The best brokers for international stocks trading

Expat life
08 Feb 2023
11 mins read
Written by Team Instarem

Trading is one of the best ways to be financially secure for both the present and future. And it can be done from anywhere in the world, as long as you have good and stable Internet connection.

So even if you are currently living as an expat in a foreign country, you can still trade and leverage it as a part of your financial flow. However, to ensure fruitful international trading, selecting the best and right international brokers is imperative.

But before that, it is important to know how to manoeuvre international trading before you start venturing into it. 

International stock trading explained

International stock trading refers to the frequent transactions of buying and selling foreign stocks with the aim to generate returns that outperform buy-and-hold investing. The profits generated by trading come from buying at a lower price and selling at a higher within a relatively short time. In other words, people who do stock trading are looking to make profits in a specified period of time.

In stock trading, traders will often employ technical analysis to help them find and set up high-probability trading positions.

Benefits of trading foreign stocks

According to Charles Schwab, an American multinational financial services company, there are a few benefits to trading foreign stocks.

The first one is the high potential thanks to the exploration of natural resources and the growing businesses in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) market. 

The second benefit is that you will be lowering the risk of losing money during a US downturn when you have foreign stocks in your nest. The last benefit is that foreign stocks add another layer of diversification to the world economic scene. 

What makes a good online international broker

When selecting international brokers, it all comes down to having the most products (stocks, bonds, ETF) and a quality platform that is well-equipped with tools. Besides the said qualities, there are also other five important criteria that you should consider when selecting international brokers:


The trading fees for a given stock trade can be 50 times more with one online broker compared to another online broker. So look for brokers that can provide low fees.

Deposit and withdrawal

Select brokers that can provide you with quick funding and withdrawal. In addition, some brokers are more expensive than others when it comes to funding and withdrawal, so look for brokers that are cost-efficient for funding and withdrawal transactions.

Trading platform

Choose online brokers that have a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate and well-equipped platform. So that it will increase both your comfort and efficiency level while using the platform.

Account opening

Some brokers require a minimum deposit before you can open an account, while some won’t ask you for a fixed first-time deposit. So before you open an account, you may want to check the requirements first.

Markets and products

Find brokers that allow you to trade in different markets, stocks and products (ETF, Bitcoin, etc.); so that you have more asset types to choose from and trade. 

Online brokers for international trading comparison

Below we have prepared a list of online brokers for international trading and local (Malaysia) online brokers that support international trading.

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is suggested for: Investors looking for a broad market environment and a professional trading environment.

Low fees, a wide range of products and well-equipped with great research tools.Complicated account opening procedures and complex desktop trading platform. 

Account MinimumNo account minimum is required
Stock Trading Cost

There are two options:

IBKR Lite: Unlimited free trades on US-listed stocks and ETFs.

IBKR Pro: $0.0005 to $0.005 per share and depending on a commission structure (volume discount available.

There are no commissions for some ETFs.

Option TradesIBKR Lite: Doesn’t have base commission. But cost 65 cents per contract. 
IBKR Pro: Doesn’t have base commission. But cost 15 to 65 cents per contract depending on a commission structure (volume discount available.)
Account Fees (annual, inactivity, closing, transfer)None
The Number of No-Transaction-Fee Mutual FundsOver 4,000 U.S. no-transaction-fee mutual funds and over 14,000 offshore no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
Tradable productsStocks
Mutual funds
Fractional shares
Trading Platforms

Both IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro users will have access to the Client Portal trading platform and the powerful Trader Workstation.

There are no charges for access to both platforms.

Mobile App

IBKR mobile app allows users to experience the desktop version but for mobile devices.

Available for both iOS and Android.

Research/DataExtensive research offerings, for both free and subscription versions.

E*trade is suggested for: Beginner investors due to the abundance of educational and informational resources. 

Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades. Also provides easy-to-use tools, large investment selections, and advanced mobile apps.Hard to navigate through their website.

