Stock Brokers: Which online brokers can YOU use?

By | May 27, 2008

There’re a lot of good sources of information on brokers for those who live (‘reside’) in the UK or US. But what about those of us who “don’t qualify”?

Are you NOT a US Resident? Oops, I’m sorry… We can’t help you.

Look no further. I’ve done a little research from the SmartMoney’s Annual Broker Survey, and not surprisingly they are listing a number of well known companies, newcomers and upcomers… But the list is ABSOLUTELY NO USE, if you are not a Resident of the United States nor a citizen.

I won’t go into why this is silly, but suffice to say, the lower the price of trades, the less likely the broker will accept international clients, like you and me. At least that was the rule, now it’s not so clearcut.

From the original 16 listed brokers, I’m making my own list of InvestorBlogger’s Short List of Brokers who accept International Clients (i.e. non-resident, non-U.S. citizen investors who would like to trade the U.S. markets).

  • 1. ETrade: One of the first brokers I applied, too. They approved my application, but the service wasn’t great then. It should be now.
  • 2. TDAmeritrade: Where my current brokers’ account is held. Fast, lots of resources. Service is available, but somehow distant.
  • 3. Charles Schwab: Did consider them, but they have quiet higher initial requirements, or at least did. You do have to register through their one of their international sites, not from the US site.

Other Serious Contenders included,

  • 4. FirstTrade also offers International clients trading services.
  • 5. OptionsXpress would allow me to register and fund an account, which was a surprise. They have branches in different countries, including Singapore
  • 6. Interactive Brokers allowed me to register, but I never completed the applications. I should have. The service allows you to trade many markets, not just the US.

7. Sogotrade, Zecco, Banc of America, all had slightly fussy processes or requirements but at least welcomed international investors.

One of the problems was finding the information. Often sites would require you to hand over your email address without stating clearly that you would be able to then register for an account. Other sites had the information hidden away in Help files or FAQs. Still others didn’t say openly that they accepted international investors, or directed me to ‘international sites’ which wasn’t helpful, (yes, you, Fidelity!).

I would strongly suggest that you read through the websites to find the best deals, the markets you want to trade, though the application requirements for most accounts are pretty similar:

  • 1. passport copy;
  • 2. proof of address;
  • 3. an application form;
  • 4. a W-8BEN form (for the IRS); and
  • 5. minimum account funding (at least!)

Once you register, you won’t have access to the full-range of US products, either such as IRAs or other accounts/services because of legal restrictions. But if you are in a country with a tax-treaty arrangement with the US, this may not be an issue!

Disclaimer: I’m a satisfied customer of TDAmeritrade, but there are no affiliate links in this post.

2 thoughts on “Stock Brokers: Which online brokers can YOU use?

  1. MoneyEnergy

    Great post! I’ve been looking around for this sort of info. As a Canadian citizen I can definitely tell you about the options here. But I would also like to know about being able to use certain US/UK brokerages.

    I was told there was no way for Canadians to invest through US brokerages. I’ll have to check these links closer to be sure that this is not an issue.

    TD Ameritrade is at least owned by TD Canada Trust, so no wonder they’ll accept at least Canadian clients, I presume. I think they’re in the UK as well.

  2. InvestorBlogger Post author

    Thanks for the content, … Usually, if there’s a local branch of a particular broker, they won’t allow you to use the branch in another country. So Brits (me) if resident in the UK can ONLY use the British based branch (if there is one) of a US broker…

    Think that’s how it works mostly.

    Kenneth

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