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It may be cheaper than ever before for Malaysians to buy shares, but that doesn’t mean it’s free.
When you invest in shares, you’ll usually be charged a brokerage fee on every trade you make and may have to pay an account fee, currency conversion fees and inactivity fees if you’ve not made enough trades.
Because different fees are charged depending on how active you are or how much you’re investing, it’s worth shopping around for a share trading platform that offers the lowest brokerage fees for your investment style.
But which online share trading platforms offer the cheapest brokerage? Read on to find out.
Search and compare stock brokers
What are brokerage fees?
A brokerage fee (also called commission) is what your stockbroker charges for executing a buy or sell transaction. In other words, every time you buy or sell shares through your online share trading account, you’ll need to pay a specific amount to the broker for the privilege of using its services. This fee is based on the size or value of the trade, and could be a flat fee or an amount calculated as a percentage of the transaction value.
Brokerage fees are one of the largest expenses associated with online share trading and can have a big impact on the affordability of your investments. If you’re a frequent trader and you’re paying a brokerage fee of RM30 every time you buy or sell a parcel of shares, this can quickly add up to a substantial amount and eat away at your trading profits.
That’s why it’s essential for anyone thinking of getting started in the sharemarket to compare brokerage fees charged by online share trading platforms and shop around for the cheapest option.
How much will I need to pay for stock brokerage?
Brokerage fees are far from identical from one provider to the next, so it’s important to compare fees. For online share trading platforms, brokerage can range from RM0 – RM28 per trade. Full-service brokers such as Morgan Stanley start fees at around US$25 per trade, usually charged as a percentage of the amount being traded.
Some providers have simple fee structures and others have quite complex arrangements. Most of the time, the fee is based on the size or value of the trade, how often you trade and which country the stocks are listed in.
Different brokerage fees often also apply to phone trades and other unique trading options, so it’s worth reading the fine print to find out how much extra it’ll cost every time you make a trade.
Trading apps with zero brokerage fees in Malaysia
There are a growing number of share trading platforms that charge no brokerage fees to trade US or global stocks. These apps include:
- TD Ameritrade
Although you don’t need to pay a commission, this doesn’t mean they’re free. Instead they charge a small foreign exchange fee to convert Malaysian ringgit to the required global currency, e.g. USD. So far, there are no apps offering zero brokerage for Bursa Malaysia stocks.
Brokerage fee structures compared
The table below features a guide to the brokerage fees charged by some of Malaysia’s most well-known online share trading providers when buying and selling shares on Bursa Malaysia. Compare those fees to find out which provider offers the cheapest stock brokerage.
|Broker||Minimum fee||Trade value|
|CIMB Clicks Trader|
|Hong Leong Bank|
|KenTrade by Kenanga|
|UOB Kay Hian|
Note: Fees and rates indicated are accurate as of 14 March 2021.
How much will I pay for international brokerage fees?
The brokerage fees for shares listed overseas can be more or less than what you’d pay for Bursa Malaysia-listed stocks depending on the country of choice and the platform you’re using. For US-listed shares you can expect to pay anywhere between US$0 – US$60 per trade. This can be higher again for countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
On top of the brokerage fee, you’ll typically need to pay a currency exchange fee (sometimes called FX fee) to convert your Malaysian ringgit into the overseas currencies. This is usually calculated into the exchange rate and is referred to as the ‘spread’ – it’s the difference between the base exchange rate and the rate you’re actually being offered. The higher the spread, the higher your fee.
Below are the fees for US and UK shares offered by some of the most well-known global stock providers:
|Provider||US-listed shares||UK-listed shares||Conversion fee|
|Saxo Capital Markets Share Trading|
|IG Share Trading (CFD only)|
|CMC Markets (CFD only)|
*Rates based on Saxo Market Classic account tier.
**Rates based on Interactive Brokers’ tiered pricing structure.
Note: Rates indicated in this table are accurate as of 14 March 2021.
From time to time, some online share trading providers will offer special deals to help you save on brokerage fees or possibly avoid them altogether.
Other providers also offer brokerage fee rebates for frequent traders. For example, if an account holder makes more than a specified number of trades per month, such as 30, all the brokerage fees payable for those trades may be refunded to their trading account at the end of the month.
Such offers can help you improve your bottom line when trading shares online, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for any brokerage deals and discounts.
Are there any other fees when trading shares?
While brokerage fees are the major cost you need to consider when comparing share trading platforms, you should also be aware that other fees may apply. For example, you may need to pay a monthly fee to become a premium member of a share trading platform. This could allow you to access live market data, the latest market news and analysis or stock research and recommendations.
Other common fees include:
- Inactivity fee: Some brokers charge a monthly or annual fee if you don’t hit a certain number of trades each month.
- Currency conversion fee: This fee is charged to convert MYR to another currency in order to trade global stocks.
- Custody fee: This annual fee is charged when you trade US stocks and paid to the custodian broker for holding your stocks.
Read the terms and conditions of an online stock broking platform to find out what those ongoing fees are and how they will affect you.
How do I compare cheap stock brokers?
As well as brokerage fees, there are several other features you should compare when choosing an online share trading platform, including:
It’s also important to compare whether there are any ongoing fees you will need to pay to maintain your account, such as a monthly management fee or a fee to allow you to access dynamic market data. In addition, remember to check whether special options such as stop loss orders or phone trades attract extra fees.
Compare the number of global markets each platform allows you to access to buy and sell shares. In addition to Bursa Malaysia, many providers also allow you to trade on stock exchanges in New York, London, Tokyo and many other countries around the world.
In the fast-paced world of share trading, accessing up-to-date market data could be critical to the success of your trades. Check whether you will be able to access static, live, dynamic or real-time data, and whether this attracts any extra fees.
Compare the options each provider offers for placing buy and sell orders. Can you place limit and market orders? Are stop loss orders available to help you minimise investment losses?
Ease of use
Try out any share trading platform you are considering using to work out how easy it is to use on a daily basis. Most providers offer free demo accounts to help you sample their services.
As well as an online platform, can you place trades over the phone or on the go using a smartphone or tablet app? Also consider whether the trading system is a web-based platform or whether it requires you to download any software.
Make sure you can easily contact the share trading platform provider if you ever have a question about your account or a problem with a trade. Look for phone, email and live chat support, as well as online learning centres and education tools.
By considering all of the above factors, you should be able to find the best cheap stockbroker for your online share trading needs.
Want to learn more about share trading?
Check out our comprehensive guide to share trading here.
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