The race for the online retail trader is on again, as industry leader Charles Schwab officially launched its version of fractional shares trading, called Stock Slices.

After first being introduced by commission-free trading pioneer Robinhood which has shaken the previously clubby US retail brokerage market to its core, fractional share trading has become a hit, especially with younger and newer traders.

The more popular stocks being traded today by (not just) young people such as Apple ($323), Facebook ($232), Tesla ($881), Alphabet/Google ($1,439), Netflix ($427) and Amazon ($2,472) carry very high per-share prices. It is difficult for less deep pocketed traders to buy and sell these shares, while still diversifying their portfolios.

Enter fractional shares, which allow traders to invest as little as a few dollars and acquire a fraction (or “slice”, in Schwab terminology) of a full share.

Charles Schwab formally launched the availability of Schwab Stock Slices yesterday, which is a new service at Schwab that lets investors own any of the companies in the S&P 500 index for as little as $5 each, even if their shares cost more. Investors can use the new service, which Schwab pre-announced last month, to purchase a single stock slice or up to 10 different Stock Slices at once, and they can hold slices of as many S&P 500 companies in their portfolio as they wish through multiple purchases.

Schwab Stock Slices are purchased commission-free online – just like regular stock trades at Schwab. (Again, we have Robinhood and its industry-altering business model to thank for that).

“We want to make stock ownership accessible to as many people as possible, from a new investor just getting started to someone more experienced who may find the share price of some companies out of reach,” said Neesha Hathi, executive vice president and head of Schwab Digital Services. “Stock Slices allows anyone to invest using fractional shares, and we’re excited by the possibilities inherent in this functionality to enhance how clients invest.”

How Schwab Stock Slices Work

Once someone selects the single stock or collection of stocks they want to purchase, the total dollar amount invested is split evenly across each stock, and slices of shares can be as narrow as four decimal places. For example, a $50 investment across five stocks would generally appear as a $10 purchase of each stock, and the order would show the number of shares or fraction of shares that $10 would buy based on stock prices at the time of execution.

When a trade order is executed via Schwab Stock Slices, each stock fraction appears in a client’s brokerage account. Schwab Stock Slices is available in retail Schwab brokerage, custodial, and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Schwab clients also have access to a range of educational resources and research including stock screeners and Schwab Equity Ratings, the firm’s proprietary method for rating stock performance.

Because Schwab custodial accounts are eligible, investors can use Schwab Stock Slices to get their children or grandchildren engaged with investing in an accessible and educational way. Once a Schwab custodial account is open and funded, the custodian can purchase stocks in small dollar amounts in the same way they would in a traditional brokerage account. A downloadable card can be personalized and given to a minor to let them know about the stock purchase on their behalf.

More information about Schwab Stock Slices is available at