In an era of the tech-savvy, no wonder online or mobile trading is rising in popularity, both in Australia and in the world. Today it’s even easier than ever before, thanks to the numerous online share trading platforms.
At the same time, their number and variety can make it harder for traders to make up their minds which is why we have gathered a list of the best online share trading platforms in Australia.
The informative reviews are followed by an in-depth analysis of the key features that make a great online trading platform.
Best Online Share Trading Platforms in Australia: Reviews 2020
1. CMC Markets – Classic
Standard Brokerage Fee: $11 or 0.1% for the first 10 trades.
Available Markets: ASX, NASDAQ, NYSE, Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Tokyo Stock Exchange, the London Stock Exchange, Euronext, AMEX, and more.
ASX Products: Shares, Exchange trade options/funds (ETOs), Warrants, TRaCRS, IPOs/floats
Support: Live chat, email, and phone.
Margin Trading: Yes.
CMC Markets prides itself on its 18 years of experience in the business, making it one of the oldest online trading platforms in Australia. This is a great indicator of the services’ reliability and expertise for which it has received a number of industry awards throughout the years.
Praised for its pricing, the platform charges classic traders whose limit is ten trades per month with $11 or 0.1% for the first 10 trades, $9.90 or 0.08% for the 11-30th trade, and $9.90 or 0.075% for every future trade. Active Investor and Premium Trader accounts have similar fees. Keep in mind that if you haven’t made any trades in the last 12 months, you’re going to be charged a 15$ dormancy fee every month!
If you decide to join CMC Markets, the Stockbroking Account gives you the option to invest in both Australian and international shares, i.e. engage with the US, UK, and Canadian markets. You can do IPOs and placements, or invest in managed funds (mFunds), exchange trade funds (ETFs), or exchange trade options (ETOs), and introduce some variety to your investments.
The services’ market analysts have contributed by adding rich and informative content to the platform, including ebooks, articles, podcasts, guides, and video materials, a pleiad of resources that customers are more than welcome to use.
Another great feature that the platform offers is up to date market data. If you want to see live data, you need to pay $10 per month, but, otherwise, a 20-minute delayed market data is available at any time for free. If you’re interested in the US market, you can get its data for an additional $11 fee.
To open an account, you just need to fill in an application form on their website, answer a couple of compliance questions to determine your trading level, and show them a government-issued ID for verification. The process lasts less than 10 minutes but it usually takes 2-4 days for your account to be approved, after which time you’re ready to trade from your computer or mobile device.
CMC Markets offers two stockbroking platforms, both featuring original trading tools, but each of them appeals to a different kind of trader. For beginners, the company suggests using their Standard platform that is super intuitive and easily navigable. The advanced trading options are still there, but they’re delivered in a simpler language.
Experienced traders are encouraged by CMC Markets to give their Pro platform a go. It comes with institutional-level tools and professional charts, but the best thing about it is that it’s completely customizable to the user’s trading preferences. CMC Markets also has an app that’s available for both iOS and Android users and makes share trading even quicker and more accessible.
- Multiple award winner: The platform has received a great number of accolades for things like customer satisfaction, best mobile app, reasonable fees, and an award for the best Australian broker, among others.
- Low brokerage fees: CMC Markets offers a highly competitive fee for its impeccable services.
- Excellent trading options both locally and internationally.
- Access to research materials.
- Three types of account membership.
You can choose between Classic, Active Investor, and Premium Trader.
Standard Brokerage Fee: $8 or 0.1%.
Available Markets: 47 global currency pairings, index CFDs, stock CFDs commodities, cryptocurrency.
ASX Products: Shares.
Support Options: website help section, and live chat.
Margin Trading: Yes.
EToro was originally founded in Tel Aviv, in 2007, and has registered offices in Australia, the US, the UK, Cyprus, and Israel. Although this brokerage company isn’t listed on any stock exchange and doesn’t disclose its annual report online, it’s still considered reliable as an online share trading platform because it’s regulated by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).
EToro adds a reasonable brokerage fee of $8 or 0.1% on each trade and features an inactivity fee of $10 per month if you haven’t been active for more than a year. The platform doesn’t charge deposit fees but applies a couple of restrictions regarding them.
First of all, Australian and American residents are required to make a minimum $50 deposit the first time they fund their account. Next, the options for making a deposit are bank transfers that take 4-7 days but have no limit, instantaneous credit/debit card deposits limited at $40,000, or deposits via PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, and WebMoney.
