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But you cannot trade fractional shares (except at mutual fund companies).

To expand on this = some brokers offer automatic reinvestment of dividends at no commission (such as the one I use TD Ameritrade) This results in the purchase of fractional shares, but only for the automatic reinvestment; I can't purchase 10.5 shares in a regular buy order. They do allow me to SELL fractional shares at the normal commission rate, but I believe only when I'm closing out my entire position.

Certain brokers such as sharebuilder and buyandhold work on a different business model, where they encourage investors to purchase in automatic round lots (such as $100 a week invested into a certain fund). When I used sharebuilder, all orders of this type were made on a specific day of the week, which allowed them to aggregate all their customers fractional orders and place one large market order. Buy orders done this way were only $4 a trade (all sell orders were real time and I think were $15). They also offered real time buy orders for $15, but no fractional shares.

Sharebuilder was a great way for me to start out and invest small amounts a week/month. They offered monthly plans, where for $12 a month I got 12 free automatic buy orders. This meant I could 3 purchases a week for $50 each, and it only cost me $2 a trade.

Hope this helps any new investors out there.

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