June 8

Best share trading platform for Australia in 2021

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We look at the trading features, tools, and fee structures to confirm the best 10 online share trading brokers in Australia. 

Sensible reading: Trying to Find the Best Share Trading Platform?

Bear in mind that there isn’t a single winner here. With stock trading, preferences, must-have features, and “would be nice to have” ones vary between investors. Also, what can be transacted on a share trading platform varies making some platforms more or less attractive to certain types of investors too. This is why it’s so useful to compare and contrast between trading platforms. 

Looking for the top online share trading platform in Australia? Well, you’re not alone. It’s been a busy market with plenty of volatility along the way, so there’s been a surge in available share trading apps for the Australian market this year. Many provide discounted trades to encourage new customers to sign up too.

Choosing the right share trading platform is no small matter. Because once you’re with them, it’s an administrative hassle to transfer to another share trading platform later. So, we carefully consider features, ease of use, fee structures, and more to see which offer more. 

Best share trading platforms in Australia

These are the 10 best trading platforms of 2021 according to the latest information (last updated March 2021).

IG Share Trading – Best for inexpensive fees

Top features:

  • Zero broker fees on global shares trading.
  • Active trades receive low ASX fees.
  • Broad market access for Australian and global stock trading.

IG came out with zero commission trades globally in 2020 combined with $5 brokerage fees for Australian share trades. Presently, they’re the cheapest in combination when wishing to trade easily around the world. This is doubly so with frequent traders. These types of traders can make 30 transactions on the ASX and only receive $150 in transaction fees. Other brokers are considerably costlier than this for frequent traders. 

CMC Markets Stockbroking – Best overall broker

Top features:

  • Free brokerage fees on global share transactions.
  • Trade ETFs and shares too.
  • Access stock markets across 15 major markets around the world.
  • Invest in a Managed Fund.

CMC Markets offers experienced traders a wealth of features to choose between. Australian shares have CHESS sponsorship, plus there is access to global markets and the ability to trade currencies too. Advanced charting, placing conditional active orders, and using a watchlist to catch the best pricing is all part of their attractive offering. 

eToro Share Trading – Top for US stocks

Top features:

  • No brokerage fee for trading US stocks.
  • Deal in fractional shares to reduce minimum transaction size.
  • Mimic other eToro share traders using their copy trading option.
  • Designed with beginners in mind.

eToro stands tall for its social crowd-sharing feature that lets users see what other traders are buying and selling and mimic their transactions if they wish to. Imitating successful traders may seem random, but if they have a consistent track record then it certainly may show promise. June 2020 saw the launch of eToro for Australians, but it’s only for US stock trading right now. Also, the low conversion rate for foreign currency trades to get Aussie dollars into US currency is good to see. 

Note: eToro also provides access to CFD trading. These are risky instruments that put all the capital at risk, so should be considered with extreme caution. 

SelfWealth (Basic account) – Strong for long-term investors

Top features:

  • Flat brokerage per transaction cost $9.50. 
  • Zero inactivity fees were applied.
  • Designed with beginners in mind.
  • CHESS sponsored ASX market access and US shares too.

The Basic account from SelfWealth offers no regular subscription charge or inactivity fees, so you’re free to take your positions and sit on them without incurring extra costs. CHESS-sponsored Aussie shares can be bought and sold easily. US shares may also be transacted for a $9.50 flat fee too. Also, tracking tools for the portfolio, company information, and recommendations for stocks are provided too. 

Superhero share trading – Ideal for ETFs

Top features:

  • Zero brokerage fees to purchase ASX ETFs.
  • Zero inactivity or monthly fees for the account.
  • Simple platform to learn to use.
  • Low $5 brokerage fees to trade Australian shares.

Superhero garnered considerable attention in 2020 when it launched its service offering low-cost Aussie stock trades and zero-cost ETF trading for Australian listings too. This allows investors to build up a selection of Australian-sourced ETFs at no trading cost, and cherry-pick individual stocks from the ASX to take a position in. Also, the lack of ongoing account fees or inactivity fees explains some of Superhero’s popularity. 

ThinkMarkets Share Trading – Top Pick for beginners (Australian shares)

Top features:

  • Low brokerage costs.
  • Zero ongoing or inactivity fees to manage on the Basic account
  • Mobile access.
  • Not an overly complex platform to learn.

ThinkMarkets has a mobile trading app that’s focused on the resource-heavy Australian market. The app itself is easier for beginners to get to grips with, yet it’s still packed with attractive features. These include price alerts, stock watchlists, company news, limit orders, and the ability to track your portfolio. There are also useful classes online and guides on stocks, commodities, and currencies that are ideal for beginners. 

Stake – Top for beginners (US stocks)

Top features:

  • No brokerage fee on US stocks
  • Zero inactivity or ongoing fees for a Basic account
  • Simple platform to use.
  • Fractional share investing available for smaller transaction volumes.

Stake is built for beginners who are interested in trading in US stocks only. It features low brokerage fees, with no ongoing or inactivity fees to add to expenses. Fractional investing brings individual transactions down to the $10 level, so beginners won’t feel like they don’t have enough to get started either. The pared-down design aesthetic also avoids feeling overwhelmed when beginning. 

Interactive Brokers Australia – Top for highly active traders

Top features:

  • Well-known Expat and a global broker.
  • Low-cost brokerage fees.
  • Access to global markets is a strong point here.
  • Sophisticated trading for frequent traders.
  • OTC stock trades are possible too.

