Costs and fees of ETFs

Whether it's an ETF—or any other investment—we believe you should always have a clear picture of what you’re paying.

What are the costs associated with ETFs?

Once you've found ETFs (exchange-traded funds) with the market exposure you're seeking, take a close look at their costs. And remember, the relative importance of costs and fees depends on how you plan to use the ETF in pursuit of your investment goals:

  • Trade commission

    You’ll typically pay a commission each time you buy or sell an ETF—but not always. 

    Keep in mind, the smaller your investment and the more frequently you trade, the more impact these commissions will have on your bottom line.
    Where to look it up?

  • Operating expense ratio (OER)

    An OER is the percentage of fund assets taken out annually to cover fund expenses. For example, if you have $10,000 in an ETF with a 0.25% expense ratio, you're paying about $25 per year in expenses. It's a good idea to look at the expense ratio of an ETF before you buy. A small difference in annual expenses can add up over time.

    Where to look it up?

  • Bid/ask spread

    There is normally a difference, or spread, between the bid price (the highest price a buyer is willing to pay for a share) and the ask price (the lowest price a seller is willing to accept for a share). The amount of the spread varies from one ETF to another, and tends to be greater for ETFs with low trading volume.

    If you plan to hold an ETF for less than a year, this cost can matter more than the OER.

    Where to look it up?

What do ETFs cost with Schwab?

As an industry leader in low-cost ETF investing, we offer some of the best pricing you’ll find anywhere. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Portfolio Management Fees
The cost What you might pay elsewhere What you’ll pay with Schwab

Operating Expense Ratio

Passively managed ETFs

Industry asset-weighted average** OER for passively managed ETF

Passively managed ETFs

Schwab ETFs™*

Asset-weighted average OER for cap weighted Schwab ETFs2



Schwab ETF OneSource™*

Schwab ETF OneSource ETFs average


Actively managed ETFs

The OERs for actively managed funds vary from fund to fund, but are typically higher than passively managed funds.

Actively managed ETFs

The OERs for actively managed funds vary from fund to fund, but are typically higher than passively managed funds.

Trade Commission (online)

$0-$204 for online trades, depending on number of trades.

$0 online for ETFs participating in Schwab ETF OneSource, including Schwab ETFs™ 5


$4.95 for all other ETFs6

More about tables

ETFs with Schwab

  • ETFs with Schwab

    Choose from 500+ commission-free1 ETFs from Charles Schwab Investment Management (CSIM) and other leading fund companies—including Schwab's low-cost market cap index ETFs.

  • Ready to start investing?

    Already a Schwab client? Log in 

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