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

Everything you need to know about getting started in shares.

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



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 AU, 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 Price per trade Inactivity fee Asset class International
Finder AwardExclusive
US$10 per month if there’s been no log-in for 12 months
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Finder exclusive: Get 12 months of investment tracking app Delta PRO for free when you fund your eToro account (T&Cs apply).
CFD service. Capital at risk.
Join the world's biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
CMC Invest
Finder Award
CMC Invest
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
$0 brokerage on US, UK, Canadian and Japanese markets (FX spreads apply).
Trade over 45,000 shares and ETFs from Australia and 15 major global markets. Plus, buy Aussie shares or ETFs for $0 brokerage up to $1,000 (First buy order of each security, each day - excludes margin loan settled trades).
Moomoo Share Trading
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Finder exclusive: Get $100 to trade when you deposit $1,000, or $200 when you deposit $5,000 or more. Earn 6.8% p.a. on uninvested cash. T&Cs apply.
Trade shares on the ASX, the US markets and buy ETFs with Moomoo. Plus join a community over 20 million investors.
Tiger Brokers
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Finder exclusive: 10 no-brokerage US or ASX market trades in the first 180 days + 7% p.a. on uninvested cash with first deposit of any amount, plus US$30 TSLA + US$30 NVDA shares with deposits up to AU$2000. T&Cs apply.
Trade Australian, US and Asian stocks with no minimum deposit on Tiger Broker’s feature-packed platform.
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
Get advanced research and trading tools with $0 brokerage and free lvl 2 NASDAQ stock data for 30 days. T&Cs apply.
Trade ASX and US stocks and US options, plus gain access to inbuilt news platforms and educational resources. You can also start trading for less with fractional shares.
Saxo Invested
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
Access 22,000+ stocks on 50+ exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global share trading, no inactivity fees, low currency conversion fee and optimised for mobile.

Important: The standard brokerage fee displayed is the trade cost for new customers to purchase $1,000 of either Australian or US shares. Where a platform charges different fees for both US and Australian shares we show the lower of the two. 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. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) for the product on the provider's website.

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