Marginable securities are those assets that investors can purchase on margin, meaning they do not have the cash in their account to cover the cost, so they borrow it from their brokerage or another financial institution.
If you’re planning to trade on margin, or just want to know more about how it works, you’ll need to understand the difference between marginable and non-marginable securities.
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What Is a Marginable Security?
The term “marginable securities” refers to any stocks, bonds, options, or anything else, that your brokerage will allow you to trade on margin, or purchase with borrowed money.
There are a lot of rules at play when it comes to margin, set by a variety of different organizations. For example, groups like the Federal Reserve and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and the individual brokerages themselves all have their own margin rules, including which securities traders can buy or sell on credit.
If you have a margin account, you can get a marginable securities list from your brokerage by asking your representative or looking online.
Marginable Securities Example
Most brokerages that allow margin trading would allow investors to trade large, blue-chip stocks on margin. That means that investors can borrow from their brokerage to buy that stock.
Traders might also use margin to short a stock, or bet that its price is about to go down. In that instance, they’d borrow shares from their brokerage and sell them on the open market to another investor, with the hopes of buying them back later at a lower price.
What Is a Non-Marginable Security?
Non-marginable securities are securities that investors cannot purchased on margin, or by borrowing money from a brokerage to facilitate their purchase.
If an investor or trader wants to purchase a non-marginable security, then, they must do so with a cash account, rather than a margin account.
Non-marginable Securities Example
Non-marginable securities typically include of exotic stock, or those considered high risk, perhaps because of low liquidity and higher levels of volatility. That can include stocks that trade over-the-counter (OTC), or penny stocks ( valued at less than $5 per share). It may also include IPO stocks.
In general, securities held in an IRA or a 401(k) retirement account are non marginable because those accounts do not allow for margin trading.
Differences Between Marginable and Non-Marginable Securities
Here’s a quick rundown of the main differences, and pros and cons between marginable and non-marginable securities:
Marginable & Non-Marginable Securities: Key Differences
|Marginable Securities||Non-Marginable Securities|
|Can be purchased on margin||Cannot be purchased on margin|
|Usually common, popular securities||Tend to be riskier or volatile|
|Require a margin account or margin access||Determined by brokerage, and or regulators|
Why Are Some Securities Marginable and Some Non-Marginable?
We’ve covered the difference between marginable and non-marginable securities. You should also know that there is a reason that the distinction exists at all: To protect both traders and brokerages. Financial institutions aren’t generally in the business of losing money, so there’s not much incentive to let traders run around with the institution’s money, buying up risky assets.
Marginable securities have a degree of risk built into them that non-marginable securities lack. Specifically, there is risk associated with using leverage, or margin, that could result in some traders finding themselves in debt or subject to a margin call by their brokerage.
Marginable securities are those that you can purchase by borrowing money from your broker, while you must purchase non-marginable securities with cash on hand. Trading on margin is riskier than trading without it, since you can lose more money than you’ve invested, but there’s also potential for higher returns.
That said, you can also start investing in the markets without using margin at all. The SoFi Invest stock trading app does not offer margin trading, but it does let you buy and sell stocks, exchange-traded funds, and crypto currency from your phone.
Photo credit: iStock/Delmaine Donson
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