International Share Trading Accounts

Compare international share trading accounts to buy and sell global stocks.

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International share trading accounts allow you to access overseas stock exchanges to trade shares in some of the world’s biggest companies. These online share trading accounts are offered by the major banks and numerous online share trading platforms.

This guide answers all your questions about trading international shares and allows you to compare international share trading accounts so you can find a broker to trade easily, cheaply and quickly.

Share Trading Account Offer

eToro (global stocks)

USD 0

Standard brokerage - US shares

Share Trading Account Offer

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

  • $0 brokerage for US, Hong Kong and European stocks
  • Trades starting from $50
  • Fractional shares
  • Copy top traders
Go to site
More info

Important: Share trading carries risk of capital loss.

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Disclaimer: Trading CFDs and forex on leverage is high-risk and losses could exceed your deposits.

Compare international share trading accounts

Name Product Ratings Standard brokerage for US shares Inactivity fee Currency conversion fee Markets
eToro (global stocks)
Finder's rating
★★★★★
US$0
US$10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
50 pips (US$0.50 for every AU$100 exchanged)
Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Zero brokerage share trading on US, Hong Kong and European stocks with trades as low as $50.
Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
IG Share Trading
Finder Award
IG Share Trading
Finder's rating
★★★★★
US$0
$50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
0.70%
ASX shares, Global shares
$0 brokerage for US and global shares plus get an active trader discount of $5 commission on Australian shares.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
Superhero share trading
Not yet rated
US$0
No
50 pips (US$0.50 for every AU$100 exchanged)
ASX shares, US shares, ETFs
Australia’s lowest-cost broker for ASX shares and ETFs.
Pay zero brokerage on US stocks and all ETFs and just $5 (flat fee) to trade Australian shares from your mobile or desktop.
CMC Markets Stockbroking
Finder's rating
★★★★★
US$0
No
0.60%
ASX shares, Global shares, mFunds, ETFs
$0 brokerage on global shares including US, UK and Japan markets.
Trade up to 9,000 products, including shares, ETFs and managed funds, plus access up to 15 major global and Australian stock exchanges.
Saxo Capital Markets (Classic account)
Finder's rating
★★★★★
US$9.9
No
0.75%
ASX shares, Global shares, Forex, CFDs, Margin trading, Options trading, ETFs
Acess 19,000+ stocks on 37 exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global share trading, no inactivity fees, low currency conversion fee and optimised for mobile.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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 ASX-listed shares and ETFs without any qualifications or special eligibility. If ASX shares aren’t available, the fee shown is for US shares. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

What is international share trading?

International share trading is the process of buying and selling shares in companies listed on global stock exchanges. This allows Australians to trade shares in global companies instead of being limited to companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). For example, Facebook is listed on the American stock exchange, Nasdaq. So if Australians wish to buy Facebook shares, they’ll need to do this via an international share trading account.

International share trading brokerage fees

Trading international shares can incur different fees and commissions to what you would pay when trading Australian shares. Here's an idea of the fees that you can expect to pay when trading shares on the New York Stock Exchange or the London Stock Exchange.

ProviderNew York Stock Exchange Brokerage FeeLondon Stock Exchange Brokerage Fee
IG Share TradingUS$0£0
Saxo Capital Markets Share TradingUS$9.90£8
CommSec International Trading AccountUS$19.95US$39.95 or 0.40%, whichever is greater

How to buy international shares from Australia

You can trade international shares from Australia with an online share trading account, such as the platforms listed in the comparison table above. These brokers provide an online platform you can use to conduct trades 24/7. Most providers even have smartphone applications for when you’re on the go.

Which global stock exchanges can I access?

The global markets available will vary between providers so it’s best to check if a provider can access the particular stock exchange you’re looking for before you open an account. However, most international share trading platforms will provide traders access to the following major global exchanges, plus more:

  • Australia: The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX)
  • United States: The New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq
  • United Kingdom: London Stock Exchange
  • Europe: Euronext
  • Asia: Japan Exchange Group, Shanghai Stock Exchange, Hong Kong Stock Exchange

What are the benefits of international share trading?

