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CommSec may be Australia's biggest online broker, but that doesn't mean it's the right pick for you. As of 2021, there are more than two dozen share trading platforms in Australia to choose from.
Each broker has its pros and cons when it comes to available markets, trading tools and costs. So it's a good idea to compare your options before deciding on the trading platform that meets all your investment requirements and offers the best value for money.
Below we've listed some online trading platforms for you to consider, based on what you'd like to trade, how much you're investing and how often you'd like to trade per month. Although brokerage fees are a big consideration, you'll find that there are other factors you should take into account.
If low brokerage is the most important factor in deciding on an alternative to CommSec, then IG may be for you. Along with low fees, it also offers a reliable online mobile share trading platform with a wide range of markets to choose from.
CMC Markets services ANZ Bank's share investment platform and offers the cheapest brokerage fee among the Big Four banks at $9.90 (depending on membership level). The platform offers membership options to suit beginner and advanced traders, providing access to local and international stocks, CFDs, forex, commodities and managed funds.
SelfWealth has one of the lowest brokerage fees on the market but it stands out from the rest because it boasts a flat fee of AUD 9.5 per trade. It means that whether you're a big or small trader, you'll never be charged any broker commissions on top.
Saxo Capital Markets offers easy access to more than 19,000+ global stocks on 40+ of the world's major stock exchanges, such as the ASX, NYSE, Shanghai Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange. With investment opportunities the world over, you have the opportunity to achieve a truly diversified portfolio.
Bell Direct offers a one-second placement guarantee, promising to place eligible market-to-limit orders onto the ASX in under a second or you pay no brokerage fee for the trade. This allows you to jump on trading opportunities quickly and at the price you want.
nabtrade customers can take advantage of dynamic market data, advanced charting and investment insights to help them make informed trading decisions. Other features include an integrated cash account and the ability to trade Australian and international shares.
The Westpac Online Investing platform is designed to simplify the trading process for casual investors. It offers access to Australian and international shares, managed funds, commodities, options and more.
As you can see from the profiles above, brokerage fees range from as little as $6.99 to around $20 per trade, but there are almost always caveats. As a comparison, CommSec's brokerage fees start at $10 per Internet trade, but that's only on trades of up to $1,000. Here's a rundown of what CommSec charges for Australian shares (as of June 2019):
You'll find most trading platforms have some kind of tiered system, usually based on the amount you're trading and how often. For example, using CMC Markets' classic account, you'll be charged $$11 or 0.1% (whichever is higher), though this fee falls to $9.90 or 0.08% for the 11th to 30th trade and $9.90 or 0.075% on the 31st+ trade.
Brokerage and commission fees aside, you should also consider whether the platform charges an inactivity fee. Although IG charges just $$8 per trade, its inactivity fee of $50 per quarter won't suit everyone. Similarly, CMC Markets will charge a monthly fee of $15 if no trades have been conducted.
CommSec has relatively high brokerage fees for international stocks and ETFs compared to others. Here's a basic breakdown of CommSec's fees:
Aside from CommSec, eToro, Westpac, IG, nabtrade, Saxo Capital Markets and CMC Markets all offer global share trading options. Among these, IG, CMC Markets and eToro feature $0 brokerage for global stocks.
IG offers similar brokerage fees at $US US$0 for US stocks, £10 or 0.1% for UK and €10 or 0.1% for Germany. Other platforms, SelfWealth and Bell Direct do not offer access to global shares.
Like CommSec, all of the trading platforms listed on this page can offer secure and reliable trading solutions. Some people prefer the peace of mind of dealing with an institution they know and trust. The financial services royal commission not withstanding, a trading platform provided by one of the Big Four banks makes for a convincing argument. However, IG Markets, SelfWealth and Saxo Capital Markets are also well-established and regulated names in the Australian share trading industry.
Each trading platform has a raft of security measures in place to ensure the safety of your funds and your security details. For example, IG Markets and Saxo Capital Markets both keep all client funds fully segregated with top-tier Australian banks as required by the Australian regulator. Westpac Online Investing also offers 128-bit encryption when trading.
When it comes to making your final share trading account decision make sure you know what's most important to you. Do you most value low brokerage costs, a wide range of international share markets or in-depth broker market analysis?
It's also essential you go through all of the fine print located in the broker's financial services guide (FSG). Note any asterisks that might lead to some type of fee that might affect your trading size or style.
If you still have questions about share trading, use our main guide to compare online share trading accounts in further detail.
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