Trading FAQs: Order Types

General order types

  • What is a market order?

    A market order instructs Fidelity to buy or sell securities for your account at the next available price. It remains in effect only for the day, and usually results in the prompt purchase or sale of all the shares of stock, options contracts, or bonds in question, as long as the security is actively traded and market conditions permit.

    Note: In order to maintain a fair and orderly market, most market centers generally do not accept cancellation requests after 9:28 a.m. ET for market orders eligible for execution at 9:30 a.m. ET, when the market opens. Acceptance of a cancellation request by Fidelity between 9:28 and 9:30 a.m. ET does not guarantee an order cancellation. All requests to cancel an order are processed on a best-efforts basis.

  • What is a limit order?

    When you place a limit order to buy, the stock is eligible to be purchased at or below your limit price, but never above it.

    You may place limit orders either for the day on which they are entered (a day order), or for a period that ends when it is executed or when you cancel (an open order or good ’til canceled (GTC) order).

    Note: All open GTC orders will expire 180 calendar days after they are placed. If the 180th day falls on a weekend or holiday, those orders will expire on the first business day following the expiration day. This policy does not apply to options.

    Orders at each price level are filled in a sequence that is determined by the rules of the various market centers; therefore, there can be no assurance that all orders at a particular price limit (including yours) will be filled when that price is reached. Such orders are also subject to the existence of a market for that security. Thus, the fact that your price limit was reached does not guarantee an execution.

    Limit orders for more than 100 shares or for multiple round lots (200, 300, 400, etc.) may be filled completely or in part until completed. It may take more than one trading day to completely fill a multiple round lot or mixed-lot order unless the order is designated as one of the following types:

    • All or none (fill the whole order or no part of it). When you place an all-or-none designation on your order, it is considered restricted. The stock can trade at or below your price on a buy, or at or above on a sell, without the right to execution, unless the entire amount of your order is executable.
    • Immediate or cancel (fill the whole order or any part immediately, and cancel any unfilled balance).
    • Fill or kill (fill the entire order immediately or cancel it).

    Note: Good ’til canceled time in force is not available for short sales, unlisted corporate bonds and treasuries, mortgage-backed and agency bonds, and collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs). We do not accept limit orders for municipal bonds, commercial paper, unit investment trusts (UITs), certificates of deposit (CDs), or mutual funds.

  • What is a stop order?

    Stop orders are generally used to protect a profit or to prevent further loss if the price of a security moves against you. They can also be used to establish a position in a security if it reaches a certain price threshold or to close a short position.

    The specialists on the various exchanges and market makers have the right to refuse stop orders under certain market conditions. Not all securities or trading sessions (pre- and post-market) are eligible for stop orders.

    • Types of stop orders
      • Stop loss
        This type of order automatically becomes a market order when the stop price is reached. Therefore, there is no guarantee that your order will be executed at the stop price.
      • It is important for investors to understand that company news or market conditions can have a significant impact on the price of a security. This could result in a stop loss order being executed at a price that is dramatically different than what your stop loss price indicates.
      • Stop limit
        This type of order automatically becomes a limit order when the stop price is reached. Like any limit order, a stop limit order may be filled in whole, in part, or not at all, depending on the number of shares available for sale or purchase at the time.
      • Note: Buy stop loss and buy stop limit orders must be entered at a price which is above the current market price. Sell stop loss and sell stop limit orders must be entered at a price which is below the current market price.
    • How stop orders are triggered
      • Stocks
        Equity stop orders placed with Fidelity are triggered off of a round lot transaction of 100 shares or greater, or a print in the security. The market centers to which National Financial Services (NFS) routes Fidelity stop loss orders and stop limit orders may impose price limits such as price bands around the National Best Bid or Offer (NBBO) in order to prevent stop loss orders and stop limit orders from being triggered by potentially erroneous trades. These price limits may vary by market center. If you are interested in placing an order which triggers off of a bid quote or ask quote, please see Trailing Stop Orders and Contingent Orders.
      • Options
        Generally a stop order to buy becomes a market order when the bid price is at or above the stop price, or the option trades at or above the stop price. A stop order to sell becomes a market order when the ask price is at or below the stop price, or when the option trades at or below the stop price. The options stop election is based on the exchange’s best bid or offer (BBO) where the stop order resides.
  • What time limitations can I place on an order?

