Axos Self-Directed Trading Review 2023: Pros, Cons and How It Compares
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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.
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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, requires only a $1 minimum account 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.
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. The platform gives investors access to over 10,000 transaction-fee-free mutual funds, and 1,000 funds with a minimum of $100 or less. For funds with a transaction fee, it's $9.95 — a significantly lower rate than what many other providers charge — or free with an Elite subscription.
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; $75 account transfer fee.
Basic Axos Self-Directed subscription: $0.
Axos Elite subscription: $10 monthly.
Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds
Web trading platform meets basic investor needs.
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 assistance with platform navigation, training on tools is available via phone, email and chat Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT.
More details about Axos Self-Directed Trading's ratings
Account minimum: 5 out of 5 stars
The minimum to open a basic or premium account is $1. The minimum to open a traditional or Roth IRA is $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: 2 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 around $120 annual spend. ACAT transfers cost $75.
Other fees and costs to note:
Wire transfers: $0 for incoming transfers, $15 for outgoing transfers.
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, as well as 1,000 low-minimum mutual and index funds (i.e., funds requiring a minimum investment of less than or equal to $100) and around 2,000 low-cost mutual funds, which are funds that carry expense ratios of 0.5% or less.
Tradable securities: 2.5 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 7.5% margin rate.
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.
Research and data: 2 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 6 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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