How to buy shares in South Africa for beginners in 2024

Our stock market experts explain how to buy shares in South Africa at a low cost while staying safe with a regulated stock broker.
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Updated: Apr 16, 2024
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Anyone can invest in the stock market, and buying shares in South Africa is a simple, accessible way to build your wealth over a long period of time.

Our team of stock market experts have pooled their decades’ worth of experience to create this guide. Together, Dan Ashmore, CFA, Head of Research, Prash Raval, Financial Writer, Katya Stead, News Reporter, and Harsh Vardhan, Editor of News have been covering the markets for leading publications and investing their own money for more than 30 years.

Together, they’ve identified the most important things you need to know in order to invest in stocks in South Africa successfully. Learn the different investment options available to you, how to find a quality, low cost trading platform, and how to place your first order to buy stocks.

This guide is a live document, constantly updated with the latest information on prices and the most up-to-date research. We also believe in sharing knowledge, so you can contact our experts directly for the latest advice on how to buy stocks.

Without any further ado, let’s learn how to buy stocks in South Africa.

How to buy stocks South Africa (Quick start guide)

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1. Decide how you want to invest in South African stocks

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Buying stocks in South Africa can simply mean picking individual companies you want to invest in, but there are other options available too. You can buy shares in an ETF, sign up to an automated investment platform, buy and sell stock CFDs, or use your bank account to open a stocks-savings account. Choose which approach suits your budget and your goals best.

2. Sign up to one of the best South Africa trading platforms

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To invest in stocks from South Africa, you need to create an account with one of the . We recommend Plus500 as the best place to buy stocks in South Africa.

Creating an account typically only takes a few minutes, but you will need to supply some government-issued ID, like a passport or driving licence as part of the process. 

The top brokers use modern technology that can verify your identity based on these documents in minutes, so once you’ve uploaded your details you should be approved and ready to start buying stocks very quickly.

1
Min. Deposit
100 €
Best offer
User Score
10
Trade +2000 CFDs on Shares, Options, Commodities & more
Unlimited risk-free Demo Account
0 commissions & attractive spreads with up to 1:5 leverage
Start Trading
Payment Methods:
American Express, Apple Pay, Bank Transfer, Credit Card, Debit Card, Discover, Google Pay, Mastercard, PayPal, SEPA, Trustly, Visa, , skrill
Full Regulations:
ASIC, FCA, FSA, MAS, cysec-250-14-regulator, isa-regulator

Buy or sell stock CFDs with Plus500. 82% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

3. Place your order to purchase stocks

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Log into your brokerage account, search for the stock you want to buy, and enter your order details.

Those details include how many stocks you want to buy and the price at which you want to purchase them. Once you’ve done that, confirm the order.

As soon as the order is executed, you can find your shares in your account portfolio, where you can track their price and decide when you want to sell.

Congratulations, you’re now a shareholder!

Where to buy stocks in South Africa

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These are our top ranked stock brokers for South African investors. They each offer an inexpensive and convenient way to invest in shares in South Africa, combined with top-tier regulation from the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA).

Sort by:

1
Min. Deposit
$ 100
Best offer
User Score
10
Trade +2000 CFDs on Shares, Options, Commodities & more
Unlimited risk-free Demo Account
0 commissions & attractive spreads with up to 1:5 leverage
Start Trading
Payment Methods:
American Express, Apple Pay, Bank Transfer, Credit Card, Debit Card, Discover, Google Pay, Mastercard, PayPal, SEPA, Trustly, Visa, , skrill
Full Regulations:
ASIC, FCA, FSA, MAS, cysec-250-14-regulator, isa-regulator

Buy or sell stock CFDs with Plus500. 82% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

2
Min. Deposit
$ 250
Best offer
User Score
9.8
Zero Commission when trading US shares, only £3 commission for UK shares. Additionally, there’s an FX conversion fee of just 0.5%
Explore a vast range of stocks with 13,000+ options, including popular companies like Amazon, Apple, Tesla, and Netflix.
Offers longer trading hours, allowing you to access markets even when they’re closed elsewhere.
Start Trading
Payment Methods:
Bank Transfer, Credit Card, Debit Card, PayPal
Full Regulations:
ASIC, FCA, FINMA, is a licensed bank (IG Bank in Switzerland)

Investments involve risks and are not suitable for all investors. CFDs are complex instruments and come  with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 73% 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
Min. Deposit
$ 100
Best offer
User Score
9.6
Competitive trading commissions
Premium VPS service with ultra-fast speed
Customer support available in 25 languages
Start Trading
Payment Methods:
Full Regulations:
ASIC, CySEC, FCA, FSA
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75% 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.

What to consider before buying stocks in South Africa

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Take some time to decide your ultimate investing goal and set yourself a budget before you buy any stocks. Are you investing for retirement, to create a new source of income, or to grow your pot in preparation for a big purchase?

