International Share Trading Accounts

Information verified correct on December 8th, 2016

Compare international share trading accounts.

International share trading broker’s let you access overseas exchanges and trade shares in some of the world’s biggest companies. These online share trading accounts are offered by both household and lesser known names, but the best online broker may not be the biggest or the cheapest. Compare international share trading accounts so you can find a broker to trade easily, cheaply and quickly.

Rates last updated December 8th, 2016
Rates last updated December 8th, 2016
Details Features
TradeDirect365 CFD Trading
TradeDirect365 CFD Trading
Trade CFDs on over 500 ASX shares, as well as international shares, indices, foreign exchange and commodities with TradeDirect365. Stop loss orders and a 24 hour trade desk available. Commission - AUS shares: $5 or 0.07% Go to site More info
Plus500 CFD Service
Plus500 CFD Service
Trade Australian and international CFDs on shares, forex, indices, commodities and more. $30 welcome bonus available. T&C's apply. Commission - AUS shares: Spread only Go to site More info
FP Markets CFD Account
FP Markets CFD Account
Trade CFDs with FP Markets using the IRESSTrader platform. Trade CFDs on international equities, futures and forex. Commission - AUS shares: $10 or 0.10% Go to site More info
Halifax Online
Halifax Online
Trade US and Australian shares, options, futures and CFDs with no registration fees. Trade 24/7 on your desktop, tablet or smartphone. Commission - AUS shares: $10 or 0.12% Go to site More info
CMC Markets Stockbroking Account
CMC Markets Stockbroking Account
Trade shares, warrants, options, EFTs, managed funds, bonds and IPOs with CMC Markets today. Commission - AUS shares: 0.10% Go to site More info
IronFX Forex
IronFX Forex
Trade Forex, CFDs, spot indices, spot commodities and more online. Spreads: From 0.0 pips Go to site More info
Rates last updated December 8th, 2016
Details Features
IG Forex Trading Account
IG Forex Trading Account
Trade from over 10,000 markets with Australia's leading service for CFD trading and forex. Spreads: From 0.6 pips Go to site More info
CMC Markets Forex Trading Account
CMC Markets Forex Trading Account
Trade shares, warrants, options, EFTs, managed funds, bonds and IPOs with CMC Markets today. Spreads: From 0.7 pips Go to site More info
FP Markets FX Trading Account
FP Markets FX Trading Account
Trade forex using an Electronic Communications Network (ECN) model, meaning FP Markets doesn't profit from client losses. Two account types to choose from. Spreads: From 0.8 pips Go to site More info
IronFX Forex
IronFX Forex
Trade Forex, CFDs, spot indices, spot commodities and more online. Spreads: From 0.0 pips Go to site More info
Plus500 CFD Forex Trading Service
Plus500 CFD Forex Trading Service
Trade Australian and international CFDs on shares, forex, indices, commodities and more. $30 welcome bonus available. T&C's apply. Spreads: Spread only Go to site More info
Vantage FX
Vantage FX
Low commission fee on trades with $0 account keeping fee. Spreads: From 0.0 pips Get Quote More info
Halifax Online Forex Trading
Halifax Online Forex Trading
Trade US and Australian shares, options, futures and CFDs with no registration fees. Trade 24/7 on your desktop, tablet or smartphone. Spreads: From 0.0 pips Get Quote More info

What is international share trading?

Buy and sell international shares using an online share trading account. 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. It’s just as easy to trade shares overseas as it is to trade shares in Australia.

Australian shares make up about 2% of the whole global market. International share trading can present exciting opportunities; however, it also presents a high degree of risk: market timezone differences, lack of market knowledge and foreign currency fluctuations can affect your net gains.

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Who is eligible for an international share trading account?

Your checklist before applying:

You can apply for an international share trading account online in less than 15 minutes. Application requirements can vary between different international share trading account providers. Generally eligibility requirements for personal applicants can include:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Have an Australian residential address
  • Have a mobile number.

What documentation or paperwork do I need before applying?

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

For personal applicants:

  • Photographic identification such as your passport, drivers licence or proof of age card
  • Your Tax File Number (TFN) or exemption code (optional).

For applications in the name of a trust or company:

  • Photographic identification such as your passport, drivers licence or proof of age card
  • Australian Company Number (ACN)
  • Australian Business Number or TFN (optional).

