Axos Self-Directed Trading Review 2021: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

Axos’ latest offering — its self-directed trading platform — was created with hands-on investors in mind. A basic account requires no minimum balance and gives investors access to commission-free stocks and ETFs.
Sabrina ParysSep 30, 2021

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Our Take

3.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: Axos Self-Directed — with its affordable trading fees and easy integration with Axos Bank — makes the provider a logical pick for existing Axos customers or investors who are looking for a one-stop shop when it comes to banking and investing. However, the brokerage’s trading platform is relatively basic, and you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription to access features that often come free with other providers. Advanced, active traders may be better off relying on mainstays.

Axos Self-Directed Trading

on Axos Invest's website

on Axos Invest's website

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Commission-free stock and ETF trades.
  • Expansive selection of low-minimum mutual funds.
  • Integration with Axos Bank.

Cons

  • Thin investment selection.
  • Some features require a premium subscription.
  • Underwhelming educational tools.

Compare to Similar Brokers

Axos Self-Directed Trading
Fidelity
SoFi Active Investing
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Fees

$0

per trade

Fees

$0

per trade for online U.S. stocks and ETFs

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Account Minimum

$0

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Promotion

Get $100

when you open a new, eligible Fidelity account with $50 or more. Use code FIDELITY100. Limited time offer. Terms apply.

Promotion

$5 to $1,000

in free stock for users who sign up via mobile app

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Full Review

Where Axos Self-Directed Trading shines

Cost: Axos Self-Directed Trading scores pretty well when it comes to affordability. The basic account is free, requires no minimum investment balance, and provides customers with access to options, mutual funds and commission-free stocks and ETFs. There are no annual fees or inactivity charges, and transfer fees, which cost $75 per account, fall in line with industry standards.

Low-minimum mutual funds: Although Axos doesn’t currently offer transaction-fee-free mutual funds, its selection of low-minimum mutual funds is both robust and budget-friendly. In fact, the platform gives investors access to over 7,000 funds with a minimum of $100 or less — and the transaction fee is $9.99, a significantly lower rate than what many other providers charge.

Integration with Axos Bank: Axos’ most unique draw is that it offers a solution to investors who are looking for integration when it comes to banking and investing. The company’s affiliate, Axos Bank, was a pioneer of digital-only banking and continues to make a name for itself with high-yield savings accounts, rewards checking options and lending services. Self-Directed investors who are interested in bundled financial services can access the full suite of tools should they sign up with Axos banking, making it easier — and faster — to transfer funds, check account balances and place trades.

Where Axos Self-Directed falls short

Thin asset selection: Traders interested in bonds, forex, futures, penny stocks, fractional shares and crypto may be unimpressed with Axos’ current lack of diverse offerings.

Premium subscription comes without premium benefits: Axos offers customers the option to upgrade to a higher-tier account, Axos Elite, for a $10 monthly fee. The upgrade comes with the following perks: reduced fees on options trades, access to third-party market research via TipRanks, real-time market data, extended trading hours and margin trading. Active traders who are accustomed to accessing these features for free might be disappointed they come at any cost at all.

Underwhelming educational tools: With a basic membership, investors have access to the company’s blog, which features posts on broad finance topics such as cybersecurity, small-business banking and investing. Beginners may find the basic coverage of terminology, concepts and strategies in the investment section to be a helpful anchoring point, but intermediate and advanced traders who rely on discussion forums, tutorials and seminars will find this selection sparse.

Axos Self-Directed Trading is best for:

  • Intermediate-level traders who can do without high-powered tools.

  • Existing Axos customers.

Axos Self-Directed Trading at a glance

Account minimum

$0.

Stock trading costs

$0.

Options trades

Basic account: $1 per-contract fee.

Elite account: 80 cent per-contract fee.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

No annual or inactivity fees; $75 account transfer fee.

Basic Axos Self-Directed subscription: $0.

Axos Elite subscription: $10 monthly.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

None at this time.

Tradable securities

  • Stocks.

  • ETFs.

  • Options.

  • Mutual funds.

