Share trading for dummies – learn how to invest in the share market

Everything you need to know about getting started in shares.

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If you’re looking to build a secure future for yourself and your family, investing in shares could help you generate wealth and achieve your financial goals. But if you’re new to investing, it’s hard to know where to start.

So let’s take a look at the basics of buying and selling shares in our guide to shares for dummies.

Share Trading Account Offer

eToro (global stocks)


Standard brokerage - US shares

Share Trading Account Offer

Get $0 brokerage on US, Hong Kong and European stocks with trades as little as $50 when you join the world's biggest social trading network.

  • $0 brokerage for US, Hong Kong and European stocks
  • Trades starting from $50
  • Fractional shares
  • Copy top traders
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Important: Share trading carries risk of capital loss.


Disclaimer: Trading CFDs and forex on leverage is high-risk and losses could exceed your deposits.

Name Product Standard brokerage fee Inactivity fee Markets International
eToro (global stocks)
US$10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
Global shares, US shares, ETFs
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
$50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
ASX shares, Global shares
$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
ASX shares
$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
ASX shares, US shares, ETFs
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
ASX shares, Forex, CFDs, ETFs
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
ASX shares, Options trading, ETFs, Warrants
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.
CMC Markets Invest
ASX shares, Global shares, mFunds, ETFs
$0 brokerage on global shares including US, UK and Japan markets.
Trade up to 9,000 products, including shares, ETFs and managed funds, plus access up to 15 major global and Australian stock exchanges.
Saxo Capital Markets (Classic account)
ASX shares, Global shares, ETFs
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
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs, Bonds
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)
ASX shares, US shares
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.
Bell Direct Share Trading
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs
Invest in Australian shares, options and managed funds from the one account with no inactivity fee.
Bell Direct offers a one-second placement guarantee on market-to-limit ASX orders or your trade is free, plus enjoy extensive free research reports from top financial experts.

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.

Share trading basics

The sharemarket is a place where investors can buy and sell “shares” in public companies. Also known as stock exchanges, share markets exist in countries all over the world – in Australia our national exchange is the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), while other famous international stock exchanges include the New York Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange.

A share is basically an ownership portion of a company. When you buy shares you become a shareholder, meaning you own a percentage of a company and get to have a say in how it is run. The value of your shares is influenced by a wide range of issues, including the company’s performance and earnings, supply and demand, and broader economic factors.

Once you own shares you can also sell them to other investors. In the past, share trading was done physically at a stock exchange – you’ve probably seen old news footage of chaotic scenes of traders yelling out complex orders to buy and sell shares.

Today, investors can buy and sell shares via online share trading platforms. Many major Australian banks offer share trading platforms, including the Big Four, while other share trading platforms are offered by specialist brokerage firms.

How can I make money trading shares?

There are two main ways to make money selling shares:

  1. Capital growth. This occurs when you sell shares for a higher price than what you paid for them. For example, you may have purchased 100 shares in Company A two years ago, with each individual share valued at $5 meaning an initial investment of $500. In the ensuing period, the value of one share in the company has risen to $9, so your total parcel of shares is now worth $900. It can be sold for a profit of $400.
  2. Dividends. Many public companies pay dividends to their investors. A dividend is basically a shareholder’s portion of the company’s profits – for example, a company may offer a dividend of 50 cents per share to its shareholders, so you would receive a total dividend payment of 50 cents multiplied by the number of shares you own. Not all companies pay dividends, but those that do typically pay them twice a year. By choosing shares with a long history of providing dividends to investors, you can use your share portfolio to provide an ongoing source of income.
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What are the benefits of share trading?

Share trading provides many benefits to investors, including:

  • Shares typically grow in capital. Buying shares allows you to benefit from the growth in value of an asset over time. If you hold the shares for more than 12 months you can also take advantage of a 50% capital gains tax (CGT) discount.
  • If chosen correctly, it can generate income. Shares in companies that pay dividends can be used to provide an ongoing source of income.
  • There are tax benefits if you fall into the highest income tax bracket. If a company has already paid tax on its profits, the dividends it pays come with franking credits attached. These credits can be used to offset the amount of tax you pay on your other income.
  • Rights issues. Some companies make rights issues, which basically allow shareholders to purchase more shares in the same company at a discounted rate and usually without paying any brokerage fees.
  • Ownership benefits. Owning shares means you get to have a say in how a company is run, including voting on board resolutions and attending annual general meetings (AGMs).
  • Shareholder discounts. Some companies also offer discounts to shareholders when they purchase goods or services from the company or its subsidiaries.

What are the risks associated with share trading?

Just like any other form of investment, shares come with a range of risks attached, including:

  • Shares are volatile and are considered risky. Share prices can rise and fall quickly – prices in a company can even fall to zero and you could lose the money you invest.
  • Shares don't always pay dividends. Dividend amounts are not constant. They will fluctuate in line with the company’s profits.
  • Shares tend to decline in value during bad economic times. Some shares, for example mining shares, tend to be cyclical – investing at the wrong time of the cycle can be costly.
  • Last in line if corporation liquidates. If a company goes broke, its shareholders are the last of its creditors to get their money back.

How do I choose which shares to buy?

Despite what some people and investment “experts” might tell you, there is no guaranteed method for choosing the right shares. Some shares offer a high risk/high reward approach: while they have the potential to increase in value quickly, they also have the potential to quickly drop in value. Other shares tend to be steadier performers and have a history of delivering solid profits and paying dividends to shareholders.

There are income shares, blue-chip shares in large companies, cyclical shares that rise and fall with economic trends, and even defensive shares that often maintain their value when the rest of the economy takes a dive.

The right shares for you will depend on your financial goals, your investment timeframe and your appetite for risk. Once you know exactly what you want to achieve with your share trading, you can start researching different companies and the benefits they will bring to your portfolio.

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All sounds great, how do I get started?

If you want to start trading shares, there are a few simple things you need to do:

  1. Compare and choose share trading platforms. Check out our reviews of online share trading platforms.
  2. Sign up for an account. You will need to provide your name, contact details, proof of ID and bank account information.
  3. Choose the shares you want to buy. Research the performance, earnings and future potential of a range of companies. It’s also important to consider your overall investment strategy and appetite for risk before choosing any shares.
  4. Place a buy order. Your share trading platform provider should offer guides and advice on how to do this. The minimum amount of shares you can buy is $500, while your share trading platform will also charge a brokerage fee (typically around $15-$20) for placing the trade.

How to invest for beginners

Share trading can help you generate wealth and reach your financial goals. Just make sure you’re fully aware of all the risks involved before you place your first trade.

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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