Compare Online Share Brokers for Australia
What do we consider when searching for an online broker?
We consider how much you will pay in fees and will provide a fee calculator so you can estimate how much your estimated trades are likely to cost.
While fees can be important, they are not the only attribute we like to consider. We also take a look at positive and negative features of the featured online brokers.
This broker comparison is based on our own research. We try to remain impartial in our views and present information based only on merit and the best information we can find. We have not received any compensation to bias this report. There may be affiliate links we could profit from, but these do not change our analytical opinions and we pride ourselves on trying to be as neutral as possible.
We are always trying to learn and provide the best unbiased content, so if you can provide extra insights, or there is incorrect data, please see this link on how to contact us.
Broker Criteria Overview
- Low fees
- Fees can eat away at profits and are one of the things we can control as they are a known quantity. A dollar saved is generally better than a dollar earned due to not having to pay taxes on money saved.
- Investment Safety
- We want to feel our investment (plus any cash awaiting investment) are in safe hands
- Quality Product
- We like products that work consistently and feel comfortable when trading.
- Depending on the trading style, you may or may not need certain features and others can be nice to haves that may be worth additional fees.
Who are the best online brokers in Australia?
Well as with many things in life... it depends. Let's start with a quick look at the contenders and then check them out in more detail below.
The Online Broker Contenders
- Fixed low fees (especially for large trade values as no percentage) with shares held in your name with a CHESS account. ASX only available, so no International trades. Up to 5 free trades available with our referral link explained here.
- Interactive Brokers
- Big international player with low, but complicated fees with many available markets and plenty of features.
- Popular broker in Australia with free live data for watch lists and the ability to buy shares without money in your cash account and transfer your money at a later point.
- Potentially cheap alternative to Interactive Brokers lower trader IBKR Lite option, or the more complex IBKR Pro product.
- Announced themselves, but late to the party in Australia. Will they bring anything interesting when/if they arrive?
- Other Brokers
We considered the following, but for now they did not seem to have any compelling features over the brokers listed above. We provide links to their brokerage fee pages for you to investigate further yourself:
$9.50 ASX fixed price trades
Very cheap for the ASX, especially for large trade amounts where competitors often charge a percentage.
No minimum account balance or inactivity fees
You do not need any money to create an account and will not be charged any fees for keeping the account open. ASX trades are a minimum of $500.
US Share Trading
The SelfWealth mention US trading will enter testing in October 2020. Trading will be $9.50 USD per trade, with a 0.6% bid/ask spread on money moved between AUD and USD accounts. There will be no account of inactivity fees. There is a also a SEC fee of 0.00221% and a "Trading supported in later versions of their solution.
Provides CHESS share registration
Your shares will be held in your own name with the CHESS system (a system developed by the ASX to management of share transactions and recordings. With CHESS your shares are not held by the broker and can be moved to other share brokers if you wish.
Easy sign up
Immediate online identity verification worked for us. However there was a full business day checking process that occurred after the identity check and our account was able to be funded early on the second business day. SelfWealth mentions this account setup process takes approximately 2 business days if not additional documents are required.
5 free trades
Use this referral link for SelfWealth and we both get 5 free trades to use within a month. That is up to a $47.50 if you use all 5 free trades.
Cash funds held in your name
A wholesale ANZ account is created to store your cash in between trades with you as the full beneficiary.
Easy to use
We found the trading platform simple and clean.
SelfWealth community system
As part of the premium subscription, you can see what other traders on SelfWealth have in their portfolio. We are not sure how useful that is, but some people like to get ideas from other successful traders. How to figure out the good traders versus the lucky traders?
Target portfolio tracking
A feature some people may like, while others find it not very useful or annoying. You can compare your portfolio to a target portfolio to see how you are faring compared to it.
90 days free premium trial
Trial the premium features to see if you are willing to pay the extra $20 a month fee to keep them after the trial.
Free to buy SELF ETF
Premium members? are fee free to buy SelfWealth's own SelfWealth Leaders ETF on the platform that claims to choose up to 75 ASX stocks by looking at the top performing SMSF portfolios.
More advanced traders may find features they want missing.
No International Shares
SelfWealth will soon have US trading, but if you want more than the US or Australian markets you will need to look at other brokers for now.
There are not as many products as on other platforms, like options trading etc.
Live Pricing only on Premium account for the orders page
Other pages have 20 minutes delayed pricing.
No interest on cash
Currently new accounts do not receive any interest on money held in the ANZ cash account. Historically it seemed a small amount of interest was paid.
Moving cash to account takes 1 business day or more
You must use the provided ANZ account to fund trades. This cash account has no features for instant transfer of money like NPP, Beem It etc. Apparently having another ANZ account to transfer from does not make it instant either. We found BPAY seemed faster than bank transfer. There was mention of SelfWealth working with ANZ on improved options for cash transfer.
