With 37% of South Africans owning shares, there is no shortage of popular stock brokers in South Africa. Below we review ten brokers where investors can buy stocks directly, or trade in Contracts-For-Difference (CFDs) related to them.
We assess ten popular stock brokers in South Africa on the basis of regulation, ease of use, choice of stocks and free extras.
Popular Stock Brokers in South Africa Reviewed
Many of the popular stock brokers in South Africa specialize in ‘FX’ (forex: foreign exchange). This involves betting on currency pairs. A few offer straight share trading (like eToro), but most offer leveraged CFD trading as standard.
1. eToro – Popular Social Investing Platform with 3,000 Shares
eToro has registered almost 27m users since its foundation in 2007. The broker offers a range of 3,000+ stocks, including popular oil stocks, tech stocks and even biotech stocks; roughly two-thirds are US-based, and the remaining third are dotted around 15 international stock exchanges. As such, eToro is one of the leading places to learn how to buy shares in South Africa with low trading fees.
Speculators looking to invest in stocks will be pleased to learn that eToro charges no commission on stock or ETF trades. For example, traders looking to gain exposure to stocks listed on the NASDAQ exchange will need to look for the most popular and trusted NASDAQ brokers in South Africa.
Alongside stocks, this broker offers trading in 260+ ETFs, commodities, indices, forex and cryptocurrencies. As such traders can buy Bitcoin in South Africa with an eToro trading account. Some crypto investors also consider eToro to be one of the popular crypto exchanges on the market.
eToro promotes ‘social investing’. The aim of social investing is to support the beginner investor. Thus eToro provides a CopyTrader facility, which allows investors to copy other traders’ activity for free, in real-time, with real money. Further, eToro provides 60+ Smart Portfolios, which allow investors to buy into strategic positions on different sectors.
Regulated by the FCA in the UK, CySEC in Cyprus, ASIC in Australia and the SEC in the US, eToro welcomes South African clients. For more information, read our eToro review South Africa article.
Your capital is at risk. 79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
2. AvaTrade – Highly-regulated CFD Broker
AvaTrade is a specialist CFD broker. Over 600 stock CFDs are on offer, as well as ETFs, bonds, forex, commodities and indices. AvaTrade is known for providing support for various trading platforms (MT4 and MT5) as well as having its own dedicated options trading platform AvaOptions.
Of the popular stock brokers in South Africa, AvaTrade stands out because it is directly regulated by South Africa’s FSCA. It is also regulated by IIROC in Canada, ASIC in Australia, the FSA in Japan and the Central Bank of Ireland in the EU.
3. InteractiveBrokers – General Service Broker with Many Investor Tools
InteractiveBrokers offers stocks, options, futures, currencies, funds and bonds to 1.8m clients in over 200 countries.
The broker allows accounts to be funded in over 25 currencies, with a variety of accounts available including retirement accounts and trust accounts.
Generally this is a very slick operation with multi-platform support and many free tools including the IBKR GlobalAnalyst, which helps investors wanting to track down undervalued stocks. Also outstanding is the Excel API, which allows investors to link their account to their Excel spreadsheets. Watch out for high cash deposit fees though.
4. Plus500 – CFD-only Broker with Global Regulation
Like many of the popular stock brokers in South Africa, Plus500 offers CFD trades only. This broker boasts 22m registered users across 50 countries as well as 2,800 trading instruments, including 500+ stocks.
Plus500 has achieved a rating of 4.2/5 on Trustpilot, and is traded on the London Stock Exchange under ticker symbol PLUS.
Regulation is a strong point with Plus500. Like AvaTrade, it is regulated directly by the FSCA in South Africa. It is also regulated by CySEC in Europe, the FCA in the UK, ASIC in Australia, and other bodies in Singapore, Estonia, New Zealand and the Seychelles.
5. Pepperstone – CFDs and Spread Betting Platform
A spread-betting specialist for UK and Ireland customers, Pepperstone was ranked first place for overall client satisfaction in the 2022 UK Investment Trends Leverage Trading Report.
CFD share trading is available in US, UK, German & Australian shares. Pepperstone supports TradingView advanced charting tools, as well as cTrader, MT4 and MT5 trading platforms.
One of the popular stock brokers in South Africa, this broker draws its regulation from the FCA, BaFin, CySEC, ASIC, DFSA, SCB and CMA.
6. XM – Global Forex and CFD Specialist
Providing 1,000 trading instruments, and 6 asset classes, XM is a forex and CFD specialist. Founded in 2009, the broker has welcomed over 5m clients during its time in business, and offers support for over 30 languages. XM has won numerous awards, specifically for its forex trading support.
XM’s 1,260+ stocks are easy to find under national headings. And expert traders will be pleased to hear that the broker provides support for MT4, MT5 and WebTrader trading platforms.
XM is regulated by CySEC in Europe, ASIC in Australia and the FSC in Belize. The broker
7. OANDA – Forex and CFD Specialist
Like XM, Oanda is a forex and CFD specialist – with 38,000 forex pairs to trade. It offers a sideline in popular EU share CFDs, with commissions from 0.1%, as well as indice CFDs and cryptocurrency trading.
