Brokerage Fees And Other ‘Hidden Fees’ To Know When Investing In Singapore

Yen Joon

Yen Joon

Last updated 23 January, 2024

Before investing in a brokerage, it’s vital to understand the fees and taxes involved as they can reduce your gains. Here are some costs to be wary about.


Best investment platforms on SingSaver

Webull Singapore | Tiger Brokers | Citigold Priority Banking Account | Citiplus


Investing can bring a high and occasionally, some heart-stopping moments. According to a Business Times article, a retail investor using trading platform Tiger Brokers was left with a S$11,000 deficit after selling US$5,000 worth of shares in his Tiger Brokers account. That’s more than two times the value of his shares!

The reason why he incurred such hefty losses was that Tiger Brokers had charged him a settlement fee of US$0.003 per share, which was 3X what he had sold his share for. In addition, the settlement fee also had no minimum cap. 

Tiger_Brokers_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

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Plus, enjoy prizes worth USD 3,600 when you deposit and trade with your Tiger Brokers account. Valid till 15 July 2024. T&Cs apply.


Tiger Brokers notified users of new fees, but not the details

In an email sent to users on 27 December 2021, Tiger Brokers announced that it would be implementing a new fee schedule effective from 13 January 2022. However, the email did not include details of the fee schedule. 

Confusingly, the settlement fee is different across markets. In Australia and New Zealand for instance, the fee is capped at 7% of the trade’s value.

In their response to Business Times, Tiger Brokers explained that it “operates separate business entities in each jurisdiction”, and the settlement fee is capped based on the “needs of the local market”. 

Update: Tiger Brokers has now capped the settlement fees for US stocks and ETFs trades at 7% of the trade value with effect from 19 May. The brokerage also mentioned they would be contacting customers affected by the settlement fee charge to arrange for a refund. 

According to a statement from Tiger Brokers, out of about its 500k users, only 700 were affected. It also said that "only 26 ended up with a negative balance after the sale of their shares". However, the company has refunded the fees to all 700 affected customers out of goodwill.

The company also said that it had "promptly informed the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on its review and decision" and that "in no time was Tiger Brokers cautioned by MAS or any regulatory bodies on this commercial matter.".

Table of contents


Fees that brokerages commonly charge for US stocks and ETFs

Brokerage Commission Platform fees SEC fees (for sell orders only) Settlement fees Trading activity fees (sell orders only)
Tiger Brokers

 

US$0.005/Share (Min. US$0.99/order; capped at 0.5% of trade value/order) US$0.005/share (Min. US$1/order; capped at 0.5% of trade value/order) US$0.000008 of trade value (Min. US$0.01/trade) US$0.003/share (capped at 7%) US$0.000166/share (Min. US$0.01/trade; capped at US$8.30/trade
moomoo
US$0 for eligible clients US$0.99/order US$$0.000008 of trade value (Min. US$0.01/trade) US$0.003/share (no cap) US$$0.000166/share (Min. US$0.01/trade; capped at US$8.30/trade
Interactive Brokers
US$0.005/per share (Min. US$1/order); no charges for US-listed ETFs None US$0.000008 of total trade value (Min. US$0.01/trade) None US$0.000166 of total trade volume (Min. US$0.01; capped at US$8.30/trade)
CMC Invest
0.03% or min US$3 (after 5 free trades) None None (sells only) None 0.0008% (sells only, combines SEC & trading)
Webull
0.025% of total trade amount (Min. US$0.50) None US$0.000008 of total trade value (Min. US$0.01/trade) None US$0.000166 of total trade volume (Min. US$0.01; capped at US$8.30/trade)
Syfe Trade

 

Unlimited trades for first 3 months; after 3 months: 2 free trades per month (US$1.49/trade) None US$0.000008 of trade value (Min. US$0.01/trade) None US$0.000119/share (minimum US$0.01, maximum US$5.95)
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Beware of ‘hidden fees’ when trading

From free shares to zero commission fees to cash rebates, it’s common to see online brokerages offering ‘welcome promos’ and free gifts to entice new investors.   

That said, remember that all investments carry costs; so there’s no such thing as absolutely ‘free’ trading without terms and conditions. While they may seem like jargon, recognising these costs will help you maximise your gains while reducing your investment costs.

There are various types of investment fees and they can reduce potential returns. Below are some of the fees that you need to pay attention to.


Brokerage commission fees

The brokerage commission fee is charged whenever you buy or sell stocks, and it’s based on a percentage value. The fee can vary according to your contract value (the amount you’re trading in) and the market you’re trading in.

In general, CDP-linked accounts have higher commission fees compared to custodian accounts. Depending on the brokerage, the fee can range from 0.08 to 0.25% for CDP accounts, and from 0.08 to 0.28% for custodian accounts.

Aside from commission fees, some brokerages also charge a minimum commission fee for trades. This amount can be a flat rate or percentage value. For CDP accounts, this can be from S$8.80 to S$25 per trade, whereas the fee is from S$0 to S$28 per trade for custodian accounts. 

If a brokerage charges both a minimum fee and a commission fee, the amount you need to pay is the higher of the two. 