    You place a time limitation on a stock trade order by selecting one of the following time-in-force types:

    A time-in-force limitation on the execution of an order. This limitation has a default order expiration time of 4:00 p.m. ET. You may select your own order expiration time between 10:00 a.m. ET and 4:00 p.m. ET in thirty minute increments (i.e., 10:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., etc). If all or part of your order is not executed by the time you’ve selected for expiration, your order will be canceled. You may view the status of your order, including order expiration date and/or time, on the Orders page.

    Good 'til canceled
    A time-in-force limitation that can be placed on a stock or ETF order. This limitation has a default order expiration date of 180 calendar days from the order entry date at 4:00 p.m. ET. You may select your own order expiration date and/or time, up to 180 calendar days from the order entry date. If all or part of your order is not executed by the date and/or time you've selected for expiration, any open portions of your order will be canceled. You may view the status of your order, including order expiration date and/or time on the Orders page.

    Fill or kill
    A time-in-force limitation that can be placed on the execution of an order. This limitation requires that the order is immediately completed in its entirety or canceled.

    Orders with the fill or kill limitation:

    • are for 100 shares or more
    • are only placed during market hours
    • are good only for the current day
    • are not allowed for use with stop loss, stop limit, or sell short orders

    Note: Fill or kill is only used under very special circumstances. If you do not fully understand how to use fill or kill, talk to a Fidelity representative before placing this limitation of an order.

    Immediate or cancel
    A time-in-force limitation that can be placed on the execution of an order. This limitation requires that a broker immediately enter a bid or offer at a limit price you specify. All or a portion of the order can be executed. Any portion of the order not immediately completed is canceled.

    On the open
    A time-in-force limitation that can be placed on an order. This limitation requires that the order is executed as close as possible to the opening price for a security. All or any part of the order that cannot be executed at the opening price is canceled.

    On the close
    A time-in-force limitation that can be placed on the execution of an order. This limitation requires that the order is executed as close as possible to the closing price for a security. All or any part of the order that cannot be executed at the closing price is canceled.

  • How are commissions assessed for good 'til canceled orders?

    The commission for a good 'til canceled order is assessed at the time your order is executed.

    If your order receives multiple executions on a single day, you will be assessed one commission. For good 'til canceled orders that receive executions over multiple days, a commission is assessed for each day in which there is an execution.

    Good 'til canceled orders that do not execute are not charged a commission.

  • How do dividend distributions affect open orders?

    Although different exchange rules may exist for adjusting orders when a security pays a dividend, the general rule is that good 'til canceled (GTC) orders below the market are adjusted for the dividend amount. The price of your order will be automatically reduced on the "ex-dividend" date by approximately the amount of the upcoming dividend unless you note it as a do not reduce (DNR) when you place the order. Orders below the market include: buy limit, sell stop loss, sell stop limit, sell trailing stop loss, sell trailing stop limit.

  • What are the risks of trading in volatile markets?

    Volatile markets can present higher trading risks, especially when you are using electronic services to access information or place orders.

    • Consider placing limit orders instead of market orders. In certain market conditions, or with certain types of securities offerings (such as IPOs and financial stocks), price changes may be significant and rapid during regular or after-hours trading. In these cases, placing a market order could result in a transaction that exceeds your available funds, meaning that Fidelity would have the right to sell other assets in your account to cover any outstanding debt. This is a particular risk in accounts that you cannot easily add money to, such as retirement accounts.
    • Be aware that quotes, order executions, and execution reports could be delayed. During periods of heavy trading or volatility, quotes that are provided as “real time” may be stale—even if they appear not to be—and you may not receive every quote update. Security prices can change dramatically during such delays.
    • When canceling an order, be sure your original order is actually canceled (verified canceled order status) before entering a replacement order. Don’t rely on a receipt for your cancellation order; that order may have arrived too late for us to act on. Cancellation requests are handled on a best-efforts basis.
    • Use other ways to access Fidelity during peak volume times. System availability and response time may be subject to market conditions. If you are having problems reaching us one way, try another. There are several ways to contact Fidelity.

    The chances of encountering these risks are higher for individuals using day trading strategies. In part for this reason, Fidelity does not promote day trading strategies. For more information on trading risks and how to manage them, contact Fidelity.

