Limit and At Market orders – when to use them, and how they differ

 

Limit and At Market refers to the condition around the price that you set on an order to buy or sell. 

 

Summary comparison

  Limit  At Market 
The condition you’re setting 

Buys – setting the highest price you’re willing to pay 

Sells – setting the lowest price you’re willing to sell at

Buys – willing to pay the going market price 

Sells – willing to sell at the going market price 

Price entered  Your limit price in dollars and cents  Not applicable 
Accepted 

All the time 

(we’ll queue your order when the market isn’t accepting orders; the market may subsequently reject your order depending on the market state

 

During market hours only, generally 10am-4pm Sydney time 

Can be amended 

Yes 

(unless the order’s fulfilled or if the market state doesn’t accept amendments at that time) 

Not online 

(and rarely over the phone because it’s often fulfilled quickly) 

Can be cancelled 

Yes 

(unless the order’s fulfilled) 

Not online 

(and rarely over the phone because it’s often fulfilled quickly) 

 

 
Limit orders 
 
An order with a Limit price means: 
 
  • For buys, the highest price you’re willing to pay for a share 
  • For sells, the lowest price you’re willing to sell a share 

It’s used if you want certainty about the price you could ultimately get.  

 

Keep in mind 

Your order may not trade immediately because: 

  • it’s outside of market hours
  • there may be other orders ahead of you at the same or better price than yours. The market processes orders based on “price-time priority” (those at a better price first; and, if at the same price, then by the time it was submitted); 
  • there is no demand at your price at that point in time; or 
  • we may have to perform additional checks on your order before we send it to market. 

We also may reject Limit orders that are too far away from market prices. 

 

“At Market” orders 


An order that’s “At Market” means: 

  • For buys, you’re willing to buy at the available prices offered in the market; 
  • For sells, you’re willing to sell at the available prices bid in the market;

This type of order has no limit on the price you ultimately get.  It’s used when you want to execute quickly and you’re happy to accept the going prices on the market. 

 

Timing and price can vary 


“At Market” orders are sent to market as soon as practicable in accordance with our Best Execution Policy and T&Cs. But it’s important to note that market conditions can affect the timing of your order and the price you get, for example: 

  • The price you receive may be significantly different to the market price that you observed when you placed the order. This happens particularly in volatile markets when both supply and demand for shares and market prices can all change quickly. 
  • Your order may take time to fully trade - longer than you anticipated. This happens particularly in illiquid stocks, when supply and demand at tradable prices can sometimes be scarce.  
  • Your order may need to be checked before submission to market. It’s CommSec’s obligation as a market participant to do our part to ensure a fair and orderly market. Therefore, your order may need to be checked when it could fall outside our guidelines.  

 

Keep in mind 

  • “At Market” orders are only accepted during market hours, generally 10am-4pm Sydney time. 
  • “At Market” orders cannot be amended or cancelled online once they are placed, and rarely over the phone, because they’re generally fulfilled quickly. 

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