Some of the major benefits of international share trading include, but are not limited to:

  • Access more shares. The Australian share market only represents around 2% of the world’s shares. International share trading allows you to access thousands of global shares that you wouldn’t have access to if you were trading on the ASX alone.
  • Invest in major global brands. You can invest in shares of major global companies such as Facebook, Tesla, Amazon, PayPal, Google and Apple.
  • Diversification. Investing in global stocks as well as local Australian shares will ensure your portfolio is more diversified. An internationally diversified portfolio will help protect you from any major dips in the Australian market.
  • 24/7 trading. You can trade 24 hours a day rather than being restricted to trade within set hours.

What are the risks of international share trading?

International stock exchanges give you access to many more investment options than those listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), however, it can carry a few more risks than the domestic market. This includes foreign exchange rate risk, liquidity risk and risk from changes in foreign governments. Here are some things to be aware of:

Exchange rate volatility. You will need to convert Australian dollars into a foreign currency to buy shares listed on an international stock exchange. When you convert the money back to Australian dollars, there’s a risk the exchange rate will be worse than when you purchased the foreign currency.

Liquidity. Capital gains (or losses) are only realised once a sell order is settled. Overseas stock exchanges can have fewer participants and a lower trading volume, so if you’re trading on a small international stock exchange, there’s a chance you may not be able to find a buyer for your shares and will have to sell at a significant discount.

Foreign policy. Just as the Australian Government’s policies can impact your bottom line, overseas governments can introduce policies and restrictions that can reduce your return on international investment. Many companies also have operations running in politically unstable regions. Political turmoil such as a military coup or civil war can derail foreign investment. Do your homework carefully before investing.

Tax legislation. The capital gains and other tax implications of trading international shares are more complex than if you were only trading Australian shares, and you may need to pay for professional tax advice.

Different time zones. You’ll need to manage opposite time zones when buying or selling shares in major international markets such as America and Europe.

What fees and charges are involved with international share trading?

  • Admin fee. Some providers charge a registration or ongoing membership/admin fee to use their brokerage services.
  • Brokerage fee. The brokerage fee is a flat fee or a percentage of trade, whichever is greater. You may be able to find a deal on brokerage fees as a new customer.
  • Foreign exchange commission. The international share trading account provider will take a margin when funds are exchanged from Australian dollars to a foreign currency.
  • Market fees. A charge or fee for trading in a particular market. For example, sell trades in the US are subject to pay SEC fees and trades in the UK attract a stamp duty charge. Local exchange fees can also apply.

Invest in global exchange traded funds (ETFs) and exchange traded options (ETOs)?

Exchange trade funds (ETFs) and exchange traded options (ETOs) provide alternative ways for Australians to access international shares.

An ETF is a fund traded on an exchange the same way as a share. An ETF is made up of many different types of assets, for example stock ETFs can be made up of hundreds of shares from a certain industry such as energy or mining. ETFs mirror the movements and return of a particular market and there are many global market ETFs that are listed in Australia, including:

Options contracts (ETOs) give you the “option” to buy a security in the future for an agreed price. For example, equities options let you trade now on the future performance of a company.

Invest in international shares through managed funds

It’s possible to invest in international shares through managed funds. Some global-themed managed funds are available through select online share trading platforms thanks to the ASX Mfund settlement service.

When you buy and sell units in an mFund, you can track your units along with other investments such as shares and ETFs in the one place online.

