The bottom line:
Pros & Cons
Commission-free stock and ETF trades.
Expansive selection of low-minimum and no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
Integration with Axos Bank.
Thin investment selection.
Some features require a premium subscription.
Underwhelming educational tools.
Low interest rate on uninvested cash.
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Where Axos Self-Directed Trading shines
Cost: Axos Self-Directed Trading scores pretty well when it comes to affordability. The basic account is free, and provides customers with access to options, mutual funds and commission-free stocks and ETFs.
Fee-free and low-minimum mutual funds: Axos' selection of transaction-fee-free mutual funds and low-minimum mutual funds is both robust and budget-friendly. All mutual funds on the platform — over 10,000 — are free to trade, and there more than 1,000 funds with a minimum of $100 or less.
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 transaction-fee mutual fund trades and 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
Stock trading costs
Basic account: $1 per-contract fee.
Elite account: 80 cent per-contract fee.
Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)
No annual or inactivity fees; $100 account transfer fee.
Basic Axos Self-Directed subscription: $0.
Axos Elite subscription: $10 monthly.
Interest rate on uninvested cash
Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds
Web trading platform meets basic investor needs, but lacks additional features advanced traders may be interested in.
Mobile app integrates with Axos banking and is highly rated on iOS and Android platforms.
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 assistance with platform navigation, training on tools is available via phone, email and chat Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT.
More details about Axos Self-Directed Trading's ratings
Account minimum: 5 out of 5 stars
There is no minimum to open a standard self-directed trading account, and the minimum to open a traditional or Roth IRA is $50. Many brokers offer IRAs with no account minimum. For an additional $10 per month, users can gain Axos Elite status, which comes with discounted rates and fees on things like options and margin trading, plus access to additional trading hours.
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, 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: 1.5 out of 5 stars
There are no annual or inactivity fees, but if you want to upgrade to an Axos Elite account, that amounts to around $120 annual spend. ACAT transfers cost $100.
Other fees and costs to note:
$60 IRA termination fee
$60 annual custodial fee for IRA
Interest rate on uninvested cash: 1 out of 5 stars
In the rising rate environment, many brokers have increased the amount of interest they pay customers on uninvested cash through default sweep programs. Axos, however, has kept its default sweep interest rate at 0.01%.
Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds: 5 out of 5 stars
Axos offers over 10,000 transaction-fee-free mutual funds at this time, and more than 1,000 low-minimum mutual and index funds (i.e., funds requiring a minimum investment of less than or equal to $100). Axos also offers around 1,000 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 max margin rate (for account balances under $25,000) of 12.75%.
None at this time.
Trading platform: 2.5 out of 5 stars
This is a browser-based platform with no no downloadable desktop platform available.
Axos’ website offers all investors basic access to trading, while Elite customers get real-time data, research and third-party analytics.
When we tested Axos Self-Directed trading, it was a bit clunky from the beginning. It required opening an Axos account, and then separately creating a trading account, before being able to fund it by connecting to an outside bank account. For existing Axos Bank customers, this process is likely much smoother.
Once in the trading platform, we found a straightforward, bare-bones trading experience that would likely be fine for many investors. However, we did notice how antiquated it already feels to not have the option to buy in fractional shares, which is becoming common among many brokers.
Axos Self-Directed also lacks a few features that would be attractive to advanced traders, such as IPO and over-the-counter stock access. Axos says its execution quality is 95%, and that it does not accept payment for order flow, or PFOF. In recent years, regulators have looked into the practice of PFOF, which entails routing customer orders to market-making firms that pay for those trades, potentially creating a conflict of interest.
The average execution quality of all brokers we review was 97.4% as of August 31, 2023. That means 97.4% of orders were executed at a price that was at or better than the National Best Bid and Offer. Executing at or above the NBBO means you may receive price improvement, or a better share price than you were originally quoted.
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.
Research and data: 2 out of 5 stars
Elite customers have access to TipRanks, a third-party provider that collects analysts’ insights and recommendations. Other features include news from Benzinga and Seeking Alpha, plus SEC filings and company press releases.
Customer support options: 2.5 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 8 a.m. to 4 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.
How do we review brokers?
NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers by assets under management, along with emerging industry players. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.
We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The questionnaire answers, combined with demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars).
For more details about the categories considered when rating brokers and our process, read our full methodology.