Opening a demat account to trade online might sound easy, but it is not if you are not aware of the fees and the charges that are associated with it. While a number of brokers offer a free demat account to their customers, there can still be some charges that can be levied at a later stage.

A demat account is required if a trader wants to hold his/her shares in the electronic format and this account is much similar to a bank account. Demat accounts are used to hold various financial instruments like bonds, non-convertible debentures, mutual bonds, and exchange traded funds. There are a number of ways using which one can open a demat account and each of it has its own charges attached. While some of the firms offer a trading account along with the demat account, there are others who ask the customers to open a different trading account. Whatever the scenario may be, it is important to know all about the demat charges.

To open a demat account, one needs to contact a depository participant (DP) and NSDL and CDSL have authorized a number of depository participants to open a demat account. The DPs can be online platforms, banks, any authorized stock brokers or even discounted brokers. To open an account from any DP, one has to fill the application form and submit the documents required.

The Demat Charges

Before any trader or an investor chooses to open a demat account, it is important to check and also compare the charges involved. While some brokers might offer a free demat account, but they can overburden you with other charges that are levied at a later stage.

There are majorly four charges that can be levied on the demat accounts. They are the account opening charges, the annual maintenance charges, the custodian fees and the transaction fees. These charges can vary from DP to DP and they can charge the fees which they feel are appropriate.

Let us now learn about these charges in detail.

The Account Opening Charges:  
While DPs charge a nominal fee as the account opening charge, there are others who do not charge any. A number of firms and banks do not charge any account opening fee and those who charge it also levy these charges when a customer reopens the demat account. The Stock Holding Corporation offers the customers a lifetime fee for account opening and this allows the customer to keep their demat account for a longer period. This fee is also refundable.

The Annual Maintenance Charges:
The annual maintenance charges are also known as the folio maintenance charges and these are to be paid in advance. This fee can range in between Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 per annum and again varies from one DP to another. With huge competition, a number of brokerage firms also offer their customers with zero maintenance charges for the first year. They are billed from the 2nd year onwards.

The Custodian Fees:
The custodian fees are charged monthly and these charges depend on the number of securities that are held in a demat account. These charges can be anything in the range of Rs. 0.5 to Rs. 1 for each ISIN.
The depository participants do not charge any custodian fees for the ISIN for those companies that have already paid the one-time charges to the depository. As most of the companies do pay the one-time charges to the depository, a number of brokers do not levy any custodian fees on the demat accounts.

The Transaction Fees:
The transaction fees is charged on a monthly basis and is charged for the crediting and the debiting of the securities from and to the demat account. While there are some DPs who can charge a flat fee for each transaction, there are others who charge a % based on the value of that transaction.

The transaction fees can also differ depending on the kind of transaction like for buying and selling. Some DPs only charge when the securities are debited whereas others charge for buying and selling. Other than the above-mentioned charges, there can also be other additional charges like the credit charges, the rejected for the failed instruction charges, mailing charges in the case of non periodic statements, service tax, the Swach Bharat and the Krishi Kalyan Cess and so on.

As a conclusion, it can be said that before you open a demat account with a DP, learn all about their charges and fees. Compare and then sign up with them for the demat account.