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International share trading accounts

Compare international share trading accounts to start buying and selling international shares.

Aussies are not locked into buying shares in our own domestic market. Instead, with the expansion of brokers, there are numerous options if you want to open an international share trading account.

This guide will show you how to buy international shares as well as allow you to compare international share trading accounts.

Share Trading Account Offer

eToro

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 AU, US, Hong Kong and European stocks
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Important: Share trading carries risk of capital loss.

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Compare international share trading accounts

Name Product Standard brokerage for US shares Currency conversion fee Asset class
eToro
Finder AwardExclusive
eToro
US$0
50-150 pips
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Finder exclusive: Get 12 months of investment tracking app Delta PRO for free when you fund your eToro account (T&Cs apply).
CFD service. Capital at risk.
Join the world's biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
Moomoo Share Trading
US$0.99
55 pips or 0.0055 AUD/USD
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Finder exclusive: Get 30 days of brokerage-free trading for new accounts + 6.8% on your uninvested cash. T&Cs apply.
Trade shares on the ASX, the US markets and buy ETFs with Moomoo. Plus join a community over 20 million investors.
Tiger Brokers
Exclusive
Tiger Brokers
US$2
37 pips
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Finder exclusive: 10 no-brokerage US or ASX market trades in the first 180 days + 7% p.a. on uninvested cash with first deposit of any amount, plus US$30 TSLA + US$30 NVDA shares with deposits up to AU$2000. T&Cs apply.
Trade Australian, US and Asian stocks with no minimum deposit on Tiger Broker’s feature-packed platform.
CMC Invest
Finder Award
CMC Invest
US$0
0.60%
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
$0 brokerage on US, UK, Canadian and Japanese markets (FX spreads apply).
Trade over 45,000 shares and ETFs from Australia and 15 major global markets. Plus, buy Aussie shares or ETFs for $0 brokerage up to $1,000 (First buy order of each security, each day - excludes margin loan settled trades).
Webull
US$0.25
0.50% (50 pips)
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
Get 30 days of $0 brokerage fees when you open your account. Receive $50 of TSLA shares and a $50 trading voucher when you deposit $200. T&Cs apply.
Trade ASX and US stocks and US options, plus gain access to inbuilt news platforms and educational resources. You can also start trading for less with fractional shares.
Saxo Invested
Saxo Invested
US$1
0.25%
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
Access 22,000+ stocks on 50+ 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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Important: The standard brokerage fee displayed is the trade cost for new customers to purchase $1,000 of either Australian or US shares. Where a platform charges different fees for both US and Australian shares we show the lower of the two. 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.

An international share trading account allows Australians to trade shares in global companies instead of being limited to companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). For example, Alphabet (Google's parent company) is listed on the American stock exchange Nasdaq. So if Australians wish to buy Alphabet shares, they’ll need to do this via an international share trading account.

How to buy international shares from Australia

Buying international shares can be done in 4 easy steps:

  1. Compare brokers with access to global stocks.
  2. Open your account by providing an 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.

Investing in the global share market is a lot like investing in the Australian market. However, you'll need to find the right stockbroker or online trading platform.

This guide explains 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.

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 and 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

Finder survey: Have Australians of different ages bought overseas stocks?

Response75+ yrs65-74 yrs55-64 yrs45-54 yrs35-44 yrs25-34 yrs18-24 yrs
Australia29.85%23.43%24.69%25.56%23.29%28.11%12.63%
Other5.97%4%1.23%0.56%0.4%1.05%
US2.99%4%7.41%12.22%12.05%9.22%7.37%
NZ1.49%0.57%1.61%1.84%
UK1.49%1.14%3.09%1.11%1.2%1.84%1.05%
China/Hong Kong0.57%0.62%0.56%3.21%1.38%2.11%
Europe (EU)0.57%1.23%2.01%1.38%1.05%
Canada1.23%1.67%1.2%1.38%1.05%
Japan0.62%0.56%2.01%1.84%1.05%
India0.56%0.4%0.92%1.05%
Singapore0.56%1.61%0.92%1.05%
Africa & Middle East1.05%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1145 Australians, December 2023

What are the benefits of international share trading?

