Best Online Trading Platforms and Cheapest Brokers in South Africa 2021

There are many stock trading platforms available to South African investors. Picking the right broker in South Africa should be selected based on securities available , ease-of-use, and service reputation. Here is a detailed guide to online trading in South Africa.

This is a summary of the top platforms for South Africans based on hours of research. We took popular brokers and analyzed them based on fees, account minimums, security, customer reviews, customer support and more. Take a look at the top-rated brokers below.

Best Trading Platform South Africa 2021

  1. IQ Option – Best Broker for Share Trading Overall
  2. eToro – Best Online Broker For Commission Free Stock Trading
  3. Plus500 – One of the Best CFD Trading Platform in South Africa
  4. Interactive Brokers – Best Broker for Professionals
  5. AvaTrade – Best Broker for Forex and CFDs
  6. Pepperstone – Great For Forex
  7. XTB – Low Forex Fees
  8. XM – Low CFD Fees
  9. CMC Markets – Great Mobile Trading App
  10. IG – Long-Standing Reputation

Other companies to consider:

  • Saxo Markets – Well Designed
  • FXCM – Great Tools
  • Swissquote – Best Broker For High Net-Worth Individuals
  • Dukascopy – JForex and MT4 Support
  • City Index – High Quality Research Tools
  • Capital.com – Commission Free
  • Forex.com – Best Forex Tools
  • TD Ameritrade – In-depth Research
  • Darwinex – Great Education For Beginners
  • Tickmill – Low non-trading fees
  • Easy Markets – Unique Tools
  • Oanda – Powerful Research Tools

1. IQ Option – Best Overall

Compare IQ Option

IQ Option is one of the fastest-growing brokerages that offers their services to retail clients worldwide. With its strong and reliable reputation, this is a safe choice for both beginner and advanced traders. IQ Option has Forex, options, Binary Option, Stocks, Commodities, Cryptocurrencies and ETFs available.  

A downside is that the company can have slow customer service, particularly during busy periods.

Pros

  • Award Winning Platform
  • Smooth account opening process
  • Wide range of instruments available
  • No deposit and withdrawal fees

Cons

  • CFD Only
Visit IQ Option >>

2. eToro – Best For Copy Share Trading

comparison etoro logo

eToro is the overall best for copy portfolios. With a versatile mobile app, eToro is great for both beginners and experienced investors alike. 

You can copy many strategies and portfolios via their Copy Trader. This includes cryptocurrencies, Forex, and CFDs strategies. eToro has a variety of useful research material. Paper trading is available, giving you access to $100,000 of virtual money to try out your strategies. A downside is that eToro has expensive Forex and CFD fees.

Read Full Review

Pros

  • Easy to navigate
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Wide range of securities available 
  • Excellent community
  • Cryptocurrency tools

Cons

  • Forex and CFD fees
Visit eToro >>

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.


3. Plus500 – Great For CFDs

Plus500 Comparison

Plus500 is a clear winner for day trading. It boasts over 2,000 CFDs available. This includes cryptocurrency, Forex currency pairs, and options. Plus500 provides traders a way to test out forex and CFDs. Plus500 has limited  educational resources and research tools. Traders will need to look for extra resources elsewhere. Read Full Review

Pros

  • No Commissions
  • Wide selection of market instruments
  • Competitive fees
  • Fast order execution
  • User-friendly

Cons

  • Educational and research tools
Visit Plus500 >>

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 72% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.


4. Interactive Brokers – Best for Professionals

Interactive Brokers Logo

Interactive Brokers is a great choice for experienced active traders, but beginners will find the it difficult to navigate. Thanks to Interactive Broker’s IB SmartRouting technology, their order execution is efficient. The mobile app is supported across all devices. It is aimed at professionals, so beginners may find it tricky to use. Read Full Review

Pros

  • Fast order execution
  • Wide range of securities available
  • Tools
  • Fractional shares
  • Order Execution

Cons

  • Not the best for beginners
Visit IB >>

5. Pepperstone – Best for Forex

Pepperstone Logo

Pepperstone is an Australian forex broker. They offer a limited selection of CFDs. The brokerage is best known for its extensive selection of third-party solutions like MetaTrader and cTrader. This allows you to crowdsource ideas and gain access to a range of different tools.