Do you want to be an active investor, actively choosing which stocks to buy, or are you happy to let someone else make the decisions for you?

The answers should influence how you invest. With a long time horizon, you can afford to start with a smaller pot, while investment strategies that aim to generate steady returns in line with the South African stock market are more appealing. 

With a shorter time frame, you may need to be more active in picking your own stocks to buy in South Africa in an attempt to ‘beat’ the market. 

The different ways to invest in shares in South Africa

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Buying stocks in South Africa can mean a few different things. You can, of course, buy shares in a company you like, but nowadays there are lots of investment strategies that are designed specifically for beginners who don’t have the desire or the expertise to pick their own stocks.

Here is a summary of the various options open to you, and what type of investor they’re most suited for.

  • Buy individual stocks. The traditional way to invest in South Africa. Research a company’s performance and buy shares in it, with the goal of selling your stocks later at a higher price. This approach is best if you have some experience of the stock market already, and/or the time to research lots of companies to find the right investment.
  • Buy shares in an ETF. An ETF (exchange-traded fund) is a fund that contains lots of stocks grouped together. You can buy shares in an ETF like you would a single company, but instead of a share in one business you get a share of lots of businesses. ETFs are ideal for investing in the South African stock market as a whole, or for anyone who doesn’t have the time or experience to pick individual stocks.
  • Invest through a robo advisor. A robo advisor is an automated investment platform that buys and sells stocks for you. Typically, you deposit a lump sum, or set up a regular deposit, answer a few questions, and the robo advisor chooses how to invest that money based on your answers and its unique algorithm. Robo advisors are ideal if you only have a small amount of money or just want to ‘set and forget’ your investing.
  • Buy and sell stock CFDs. CFDs (contracts for difference) are financial products that take their value from an underlying asset. The allow you to speculate on stock price changes and are generally designed for rapid buying and selling based on technical analysis of price charts. These are higher risk and require more expertise to trade, but offer the potential for more immediate gains than long term investing.

Here’s a comparison of the types of assets available with each of our top-rated brokers.

Product Plus500 assets Admirals assets
Stock CFDs 1,800+ 3,000+
ETF CFDs 100+ 370+
Forex CFDs 50+ 80
Crypto CFDs 40+ 30+
Index CFDs 20+ 43
Commodity CFDs 20+ 29
View more > Plus500 > Admirals >

Note that all listed instruments on Plus500 are available to trade as CFDs.

How much money do I need to buy shares in South Africa?

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The equivalent of $10 is usually enough to meet the minimum deposit requirements with a stock broker. You can start investing with a small amount, though you might be better off buying shares in an ETF or using a robo advisor as opposed to spending it all on one stock.

If you have a smaller budget, then you can build it up by rounding up your spare change into an investment pot (there are investment apps that can do this for you), by setting up regular deposits, or by investing in stocks that you can earn extra income from in the form of dividends.

To start building your own portfolio, you may want the equivalent of about $100, so that you can spread your risk by buying a few different stocks, but there’s no ‘right’ amount that you must have. 

How much does it cost to buy shares in South Africa?

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Many share dealing platforms offer commission-free trading, making it possible to buy stock in South Africa with no fees or commissions. It’s more common to find platforms that charge you through the ‘spread’, which is the difference between the buy and sell price of a stock. Here’s a comparison of the types of fee each of the top platforms in South Africa charge.

Fee Plus500 fees Admirals fees
Trading fees No Yes
Inactivity fees Yes Yes
Rollover/overnight fees Yes Yes
Withdrawal fees No Yes
Spreads Yes Yes
Conversion fees Yes Yes
View more > Plus500 > Admirals >

Now here’s a breakdown of the specific costs of trading stocks in South Africa.

Asset Plus500 fees Admirals fees
Cryptocurrencies From 2%
Commodities From 0.04%
Currencies From 0.8%
Indices From 0.7%
Stocks From 0.08% From $0.02 per share
View more > Plus500 > Admirals >

You can compare the costs of buying stock in South Africa by looking at the spread. The wider the gap between the two prices, the more the platform is charging you.

Am I protected when buying shares in South Africa?

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Yes, as South African stock brokers must be regulated by a local financial authority in order to sell stocks to you. When you buy and sell South African stocks, you’re protected by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) ensures that your broker keeps all money deposited onto the platform safe, and is completely clear about the risks of investing with them.

Many regulators also offer deposit insurance, which insures the money you deposit in the event the broker goes bust or there are any irregularities.

Here is a comparison of South African stock brokers and which regulators have licensed them to operate around the world.

Region Plus500 regulators Admirals regulators
Africa FSA CMA, FSCA, FSA, CIPC
Asia JSC
Australasia ASIC, FMA ASIC
Europe FCA, CySEC FCA, CySEC, EFSA, MiFID II, FSA
International
North America CIRO
South America
View more > Plus500 > Admirals >

What are the best stocks to buy in South Africa?