Like most of the popular stock brokers in South Africa, Oanda offers a free smartphone app as well as a free demo account, where beginners can practise trading without using real money. MT5 platform support is also available. Multiple deposit methods are supported, including bank transfer, Visa, Mastercard, Neteller and Skrill.
8. XTB – Global Forex and CFD Broker
With offices in over 13 countries and 20 years experience, XTB offers forex and CFD trading worldwide. The firm has served over 495,000 customers in its time and offers free insurance via the famous Lloyd’s of London insurance brokers. XTB is fronted by equally famous football manager, Jose Mourinho.
XTB offers forex, commodities, indices, stock and ETF CFDs and cryptocurrency CFDs.
This broker won ‘Best Customer Service’ from ForexBrokers.com in 2021. Regulation for XTB is provided by the FCA, KNF, CySEC, and the FSC.
9. SuperForex – CFD Broker with $1 Minimum Deposit
SuperForex is best known as a forex broker, but it also offers CFDs for a wide variety of US and European stocks. Stock trading is available through an ECN account, so trades are executed very quickly. Traders can use either SuperForex’s mobile app to trade or MetaTrader 4 depending on what charting and analysis tools they want access to.
SuperForex only requires a $1 deposit to open a new account and the broker accepts more than 17 different payment methods.
SuperForex is regulated by the International Financial Services Commission of Belize and won the Best ECN Broker in Africa award from International Business Magazine in 2021.
Stock Brokers in South Africa Comparison
Table: Popular Stock Brokers in South Africa
|Broker||# Stocks||Pricing||Fee to Buy Amazon||Account Management Fee|
|eToro||3,000+||Spread Fee only||0.21% spread||$10 inactivity fee after 1 year|
|AvaTrade||630+ stock CFDs||Spread Fee plus CFD overnight fees||Spread fee of 0.13% plus overnight fee of -0.0189%||Inactivity fee of $50 per quarter after 3 months plus $100 admin fee after 12 months|
|Interactive Brokers||150 markets||Spread Fee plus Regulator Fee plus Commission dependent on a) country where share based b) monthly trade volume of investor||Maximum commission of 1% of trade value plus Spread Fee||No account management fee per se, but other non-trading fees apply|
|Plus500||500+||Spread Fee plus CFD overnight fees||Spread Fee of 0.75% plus overnight fee of -0.06135%||Inactivity fee of USD 10 per month levied after 3 months inactivity|
|Pepperstone||900+||Spread Fee plus CFD overnight fees||$0.02 commission per share||None|
|XM||1260+||Spread Fee plus CFD overnight fee||Spread Fee of 5.85 + -3.2% (annual) overnight fee||None|
|OANDA||Euro shares only||Spread Fee plus Commission plus CFD overnight fee||0.1% Commission||$10 per month fee after 1 year of inactivity|
|XTB||2,100+||Spread Fee plus CFD overnight fee||0.4% Spread Fee plus overnight fee||10 EUR per month fee after 1 year of inactivity|
|SuperForex||400+||Spread Fee plus CFD overnight fee||0.2% Spread Fee plus overnight fee||None|
What is a Stock Broker?
A stock broker is an independent company that offers company stocks (also known as ‘shares’) for sale.
Share brokers in South Africa nowadays tend to be based online.
If a potential investor wants to use a stock broker online, they will need to get signed up with the broker and provide ID. ID is nowadays necessary because Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations apply. Stock brokers must show regulators that they are doing everything they can to avoid fraud.
Often a range of other financial assets apart from stocks are on offer:
- Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs): like index funds, ETFs allow the investor to buy into a basket of stocks in one go.
- Forex: short for ‘Foreign Exchange’, forex involves speculating on currency pairs. These pairs put two currencies together, and the speculator puts money on which will rise or fall.
- Commodities: raw materials to invest in, like gold, silver, wheat and gas.
- Bonds: government-issued financial instruments with a low-risk profile.
- Indices: investors may speculate on the rise of fall of a particular market index like the South African JSE Top 40 or the UK’s FTSE 100.
- Cryptocurrencies: the high-risk blockchain assets.
- Spread-betting: a high-risk form of a speculation in which the investor bets on which way an asset price will go, and is rewarded (or penalised) incrementally.
Types of South African Stock Brokers
As we have illustrated in our list of stock brokers in South Africa above, there are two main types of broker:
Traditional Stock Trading Platforms
Traditional brokers offer stocks and other assets for sale. The broker will hold purchased assets for the investor and buy them back when required.
An example of a traditional stock trading platform is eToro. Many traditional platforms nowadays also offer CFD trading on certain assets.
CFD Stock Brokers
CFD stock brokers offer CFD trades only. CFDs are ‘Contracts-for-Difference’. With CFDs, the investor does not technically get to own the underlying asset, but rather enters into a trading agreement about it.
