As someone relatively new to stocks, I understand that stock brokers charge commissions: usually either per share or per trade.

In general, are commissions taken every time you place any order (selling or buying) or will the fee be deducted just once?

It would be helpful to know if you will be hit by two commission charges when buying and selling a single stock.

  • Note that this is one of the things different about mutual funds. There's a "tax" to maintain the account, but the transactions are free. However they do limit the number of transactions per fund per month, to avoid having to deal with day traders.
    – keshlam
    Oct 29, 2015 at 21:31
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    Note too that transavtion fes are one of the things that makes day trading less profitable than one might think.
    – keshlam
    Oct 29, 2015 at 21:32
  • Mutual fund transactions being free is if you're dealing directly with the fund company, for example buying Vanguard funds in an account at Vanguard. However, if you're buying mutual funds in a regular brokerage account or in an account at some other firm, you may or may not be charged a fee to trade the funds, depending on where you're placing the trades and any deals they may have with the mutual fund company.
    – blm
    Oct 29, 2015 at 21:33

3 Answers 3


You will be hit every time, once every buy order and once every sell order. Commissions to the broker are paid every time they do something for you. This is true regardless if it is a security in which you are already invested. It is true regardless if you make or lose money. It is just as sure as death and taxes.

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    I have found one way to avoid the commission on a purchase. But it only works for reinvesting dividends. Scottrade has a feature that will automatically reinvest the dividends from a security (or a set of securities). They do this without charging a commission on the Reinvestment. You still have to pay the commission on the initial buy (and on any sell orders) but this feature will allow you to avoid commissions when reinvesting dividends. Oct 30, 2015 at 3:52
  • You mean that if you bought 100 shares of some stock, and the stock paid a dividend that allows the purchase of only 3.125 shares of that stock, then your holdings will be 103.125 shares? That is, Scottrade will buy 3.125 shares for you on the open market (or from the company directly) without charging any fees? Many brokerages will not charge a fee for re-investment of distributions from a mutual fund back into the fund, and some load funds even waive the sales charge for re-investing distributions, but I have never heard of fractional shares of individual stocks, only of mutual funds. Oct 30, 2015 at 13:11
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    Sorry I did not specify this. No Scottrade does not buy fractional shares. They buy only whole shares in the automatic Reinvestment program. The amount not spent buying whole shares is kept in a hands off fund and is added to the amount to purchase shares the next time dividends are paid. Oct 30, 2015 at 17:07
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    There are brokers that don't charge commissions and those that have asymmetrical commissions, so it's not quite as straightforward as this answer implies. Also, E*Trade at least allows dividend reinvestment without commission and buying fractional shares. I have a number of holdings where I have a non-integral number of shares. I suspect they handle it all internally by buying the number of integral shares needed + 1 on the open market, then allotting the integral plus fractional shares in their internal records.
    – blm
    Jul 24, 2017 at 22:02

The answer, like many answers, is "it depends". Specifically, it depends on the broker, and the type of account you have with the broker. Most brokers will charge you once per transaction, so a commission on the buy, and a commission (and SEC fee in the US) on the sale. However, if you place a Good-til-Canceled (GTC) order, and it's partially filled one day, then partially filled another day, you'll be charged two commissions. There are other brokers (FolioFN comes to mind) that either have trading "windows", where you can make any number of trades within that window, or that have a fixed monthly fee, giving you any (probably with some upper limit) number of trades per month. There are other brokers (Interactive Brokers for example), that charge you the standard commission on buy and another commission and fee on sell, but can refund you some of that commission for making a market in the security, and pay you to borrow the securities.

So the usual answer is "two commissions", but that's not universal.

However, while commissions are important, with discount brokers, you'll find the percent you're paying for commissions is minimal, which losses due to slippage and poor execution can swamp.


In my experience they charge you coming and going. For example, if a brokerage firm is advertising that their commissions are only $7/trade, then that means you pay money to buy the stock, plus $7 to them, and later on if you want to sell that stock you must pay $7 to get out of the deal.

So, if you want to make any money on a stock (say, priced at $10) you would have to sell it at a price above $10+$7+$7=$24. That kind of sale could take a few years to turn a profit. However, with flat-rate fees like that it is advantageous to buy in bulk.

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    This is why it's almost never profitable to invest tiny amounts of money. Buying 100 shares would cost $1007, and it would be profitable to sell once they hit $10.14 each.
    – MSalters
    Jul 21, 2017 at 7:12
  • @MSalters yes exactly! This underlines the "you need money to make money" maxim.
    – magnetar
    Jul 27, 2017 at 5:27

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