Margin Loans - How It Works | Fidelity (2024)

Margin Loans - How It Works | Fidelity (1)For illustrative purposes only
You have an individual brokerage account consisting of margin-eligible equities and fixed income securities with a total value of $275,000. You applied and got approved for using margin.

Based on a review of your account holdings, you're initially eligible to borrow up to 50% of your balance – so $137,500. You decide to take a $50,000 loan which will have an effective rate of 7.875% (based on margin interest rates as of June 15, 2018). This loan value is much lower than your maximum allowable amount, but one you're comfortable with.

Taking this example even further, it's important to know how much of a decline your account holdings can withstand before going into a margin call.

Security requirement
First, assume the security requirements in your account are 40% or $110,000.

Market value of securities$275,000
Security requirement %x 40%
Security requirement $$110,000

House surplus
Next, subtract the security requirement and the amount of your margin loan from your equity to get the house surplus in your account.

Market value of securities$275,000
Your margin loan−$50,000
Security requirement−$110,000
House surplus$115,000

Maximum decline before a margin call
Then, take the $115,000 house surplus and divide it by .6 which is the inverse of your security requirement. If your equity falls below the minimum requirement, you’d be subject to a margin call. This means your account can withstand just over a $191,000 depreciation before you are issued a margin call.
House surplus$115,000
Inverse of security requirement/ 60%
Maximum depreciation before a margin call$191,667

Learn more about ways to avoid and manage margin calls

Margin Loans - How It Works | Fidelity (2024)


How does a margin loan work? ›

How do margin loans work? Depending on the type and value of securities in your account, brokerage clients who are approved for margin use can use it to potentially purchase additional shares of securities than could be purchased using the available cash in the account.

What is an example of how margin works? ›

For example, if you have $5,000 worth of marginable stocks in your account and you haven't yet borrowed against them, you can purchase another $5,000. The stock you already own provides the collateral for the first $2,500, and the newly purchased marginable stock provides the collateral for the second $2,500.

How do I pay back my margin loan? ›

You can repay your loan at any time by depositing money or by selling securities. Margin loan rates are typically low. These types of loans also have low fees also.

What is margin lending for dummies? ›

A margin account is a brokerage account in which the broker lends the investor money to buy more securities than what they could otherwise buy with the balance in their account. Using margin to purchase securities is effectively like using the current cash or securities already in your account as collateral for a loan.

How risky is a margin loan? ›

The biggest risk from buying on margin is that you can lose much more money than you initially invested. A decline of 50 percent or more from stocks that were half-funded using borrowed funds, equates to a loss of 100 percent or more in your portfolio, plus interest and commissions.

How much can I borrow on margin loan? ›

Margin lenders generally only allow you to borrow up to a certain value, or percentage, of the shares you wish to buy. Commonly, limits are set at a maximum of 75% (known as the Loan-to-Value Ratio or LVR) of the value of the shares (less if the share is more speculative or risky).

Are margin loans worth it? ›

Margin loans are a high risk investment. You can lose a lot more than you invest if things go sour. If you don't fully understand how margin loans work and the risks involved, don't take one out.

Can you pay off a margin loan without selling? ›

You can access cash without having to sell your investments. Pay back your loan by depositing cash or selling securities at any time.

What is margin answer in one sentence? ›

A margin is the difference between two amounts, especially the difference in the number of votes or points between the winner and the loser in an election or other contest. They could end up with a 50-point winning margin. The Sunday Times remains the brand leader by a huge margin.

Can I deduct the interest I paid on margin loan? ›

The interest you pay on that margin loan is qualifying investment interest. You can only take a deduction for investment interest expenses that is lesser than or equal to your net investment income.

Are margin loans smart? ›

While margin loans can be useful and convenient, they are by no means risk free. Margin borrowing comes with all the hazards that accompany any type of debt — including interest payments and reduced flexibility for future income.

Can I borrow cash from my margin account? ›

An investor can borrow against cash in the account or against marginable stocks or debt securities, such as bonds, in the account. Buying on margin provides investors the ability to leverage their investments for building larger investment portfolios than they otherwise could maintain using only their available cash.

How to use margin effectively? ›

Buy gradually, not at once: The best way to avoid loss in margin trading is to buy your positions slowly over time and not in one shot. Try buying 30-50% of the positions at first shot and when it rises by 1-3%, add that money to your account and but the next slot of positions.

What is the difference between a margin loan and a normal loan? ›

Margin interest is only deductible up to the amount of your investment income and you cannot deduct it against your qualified dividends or long-term gains unless you give up the tax benefit on the dividends or gains. Therefore, you might not get the full tax benefit from a margin loan as you would with a mortgage.

What is an eligible margin loan? ›

Margin loan availability describes the amount in a margin account that is currently available for purchasing securities on margin or the amount that is available for withdrawal. A margin account makes loans available to the customer of a brokerage firm using the customer's securities in their account as collateral.

Do margin loans have monthly payments? ›

There is no monthly principal payment required (although interest will be due periodically) and no term in which you need to repay the loan, although you're allowed to repay part or all of your loan at any time. Potential tax advantages. Margin loan interest may be tax deductible depending on your situation.

How to turn $5000 into $10000? ›

How can you make $5,000 turn into $10,000? Turning $5,000 into $10,000 involves investing in avenues with the potential for high returns, such as stocks, ETFs or real estate. Another approach is to use the money as seed capital for a profitable small business or side hustle.

Does margin loan affect credit score? ›

Margin accounts allow you to borrow money and buy stocks for more than the actual cash you have in your account. Because some brokerages consider margin accounts as loans, there may be a credit check involved. This could have a small impact on your credit score, but it usually goes away after a few months.


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