Companies, organisations and trusts must be registered in Australia and lodge a US Withholding Tax Treaty Statement to trade in the United States.

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Information you might find helpful

How to compare international share trading accounts

The following points highlights the key features of international share trading accounts.

  • Brokerage fees. A commission for executing a trade, this is a flat fee or a percentage charge, whichever is greater. Brokerage fees are charged per trade. Some providers can offer free brokerage deals.
  • Markets. Where can you trade? Every provider can give you access to the US, but not all platforms let you trade in some areas of Asia and Europe.
  • Trade options. Can you trade ETOs and ETFs as well as shares and in what markets. Only some international share trading accounts let you trade options.
  • Execution speed. How long does it take for funds to clear and to execute the trade.
  • The buffer. The account provider will take a couple of percent extra as a buffer against international currency fluctuations in the time it takes for the trade to clear.
  • Exchange rate margin. A consideration for large transactions, the account provider will make a profit converting Australian dollars to a foreign currency.
  • Trading platform. Is smartphone compatibility 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.
  • Registration fees. Are you required to pay a registration or membership fee to open the international share trading account.
  • Education and research tools. What market tools and research to educate yourself about different companies and foreign markets are on offer. Fundamental analysis and charting tools are key to making better trades.
  • Support. Can you contact the provider outside business hours?

Big 4 Banks online 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 account comparison
CBAWestpacANZNAB
Countries
27
27
5
5
Markets
29
29
11
7
Brokerage fee
  • US: Shares - up to $5000USD - $19.95USD /
  • up to $10,000USD - $29.95USD /
  • above $10,000USD - 0.31%
  • ETOs - $65.00USD or 0.75%, whichever is greater
  • Other markets: Shares - $39.95USD or 0.40%, whichever is greater
  • Major markets: NYSE, NASDAQ, NYSE Amex Equities, Canada, London, Japan & Hong Kong: USD$57.95 or 0.65%, whichever is greater
  • Other markets: Asia, Europe, New Zealand & the Middle East: USD$115.00 or 0.90%, whichever is greater

All markets: Shares

  • up to $10,000 - $59.95
  • over $10,000 - 0.59%

All markets: Shares

  • $14.95 brokerage for trades up to $5,000.00
  • $19.95 for trades $5,001.00 - $20,000.00 in value
Exchange rate margin
0.5%
up to 1%
0.6%
up to 3%
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
  • US - Online
  • Other countries - Over the phone
  • US - Online
  • Other countries - Over the phone
  • Online
  • Online

  • NABtrade. NABtrade gives you access to trade shares on 7 foreign exchanges, you can trade only some ETFs. A NAB Cash Management Account is provided with every NABtrade account. An exchange rate margin of up to 3% is the highest of the Big Four Banks.
  • CommSec. Make online trades in the US or trade in over 20 other international markets over the phone. Commsec is partnered with Pershing LLC, a subsidiary of the Bank of New York. CommSec also provide a Direct Investment Account linked to the CommSec trading platform. Transfer funds between your Pershing account and your CommSec account to access your money.
  • Westpac Online Investing. You must already have a Westpac Online Investing Account before you can open a Wester Global Markets account. Trades shares and ETFs in almost 30 markets and US ETOs. Trades are executed from a Pershing LLC US Bank account opened on your behalf when you successfully apply for a Westpac Global Markets account.
  • ANZ Share Investing. ANZ Share Investing is an online trading platform and a subsidiary of ANZ. Access 11 overseas stock exchanges, transactions and settlement is handled in Australian dollars. The minimum trade is $2,000 not including brokerage.

Our comparison of CommSec and nabtrade.

How do I open an international share trading account?

If you already trade on the ASX, you can add an international share trading account to your profile by following steps in your share trading account administration menu.

As a new customer, a domestic share trading account is issued when you apply to trade overseas. Verify your identity to activate your account. You may also be required to complete additional tax documentation in order to trade in the United States.

How do I make a trade?

This depends on your choice of provider and trading platform. However, general steps to follow to make an international trade:

  1. Log in to your international share trading platform
  2. Look for the menu option that says ‘trade’ or ‘trading’
  3. In the trading menu, look for the option that lets you select the transaction type, i.e. ‘buy’ or ‘sell’
  4. Enter the share security ticker symbol
  5. Enter the quantity of shares you want to buy
  6. Select the order type for the transaction, i.e. select at market or enter a limit
  7. If you’ve selected a non market order, you’re also required to enter a duration.