How to find the best international share trading platform

When you’re comparing international share trading accounts, make sure to consider the following features:

  • Brokerage fees. This is a commission for executing a trade and is a flat fee or a percentage charge, whichever is greater. Brokerage fees are charged per trade. Some providers can offer free brokerage deals.
  • Available markets. Where can you trade? Almost every provider can give you access to the US, but not all platforms let you trade in some areas of Asia and Europe.
  • If you can trade options. Can you trade ETOs and ETFs as well as shares, and in which markets? Only some international share trading accounts let you trade options.
  • Execution speed. Check how long it takes for funds to clear and to execute the trade.
  • The buffer. The account provider will take a couple of percentage points extra as a buffer against international currency fluctuations in the time it takes for the trade to clear.
  • Exchange rate margin. The account provider will often charge a bit extra on top of the real currency exchange rate in order to make a profit when converting Australian dollars to a foreign currency and vice versa.
  • Trading platform. Is smartphone compatibility in the form of a mobile app an important feature or are you happy with a browser-based platform? Either way, the trading platform should be easy to use. You should also be able to access account services such as tax, profit and loss, and dividend reporting tools quickly and easily.
  • Registration fees. Are you required to pay a registration or membership fee to open the international share trading account?
  • Education and research tools. Check which market tools and resources you can access to educate yourself about different companies and foreign markets are on offer. Fundamental analysis and charting tools are key to making better trades.
  • Customer support. Can you contact the provider outside business hours? Do they provide a dedicated account manager for clients?

Big Four banks international share trading account comparison

We’ve compared the Big Four Banks international share trading platforms in the table below. The brokerage fees listed in the table apply to share trading. Options transactions attract an additional fee per contract.

Big Four Banks share trading account comparison
CBAWestpacANZNAB
Global Markets
25
25
11
7
Brokerage fee (US shares)
  • US$19.95 / trade up to US$5,000
  • US$29.95 / trade up to US$10,000
  • 0.31% / trade above US$10,000
  • US$19.95 / trade up to US$5,000
  • US$29.95 / trade up to US$10,000
  • 0.31% / trade above US$10,000
  • $59.95 / trade up to $10,000
  • 0.59% / trade over $10,000
  • $14.95 / trade up to $5,000
  • $19.95 / trade $5,001.00 - $20,000.00 in value
Trade options
  • Shares & ETFs (all countries)
  • ETOs (US)
  • Shares & ETFs (all countries)
  • ETOs (US)
  • Shares (all countries)
  • Shares (all countries)
  • EFTs (some countries)
Partner bank
LLC (Pershing) - [Bank of New York Mellon]
LLC (Pershing) - [Bank of New York Mellon]
Citigroup Global Markets Australia Pty Limited
Citibank
Access
Online + phoneOnline + phoneOnlineOnline

How do I open an international share trading account?

You can apply for an international share trading account online in less than 15 minutes. You can compare accounts in the table above and click through to the site to begin your application.

Eligibility

Application requirements can vary between different international share trading account providers. Generally, eligibility requirements for personal applicants will include:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Have an Australian residential address
  • Have a valid contact number

Documentation and ID needed

If you’re a new customer to the share trading platform, you’ll need to verify your identity before you can begin to make trades. Have the following information on hand when you start your application for a share trading account.

  • Photographic identification such as your passport, driver’s licence or proof of age card
  • Your tax file number (TFN) or exemption code (optional)

Companies, organisations and trusts must be registered in Australia and lodge a US Withholding Tax Treaty Statement to trade in the United States. If you’re opening the account in the name of a trust or company you’ll also need to supply:

  • Australian Company Number (ACN)
  • Australian Business Number (ABN)

Pros and cons of international share trading

Pros

  • Access more markets
  • Access major global brands
  • Portfolio diversification
  • 24/7 trading

Cons

  • More fees and costs involved
  • Complex tax rules
  • Foreign currency exchange rates will affect your returns
  • Competing time zones

Tips for people when trading international shares

International share trading accounts can give you access to some of the biggest names in the world. However, there are risks and issues to consider, for example foreign regulatory considerations, time zone differences and lack of overseas market knowledge. Keep the following tips in mind if you’re just starting out:

