Online share trading platforms

With online share trading, you can trade around the world. Here's how you can do it without paying a fortune in fees.

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Online share trading platforms make it cheaper and easier to buy and sell shares from Australia and overseas. You can use our stock broker comparison table below to compare fees and features and find the best deal for you.

Name Product Standard brokerage fee Inactivity fee Markets International
eToro (global stocks)
US$0
US$10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Yes
Zero brokerage share trading on US, Hong Kong and European stocks with trades as low as $50.
Note: This broker offers CFDs which are volatile investment products and most clients lose money trading CFDs with this provider.
Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
IG Share Trading
$8
$50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
ASX shares, Global shares
Yes
$0 brokerage for US and global shares plus get an active trader discount of $5 commission on Australian shares.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
ThinkMarkets Share Trading
$8
No
ASX shares
No
$8 flat fee brokerage for CHESS Sponsored ASX stocks (HIN ownership), plus free live stock price data on an easy to use mobile app.
Superhero share trading
$5
No
ASX shares, US shares, ETFs
Yes
Earn up to 15,000 Qantas frequent flyer points when you transfer an exisiting balance or trade. Offer valid for all new and existing Superhero members until 28 February.
Pay zero brokerage on US stocks and all ETFs and just $5 (flat fee) to trade Australian shares from your mobile or desktop.
GO Markets Share Trading
$7.70
No
ASX shares, Forex, CFDs, ETFs
No
Pay zero brokerage on your first 20 trades and $7.70 after that on over 2,500 ASX listed shares from either your desktop or mobile.
Opentrader Share Trading
$5
No
ASX shares, Options trading, ETFs, Warrants
No
Gain access to chess sponsored shares for as little as $5 per trade.
Get free live data, advanced charting and even gain experience before trading through fantasy portfolios when you sign up with OpenTrader.
Saxo Capital Markets (Classic account)
$5
No
ASX shares, Global shares, ETFs
Yes
Access 19,000+ stocks on 40+ exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global share trading, no inactivity fees, low currency conversion fee and optimised for mobile.
HSBC Online Share Trading
$19.95
No
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs, Bonds
No
Limited-time offer: Join HSBC’s online trading account before 28 February 2022 and HSBC will reimburse you up to $100 on your first 5 trades. Also traders who transfer $50k+ will get a $200 bonus(T&Cs apply).
Make trades online with brokerage fees starting from just $19.95 with an HSBC Online Share Trading account. Plus gain access to complimentary expert research, trading ideas and tools.
SelfWealth (Basic account)
$9.5
No
ASX shares, US shares
Yes
Trade ASX and US shares for a flat fee of $9.50, regardless of the trade size.
New customers receive free access to Community Insights with SelfWealth Premium for the first 90 days. Follow other investors and benchmark your portfolio performance.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. Standard brokerage is the cost to purchase $1,000 or less of equities without any qualifications or special eligibility. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

Through online share trading platforms, it's now possible to trade in Australia and abroad easier and cheaper than ever before.

This guide will teach you how online brokers work, how you can make money from stocks, what kinds of fees you'll pay and what all the terminology means.

Looking for a specific type of investment? You can find more information on term deposits, managed funds, super and forex on our Investments homepage.

How does online share trading work?

In the pre-Internet era, the only way to buy or sell shares was by hiring a full-service stockbroker, which could be expensive and time-consuming.

However, times have changed and now investors can buy and sell shares themselves predominantly through online trading platforms.

Using an online platform is far cheaper than using full-service brokers.

When you buy shares online, you'll pay a brokerage fee for each transaction, which typically ranges from $3 to $30 for ASX trades depending on the platform used as opposed to $50 to $150 for full-service brokers.

The standard ASX trading hours are 10am to 4pm AEST Monday to Friday, while other global exchanges keep similar hours.

What other types of investments are out there?

Along with online share trading, you can trade index funds, such as exchange traded funds (which track the performance of a range of stocks), and other products.

Keep in mind there's a minimum first order of $500 when buying shares in a company on the ASX.

However, some trading apps get around this by offering fractional investing while others choose to impose a higher minimum limit.

To buy shares online, simply open an account with an online share trading platform such as those listed in the table above.

For a more detailed guide on the process of buying shares, take a look at our 6-step guide to buying shares online.

What features should I look for in an online broker?

Much like your individual investment goals, the broker that is right for you will depend on the features you value the most.