While SelfWealth is growing market share, they have been making a loss. The company is publicly traded, so you can check out more about their finances at the SelfWealth investors site.
Available for $20 a month
- Community features
- SELF ETF availability?
- Stock market depth
- Unlimited Refinitiv articles
- Website and mobile trading
- Email, live chat and postal
- Account types
- Self Managed Superannuation Fund
- Data from Thomas Reuters
- Trade execution, clearance and settlement by OpenMarkets
International Brokers in the past have been more focused on clients that are advanced traders with larger equity portfolios. Recently they have introduced a new product to cater for the retail market called IBKR Lite. IBKR Lite complements the existing product that is now labelled IBKR Pro.
Cheap or no fees
IBKR Lite has commission free trading of U.S. stocks and some ETFs and fixed pricing on most other investments.
IBKR Pro charges fees based on the number of shares traded, but are considered very low considering the better execution and other power user features available. There is also an option of fixed or tiered pricing for Pro accounts.
Interest on cash
Depending on your balance and currency, you may get interest on your cash balance. IBKR Lite has lower interest rates.
No inactivity fees
IBKR Lite has no inactivity fees, but IBKR Pro requires you to meet a monthly trading fee amount, or a certain amount of equity in your account.
No account minimum balances
You can request a switch between IBKR Pro and IBKR Lite at any time. The first 3 requests are processed on a weekly basis and subsequent requests are processed quarterly.
IBKR Pro SmartRouting trade execution
IB claim they improve your price by $0.43 Net US Dollars per 100 shares versus the industry as analysed by IHS Markit.
Order Types and Algos
For advanced traders, IBKR have a huge selection of order types and Algos (trading algorithms?) can be used to automate a trading style.
Large number of trading tools available
- Client Portal
- Simpler web trading platform and a good starting point
- IBKR Mobile
- Trade on your Android or iIOS tablet or smartphone
- You can trade and find information by typing or speaking English to trade. IBot is build into TWS, IBKR Mobile, Client Portal and on the web site search and FAQ browser.
- Desktop Trader WorkStation (TWS)
- The flagship and most featured trading plaform IBKR provide.
- IBKR Web Trader
- IBKR Pro only that offers similar functionality to TWS, but using a simpler interface and it works behind a firewall.
API for IBKR Pro
Hook your own programming code into the IBKR API.
Large international company with huge customer base
Interactive Brokers are a well known and highly regarded company that are monitored by a number of agencies.
- In business over 40 years.
- More than 650,000 clients.
- Consolidated equity capital in excess of USD 7 billion.
- Interactive Global company well audited including FCA and SEC.
- Disclose their financials and listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Free Market Data for IBKR Lite
Free non-consolidated, real-time streaming data only for U.S. Listed Stock and ETFs. Other market data must be paid for.
Low currency exchange rates
Convert currencies at rates as low as 1/10 of a basis point
Fund account in multiple currencies
Not available to Australian accounts?
Stock yield enhancement program
We need to check if this is available in Australia? You can make extra money by lending your stocks to Interactive Brokers. The shares can then be leant to other traders who want to short the shares and pay interest for the loan. The interest it split 50% with Interactive Brokers.
ASIC monitoring for Australians
The Interactive Brokers company in Australia is monitored by ASIC.
A rather complicated spreadsheet tool that helps you calculate risks in your portfolio.
Paper trading and back testing
Test out your ideas and the IBKR systems.
Mutual Fund / ETF Replicator
A tool that tries to find ETFs that will replicate a fund with the hopes of reducing the fees as ETFs often have lower costs.
We were asked to snail mail certified copies of identification documents. Being out of our home country for an extended period during that time, this was rather inconvenient. The embassy would charge a $75 fee to certify documents and would be time consuming to get to, with perhaps a long wait.
We queried IB by creating a ticket to ask if this was common. The online documentation suggested they had an online verification system. The response we received did not have the best English, so perhaps they did not understand the question. IB did suggest we could send them a digital version of a certified document. We did not have one of these due as we haven't needed a certified document in a long time. So your luck might be different to ours.
No CHESS sponsorship
Interactive Brokers are custodians of your shares. You can pay a fee to transfer shares to CHESS.
Desktop Trader Workstation system slow and buggy
Experience as a professional software developer:
- I found paper trading would hang TWS every time I used it. I found this example of what sounded like the same issue from another user in February 2018 (writing December 2019), "When frozen, the memory usage of TWS easily shot up to 16GB~24GB". I tried some brief tweaking of Java memory allocations, but it did not fix the issue and I will have to come back and investigate further. But not a nice experience first out of the box.
- TWS felt very slow to start up.
