If you’re one of the 9 million Australians who currently invest in the ASX share market or if you’re just looking at getting started, the platform you choose to buy and sell shares on can have a serious impact on the long-term performance of your portfolio.
Ideally, you want to find a platform that charges the lowest fees, has the most user-friendly interface as well providing an extensive range of research tools so that you can dig into the important info about any company you choose.
Now, all Aussie share trading platforms come with their ups and downs, that’s why we’ll be going through the best share trading platforms for Australians looking to get stuck into investing this year.
Table of contents
- What Type of Investor Are You?
- The Big Four Banks
- Best Independent Share Trading Platforms
What Type of Investor Are You?
Before we get stuck into the review, it can be really helpful to figure out what type of investor you are before trying to make a decision concerning any of the platforms in the review below. Different platforms may be more suited to your needs depending on how often you’re looking to buy and sell shares, how much money you want to invest at a given time and so on.
A casual investor is someone who invests regularly as part of a long-term investment strategy, but doesn’t spend hours following the markets and obsessing over charts. If you’re looking to do ‘set and forget’ style investing, or you only make one or two trades each month — you most likely fall into the casual investor category.
A regular investor is someone who buys and sells shares on a frequent basis all while staying up to date with the relevant market information. Regular investors tend to want more advanced research tools so that they can dig into all of the important specifics on different companies. So, if you find yourself making between 5 and 10 trades a month and getting stuck into niche financial information, then you fall into the regular investor category.
Advanced Investor (Trader)
A trader is someone who invests on a near-daily basis and wants the capability to interact with relatively complex financial instruments like derivatives. As traders often make more than 50 trades a day, finding a platform with low fees and all the necessary bells and whistles is of utmost importance.
Now that you’ve hopefully figured out which category of investor you fall into, let’s get stuck into figuring out which share trading platform is the best choice for you and your investment portfolio in 2022.
The Big Four Banks
For anyone that is already banking with one of the big four: Commonwealth, Westpac, NAB or ANZ — one of the best ways to reduce financial confusion is to keep all of your money in one place. While the share trading platforms offered by the big four banks do charge higher fees compared to independent trading platforms, the ease of use for moving money around in a single application can be a big positive for investors looking to keep things simple.
Commsec is the Commonwealth Bank’s flagship share trading platform, and it’s definitely a top choice for anyone who is already using Commonwealth Bank to manage their finances. The integration between the Commbank and Commsec platforms make it easy for users to transfer funds in and out of their share trading account.
The Commsec platform is available on desktop as well as via a mobile app, both of which are fairly user friendly and offer a pretty solid range of educational tools for beginners as well. A major downside to Commsec is that investors can only trade on the Australian share market (ASX) as international shares (the U.S. stock market) are not immediately available to new users, with the platform requiring users to make an application.
Commsec, being one of the Big Four banks, is definitely more on the more expensive side when it comes to fees. You can find the fees that Commsec charges listed here:
- $10 fee for all trades under $1,000 on
- $19.95 – $29.95 for trades over $1,000 for Commbank users who have a CDIA account.
- $29.95 for all trades with no CDIA account.
- For International Trades, investors will be charged a: $19.95 – 39.95 USD fee as well as 0.6% foreign exchange (FX) fee.
- Accounts that are inactive for over 1 year will be charged a $25 fee.
Westpac share trading is Westpac bank’s share trading platform, and again, it may be a good choice for anyone who is already using Westpac to easily manage their finances. The integration between the Westpac banking and Westpac share trading platforms makes it easy for users to keep their money all in one place.
The user-friendliness of the Westpac share trading platform is on par with the other big four banks, offering a fairly intuitive experience on both desktop and mobile app. Much like the others, users have to make a separate application to trade international shares, meaning that most users are limited to ASX only share trading.
Because Westpac is also a member of the big four Aussie banks, users can definitely expect relatively high fees. Westpac charges the following fees to its users.
- $19.95 – $29.95 fee on all ASX trades.
- For international trades, investors will be charged a: $19.95 – 39.95 USD fee as well as 0.6% FX fee.
- Accounts that are inactive for over 1 year will be charged a $63.50 USD fee, which is fairly substantial relative to its competitors.
NABtrade offers some of the lowest fees out of the big four. The NAB share trading platform is extremely similar to its main competitors and it offers a pretty stock standard experience on both desktop and mobile app.
Like the other banks, users have to make a distinct application to trade international shares, meaning that everyone is initially limited to ASX only share trading, a pretty substantial downside if you’re looking to pick individual U.S. stocks like Amazon, Tesla or Facebook.
NAB, another big four bank, offers its users slightly lowers fees than its three main competitors, with NAB charging the following fees to its users.
- $14.95 – $19.95 fee on all ASX trades.
- For international trades, investors will be charged the same $14.95 – $19.95 fee as well as a 0.5% – 0.8% FX fee.
- However, accounts that are inactive for over 1 year will be charged a fee that amounts to whatever 0.5% of the entire portfolio is worth (which could be a substantial sum depending on how large the investment portfolio is).
ANZ’s share trading platform is one of the least user-friendly and most expensive of the big four share trading platforms. As a result of continued feedback, ANZ made the decision to transfer over its users to an independent share trading platform, CMC Markets (which is reviewed below).
Unfortunately, the information regarding fees concerning ANZ’s transition to a CMC markets branded platform is not entirely clear. If ANZ continues to charge their in-house fees despite using CMC markets platform, it would make sense for users to simply join up with CMC Markets and transfer their portfolio in order to gain access to much lower fees and a wider range of investment choices.
ANZ, the final big four, offers some of the least competitive fees in the industry when looking at an overall structure:
- $19.95 – $29.95 fee on all ASX trades.
