Best global stocks trading online brokerage firms. Can I invest in international, foreign stocks on Fidelity, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Etrade, and Ally? Fees, cost, and world markets access.

Overview of Foreign Stocks Investing

In today’s global economy, there are many investment opportunities outside the U.S. Several brokerage firms offer their clients access to foreign stock markets. In particular, traders at Schwab, E*Trade, Fidelity, Ally Invest, and TD Ameritrade can buy and sell equities on international stock exchanges. Here’s how to gain access to this high return and high risk investment opportunity at each of the brokers.

Investing in Foreign Stocks on Charles Schwab

Traders at Schwab can open a separate global trading account. Within this account, the broker offers direct access to twelve foreign stock markets. Quotes are priced in the local currency, and trades are settled in the local currency as well.

The available markets are: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, and the UK. This selection produces a total of seven currencies: the Euro, the Australian dollar, the Canadian dollar, the Hong Kong dollar, the Japanese yen, the Norwegian krone, and the British pound.

Although Schwab offers a really nice service with this account, it doesn’t bother to charge any fees for it. There is also no account minimum. A paper form must be filled out and submitted to the broker in order to open a global account. There is no on-line form. The account’s statement is handled in multiple currencies.

Charles Schwab International Stocks Investing

Schwab does provide real-time quotes while the 12 foreign markets are open. The broker also provides representatives who specialize in foreign trading. They are available from 5:30 pm, EST, Sunday until Friday at the same time.

A useful video is on Schwab’s site that explains more about the broker’s global account, what it can be used for, and what trading features the account offers. An informative brochure in pdf format can be downloaded that discusses the risks and advantages of global markets. The brochure mentions that foreign bonds can also be traded at Schwab.

The Schwab website also provide in-depth information on various countries. There are Morningstar reports on Canadian stocks, for example. They can be downloaded free of charge. Articles written by Schwab advisors cover emerging markets and other regions.

Besides global stocks on their own exchanges, Schwab also offers trading in FOTC’s. These are shares of foreign companies that trade over-the-counter in the U.S. The broker’s commission for these securities is very high ($54.95). Schwab clients can also trade ADR’s, which are receipts of international companies. The price to trade an ADR is the broker’s regular $0 commission.

Schwab’s commission schedule for international stocks is based on the currency of the trade.

Australian Dollar$32$70
Canadian Dollar$14$70
Krone160 kr400 kr

These rates are significantly higher than the $0 Schwab charges for U.S. equities. In addition to the trading fee, the broker also charges a foreign currency conversion fee between 0.20% and 1%, depending on the amount exchanged.

For a complete Charles Schwab review click here.

Investing in Foreign Stocks on E*Trade

There used to be an extensive global trading service at E*Trade, but the broker closed it in 2015. Nevertheless, the company still provides some limited foreign stock trading opportunities. It will accept orders over the phone for international equities. For this service, E*Trade charges its regular commission ($0) plus its regular commission for a broker-assisted trade ($25). E*Trade says that all orders it submits for international stocks are done on a best-efforts basis.

The broker’s website has information on global markets. In particular, there is market data from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the London Stock Exchange, the Hong Kong market, along with Germany, France, and Canada. The E*Trade site has research tools for stocks on these exchanges.

Etrade International Stocks Investing

For example, searching for Honda Motor Company on the Tokyo market produces ticker symbol 7267 (the Japanese market uses numbers instead of letters). E*Trade presents a lot of information on this stock. Keep in mind this isn’t an ADR trading on the U.S. market. It is the actual stock on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Honda’s 52-week high is 3,675 yen. Its most recent declared dividend is 24 yen, and its current market cap is 44.8 trillion yen. The stock’s P/E ratio is 9.33. Charting is available on E*Trade’s site, along with recent news that relates to any stock under investigation.

The E*Trade website offers an international watchlist that can be created with securities that trade on the Canadian, French, German, Hong Kong, Japanese, and UK stock markets. You have to have the correct ticker symbol in order to add a security.

Stock indexes are shown from a variety of markets. For example, the FTSE 100 and the Hang Seng are displayed. They are 20 minutes behind real time. World news that impacts global markets is displayed from Reuters. Market movers from around the world are shown as well. These include most actives, % gainers and % losers, and net gainers and losers. Sing On Holdings in Hong Kong was up more than 40% on the day this article was written.

E*Trade also provides stock reports from Reuters on some of the global equities. Reuters does not provide buy, hold, or sell recommendations on these downloadable pdf reports; but it does show the recommendations of other analysts. There is ample information on the performance history of the stock investigated by a report, along with general data from the company’s financial statements.

For a complete E*Trade review click here.

Investing in Foreign Stocks on Fidelity

Fidelity offers more than 12 global markets. The broker’s customers have access to 25 foreign exchanges. These are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

This list produces 15 currencies with which to trade foreign securities: the Australian dollar, British pound, Canadian dollar, Danish krone, the Euro, Hong Kong dollar, yen, Mexican peso, New Zealand dollar, Norwegian krone, Polish zloty, Singapore dollar, South African rand, Swedish krona, and the Swiss franc. There is no interest earned on any foreign currency balance. It is possible to trade forex in a Fidelity account once it is enabled for foreign stocks.

Fidelity International Stocks Investing

Fidelity requires its customers to submit an on-line application for global investing privileges. Once this form is submitted, the broker also requires clients to talk to a representative over the phone about the risks and guidelines of global trading before an account will be enabled for international trading. Unlike Schwab’s service, Fidelity does not offer a separate account for international trading. Once an account is enabled, it must have sufficient funds either in USD or in the local currency before an order can be submitted.

Trading foreign equities at Fidelity incurs commissions that are much higher than its standard $0 fee. Like Schwab, Fidelity’s global commission schedule is based on the currency of the traded stock.

CurrencyOnline tradePhone trade
Australian dollar$3$70
Canadian dollar$19$70
Danish krone160 kr420 kr
Hong Kong dollar$250$600
Japanese Yen¥3,000¥8,000
Mexican Peso$360$960
New Zealand dollar$35$90
Norwegian krone160 kr400 kr
Polish zloty90zł235zł
Singapore dollar$35$90
South Africa randR 225R 600
Swedish krona180 kr480 kr
Swiss franc25 Fr65 Fr
British pound£9£30

Global trading at Fidelity is only available for non-retirement accounts. A stock purchased on one exchange cannot be sold on another (some companies trade on more than one exchange). Because domestic and foreign trading occurs in a single account at Fidelity, one monthly statement will show activity for both U.S. and foreign trades.

For a complete Fidelity review click here.

Investing in Foreign Stocks on TD Ameritrade

Unlike the above three brokers, TD Ameritrade does not provide direct access to foreign exchanges. The broker’s customers can, however, trade securities over-the-counter in the U.S. Some of these equities will be foreign stocks.

TD Ameritrade International Stocks

For example, Volkswagen AG trades on the pink sheets in the U.S. under the ticker symbol VLKAY. TD Ameritrade has a lot of information on the company, including free stock reports from several analysts. News is shown from Zacks, Dow Jones, and BusinessWire. Annual, although not quarterly, earnings can be accessed as well. Charting with technical indicators (based on the OTC price) is also possible.

For a complete TD Ameritrade review click here.

Promotion link: $0 stock/ETF trades and a transfer fee refund.

Open TD Ameritrade Account

International Stocks Brokers Recap

Global trading services vary widely from one broker to the next. Remember that commissions can be significantly higher than those charged for U.S. equities. Fidelity offers access to the most markets in this survey, although some of its trading fees are higher than Schwab’s.

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