With such an extensive list of brokers out there, finding the best value-for-money trading platforms can be a tedious exercise. Should you go for fixed-fee or percentage based? Go through your bank, or an external broker?
We took the liberty of compiling answers to the most common questions surrounding brokerage fees, and later show you the effect that higher fees can have on your investments over the course of 30 years.
Check out our comprehensive table of brokerage fees, ranked from cheapest to most expensive. If you’d like to read our explanations on each broker and the most frequently asked questions, then continue reading further.
- Brokerage Fees Comparison Table
- Brokers Explained
- Frequently Asked Questions
Brokerage Fees Comparison Table
|Stake||$0*||*US Shares only. Must share on social media for $0 brokerage|
|Interactive Brokers||0.08% of trade value*||*Minimum $6 per trade|
|SelfWealth||$9.50||Flat-fee regardless of trade size|
|Amscot||$9.90 or 0.077%, whichever is greater|
|CMC Markets||$11 or 0.10%, whichever is greater*||*For less than 11 trades/month. Over 11 is $9.90.|
|OpenMarkets||$13.95 or 0.07%*||*Up to $19,930, 0.07% above|
|NABTrade||$14.95 for ~$5k*||*$19.95 for $5k-$20k, 0.11% for $20k+|
|Bell Direct||$15*||*Up to 10 trades/month, $13 for 11-30, $10 for 31+|
|Bank of Queensland||$17.95 or 0.11%, whichever is greater|
|Phillip Capital||0.12%*||*Minimum $18|
|HSBC||$19.95 for ~$20k*||*0.11% for $20k+|
|ANZ||$19.95 for ~$5k*||*$24.95 for $5k-10k, $29.95 for $10k-28k, 0.11% for $28k+, 2nd trade for month is $19.95/0.11%|
|Westpac||$19.95 or $0.11%*||*Must be a Westpac customer, otherwise $29.95/0.29%|
|Macquarie||$19.95 or 0.12%, whichever is greater|
|CommSec||$19.95 for $1k-$10k*||*$10 up to $1k, $29.95 $10k-25k, 0.12% $25k+|
There are numerous brokers and only you can choose the right one for you. Whether you prefer low fees, access to international shares, or the convenience of buying shares through the same interface as your bank account, there’s something out there for everyone.
Stake was founded with the intent to give Aussies the ability to invest in US shares. They’ve got a slick website that is clearly based at a younger (dare I say, Millennial) market. Their key selling point is that they offer $0 brokerage, which is mighty useful if you’re in the market for US shares and ETFs. They get the top spot on our list as the cheapest broker (for US shares), but we can’t give them a star rating as we don’t feel like they deserve one due to that limitation.
Interactive Brokers are a US-based e-broker with an Australian arm located in Sydney. They’re mighty cheap, charging 0.08% of your trade value, with a minimum of $6. The sweet spot with IB is buying $7500 lots, as $7500 x 0.08% equates to $6. We’ve given them a four star rating, as they’re cheap for smaller amounts of money. However, if you’re making a large one time deposit of say $50k or more, that 0.08% is going to set you back $40 and that number is only going to get bigger.
The biggest drawcard here is their $9.50 flat trading fee, no matter how much you’re buying or selling.SelfWealth are another broker with a slick website and a handy FAQ to answer any questions you might have about their platform. The biggest drawcard here is their $9.50 flat trading fee, no matter how much you’re buying or selling. This makes SelfWealth incredibly attractive for those looking to make large stock investments, as the lack of percentage-based fee means you’ll never be stung more than $9.50. Given that they’re the cheapest for big transactions and small alike, we give SelfWealth a 5 star rating and crown them the Best Broker in 2018.
Amscot’s fees are respectably low, and they find themselves fourth cheapest on our table. Amscot charges $9.90 per trade or 0.077%, whichever is greater. Doing the maths, $12857 x 0.077% gives us $9.90 which makes it the sweet spot for trades here. They get 3 stars, because they’re relatively cheap, but aren’t as good as SelfWealth because they also add in the percentage-based component on their fees.
CMC Markets start off the middle pack of our table at $11, or 0.10% of the trade, giving us a sweet spot of $11k per trade to get the most out of brokerage fees. CMC Markets is the broker I personally use, mainly because I started with them before I properly researched the competition. They aren’t expensive by any means, but their website and mobile app could use a design overhaul and their confirmation of purchase emails can take an extended time to get sent out.
OpenMarkets are a fintech-orientated broker with a pretty cool interface and offer $13.95 or 0.07% trades. This makes $13950 the sweet spot for trades on their platform. I can see no discerning reason why you might choose them over a cheaper broker, but I wouldn’t leave them if you’re already with them either.
