The Costs of Online Fund Trading

We put them all into a simple chart for you.
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How much money you dole out to your online broker is always a paramount concern, whether you are trading stocks, options or mutual funds.

Recently, one reader wrote in asking for a comparison of mutual fund fees charged by online discount brokers.

Time for a chart.

I focused on the nine leading online discount brokers. Most of the firms have extensive networks that offer no-load funds for no transaction fee, also known as NTF funds. But firms will charge a transaction fee for no-loads that don't fall into the NTF programs. The following chart includes a list of the transaction fees charged by each of these brokers

For load fund purchases, you will have to pay the load or sales charge, but online firms will not tack on the added transaction fee. Here's an example:

Ameritrade

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will not charge a transaction to buy a fund that carries a front-end load but will charge you its $18 fee if you sell it or exchange it. If it's a back-end load fund, you would pay the $18 fee to buy it, nothing to sell it and $18 to exchange it. Still, the policies for load funds will vary, so check with the broker.

Lastly, the firms that offer NTF funds will often charge you for short-term redemptions for those funds. And again, each firm's policy varies.

Send your questions to

fundforum@thestreet.com, and please include your full name.