Some of the major benefits of international share trading include the following:

  • 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 Meta (Facebook's parent company), Tesla, Amazon, PayPal, Google and Apple.
  • Diversification. Investing in global stocks as well as local Australian shares will ensure your portfolio is more diversified. Remember, if you live in Australia, work in Australia and own a home in Australia, by default you are incredibly exposed to the country's economy. 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 set hours.
  • Cheaper brokerage. Depending on where you trade, it can be cheaper to buy overseas shares than to invest in Australia.

International market news (May 2024)

  • S&P 500: The S&P 500 has come back after a record month in January. The index closed down 2.6% for the month of February, following a range of quarterly updates which suggest business leaders are bearish about their prospects moving forward. The US market has now slipped back below 4,000 points.
  • Hang Seng: The Hang Seng has entered a correction territory, (down 10%) after investors began to sell off the Chinese market. In January, the index gained a major boost after China moved away from its COVID-19 lockdown policies and reopened the country. Investors were incredibly bullish about China's prospects after it reopened. But now the Hang Seng is close to giving up all its years gains, as it falls back below 20,000 points.
  • FTSE 100: The London Stock Exchange or FTSE 100 recorded its best February since 2019. It was up 1.3% off the back of higher earnings and a weaker pound earlier in the month.

International share trading brokerage fees

Trading international shares can incur different fees and commissions than what you would pay when trading Australian shares. Here's an idea of the fees 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 InvestedUS$1£8
CommSec International Trading AccountUS$5US$39.95 or 0.40%, whichever is greater

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, such as foreign exchange rate risks, liquidity risks and risks 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. This could offset the profits you've made on your shares.

Liquidity. You can only realise capital gains (or losses) after settling a sell order. 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 investments. 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. 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 like America and Europe.

What fees and charges are involved with international share trading?

  • Admin fee. Some providers charge a registration fee, an ongoing membership or an admin fee to use their brokerage services.
  • Brokerage fee. The brokerage fee is either 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 exchanging funds from Australian dollars to a foreign currency.
  • Market fees. These are charges or fees for trading in a particular market. For example, trades in the US are subject to 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 traded 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 in the same way as a share. An ETF consists of many different types of assets. For example, stock ETFs can comprise hundreds of shares from specific industries such as energy or mining. ETFs mirror the movements and returns of a particular market. There are many global market ETFs that are listed in Australia, including the following:

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 a company's future performance.

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 a single 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 fee: This is a commission for executing a trade and is a flat fee or a percentage charge, whichever is greater. Providers charge a brokerage fee per trade. Some may even 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: Consider whether you can trade ETOs and ETFs alongside 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 execute the trade.
  • The buffer: The account provider will take a couple of percentage points extra as a buffer against international currency fluctuations. This happens 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 to make a profit when converting Australian dollars to a foreign currency and vice versa.
  • Trading platform: Is smartphone compatibility with 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 an 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 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 accounts 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 accounts comparison
CBAWestpacANZNAB
Global markets
25
25
11
7
Brokerage fee (US shares)
  • US$19.95 or trade up to US$5,000
  • US$29.95 or trade up to US$10,000
  • 0.31% or trade above US$10,000
  • US$19.95 or trade up to US$5,000
  • US$29.95 or trade up to US$10,000
  • 0.31% or trade above US$10,000
  • $59.95 or trade up to $10,000
  • 0.59% or trade over $10,000
  • $14.95 or trade up to $5,000
  • $19.95 or 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 and phoneOnline and 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. Compare accounts in the table above and click on 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 the following:

  • 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 the following:

  • 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, such as 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.

Frequently asked questions

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. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) for the product on the provider's website.

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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
      JoshuaSeptember 30, 2018Finder

      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
      JeniSeptember 3, 2018Finder

      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
      MayMarch 21, 2018Finder

      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
      MayMarch 1, 2018Finder

      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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