- For international trades, investors will be charged an eye-watering $59 fee as well as a 0.6% FX fee.
- Accounts that are inactive for over 1 year will be charged a fee that amounts to whatever 0.5% of the entire portfolio is worth (which could be a substantial sum depending on how large the investment portfolio is) as well as a potential, monthly $19.95 subscription fee as well.
Best Independent Share Trading Platforms
If you’re just getting started in investing or you’re looking for a low-fee alternative to the big four, independent share trading platforms can be the best way to create an efficient, cost-effective long-term investment portfolio. If you’re trading frequently or you just want to save massively on fees, choosing from one of the platforms below is definitely a good option.
CMC Markets – Best Overall
CMC Markets is Australia’s most comprehensive share trading platform, offering investors immediate access to a variety of international markets including the US, UK, Canada, Japan and more. It offers more advanced trading tools as well if you want to try your luck on trading foreign exchange, commodities and even cryptocurrency.
With a broad scope of features, CMC Markets offers all the tools that both casual investors and active traders would be seeking, making it one of the best overall share trading platforms for Australians to use.
The only major downside to CMC Markets is that the user interface on both the desktop and mobile application feels a bit clunky and it’s really not all that user-friendly. This means that beginners to share trading may find the platform hard to navigate, which is a pretty major downside to an otherwise solid trading platform.
CMC Markets, offers some of the most competitive fees in the Australian share trading industry:
- $0 fee on all trades under $1000
- $11 fee on all trades over $1000
- $0 in extras fee on international trades, however, all international trades will incur a 0.6% FX fee.
- CMC Markets does not charge an inactivity fee.
Selfwealth – Great Resources
Selfwealth offers a pretty good overall user experience as well as relatively low fees when compared to other industry competitors. The platform also offers investors access to both Australian and US markets, making it a solid choice for investors who want exposure to a wide range of stocks, without being overwhelmed by other more technical options.
The main upside to Selfwealth is that it offers unique and powerful tracking tools, that show investors important information about their investment portfolio as well as allowing users to measure their performance against other market-leading investors. Offering transparency into the share portfolio of other industry leaders, is a really good tool for helping casual investors level up their investments.
The only substantial downside to Selfwealth is that they don’t offer the most competitive fees in the Australian share trading market. Here are Selfwealth’s fees:
- Blanket $9.50 fee on all trades
- Blanket $9.50 fee on US trades + 0.6% FX fee.
- CMC Markets does not charge an inactivity fee.
IG Trading – Lowest Fees
IG Trading offers one of the widest ranges of international markets for investors to choose from including Australia, the US and the UK while simultaneously offering some of the lowest fees. IG Trading additionally offers cryptocurrency trading as well as access to a huge range of complex financial instruments as well.
Much like CMC Markets, IG trading also suffers from a pretty clunky user interface, meaning that the user experience for beginners could be a little bit intimidating. What the platform lacks in intuitive design is made up by the extremely low fees it offers across the board, making it the superior choice for any investor looking to trade frequently.
Where IG Trading really shines is its fee structure, offering investors:
- $5-8 fee on Australian trades.
- $0 fee on US and UK trades + 0.7% FX fee
- IG Markets will hit investors with a solid $50 per quarter (every 3 months) fee if users do not trade a minimum of 3 times during that quarter.
Superhero – Most User Friendly
Superhero is a mobile app-based trading platform that offers its users the most easy-to-navigate platforms in the industry. The app is extremely beginner-friendly and is a great way for total newbies to get a handle on investing without being intimidated by a bunch of complicated charts and technical jargon.
The major downside to Superhero is that it only offers ASX as an investment option — if you want to trade US shares, you’ll have to use a different platform. However, for those of you who are sticking to the Australian market and are looking for an inexpensive, user-friendly way to do so, Superhero is definitely one of the top choices.
Superhero is one of the more low-cost share trading platforms available, with the simplest fee structure, offering its users:
- $0 fee on ETF purchases.
- $5 fee on all ASX trades.
- Superhero does not charge an inactivity fee.
STAKE – Best Up-and-Coming
Stake is a share trading platform that offers a unique investing experience on both desktop and through its mobile app. Stake offers investors comprehensive access to both the US and Australian markets in a clean, user-friendly layout.
In terms of usability, both the desktop platform and the app are extremely simple and easy to use, making it a fantastic great choice for newbies. There are also incentives provided when users first deposit funds into their respective accounts. When users first deposit into Stake Wall St (American stocks) they will be given a random free share of Nike, Dropbox, GoPro or an alternative mystery stock. First time users who deposit funds into their Australian account will be given $10 to invest how they see fit.
Stake also takes care of all foreign tax worries by completing a US tax form that is sent to you before the end of the financial year (EOFY).
Stake is another very low-cost share trading platform, with a super simple fee structure, offering its users:
- $0 fee on US trades.
- $3 fee on ASX trades.
- Stake does not charge an inactivity fee.
eToro – Best “Social Investing”
eToro markets itself as a “social trading” platform, meaning that all users can see the best traders on the platform and copy their investing strategy. Although the platform is definitely targeted toward more active investors, being able to learn from others and share investment ideas makes eToro a solid option for anyone looking to increase their skills.
The next big upside for eToro is that it offers an extremely broad selection of markets, however, it doesn’t actually offer ASX investing. If you already have an ASX investing account and are looking for a platform to do the rest of your trading on eToro is definitely a really solid choice.
eToro is one of the best trading platforms for users looking to save on fees. eToro offers its users:
- Blanket $0 fee on all trade
- Only charges 0.5% FX fee
- $5 withdrawal fee for when investors want to move money from the eToro platform into their bank accounts.
- If users leave their accounts inactive for 1 year, eToro will begin charging a $10 per month inactivity fee.