Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own.

How to buy US stocks from Australia

Buying US stocks from Australia is relatively simple these days, but there are a few tricks you need to be aware of. Here is what you need to know.

Buy shares with an online broker Compare US stock trading apps

With a host of new platforms, investing in US stocks from Australia has never been easier (or cheaper).

All you need to do is sign up to a broker with access to Wall Street. Your cheapest and easiest option is to join an online share trading platform that offers US-listed stocks.

How to buy US stocks from Australia

  1. Select an online broker or trading platform that offers US stocks
  2. Open your US brokerage account
  3. Research what stocks you want to buy
  4. Submit your buy order

1. Select an online broker or trading platform

If you're looking to buy US stocks, you'll need to find an online broker. The good news is that there are now plenty of options in Australia to choose from and the process is pretty quick and easy.

If you're looking to invest, you'll need to have a few of your details handy, including your identification and basic banking information.

When choosing an online broker, try comparing them based on the fees they'll charge and the features they offer. For example, if you're a newer investor, you might want to favour a broker that has strong education resources.

Just make sure to select a broker that has access to US markets. You can check out some of the options in our comparison table below.

Compare share trading accounts with US stocks

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.
Webull
Exclusive
Webull
US$0.25
0.50% (50 pips)
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
Finder exclusive: Get an additional 30 days of $0 brokerage. Get advanced research and trading tools with $0 brokerage and free lvl 2 NASDAQ stock data for 30 days. 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.
Moomoo Share Trading
US$0.99
55 pips or 0.0055 AUD/USD
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Get 10 free shares + earn 6.8% p.a. on idle cash upon deposit. 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).
loading

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.

Matt Corke

I opened a Stake account very early on and have found it to be my go to for US stocks. It has low FX fees and a heap of ways to fund your account. They've also been improving the interface year on year. The only down side is that you have to stay up super late, or get up really early to make trades due to the timezone differences
— Matt Corke, head of publishing ventures

2. Open your US brokerage account

Once you've chosen your broker, it's time to actually register for an account.

The good news is, this step is usually free, although keep an eye out for subscription and ongoing fees.

The registration process takes place online, and if you're a new customer, you'll need to provide your basic information, including the following:

  • Your name, address, date of birth and contact details
  • Your tax file number (TFN)
  • Proof of ID
  • Linked bank account details
  • A W8BEN form

The W8BEN form is a requirement for foreign investors who want to buy US stocks. It is a tax form that allows overseas investors to claim a special tax status. Without this form, all foreigners who own US stocks would have to pay a 30% tax on their shares, plus a 30% withholding tax on dividends.

Most share trading platforms will provide you with a W8BEN form to fill in or will automatically apply for you using the details you entered to sign up.

3. Research what you want to buy

Now that you have an account, it's time to decide what you want to invest in.

You have 2 main options: individual stocks or US-market exchange traded funds (ETFs).

As part of your research though, you should work out what you own and why you want to own it. It can be beneficial to write down why you own a company for clarity of mind later on.

For now, let's start with shares, but the steps are pretty similar for ETFs as well.

Tips for picking US stocks

  1. Start out by looking at businesses that you are familiar with.
  2. Choose companies or sectors that you want to learn more about. This can include reading a business's annual reports and annual shareholder letters.
  3. Evaluate the business based on a number of key analytical tools. Your goal is to find undervalued investments. To find this, you can use a lot of tools such as P/E ratios, earnings per share (EPS), price to book or dividend payout ratios (depending on what you want to achieve financially through your shares). A lot of brokers will help you out with this stuff.

If you find all this stuff a little daunting at first, don't worry, you aren't alone. Over time, it gets a little easier.

Investing in US stocks with an ETF

Instead of picking individual stocks, it can be safer (and easier) to invest in a whole portfolio of stocks. This is where ETFs come in handy.

There are over 200 ETFs available in Australia and over 50% offer a collection of US stocks.

Traditionally, ETFs track a stock market index. The two main market indices for the US are the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite index. While the S&P 500 is a portfolio of the 500 biggest public companies in the US, the Nasdaq focuses primarily on technology companies.

For this reason, S&P 500 ETFs have greater diversification and are less volatile than Nasdaq ETFs.

4. Buy your US stocks

Now that you've done your research and found a US business you'd like to become a part owner in, it's time to get on your brokerage account and buy the shares.

Remember, if you are buying US stocks, you are trading on the other side of the world.

If you're trading in our summer (November through to March), then the markets will open at 1.30am Sydney time. If you're trading during the winter (April through October), you can start trading at 11.30pm.

However, you can place your trades at a more friendly time.

There are a few different ways you can do this:

  • Market order. This means you are telling your broker to buy the stock as soon as possible based on the best available price right now.
  • Limit order. This will only be executed when the shares move to a predetermined price that you've selected.
  • Other conditional orders. A conditional order allows you to set order triggers for stocks and options based on different price movements.