Advanced order types

  • What is a Trailing Stop Order?

    Trailing Stop Orders adjust automatically when market conditions move in your favor, and can help protect profits while providing downside protection. With a Trailing Stop Order, you do not have to constantly adjust for price changes.

    Additionally, Trailing Stop Orders may have increased risks due to their reliance on trigger processing, market data, and other internal and external system factors. These orders are held in a separate order file with Fidelity and are not sent to the marketplace until the order conditions you've defined have been met.

    Eligible securities:

    • Listed and OTC Equities
    • Single-leg Options

    Types of Trailing Stop Orders:

    • Trailing Stop Loss: Once triggered, the order will become a market order.
    • Trailing Stop Limit: Once triggered, the order will become a limit order.

    Trailing Stop Order trigger values:
    You may elect to trigger a Trailing Stop order based on the following security market activities:

    • The security's last round lot trade of 100 shares or greater (default)
    • The security's bid price
    • The security's ask price

    Trailing Stop Order time limits:

    • Trailing Stop orders can be either Day orders or Good 'til Canceled (GTC) orders.
    • GTC orders placed on expire after 180 days.

    Trailing Stop Order trail values:

    • Equity Trailing Stop orders can be set with a percentage (%) or dollar ($) trail value.
    • Single-leg Option Trailing Stop orders can only be set with a dollar ($) trail value.

    Important information regarding Trailing Stop Orders.

    Example of a Trailing Stop Order

    1. You buy XYZ stock at $25 per share.
    2. XYZ rises to $27.
    3. You place a sell trailing stop loss with a trail value of $1.
    4. As long as the price moves in your favor, your trailing price will stay $1 away.
    5. The price of XYZ peaks at $29, then starts to drop. Your trailing stop loss remains at $28.
    6. Shares are sold when XYZ reaches $28.
  • What is a conditional order?

    A conditional order allows you to set order triggers for stocks and options based on the price movement of stocks, indices, or options contracts. There are five types: Contingent, Multi-Contingent, One-Triggers-the-Other (OTO), One-Cancels-the-Other (OCO), and One-Triggers-a-One-Cancels-the-Other (OTOCO).

    • Contingent
      A Contingent order triggers an equity or options order based on any 1 of 8 trigger values for any stock, up to 40 selected indices, or any valid options contract.
      • Trigger values: last trade, bid, ask, volume, change % up, change % down, 52-week high, and 52-week low
      • Market, limit, stop loss, and trailing stop loss are available order types once the contingent criterion is met.
      • Security type: Stock or single-leg options
      • Time-in-force: For the contingent criteria and for the triggered order, it can be for the day, or good 'til canceled (GTC). The time-in-force for the contingent criteria does not need to be the same as the time-in-force for the triggered order.

    Example of a Contingent Order

    1. You place a Contingent order to buy XYZ stock at a limit of $25—if the UVW index moves up more than 1.25%.
    2. A rally occurs that pushes the index up 1.30% on the day…
    3. …which triggers a limit order to buy XYZ at $25.
    4. XYZ hits your limit of $25 so shares are bought.
    • Multi-Contingent 
      A Multi-Contingent order triggers an equity or option order based on a combination of 2 trigger values for any stock or up to 40 selected indices. The criteria can be linked by “And at the same time,” “Or,” or “Then.”
    • “And at the same time” is chosen if both criteria must be met at the same time.
    • “Or” is chosen if either one of the two criteria must be met.
    • “Then” is chosen if the criteria must be met in sequential order.
      • Trigger values: last trade, bid, ask, volume, change % up, change % down, 52-week high, and 52-week low
      • Security type: Stock or single-leg options
      • Time-in-force: For the contingent criteria and for the triggered order, it can be for the day, or good ’til canceled (GTC). The time-in-force for the contingent criteria does not need to be the same as the time-in-force for the triggered order.