The platform was primarily focused on CFDs (contracts for difference) but has since expanded to forex, stock market indices, ETFs, even buy and sell cryptocurrencies. The main innovation of eToro is its social trading scheme which allows traders to observe the portfolios of leading investors and copy their actions. While the concept itself isn’t exclusive to the platform, eToro was brought many new features and ideas to it.
One of them is the CopyTrader which gives the right to users to browse through the portfolios of other eToro traders and look at their annual or monthly performance since they’re all public and those traders have given their consent. You can check out all sorts of statistics, measure risks, and enter into discussions. It’s a great learning experience but it still doesn’t guarantee success as following someone’s strategies is not the complete recipe for expert trading.
You can use your Facebook, Google+, or email account to register on eToro. This is all you need to access a demo version of the platform and a demo account with $100,000. If you want to create a real account and fund it with real money, you will need to verify your identity using either a scanned copy of your passport or other ID or proof of residency with a scanned copy of a bank statement or a utility bill.
The disadvantage of eToro is that it only supports USD accounts for now. This means that if you plan on using a different currency, your deposits and withdrawals will be automatically converted by the platform into USD at a small conversion fee. You also have the option to deposit USD directly using your credit/debit card but then it’s up to your bank to determine the conversion rate. A possible solution is to open a multi-currency bank account.
- It’s the largest social trading platform.
- It’s famous for its copy trading feature.
- It offers thousands of equities from multiple stock market exchanges.
3. IG Share Trading
Standard Brokerage Fee: $8 or 0.1%.
Available Markets: ASX, the London Stock Exchange, DOW 30, AMEX, NASDAQ, NYSE, DAX, HDAX, MDAX, ISEQ.
ASX Products: Shares.
Support Options: Phone, email, and live chat.
Margin Trading: Yes.
IG was founded in 1974, in Australia, as an online trading platform. It’s regulated by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and can call forth its 40 years of experience in the industry to testify for its endurance and status.
The brokerage fees are no more than $8 or 0.1% or $10 across the US share market. But here comes the catch. IG charges share trading accounts with a $50 subscription fee per quarter (every three months), a fee that can be waived if you meet their conditions. You should either deal at least three times across your accounts or have zero open positions, i.e. you shouldn’t hold onto your shares.
If you don’t have enough money on your account, you’re at risk of having a negative account balance. On the bright side, there’s no minimum account balance required or any ongoing limits. IG allows you to make instantaneous deposits via credit/debit card (the minimum deposit is $450), bank transfers, BPAY, or PayPal (no minimum deposit).
The advantage of IG is that you can buy or sell over 11,000 international shares on major indices from markets in the US, UK, Germany, and Ireland. When trading international shares, currency conversions are charged at a 0.5% flat rate. IG supports AUD, USD, EUR, and GBP.
To open an IG account you need to fill in an online application with your name, email address, phone number, place of residence in Australia, create your new username and password, and provide a photograph or scanned copy of your Australian passport or driver’s license. The whole thing takes no more than 5-10 minutes to complete, but then you have to wait for IG to approve your account and let you fund your account to start trading.
There are three types of accounts that you can create on IG: corporate, personal, or a self-managed account. The third one is an upgrade with more customization, but to apply for a self-managed super fund CFD account, you need to have more than $1 million in liquid assets.
Recently, IG has partnered with Qantas Airways Limited and together they’ve created the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program where traders can earn up to 10,000 Qantas Points from trading shares on IG. The prerequisite is to place ten share trades within three months of opening your account. The points can be redeemed for discounts on domestic and international flights.
We would also like to mention that IG is very beginner-friendly and offers educational content such as weekly webinars, online trading courses for different levels of expertise, and even live sessions. They usually last between 20-85 minutes and are really useful if you’re new to the whole online share trading concept.
- Low standard brokerage fee: However, there’s a high subscription fee.
- International trading available.
- No account balance limits.
- It comes with a mobile app.
- Free educational resources.
4. Bell Direct Share Trading
Standard Brokerage Fee: $15 for the first 10 trades.
Available Markets: ASX, ETOs, IPOs/floats.
ASX Products: Shares.
Support Options: Live chat, phone, and email.
Margin Trading: Yes.
Bell Direct is an Australian-based trading platform, founded in 2006 by its current CEO, Arnie Selvarajah. The broker is part of the Bell Financial Group that includes companies like Bell Potter Securities and Bell Potter Capital as well. Bell Direct has a license and is regulated by ASIC, which is how the platform built its solid reputation on the market.
For several consecutive years, from 2014 to 2018, Bell Directs was chosen by Investment Trends as the platform with the highest overall client satisfaction. One of the key reasons for this is that they offer trading advice and suggestions to their users by sending six bearish and six bullish trading ideas via email. Bell Directs features reporting tools with an end of the year report that includes an account, transaction, cash, and estimated dividends summary.
