Best Online Trading Platforms South Africa 2021

As a South African investor, it’s important that you find the best online trading platform in South Africa that is reliable and safe.

The best stock trading platform in South Africa should be selected based on its investment choices, ease-of-use, and service reputation.

Here is a detailed guide to online trading in South Africa that will help you get started on your investing journey.

Best Brokers In South Africa 2021

This analysis on the top brokerage accounts in South Africa is based on hours of research. We took popular brokers and analyzed them based on fees, account minimums, security, customer reviews, customer support and more.

Top Brokers for 2021 are:

  1. IQ Option – Best Overall
  2. eToro – Best For Commission Free Stock Trading
  3. Plus500 – Best CFD Broker in South Africa
  4. AvaTrade – Best for Forex and CFDs
  5. XTB – Low Forex Fees
  6. XM – Low CFD Fees
  7. CMC Markets – Great Mobile Trading App
  8. IG – Long-Standing Reputation
  9. Saxo Markets – Well Designed Platform
  10. FXCM – Great Trading Tools
  11. Swissquote – Best For High Net-Worth Individuals
  12. Dukascopy – JForex and MT4 Support
  13. City Index – High Quality Research Tools
  14. Capital.com – Commission Free Trading
  15. Interactive Brokers – Best for Professionals
  16. Pepperstone – Great For Forex
  17. Forex.com – Best Forex Trading Tools
  18. TD Ameritrade – In-depth Research
  19. Darwinex – Great Trading Education For Beginners
  20. Tickmill – Low non-trading fees
  21. Easy Markets – Unique Trading Tools
  22. Oanda – Powerful Research Tools

Brokerage Accounts In South Africa

eToro – Best Overall

eToro is the overall best trading platform for South African investors. It offers a versatile mobile app that is great for both beginners and experienced investors. 

The broker gives you access to a broad range of trading strategies to copy. This includes forex, CFDs, and cryptocurrencies. 

eToro offers a range of useful research materials for traders. Paper trading is available with access to $100,000 of virtual money for testing out your trading strategies.

A downside is that eToro is pricey when it comes to trading forex and CFDs.

Read Full Review

etoro logo
PROS
CONS
800+ shares listed on 17 international markets
Forex and CFD fees
Best For Copy Trading
Cryptocurrency tools
User-friendly platform
Ideal for beginners

IQ Option – Best For Day Trading

IQ Option is one of the fastest-growing forex brokerages in the world. With its strong reputation, this trading platform is a safe choice for South Africans interested in online trading. 

Its offerings also include ETFs and options trading.  

Compare IQ Option
PROS
CONS
Easy and convenient account opening
Only 4 Commodities Available
Wide range of trading instruments available
No deposit and withdrawal fees

Plus500 – Best For CFD Day Trading

Plus500 is a clear winner for day trading in South Africa. It boasts over 2,000 CFDs available. This includes cryptocurrencies, forex pairs, options, and more.

Plus500 gives beginners an easy way to test out forex and CFDs trading.

This brokerage has a notable lack of educational resources and research tools. New traders will have to find additional resources elsewhere.

Plus500 Comparison
PROS
CONS
Offers a wide range of market instruments
Lack of educational and research tools
Fast order execution
Low Fees
User-friendly platform

Interactive Brokers – Best for Professionals

Interactive Brokers caters well to experienced active traders, but beginners will find the trading platform hard to navigate.

The brokerage offers very efficient order execution, thanks to its IB SmartRouting technology. 

Its mobile trading platform is well supported across all devices. Beginners may find it tricky to use as it is aimed at experienced traders.

Interactive Brokers Singapore
PROS
CONS
Fast order execution
Not easy for beginners to navigate
Wide range of securities available
Offers fractional shares
Customizable alerts on the trading platform

Pepperstone – Best for Forex

Pepperstone is an Australian private company that offers forex brokerage services to South Africans. There is also a limited selection of CFDs available for trading. The brokerage is best known for its extensive selection of third-party trading platforms.  MetaTrader and cTrader are included in this selection. This allows you to crowdsource trading ideas and gain access to a range of different trading tools.

pepperstone
PROS
CONS
Low non-trading fees
Financial information not publicly available
No deposit and withdrawal fees
Access to third-party trading platforms
Great customer service

AvaTrade – Best for Forex and CFDs

AvaTrade gives South African traders access to forex, cryptocurrencies, and a range of CFDs.

