Benzinga readers often choose Interactive Brokers as the best international broker.
Though the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange hog most of the glory when it comes to stock trading, international exchanges have quickly picked up the pace, and improved their offerings and ease of use in order to compete with the United States. That's why you need to understand how to find the best international brokers.
For example, the Tokyo Stock Exchange now trades an average volume of $3.9 trillion worth of shares per day. The Toronto Stock Exchange moves an average of 39.7 billion shares per day and the National Stock Exchange of India has reached a market capitalization of over $2.27 trillion.
There’s little question why investors around the globe have turned to international exchanges for their next big opportunities.
If you’re an American investor and you want to directly invest in a foreign market, you’ll need to work through a brokerage firm native to that country. The best online brokerages can give you access to some of the largest international markets from the comfort of your own home. However, trading internationally can be a little different than trading on the NYSE or NASDAQ.
Though most international exchanges follow the basic principles used by the American markets. We’ve created a quick guide to help you learn more about international exchanges and how you can start buying and selling on non-U.S. stock markets.
5 Best International Brokers
Check out which brokers made Benzinga's top international brokers for this year.
1. Best for Active Traders: Interactive Brokers
If you’re looking to trade internationally, Interactive Brokers can introduce you to a number of the world’s most popular stock exchanges. Designed for the professional stock trader, Interactive Brokers offers the widest range of international market access online in almost every country on the planet. Interactive Brokers offers access to major exchanges in Japan, India, Estonia, France, Australia, Germany, Israel, Spain and many other countries.
They also offer users access to options, futures, forex and even metal investing markets, which makes its trading software a one-stop-shop for almost every market imaginable.
Interactive Brokers was designed with very active traders in mind and its fee structure reflects this. You’ll pay about $.005 per share for most trades with a $1 trading minimum and a maximum of 1% of your trade value. Discounts are available for very large trades or frequent traders. Though there is no minimum balance required to open an account with Interactive Brokers.
While this inactivity fee is uncommon among most American brokers, it’s a relatively common feature abroad — and with a state-of-the-art platform, access to most international markets and low-fee trading, Interactive Brokers is our top choice for international trading.
- IBKR offers access to all the investment types that you could want, from options to futures, stocks, ETFs and more
- IBKR is designed to educate you so that you can become a more advanced trader
- At the same time, IBKR has all the tools that an experienced trader could want
- The minimums are very low, but remember that fees can pile up on certain transactions, depending on where you plan to invest your money.
2. Easiest Platform: Fidelity
Though Fidelity is already a household name when it comes to saving for retirement, the brokerage firm also offers an impressive international stock selection. Fidelity investors have access to over 25 international markets including Greece, South Africa, Japan, Poland and many more. You can choose to display international stock prices in your native currency and can also hold multiple currency types in a single account without converting to USD.
Fidelity also has a $0 account minimum, which is rare for international accounts with such a wide breadth of stock options.
The one aspect that makes Fidelity stand out among a sea of brokerage options is its commitment to research and trading tools. Unlike most international brokers, Fidelity offers users an outstanding selection of independent research for no additional fee. Real-time quotes are available for free even for international accounts, which can be an asset for traders located outside of the country they’re trading in.
It offers a well-organized research deck and affordable commissions and fees even on international accounts. Fidelity is another top choice for both domestic and international investors interested in trading multiple markets.
- The research offered on the site is specific to different locations, ensuring that you can strategize based on where you are, instead of only getting info for the U.S.
- Real-time quoting is still free so that you can make better decisions
- You can hold all your currency in one account so you don’t need to constantly go through the conversion process
- Even though there is no minimum, you may end up paying fees for an international account, depending on your location and the investments you choose
3. Best for Long-Term Investors: Magnifi
Magnifi is a marketplace that allows you, as the investor, to use common brokerage tools and AI to make the best decisions for your portfolio. Because you can pull up all the information you need on a given asset, you can easily invest in the assets that will give you the results you deserve and better match your strategy.
Search for the investment options that meet your needs, invest in specific categories or scan for assets in a price range that’s affordable for you.
Best for long-term investors and those who require a bit of client support, you can also learn more about investing from this platform, utilize the AI-powered investing assistant, enjoy commission-free investing, try the mobile app and take advantage of over 15,000 possible investment options. This makes Magnifi a good place to trade for both seasoned and novice traders.
- The AI software can save a lot of time for new investors
- As you look for assets, you can search for categories that help you pinpoint broader options to add to your portfolio
- With other 15,000 assets to choose from, you can build an entire portfolio in one place
- Even though the AI is commission-free, there are times when you may need to step away from the AI to get the results you want
4. Best for Futures Trading: Tradestation
TradeStation is a Florida-based brokerage that gives you direct access to the markets and makes it much easier to trade internationally. There is plenty of research that can help any sort of investor, and you can also look into more advanced trading tools if you’ve started doing high-volume business.
One such example of the advanced nature of the platform is ‘The Matrix’, which is a detailed look at market depth with order routing and tracking tools to guarantee you get the best trade prices. When you have the best prices, you can better optimize your portfolio, no matter where you are in the world.
