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I'm currently with ETrade, and just from doing a little research, I think they're a little expensive. They're about $25 a trade where as other places are $15.

I was wondering, when finding an online broker, what should I be looking for? In terms of research, it seems all the brokers have up to date stock prices. I can always log in to ETrade and then buy the stock from another broker if I have to.

Is there any other features that I should look for?

Also, is it possible to have a number of different brokerage accounts tied to you?

PS - I'm in Australia and want to trade the ASX. But I've been thinking about trading international shares, but not right away as I'm not sure how that all works yet.

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    Joe, you may want to check this site out: canstar.com.au/online-trading. The links on the left open nice tables for comparisons of cost and services. E*Trade Oz is moderately expensive but certainly not the most expensive. The list of services offered is a pretty good overview of the sorts of features to be looking for. – gef05 Jun 20 '11 at 19:47
  • @gef05 : that's a good site. And it shows that actually I'm not that far off the best rate. Is it possible to like just set up accounts for each of these brokers you think or can you only have one broker? wouldn't all your stock need to be put in the one place? – Joe.E Jun 21 '11 at 4:14
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    You can have as many brokers as you like - there's no legal restriction. I think the trick to multiple accounts is first identifying why you need multiple accounts: then you plan your strategy and act accordingly. – gef05 Jun 21 '11 at 11:01
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If you want the cheapest online broker in Australia, you can't go past CMC Markets, they charge $9.90 upto a $10,000 trade and 0.1% above that.

There is no ongoing fees unless you choose to have dynamic data (stock prices get updated automatically as they change). However, the dynamic data fee does get waived if you have about 10 or more trades per month. You don't really need the dynamic data unless you are a regular trader anyway.

They also provide some good research tools and some basic charting. Your funds with them are kept segragated in a Bankwest Account, so are resonably safe. They don't provide the best interest on funds kept in the account, so it is best to just deposit the funds when you are looking to buy, and move your funds elswhere (earning higher interest) when selling.

Hopes this helps, regards Victor.

Update They have now increased their basic brokerage to a minimum of $11 per trade unless you are a frequent trader.

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It depends what you want to do with them. If you are just simply going to drip-feed into pre-identified shares or ETFs every few months at the market price, you don't need fancy features: just go with whoever is cheaper.

You can always open another account later if you need something more exotic.

Some brokerages are associated with banks and that may give you a benefit if you already deal with that bank: faster transfers (anz-etrade), or zero brokerage (westpac brokerage on westpac structured products.)

There's normally no account fee so you can shop around.

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OptionsXpress is good. I have used them for many years to trade stocks mainly (writing Covered calls and trading volatility). You set the account up through OptionsXpress Australia, and then fund the account from one of your accounts in Australia (I just use my Bank of Queensland account). The currency conversion will be something to watch (AUD to USD). The rates are low, but one of the best features is "virtual trading". It allows you to give yourself virtual funds to practice. You can then experiment with stop-losses and all other features. Perhaps other platforms have this, but I am yet to see it... anyway, if you want to trade in US stocks you are going to need to switch to USD anyway. ASX never moves enough for my interests. Regards, SB

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