Opening a trading account through AvaTrade is fast and easy. There are no fees charged for deposits and withdrawals. It offers user-friendly and diverse research and educational tools.

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

Read Full Review

AvaTrade
PROS
CONS
Easy account opening process
No ETFs offered
Free deposits and withdrawals
High inactivity fees
Great research tools

XTB

XTB brokerage service is best known to South Africans for its low forex trade fees. 

The trading platform runs smoothly, allowing traders to deposit and withdraw at a low cost. 

There are a few downsides though. The brokerage charges high fees for CFD stock trading. XTB has a limited product portfolio for South Africans, covering mainly CFDs and forex trades. 

XTB logo
PROS
CONS
Low forex fees
Limited product portfolio 
Free and fast deposit and withdrawal
High fees for stock trading
Easy and fast account opening

XM

XM provides traders with 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 South African customers. XM also has a limited product portfolio as it only offers forex and CFDs. 

XM Logo
PROS
CONS
Low stock CFD and non-trading fees
No investor protection for South African traders
Easy account opening
Limited product portfolio selection
Great educational tools
Paper trading

FXCM

Forex Capital Market (FXCM) offers South Africans a great range of CFD investment products. You can trade in stocks, commodities, cryptocurrencies, and more. 

This brokerage supports several third-party trading platforms such as ZuluTrade, and MetaTrader 4. This platform variety 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.  

FXCM
PROS
CONS
Supports various third-party trading platforms
CFDs only
Well-established and reputable broker
Inactivity fees 
User-friendly mobile trading app
No commission and tight spreads

SwissQuote

Swissquote gives South Africans access to a variety of markets all around the world. 

The brokerage charges no inactivity fee, which is an added bonus for more passive investors. 

Swissquote does have high fees though, so this isn’t the best choice for South Africans on a budget. Some of its research tools have added costs, which is unusual for a trading platform.

SwissQuote logo
PROS
CONS
Access to a wide range of products and markets 
High trading fees
No inactivity fee
Research tools have hidden costs
Safe and reliable

Capital.com

Capital.com’s selling point is its completely commission-free platform structure across all of its investment products. This is very rare for a brokerage.

The platform not only offers stocks, but includes indices, forex, commodities, and cryptocurrencies.

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

There are also inactivity fees, but these only apply if your account remains inactive for a year.

Capital Com
PROS
CONS
Commission-free trading
Cannot build custom trading strategies
Access to a wide range of US and UK shares
Good educational resources
Useful AI assistant 
Excellent charting and analysis interface

Forex.com

Forex.com is a well-respected forex trading platform for South Africans. Besides forex, the platform supports a range of other assets too. 

The platform is also popular amongst South Africans as it supports the MT4 trading platform. This lets you choose from more than 50 drawing tools and 70 technical indicators.

A possible downside is that you won’t be buying the underlying stock, only share CFDs are offered by this brokerage.

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

forex.com logo
PROS
CONS
Great reputation
Limited stock selection available 
Competitive spreads
Inactivity fees apply
Wide range of investment products
Versatile charting tools and technical indicators

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade is another great choice for South African investors. This brokerage stands out with its in-depth research and trading tools. 

It provides a seamless mobile app platform for both beginners and experienced day traders. The app features educational resources to help new investors to get started.

The firm offers free paper trading for beginners, as well as excellent 24/7 customer service.

TD Ameritrade Logo
PROS
CONS
Free stock, options, and ETF trades
No fractional shares
Extensive educational resources for beginners
Well-designed and user-friendly mobile app
24/7 reliable customer service
Paper trading offered

Darwinex

South Africans have access to a wide selection of investment products and fund management services through Darwinex.

There is a detailed education base for beginners who are looking to expand their knowledge.

