Does Fidelity Investments, Etrade, TD Ameritrade, Firstrade and Charles Schwab charge fees for partially executed (filled) orders/trades?

This article will explain partial trade fills and how they impact the trading commissions you pay at various brokers. Most brokers, like TD Ameritrade, Schwab, Fidelity, and Etrade will charge you an extra commission for partial executions under certain circumstances, whereas others, like Firstrade, don’t charge any commissions at all.

What is a Partial Fill?

A partial fill is when you place a limit order to buy or sell stock and the broker is able to get some of the shares executed at your limit price - but not all of them. The portion of the order that was not filled remains open until it either gets filled or expires. Partial order fills are common when trading fast-moving and less liquid stocks, especially if you’re trying to move a large amount of shares.

For example, let’s say you are trying to buy 22,000 shares of Avita Medical Ltd (AVMXY), a lightly-traded Australian ADR with an average daily volume of 220,000 shares, at a limit price of $5.05, the current asking price. Your order represents 10% of the average daily trading volume, and so there’s a good chance that even though your limit price is at the current asking price it won’t all get filled. Perhaps the market makers are willing to sell you 10,000 shares at $5.05 but then bump the asking price up to $5.08, leaving your order only partially executed.

What Happens to the Remaining Shares?

Your order was partially filled for 10,000 shares, for which you were charged a single equity commission. Your order is still active though since there are still 12,000 shares you wanted to buy at $5.05 or less. If the price comes back down and the market makers are able and willing to sell you the rest of your desired shares that same day, then the rest of your order will get executed and you won’t pay any additional commissions.

What Happens if The Market Closes Without My Order Filling?

If the market closes and your partial order is still open, it will remain open and active on the next day, and the day after that, until it either gets filled or expires. Whenever a partial order remains active into a new trading day and gets filled that day, either partially or fully, it will incur an additional commission at TD Ameritrade, Schwab, Fidelity, and Etrade, as if it was a brand new order. Effectively the clock starts over each trading day so that if a large order is partially filled over three trading days you will pay three separate commissions.

What If I Modify A Partial Order?

Another scenario that many investors may be able to relate to when trying to purchase a quick-moving stock via a large limit order is that part of the order gets filled and the ask price immediately moves up. If you’re worried that the stock is going to continue moving up and the rest of your order won’t get filled, you may be tempted to edit your partial order and increase your limit price on the remaining shares to give it a better chance of getting filled.

It’s important to know that if you do modify an active order after it’s been partially filled, all of the previously mentioned brokers (except for Firstrade) will treat it as a brand new order in that they will charge you another commission on it if and when the remaining shares get filled.

How to Avoid Extra Commissions

With a large stock order, there is always the chance that it will only get partially filled at first. In order to limit the chances of this happening you could use a higher limit price. Market orders are another way to guarantee that your entire order gets filled at once, but this option wouldn’t be ideal for illiquid stocks because big orders can move these stock prices quickly.

Partial Trade Fill Fees Summary

Most brokers, excluding the commission-free ones like Firstrade, will charge you an additional commission for partial orders that get filled on a new trading day. If the partial order gets completely filled on a single trading day you will only be charged a single commission. However, if you edit an order after a partial fill, brokers will treat that as a new order and charge you a new commission if and when the rest of the shares get executed.

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