When choosing an online share trading platform, consider the following:

  • Look out for broker fees. This is the fee that is charged every time you buy and sell shares. Brokers charge different fees depending on the product you're trading (for example, global shares, local shares and options), how often you trade in a month and the size of the trade.
  • Don't forget about monthly fees. Some brokers charge ongoing subscription fees or additional inactivity fees if you don't make any trades within a certain period of time. This may or may not suit you depending on your trading requirements.
  • Does your provider have advice and research options? Online brokers sometimes offer market news and updates as well as other research tools that will let you investigate the trading history of individual stocks.
  • Does it integrate with bank accounts? Some services let you transfer money easily from your trading account to a transaction or savings account. Others offer linked debit cards to use with your accounts.
  • Can you buy Australian shares? Some online brokers only offer US shares. If Australian shares are important to you, check whether the broker offers access to the Australian Securities Exchange.
  • Does it have access to global markets? Not all brokers offer global shares. If you want to invest in offshore exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), check what options are available with each service.
  • Does it charge foreign exchange fees? If you're interested in trading global stocks, you'll want to check what the foreign exchange (FX) fee is for converting your Australian dollars to the foreign currency of choice.
  • What other trading options are out there? Other products offered by some online brokers include forex, CFDs, managed funds and options trading.
  • Keep an eye out for strong customer support. Check what level of customer support is available, what hours it's available and if the support team is based locally in Australia. This is particularly important for new traders.

How do fees work with online share traders?

While online share trading accounts tend to highlight their lowest available brokerage fee, this is usually impacted by how often you trade and how much you trade. For example, some brokers charge higher fees if you make fewer trades, or they may charge higher fees the higher the amount you're investing.

Some accounts also have monthly inactivity fees if you don't place any trades for a specific period of time. Other fees, such as the "custody" fee for global brokers, are sometimes waived if you make a minimum number of trades in a year.

It also pays to consider that brokerage fees can change drastically depending on which market you're purchasing stocks from. For example, CommSec charges from $10 per trade for Australian stocks but $29.95 for US stocks, whereas CMC Markets charges from $11 for Australian shares and $0 for US shares.

Is my online broker safe?

Before you start downloading software, check whether the online broker has a good reputation and is a trusted provider in the community.

You can start by looking at some of our online reviews and doing a bit of research on user experience.

Next, look at the team behind the platform.

Find out how long it has been offering online share trading services. Is it backed by a large bank or financial institution?

There are several other key details to look out for:

  • Encryption. Reputable online trading platforms rely on encryption technology to protect your sensitive information. This means that when you log in to a broker’s website, no one will be able to see any of the information transmitted between you and the broker.
  • Login information. Check out what information you will need to provide in order to log in to your account. While many providers only ask for a username and password, others may ask you to enter an additional security code.
  • Online checks. Does the provider offer online checks and restrictions to reduce the risk of fraud? For example, do you receive an SMS code that you will need to enter before trading or do you need to answer an online security question?
  • Previewing trades. When talking about online share trading security, it’s also important to check that there are measures in place to prevent you from placing the wrong trade. For example, does the trading platform show you a preview screen outlining the full details of a transaction, such as the total cost and the total shares purchased, before placing a trade?
  • Processes for dealing with fraud. Next, check to see what will happen if you’re a victim of fraud via your trading account. Does the provider have processes in place to reimburse you for any losses you suffer through no fault of your own if you are the victim of fraud? Are there any exclusions to when this cover applies?
  • Customer support. It’s vital that if something ever goes wrong with a trade or you have a problem with your account, you can quickly access assistance from a company representative. Check to see when and how you can get in touch with the customer support team.

Protect your information

  • Watch out for scams. Just as online share trading technology has grown more sophisticated, so too have the methods used by scammers to trick people into giving up their account details.
  • Keep your login details safe. This is an obvious tip, but one you should always remember. Never give your account login details to a third party, and don't leave your computer unattended while you're logged in to your account.
  • Keep a copy of your records. Keep a record of all your online share trading transactions. Your records could be in a digital or hard-copy format, but should always be stored in a safe place. This will ensure that you have evidence to refer to if something goes wrong with your account or if you suspect you may have been a victim of fraud.
  • Look after your computer. Make sure that you always keep your antivirus software up to date to protect your computer against malware and other viruses. In addition, check that you only ever log in to the trading platform via a secure Internet connection.

How can I make money from shares?

Investors in shares are fractional owners of a business, meaning they will profit based on the future outlook of the business or by getting part of the company paid to them.

There are 2 main ways to make money from share trading:

  • Capital growth. If you can sell your shares for a higher price than what you paid for them, you'll make a profit. This is known as capital growth, given that your initial capital (your shares) has increased in value. This is possible both with short-term investments (where you sell the shares after a brief period of time) and over longer periods.
  • Dividends. Some (but not all) companies pay regular dividends to their shareholders based on the amount of profit they make, which can provide an ongoing income stream plus tax advantages for certain investors. Dividend payments are a great form of passive income and it means investors may never need to sell their shares in order to make a profit. Some companies offer dividend reinvestment strategies allowing you to increase your holdings by giving you more shares.

Tips for online share trading

Here are some tips to help get you started:

  • Read the news. It's important to stay up to date with the broader economy and learn how major events such as national elections impact the share price of various companies.
  • Research companies before buying. If you want to buy shares in a company, research as much as you can about the company before making your final decision. It's a good idea to read the company's annual reports and meeting minutes to learn what's in the pipeline and what changes will be made that could affect their share price.
  • Upskill. It can be easy to lose a lot of money by making a poor investment decision or by simply clicking on the wrong button if you don't know what you're doing. Practise trading on a demo account first and consider taking an online investment course.
  • Consider blue chip companies. This is a good strategy for people new to the share market, as blue chip companies often have more stable returns, are less volatile and often pay dividends.
  • Diversify. Say you had $5,000 to invest in the share market. Rather than invest it all in 1 company, consider spreading it out across a few companies from different industries. Diversification will help lower your risk, and ensure you don't have all your eggs in one basket.

