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Investors Win in Broker Price War, But Tread Carefully

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When brokers battle, consumers win. That’s the takeaway from a war that began in February, which saw online firms dropping their commissions in quick succession.

It felt like an auction for investor dollars: On Feb. 28, Fidelity Investments cut its long-standing $7.95 stock and ETF trading commission to $4.95. Charles Schwab — which had already reduced its commission by $2 earlier this year — quickly stepped up to match Fidelity. TD Ameritrade then chimed in, announcing it will lower its commission to $6.95 from $9.99 on March 6, and E-Trade followed up with a planned March 13 price drop from $9.99 to $6.95, reducing its active trader rate to $4.95.

Investors clearly have the upper hand here, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should...

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