- If I typed password incorrectly, I needed to reload TWS as I could not enter it again.
Maintenance fee for IBKR Pro
If you do not create enough monthly fees or do no have a minimum amount of shares + cash in your account (100,000 USD) you will be charged 10 USD minus commissions paid.
IBKR Lite uses market makers
Trades are routed through market makers who pay Interactive Brokers for the order flow, rather than using their smart order router.
Interactive Brokers Australia accounts not covered under SIPC
Unlike U.S. accounts, we believe there is no account protection by U.S. Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC)
In our case it took just over 1 week to get a response for two questions. Your own experience might vary.
Can only withdraw to a bank account and one free withdrawal perh month.
Popular and respected
CommSec is owned by the Commonwealth Bank and is the biggest local player in Australia for ASX trading with a well regarded platform.
Free live pricing for ASX data.
Being able to see the live price in your watch list can be really useful as many ASX brokers only provide 20 minute delayed data. Some people even use CommSec to monitor live prices and perform their trade with other brokers.
Place orders without cash deposit
We believe you can make up to $25,000 worth of trades (with certain limits) with no money in your account until the morning of the settlement date. This might be good if you do not want to leave money in your account and store it somewhere else for better interest, or if you see some cheap stocks and want to grab them that day.
CommSec provide nice charting and stock comparison tools to help you monitor and investigate your trades.
There are some expert reports that some people like to use to guide their trading decisions.
Phone, Twitter or online 8am - 7pm Sydney time Monday to Friday.
Fees are quick high compared to competitors, but some people like the convenience of doing keeping their trades in one platform. Other people like to spread their trades across different platforms to get the best product for what they are doing, or diversify their platforms.
Seems to be aimed at micro investing competitors like Raiz, where you can create small trades with minimal fees. CommSec Pocket fees can be as low as $2 per trade if lower than $1,000 and minimum trades of $50. The trades are very restricted to only 7 ETFs and some may claim these are not best in class ETFs.
- Only trading U.S. stocks.
- Trades are commission free, but you pay foreign exchange fees which are quite expensive at 70 cents per $100 AUD, plus a once of $5 fee for your US tax form (W8) and small regulatory fees (SEC and TAF). Stake also make money of interest from your cash in the brokerage account and higher fees if you use the express funding option of 0.5% (minimum $2 USD). Interestingly there is also a $5 USD flat fee to transfer in USD directly, which might make it more interesting.
- FINRA and SIPC Members.
- Securities up to $500,000 insured under SIPC.
- Currency directly transferred from your account to U.S. insured brokerage account by company DriveWealth.
Famous in the U.S. for their commission free investing, Robinhood have signalled their intent to bring their product to Australia. There was a mailing list on their site to be notified when this occurs. Stake run on a similar no commission model, but have actually launched in Australia.
Online Broker Promo Codes
Brokers will sometimes have special promotions where you might be able to take advantage of discounted trade fees. Even if that broker is normally expensive, this could be a good deal as it is normally possible to transfer the shares to a cheaper provider, or leave them there to diversify your brokers until you want to sell and then move them. Just be careful to note if there are any fees like inactivity fees.
- The coupon code NAB1000 is reported to still be working, although we have not found anywhere that lists an expiry date. This should get you $1,000 free brokerage for 90 days for use with Australian and international shares (foreign exchange fees will apply), mFunds, ETFs and warrants. Trades start from $14.95 for under $5k, but get up to 0.11% of the trade on the top end of their fee range, which can get expensive.
- Up to 5 free trades in the first month via our referral link explained here.
Online Broker Fee Comparison Calculator
We are looking at making a broker fee comparison calculator, so you can see how each broker will work for your expected trades. Check back with us again soon to see if it is in action.
Australian Online Broker Summary
As mentioned earlier, the best broker will depend on the situation.
For us, we like SelfWealth for big ASX trades with the $9.95 fixed price and being CHESS Sponsored.
We like having a CommSec account for the research and tooling and live pricing information, but may trade on other platforms due to the expensive CommSec fees. CommSec is also nice to have for emergency trades were you can buy without cash in your account
IBKR Lite is also a potentially strong product for research and low cost trading, especially for U.S. Stocks and ETFs with the zero commissions.
IBKR Pro is potentially useful for day traders, professionals, advanced traders and big equity portfolios where the powerful tools, leading trading system and cheaper fees as you trade in higher ranges coming to the fore.
Stake and Raiz are other options for U.S. stock trading in Australia that we hope to investigate further and report back on soon.
We hope to bring our broking fee comparison tool online soon, so we can delve deeper into what the fees are for each broker for different trading patterns. Fees are not everything, but it is nice to know what they are so you can factor them in against the other trading features of a platform.
If you have ideas, constructive criticism, or just want to say hello, contact us on: