How to buy shares online

14 June, 2018
Top 2 brokers to buy shares at
Saxo Bank DEGIRO
How to buy shares online

I am pretty sure you already imagined several times to invest in the stock exchange, gain enough cash to travel the world and rest for your entire life.

Achieving this vision is not easy but you have to start somewhere, and to purchase shares online is one of the best ways for that. The good news is you can do this fully online. In this article I will explain jargon-free how to invest in shares online. It is not as easy as watching TV series, but don’t worry it is not rocket science either.

There are two main motivations for you to ask the question: how to buy and sell shares online. The first is profit and the second is experience.

Both can provide fun if you select the right stocks.

If the share you bought pays dividends or its price increases, you can make a profit. If you do this in the long run, these profits can add up and make you even a millionaire, like it happened with Mr. Gremel. The 98-year-old Mr. Gremel bought 20 Walgreens shares for $1000 in 1953. This investment today is worth $2 million.

 

why-to-buy-shares

 

On the experience side, you will improving your financial literacy is one of the best long term investments. Did your friends or neighbours talk about investments and the stock market, and you had no clue about the topic? Once you start investing and learning about it, this will not happen again. You will understand better how the stock market works and how it influences the economy and your everyday life.

Last but not least, as a shareholder you will be part of a company's story. Want to know how to buy company shares? Have you ever wanted to participate in a Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting? If you buy some Berkshire shares, you will have the opportunity, just have to master the buying of shares.

Let's take a look at the six steps to buy shares online.


The six step plan to buy shares online

As I said before, buying shares online is not rocket science. You just have to follow a six-step plan explained below.

 

The six step plan of how to buy shares online

Step 1: find a good online broker

First of all, you need to find a good online broker. Brokerchooser will help you here: get a free recommendation by answering a few questions, or check our general broker recommendation below.

Get a free recommendation

When recommending a broker we take into account the broker’s trading platform, the cost of service, the quality of customer service and accessible markets to trade. Security is also highly important, but since we review only secure brokers on our website, you do not have to worry here.

 

Step 2: open your investment account

After finding your online broker, you need to open your investment account. This is usually an online process, quite similar to opening a bank account. The investment account is basically what you need to start buying shares online. Imagine again as a bank account, but apart from holding cash on it, you can also hold shares. The account opening process usually takes a couple of days, but at some brokers (for example eToro), you can do it within one day.

 

Step 3: upload money to your account

For buying shares online, you need to have money in your investment account. Usually you can choose between bank transfer and funding via credit/debit card. At some brokers you can fund your investment account even from Paypal (for example at IG).

Are you interested in the funding of the brokers from our list?

Compare funding conditions

Step 4: find the stock you want to buy

After loading some money into your account, you can start searching for the best stock targets to buy. You can get inspired by external ideas or you can even do your own analysis. Most of the people do the former, but the latter usually pays out better and you can learn more from it. External investment ideas can come from your broker in the form of research or you can use other, independent researches as well. The financial news and investment courses can also be useful to learn how to buy a share that is good.

 

Step 5: buy the share

You have the account, the cash and the share target. The last step is to push the buy button. You log in to your online trading platform, search for the share in mind, insert the number of you wish to buy, and click buy, which will initiate the purchase of shares. 

When placing an order, you can choose from different order types. The market order buys at the actual market price, while the limit order allows you to specify the exact price at which you want to buy the share.

 

Step 6: review your share positions regularly

You are done, your shares are bought. However, it is key to monitor your investment. This basically means following your investment strategy. If you bought the share for holding it for a longer term, you might participate at the annual meeting and collect all the news and information about the company.

For short time buyers, the position management could mean only setting up the stop-loss price of where to cut the losses and the target price of where you want to sell the share with a profit.

 

Now that you have mastered the 6 steps of buying shares, take a moment to look at the top 5 brokers we have selected for you.


Best 5 brokers to buy shares online

As we live in the internet era, trading nowadays takes place through an online platform. Trading floors became well-designed tech platforms with interactive tools and charts.

If you just start to explore how to buy share online, we recommend you to choose between the following five brokers. We tested all five, and we have live accounts with them.

First and foremost, here is a table with an overview of which location you can open an account with each of the brokers:

Broker Description From which regions you can open an account? Badges
Saxo Bank Danish investment bank Worldwide except for the US Best Research
Interactive Brokers Leading discount broker from the US Worldwide Best Product Portfolio
Strateo Swiss online broker Europe Best For Beginners
DEGIRO Upcoming Dutch discount broker Europe Fee Champion
Swissquote Swiss online broker Worldwide  

For other online brokers available in your country, check out our broker recommendation tool. If you are heavily into the fee, you will enjoy digging into our ultimate fee comparison table.