Account MinimumNo account minimum is required
Stock Trading CostNo cost
Option TradesNo base commission.$0.65 (volume discount available)
Account Fees (annual, inactivity, closing, transfer)Both annual and inactivity do not have fees. 
$75 for a full transfer.
25$ for a partial transfer.
The Number of No-Transaction-Fee Mutual FundsOver 4,700
Tradable productsStocks
Mutual funds
Trading PlatformsE-Trade Web
Power E-Trade
Mobile AppE*Trade Mobile
Power E*Trade
The apps are available on both iOS and Android devices.
Research/DataAllows free and extensive research with 10 external providers at no cost.
Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab is suggested for: Investors looking for a trading platform that can provide a large selection of mutual funds and zero commission.

Have no minimum fees for three platforms equipped with extensive search capabilities and large fund selections. In addition, commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.Low default cash sweep.

Account MinimumNo account minimum is required
Stock Trading CostNo cost
Option TradesNo base commission.$0.65 
Account Fees (annual, inactivity, closing, transfer)Both annual and inactivity do not have fees. 

$50 for a full transfer.

25$ for a partial transfer.
The Number of No-Transaction-Fee Mutual FundsOver 7,100
Tradable productsStocks
Mutual funds
Trading PlatformsThree platforms are offered and all three do not have minimum trades or fees.

StreeSmart Edge (desktop)
StreetSmart Central
Mobile AppHas two mobile apps with above-average capabilities.

Schwab Mobile
StreetSmart Mobile
Research/DataResearch for more than 20 providers such as Thompson Reuters, Morningstar and Recognia. 

Robinhood is suggested for: For investors looking to invest in cryptocurrencies. 

Provides cryptocurrency investment. It also has no account minimum. Robinhood also has a streamlined interface for easy navigation. 

It provides limited customer support.

Doesn’t offer a retirement account,  mutual funds, and bonds.

Account MinimumNo account minimum is required
Stock Trading CostNo cost
Option TradesNo cost
Account Fees (annual, inactivity, closing, transfer)

Both annual and inactivity do not have fees.

$100 for outgoing ACAT transfer.

The Number of No-Transaction-Fee Mutual FundsNot rated.
Tradable productsStocks
Fractional shares
American Depository Receipts for over 650 global companies
Trading PlatformsSimple web platform but able to meet the basic needs.
Mobile AppRobinhood mobile app allows for customisation such as alerts, newsfeed, candlestick charts and the ability to listen to live earning calls.

Receive news from Bazinga, Reuters, and WSJ.

If you are a Gold Member, you will receive news and research from Nasdaq, and Morningstar.

For an additional $5 per month receive Nasdaq TotalView level II Market Data.


Fidelity is suggested for: Investors looking for an online trading broker with strong research tools and a neat mobile platform. 


Fidelity provides expense-ratio-free index funds and has a large selection of research providers.

In addition, it is commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

Relatively high trade fees. 

Account MinimumNo account minimum is required
Stock Trading CostNo cost
Option TradesNo base commission.$0.65 
Account Fees (annual, inactivity, closing, transfer)Both annual and inactivity do not have fees. 

$50 for a full transfer.

25$ for a partial transfer.
The Number of No-Transaction-Fee Mutual FundsOver 3,300
Tradable productsStocks
Mutual funds
Trading PlatformsFree trading platforms:
Active Trader Pro
Mobile App

Fidelity offers advanced features on its mobile app.

Available on both iOS and Android devices.

Research/DataOffers free and extensive research.
M1 Finance

M1 Finance is suggested for: Experienced investors who prefer a low-cost customisation portfolio solution and looking for additional product offerings such as the borrow and finance options. 

Extensive portfolio management and customisation options. M1 Finance also has no fees for trading or account management. 

Doesn’t provide tax loss harvesting. Also, M1 Finance doesn’t provide financial planning and advisors. 

In addition to that, M1 Finance also has limited financial calculators, tools, and goals planning. 

Account Minimum$100
$500 for retirement account
Stock Trading CostNo cost
Account Fees (annual, inactivity, closing, transfer)No fee. (Miscellaneous charges may apply)
Tradable productsStocks
Trading PlatformsMobile platform that offers digital banking, cash flow allocation and credit card option. 
Mobile AppOffer a smooth and almost all-rounding mobile app. 
Research/DataAllows you to receive useful newsletters and market information.

Top local online brokers that support international trading comparison

Hong Leong Investment Bank (HLe Broking)

Offers low brokerage fees and is well equipped with online trading tools. 

In addition to that, allows you to do an online account application. 

Different brokerage rates for phone orders and online orders.

No biometric login for the mobile app version. 

