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How to buy international shares in Australia

Compare brokers, fees and products to invest in global stocks online.

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Thinking of investing in global shares? It's easier and cheaper than you may think and there are plenty of options to get started. Investing in the global share market is a lot like investing in the Australian market, however you'll need to find the right stock broker or online trading platform.

This guide will explain what to look for in an international share trading account, how to open one and what to do with the account once you’ve opened it. Read on to learn more, or start with the basics of share trading if it’s new to you. If you already know how to buy international shares, you can simply compare brokers and open an account.

Buy international shares in 4 steps

  1. Compare brokers with access to global stocks
  2. Open your account by providing ID
  3. Fund your account by transferring money from your bank account
  4. Search and select the shares you want to invest in and start trading

Share Trading Account Offer

eToro Share Trading (US stocks)

USD 0

Standard brokerage - US shares

Share Trading Account Offer

Get $0 brokerage on US stocks with trades as little as $50 when you join the world's biggest social trading network.

  • $0 brokerage for US stocks
  • Trades starting from $50
  • Fractional shares
  • Copy top traders
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Important: Share trading carries risk of capital loss.

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Trade international shares with one of these brokers

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Standard brokerage for US shares Inactivity fee Currency conversion fee Markets
eToro Share Trading (US stocks)
USD 0
USD 10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
0.50%
Forex, CFDs, US shares
Zero brokerage share trading on US stocks with trades as low as $50.
Note: This broker offers CFDs which are volatile investment products and most clients lose money trading CFDs with this provider.
Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and forex from the one account.
IG Share Trading
Finder Award
IG Share Trading
USD 0
AUD 50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
0.70%
ASX shares, Global shares, Forex, CFDs, Margin trading
Brokerage discount: $5 on Australian shares for active traders & $0 commission on US and global shares
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, forex and CFDs, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
CMC Markets Stockbroking
USD 0
No
0.60%
ASX shares, Global shares, Forex, CFDs, Margin trading, Options trading, mFunds
$0 brokerage on global shares including US, UK and Japan markets.
Trade up to 9,000 products, including shares, managed funds, forex, commodities and cryptocurrencies, plus access up to 15 major global and Australian stock exchanges.
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Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. Standard brokerage fee is the cost to trade $1,000 or less of US shares or ETFs without any qualifications or special eligibility.