Pros

  • Low non-trading fees
  • No deposit and withdrawal fees
  • Third-party integrations
  • Great customer service

Cons

  • Financial information not publicly available
Visit Pepperstone >>

6. AvaTrade – Great For Forex and CFD

AvaTrade Logo

AvaTrade was founded in 2006, and is based in Dublin, Ireland. AvaTrad has access to forex, cryptocurrencies, and a range of CFDs. Opening an account through AvaTrade is fast and easy. There are no fees charged for deposits and withdrawals. It has user-friendly and diverse research and educational tools.

On the negative side, fees are high if you are a passive investor.

Read Full Review

Pros

  • Easy account opening
  • No deposits and withdrawals fees
  • Wide range of research tools

Cons

  • No ETFs
  • High inactivity fees
Visit AvaTrade >>

7. XTB

XTB logo

XTB is best known for its low forex fees. XTB has an intuitive and easy interface. There are a few downsides though. They charge high fees for stock CFDs. XTB has a limited product portfolio, covering mainly CFDs and Forex. 

Pros

  • Low Forex Fees
  • Free Deposits & Withdrawal
  • Fast and easy account opening

Cons

  • Limited Product Portfolio
  • High CFD Stock Fees
Visit XTB >>

8. XM

XM Logo

XM has low stock CFDs fees and a user-friendly account opening. There are many educational resources as well as a demo account for beginners. A significant downside is that there is no investor protection for its customers. XM also has a limited product portfolio as it only has forex and CFDs. 

Pros

  • Low stock CFD and non-trading fees
  • Easy account opening
  • Great educational tools
  • Demo Account

Cons

  • No investor protection
  • Limited product portfolio selection
Visit XM >>

9. FXCM

FXCM Logo

Forex Capital Market (FXCM) has a great range of CFDs. Stocks, commodities, and cryptocurrencies are available. 

They support several third-party solutions such as ZuluTrade, and MetaTrader 4. This gives you access to an abundance of drawing tools and technical indicators.

FXCM charges inactivity fees, but this only applies if your account is inactive for more than a year.  

Pros

  • Well-established and reputable
  • User-friendly mobile app
  • No commission fees
  • Tight spreads
  • Wide range of third-party integrations

Cons

  • Expensive inactivity fees

10. SwissQuote

SwissQuote logo

Swissquote gives you access to a variety of markets and exchanges. They don't charge inactivity fees, which is an added bonus for more passive investors. Swissquote does have high fees though, so this isn’t the best choice for active traders on a budget. Some of its research tools have added costs, which is unusual compared to others.

Pros

  • Access to a wide range of products and markets
  • Safe and reliable

Cons

  • High fees
  • Research tools have hidden costs
Visit Swissquote >>

11. Capital.com

Capital.Com

Capital.com’s selling point is its completely commission-free structure across all of its investment products. This is very rare in the industry. At Capital.com you get access to stocks, indices, forex, commodities, and cryptocurrencies.

A big downside is that you can only choose from selected strategies as there are no options to customize. 

They charge fees for inactivity, but these only apply if your account remains inactive for a year.

Pros

  • Commission-free
  • Wide range of US and UK shares
  • Good educational resources
  • Useful AI assistant
  • Excellent charting and analysis interface

Cons

  • Cannot build custom strategies

12. Forex.com

forex.com logo

Forex.com is a well-established broker. Besides forex, they support a range of other assets too. 

Forex.com is popular amongst traders as it integrates MT4. This lets you choose from more than 50 drawing tools and 70 technical indicators. Forex.com only offers CFDs and not real assets.

