ETF Exchange

ETF Price Wars Keep Heating Up

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The ETF price wars continue to heat up. Charles Schwab (SCHW) just announced it is offering a broad, free ETF trading platform that is another sign the ETF price wars are continuing...this time with brokerage fees.

Schwab today announced that the 15 ETFs it owns, along with 90 non-Schwab ETFs, would be commission-free on its OneSource trading platform.

(Read more: ETFs Growing and Growing, and 'Here to Conquer')

Schwab is not the first to do this. First Fidelity already offers some iShares ETFs free on its platform, and Vanguard has free commissions on its own ETFs, but Schwab is likely the broadest announcement of free commissions.

Schwab was a bit late to the ETF party. Vanguard got in early and collected a lot of assets, but Schwab has come out swinging in the last couple years with a series of ultra low-cost ETFs.

Besides commissions, there is also a separate war being waged around expense ratios, which are also dropping. Schwab, for example, charges only 0.04 percent for its U.S. Broad Market ETF (SCHB). That is amazing considering many mutual funds charge a full percent to be in their funds. The biggest ETF, the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), charges 0.09 percent.

(Read more: Emerging Markets: The Big Story of 2013?)

These low expenses are one reason ETFs are gathering more assets at the expense of mutual funds...$1.4 trillion now under management, growing 25 percent last year.

I'll be at the Index Universe "Inside ETFs" conference - the biggest ETF conference - next week with more news on this growth industry.

Tune in: CNBC is the exclusive broadcast partner of the 6th Annual Inside ETFs Conference. Be sure to catch On-Air Stocks Editor Bob Pisani (@BobPisani) live from the conference throughout the day on Feb. 11th and 12th, only on CNBC.

Inside the ETF Boom