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Minimum Opening Deposit Minimum Opening Deposit Commission - ASX 200 Shares Available markets Platforms
Plus500 CFD
AUD 100
100
No commission
CFDs on ASX shares, global shares, indices, options, ETFs
Plus500 Web Trader
Disclaimer: Volatile investment product. Most clients lose money trading with this provider.
Finder exclusive offer: Open a new trading account and receive a welcome bonus of AU$110 when you deposit your first $370 and enter the bonus code “Special200”. T&C’s apply.
Trade CFDs on Australian and International shares, indices, cryptocurrencies, commodities and more.
IG Markets CFD
AUD 0
0
0.08% with $7 minimum
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, Cryptocurrency, ETPs
MetaTrader 4
ProReal Time
Disclaimer: Volatile investment product. Most clients lose money trading with this provider.
Introductory offer: Build confidence by trading at lower minimum trade sizes for the first six weeks. Plus, receive a reduced commission on Australian shares CFDs. T&C's apply.
Trade from over 15,000 markets with Australia's leading service for CFD trading and forex.
eToro CFD
USD 50
USD 50
No commission
ASX shares, global shares, indices, cryptocurrencies, commodities, ETFs
eToro Trading Platform
Disclaimer: Volatile investment product. Most clients lose money trading with this provider.
Join the largest social trading network in the world.
IC Markets CFD (True ECN Account)
$200
$200
0.1% per side
ASX shares, global shares, indices, commodities, forex, cryptocurrencies
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
cTrader
Disclaimer: Volatile investment product. Most clients lose money trading with this provider.
Trade 230+ different products with fast execution under 40 milliseconds on average.
City Index CFD
AUD 0
0
0.08% with $5 minimum
ASX shares, 4,500 global shares, indices
MetaTrader 4
At Pro
Advantage Web
Disclaimer: Volatile investment product. Most clients lose money trading with this provider.
Trade CFDs on indices, FX, global & Australian shares and commodities, plus access other markets such as metals, bonds and interest rates.
Blueberry Markets CFD Trading
$100
$100
$20 per month subscription plus 2% of trade size
Indices, ASX200 Shares, Commodities, Cryptocurrency
MetaTrader 5
Disclaimer: Volatile investment product. Most clients lose money trading with this provider.
Bottom of the market fees on forex, CFDs and commodities with 24/7 quality customer service.
CMC Markets
$0
$0
0.09% with a $7 minimum
ASX shares, 25+ global exchanges, treasuries, indices
CMC Next Generation CFD, MetaTrader 4
Disclaimer: Volatile investment product. Most clients lose money trading with this provider.
Share CFD and forex ideas with other traders and take your strategy to the next level with over 100 technical indicators and charts on CMC’s mobile-friendly Next Generation platform.
Pepperstone CFD
USD 200
200
No commission
ASX shares, global shares, indices, cryptocurrencies, commodities
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
cTrader
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76.5% 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.
Trade stock indices on the global market, via Pepperstone's MetaTrader 4 and cTrader client terminals.
FP Markets CFD (Professional Account)
AUD 1,000
1,000
0.10% with $10 minimum
ASX shares, 6 global exchanges, indices, cryptocurrency
IRESS
Disclaimer: Volatile investment product. Most clients lose money trading with this provider.
Trade CFDs with FP Markets using the IRESSTrader platform. Trade CFDs on international equities, futures and forex.
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Disclaimer: CFDs and forex are complex financial products that come with a high risk of losing money. Most retail client accounts lose money trading CFDs and forex. Consider whether you can afford to lose your money.

How to invest in international shares

There are four main ways that you can access global shares from Australia. You can invest directly in shares listed overseas – such as Facebook and Apple – by using a broker with an international share trading platform, you can buy units in a global-themed exchange traded fund (ETF) or managed fund or you can trade contracts for difference (CFDs) that track global shares (Note: this isn't the same as buying shares directly).

Step 1: Compare options and choose a broker

There are many different account options to choose from, and it’s worth comparing them like you would any other financial product. Consider:

Brokerage fees

How much commission does the account charge for the execution of a trade? There may be flat rates, percentage rates or even no brokerage fees at all.

Access to markets

Which international markets does the account let you trade on? The big ones are the US markets like the NYSE and NASDAQ, which most providers will allow you to you access, but not every account will let you trade everywhere in Europe and Asia.

Speed

How long does it take for a transaction to be executed? Timeliness can be important when trading internationally.

The buffer

How big is the buffer? Most international share trade orders will have a 'buffer' applied to them by the share trading platform provider. The buffer is a percentage of the order value, which is added onto the cost of the order to protect the provider from currency fluctuations while the trade clears, ensuring that they don’t lose money on routine trades.

Exchange rates

How much of a cut does your provider take? When converting currencies, the provider may take a cut in the form of a percentage fee on currency converted. Often brokers that charge $0 commission will charge a higher foreign exchange (FX) fee.

Signup fees

Does the provider charge any fees for opening an account with them? The benefits they offer may not always be worth it.

Research tools

What investment research tools are available? Are you seeing real time market information or is there a delay? Are the research tools free to use or do they cost extra? It’s a lot easier to buy low and sell high when you’ve done your research, rather than relying on luck alone.

Customer service and access

Does your provider have a share trading mobile app, or desktop access only? Can you contact the provider outside of business hours? What are your options for getting in touch with them? Are they known for being helpful or not so much? When you open an international share trading account you’re using a service and you should expect a certain level of customer assistance.

Limits

Do you have to spend more than you want, or not as much as you want? One of the main restrictions to look out for when choosing an account is the presence of limits, which may be minimums or maximums that apply. You may not be able to make trades above or below a certain dollar value.