Market order
An order made through a broker to buy or sell shares right now at the best available price.
Limit order
An order made through a broker to buy or sell shares when they reach a specific price.
Duration
The length of time a limit order stays on the market before it is removed if not fulfilled.

Offshore accounts

International share trading account providers can be partnered with an overseas bank. For example, CommSec is partnered with Pershing, a subsidiary of the Bank of New York. CommSec customers get a Pershing offshore trading account when they’re approved for a CommSec international share trading account.

Other investment types

  • Forex. Buy and sell foreign currency using an online trading platform: spot contracts, forward contracts, limit orders and more.
  • CFDs. Open a trading account and trade contracts for difference online. Compare some of Australia’s largest CFD traders.
  • Domestic shares. Compare online trading accounts so you can trade shares in more than 2,000 companies listed on the ASX.

Using USA trading platforms in Australia.

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.

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Which international share trading platforms are mobile friendly?

Mobile trading features
ProviderMobile friendly site?Mobile app?Other features
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Trade in international markets from your phone.
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Free instant market and pricing alerts. Includes Apple Watch support.
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Trade shares and ETFs, for iOS and Android devices.
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Includes Apple Watch functionality for iOS users.
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iOS native IRESS application for smartphones and tablets.
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Trade directly from your mobile device using the CloudTrade app on Android and Apple iOS. Features live free pricing and charts for international shares.
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Trade CFDs in over 50 markets, set up price alerts and get real time quotes on the go.
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Invast use the IRESS mobile app for trading international share CFDs.
tick-edm
Native Apple, Android and Windows applications for smartphone and tablets.
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Halifax offer 3 different share trading platforms with browser and mobile capabilities.
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Halifax offer 3 different share trading platforms with browser and mobile capabilities.
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TWS is designed for trading on global markets including features such as charting and real-time activity monitoring.

I need help understanding this about international share trading

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Fees and interest: What you need to know

International share trading fees

The following fees and charges apply to international share trading.

Account administration fee / membership fee

Some providers charge a registration or ongoing membership 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

A backroom charge, 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. Local exchange fees can also apply.

This is a table caption
MarketExchangeFee
US
NYSE, NASDAQ & AMEX
SEC fees for sell trades
UK
LSE
Stamp duty - 0.5% (for buy trades)
Hong Kong
HKEx
Trading fee - 0.005% / Stamp duty - 0.1%
Germany
Xetra
N/A

Correct 09/02/16 - Fees can change from time to time.

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Questions about international share trading and international share trading accounts

What are the ways I can invest in international shares?

You can invest in international shares directly using one of the online broker platforms listed on this page. You can also invest in international shares by buying into an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF).

What is an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF)?

A fund traded on an exchange the same way as a share. A ETF is made up of many different types of assets, for example, stock ETFs can be made up of shares from a certain industry such as energy or mining. The ETFs mirror the movements and return of a particular market.

What is an Exchange Traded Option (ETO)?

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

What are the risks of trading international shares?

The risks of trading international share can include:

  • Lack of market knowledge. Investors looking at blue chip shares shouldn’t need to worry as much about company performance as someone going for small-caps in an emerging market. Political and economic considerations as well as general market volatility also present elements of risk to foreign investors.
  • Exchange rate. Trades are carried out in another currency, any movements in foreign exchange rates can impact any gains.
  • Offshore account. Funds are held by an international custodian institution when you’re carrying out overseas trades. Geo-political regulatory restrictions can apply.

What are the pros and cons of international share trading?

Pros

  • Investing in foreign stocks is a great way to diversify your investment portfolio and possibly discover new opportunities that you might have missed by investing locally.
  • Some countries offer tax incentives to foreign investors to encourage economic activity.

Cons

  • There is always the translation risk, transaction risk and economic risk of the country and company that you’re investing in.

What are some tips for investors starting out trading shares overseas?

Keep the following 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
  • Ensure the site security - 128 bit encryption is a must

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28 Responses to International Share Trading Accounts

  1. Default Gravatar
    Bronek | November 4, 2016

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

    • Staff
      Clarizza | November 8, 2016

      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

  2. Default Gravatar
    Adam | September 16, 2016

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

    • Staff
      Shirley | September 19, 2016

      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.

