International share trading: nabtrade vs CommSec
Is CommSec or nabtrade the better choice for global share trading?
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When it comes to Australian online share trading, both nabtrade and CommSec are market leading brokers. We know how difficult it can be to find Australian brokers who offer affordable and convenient ways to trade international shares, so we've published this guide to help you find the account that works best for you.
Keep reading and you'll discover that we've compared the account features of both nabtrade and CommSec. If you want more specific details on either account, you can always click through to the our individual broker review pages.
Standard brokerage - US shares
Share Trading Account Offer
Get $0 brokerage on US stocks with trades as little as $50 when you join the world's biggest social trading network.
- $0 brokerage for US stocks
- Trades starting from $50
- Fractional shares
- Copy top traders
Important: Share trading carries risk of capital loss.
Buying Apple shares
Say you want to buy Apple Inc shares with either nabtrade or CommSec to the value of $1,100, the fees for the trade would be as shown in the table below:
|Apple share price||USD$220||USD$220|
|Total cost of share parcel (5 shares)||USD$1,100||USD$1,100|
|Foreign currency conversion fee||AUD$7.15 (0.65% of trade value*)||USD$6.60 (0.6% of trade value)|
|Total fees||AUD$22.10 (approx US$14.90)||USD$26.55|
*Nabtrade expresses its foreign currency conversion fee as a spread ranging from 0.50% to 0.80% of trade value.
In dollar terms, this ranges from AUD$4.97 to AUD$7.94 in the above case study. The actual amount charged to your nabtrade account depends on the time of the transaction.
Rates accurate at 8 October 2019.
As you can see, the comparison is far from straightforward due to a couple of key factors. The first cost that needs to be considered is the brokerage fee - CommSec’s fee is the higher of the two and is also charged in US Dollars instead of Australian Dollars.
However, nabtrade also charges a foreign exchange conversion fee of between 0.50% and 0.80% of the transaction value. So not only will the cost of your transaction vary depending on the percentage amount of the fee, but it will also depend on the value of your transaction and the exchange rate market at the time.
Taking current exchange rates into account at the time of writing, in the above example nabtrade offers the most cost-effective solution. However, as you will see in the case study below, that may not always be the case with larger transactions.
Case Study 2: Buying Pfizer shares
Say you want to buy $5,000 worth of Pfizer shares on the NYSE, the brokerage fees for CommSec and nabtrade are shown in the table below:
|Pfizer share price||USD$36.78||USD$36.78|
|Total cost of share parcel (136 shares)||USD$5002.08||USD$5002.08|
|Foreign currency conversion fee||AUD$32.50 (0.65% of trade value*)||$USD30.01 (0.6% of trade value)|
|Total fees||AUD$39 (USD$29.38)||USD$29.95|
In this example, CommSec brokerage fee is now just above nabtrades. This is what has impacted the broker fees:
- nabtrade’s brokerage fee for trades over AUD$5,000 (and below $20,000) rises to AUD $19.95
- CommSec’s fee for trades over USD$5,000 (and below $10,000) rises to USD$29.95.
- As this is a much larger transaction than the first case study, the foreign currency conversion fee charged by nabtrade rises substantially.
So if you're wondering whether nabtrade or CommSec is the more affordable option when you need to trade shares on a US stock exchange, the answer is that it depends on the size of your transaction. For smaller trades, nabtrade will usually be the more cost-effective option, but if you need to place a large trade then CommSec will probably come out on top, although this also depends on which global exchange the stocks are listed.
Foreign exchange conversion fees
Both nabtrade and CommSec charge a foreign exchange conversion fee. This is sometimes called the FX fee, conversion rate, foreign exchange rate or FX spread. Regardless, it's the fee you're charged to convert Australian dollars into foreign currency.
Whenever you execute an international share trade with nabtrade, a foreign exchange transaction occurs - i.e, you need to convert the Australian Dollars in your trading account into US Dollars in order to buy shares on a US stock exchange. nabtrade charges an FX spread of between 0.50% to 0.80% of the value of your trade depending on the time of trade.
Meanwhile, CommSec charges a flat FX fee of 0.6% per trade, regardless of currency exchange required or time of trade.
International brokerage fees
It's worth pointing out that the brokerage fees charged by nabtrade and CommSec vary depending on the size of your international trade. This can obviously have a huge bearing on the total cost of your transaction, so it's worth examining the tiered fee structure of each provider when comparing nabtrade vs CommSec.
Nabtrade brokerage fees for international shares
All figures in AUD
|Trade type||Transaction size||Brokerage|
|Online trading (all global markets)||Up to and including $5,000||$14.95|
|$5,000.01 - $20,000||$19.95|
|Over $20,000||0.11% of trade value|
|Over the phone||All||$59.95 or 0.55% of trade value (whichever is greater)|
CommSec brokerage fees for international shares
All figures in USD
|USA||$19.95 for trades up to $5,000$29.95 for trades up to $10,0000.31% of transaction value for trades above $10,000|
|Canada||$65 or 0.75% of transaction value (whichever is greater) + 0.15% execution fee|
|Asia Pacific||$39.95 or 0.40% of transaction value (whichever is greater)|
|Europe and Middle East||$39.95 or 0.40% of transaction value (whichever is greater)|
Other factors to consider when comparing online share trading platforms
Although the fees that apply to international share trading are undoubtedly an important factor when comparing share trading platforms, there are several other features to consider before you choose a platform. These include:
- Inactivity fees. Both CommSec and nabtrade charge inactivity fees on international trading accounts. CommSec's inactivity fee is $25 annually, nabtrade's inactivity fee is 0.50% of the average daily international holding balance monthly.
- Market data. How can you access market data through each platform? Are prices delayed or can you access live or dynamic data? Are there any additional costs attached?
- Research and analysis. Compare the analysis and insights you can access through the platform to help you make better trading decisions. This could include market news, in-depth analysis of individual stocks and buy and sell recommendations.
- Ongoing fees. Some share trading platforms trade an ongoing monthly or annual membership free, others are offered free of charge and fees only apply when you place a trade.
- Accessible markets. Compare the international stock exchanges and shares you can access through each trading platform. Can you also access other international investments, for example exchange traded funds (ETFs) or exchange traded options (ETOs)?
- Trading options. Check to see what sort of flexible trading options are available to help you take advantage of changing market conditions, for example stop loss orders and limit orders.
- Customer support. If you ever have a question about a trade or need assistance, how will you be able to access customer support? Does the provider have a good reputation for responding to enquiries quickly and helpfully?
Compare International share trading accounts
If neither CommSec or nabtrade look right for you, why not compare some of the other brokers in the table below or head to our international share trading page to find out more.
Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. “Standard brokerage” fee is the cost to trade $1,000 or less of ASX-listed shares and ETFs without any qualifications or special eligibility. If ASX shares aren’t available, the fee shown is for US shares. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.
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