Step 2: Open your account

Once you've decided on an online broker, you can open your share trading account. If you already have a bank account with that provider then you can usually sign in via their online banking portal. If not, you will have to open a new account. To open an international share trading account you'll generally need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Have an Australian residential address
  • Have a mobile number

As part of the application process you will typically need to provide:

  • Personal photographic identification (for example your drivers license, passport and/or proof of age card)
  • An Australian business number (ABN) and/or tax file number (TFN) if applicable

When opening the account you'll be asked to choose whether you’ll be trading as an individual, with a joint account (for example, with your partner), as a company or organisation or on behalf of a trust (for example a SMSF). Because share trading has income and tax implications you must provide details of your income and occupation. Along with your personal information, you may be required to disclose the source of your income and the origin of your financial position.

After you’ve provided your personal details, you’re up to the account set-up stage. This involves providing the details of your linked bank account, setting up financing options if applicable and choosing from the various options that may be available. Once you’ve confirmed everything and double checked your details, you’re ready to load your cash management account and start trading.

Already have a share trading account?

Sometimes, providers will require that you open one account for local shares and a separate account for international shares. Since you're already signed up to the broker, this should be a fairly simple process.

Step 3: Fund your account and start trading

If you want to start trading right away, you'll need to make sure you have enough funds in your linked account to execute the trades, plus any broker fees that will apply. Remember that when you transfer funds into your linked foreign currency account, you'll usually have to pay a currency conversion fee. It can take a few days for your funds to be loaded into the cash account, so keep this in mind when you decide you'd like to make a trade.

Once you’ve set everything up, you can trade online through your new international share trading account. Expect to see a dashboard with features such as current share prices and changes over time and options to buy, sell or research. With the big banks and other trading accounts geared towards beginners, you may find tutorials and introductory material to help acquaint you with the available features.

What’s the difference between Australian and international share trading?

When trading shares, you can choose to do it domestically or internationally.

Domestic

Trade shares listed on Australian stock exchanges. Trade within certain business hours and access only Australian investment options, which make up about 2% of the global market.

Australian stock exchanges include the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), National Stock Exchange (NSX) and Chi-X.

International

Trade shares from global markets around the world 24 hours a day, subject to local market hours, including big global brands and household names. Gain access to more options, but also experience new risks and challenges.

International stock exchanges include the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), London Stock Exchange (LSE), the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations System (NASDAQ) and many others.

Compared to domestic trading, there are both advantages and disadvantages to trading shares internationally.

Advantages of international share trading:

  • Gain access to a wider variety of investment options.
  • An internationally diversified portfolio can help protect you from the downturns of the Australian market.
  • You can trade 24 hours a day rather than only within set business hours.
  • More buyers: The actual value of your shares depends on how much you can sell them for. When trading internationally, there may be a larger number of different interested buyers and you might find it's easier finding a buyer.

Disadvantages of international share trading:

  • Exchange rates can fluctuate and can significantly hurt (or help) your return on investment.
  • Foreign policy can affect your returns. It’s possible that changes to another country’s foreign policies, local instability or other issues can impact the value of your investment in ways beyond your control. This is a largely uncontrollable risk.
  • Taxation and related issues may be more complicated when trading international shares.
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Some extra tips:

Making big trades? Look for lower exchange rates, research tools that allow you to make more reliable investments and flat broker fees rather than percentage rates. Where applicable, it may be worth accepting higher flat fees in exchange for lower percentage rates. Avoid low maximum limits which might constrain your trading.

Making a lot of small trades? You may want to avoid flat fees that take a big chunk out of the potential profits of each trade and stick to percentage rates that will cost you less. Low maximums are less of an issue, but high minimums might be a problem.

How will you diversify your portfolio? Not all accounts will give you the same options. Plan what kind of trades you want to make and consider whether a given account will let you trade CFDs, whether you can trade ETOs and/or ETFs and if you are able to do forex trading through the same platform.

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