Now, let's get to the list of the 5 best brokers where you can buy shares:

Saxo Bank

6

BACKGROUND:

Danish investment bank specializing in online trading and investments.

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Investors aiming for a great research and trading platform with a broad access to the international markets.

MINIMUM DEPOSIT:

$2,000

OVERALL SCORE:

4.8/5

AWARD:

Research champion

Visit broker

how-to-buy-shares-online-saxo-bank-trading-platform

1. Fee structure ★★★★☆

Saxo Bank, as our Saxo Bank review shows, has an okayish fee structure. Its trading fees are mid-range. Most of its non-trading fees are favorable, except the financing rate.

2. Funding and withdrawal – ★★★★★

Saxo has an easy interface and multiple options to fund and withdraw money. You can transfer money via bank transfer or credit/debit cards. Furthermore, the withdrawal is free of charge.

3. Account opening – ★★★☆☆

The opening process of your brokerage account is fast and seamless, your account will be functioning within three to four days. Furthermore, you can open an account in several currencies. On the flip side, a minimum amount of $2,000 is required.

4. Product portfolio ★★★★★

Saxo Bank will give you wide access to international markets in almost all asset classes: equities, ETFs, forex, bonds, options, futures, CFDs, cryptos. Only the mutual funds are missing from the product offer. 

5. Web trading platform – ★★★★☆

Saxo Bank's trading platform, the SaxoTraderGO is a great platform. It is easy to navigate and provides all trading tools. However, its customizability is limited.

 

Compare to best alternative broker

 

Interactive Brokers

5

BACKGROUND:

Interactive Brokers is one of the biggest US-based discount brokers.

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Traders aiming for low fees and can deal with a complicated trading platform. Not ideal for beginners.

MINIMUM DEPOSIT:

$0 for the non-margin accounts

$2,000 for the margin accounts

OVERALL SCORE:

4.5/5

AWARD:

Product portfolio champion

Visit broker

how-to-buy-shares-online-interactive-brokers-trading-platform

1. Fee structure ★★★★★

Interactive Brokers, as our Interactive Brokers review shows, has very competitive commissions and fees among all asset classes.

2. Funding and withdrawal – ★★☆☆☆

Only bank transfer is available to European customers. For more information on US funding and withdrawal options, check

3. Account opening – ★★☆☆☆

The opening process of your brokerage account is overly complicated and slow. On the other hand, you can choose from a great variety of account base currencies and account types.

4. Product portfolio ★★★★★

All asset classes are available: equities, ETFs, forex, mutual funds, options, futures, bonds, CFDs and cryptos. Beyond the wide product portfolio, Interactive Brokers gives you access to many international markets.

5. Web trading platform – ★★☆☆☆

Interactive Brokers' web trading platform is good for execution with a very advanced order management panel. However, standard functions like technical analysis are missing or underdeveloped.

 

Compare to best alternative broker

 

Strateo

23

BACKGROUND:

Strateo is a Swiss-based online broker founded in 2009 as a subsidiary of Keytrade Bank in Belgium.

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Buy and hold investors with any experience level.

MINIMUM DEPOSIT:

$1,000

OVERALL SCORE:

4.4/5

AWARD:

Best for beginners

Visit broker

how-to-buy-shares-online-strateo-trading-platform

1. Fee structure ★★★☆☆

Strateo, as our Strateo review shows, has high trading fees and an ok non-trading fee structure. 

2. Funding and withdrawal – ★★★★☆

You can only fund and withdraw via bank transfer. However, the process is user-friendly and fast.

3. Account opening – ★★☆☆☆

Strateo brokerage account opening was not fully digital for our location, and rather slow. You can choose from 6 base currencies to open your account which is limited compared to Interactive Brokers and Saxo.

4. Product portfolio ★★★★★

It has an excellent product portfolio offering, you can find all asset classes: equities, ETFs, forex, mutual funds, options, futures, bonds, cryptos.

5. Web trading platform – ★★★★☆

Strateo's web platform offers a clean and easy-to-use interface. It can be easily navigated, and customers will have no problem understanding the basic functions. On the flip side, we missed the customizability and the price alerts.

 

Compare to best alternative broker

 

DEGIRO

15

BACKGROUND:

Rapidly growing Dutch discount broker.