  3. Default Gravatar
    Altaf | July 28, 2016

    what is the rule of shar market

    • Staff
      Clarizza | August 3, 2016

      Hi Altaf,

      Thanks for your comment. Can you please elaborate on your question?

      Regards
      Clarizza

  4. Default Gravatar
    | July 26, 2016

    I want to trade international shares. Can I link an online share trading account to a UK bank account so that the funds are held offshore in sterling and I do not have the forex risk of transferring into AUD

    • Staff
      May | July 27, 2016

      Hi Sharon,

      Thank you for your question.

      Some international share trading account providers can be partnered with an overseas bank. You may verify your provider directly on how you can link your UK bank account with them.

      Cheers,
      May

  5. Default Gravatar
    Peter | May 25, 2016

    Hi
    I would like to trade international shares. Canadian penny stocks gold and silver companies which are the picks from James Rickards Gold Speculator and I will be doing this using my SMSF.
    Can I use a Canadian broker? Or do I use an Australian broker that has the ability to trade internationally. I am new at this and a little lost.
    Regards
    Peter

    • Staff
      Shirley | May 26, 2016

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your question.

      You can use either a Canadian or Australian broker, though you will need to check if you’re eligible for a Canadian share trading account as they may have different eligibility criteria depending on it’s regulations. An Australian broker who trades in the CSE can always help, such as Commsec.

  6. Default Gravatar
    | April 26, 2016

    I want leverage so I am wondering how easy and expensive it is to trade US options from a local online provider.

    • Staff
      Shirley | April 26, 2016

      Hi Paulmac,

      Thanks for your question.

      It’s generally more costly and difficult to trade international options unless you have a high understanding of the market, or you’re using a third party professional service.

      There are a number of online trading platforms listed on this page that you can use and the standard brokerage fee can give you an indication of what the costs it could be.

      In terms of how easy it is, if you’re trading by yourself, you need to set up an account and follow the prompts to trade US options.

  7. Default Gravatar
    Paul | September 26, 2015

    hi i have some British share certificates and wish to sell them can you help me. Regards
    Paul

    • Staff
      Shirley | September 28, 2015

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your question.

      Please be mindful that finder.com.au is online comparison service. Please pick a share trading platform on this page to assist you with this enquiry.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

  8. Default Gravatar
    John | August 25, 2015

    I live in Australia, hold a share certificate (Paper) of a London listed company.
    I want to sell. I heard some brokers can do that.

    Or, can I register an account with a broker, then transfer the paper certificate to electronic, then trade?

    • Staff
      Belinda | August 26, 2015

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your enquiry.

      finder.com.au is an online comparison service so while we can offer general information regarding share trading accounts, we can’t recommend any specific strategies or brokers to you.

      It may be possible for you to ‘paper trade’ before moving on to the electronic version of the share. You can do this by setting up a watchlist which allows you to store in one place all the shares you’re interested in.

      Above on this page you can compare a range of share trading accounts and you can click on the ‘enquire now’ button to speak with the provider and see whether they will allow you to trade the share certificate.

      Thanks,
      Belinda

  9. Default Gravatar
    Kevin | August 18, 2015

    I have a small number of Aviva (UK) shares which I need to sell quickly. I have a NABTrade account but NAB won’t trade internationally in share values of less than 50K. Any advice on Australian banks who will trade internationally in small transactions?

    • Staff
      Belinda | August 20, 2015

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your enquiry.

      finder.com.au is an online comparison service so we’re not in a position to recommend specific share trading accounts to you.

      Above on this page you can compare a range of share trading accounts to see if there’s a provider that enables you to trade smaller transactions. If you’d like to apply, simply click ‘enquire’ and you’ll be redirected to the provider’s website where you can complete the application online.

      You might be interested to read our guide about how to find a competitive online share trading platform.

      Thanks,
      Belinda

  10. Default Gravatar
    Maria | July 27, 2015

    What about Interactive Brokers and Options Express? If they are online brokers, how do they compare?

    Thanks.

    • Staff
      Jodie | July 28, 2015

      Hi Maria,

      Thank you for contacting finder.com.au, a financial comparison website.

      Although we strive to have information on all the options available to visitors of our website we are still growing certain areas of the website and don’t currently have any review or comparison information on Interactive Brokers or Options Express but hope to in the near future.

      I am sorry we were not able to answer your query.

      Regards
      Jodie

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