    Example of a Multi-Contingent Order

    1. You purchase XYZ at $25 and place a Multi-Contingent order to sell XYZ at the market if
    2A. … XYZ’s last trade is less than $20…
    2B. …or XYZ hits a new 52-week high of $32.
    3. XYZ moves up to $32 which triggers your order to sell. You order fills at $32.01.
    • One-Triggers-the-Other (OTO)
      A One-Triggers-the-Other order actually creates both a primary and a secondary order. If the primary order executes, the secondary order automatically triggers.
    • This type of order can help you save time: place a buy order as your primary order and a corresponding sell limit, sell stop, or sell trailing stop at the same time. Or, if you trade options regularly, use an OTO order to leg into a buy-write or covered-call position.
    • Trailing stop orders are available for either or both legs of the OTO.
      • Security type: Any combination of stock and/or single-leg options
      • Time-in-force: Can be different for each order
      • For OTO orders that are good ’til canceled (GTC), the whole order is good for 180 days (e.g., if the primary order executes on day 30, the secondary order is live for 150 days).
      • If the primary order is canceled, the secondary order is also canceled.
      • If the secondary order is canceled, the primary order remains open as a separate order.

    Example of One-Triggers-the-Other Order

    1. You place an OTO to buy XYZ at $30 and sell at a $2 trailing stop loss.
    2. The stock drops to $30, which triggers a buy order of XYZ stock that executes and…
    3. …a sell trailing stop loss order with a $2 trail is placed with an initial trigger price of $28.
    4. XYZ moves up to $35…
    5. …so the new trigger price for the trailing stop order is $33.
    6. XYZ trades down to $33, which triggers the trailing stop order and shares are sold at the market.
    • One-Cancels-the-Other (OCO)
      With a One-Cancels-the-Other (OCO) order, two orders are live so that if either executes, the other is automatically triggered to cancel.
    • When orders are placed for retirement accounts, a price-reasonability check helps prevent both OCO orders from executing in a fast market. This feature does not exist in nonretirement accounts.
      • Security type: Any combination of stocks or single-leg options
      • Time-in-force: Must be the same for both orders
      • Orders can be for the same shares of the same stock or option contracts, but on opposite sides of the market (sell limit and sell stop).

    Example of One-Cancels-the-Other Order

    1. You buy XYZ stock at $23.
    2. XYZ stock rises to $25.
    3. You place an OCO with a sell order of $27 and…
    4. …a sell stop at $24.
    5. XYZ stock hits $27, so your sell order executes and…
    6. …your sell stop order is canceled.
    • One-Triggers-a-One-Cancels-the-Other (OTOCO)
      With a One-Triggers-a-One-Cancels-the-Other order, you place a primary order which, if executed, triggers two secondary orders.
    • If either of these secondary orders executes, the other is automatically canceled.
      • Security type: Any combination of stocks or single-leg options
      • Time-in-force: Primary can be different than both secondary orders. However, both secondary orders must have the same time-in-force.

    Example of One-Triggers-a-One-Cancels-the-Other Order

    1. You place an order to buy XYZ at $25.
    2. At the same time, you place two sell orders, one at stop loss for $23 and one at a limit of $27.
    3. XYZ trades at $25.
    4. Your buy order executes.
    5. Simultaneously, your two sell orders are triggered.
    6. XYZ drops to $23.
    7. Your stop loss order executes and your limit order is automatically canceled.
  • What is short selling?

    Short selling is an advanced trading technique that allows you to integrate a number of different strategies into your overall investment approach so that you may potentially profit from downward moves in a particular stock. Fidelity customers with a margin agreement in place may enter short sale and buy-to-cover orders for any U.S. stock using our online trading platform. All short sale orders are subject to the availability of the stock being sold, which must be confirmed by our stock loan department prior to the order being entered.

    • Potential uses of short selling:
      • Hedge current portfolio by short selling similar stocks or ETFs when you think the market may go down in the short term but don’t want to sell the stocks you own to incur short-term capital gains.
      • Profit from the decline of a particular stock, an entire industry, or the overall market.
      • Extend a bearish position when in-the-money calls you’ve written are exercised.

    Example of a Short Sale

    1. Seller shorts stock at price A. Fidelity finds shares that can be borrowed for delivery.
    2. Three trading days later, on settlement date, Fidelity provides shares for delivery. Seller then pays a variable interest rate on loan of shares for as long as the short position is maintained.
    3. Seller enters a buy to cover order at price B. If the price is above the price at which it was originally sold short (B1), the short seller generally realizes a loss. If it is below the original selling price (B2), the short seller generally realizes a profit.*
    *Note that other factors may have an impact on profit or loss of the trade.