Another great feature on the platform is the option for free advanced conditional offers. This means that you can indicate trigger conditions and create pre-determined orders for securities, equities, and warrants that should be executed once the trigger conditions have been met. Bell Directs has also introduced an interactive HTML5 charting technology to not only monitor market prices but manipulate the data as well. You can now draw, annotate, and create your own indicators.
Bell Direct’s standard brokerage fee is $15 for trades up to $10,000, and $25 for trades up to $25,000. The good thing is that there are various discounts such as a lowered $13 fee if you place at least 10 trades per month or just $10 if you make more than 30 trades.
The platform offers three premium services. The first one is a Direct Margin Lending account to diversify your portfolio and increase its size. You can also leverage Bel Direct’s one-second-placement guarantee that places your order instantaneously. The second option is to update your account to a Platinum Live Streaming for $27.50 a month and get live price streaming that updates the prices without you constantly having to refresh the page. For a $79 per month, you can have an Integrated WebIRESS account with live market data and dynamic pricing updates.
Bell Potter, the capital arm of the company, has furnished the platform with state-of-the-art financial research content, trading guides, market news, interviews with expert traders and CEOs, ASX company announcements, demos on their trading tools, and many more. With Bell Directs, you don’t have to worry about missing out on any market trends.
- The best trading platform in terms of client satisfaction.
- One-second-placement guarantees for market and limit orders and free conditional offers.
- The brokerage fees get lower the more you trade.
- Offers trading tips via email.
- Up to date market research from the Bell Potter Securities financial team.
5. Self Wealth – Classic
Standard Brokerage Fee: $9.50.
Available Markets: ASX.
ASX Products: Shares only.
Support Options: Live chat, email, and a postal address.
Margin Trading: No.
Another award winner on the list, Self Wealth is an Australian online trading platform that takes pride in being a true leader in software innovation. It has also been Money Magazine’s choice for the Cheapest Online Broker for 2018, 2019, and 2020!
We said before that CMC Markets has some of the lowest fees, but Self Wealth definitely has the lowest ones in the industry. It charges a flat brokerage fee of only $9.50 for share trading, regardless of the trade size. This is especially lucrative for large-volume investors who are in most cases ripped off on other platforms due to their large trade amount.
Not only that but with Self Wealth you won’t be fooled into paying for hidden commission fees, dormancy or monthly fees. This means you can calculate your trading costs in advance, even without taking a position, preventing any unexpected expenses that can throw your financial situation into a loop.
On Self Wealth you can check things like your daily portfolio performance and estimated daily earnings, top stocks of the day, and the top stocks that are in your portfolio. You can also compare your portfolio’s historical performance to your target portfolio. Their SafetyRating takes into account the diversity of your portfolio and measures it on a scale from 0 to 40. The WealthCheck Score gives your portfolio a health score from F to A+ based on performance, the SafetyRating, and valuation.
If you become a Self Wealth Premium member for $20 per month, you can customize your portfolio using strategies recommended by top investors, plus, observe the performance of other Self Wealth members’ portfolios anonymously. These benchmarking tools allow you to study other investment tactics, compare and contrast them with your own, as well as seek out some profitable trading ideas to tweak and augment yours.
The good thing is that even if you’re unwilling to pay for the Premium membership, once you create a regular account on the platform, you can activate your 90-days free trial and try out the premium features at no cost. Unlike CMC markets, all users get access to live market data without any additional charges.
When opening a Self Wealth share trading account, there’s no minimum account balance nor one that needs to be maintained once you start trading. Moreover, the platform’s fee schedule isn’t based on the number of conducted trades per month. The only thing to be careful about is that ASX trades must be $500 or above to be carried through.
The customers’ funds are kept in Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ bank) accounts, assigned to you when you sign up for a trading account on Self Wealth. This adds a layer of protection in case of any security breaches but it also means you can’t use your own bank account.
Self Wealth focuses on the ASX market which allows you to trade Australian (or ‘ordinary’) shares, Australian Listed Property shares, Investment Company shares, and Debt Securities, and ETFs. The major drawback of the platform is that it doesn’t support international trading for now.
- The cheapest online broker: With a fixed $9.50 brokerage fee, Self Wealth is the cheapest trading platform in Australia.
- Great transparency and no hidden account fees.
- Free live market data.
- No minimum account balance.
- A variety of trading tools.
6. CommSec Share Trading Account
Standard Brokerage Fee: From $10.