In terms of inactivity, forex.com charges $15 per month after one year of remaining dormant.

Pros

  • Great reputation
  • Competitive Spreads
  • Wide range of investment products
  • Versatile charting tools and technical indicators

Cons

  • Limited stock selection available
  • Inactivity fees

13. TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade Logo

TD Ameritrade is another excellent option for investors. They stand out with its in-depth market research and tools. TD offers a seamless mobile app platform suitable for both beginners and advanced traders. The mobile app features great educational resources to help new investors get started.

TD Ameritrade has a free demo account for beginners. Plus, there is excellent 24/7 customer service available.

Pros

  • Free stock, ETF, and options trades
  • Extensive educational resources for beginners
  • Well-designed and user-friendly mobile app
  • 24/7 reliable customer service
  • Demo

Cons

  • No fractional shares

14. Darwinex

Darwinex Logo

Darwinex has a wide selection of investment products and fund management services. There is a detailed education base for beginners who are looking to expand their knowledge.

Darwinex has extensive copy trading, but its interface is not up to the same standard as its competitors. It has limited tools, so experienced traders should look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Educational resources
  • Paper trading
  • Easy account opening process

Cons

  • Limited tools
  • Minimum account deposit

15. TickMill

Tickmill Logo

Tickmill has low forex fees and low non-trading fees. Opening an account is an easy and efficient process. On the downside, MetaTrader has an outdated design. Tickmill has a limited product portfolio, offering only forex and CFDs.

Pros

  • Low forex fees
  • Easy account opening
  • No deposit or withdrawal fees

Cons

  • Outdated design
  • Only forex and CFDs available

16. Oanda

Oanda Logo

Oanda has a user-friendly interface with powerful research tools and numerous technical indicators.  Oanda only has a small range of investment products though. Oanda only offers forex and CFDs. Customer support could be better and is not available 24/7.

Pros

  • User-friendly
  • Great research tools
  • Fast account opening

Cons

  • No 24/7 Customer Support
  • Only Forex and CFDs available

17. CMC Markets

CMC Markets Logo

CMC Markets has low forex fees and a sophisticated mobile app. The interface is easily customized. There are some unique features such as an advanced order panel. Extensive research and educational tools are available. There are free deposits and withdrawals, except for international and same-day withdrawals. 

On the negative side, the product portfolio only includes CFDs and forex. The account verification process is time-consuming and complicated.

Pros

  • Low Forex Fees
  • Great Web platform and Mobile app
  • Advanced Research and Educational Tools

Cons

  • Account Verification
  • Limited Securities Available

18. IG

IG Logo

IG is primarily a forex broker. Beginners will love the user-friendly mobile and desktop platforms. At the same time, experienced traders have access to a great range of charting tools and indicators.

IG only offers forex to its U.S.-based customers though, so only CFDs are available.  

A downside is that IG’s account opening process is slow. There are also high fees for stock CFDs and a high minimum account deposit.

Pros

  • Reliable and well-known reputation
  • Premium education and research tools
  • Forex not available
  • Great web and mobile platforms

Cons

  • Account Opening
  • CFD Fees

19. Easy Markets

Easy Markets Logo

Easy Markets provides clients with multiple platforms to choose from. Its app is intuitively designed with a user-friendly interface. It offers unique tools and guaranteed stop loss.

Some features aren’t compatible with MetaTrader4, which is a downside for many traders.

Pros

  • Innovative solution
  • User-friendly mobile app
  • Free guaranteed stop loss
  • Free deposits and withdrawals

Cons

  • Some features don’t work with MetaTrader 4

20. Saxo Markets

Saxo Markets Logo

Saxo Markets gives access to a well-designed and versatile platform. The research service is high-quality, with a range of ideas offered. Its product portfolio includes a wide selection to meet the needs of both retirement investors and active traders.

On the downside, Saxo has high fees for futures, bonds, and options trades. There is a high minimum deposit and customer service isn’t available 24/7.