Basket trading

  • What is a basket?

    A basket is a group of up to 50 stocks that you can trade, manage, and track as one entity.

    Basket trading user agreement

  • What are the advantages of basket trading?
    • Personalized investment criteria – Create baskets of stocks that fit your criteria or investment needs. For example, create baskets by sector, investment style, market capitalization, life event, your goals, etc.
    • Automated allocation – The automated allocation of basket trading allows you to quickly assign an equal dollar amount or number of shares to each security you want to purchase. Use this feature to quickly distribute your investment across multiple securities.
    • Integrated performance tracking – Because you can track the performance of basket trades as a group, baskets are useful if you want to invest in a number of securities from one sector or industry and then track the performance in your portfolio.
    • Save and review – You can save your baskets when you create them and return to them later to place your trades or make additional modifications.
    • Place multiple trades at once – Buy or make multiple updates to your positions within your basket with just one order.
    • Total control – Buy and sell securities from your basket at your discretion. Control the timing and tax implications of your basket transactions.
    • Specific tax lots – Assign specific share tax lots to your sales online—after submitting your order.
  • What are the fees, minimums and commissions when trading in a basket?

    There are no additional fees for basket trading. There is a $2,000 minimum to purchase a basket, but the value of the basket does not need to be maintained at $2,000 (e.g., if the value of the stocks falls) and there is no minimum for subsequent orders. Commissions will be charged according to the commission schedule applicable to the account. Each purchase or sale of a security position in a basket is treated as an individual transaction and will be subject to separate transaction commissions.

  • What types of orders can I place?

    You can place market orders on listed and over-the-counter (OTC) equities in the basket trading application.

  • How do I cancel a basket?

    All orders in a basket are market orders. You can attempt to cancel an individual order from the Order Details screen if an order has not executed, and re-enter a new order in basket trading. However, use caution when entering the new order as most market orders receive an execution.

    Cancel and replace functionality is not available on basket trades.

  • What if an order in my basket can’t be executed?

    Although all buy and sell orders through the basket trading product are market orders, there is the possibility that certain orders will not be executed. For example, if a security that you are trading as part of a basket had halted trading at the time of order entry and did not resume trading through market close, this security would not be part of your purchased basket.

    The weightings on remaining positions that were purchased will not adjust to account for the unpurchased position(s). For example: You have entered a share weighted order to purchase an 11-security basket at 100 shares for each position. If one of the securities did not execute, the 100 shares that were assigned to that position will not distribute across the 10 positions that did execute, making them 110 share orders. The 10 positions that did execute will remain 100 shares each.

    You can attempt to buy/sell the security that did not execute in the basket at another time. However, in all cases, unexecuted market orders will not carry over to the next trading session; they will need to be re-entered if you would like them to be part of a basket or to be removed from a basket.

  • How can I track gain and loss of securities in my basket?

    Baskets display unrealized net change detail for both purchased and saved baskets. Purchased baskets will display a current market value of the basket in its entirety as well as for individual positions. Although the percent net change of a purchased basket will account for additional purchases, liquidations, and certain corporate actions, it does not provide true tax cost basis of your positions within the basket.

    Securities that are liquidated entirely from a basket will not be tracked in basket detail. You can view cost detail for individual positions within a basket from the unrealized net change screen.

  • How do I use watch baskets?

    After you construct a basket and indicate the amount you are planning to allocate to the basket, you can either place a trade for the securities in the basket or save the basket for review, tracking, or subsequent purchase. You can save up to 20 baskets in the basket trading application. You can continue to make adjustments to the contents of the basket before you decide to purchase it.

    Watch baskets display net change detail based on current market value versus market value as of the last time you saved the watch basket.

  • How do I allocate my basket?

    Allocation weightings for baskets can be established using dollars, shares, or percentage. If you do not select an allocation method, the default allocation will be dollars.

  • Can I trade individual securities within the basket, or do I have to trade the basket as a whole?

    After you purchase your basket you can buy and sell individual securities within the basket at any time.

  • What about record keeping? How do I know what position is part of a basket?

    The Basket Summary screen gives you an overview of all of your baskets. Basket name and details links provide a breakdown of securities within each basket.