Ask an expert: How do you pick the right stocks?

Michael McCarthy

Michael McCarthy
Chief market strategist, CMC

Many investors spend hours reading reports and studying charts to select the “right” share, only to disregard the most important factor – themselves. Every individual’s circumstances are unique. We all have different investment goals, amounts to invest, time frames, existing investments and risk appetites. All of these should be taken into account when selecting a stock.

An exciting new technology startup or a promising medical research group might suit an investor with a higher risk appetite and many years of investing ahead of them. On the other hand, an investor in or near retirement might prefer a more stable, well-known business that pays a reliable dividend. It’s up to you.


How to buy shares online

Buying shares is a relatively simple process:

  1. Choose an online share trading platform.
  2. Sign up for an account.
  3. Choose the shares you want to buy.
  4. Place your order.
  5. Pay for the transaction.
  6. Monitor the performance of your shares.
  7. Sell your shares (if you want to).

Read our full guide on how to buy shares online.

Risks of online share trading

Before you start buying and selling shares, make sure you’re aware of all the risks involved, including the following:

  • Financial loss. The biggest risk in share trading is the possibility you could lose some or all of your investment if the company's share price falls dramatically or if the company goes into liquidation.
  • Company bankruptcy. If a company goes bust, shareholders are usually the last in line to be paid after creditors, meaning there is very little chance there will be anything left for investors to take home.
  • Emotional. Market fluctuations can be stressful for shareholders as they see their wealth rise and fall on a daily basis. This can also lead to poor decision-making where investors sell when share prices are low and buy when they're high.
  • Unexpected events. It's impossible to predict what the future will hold for companies. Even the most secure companies can be negatively impacted by global events such as a pandemic, natural disasters, warfare or political changes.
  • Lack of expertise. While buying shares is as easy as clicking a button these days, the truth is that plenty of people lose money because they don't fully understand what they're doing. First-time investors should educate themselves and ease their way into stocks slowly.

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Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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22 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    JarvisJuly 12, 2019

    Hi! What is the best platform that has a stock screener for fundamental and technical analysis and has a good charting software? Thanks!

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      FayeJuly 12, 2019Staff

      Hi Jarvis,

      Thanks for contacting Finder.

      You may refer to our list of online share trading platforms. On that page is a comparison table you can use to find the right platform for you. You can press the name of the brand to be redirected to our review page to know if the features you are looking for are present. When you are ready, press the ‘Start investing’ button to open an investment account. Please read the Product Disclosure Statements/Terms and Conditions when comparing your options before making a decision on whether it is right for you. You can also contact the provider if you have specific questions.

      I hope that helps.

      Kind Regards,
      Faye

    Default Gravatar
    stuJune 13, 2019

    how do i transfer stock from one broker to another

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiJune 14, 2019

      Hi Stu,

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      To transfer from one broker to another will depend on who your bank is. Following, you would need to fill out a broker to broker transfer form.
      Fill out your details as well as the details of the holding, then complete and sign the Declaration Section. Email the form to your bank’s department handling this matter. Normally, this type of process is free of cost. The transfer process will be dependent on your bank as well.

      Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    CharlesMarch 28, 2019

    We just want to make a one of sale of shares. What are our best options?

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiMarch 29, 2019

      Hi Charles,

      Thanks for getting in touch! As per the information above, there are two main ways to make money from share trading: Capital Growth and Dividends and you can read more information on this above. While we review share trading – we are not in the position to recommend the best platform for you but there are a few ways to help you find the best options as seen below:

      – Brokers
      – Availability of advice and research options
      – Integration with bank accounts
      – Access to other markets
      – Customer support

      Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    HamishOctober 17, 2018

    Hello I had an etrade account but I can no longer log in to check it….can you help as Etrade had been sold off??

      Default Gravatar
      JoelOctober 17, 2018

      Hi Hamish,

      Thanks for leaving a question on Finder.

      The E*TRADE Australia has already been stopped and is now replaced by ANZ Share Investing. If you are looking to access your ETrade account, please contact ANZ directly for instructions on how to do it step by step.

      Please send me a message if you need anything else. :)

      Cheers,
      Joel

    Default Gravatar
    GirlieMay 6, 2018

    Why are there so many different terms and conditions requiring a check mark when setting up an account with CMC

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMay 7, 2018Staff

      Hi Girlie,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      As a friendly reminder, while we do not represent any company we feature on our pages, we can offer you general advice.

      The reason for this is because buying and selling shares involves a certain amount of terms and conditions and this is something that online traders need to be aware of in order to open an account.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

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