eToro launches zero brokerage share trading in Australia
Australian users of the popular trading platform will be able to buy shares directly from this week for free (almost).
Update - June 1, 2020: This article initially said that Stake's FX fee was 0.7%, however this is incorrect. Stake's correct FX fee is US 70 cents per $AU100 transferred.
It's the news many trading enthusiasts have been waiting for – eToro is finally launching zero commission share trading in Australia starting from this week.
The finer details
Although the promise of any zero brokerage deal is big news in Australia, eToro's new share trading option has some limitations.
At this stage, eToro is only offering US stocks listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ, and there's no news yet about when (or if ) the ASX and other non-US stocks will be available on the platform.
Although common in the US, zero commission brokers are still rare in Australia and none yet offer the deal for ASX-listed stocks. eToro joins Stake, which first unleashed zero broker fees to Australia in 2017 with its US-only stock platform.
It's also important to note zero commissions only apply to direct share trading – CFD and forex traders will continue to be charged the usual spread/commission.
Yep, it's got fractional investing
Like the US version of the platform, Australian users will have the option of trading fractional shares.
Fractional investing means that you can buy part of a stock instead of a whole portion. For example, instead of buying one Google stock for $1,300, you could buy 10% of a stock at $130.
It's an attractive option for new traders, because you can skip the usual $500 minimum rule for ASX-listed stocks and invest as a little as a few dollars at a time.
Platforms with fractional investing in Australia
|Platform||Minimum investment||Broker fee for US stocks||FX fee|
|Interactive Brokers||None||$0.0035 per share||0.20%|
|Stake||$10||$0||US 70 cents per AU$100|
Similar to eToro, these platforms only offer zero or low brokerage fees on US stocks with various other fees instead.
What are the fees?
As always, nothing in investing is ever really free.
You don't need to worry about the commission fee with eToro, but there's still a currency conversion fee (FX fee), withdraw fee and an inactivity fee to think about.
The FX fee is the amount charged by the broker every time money is converted from AUD to another currency, in this case USD for US stocks.
According to eToro's global website, the FX fee is 0.5%, which is pretty middle of the barrel compared to other online brokers.
A monthly $10 inactivity fee is charged if you don't log in for 12 months and you'll need to pay $5 to withdraw any funds from your account.
Sorry, what's the deal with eToro?
There are plenty of online brokers available in Australia but eToro has made a name for itself thanks to its social trading feature that allows users to copy the actions of leading traders on the platform.
It's also a pretty big player globally, with around 13 million users and the largest social trading network in the world, meaning it's also one of the world's most popular trading platforms.
While it's not the first broker to launch commission-free trading with fractional stocks in Australia, it's still rare enough to be of notice.
Alongside stocks, users can trade stock market indices (e.g. the NASDAQ), cryptocurrencies, forex and commodities like gold or oil.
More details to come.