International Share Trading Accounts

Compare international share trading accounts to access global stock exchanges.

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

IG Forex Trading

Enjoy $0 commission
Trade up to 81 currency pairs
After hours support available

IG Forex Volume Rebate

Enjoy competitive fees, fast trade execution and tight spreads. You may also be eligible for a rebate when you trade more than 500 standard forex contracts in one month.
Refer a friend offer: Receive up to USD$1000 of trading credit when you refer your friends. Visit site for eligibility criteria. T&Cs apply.

Promoted

Compare international share trading accounts

Rates last updated September 24th, 2018
Name Product Monthly Fee Margin trading - Online IPOs / Floats International Description
IG Share Trading
$0
Yes
Yes
Yes
Low brokerage fees on Australian and international shares. Earn 25 Qantas Points when you trade Australian shares, 50 Qantas Points when you trade international shares (T&C's apply).
Saxo Capital Markets Share Trading
$0
Yes
No
Yes
Access over 19,000 Australian and global shares.
HalifaxOnline
$0
Yes
Yes
Yes
Trade US and Australian shares, options, futures and CFDs with no registration fees. Trade 24/7 on your desktop, tablet or smartphone.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated September 24th, 2018
Name Product Minimum Opening Deposit Major Trading Instruments Commission (ASX 200 Shares) Platforms
$0
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, Cryptocurrency, ETPs
0.08% with $7 minimum
MetaTrader 4
ProReal Time
Trade from over 15,000 markets with Australia's leading service for CFD trading and forex. Introductory offer: receive a reduced commission for the first two weeks.
AUD$3,000
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, ETFs
0.10% with $6 minimum
SaxoTraderGo
SaxoTrader
More than 9,000 CFDs including single stocks, stock indices and commodities
$0
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, Cryptocurrency, Treasuries
0.09% with a $7 minimum
CMC Next Generation CFD
$0
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, ETFs
0.12% with $10 minimum
Halifax Pro
Halifax Plus
Trade US and Australian shares, options, futures and CFDs with no registration fees. Trade 24/7 on your desktop, tablet or smartphone.
$0
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities
0.07% with $5 minimum
MetaTrader 4
CloudTrade
Welcome bonus of up to $500 after your first month. T&C's apply.
Trade CFDs on local and international shares, forex and commodities.
AU$100
Indices, FX, Shares, Commodities, Cryptocurrency, ETFs, International futures
No commission
Plus500 Web Trader
$30 welcome bonus available. T&C's apply.
Trade Australian and international CFDs on shares, forex, indices, commodities and more.
US$200
Indices, FX, Commodities, Cryptocurrency
No commission
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
cTrader
Trade stock indices on the global market, via Pepperstone's MetaTrader 4 and cTrader client terminals.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated September 24th, 2018
Name Product Minimum Opening Deposit Minimum Spreads for Major Currencies Commission Minimum Trade Size Platforms
$0
0.6 - 1.5 pips
$0
1 lot
MetaTrader 4
ProReal Time
AU$3,000
0.6 - 1.1 pips
$0
5,000 units
SaxoTrader
SaxoTraderGO
$0
0.7 - 1.5 pips
$0
0.01 lots
CMC Standard & Pro
$0
From 0.0 pips
$0
0.01 lots
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
WebTrader
US$200
0.0 - 0.1 pips
AU$3.50 per 100k traded
0.01 lots
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
cTrader
AU$200
0.0 pips - 1.0 pips
$0
0.01 lots
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
WebTrader
$0
0.8 - 3.0 pips
$0
0.1 lots
MetaTrader 4
CloudTrade

Compare up to 4 providers

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 a list of 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 TradingUSD$10£10
Saxo Capital Markets Share TradingUSD$9.90£8
HalifaxOnlineUSD$11£8.80

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 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 involved?

Like all types of investing, there are some risks involved with international share trading. Here are some things to be aware of:

  • Fluctuating exchange rates. As you’re investing in foreign shares, your investments will be impacted by currency exchange rates. Foreign currency exchange rates can fluctuate greatly, especially in a volatile market.
  • Foreign market conditions. International market conditions can affect the share price of internationally listed companies. You’ll need to keep across global market conditions and remain up-to-date with major political events that could impact your investments.
  • 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.
  • Tax legislation. The tax implications of trading international shares are more complex than if you were only trading Australian shares, and you’ll probably need to pay for professional tax advice.

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.

What is an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) and an Exchange Traded Option (ETO)?

ETFs and 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 numerous shares from a certain industry such as energy or mining. The ETFs mirror the movements and return of a particular market.

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.

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 (USD shares)
  • $19.95 / trade up to $5,000
  • $29.95 / trade up to $10,000
  • 0.31% / trade above $10,000
  • $19.95 / trade up to $5,000
  • $29.95 / trade up to $10,000
  • 0.31% / trade above $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

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

Australia represents a tiny slice of global securities market capitalisation. International share trading accounts can give you access to trade 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. Compare all your investment options and do your research before you commit to invest in an overseas company.