Bank brokers epitomise convenience, as they allow you to see your account balances, share value etc. from the same screen with instant transfers between accounts.The first bank on our list is NABTrade. Bank brokers epitomise convenience, as they allow you to see your account balances, share value etc. from the same screen with instant transfers between accounts.
BellDirect offers $15 brokerage fees for up to 10 trades a month, $13 for 11-30 trades and $10 for 31+. For the average joe trying to achieve FI/RE, you’ll be in the $15 fee basket. BellDirect won the Financial Review Blue Ribbon Awards for Best Broker from 2013-2015, so they must be doing something right for their clients.
Bank of Queensland
Bank of Queensland uses the CMC Markets platform, but supercharges the brokerage fees for the convenience of having everything in one spot in your bank account, as we discussed above with NABTrade. BoQ charges $17.95 or 0.11%, giving us an investing sweet spot of $16319.
Phillip Capital are in 16 countries, with a massive amount of assets under management, who also provide brokerage services. At 0.12% with an $18 minimum, they’re on the higher side of our list. The sweet spot with Phillip Capital is bundles of $15k.
Here we get to the tail end of our table. I’m sure no one is surprised to see that banks are the most expensive and capitalise on the convenience factor to attract their clients. HSBC charges a flat $19.95 fee for up to $20k and then a 0.11% fee for anything over $20k.
ANZ has a tiered price list, costing $19.95 for amounts up to $5k, $24.95 for $5k-$10k, $29.95 for $10k-$28k and 0.11% for $28k+. If you make more than 1 trade in one month, ANZ will reduce your subsequent trades to $19.95 or 0.11%, a sweet spot of $18137.
Rather than a tier like some of the other banks, Westpac offers flat $19.95 or 0.11% with a sweet spot of $18137. They do have a caveat, however, where if you’re not a Westpac customer, you’ll instead receive a higher rate of $29.95 or 0.29%.
Macquarie’s offering will set you back $19.95 or 0.12%, with our sweet spot coming in at $16625. There appears to be no real drawcards or selling points for Macquarie’s trading platform aside from convenience.
Coming in dead last in our table, CommSec obviously felt like they needed to do something to retain customers, recently reducing their fees for anyone investing up to $1k down to $10. They charge $19.95 for lots of $1k-10k, which I suspect most people will fit in. Above that you’ll get slugged $29.95 for $10k-$25k and 0.12% on $25k+. Again, convenience is key here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a list of the most common questions we read and receive around brokerage, if you have any more please reach out to us in the comments so we can add them to the list!
What is the effect of higher brokerage on your investments over time?
To keep things simple, we plotted the cost of buying shares once a month over 30 years with brokerage costs of $9.50 and $19.95. The bottom line is that the more expensive fees will cost you $3772.45 extra, hardly a life changing amount.
Can you claim Brokerage fees on tax?
No you can’t claim brokerage fees on tax. When you purchase shares, the fee is added onto the cost base of the shares, which can affect capital gains/losses.
For eg. If you buy $100 worth of shares and get charged $20 brokerage (for simplicity sake) you have a cost base of $120. Say the shares appreciate 10% and are worth $110, if you sell them, the $20 brokerage you will incur means you’re actually down $30 and can claim a capital loss.
Your shares might’ve appreciated and net you $10 profit, but you’ve paid $40 in brokerage fees for that privilege!
Is a fixed-fee or percentage-based brokerage better?
It’s hard to say without knowing how much you plan to spend on your parcel of shares, however, there is a general rule of thumb that you can go by.
Fixed-fee is typically more favourable than percentage-based if you’re buying a large amount.Fixed-fee is typically more favourable than percentage-based if you’re buying a large amount, say, $15k or $20k+ in one go. The reason being is that the higher your cost, the more percentage-based fees will sting you. For eg. if a fixed-fee is $9.50 and you’re buying $30k, you only pay $9.50. However if you’re charged 0.10% of the cost instead, 0.10% of $30k is $30 and that number only gets bigger the more you spend.
Typically percentage-based brokers will have a minimum fee, so that they still make money from those trading smaller parcels.
Will it cost me to transfer my holdings from one broker to another?
Maybe. A majority of brokers won’t charge you to move funds from one broker to another.. however some do. The best thing to do is to check the FAQ or fine print of your broker before going ahead with the transfer.
How do day traders eliminate brokerage fees?
They don’t. Some brokers will offer volume discounts for those that are making 10’s or 100’s of trades a month, but they’re still incurring them just like you and I.
The fact that they have to deal with brokerage fees are one reason why only a small percentage of day traders consistently make a profit.