  • Always have a phone number for your broker
  • Check the deposit requirements before signing up
  • Trading frequently? You might be eligible for discounts
  • Always be aware of the fees involved
  • Ensure you have access to the international markets you want
  • Ensure the site security – 128 bit encryption is a must
Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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45 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    chrisSeptember 26, 2018

    Hi I am just starting out. I live in Australia and want to know what is the best broker in your opinion to use to trade mainly stocks. I want a broker that is partnered with a good desktop platform. I had a look at IG but i do not like there web platform and their partnership with MT4 only really allows for forex and commodity trading not share trading. Can you help?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaSeptember 30, 2018Staff

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      As a comparison website, we can’t provide specific recommendations to our users. However, the best broker for you depends on your specific needs, preference, and budget. For this reason, you may want to assess these factors before you choose a platform.

      What I can suggest is for you to explore further your options. On this page, you will see a table that allows you to conveniently compare your options. You can compare according to monthly fees and margin trading, to name a few. Once you found the right one for you, click on the “Go to site” green button to learn more or initiate your application. From there, you should know more about your options and identify the right one for you.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

    Default Gravatar
    MarkAugust 9, 2018

    Looking at international shares it appears that the Australian brokers all use ‘custodian’ accounts overseas and that the shares aren’t actually registered in my name. Why is this so and is there an alternative?
    It would seem that the custodian could be loaning my shares to people who short the stock.

    Thanks!

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniSeptember 3, 2018Staff

      Hi Mark,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      Dedicated custodian services are quite common, and qualified custodians are strictly regulated. Brokers will often use them to manage customer assets. A custodian account by itself isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm.

      These custodial services are intended to reduce the risk of misappropriation of customer funds, and sometimes a service might be legally required to use a qualified custodian.

      If you don’t feel confident with the custody arrangements made by a broker, and want an alternative, it might be a good idea to contact the broker for more information.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    RoderickMay 2, 2018

    I hold shares in a company quoted in Australia which I wish to sell. I am a UK resident which appears to make this trade very complicated and as yet I have not found a broker either in the UK or Australia that can deal for me.

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiMay 3, 2018

      Hi Roderick,

      Thanks for your message and for visiting finder – the leading comparison website & general information service built to give you advice in your buying decision needs. How are you doing today?

      We understand that you are facing challenges trying to find a broker to sell your shares. However, lease note that we’re a product comparison website and we do not represent any company we feature on our site. We provide general information on products to assist you in your buying decision process hence we cannot recommend product / service that is rightfully fit for you.

      You may choose from the brokerage firms we have on the page above. For more information, you can click the “more” under the “GO TO SITE” button. Once you’ve decided, you may click the “GO TO SITE” to be directed to their page.

      Hope this helps! Feel free to message us anytime should you have further questions.

      Cheers,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    RebeccaMarch 12, 2018

    Hello – I own shares listed on the Swiss stock exchange that I want to keep. I have left the company where I bought the shares and I need to move them to another brokerage account in the next 3 weeks or the company will sell them and transfer the money to me.

    I am an Australian based in Australia and would need to move the shares to an Australian account (I think). NAB can do it but it will take 6 weeks. Can you give me any advice?

    Thank you.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayMarch 21, 2018Staff

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thanks for your question.

      Transferring your shares can be done through an off-market or online. You may check our guide on how and which account you can transfer your shares. You can use our comparison of share trading accounts to see which platform suits you. If you like to check the main page of the platform, please click on the ‘Go to site’ button.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      May

    Default Gravatar
    AlexFebruary 5, 2018

    I have an overseas broker & trade only on the LSE in GB pounds.
    I want to do same with an Australian on line Broker trading in & keeping portfolio in GB pounds

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayMarch 1, 2018Staff

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      That could be possible as the international share trading platforms above can provide access to the global exchanges such as the UK’ FTSE and ISEQ (Ireland). I would suggest that you get in touch with a provider listed above to discuss your trading options like trading in and keeping portfolio in GBP.

      Cheers,
      May

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