Available Markets: ASX, AMEX, NASDAQ, NYSE
ASX Products: Company issued options, IPOs/floats, Shares, Endowment warrants, Instalment warrants.
Support Options: Phone and email.
Margin Trading: Yes.
Commonwealth Securities, or CommSec for short, is owned by the Commonwealth Bank that launched it as its online trading arm in 1995. The 25 years of experience in the business make CommSec one of the largest and widely used trading platforms in Australia.
Although you don’t need to have an account with the Commonwealth Bank to open a CommSec Share Trading Account, it does make things a lot easier and saves you some time. Current Commonwealth Bank clients can use the same login for their trading account, and switch back and forth between their CommSec and NetBank account with ease.
In this case, it might be a good idea to create a Commonwealth Direct Investment Account (CDIA) as a transaction account that will be visible next to your bank balance on NetBank. A further advantage is that you can link the account to a debit Mastercard.
CommSec doesn’t impose a minimum trade requirement nor does it charge inactivity fees per month. Margin loan or CDIA accounts pay a $10 brokerage fee for Australian shares up to $1,000. However, trades from $1,000 to $10,000 are charged $19.95 per trade, while trades between $10,000 and $25,000 incur a $29.95 fee. These fees are quite high compared to the rest of the industry.
CommSec supports margin lending to boost your potential capital growth and diversify your portfolio. You can use your existing shares, managed funds, or cash as collateral. Based on that, CommSec calculates your lending value and determines the amount you’re allowed to borrow to buy shares.
CommSec offers an impressive choice of tools to organize and edit your portfolio. You can observe the market with their charting tools, make conditional orders, and even create your own watchlist to keep track of price changes that are of interest to you.
The newest innovation brought by the company is their CommSec Pocket, a mobile up that makes trading shares even easier. What’s revolutionary about it is that it promotes micro-investing by allowing you to start with an incredibly low minimum first investment of $50 and fees that begin from $2! CommSec Pocket focuses on novices so the interface is neatly organized and user-friendly.
As a leading trading platform, CommSec connects you to 25 global markets from around the world, including the New York and the London Stock Exchange. You just need to set up an International Securities Trading Account and convert your funds into the target market currency to gain access to the wide investment potential available worldwide.
The reputation of CommSec also stems from its unparalleled customer support. Users can contact the platform directly by sending a support ticket and waiting for an email response or using their phone line for more pressing problems. There’s also the extensive FAQ section on their website and the recently added Twitter support as a substitute for the missing live chat.
- No inactivity fee.
- A single Commonwealth Bank Login: Become a Commonwealth client and use a single login to shift between your CommSec and NetBank account.
- Great data and monitoring tools.
- CommSec Pocket mobile app for ETFs.
- No minimum trading requirement.
How to Find the Best Trading Platforms That Suit Your Needs
The key to choosing the right share trading platform is to ask yourself whether you’re an active and experienced trader or more of a casual one. This will immediately narrow your choice down to brokers that offer platforms adapted to your level of expertise.
To determine your level, consider the amount of time you plan to spend on trading. A casual stock trader is one who usually buys or sells shares one to two times per month. Anything above that can qualify you for an active trader who’s in need of a platform with a variety of trading tools, market analysis, and performance trackers. Some platforms have inactivity fees based on your trading activity, so casual traders should try to avoid those.
What about trading on the go? Is that important for you? If the answer is yes, find platforms or online brokers that have their own mobile apps. A word of advice though, don’t forget to check whether they include an extra fee for purchases made via mobile phone.
Think about what you want to trade, too. Is it only shares or are you interested in other securities, forex, stocks, and CFDs? Do you want to stick to the Australian market or plan on trading internationally? Moreover, fees are an important criterium when choosing a trading platform or online broker. Many platforms have hidden commission fees, monthly charges, or inactivity fees. We talk about these in our reviews as well.
Benefits and Risks of Trading Shares
Trading shares on online platforms comes with lots of benefits but we can’t neglect the existent risks too.
- It’s convenient.
Online trading practically requires zero legwork as you don’t have to leave your home or favorite cafe to trade shares.
- It gives you control over your investments.
Trading platforms remind you that you’re in charge of your finances, and they encourage you to trade wisely both locally and internationally.
- It’s affordable.
These trading platforms are known for their low brokerage fees due to the competitive nature of the industry.
- Beginners should be extra careful.
The fact that you have total power over your finances can be a mixed blessing. If you’re new to share trading, or stock trading, you might make some beginner mistakes and lose a great deal of money.
- It’s almost too easy.
It only takes a couple of clicks to buy or sell something, which can make people forget they’re dealing with real money.
- It’s only human to make mistakes.