Other bits of jargon you'll need to know include the following:

  • Ask. If you're the buyer, this is the price the seller is willing to take for the stock.
  • Bid. This is the inverse. This is what a buyer is willing to pay for the stock.
  • Spread. Putting the above 2 definitions together, this is the difference between the highest bid price and the lowest ask price.
  • Stop loss orders. Once you own a share, you can set up a stop price or stop levels, which means the broker will automatically sell at the best available price should the share fall. Now note, you need a buyer, so it might fall to less than your predetermined stop loss.

Review your US stock portfolio

After deciding how you want to buy your US stocks, researching them and buying into the market, you need to review what you own.

While the stock price is obviously important, especially for psychological reasons, investors should actually be focusing on the business's performance.

After all, if you've found an undervalued stock, it doesn't mean the market will automatically see what you see straight away – otherwise, it wouldn't have been undervalued in the first place.

This can be especially true for larger more covered markets like the US.

When you are reviewing your US stocks, you should go back to your original thesis. If the management team is executing on what you want, then this is a sign that you should hold onto your shares.

If, however, your thesis is broken, then it can be an indication that it's time to sell.

When it comes to how often you want to review your US shares, this is largely based on your plans and time frames.

For example, if you have a long-term investment strategy, you may only check in and see how your shares are performing every month. If you have a medium-term strategy, it may be a good idea to check each night or each week.


Investing in US-themed ETFs

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are an easy way to access the US market because they're listed on a stock exchange in the same way that stocks are.

They're popular because they let you invest in a whole portfolio of stocks at once, which can be less risky and cheaper than buying individual stocks.

Traditional ETFs track market indices which are usually a collection of some of biggest listed companies in a market. By investing in a US index fund ETF, you're investing in hundreds of major US companies.

How do US indexes work?

Every stock market will have its own leading indexes that are used as a gauge for the performance of an overall market.

For instance, Australia's leading 2 indices are the S&P/ASX 200 and the All Ordinaries Index. They track the 200 and 500 largest companies in Australia.

In the United States, there are 3 main indexes - S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 index is the most widely used and is simply the 500 largest companies in the US by market cap.

In comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tracks just 30 of the largest companies on an antiquated share price weighting system.

The US's third index is the Nasdaq Composite, which tracks almost all the stocks on the tech-heavy Nasdaq exchange. The Nasdaq-100 index is also a popular index, which tracks the top 100 Nasdaq companies (and makes up around 90% of the value of the Nasdaq Composite).

Over the last 5 years, the Nasdaq-100 has a return of 157.59%, while the S&P 500 has returned 85.97% and the Dow Jones 45.35% (all returns updated on 19 June 2024).

What are some ETFs I can invest in from Australia?

There are many ETFs listed in Australia that track the US stock market.

Because they trade on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), you don't need a share trading platform with access to US markets to buy in. This can also help you save on currency conversion fees because you won't need to convert to US dollars in order to buy them.

Australian ETFs that track the US stock market include the following:

For a look at some of the top performing ETFs in Australia, check out our guide to the best ETFs on the ASX.

Which trading platforms offer US shares?

The good news for Australians looking to invest in the US is there are a number of brokers that will let you trade commission-free.

Some platforms offer international accounts that are separate from their Australian trading accounts, such as CommSec, while others, such as IG, are fully integrated on a single platform.

Here are some platforms that allow US share trading in Australia:

You can compare some of these brokers in the table above.

What are the costs of buying US shares?

While all online investing comes with some fees, all markets are different. When it comes to US investing, here are some of the costs you'll face:

    • Brokerage fees. Brokerage is the fee you pay each time you buy and sell. The good news is that there are a number of providers that charge $0 brokerage fees.
    • Foreign exchange fees. If you are buying US stocks, you'll need to swap Australian dollars to US ones. Luckily, your broker will do this for you. Unfortunately, you'll have to pay a fee for it.
    • Inactivity fees. Not all brokers will charge this, but some will charge investors a fee if they aren't trading with the broker within a set time frame.
    • Subscription fees. Not every broker charges this, but it is something to keep an eye out for. Some brokers will make you pay a subscription fee to sign up for the service.

It goes without saying, but you will also have tax considerations on top of these fees (see below).

If you're looking for the cheapest stock brokers, you could see our guide here.

Back to top

What are the tax implications for buying US shares?

From a tax perspective, there are no restrictions on any country buying US shares.

But there are 2 key pieces of information you'll need.

Firstly, Australians can avoid double taxation on their income in about 40 jurisdictions due to various trade terms between countries. The US is one of these countries.

Secondly, Aussies are required to have an up-to-date W-8BEN-E (W-8) form. Your broker should register you for one when you sign up. If not, you will pay a higher rate of tax. The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will withhold 30% of dividends and 30% of sales proceeds. The W-8 drops this to 15% of all dividends and 0% of sales proceeds, with this money instead being taxed in Australia.

To read more, please see the ATO's website.

When is the US stock market open?