Tradable Products/ServicesBursa
Foreign Share
Mobile appHas a dedicated mobile app for international stock trading. Available on both iOS and Android. 
Tradable CountriesUS, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Australia, Thailand
Trading PlatformHas its own dedicated trading with a team that is always ready to assist you. Lets you access the same trading account via its mobile app.
UTrade by UOB Kay Hian
Provides seminars for their customers. In addition to that, they also provide a wide range of trading research tools. 

Additional fees for their extra and value-added services. Doesn’t have a dedicated mobile app.

Limited Tradable market choice.

Tradable Products/ServicesEquities
Foreign ETF
Custodian services
Structured warrants
Mobile appNone
Tradable CountriesSingapore, Hongkong, US
Trading PlatformLimited to the website, but the website offers a variety of research tools to help traders with their trading. 
Affin Hwang Investment Bank Berhad
Offers a wide range of financial advisory services. Also, offer an online account opening ability. 

Funds are only offered to those currently residing in Malaysia. 

Must be a client of Affin Hwang Bank Berhad to open an account. 

Tradable Products/ServicesLocal and Foreign Trading
Derivatives Trading
Mobile appElnvest Go app available on both iOS and Android
Tradable CountriesSingapore, Hongkong,  US, UK,  Thailand, Australia, Indonesia
Trading PlatformOffers a smooth website that lets you receive financial advisory services.
Mercury Securities
Provide the ability to do market and economic research extensively. Also, offers the ability to open a trading account online. 

Limited to only four stock exchange markets.

Does not allow trades outside of business hours. 

Tradable Products/ServicesBursa
Mobile appNot stated
Tradable CountriesUS, UK, Hongkong
Trading PlatformOffers MST28 trading plan, their very own enhanced online trading platform equipped with accurate and efficient trading analytics. 

Things to consider when trading as an expat

No matter where you are in the world, you can start trading through your home country’s brokerage. But to ensure that your trading with your home country’s brokerage won’t encounter any roadblocks and issues, you will require the following:

Maintain your home country address

The easiest way to avoid running into problems or roadblocks with bank and brokerage accounts when trading as an expat is by using and maintaining your home country address.

Hire expat-friendly brokers

if you do not own an address in your home country, then you may hire international brokers that are known to work well with expats. 

But there is a downside to it; which is the currency exchange rate being higher when you are brokering with international brokers. Fortunately, there is a currency exchange service provider like Instarem that provides competitive rates and low fees for currency exchange. 

Use virtual mailbox services

The third option is to subscribe and use virtual mailbox services. By using a virtual mailbox, you will be able to receive the actual address of your home country. Not only can you tie it to brokerage accounts, but you are also able to view your mail from anywhere in the world.

Financial transactions

One of the issues you will face when trading internationally is the currency exchange rates when withdrawing from your trading account, or fee payments to your online trading brokers. Depending on the current rates, it can be quite costly.

However, you can overcome this issue by using a modern-day online remittance service provider like Instarem.

Instarem is an online remittance service that can be used for business purposes or personal use such as online trading. 

The perks of using Instarem as your remittance gateway for online trading are that it has low nominal fees and offers competitive FX rates. 

Download the app or sign up here.

Things you should consider before trading

When internationally trading for stocks you will need to be mindful of the risks such as liquidity and currency exchange rate fluctuations. Also, you can open an account with a local broker in a country if you are interested in their international market.

Though there are risks to such brokers you have an account with shutdown overnight and absconding your assets. To avoid and minimise such risks, you may invest in a sector fund; investing in a company within a particular geographic region. 

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned.

About Instarem

Instarem stands at the forefront of international money transfer services, facilitating fast and secure transactions for both individuals and businesses. Our platform offers competitive exchange rates for popular currency pairs like USD to INR, SGD to INR, and AUD to INR. If you're looking to send money to India or transfer funds to any of 60+ global destinations, Instarem makes it easy for you. We are dedicated to simplifying cross-border payments, providing cutting-edge technology that support individuals and businesses alike in overcoming traditional fiscal barriers normally associated with banks. As a trusted and regulated brand under the umbrella of the Fintech Unicorn Nium Pte. Ltd., and its international subsidiaries, Instarem is your go-to for reliable global financial exchanges. Learn more about Instarem.

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