The trading features and tools available are perfect for active traders. Interactive Brokers has major charting abilities, conditional order placement, and fractional shares too. Fees for buying and selling in Australia and elsewhere are low, particularly for over-the-counter stock and frequent traders too.

CMC Markets Stockbroking – Top for international shares

Top features:

  • No brokerage fee for global stock transactions.
  • Platform with a wealth of features.
  • Trade in ASX shares. 
  • Low-spread currency conversion fee

For international share trading, the zero-cost brokerage for global stocks makes this a go-to platform to build a worldwide portfolio. Along with advanced features, they permit transactions across 15 global exchanges (including UK, US, Japan, and Canada). Also, the Chi-X, and the ASX in Australia too. 

Interactive Brokers Australia – Ideal for penny stocks

Top features:

  • Purchase stocks in 33 countries around the world.
  • Over-the-counter stock trading access.
  • Setup conditional orders to catch the best opportunities.
  • Offers fractional investing to investment minimally and still gets stock exposure. 

As one of the few online brokerages to provide OTC stock access, Interactive Brokers stands apart from the competition. Superior tools, charting, trading with a global footprint, and extreme flexibility with trading types and flexible order placement provide many opportunities to profit. 

Bewildering list of share trading platforms within Australia

It’s best to choose your trading platform based either on its ease of use for beginners or if you’re more advanced, then what access it gives to you that other platforms do not. 

The fees may be for transactions, but also ongoing or inactivity fees too. So, it pays to consider all the ways that a brokerage account can cost you money to determine which offer the most value for your style of trading. 

It may be worthwhile using one platform to purely trade US stocks and another one dedicated to the Aussie market. 

Do you have a trading style?

Some people have a defined trading style whereas others are all over the map.

Infrequent vs Frequent Trading

Infrequent traders may set up several stock positions or purchase a handful of ETFs and then sit on them for years. 

Frequent traders may move in and out of positions in a matter of a few months or even hours. 

The difference may determine what brokerage account is right for you.

Do you like trading on a mobile, desktop, or Phone?

Some traders prefer to use a mobile device for all trades. Others feel more comfortable using a big screen or a multi-screen set up to plan and execute complex trades. A few more may like to speak to a broker and shy away from technology as a rule.

Partly base your decision on what platform options you prefer to have.

Australian and International Shares?

Some brokerages only offer Australian share transactions. Others only provide access to US stocks. 

Then there are ones that offer access to scores of different countries and their stock markets.

What you wish to trade will influence the brokerage account(s) that you’ll need to open to do so.

Fractional Trading Required?

Fractional trading allows investors to purchase a small slice of a share, rather than a full share. It can sometimes require the upfront cost to place a buy order for as little as $10, plus any transactional costs added on. 

Comparing Online Brokers

There are different ways to compare online brokers. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve and where your highest priorities lie as to what emphasis you place on each.

Broker Fees

A brokerage fee is standard for many trading platforms. It can be as much as $10 to $30 per trade. They can be affected by trading frequency too.

Ongoing Fees

Sometimes, an ongoing subscription fee is charged to keep the account open. This will increase the total cost to own the stocks or ETFs over time. There’s also a possibility of an inactivity fee too.

What’s Available?

Trading platforms vary, so you might access Australian stocks only, US stocks only, or an international mix of different countries’ stock exchanges. Also, other exotics like cryptocurrencies, currencies, ETFs, and more might be available too. 

How Easy Is It to Use?

Mobile apps or desktop access needs to be easy to use. Well-designed interfaces beat a confusing mess even if it’s cheaper to execute transactions.

Real-Time Data

Can you get access to real-time stock pricing before placing a buy or sell order? What about accurate stock charts?

Order Flexibility

Placing an order doesn’t have to execute right away. Limits can be placed on some orders based on specific criteria. Not all brokerages support all order types.

Custom Reports

 What reporting is available to traders? Are they customizable or fixed in how they offer information?

Security

The security measures in place should be designed to keep hackers out, and unwanted eyes off your portfolio. What measures do they have?

Education for Investors

Are there any training courses or other information provided to help new traders or investors learn the ropes?

Customer Services

What help is available if you run into trouble and how is it provided? Live chat, email ticket support, or by phone? Does it match your preferences?

What Fees are Charged to Trade Shares or Keep an Account Open?

Each brokerage charges different fees. These can vary in different ways. Here’s the rundown:

Australia Share Trading

Brokerages that allow Australian share trading will apply certain charges for doing so. Some are higher than others. .

US Share Trading

Not all brokerages offer US share trading. Some will offer worldwide trading and others only US trades and nothing else. There are even some trading accounts that don’t charge for some US trades in small volumes or infrequently. 

International Trades

International trades are either not offered, limited to a handful of countries, or access is provided to many countries. Most brokerages charge more for international transactions, but sometimes it works the other way around and Australian trades cost more. 

ETF Trading

ETF trades are provided separately. Sometimes, they’re either free or inexpensive in different markets depending on the brokerage. 

Other Exotics

Other exotics like ETCs, commodities, CFDs, and more can be traded too. Often, these cost more to trade and might be highly volatile.

Monthly Fees and Inactivity Fees

Beware of monthly fees and inactivity fees for slow trading accounts. These can add up fast, especially if you have a low-value portfolio where the extra fees can sap your profits away.

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