What is Friction Cost

Friction cost is the total direct and indirect costs associated with the execution of a financial transaction. The friction cost comprehensively takes into consideration all of the costs associated with a transaction. Calculating the friction cost provides an investor with a full range of expected costs they can expect to incur.


Friction cost can help an investor to evaluate a transaction from every possible angle in order to determine all of the direct and indirect costs. The friction cost method is the broadest comprehensive calculation an investor can use when considering a potential transaction. Using the friction cost method when comparing products can help an investor or borrower to make more informed decisions and rule out high cost products that could be easily substituted with more efficient investments.

Friction Cost Considerations

A broad array of costs are considered when calculating the friction cost of an investment. When investing in mutual funds through a full-service broker, friction costs can include commissions and fees along with the total investment. An investor may also subtract a subjective value from the cost of investment for foregone research time which was not required by the investor to identify the investment. Thus, often the total friction cost value will be dependent on certain arbitrary values assigned specifically by the investor.

Analyzing Credit Options

Alternative credit products can be an important category for using the friction cost calculation method to arrive at financial decisions. Credit products often include a variety of fees that make friction cost analysis importing in due diligence.

A mortgage loan for example, includes several expenses. The basic expenses will be the principal and interest paid to the lender in monthly installments. Other costs in friction cost analysis may also include an application fee, an origination fee, a broker fee, an appraisal fee, a credit report fee, tax service fee, underwriting fee, document preparation fee, wire transfer fee and office administration fees. Often these fees will be bundled in a points fee quote however they may also be required individually. Assessing not only the interest charged on a mortgage loan but also its fees in a friction cost analysis can help a borrower obtain a better understanding of their comprehensive costs and also to compare costs across other market options. (See also: Watch Out For "Junk" Mortgage Fees)

Friction cost analysis can also be especially important when considering alternative loans. For example, payday loans can charge investors up to approximately 400% in interest annually while also including fees. Adding the principal and interest with the potential origination fees, service fees and other costs associated with a payday loan will typically make other credit market options much more appealing.