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Price-sensitive buy and hold investors and traders looking for only execution.

MINIMUM DEPOSIT:

None

OVERALL SCORE:

4.3/5

AWARD:

Fee champion

Visit broker

how-to-buy-shares-online-degiro-trading-platform

1. Fee structure ★★★★★

DEGIRO, as our DEGIRO review shows, provides one of the lowest fee structures in the market. In most asset classes, it is more competitive than Interactive Brokers. It also provides one free ETF trading in a month, a great offer for buy and hold investors.

2. Funding and withdrawal – ★★★☆☆

There are only a few options to fund/withdraw your money. One option for transferring money is the bank transfer which takes usually 2-3 working days. Beside the bank transfer, you can use SOFORT, a third party, instant deposit service provider. The money transfer at SOFORT usually takes around 30 minutes.

3. Account opening – ★★★★☆

DEGIRO has a very easy and fast account opening process. As a plus, you don't need a minimum deposit. On the flip side, you can only change your base currency in a tricky way.

4. Product portfolio ★★★★★

You will have a wide access to international markets in all asset classes except forex. Available asset classes: equities, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures, CFDs, cryptos.

5. Web trading platform – ★★★★☆

DEGIRO’s web platform is simple and easy to use. Even beginners will find it easy to conduct simple transactions like share dealing. On the flip side, price alert function is missing and customization is limited.

 

Compare to best alternative broker

 

Swissquote

11

BACKGROUND:

Swissquote is a Swiss-based broker which holds a full Swiss banking license.

RECOMMENDED FOR:

Beginners and investors.

MINIMUM DEPOSIT:

None

OVERALL SCORE:

4.2/5

AWARD:

None

Visit broker

how-to-buy-shares-online-swissquote-trading-platform

1. Fee structure – ★☆☆☆☆

Swissquote, as our Swissquote review shows, has high trading fees, and the financing rate is mid-range at best. Swissquote charges no fee if your account is inactive.

2. Funding and withdrawal – ★★★★★

Swissquote offers bank and Credit/Debit card funding and withdrawal. Furthermore, the process is fast and user-friendly.

3. Account opening ★★★★★

Swissquote offers a fast, easy, and fully digital account opening process. There is no minimum account balance requirement.

4. Product portfolio ★★★★☆

Swissquote offers an extensive product range, better than most brokers. It has a good international coverage within each asset class. It recently added Cryptos, however, it lacks a selection of CFDs.

5. Web trading platform – ★★★★☆

Swissquote combines user-friendliness with a minimalistic design for its web trading platform. It has a good variety of order types and an intuitive search function. However, the customizability of your personal workspace and the charts are limited, and also lacking a clear fee report.

 

Compare to best alternative broker

 

 

We hope you were able to choose the best broker for yourself. In the following few paragraphs we have compiled a few good tips on stock trading, what to look and what to look out for. 


Good to know: What are shares and how do they work?

When you buy a share of a company, you will be an owner i.e. a shareholder of that company in a very small percent.

For example, Tesla has 164 million shares outstanding. When you buy 100 Tesla shares you will be one of the owners of Tesla. Your ownership percentage will be very tiny, 0,000061% (100/164 million), but still, you will be an owner with all the rights that comes with this ownership.

The two most  important ownership rights that come with buying shares of a company are:

  • The right to receive dividends - when the company allocates dividends you will receive a part of this. Remaining at the previous Tesla example, let’s assume in 2020 Tesla will pay 100 million USD in dividends, then you will receive 61 USD (0,000061%*100 million).
  • The right of voting - if you are a shareholder, you have the right to participate at the annual meeting. At the annual meeting, you will have the right to vote about the topics that will fundamentally influence the future of the company. These topics can vary from the election of the board of directors to the amount of the dividends allocated.

Speaking about financial literacy: when your read about buy share online you may find that both the expressions "stock" and "share" are used here. What is the difference between them? The word stock is the general term for company ownership. For example “I invest in American tech stocks like Apple and Facebook”. Share usually refers to the ownership percentage of one company. For example “Yesterday I bought 100 Tesla shares”.


Good to know: Your investment account is protected

Since you are trading with your savings, it is very important to pay attention to protection.

The online brokerages we selected have some of the best protection schemes, the level of it depending on the regulatory body of the broker.

