The best online trading platforms in Australia
Australia is a nation of investors, with more than nine million Australians currently directly in shares.
More than 35% of Australian investors have a portfolio worth over $500,000 according to the ASX Investors, but you can start with just $100.
While most investors in Australia have a broker account with the Commonwealth Bank-owned CommSec, brokers come in all shapes and sizes. Here's what to consider when finding the right platform for you.
How to find the right trading platform for you
You'll want to consider how much you'll pay in transaction fees. Don't just look out for the headline number either. Some brokers may advertise a low flat fee but hide charges in the foreign exchange or in subscription services.
You also want to look at what various brokerages will let you trade. Most Australian brokers will let you access the ASX but not all.
Australia represents 2% of the global equity markets so if you want more opportunities then looking overseas is one of the ways to go about it. The other would be to see if you can access different securities like bonds, foreign exchange or even crypto.
Another consideration is ownership - does the broker provide CHESS-sponsored ASX trades? CHESS is the name of the system used by the ASX to transfer shares between buyers and sellers. If you hold shares on the CHESS register, you are registered as the direct owner of the shares. If your broker is not CHESS-sponsored, then your shares are held on your behalf by a custodian which can present unique issues.
There are at least 40 online brokers out there in the market, so we've compared features and prices of seven of the most popular in Australia.
CMC Markets is no stranger to the share market game, having been founded in 1989 and establishing itself as a share, forex and CFD broker. In that vein it does lean towards traders with a bit more experience with a $1000 minimum trade value for global markets. It does however offer $0 brokerage on US, UK, Canadian and Japanese markets and $0 brokerage on one ASX trade per day up to $1000.
The largest broker platform in Australia is the Commonwealth Bank-owned CommSec. The platform is feature-packed with live pricing and access to research by fund managers and research houses like Goldman Sachs and Morningstar. It offers access to multiple overseas markets including Wall Street (NASDAQ & NYSE), the London Stock Exchange and the Tokyo Stock Exchange. For ASX trading it charges $10 per trade of up to $1000 while its international pricing varies.
eToro is one of the world's biggest online trading platforms and for Australians, it offers access to the NASDAQ and NYSE but not ASX-listed stocks. It also offers access to 16 other markets with $0 commission. One of its most popular features is its copy feature though. The social network features allow users to track and imitate the platform's top traders which can be useful for those that don't have the time to make their own decisions.
The other big four trading platform is nabtrade owned by NAB. The platform offers $9.95 brokerage on trades up to $1000 on both local and international markets.
nabtrade offers investors access to markets in the US, UK, Hong Kong and Germany. The platform also offers investors access to a high-interest account and margin lending as well.
Selfwealth is an ASX listed online trading platform with a flat brokerage fee of $9.50 per trade. The platform offers investors access to the ASX, Wall St (NASDAQ and NYSE) and the Hong Kong stock market.
Given its flat fee structure, it does appeal to those looking to invest larger amounts. The minimum investment for CHESS-sponsored ASX shares is $500 while for US the minimum is $100.
Stake launched as a low-cost online broker back in 2017 bringing US shares to the Australian market. Initially offering free US trades, Stake now charges $3 per trade under $30,000 for both US and ASX trades.
Despite the recent rise in costs Stake still does remain one of the cheapest brokers for traders in Australia. The platform gives traders access to more than 2000 CHESS-sponsored stocks and ETFs on the ASX. In its US product it has more than 6000 stocks and ETFs on Wall Street (NASDAQ and NYSE).
The latest platform to launch in the low-cost space, Superhero offers access to 2500 AX listed companies for a $5 flat fee. It also has a minimum investment of $100, much lower than the standard amount of $500.
While it charges for its ASX companies, investors get access to $0 brokerage on ETF and Wall St trades. The company does not offer CHESS-sponsored shares, instead, it uses the custodian model meaning shares bought on Superhero are beneficially held in your name.
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