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Privacy & Cookies Policy and Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy.

43 Responses

  1. 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!

    • finder 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

  2. 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.

    • finder Customer Care
      NikkiMay 3, 2018Staff

      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

  3. 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.

    • finder Customer Care
      MayMarch 21, 2018Staff

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thanks for your question.

      Transferring your shares can be done through an off-market or online. There’s a guide on this page that provides you ways on how and which (possible) account you can transfer your shares to. If you like to check the main page of the platform, please click on the ‘Go to site’ button.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      May

  4. Default Gravatar
    February 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

    • finder 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

  5. Default Gravatar
    philJanuary 25, 2018

    Hi, I want to be able to invest in all of the ETFS listed on the US stock exchange – can you advise which Australian broker offers the most comprehensive coverage?

    • finder Customer Care
      HaroldJanuary 26, 2018Staff

      Hi Phil,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      I can see your interest in growing your ETFS by investing in the international stock markets. It’s great though that the above list of brokers/trading companies allow you invest internationally, like the US stock exchange. While we cannot recommend a specific broker, you may like to refer to our guide on this on how to choose a good stockbroker.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  6. Default Gravatar
    JasonOctober 30, 2017

    Hi,I am wanting to open a international trading account with a online broker,and wishing to purchase stocks in a company that is specific OTC market and need a broker that does that. I’m finding a lot of brokers only do certain stocks and need one that does all stocks. Your help would be greatly appreciated.Thxs jason

    • finder Customer Care
      JudithOctober 31, 2017Staff

      Hi Jason,

      I hope you are doing great today. Thanks for contacting finder, a comparison website and general information service.

      As we are a comparison website, I’m afraid I cannot recommend or suggest a specific product for you, as the best option would entirely depend on your needs.

      You may check our list of best online share trading platforms on this page. Kindly review each platform by clicking “Go to site” or “More.” This would also greatly help you in making a sound decision in choosing the right option.

      I hope this helps.

      Best regards,
      Judith

  7. finder Customer Care
    MayJune 1, 2017Staff

    Hi Piera,

    Thank you for your inquiry.

    As we are a third party comparison site, I’m afraid we may not be able to recommend a specific trading platform for you. Although, you can compare the international share trading accounts listed above. If you want to know more about the associated fees, rates and which overseas stock markets you can trade with, please click on the ‘Go to site’ button to head over to the brand’s official site. Other providers that also offer international shares trading are enumerated under the “Which international share trading platforms are mobile friendly?” section.

    Cheers,
    May

  8. Default Gravatar
    DavidMay 24, 2017

    Hi There,

    I work for a European company and have some shares as part of an employee share scheme. Shares are listed in European stock market.

    If I am no longer working for this company, I will need to transfer the shares to a private brokerage account in Australia.

    Can you tell me which of the brokers listed in your comparison are suitable for this purpose.

    I will not be actively trading international shares. I just need the shares to be transferred and if required, to be sold at some point in the future.

    Many Thanks,
    David

    • finder Customer Care
      LouMay 25, 2017Staff

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your question.

      The share trading accounts we listed above may be suitable for your purpose as they allow buying and selling of international shares. Please be mindful of the eligibility criteria to open a particular account.

      You may directly get in touch with the share trading account brand you are interested in to confirm if they are able to assist with your need.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  9. Default Gravatar
    BronekNovember 4, 2016

    What is the difference between owning a share outright and beneficial ownership ?

    • finder Customer Care
      ClarizzaNovember 8, 2016Staff

      Hi Bronek,

      Thanks for your question.

      In Australia, if you own a share outright or have beneficial ownership, you get direct benefit from the shares and are the listed owner. For example, if you have invested in shares listed on a securities exchange. Both have the same meaning and relate to how the shares or investments are controlled and who receives benefits.

      Regards,
      Clarizza

  10. Default Gravatar
    AdamSeptember 16, 2016

    Withholding tax on US dividends is an issue for clients. who will reduce these to 15%?

    • finder Customer Care
      ShirleySeptember 19, 2016Staff

      Hi Adam,

      Thanks for your question.

      We’re currently looking into this for you. In the meantime, we’d recommend that you get in touch with a financial planner who has this information readily available.

      I’ve been in touch with NAB and they’ve expressed that they subtract 15% withholding tax.

      A sample calculation below:

      Receive a US dividend of $20 US per share – have 100 shares = $2000 US
      We (NAB) then subtract the 15% Withholdings Tax = $300 US
      Total = $1700 US
      Multiply by the FX rate at the time we (NAB) deposit the funds = $2100 AUD (Example Only)

      Hope this has helped.

Ask a question
Go to site