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The right answer is different for every person and is constantly changing, depending on the stock price and the economic situation in South Africa. Ultimately, you want to find stocks that will be worth more in the future than the price you pay for them now.

Companies on the stock exchange are often valued based on a set of criteria, such as how much money they make every year, how big the market for their product or service could be, and whether they pay out dividends.

Here are some terms and metrics to be aware of when you’re deciding which stocks to buy.

Market capitalization

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Market capitalization, often referred to as market cap, is the total market value of a company’s outstanding shares. It’s calculated by multiplying the current stock price by the total number of outstanding shares. 

For investors, market cap is crucial as it helps in assessing a company’s size, growth potential, and risk level. Larger companies (with higher market caps) are typically more stable, while smaller companies (with lower market caps) may offer higher growth potential but with increased risk.

Net income/earnings

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Net income, also known as net earnings, is the profit a company earns after deducting all its expenses, taxes, and costs. It’s a key indicator of a company’s financial health and profitability.

Investors pay close attention to net income as it directly impacts the company’s earnings per share (EPS), and is often used to determine a company’s value and performance. Consistent growth in net income is generally seen as a positive sign for future stock performance.

Earnings per share

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Earnings per share (EPS) is a financial metric indicating how much profit a company makes per share of its stock. It’s calculated by dividing the company’s net income by its total number of outstanding shares. 

EPS is crucial for investors as it offers a clear measure of a company’s profitability and efficiency in generating profits. It’s widely used for comparing the financial performance of different companies, especially within the same industry. Consistent growth in EPS is often seen as a positive sign.

P/E ratio

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The P/E (price to earnings) ratio is a valuation metric that compares a company’s current share price to its per-share earnings. It’s calculated by dividing the market value per share by the earnings per share. 

Investors use this as a way to evaluate whether a stock is overvalued or undervalued in relation to its earnings. A high P/E ratio could indicate that a stock’s price is high compared to earnings and possibly overvalued, while a low P/E ratio might suggest a stock is undervalued.

Dividend yield

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Dividend yield is a financial ratio that shows how much a company pays out in dividends each year relative to its stock price. It’s calculated as the annual dividends per share divided by the price per share and is usually displayed as a percentage.

For stock investors in South Africa, particularly those seeking regular income, the dividend yield is a key factor to consider. It provides an idea of the income they can expect from an investment in a stock, independent of market price fluctuations.

Free cash flow

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Free cash flow (FCF) is the cash a company generates after accounting for cash outflows to support operations and maintain its capital assets. It’s a measure of a company’s financial performance and health, indicating the amount of cash it has available for expansion, dividend payments, and debt reduction, among other activities. 

For investors, a positive and growing free cash flow is typically a good sign, suggesting the company has healthy financials and the potential for growth and dividend payouts.

Can I buy international stocks in South Africa?

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Yes, typically an online broker offers many more international stocks and you aren’t limited to local South African stocks. Most investors want the option to invest in the biggest brand names, so online trading platforms that are designed to attract casual investors make sure to offer those stocks.

That means you are likely to find lots of stocks from the US market as well as other leading companies around the world, though the exact range on offer depends on the broker you sign up to. Here is a comparison of the best international trading platforms and the stocks they offer. 

BrokerUS stocksUK stocksAsian stocksEuropean stocksRest of world
eToroYesYesYesYesYes
Plus500YesYesYesYesYes
SkillingYesNoYesYesYes
AvaTradeYesNoNoYesNo
PepperstoneYesYesNoYesYes
DegiroYesYesYesYesYes
EightcapYesYesYesYesNo
Interactive BrokersYesYesYesYesYes
PublicYesNoNoNoNo

In addition, there may be a number of different ways to buy or trade international stocks, depending on the broker you choose. You may be able to buy the underlying asset, which is akin to traditional investing where you become a shareholder in the company. 

More common is the ability to buy and sell derivatives, such as CFDs or options, which are financial products that get their value from an underlying asset (in this case, a stock). These are more speculative but give you flexibility by catering to strategies that include using leverage or shorting stocks.

Bottom line

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Buying stocks in South Africa is accessible and achievable for everyone. You don’t need much money to get started, and there’s a range of options available depending on how much time and existing expertise you can bring to bear.

To start investing in stocks from South Africa, sign up to a stock broker that’s regulated by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). From there, it’s simply a case of searching for the companies you want to put your hard-earned money into and placing your first order.

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FAQs

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How do I start buying stocks in South Africa?
Can I buy US stocks in South Africa?
Can I buy fractional shares in South Africa?
Can I buy stocks in South Africa without a broker?
Can you make money from buying shares South Africa?


Fact-checking & references
Risk disclaimer
James Knight
Editor of Education
James is the Editor of Education for Invezz, where he covers topics from across the financial world, from the stock market, to cryptocurrency, to macroeconomic markets.... read more.