find the best option for them.
One good way to minimise the fees you pay brokers lies in planning carefully what kind of trades you wish to make before you open an account. If you mainly plan to trade commodities like gold (XAUUSD), you can find a specialised platform that has the lowest spread on that asset type. Likewise, traders who are keen on trading Ethereum and Bitcoin will find that a cryptocurrency platform usually offers the lowest fees for them, meaning they will have more ETH and BTC left in their accounts than if they chose a general trading account that offers crypto purchases.
Above all, it is important to research the market, read reviews of a range of brokers and platforms, and compare all the relevant costs before you make a decision.
Bottom Line On Brokers With The Lowest Fees
Like anyone that runs a business, brokers’ main concern is making money, and traders are their source of income. Many platforms offer low fees or free trades to attract business, but you will always have to pay them one way or another, and hidden costs can quickly add up. If you want to maximise your chances of making money on trades, make sure you do your research on brokers and platform options that deal in the assets which interest you and build a full picture of all the costs you will need to pay.
Use our list of the brokers with the lowest fees to start trading today.
Which Trading Broker Has The Lowest Fees?
This is the million-dollar question that every new trader asks when they go to set up an account. The answer is that there is no one broker that is more affordable than all the rest – it depends on what assets you wish to trade, how often you plan to trade, how much capital you have, which currency you plan to operate with, and a range of other questions. If you plan your investments carefully before opening an account, you will be able to compare the most relevant brokerages and trading platforms and choose the best low-cost brokerage firm for you. We have also compiled a list of some of the cheapest overall trading brokers in 2022.
How Do Trading Brokers Make Money?
An online broker or trading platform might advertise commission free trading, but there are a range of different ways they can make money from traders, nevertheless. Traders can be hit with deposit and withdrawal fees, fees to use their platform, subscriptions for certain services, and many other costs. Some brokers even want to be paid if you close your trading account.
Will I Make More Money by Paying Fees For A Managed Account?
There is no guarantee that a managed account will make more money than a standard account, and the addition of management fees will mean your investments have to perform exceptionally well for you to make a decent return.
How Do I Invest In The Trading Broker With The Lowest Fees?
First, you need to identify which brokers have the best value quotes for the specific assets that you wish to trade. Once you’ve opened your account, there are several steps you can take to reduce the amount of fees you pay. If the brokerage charges a flat transaction fee, you can try to ensure that you only make larger trades periodically, instead of making daily trades with smaller amounts. Some brokers also offer a number of free trades per month, while others help you save money with a tight spread or by allowing users to make free deposits and withdrawals.
How Do Brokers Earn Money On The Spread?
The spread is a commission by another name, acting as a markup on an asset as the broker sells it at a higher price than they buy it for. This is one of the main ways that “commission-free” brokers make their income.