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The Bottom Line: Are Fractional Shares Worth It?
Trading fractional shares are an excellent way for beginner to intermediate investors to gain exposure to stocks and ETFs. While this new way of investing offers considerable upside, investing still involves risk, so you should still do your research and invest wisely.
What Are Fractional Shares?
A fractional share is when you own less than one full share of stock or security.
Why Invest in Fractional Shares?
Fractional shares are a way to invest when you do not have enough money to purchase a full share of a particular stock or ETF. For example, if XYZ stock trades at $1000 per share, but you only have $100 to invest, fractional share investing would allow you to purchase a fraction of the XYZ stock ($1000/$100) or .1 shares.
How does Fractional Share Investing Work?
Generally, you can place orders to buy or sell fractional shares in dollar amounts or share amounts. For example, if XYZ Stock trades for $1000, you could place an order for a fractional share such as .5 shares or for a dollar amount such as $500.
The way you buy and sell fractional shares differs between brokerage firms that provide this service to their customers.
PROs of Fractional Share Investing
Invest In Expensive Stocks With Little Money
One of the most significant benefits of fractional share investing is the ability to invest in expensive stocks like Tesla, Apple, or Google with very little money.
Tesla trades at nearly $1,000 a share, certainly not cheap. But with M1 Finance, you can gain exposure to Tesla by purchasing a fractional share for as little as $1.00!
Before fractional share investing, expensive stocks were just out of reach for beginner investors. Fractional share investing is democratizing stock market investing for the average investor.
Put Your Extra Cash To Work
If you have extra cash lying around in a savings account, you can put that money to work by investing in fractional shares. Otherwise, you are earning close to 0% interest in your savings account.
Dividend & Corporate Actions
When you are a fractional shareholder, you are still entitled to fractional dividends and other corporate actions such as stock splits or reverse stock splits.
For example: If you purchased $100 worth of company X that trades at $1,000 and the company’s dividend is $10 per share, you own 1/10th of that company, so you would receive a dividend of $1.00.
Note: Depending on your broker, if your dividend amount is less than 1 cent, your broker may keep the dividend.
With fractional share investing, if you have a specific asset allocation, fractional shares allow you to execute on that strategy precisely by buying securities in dollar amounts, not shares. This enables you to have greater control over your portfolio allocation and create a more diversified portfolio.
Cons of Fractional Share Investing
Not All Securities Are Available For Fractional Share Investing
Depending on your broker, the types of stocks and ETFs available for fractional share trading may vary. You will be able to purchase most large-cap securities in the S&P 500 via fractional shares, but don’t expect that company that went public via a reverse merger always to be available.
Not All Brokerages Offer Fractional Share Investing
Many more traditional brokerages (think TD Ameritrade) do not offer fractional share investing; however, that is likely to change. Fractional share investing is more prevalent at fintech brokerages like M1 Finance or Robinhood, geared towards a younger generation of investors.
Fractional Shares Cannot Be Transferred To Different Brokerage Accounts
You cannot transfer fractional shares to a different brokerage account. If you decide to change brokers, you may be forced to sell your fractional shares and incur capital gains taxes.
This isn’t likely a huge issue for most investors, but something to be aware of.
Limited Trade Execution
Depending on your broker, some brokerages aggregate fractional share buy and sell orders for clients and only execute once or twice per day, instead of in real-time like full shares. And because of this, you may not be able to execute at the best price for the day.
Furthermore, some companies make fractional share trading available only on their mobile app and only allow market orders.
Again, not a problem for most people, but people should be aware.
Depending on your broker, you may not have voting rights if you own fractional shares. Some brokerage firms allow it with special procedures, and some do not allow it. Ask your brokerage firm whether you will have any voting rights associated with fractional share purchases.
Best Brokers For Fractional Share Investing
M1 Finance is our favorite commission-free trading platform for fractional shares.