E*Trade has announced it will eliminate retail commissions for online trades in U.S. stocks, ETFs and options effective October 7, 2019.
“With this new commission schedule we are further raising the bar, delivering an unrivaled experience at price points that cannot be beat — Main Street investors will now trade the stocks and ETFs of their choice for $0, while our most active derivative traders will continue to enjoy our industry-leading contract rate, which when combined with the $0 base rate, our first-class derivatives platform, and world class active trader service team, results in an unparalleled value proposition,” E*Trade CEO Mike Pizzi said in the press release.
Prior to the change, the firm priced stock, ETF and options trades at $6.95, dropping to $4.95 for accounts with more than 30 trades per quarter. Options trades cost another 75 cents fee per contract, though that fee becomes 50 cents per contract in cases of more than 30 trades.
Under the revised pricing, the price for options trades will be lower, at 65 cents per contract, though for active traders there will be no change from the earlier 50 cents per contract.
The firm estimates the revenue impact of these commission changes “on Q2 2019 operating results would have been approximately $75 million,” according to the press release.
E*Trade had 7.1 million accounts as of August, including nearly 5.1 million retail accounts.
The firm’s “retail and advisor services assets” stood at $346.3 billion as of the same month.
The news came on the heels of announcements the previous day that both TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab would slash to zero commissions for online trades of U.S. and Canadian stocks, ETFs and options.
Those announcements resulted in E*Trade stock dropping 19.6% on Tuesday, closing at $36.51 compared to $43.69 on Monday evening.
E*Trade’s own news became public after market hours on Wednesday, and the stock fell 3.7% to $35.20 versus the prior day’s close.
Schwab started the ball rolling Tuesday afternoon by announcing it would no longer charge a fee for online trades, which had been set previously at $4.95 per trade.
Effective October 7, Schwab said it was “removing the final barrier to making investing accessible to everyone.”
Schwab has some 12.1 million active brokerage accounts.
Only hours later, TD Ameritrade reported its plan to also drop to zero from the $6.95 previously charged per transaction for online trading of U.S. and Canadian stocks, ETFs and options in its customers’ existing 11 million client accounts — and for future customers — effective Oct. 3.
Like Schwab, TD Ameritrade also noted trading options would continue to require a fee of 65 cents per contract.
On Wednesday morning, E*Trade hinted on social media that it could follow suit by lowering commissions.
That day, the firm’s twitter handle was busy responding to queries about whether the firm would also take the plunge. Many tweeted asking E*Trade if it would match Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade. Other tweeters warned they might abandon E*Trade if the discount brokerage didn’t give them zero commissions.
“Don’t go too far! More information is coming soon. We appreciate your continued business!” the handle tweeted in response to a query Tuesday.
When a user tweeted inquiring whether there would be a change in pricing, claiming they would be taking their business elsewhere if not, E*Trade responded by saying, “I hope you don’t leave too soon. We have some exciting news coming soon!”
Social media queries are also flooding Fidelity, which was also being bombarded by Twitterati on Wednesday about whether the firm would follow competitors to zero commissions.
At time of press, the custodial giant had a standard response.
“We are committed to providing an exceptional experience and price is one component. With Fidelity, you receive industry-best order execution & price improvement, no investment mins. and zero expense ratio index funds. We’ll continue to enhance our offerings and keep you informed!” the firm tweeted in response to the multiple queries.
This article is an update of breaking news which originally ran Wednesday, October 2, 2019.