Always closely inspect your orders and double-check everything before you hit that send button.
Features to Review
Ease of Use
To minimize the risks we mentioned, it’s really important to opt for a user-friendly platform whose interface is deftly organized to make share trading as plain sailing as possible. It should offer the basic trading tools to track and respond to market changes, without overwhelming the user.
Online trading platforms and online brokers charge you an additional brokerage fee for their services. Usually, this fee is added when you buy or sell shares, and it ranges from $8 to $30 per trade. For larger trades, the fee can be calculated as a percentage of the whole trade amount. Some platforms lower their fees the more active you are. Others include subscription or inactivity fees if you haven’t placed an order for more than a year or didn’t reach their monthly trade limit.
Margin loans, i.e. buying on margin is the act of borrowing money from the online broker or trading platform to purchase shares. The trader only pays a percentage of the shares’ value and borrows the rest. Those interested should check whether the platform they’re interested in offers margin loans or not.
Review the supported trading options for buying and selling shares such as the option to place stop/loss orders, market and limit orders, or making customizable orders as well.
Look for platforms that come with a suite of tools for post-trade analysis and regulatory reporting for when you need to report to the ATO at tax time. This will also help you monitor your trading performance over time.
The reliability of a platform is also seen through the responsiveness of its support team. Check how satisfactory they are by reading online customer reviews. The best platforms are those who not only respond via email to support tickets but also have a 24/7 live online chat or active phone line for urgent queries.
Knowledge-Base to Help You Get Started
Some platforms include extensive educational resources such as trading guides, ebooks, video material, weekly webinars, or even occasional live sessions to help you take your trading to new heights.
The security methods employed by the platform speak volumes on how important the safety of their customers’ funds is to them.
Frequently Asked Questions
The biggest challenge is to find the perfect online share trading platform, the rest of it is pretty simple. If the platform happens to be run by your bank, half of the work is already done as you can use the same internet banking account to deposit funds into your share trading account. However, this is rarely the case.
If you have to sign up and create a new trading account, on most platforms you will be asked to provide your name, place of residence, and other and contact details such as a phone or an email address. You’ll need your tax file number, and possibly your driver’s license number and details of the bank account for bank transfers or credit/debit card payments. Most of the time you’ll be asked to show a government-issued ID or a scanned copy of your passport. Before you start trading shares, you’ll just need to fund your account and wait for the deposit to be accepted (there might be a first-time limit on some platforms).
Some platforms have this tendency, but not all of them. There are those like Bell Directs, for example, who send email suggestions and tips.
Before placing your order, you will be asked to select whether you will place it ‘at market’ or ‘at limit’. The difference between them is that market orders will be placed at the moment when the order is proposed. The final market price is the one that’s best at that moment. On the other hand, if you choose to make a limit order, you can set a maximum buying price limit or a minimum selling price limit for your trade. In cases when the limit price hasn’t been reached on the market, the platform cancels your order.
Dividends are payments made by the company to its shareholders. When a company earns a profit or surplus, it pays a portion of these profits as a dividend to its shareholders. This is usually done twice a year. A number of companies on the ASX have turned this into their practice, although some of them decide to reinvest the earnings in the business instead.
Yes, some online share trading platforms come with the option of trading shares internationally.
You can make profits by trading shares in a number of ways. One way is to sell your own shares when there’s a high increase in their market price. Another option is to build up profit from the dividends you’ll earn from a company’s shares as a shareholder.
On the website of every trading platform, there must be some indication of its brokerage and other fees. Different platforms apply different fees, but on average, the standard brokerage fee is usually $9. Be extra mindful about hidden fees such as monthly subscription, inactivity fees if you’re not an active trader or additional fees for large trade sums.
Yes, you can definitely borrow money to purchase shares using one of the following options:
- Margin lending. Look for platforms that support margin trading and give you the option to use your existing shares or stored funds on your account as securities, while you only pay a percentage of the whole sum on your next purchase.
- You can take out a loan for investment purposes by using the equity in your home.
- Getting an unsecured loan in which case you should be aware of the high-interest charges.
Our advice is to think carefully before borrowing money, especially if you’re not sure that the investment will bring you profit in the long run.
Yes, there are those trading platforms that allow you to create a demo account and trade so-called “dummy” shares to get familiar with the platform and trading shares in general. For example, if you open a demo account on eToro, you supposedly have $100,000 in your balance to place fake orders. This is very convenient, as you can see whether you like the platform and the tools it offers without having to register at all.
Yes, only if it says that the order hasn’t been placed on the market and still remains open. However, this only applies to limit orders, as market orders are executed immediately.