CFDs allow investors to go short on assets – which means bet that the price will fall – as well as often use leverage to ramp up the potential gains or losses from a trade.
How We Ranked Popular Stock Brokers in South Africa
Above we have presented a list of popular trading brokers in South Africa to research. Investors must do their own research – so we recommend that investors take up the opportunity of free demo accounts where offered, which allow the user to try out an investment platform without investing any real money.
In the meantime, the investor can assess the platform on the basis of key characteristics:
Range of Stocks
From our table above showing data from the most popular 10 stock brokers in South Africa, we can see that the range of stocks on offer can be over 5,000 with Capital.com. Generally brokers make a priority of offering the main NASDAQ stocks (specifically tech stocks) as well as big household names.
Investors will always be able to search for popular Reddit stocks and popular penny stocks too.
Fees can be divided into two types: trading and non-trading.
Trading fees are charged whenever a trade is executed.
Most stock brokers in South Africa follow the general global model of charging a spread fee – which is the difference between the buying and selling price at any given time.
On top of the spread fee, commission may be charged. Note that CFD trades incur an overnight trading fee too, which is charged every 24hrs that the trade is open. This makes CFD trades suitable for short-term trading only, rather than investing for the long-term. This makes CFDs unsuitable for dividend stocks, which generally deliver benefits on a quarterly basis and thus can be usefully held long-term.
Investors should watch out for non-trading fees. They include inactivity fees, deposit and withdrawal fees, currency conversion fees and others. Reputable stock brokers in South Africa usually publish a full breakdown of all fees on their website.
Regulation and Security
A regulated broker is one that can be trusted more than an unregulated broker.
The regulator in South Africa is the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). It audits its regulated companies to ensure that client funds are being kept separate from company funds.
A broker may often legally operate in a country, even if it is not regulated by that country’s regulator. Regulators worldwide tend to impose similar requirements on brokers; so the important thing is not so much the country in which a broker is regulated, but whether they are regulated or not.
Online brokers tend to offer high levels of security. Brokerages are more secure than cryptocurrency exchanges, for example.
First-timers with share brokers in South Africa may not need very sophisticated trading tools. But many of the popular stock brokers in South Africa offer advanced charting tools for technical analysis of stocks, as well as advanced market ordering tools which allow for trades to execute at particular price levels. Always be sure to set a Stop Loss, to avoid losing too much money whilst you are away from your brokerage interface.
Brokers tend to offer high levels of UX (User Experience) nowadays. Investors want to use interfaces that are not cluttered, with clear navigation. Our list of stock brokers in South Africa above includes brokers with excellent user interfaces.
Levels of customer service vary widely. Nowadays, investors will be pushed to find a broker that offers customer service over the phone. But email ticketing systems can work, provided the investor is prepared to be patient.
How to Get Started with a Regulated Stock Broker in South Africa
Of the 10 stock brokers for South African traders we have reviewed above, most offer similar onboarding processes.
Generally an investor looking to get started with any of the stock brokers in South Africa and buy Amazon stock, for example, will need to:
- Head to a broker’s website online and sign up.
- Verify their ID to satisfy KYC regulations.
- Deposit funds.
- Find the particular stock (AMZN) they are looking for.
- Fill in a trade order and buy the stock.
1: Sign up
- Head online and go to a broker’s website.
- Fill in name and address.
- Set a username or password.
- Read the legal information provided, and tick acknowledgement boxes.
2: Verify ID
Applicants will often need to provide two forms of ID:
- Personal ID: passport or ID card.
- Address ID: rent letters, utility bills and other official paperwork are often accepted.
Applicants will be asked to either upload scans of this ID, or enter an automated process using their computer or smartphone in which live photographs are taken. Often a ‘selfie’ photograph is also required.
3: Deposit Funds
Once verified, applicants may deposit funds into their account.
- Log in to the account.
- Find the deposit button/area.
- Deposit funds with credit/debit card, bank transfer or e-wallet.
It is very important to check what, if any, deposit fees apply.
Some brokers allow users to buy stocks with credit card directly.
Investors wanting to buy stocks with PayPal may do so from European countries.
4: Search for Amazon Stock
All online brokers have a search bar – usually towards the top of the screen. Input the name of the share being sought, or its ticker symbol, and press ‘enter’. This will take the investor to the homepage of the stock or a trading screen.
5: Buy Amazon Stock
Most popular stock brokers in South Africa offer a simple trading screen.
Here the user chooses whether they are buying shares or selling short. The user usually need only enter how much they want to spend and execute the trade. Often, more sophisticated options are available, like market orders and take profit/stop loss instructions.
If an investor is on a budget, they will be pleased to learn that brokers nowadays offer what is called ‘fractional trading’. This means that less than one share of a company may be bought.
Minimum trade levels vary among brokers. Investors who buy stocks on eToro, for example, must spend at least $50. Other brokers tend to make a similar requirement.
Choosing which of the popular brokers in South Africa to review in-depth is a matter for the individual investor. We hope to have given investors a start by giving a broad overview of what is on offer for those looking to invest in stocks.