Crypto offering

None at this time.

Trading platform

Web trading platform meets basic investor needs.

Mobile app

Mobile app integrates with Axos banking.

Research and data

Elite members have access to TipRanks.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)

Virtual assistant, email and phone Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time.

More details about Axos Self-Directed Trading's ratings

Account minimum: 5 out of 5 stars

There’s no minimum to open a basic or premium account. The company says IRAs are coming soon, and the minimum will be $50. Many brokers offer IRAs with no account minimum.

Stock trading costs: 5 out of 5 stars

Following industry trends, Axos Self-Directed Trading offers investors commission-free stocks and ETFs.

Options trades: 2 out of 5 stars

Options will cost investors $1 per contract. With an upgrade to Axos Elite, which carries a subscription fee of $10 a month, the price drops to 80 cents.

Worth noting: Many of Axos’ competitors offer options for lower per-contract fees, usually within the 50 cent to 75 cent range.

Account fees: 3 out of 5 stars

There are no annual or inactivity fees, but if you want to upgrade to an Axos Elite account, there’s a $10 monthly charge, which will bring you to a $120 annual spend. ACAT transfers cost $75.

Other fees and costs to note:

  • Wire transfers: $30.

  • Margin rates: Axos Self-Directed Trading's margin rates are currently 5.5%. Margin rates come into play when you trade on margin, which allows you to borrow money from the broker to buy stocks or other investments. Trading on margin can be risky — it may allow you to amplify gains, but it also amplifies losses. It's a strategy best left to experienced investors.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds: 1 out of 5 stars

Axos does not offer transaction-fee-free mutual funds at this time. It does, however, offer 7,000 low-minimum mutual and index funds (i.e., funds requiring a minimum investment of less than or equal to $100).

Worth noting: It doesn't offer any of what we consider low-cost mutual funds, which are funds that carry expense ratios of 0.5% or less.

Tradable securities: 3 out of 5 stars

In line with its mainstream competitors, Axos Self-Directed offers trading of stocks, mutual funds, ETFs and options. Traders interested in futures, bonds, forex and penny stocks, however, might opt to look elsewhere. Margin trading is available when you upgrade to Elite, with a 5.5% margin rate.

Cryptocurrency: 1 out of 5 stars

None at this time.

Trading platform: 3 out of 5 stars

Browser-based platform. No downloadable desktop platform available.

Axos’ website offers all investors basic access to trading. Elite customers get real-time data, research and third-party analytics.

Mobile app: 5 out of 5 stars

Axos Self-Directed traders can log in to their accounts through the Axos Bank app, available for download on both iOS and Android.* Elite members can also access research, set up a watchlist, and see a market overview, news, and index and sector performance from the app.

Worth noting: Axos members who have existing banking accounts with the firm — or plan to open one — can check their balances, view their accounts, transfer funds and pay bills within the same app. While this level of integration is a huge draw, we’d be remiss to discount recent customer complaints about the app’s usability, which the firm says have since been resolved.

*All Self-Directed investors can trade equities and options from the mobile app, but mutual fund access is not yet available.

Research and data: 1 out of 5 stars

Elite customers have access to TipRanks, a third-party provider that collects analysts’ insights and recommendations.

Customer support options: 3 out of 5 stars

Investors can access the brokerage’s blog, where they’ll find posts on investing and personal finance for educational support.

Axos is also a digital-only firm — which means it has no physical branches. If in-person servicing is a deal-breaker for you, Axos may not be the right fit. Otherwise, Axos offers plenty of standard support options including a virtual assistant and phone and email support Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST.

Is Axos Self-Directed Trading right for you?

At the most basic level, Axos Self-Directed’s focus on commission-free stocks and ETFs makes it a competitive choice for no-frills investing. Options traders should look elsewhere for better pricing, and advanced traders who are interested in forex, crypto and futures will have little to work with.

Because Axos Self-Directed Trading stands out most for its ability to marry banking and investing tools, existing Axos customers may find the brokerage to be well worth considering.

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on Axos Invest's website