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Compare Online Trading Accounts
Compare online trading platforms and find out what you need to know about trading shares in South Africa.
Online trading platforms make it cheaper and easier to buy and sell shares from South Africa and abroad. You can use our stock broker comparison table below to compare fees and features and find the best deal for you.
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Looking to trade shares online? There are a number of online platforms available, but it’s important to compare them before you sign up. This guide will teach you how online share trading platforms work in South Africa, how you can make money from trading, what fees you’ll pay and what all the investment terms mean.
Online share trading is exactly what it sounds like: you use an online platform to buy, sell and trade shares online. These platforms can be available on a website or as an app and let you set up an account and trade shares from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) or other stock exchanges globally.
Many platforms in South Africa also let you trade other types of investments, such as index funds, ETFs and more. You can also make use of online tools such as copying high-profile investors, in-depth research on stocks and easy access to data to inform your trades.
Another huge benefit of trading shares online is that it’s cheaper than a full-service stockbroker.
How to buy shares online
Buying shares is a relatively simple process:
- Choose an online share trading platform
- Sign up for an account
- Choose the shares you want to buy
- Place your order
- Pay for the transaction
- Monitor the performance of your shares
- Sell your shares (if you want to)
Features to look for in online trading platforms
- Availability of advice and research options. Online brokers in South Africa sometimes offer market news and updates, as well as other research tools that will let you investigate the trading history of individual stocks.
- Integration with bank accounts. Some services let you transfer money easily from your trading account to a transaction or savings account. Others offer linked debit cards to use with your accounts.
- Access to global markets. If you want to invest in offshore exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), check what options are available with each service.
- Other trading options. Other products offered by some online brokers include forex, CFDs, managed funds and options trading.
- Customer support. Check what level of customer support is available, what hours it’s available and if the support team is based locally in South Africa. This is particularly important for new traders.
How do fees work with online share trading platforms?
- Broker fees. This is the fee that is charged every time you buy and sell shares. Brokers charge different fees depending on the product you’re trading (e.g. global shares, local shares, options), how often you trade in a month and the size of the trade.
- Monthly fees. Some brokers in South Africa charge ongoing subscription fees or additional inactivity fees if you don’t make any trades within a certain period of time. This may or may not suit you depending on your trading requirements.
- Foreign exchange fees. If you’re interested in trading global stocks, you’ll want to check what the foreign exchange (FX) fee is for converting your ZAR to the foreign currency of choice.
- Inactivity fees. Some accounts also have monthly inactivity fees if you don’t place any trades for a specific period of time. Other fees, such as the ‘custody’ fee for global brokers, are sometimes waived if you make a minimum number of trades in a year.
Is trading shares online safe? What are the risks?
- Customer reviews. Look at reviews online and find out other users’ experiences of the platform.
- Experience. Find out how long the company has been offering online share trading services in South Africa. Is it backed by a large bank or financial institution?
- Encryption. Reputable online trading platforms rely on encryption technology to protect your sensitive information. This means that when you log into a broker’s website, no one will be able to see any of the information transmitted between you and the broker.
- Login information. Check out what information you will need to provide in order to log in to your account. While many providers only ask for a username and password, others may ask you to enter an additional security code.
- Online checks. Does the provider offer online checks and restrictions to reduce the risk of fraud? For example, do you receive an SMS code that you will need to enter before trading, or do you need to answer an online security question?
- Previewing trades. When talking about online share trading security, it’s also important to check that there are measures in place to prevent you from placing the wrong trade. For example, does the trading platform show you a preview screen outlining the full details of a transaction so you can review the total cost, total shares purchased etc. before placing a trade?
- Processes for dealing with fraud. Next, check to see what will happen if you’re a victim of fraud via your trading account. Does the provider have processes in place to reimburse you for any losses you suffer through no fault of your own if you are the victim of fraud? Are there any exclusions to when this cover applies?
- Customer support. It’s vital that if something ever goes wrong with a trade or you have a problem with your account, you can quickly access assistance from a company representative. Check to see when and how you can get in touch with the customer support team.
How to protect yourself when you trade online
- Watch out for scams. Just as online share trading technology has grown more sophisticated, so too have the methods used by scammers to trick people into giving up their account details.
- Keep your login details safe. This is an obvious tip, but one you should always remember. Never give your account login details to a third party, and don’t leave your computer unattended while you’re logged in to your account.
- Keep a copy of your records. Keep a record of all your online share trading transactions. Your records could be in a digital or hard-copy format, but should always be stored in a safe place. This will ensure that you have evidence to refer to if something goes wrong with your account or if you suspect you may have been a victim of fraud.
- Look after your computer. Make sure that you always keep your antivirus software up to date to protect your computer against malware and other viruses. In addition, check that you only ever log in to the trading platform via a secure Internet connection.
How can I make money from trading?
Investors in shares are fractional owners of a business, meaning they will profit based on the future outlook of the business or by getting part of the company paid to them.
There are two main ways to make money from stock trading in South Africa:
- Capital growth. If you can sell your shares for a higher price than what you paid for them you’ll make a profit. This is known as capital growth, given that your initial capital (your shares) has increased in value. This is possible both with short-term investments (where you sell the shares after a brief period of time) and over longer periods.
- Dividends. Some (but not all) companies pay regular dividends to their shareholders, based on the amount of profit they make, which can provide an ongoing income stream. Dividend payments are a great form of passive income and it means investors may never need to sell their shares in order to make a profit.
Tips for online stock trading
Here are some tips to help get you started:
- Read the news. It’s important to stay up-to-date with the broader economy and learn how major events such as national elections impact the share price of various companies.
- Research companies before buying. If you want to buy shares in a company, research as much as you can about the company before making your final decision. It’s a good idea to read the company’s annual reports and meeting minutes to learn what’s in the pipeline, and what changes will be made that could affect their share price.
- Up-skill. It can be easy to lose a lot of money by making a poor investment decision or by simply clicking on the wrong button if you don’t know what you’re doing. Practice trading on a demo account first and consider taking an online investment course.
- Consider blue-chip companies. This is a good strategy for people new to the share market, as blue-chips often have more stable returns, are less volatile and often pay dividends.
- Diversify. Say you had R50,000 to invest in the share market. Rather than invest it all in one company, consider spreading it out across a few companies from different industries. Diversification will help lower your risk, and ensure you don’t have all your eggs in one basket.
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