For example, if you’re buying S$1000 worth of shares and the brokerage charges you a commission fee of 0.08% and a minimum fee of S$10, instead of paying a commission fee of S$8, you’ll need to pay S$10 instead. 

Conversely, if the minimum commission fee is S$10 and the commission fee is 0.28%, you’ll have to pay the brokerage S$28 instead of S$10. 

If you don’t trade often, commission fees won’t be a big deal to you. However, if you trade regularly via the dollar-cost-averaging strategy, you’ll incur multiple commission fees which will eat into your returns over the long term. 

Therefore, if you're a frequent investor, it’s more cost-effective to look for a broker that has affordable commission fees. 


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Platform fee

Some brokerages also charge a platform fee for using their investment platform. For instance, moomoo charges a platform fee of US$0.99 per order for US stocks and ETFs. 

moomoo fees
Source


SEC fee and trading activity fee

The SEC and trading activity fees are regulatory fees charged for the sale of US equities. They are auto-debited when you sell your shares. As with some of the fees, they vary from brokerage to brokerage. 

In the above example, moomoo charges SEC fees of US$0.000008 of the transaction amount, at a minimum of US$0.01 per trade. Meanwhile, there's also a trading activity fee of US$0.000166 per share with a minimum of US$0.01 per trade and a maximum of $8.49 per trade. 

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Inactivity fee

As the name implies, inactivity fees are charged by some brokerage firms when you haven’t been making any buy or sell trades for a period of time. You can avoid these fees by making regular transactions or at least once per year.


Fees when investing in SGX stocks

Besides commission fees, there are four main fees you need to pay when investing in SGX-stock trades: CDP Clearing Fee, SGX Trading Fee, SGX Settlement Fee, and GST.

  • CDP Clearing Fee: 0.0325% of traded value
  • SGX Trading Fee: 0.0075% of traded value
  • SGX Settlement Fee: 0.35% or equivalent in foreign currency
  • 9% GST: charged on commission fee, clearing fee, SGX trading fee, and SGX settlement fee

So, going back to the above example, let’s assume that you buy S$1,000 worth of shares with a minimum commission fee of S$10. Below is your total investment cost:

Fees Charges
Minimum commission fee S$10
CDP clearing fee (0.0325%) 0.325 cents
SGX Trading fee (0.0075%) 0.075 cents
SGX settlement fee (0.35%) S$3.50
Total fees S$13.90
9% GST S$0.35
Fees for total investment  S$14.25

As you can see, you need to pay S$14.25 in fees and taxes for S$1,000 worth of shares. Note that you’ll also incur the same amount when selling shares, so it’s important to understand how this will impact your investment returns. 

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Plus, receive 1 Nike share when you meet the required deposit and trade with your CMC Invest account. Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Alternatively, get 1 Tesla Inc. share when you meet the required deposit and trade with your CMC Invest account. Valid till 31 October 2024. T&Cs apply.



Custody fee

If you’re using a custodian account, you also need to pay a custody fee for safeguarding your assets. This amount can be a percentage or a flat rate.

For example, CGS-CIMB iTrade charges a custody fee of S$20 per quarter (on top of 9% GST). For foreign market trades, there’s also a fee of up to 0.25% p.a. 

cimb cgs fees
Source

On the other hand, CMC Invest doesn't charge a custody fee for SGX stocks.
cmc invest sg fees


Handling fee

Some brokers also charge a handling fee when you transfer your foreign shares to a local brokerage. For instance, CGS-CIMB iTrade charges S$50 per counter (on top of GST). 


GST

As mentioned, when trading in the Singapore market, GST will be levied on the commission fee, CDP clearing fee, SGX trading fee, and SGX settlement fee.

However, GST also applies to all markets, including all the aforementioned fees: custody fee, platform fee, SEC fee and trading activity fees, inactivity fee, and handling fee.

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Moomoo_UptoS$200Vouchers_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

SingSaver Exclusive Promotion: Receive S$50 vouchers when you open a moomoo account and fund a minimum of S$100. Plus, get an additional S$100 vouchers when you fund S$2000. Be one of the first 100 applicants to open a Moomoo account and fund S$2000 to get an additional S$50 vouchers. Valid till 2 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Plus, receive up to S$970 worth of welcome rewards and up to 6.8% p.a. returns when you complete additional actions with your moomoo account. Valid till 1 Jul 2024. T&Cs apply.


Where to look for fee charges

You can find the fee charges on the broker’s website. There will be a page detailing the fees, usually on the fee schedule page or under the FAQ section. If unsure, always check with the customer service for assistance.

Note that some markets also charge additional fees and taxes such as stamp duty, GST, and capital gains tax. In the US for example, you can be charged up to 20% capital gains tax on any profits that you make. 

So before deciding which brokerage to invest your money, it’s important that you check the fee schedule to eliminate incurring unnecessary charges. Here are our reviews of some of the big brokerages here, or jump straight to our reviews of popular brokerages in Singapore:

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In my past life, I was always broke because of a lack of financial literacy. Now, I publish a few posts every week* on personal finance to help you manage your money better. *I mean, I’ll try

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