Pros

  • Versatile platform
  • Outstanding research
  • Broad product portfolio

Cons

  • High minimum account deposit
  • High fees for options, futures, and bonds

21. Dukascopy

Dukascopy Logo Small

Dukascopy is a great option for professional traders. It supports JForex and MetaTrader4, which are both top-tier solutions. Dukascopy provides cutting-edge market research and tools. With a focus on market professionals, Dukascopy is not suited for beginners.

Although its fees are high, they are one of the most trusted and low-risk companies for forex and CFDs.

Pros

  • Great brokerage reputation
  • Offers JForex and MT4
  • Wide range of market research tools
  • Advanced tools

Cons

  • High Initial deposit Requirement
  • Only aimed at professionals

22. City Index

City Index Logo

City Index offers access to a small range of products which includes forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs. While non-trading fees and forex commission rates are low, the feeds for stock CFDs are high. 

The interface isn’t user-friendly, but it does provide a range of high-quality research tools for traders.

For stock and ETFs, you will need to find another broker. 

Pros

  • Low forex fees 
  • Fast and smooth account opening
  • Wide range of research tools

Cons

  • Outdated design
  • High fees for stock CFDs

23. Absa stockbrokers

Absa Stockbrokers (Pty) Ltd is a stock broker in Sandton, South Africa. It is part of the Absa Group Limited and is traded on the JSE (JSE:ABG). Absa Group Limited (parent organization) offers banking, financial services, Investment services and insurance services to Clients in Africa.


24. Ally Invest

Ally Invest Logo

Ally Invest is an online broker, and part of the Ally Invest Group, Inc. You can trade stocks, ETFs and forex. It is a great pick if you want to diversify your investment portfolio with U.S. stocks.


Online trading In South Africa

Online trading involves buying and selling stocks on a stock market. By opening an brokerage account, you are able to place buy and sell orders online. Your broker will then execute these orders on your behalf.

Different platforms allow you to trade different types of investment securities. In most cases, you are responsible for choosing which companies to buy stocks in. Only full-service brokerages offer investment and advice.

How Does It Work?

Anyone can start as long as they have access to a stable internet connection and a way to fund a account. There are many online platforms available that give you access to securities. Opening an account is easy and straightforward.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) provides a regulated market where you can trade financial assets with other investors. All brokerage services are regulated by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). FSCA is a financial regulating authority. All firms need to follow the rules and regulations set by this body.

Individuals have to pay taxes on capital gained. Forex traders are also required to declare any profits made through foreign exchange on their annual tax returns. Read about the best forex brokers in South Africa in our guide.

What can you trade?

Stocks

There are many different types of assets available to put your money into. Stocks are the most common. Stocks allows you to buy and sell shares in a particular company. This means that you own a piece of the company.

Forex

Forex trading is when you exchange one currency for another currency. This means that you sell one currency while buying another one at the same time.

Commodities

Trading in commodities means investing in physical assets such as gold or oil. Most commodity trading involves futures contracts, although physical trading is still common.

Options

An options contract is a contract that offers a buyer the opportunity to buy or sell an asset at a future date. Options are derivatives based on the value of securities such as stocks.

Futures

Future trading is when you buy and sell contracts for the delivery of a security or commodity on an agreed future date. The date of delivery of the security or commodity is set at a certain price.

Bonds

Bond trading involves loaning money to institutions such as companies or governments. Traders make a profit by taking advantage of changes in the value of corporate or government bonds.

CFDs

A contract for difference (CFD) is when you agree to exchange the difference in the price of an asset from when the contract is opened to when it closes.

You predict fluctuations in the prices of fast-moving global financial markets.

ETFs

An exchange-traded fund (ETF) lets you invest in a wide range of shares or bonds in one package. ETFs are different from other funds as they are traded on the stock market. 

Mutual Funds

A mutual fund is when money from a third party is used to invest in securities such as stocks or bonds. Investors buy shares in the mutual fund to get part ownership in the fund and the income that is generated.

Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency trading is buying and selling a digital currency via an exchange.

Investors buy cryptocurrency in the hopes that its value will increase. Bitcoin is a common example of a cryptocurrency.

How To Pick a Trading Platform?

Regulation & Safety, Account Security 

As an investor, you should be aware of the privacy and regulation policies. Brokers are regulated by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). All firms need to follow the rules set by these bodies regulating bodies. More isn't always better. It is important that the company is regulated by at least one tier-1 regulator.

Fees & Commissions

Different platforms charge a range of different fees. You must be aware of all fees in advance. It's important to know how to determine commission charges. You should avoid choosing a company that earns commissions through unnecessary transactions.

CFD vs Investing

Active trading is trading that lasts for seconds or minutes. This takes advantage of brief changes in the price of an asset. Long-term buy and hold investing is passive. This usually means buying and holding trades for several months or years.

You need to find a company that is best suited for your investing style and goals.

Tradeable Assets

There are a variety of different investment products available to put your money into. The most common securities are stocks, options, bonds, and derivatives. Make sure the asset you are interested in is available. There are a variety of different investment products available to put your money into. Stocks, bonds, options, and derivatives are the most common types. You should choose a company that offers the investment products you're interested in.

Account Types

There are many different types of accounts. These include margin accounts, cash accounts, and retirement accounts.

You need to be aware of which accounts are available as there might be different minimum investment amounts for different accounts.

Educational resources

Education resources are great if you’re wanting to expand on your strategies. These include videos, forums, and how-to articles. If you're a beginner trader, you'll need some advice on how to analyze the market and diversify your portfolio.Education resources are great if you’re wanting to expand on your strategies. These include videos, forums, and how-to articles. If you're a beginner, you'll need advice on how to analyze and diversify your portfolios.

Margin

Margin trading should only be for very experienced investors. This is a method of trading assets with borrowed funds. This allows traders to access greater sums of capital.

Brokerages will charge different margin rates as interest on transactions. New investors should stay clear of margin trading.

Account minimums

Most don’t require any minimum deposit amounts. Other high-end firms still might require a minimum balance of several thousand dollars.

Tools & Research

With access to premium tools and in-depth market research you will make the most of your experience. It should be easy to navigate and intuitive. Charting tools, price alerts, and customizable screeners are key features to look for.

Customer Service

A strong customer support system is another key component. You need to have easy access to support, especially if you are just starting out. Make sure you are able to contact support in your language and 24/7/365.

Mobile Trading

A mobile app allows you to access the markets from anywhere in the world, buy and sell securities, and monitor your positions. This takes place on an app on your smartphone. If you're looking for easy access to your accounts, then you should look for a broker that offers a mobile app.

Banking Services

Some firms offer banking services. This is a great way to combine banking and trading on the same account.

Order Execution

Order execution happens with every buy or sell order. All your orders are sent to your broker to be executed. Efficient order execution is important, especially if you are an active day trader.

International Trading

If you want to invest in foreign markets then you need make sure you can trade international markets.

Access to a Financial Advisor

Financial advisors guide you on how to spend your money wisely. It might be worthwhile looking into a full-service broker, especially if you’re new to the investment world.

Know the Terms and Conditions

You must be well aware of general terms and conditions before signing up. It’s important to do thorough research into the firm and its reputation.

How to Start Share CFD Trading

  1. Find a broker – The first step to start investing is to find a reputable company. As a new investor, this requires careful thought. You take into consideration your investing styles and goals.
  2. Open an trading account – The next step is to open up an account. Follow the instructions on the website to set up an account. This requires you to upload relevant documents and personal details to verify your identity. You will need to make a deposit to fund your account. Many discount brokers nowadays don’t have a minimum deposit amount.
  3. Research before investing in your money – The easiest way to get started is to search for a company that you want to buy shares in. Make sure you’ve done your homework if you plan to invest your hard-earned money. Once you’ve made a decision, place an order.
  4. Develop a strategy – You should aim to build a diverse long-term share portfolio, depending on what you want as a trader. Your strategy should consider your profit goals, how much risk you can absorb, and how much time you can allocate.
  5. Understand the risks – Although a large portion of listed companies is well-run, it’s safer to dip your feet into online share trading with both eyes open and a lot of research under your belt. Some common risks to be aware of include decreases in share prices and potential mismanagement or bankruptcy of a company.

