ETF Screener Upgrade: Filter Commission Free ETFs

by on June 29, 2011 | Updated July 21, 2011 | ETFs Mentioned:

The latest upgrade to the free ETF screener allows investors to filter through the universe of nearly 1,300 exchange-traded products to identify securities that can be traded commission free in various brokerage accounts. The new functionality allows investors to focus on ETFs eligible for commission free trading on a specific platform, or to see a broader list of all funds that can be traded without incurring commissions.

In an effort to appeal to cost conscious investors, a number of firms have begun offering commission free trading on popular ETFs. Schwab began the trend in late 2009 when the company launched its lineup of ETFs. Vanguard followed suite shortly thereafter, making all of its ETFs eligible for commission free trading within Vanguard accounts. Through a partnership with Fidelity, 30 iShares ETFs can be traded commission free, while the entire Global X and FactorShares lineups can be traded commission free on Interactive Brokers.

The largest commission-free ETF trading platform is at TD Ameritrade; investors in those accounts can trade more than 100 ETFs across a number of asset classes and issuers without paying commissions. The 15 FocusShares equity ETFs are available commission free within Scottrade accounts. In total, more than 200 ETFs are eligible for commission free trading [see all of them here].

Now, identifying these ETFs is straightforward; the new “Commission Free” dropdown box in the ETF screener includes all platforms that offer ETFs eligible for commission free trading that meet any other criteria selected. For example, selecting the following fields:

  • Asset Class = Equity
  • Region = China
  • Commission Free = TD Ameritrade

Shows two ETFs: the SPDR S&P China ETF (GXC) and iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (FXI).

Users also have the option of selecting “Yes” to see all ETFs offered commission free on any platform (making this change to the above screen shows all eight China ETFs available commission free).

The platforms on which an ETF is available commission free is also now displayed on every ETF home page (for example, VWO shows up as included in the programs offered by Firstrade, TD Ameritrade, and Vanguard).

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.