The leading US stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and NASDAQ have trading hours between 9:30am and 4pm (New York time) every weekday. This means that the US stock market is open for trading during the night and early morning for investors in Australia. This can make it difficult to track the market and make trades during open trading hours.

However, many brokers allow you to place limit orders on US stocks, which means you can a specific purchase price and if the stock hits that price, your trade will automatically be executed.

How do I find the best US stock trading platform?

Make sure that you take the following features and questions into consideration when comparing the benefits of US share trading sites:

  • How much is brokerage? Compare the fee each company charges every time you place a trade on US stocks. Be aware that this will be different to broker fees for ASX-listed stocks.
  • What's the exchange rate? Exchange rates vary from platform to platform and they will partly be used to offset low broker fees. Check what these are first.
  • Will you need to pay a monthly fee? Some platforms require you to pay a monthly fee in order to keep your account running or to access certain features.
  • How is market data displayed? Check how up-to-date the market data offered by each platform is – being able to make trades based on current information is critical.
  • How many international markets can you access? Some platforms offer access to a few key international markets while others let you buy and sell shares on a much larger number of exchanges.
  • How easy is the platform to use? Is it fast, simple and convenient to execute a trade and monitor market performance?
  • What trading options are available? Is the platform just online or can you also place trades over the phone? Are flexible options like limit orders available to let you take advantage of market fluctuations?
  • Are education and research resources available? Trading shares is complex, so does the platform offer the necessary tools to increase your investment knowledge?
  • Is customer support available if you need it? How can it be accessed and when?

You can check out our list of Australia's best rated trading platforms in Australia, including our Finder Award winner for Best trading platform for US stocks.

Compare US trading sites

Back to top

What are some of the risks of buying US stocks?

All investments come with risks and US stocks are no exception.

When you buy any type of stock, you run the risk of losing money if the price of the stock falls below your purchase price. In the worst case scenario, you could lose your entire investment if the company goes bankrupt - although this is uncommon.

A key risk to be aware of when trading US shares is that you may not have the same level of knowledge and expertise as you have when trading ASX shares. Investing in an area, industry or country that you know little about is risky, so it always pays to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Another factor worth considering is the tax implications of international trading. You don’t want to make any mistakes when declaring your income and find yourself on the wrong side of the ATO, so familiarise yourself with the tax treatment of your investments as soon as possible.

You also face currency fluctuation risks. Unfortunately, the profits you make on some of the stocks you own could be offset by the falling Australian dollar. The flip side is also true though – if the Aussie dollar is strong when you sell, it can add to your gains.

Pros and cons of investing in the US

Pros

  • Access different investment opportunities. Trading via US stock exchanges lets you take advantage of investment opportunities that are not available in Australia.
  • Superior returns. The US offers you the chance to outperform the Australian market.
  • Increasingly more affordable. As a growing number of online share trading platforms compete for market share, brokerage fees are becoming more affordable.
  • Diversify your portfolio. If all your investments depend on the performance of a single national economy, is your portfolio really as diverse as you think? Buying international shares protects you against having all your eggs in one basket.
  • Largest companies in the world. The biggest businesses in the world are listed in the US.

Cons

  • Brokerage fees. You'll need to contend with potentially higher brokerage fees whenever you place a trade on an international share market.
  • Exchange rates. The AUD-USD rate fluctuates frequently, which might negatively impact your investment. The exchange rate is an important consideration when trading.
  • Additional fees. International trading accounts are sometimes subject to fees that Australia-only platforms are not, such as inactivity fees and exchange fees.

US stocks market update 2024

  • 19 June 2024: The Nasdaq-100 has climbed to an all-time high of 19,908.86 points thanks to surging tech stocks like Nvidia and Apple. The S&P 500 has similarly scaled new heights, hitting 5,487 for the first time, with even the Dow Jones getting in on the act, climbing to 38,834.86 points.

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.

If you're looking to sign up for the best broker for US stocks, eToro took out our award in 2023. To see a full list of award winners and how we picked them, click here.

Kylie Purcell's headshot
Written by

Investments analyst

Kylie Purcell is the senior investments editor and analyst at Finder. She has completed a Certificate of Securities and Managed Investments (RG146) and specialises in investment products including online brokers, robo-advisors, stocks and ETFs. See full bio

Kylie's expertise
Kylie has written 155 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Investment strategies
  • Financial platforms
  • Stockbrokers
  • Robo advisors
  • Exchange traded funds (ETFs)
  • Ethical investing
  • ASX stocks
  • Stock and forex markets
Cameron Micallef's headshot
Co-written by

Writer

Cameron Micallef was a utilities writer for Finder. He previously worked on titles including Smart Property Investment, nestegg and Investor Daily, reporting across superannuation, property and investments. Cameron has a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies/ Commerce from the University of Wollongong. Outside of work Cameron is passionate about all things sports and travel. See full bio

Cameron's expertise
Cameron has written 183 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Energy
  • Mobile
  • Internet
  • Streaming

More guides on Finder

Ask a Question

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 Terms Of Service and Finder Group Privacy & Cookies Policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Go to site