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

Darwinex Logo
PROS
CONS
Educational resources
Limited trading tools
Paper trading offered
Minimum account deposit
Easy account opening process

Tickmill

Tickmill offers South Africans low forex trading fees as well as low non-trading fees. Opening an account is an easy and efficient process. 

On the downside side, the trading platforms provided by MetaTrader have outdated designs. Tickmill has a limited product portfolio, offering only forex and CFDs.

Tickmill Logo
PROS
CONS
Low forex fees
Outdated trading platforms design
Easy account opening
Only forex and CFDs available
No deposit or withdrawal fees

Oanda

Oanda has a user-friendly trading platform with powerful research tools and numerous technical indicators. 

The trading platform has only a small range of investment products though. South Africans can only trade forex and CFDs. Customer support is not available 24/7 for traders.

Oanda Logo
PROS
CONS
User-friendly trading platform
Customer support is not 24/7
Great research tools
Only FX and CFD available
Fast account opening

CMC Markets

CMC Markets offers South Africans low forex fees and a sophisticated mobile trading app platform. 

Its trading platforms are easily customized. There are some unique features such as an advanced order panel. Extensive research and educational tools are also offered.

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 trading. The account verification process is time-consuming and complicated.

CMC Markets
PROS
CONS
Low forex fees
Complicated account verification
Great web and mobile platforms
Limited investment product selection
Advanced research and educational tools

IG

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

The broker only offers forex trading to its U.S.-based customers though, so only CFDs are available for South Africans.  

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.

IG Logo
PROS
CONS
Trusted broker with a long-standing reputation
Slow account opening
Great research and educational tools
High stock CFD fees
No forex trading available in South Africa
High minimum account deposit
Great web and mobile platforms

Easy Markets

Easy Markets provides South African traders with multiple trading platforms to choose from. 

Its trading app is intuitively designed with a user-friendly interface. It offers unique trading tools and guaranteed stop loss.

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

Easy Markets Logo
PROS
CONS
Innovative trading platform
Some features don’t work with MetaTrader 4
User-friendly mobile app
Free guaranteed stop loss
Free deposits and withdrawals

Saxo Markets

Saxo Markets gives South Africans access to a well-designed and versatile trading platform. The research service is high-quality, with a range of trade 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 trading fees for options, futures, and bonds. There is a high minimum deposit and customer service isn’t available 24/7.

SaxoMarkets
PROS
CONS
Versatile trading platform
High fees for options, futures, and bonds
Outstanding research
High minimum account deposit
Broad product portfolio

Dukascopy

Dukascopy is a great option for market professionals in South African. It supports JForex and MetaTrade4, which are both top-tier trading platforms.

Dukascopy provides cutting-edge market research and trading tools. With a focus on market professionals, this platform is not suited for beginners.

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

Dukascopy Logo Small
PROS
CONS
Great brokerage reputation
High Initial deposit Requirement
Offers JForex and MT4 platforms
Only aimed at professional traders
Wide range of market research tools
Advanced trading tools 

City Index

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

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

For stock and ETFs, South Africans will need to find another trading platform. 

City Index Logo Black
PROS
CONS
Low forex trading fees 
Outdated desktop trading platform 
Fast and smooth account opening
High fees for stock CFDs
Wide range of research tools

Online trading In South Africa

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

Different trading 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 trading advice.

How Does It Work?

Anyone can start trading online in South Africa as long as they have access to a stable internet connection and a way to fund a trading account. There are many online brokers available that give you access to trading securities. Brokers make it easy to open a trading account.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) provides a regulated market where you can trade financial assets with other investors. 

All brokerage services in South Africa 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.

Individual traders in South Africa have to pay taxes on capital gained through trading. South African forex traders are also required to declare any profits made through foreign exchange on their annual tax returns.

What can you trade?

Stocks

There are many different types of assets available to put your money into. Stocks are the most common. Stock trading 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.

Traders 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 In South Africa?

Regulation & Safety, Account Security 

As a South African investor, you should be aware of the privacy and regulation policies of your online brokerage. South African 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 broker is regulated by at least one tier-1 regulator.

