Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade drop commissions for stock, ETF trading

An all-out price war has hit the brokerage industry as both Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade have announced they will eliminate commissions for certain securities.

Charles Schwab fired Tuesday’s first shot in the war over fees charged by online brokers, announcing in the morning that it plans to eliminate commissions for trading stocks, ETFs and options on its mobile and web platforms.

The move, which will take effect on October 7, will be available for securities listed on US and Canadian exchanges.

Schwab’s news comes a week after rival Interactive Brokers Group rolled out its new IBKR Lite service, which also eliminated commissions for US-listed stocks and ETFs. The entire discount brokerage industry is dealing with tough competition from upstarts like Robinhood, which already offer trading services with no or low commissions via popular mobile apps.

“From day one, my passion has been to make investing easier and more affordable for everyone,” said Charles Schwab, the company’s chairman and founder, in a statement. “Eliminating commissions ensures my ultimate vision is realized — making investing accessible to all.”

Charles Schwab CEO and president Walt Bettinger added that “price should never be a barrier to investing for anyone, whether an experienced investor or someone just starting on the investing path.”

Shares of Schwab fell 10% on the news, as investors clearly seemed worried about the loss of a lucrative stream of revenue from fees and the potential impact this would have on Schwab’s profits. The company had been charging commissions of $4.95 a trade.

Interactive Brokers shares tumbled 9%. Competitors E-Trade and TD Ameritrade were hit even harder, plummeting 16% and 25% respectively. Investors will probably expect both discount brokers to counter the moves of Schwab and Interactive Brokers or risk losing market share.

However, TD Ameritrade said in a news release Tuesday night that it would match Schwab’s latest move. It said that as of Oct. 3, its US brokerage firm “will eliminate commissions for its online exchange-listed stock, ETF (domestic and Canadian), and option trades, moving from $6.95 to $0.”

“We’ve been taking market share with a premium price point, and with a $0 price point and a level playing field, we are even more confident in our competitive position, and the value we offer our clients,” said Tim Hockey, president and chief executive officer of TD Ameritrade.

E-Trade was not immediately available for comment about Schwab’s new pricing structure and whether they planned to match it. E-Trade still charges standard commissions of about $6.95 a trade.

Jack Randall, a spokesman for Robinhood, said in a statement to CNN Business that “the changes taking place across the brokerage industry reflect a focus on the customer that’s been inherent to Robinhood since the beginning.

“We remain focused on offering intuitively designed products that reduce barriers to our financial system, including account minimums and commission fees,” he added.