 

  DEGIRO Strateo Swissquote IB Saxo Bank
Supervisory authority DNB, AFM FINMA FINMA SEC, CFTC DFSA
Protection amount €20,000 CHF 100,000 CHF 100,000 Cash dep. up to $250,000 Cash dep. up to $100,000
Securities up to $500,000 Securities up to $20,000

 

DEGIRO is regulated by the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) and The Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and provides a protection up to EUR 20,000.

Swissquote and Strateo are regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), an independent body of the Swiss banking system. Under this protection scheme you are protected up to CHF 100,000.

Interactive Brokers is regulated by US authorities, the SEC and the CFTC. The protection level is USD 250,000 for cash and 500,000 for securities.

Saxo Bank is a fully licensed EU Bank, regulated by the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (DFSA) with protection up to EUR 100,000 for cash deposits and for securities up to EUR 20,000.

You can compare the protection amount among all review broker.

Compare protection amounts

Tip: use national tax free accounts

In your country of residence you may open special investment accounts that provide you with favourable tax conditions. For example in the UK, this account is the ISA, the Individual Saving Account, which is exempt from income tax and capital gain tax on the investment returns.


Good to know: Manage the risk of buying shares

Investments always come with some risks that you should aim to manage. Below, you can find the most common ones and our advice on how to mitigate them.

Avoid the scams

Risk: unfortunately, tons of scam “brokers” are out in the market and are trying to steal your money. When you are faced with binary option ads and automated investment algorythms that generate outstanding returns, start to get highly suspicious. In these cases the best thing to do is to immediately turn down these ads.

How to manage it: when buying shares online, go with our broker selection. We have an active account with the brokers we selected and we test them regularly.

 

Diversify your portfolio

Risk: spending all of your savings on one or two shares. If the company you have selected goes bust, you lose all your invested money.

How to manage it: diversify your investment portfolio. This practically means buying more different shares and not putting all your eggs in one basket. The ideal number of shares in a portfolio varies somewhere between 20 and 30.

 

Avoid crappy shares

Risk: when buying individual shares, there is always a risk of selecting the wrong ones. Wrong here could mean defaulting or just buying an overpriced share.

How to manage

Learn. This is the tricky part, since you need some knowledge and routine. The best is to start learning by reading investment books and taking online courses. There are tons of great books out there, but you can start with the Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. This is also the most recommended investment book by Warren Buffet.

Gather information: While you are learning, start collecting as much information about your target companies as possible. Read news about them, understand their business profiles, start to play with their income statement numbers, get some knowledge about their management background or even attend the annual meeting. These will help you get a better understanding of the company and of the specific industry.

Compare the multiples: when it comes to pricing, use industry multiples as a proxy for your your target share. P/E is a basic multiple, but each sector has its own favourite.

 

Investment ideas for purchase shares of stock

 


Bottom Line

So how to purchase shares online? How can I buy shares? I want to invest in shares online! I want to buy shares! Are these some things you were thinking/saying until now?

You just have to follow six easy steps: find a broker, open an account, fund the account, find the stock, buy the share and review your position. As I mentioned before, it may look tricky for the first time but all you need is to progress step by step. I hope we will see each other at the next Coca-Cola or Berkshire annual meeting.

If you are still in question about which broker to choose, we compiled a quick summary here to help you: 

 

Beginners can feel comfortable with Saxo Bank, while more advanced traders would appreciate its great tools, charts and a wide range of research. Its fee structure is middle range, not the most competitive.

 

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how-to-buy-shares-online-saxo-bank-logo

Interactive Brokers is designed for advanced traders and investors. We like it since it has tons of functions, a competitive fee structure, and great markets coverage, but stay away if you are a beginner.

 

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how-to-buy-shares-online-interactive-brokers-logo

Swiss Strateo is a good choice for those starting their investment journey and aiming for more research support. Frugal buy and hold investors might feel they are paying too much for a transaction here.

 

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how-to-buy-shares-online-strateo-logo

Price sensitive buy and hold investors and traders should consider DEGIRO with its highly competitive fees and wide market access. Even beginners can handle its trading platform, however, research and education are not provided.

 

Visit broker

how-to-buy-shares-online-degiro-logo

 

The theme investing and the built-in crytpo investing are two features why you will like Swissquote. However, its high pricing can carv out a serious chunck from your returns, especially, in case of smaller trades.

 

Visit broker

 

how-to-buy-shares-online-swissquote-logo

AUTHOR

Gergely Korpos
Gergely Korpos
Co-founder, CPO
Gergely's aim is to bring more clarity into personal investing. He has 10 years of experience in financial markets with GE Money, KPMG and MOL. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and financial portfolio manager
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