Fees & Commissions

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

Active Traders vs long-term buy and hold investors

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

Different brokers reward different investment styles, so you need to make sure your broker suits your trading style.

Investment Products 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 brokerage that offers the investment products you're interested in.

Account Types

Brokerages offer many different types of accounts. These include cash accounts, retirement accounts, and margin accounts.

You should be aware of which accounts your broker offers. There might be investment minimums for different types of accounts.

Educational resources

Education resources are great if you’re wanting to expand on your trading 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 rates

Margin trading should only be for very experienced investors. This is a method of trading assets with funds from a third party. 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 online brokers these days don’t require any minimum deposit amounts when opening a brokerage account. Other high-end brokers still might require a minimum balance of several thousand dollars.

Trading Tools & Research

A good stock broker should offer access to a wide range of tools and market research for you to make the most of every trade. It should be easy to navigate and intuitive. Charting tools, price alerts, and customizable screeners are key features to look for.

Customer Service

A good brokerage should offer a strong customer support team. It’s important that you have easy access to your broker, especially for beginners. Make sure you are able to quickly get in touch with service staff for urgent advice.

Mobile Trading

A mobile trading platform is a mini version of a desktop trading platform. 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 trading app.

Banking Services

Most brokerages nowadays don't offer banking services. A bank broker is a good option though if you’re looking to combine banking and brokerage services. This also means you can organize your finances through a single provider.

Order Execution

Order execution happens when a brokerage completes a buy or sell order on your behalf. All your orders are sent to your broker to be executed. It's important to choose a broker with efficient order execution, particularly if you are an active trader.

International Trading

If you want to trade on foreign markets then you need to choose a brokerage that offers international trading.

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.

Terms and Conditions of the Broker

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

How to Start Trading Online as an South African

  1. Find a broker – The first step to start investing is to find a broker. As a new investor, selecting the right broker requires some careful thought. Different brokers will suit different investing styles and goals.
  2. Open an online trading account – The next step is to open up a trading account. Follow the instructions on your broker’s site 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 through your broker.
  4. Develop a trading strategy – You should aim to build a diverse long-term share portfolio, depending on what you want as a trader. Your trading strategy should consider your profit goals, how much risk you can absorb, and how much time you can allocate to trading.
  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 that come with online trading. 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 trade goes.

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 trading. Here are the first few steps to learning online trading.

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. Paper trading allows you to invest fake, virtual money into real-time market simulations. This lets you track the theoretical performance of your buy and sell decisions.

FAQ

Is online trading legal in South Africa?

Yes, online trading is legal. While the South African government doesn’t have any laws regarding the legality of forex trading platforms, all cash-outflow is monitored by the South African Reserve Bank. There is a limit of 10 million Rands per person.

How much do I need to start trading in South Africa?

Most brokerages nowadays don't have a minimum deposit amount to open an account and make your first investment. Thanks to zero-fee brokers and fractional shares, it’s possible to start investing with only R100. But to get started properly, you should aim to properly diversify your portfolio. This means buying multiple stocks in different positions that require at least R1000.

What is Share Trading?

Share trading 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. You can buy shares in a company via trading platforms through online brokerage services.

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 in South Africa? 

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 online trading platform in South Africa?

eToro is a safe and well-established brokerage choice. Its online trading platform has a good reputation and is regulated by the FSCA in South Africa.

Can you do online trading in South Africa 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 South African financial regulating bodies.

Which is the cheapest online trading platform in South Africa? 

For stocks, eToro is the cheapest trading platform in South Africa. It offers a large selection of commission-free stocks and low fees. For forex trading, Pepperstone offers the cheapest online platform for South Africans. 

What is the best trading app in South Africa?

eToro is the overall best trading app in South African. The trading 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?

eToro is recommended for its strong crowdsourcing community. New investors have access to a range of trading strategies to copy and test out. Both the mobile and web platforms are easy to use.

Is online trading profitable?

Trading is a way for people to generate extra income. Only a select few investors will generate enough profit from trading to become a full-time career.