Risks of Trading Online

Every beginner must be aware of the risks. It’s important to research thoroughly where you’re putting your money.

Leverage Risk

Leverage is using borrowed capital to make an investment. While this increases your potential returns, it also increases your potential risk. High leverage often leads to high profit or high loss, depending on how the position moves.

Margin Risk 

Margin risk is the risk associated with achieving an expected margin. This is the probability that changes in economic development will negatively impact a profit margin’s expected cash flow.

Interest Rate Risk

An increase in the interest rate of a country leads to a strong currency. This usually raises the value of the currency and its interest rates. On the other hand, decreasing interest rates lead to a weaker currency. This causes investors to withdraw their investments and leave the country.

Exchange Rate Risk

Exchange rate risk is caused by changes in an investor's local currency compared to foreign-investment currency. Exchange rates sometimes change in the 24-hour period before your trade is settled. 

Learning Online Trading 

The learning curve for new investors often seems rather steep. It’s important to establish your risks, profit goals, and how much time you can devote to it. Here are the first few steps to learn.

Understanding Price Fluctuations

Many new investors make the mistake of throwing money at securities without understanding why prices move up or down. Your goal should be to learn how to trade with skill and authority. This starts with educating yourself on financial markets with charts and price actions. 

Learn to Analyze

Once you understand price movements, start by studying the basics of technical analysis. This allows you to start predicting price changes and how to take advantage of them. 

Paper Trading

A demo account, or paper trading, is the perfect way for beginners to test out the waters. It allows you to invest virtual money into real-time market simulations. This lets you track the theoretical performance of your buy and sell decisions.

FAQ

How much do I need to start?

Most services nowadays don't have a minimum deposit amount. This means that you don’t need any amount to open an account. Thanks to commission-free brokers that offer fractional shares, it’s possible to start investing as little as R100. To get started you need to look at diversifying your portfolio. You should aim to open multiple trading positions with different investment vehicles. In order to do this, you would need at least R1000 to get started.

What is Share Trading?

It is buying and selling of a company’s stock in order to make a profit. A share represents a portion of ownership in the company.

What is forex trading?

Forex trading is exchanging one currency into another currency. You always sell one currency while buying another one at the same time.

Is Trading Legal? 

Yes, trading is legal in South Africa. All securities including stocks, CFDs, and cryptocurrencies are legal. You are required to follow all financial laws in place to prevent money laundering and you must declare your income tax.

What is the safest trading platform in South Africa?

eToro is a safe and well-established broker. They have good reputation and are regulated by the FSCA.

Can you do online trading in whilst you are on a student visa?

Yes, international students can trade. Just make sure that you choose a reliable and well-known broker that abides by the laws and regulations set out by financial regulating bodies.

Which is the cheapest trading platform? 

For stocks, eToro is the cheapest platform. It offers a large selection of commission-free stocks and low fees. For forex, Pepperstone is the cheapest. 

What is the best trading app?

eToro is the overall best app in SA. Their app is easy to navigate, with an excellent crowdsourcing community and a broad range of useful research materials. 

What is the best online stock trading site for a beginner in South Africa?

The best broker for beginners in South Africa is eToro. Beginners have access to a range of strategies to copy and test out. Both the mobile and web version are easy to use.

Is online it profitable?

Trading is a great way to generate extra income on the side. Only a select few investors will earn enough profit to turn this into a full-time career. This requires a lot of time and active portfolio management.