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The share trading platform with the cheapest brokerage for you will depend on how often you trade, how much money you invest and which markets you’re trading in. In fact, some online platforms don’t charge any brokerage fees at all.
When you invest in shares, you’ll usually be charged a brokerage fee (commission) on every trade you make and you may also 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.
We look at online brokers that offer some of the lowest brokerage fees in South Africa, including zero brokerage platforms.
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We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
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 $30 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 R0 – R400 per trade. Full-service brokers such as Morgan Stanley can even start fees at as high as R800 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.
Which broker has the cheapest brokerage?
EasyEquities claims to have the lowest brokerage fees for South African share trading at 0.25% per trade for local stocks (as of 7 June 2021) – although this platform offers international shares as well. We couldn’t find a cheaper South African broker during our research.
Ultimately, the broker with the lowest fees depends on the value of your trade, how many trades you place each month and which market you’re investing in.
With this in mind, it’s important to consider your trading habits when comparing brokers, as this can have a huge impact on the cost of each transaction. You’ll need to take into account not only how often you trade but also the size of the trades you place.
Trading apps with R0 brokerage fees in South Africa
There are a growing number of share trading platforms that charge no brokerage fees to trade US or global stocks. These apps include:
Although you don’t need to pay a commission, this doesn’t mean they’re free. Instead, they charge a small foreign exchange fee (also called the market spread) to convert South African rands to the required global currency, e.g. USD. So far, there are no apps offering zero brokerage for South African (JSE) stocks, however, EasyEquities doesn’t charge a brokerage fee on Satrix ETFs and some US instruments.
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 JSE-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 $0 – $60 dollars 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 South African rands into 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.
For example, CMC Markets has a spread of 0.70%, so the exchange rate you’ll receive for international transactions is calculated as the best available offer at the time of execution plus a spread of 0.70%, which CMC collects. 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|
|IG Share Trading||USD $0*||£0||0.70%|
|Saxo Capital Markets Share Trading||USD $4 or *||£8 or 0.10%*||1%|
|CommSec International Trading Account||USD $39.95 or 0.40%||0.60%|
|Stake||$0||Not available||70 pips (US$0.70 for every AU$100 exchanged)*|
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 ZAR to another currency in order to trade global stocks.
- Custody fee: This annual fee is charged when you trade US stocks and are paid to the custodian broker for holding your stocks.
Read the terms and conditions of an online stockbroking 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 the JSE, 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 incurs 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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