- You can more easily get into the information you need with better order routing and tracking tools
- Commissions tend to be lower for those who are trading consistently, making it much easier to save money
- You can invest in everything from ETFs to stock, options, futures and more, all with direct access
- When you are investing with TradeStation, you may find that some of the more advanced tools feel confusing, especially if you’ve just “plussed yourself up” to this level
5. Best for Fund Trading: Charles Schwab
Investment products offered by Charles Schwab to traders around the world include mutual funds, money market funds, ETFs, international stocks, bonds, futures, options, annuities, insurance and even margin loans.
With the backing of Schwab, you can build a holistic portfolio with help from their customer service team. Plus, this is a broker that started the retirement planning craze with its early marketing efforts, and you can easily start a retirement portfolio or convert to a retirement strategy at any time.
- When you invest with Charles Schwab, it’s much easier to centralize your investments because the platform is designed to help you invest for today and retirement
- Many investors use Schwab as a way to plan for the future, and as a result, there are retirement planning options that could suit young professionals or those close to age 65
- Even though Schwab can be a good place to invest, you need to be aware of the fees that come with some of the investments you choose
Trading Internationally: What’s Different
Most principles of market trading and market psychology are the same no matter where you go in the world. Whether you’re trading in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan or Hong Kong, you can still use your technical indicators or choice or candlestick analysis to make profitable trades. Most international stock markets also permit outside investors to buy and sell shares of stock as long as their trades are executed by a domestic brokerage firm.
There are a few basic differences to be aware of before you make a deposit in your account, including:
Times and Hours of Operation
If you’ve ever traded stocks in the United States, you probably already know that you can only trade during certain hours — specifically between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Likewise, individual stock markets set their own hours that vary significantly depending on the country’s time zone.
For example, the Australian Securities Exchange is open between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time; this means that if you want to trade Australian stocks and you’re in New York City, you’ll need to be prepared to trade between the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight Eastern time.
Each individual exchange may also set their own holidays when the markets are closed, and these holidays can be very different from the market holidays in the United States. For example, the Tokyo Stock Exchange is closed for a wide range of Japanese holidays including the emperor’s birthday (December 23), coming of age day (the second Monday of January), and health and sports day (the second Monday in October) but is open during the American holidays of Christmas, Thanksgiving and Labor Day.
Mobile App Compatibility
In the United States, most major brokers offer mobile trading software that mimics the full compatibility of their desktop software. However, in other countries, mobile compatibility is a relatively new idea and variability between brokerages will vary significantly. If you only trade on a mobile phone, make sure you research mobile offerings before you make a commitment and open an account.
Commission Structure and Pricing
If you’ve traded through a brokerage in the United States, you’ve probably paid a flat-rate commission fee. For example, if you’re buying Tesla stock through Ally Invest, you’ll pay a flat $4.99 commission no matter if you buy a single share or you buy 1,000 shares, as long as your buy is done in a single movement.
International brokers often charge based on the total value of the trade, and higher-value trades pay a percentage of commission instead of a single flat rate. Make sure to read your brokerage’s policies before you sign on so there are no surprises.
What to Look for in the Best International Brokers
Not every broker offers access to every market in the world. Research the specific international markets you’re interested in and look for a brokerage firm that offers access to those markets. You may have to open more than one account if you’re interested in trading on multiple international markets.
Offers the Equities You Want to Trade
If you’re only interested in buying and selling Japanese stocks, every Japanese brokerage firm will allow you the access you need. However, if you’re also interested in buying and selling options contracts, futures contracts, forex and cryptocurrencies, don’t assume that every brokerage will offer you the wide range of equity access we’re used to in the United States.
Read through your brokerage’s total list of offerings to make sure they have everything that you need before you open an account or make a deposit.
Consider Commission and Fee Structure
Because international brokerages often use varying fee structures, it’s easy to miscalculate how much you’ll have to pay per trade. This can seriously cut into your profits, especially if you’re a high-level investor who makes multiple trades per week. Look for a broker that offers an upfront reasonable commission and fee structure so you’re not surprised when you make your first trade.
Enhanced Security Options
Prosecuting fraud that occurs online is difficult. Prosecuting fraud that occurs online across international borders is virtually impossible. Look for a brokerage that offers enhanced account security options (like personal question account recovery features or two-factor authentication) and make sure that you turn these features on.
Start Trading Internationally
Not all international brokerage accounts are created equal. It’s difficult to find the best international broker because the most advantageous broker for you will depend upon the unique type of trading you’re interested in.
Thoroughly research every trading platform you’ve considered and sign up for a demo account to get a better feel for the platform’s specific tools before you make a commitment. There’s nothing worse than making a major deposit only to find that you can’t operate the broker’s platform.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an international broker?
An international broker is one that trades internationally.
Can I buy stocks outside of the U.S.?
You can buy stocks outside of the U.S., but you will have to go through an international brokerage to do it.
Where can I find an international broker?
You can find an international broker by looking at the list above and finding Benzinga’s recommendations.