So, you’ve decided that you want to enter the weird and wonderful world of stocks and shares?
That’s great! Now you need to find an online stock broker that meets your investment goals.
The good news is that there are now heaps of online stock brokers that allow you to trade at the click of a button – some of which charge very little if any, fees.
Before you get started, be sure to read our comprehensive guide on the best online stockb rokers of 2020.
We’ve covered everything you need to know – such as how to get started, fees, payment methods, and more!
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What is a Stock Broker?
When newbies think of a stock broker, they often imagine a Wall Street trader wearing a pin-stripe suit, buying and selling paper stocks at the top of their voice.
However, think again. Traders invest in the stock market through an online trading platform that allows you to buy and sell shares at the click of a button.
The role of the broker is to essentially match you up with other buyers and sellers. In return, they’ll charge a commission, which is otherwise known as a trading fee.
The reason that you need to use a stock broker to invest in a company is that they have the legal means to facilitate the buying and selling of stocks on your behalf.
They perform everything from executing trades for clients, distributing dividends, and even processing deposits and withdrawals.
When it comes to paying for your trades, an online stock broker will accept a number of everyday payment methods. At the very least this will include a debit or credit card, and sometimes an e-wallet like PayPal. While some brokers will charge you a few to deposit and withdraw money, others don’t.
In terms of pricing, stock brokers will offer two prices on all of the stocks they list. This is the ‘Bid Price’ and the ‘Ask Price’. In layman terms, the bid price is the price you get if you are selling your stocks, and the asking price is the buying price. The difference between the two is known as the spread – which is essentially a fee charged by the broker.
How do online stock brokers work?
When you find an online stock broker that you like, you will initially need to open an account on their trading platform. You’ll need to provide some personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth and social security number. Moreover, as per financial regulations, you will also need to provide some ID (such as a passport or driver’s license).
Once you are all set up, you’ll need to head over to the stock market section, and search for the company that you want to buy shares in. Next, you then need to decide how much you want to invest. Don’t worry about buying a fixed number of shares, as online stock brokers allow you to buy fractional shares equal to the amount you want to invest.
As soon as you place your trade, you will then be the proud owner of your chosen stocks. At this point, you don’t need to do anything until you decide to sell the shares, which you’ll do via your online stock broker account. In the meantime, any dividends that your stocks pay will be paid straight into your stock broker account.
How do Stock Broker Fees Work?
It is important to remember that in the vast majority of cases, you will need to pay fees when you use an online stock broker. The reason that we say the vast majority is that the exception to the rule is US-based Robinhood – which is essentially a zero-commission stock broker.
When you do pay fees, this can come in a number of different ways. Usually, you will pay a fixed trading fee every time you buy or sell a stock. Cheaper stock brokers such as Ally Invest charge just $4.95 in this respect.
Alternatively, other low fee stock brokers like Stash Invest will simply charge a monthly fee for using its trading platform, which amounts to just $1. This is more beneficial if you plan to trade frequently, rather than paying a fixed fee for every trade you make.
An additional way that you might be charge is via the spread. For example, while no commission stock brokers will not charge a fixed or monthly fee to trade, they instead make their money on the difference between the ‘Bid’ and ‘Ask’ price.
What Types of Accounts are There?
If you’re just a regular trader that is looking to use your own savings to trade, then you’ll simply need a traditional cash account. This means that you can only buy and invest stocks with the money you have in your stock broker account.
A margin account is where an online stock broker allows you to trade with more cash than you have in your balance. As you are effectively borrowing the funds from the stock broker, you will need to pay a small amount of interest on a margin account.
If you’re interested in buying and selling options, then you will likely need a specialist options account with your chosen stock broker. This is because options trading is considered a higher risk in comparison to simply buying traditional stocks.
Some stock brokers will allow you to open an IRA account. This is only relevant if you are looking to invest for your future retirement fund. In doing this through an IRA account, you will be accustomed to a number of tax benefits.
Factors to consider when choosing an online stock broker
- Account minimum – Most brokers today have no required minimum starting balance, which is great for new traders and those with restrained budgets. However, some accounts require from 500 dollars up to 10000 dollars as starting balance. This can help you take options down from your stock broker list.
- Fees or commissions – Before starting out, ensure you are aware of all the fees that your platform charges, and the percentage commission they take upon buying or selling. Some trading platforms may not charge fees but that does not mean everything is free.
- Availability of stock analysis tools – Does the stock broker provide stock analysis tools? Are they free? – some brokers offer the analysis tools for free, others at a fee and some have limited resources for analysis. If you have other analysis tools, you may choose a broker with less if you like their other features.
- Customer service and support – the ability to contact customer service is an important factor traders need to consider when choosing an online broker. if overlooked, it can prove to be very frustrating later on when you are in need of assistance.
Stock Broker Reviews
Best Stock Brokers for Beginners
If you’re a newbie investor, then we would suggest using one of the following online stock brokers, most of which also offer investing apps to facilitate your trading experience.
Founded in 2018, EagleFX provides traders across the globe the ability to trade currency pairs, digital coins, commodities, and global indices through an STP (Straight Through Processing) connection which is passing traders' orders to liquidity providers for fast and reliable execution.
The new broker was launched by a team who has plenty of experience and knowledge in the industry and has managed to gain all the necessary tools and platforms in order to provide clients a secure connection to the markets. EagleFX charges competitive spreads and offers high leverage ratio, making it one of the best STP brokers in the market.
- EagleFX is an ECN/STP broker, removing the conflict of interest between brokers and traders
- The broker offers extremely competitive spreads
- EagleFX offers an extensive selection of 31 cryptocurrency pairs
- EagleFx does not offer stocks/ETFs trading
- The extent of tradable assets is limited
2. Stash Invest
If you're the type of investor that wants to buy and shares via your mobile device, then look no further than Stash Invest. The stock broker allows you to get started with an investment of just $5, which again, is perfect for those of you with little experience.
Stash Invest provides access to both the NYSE and NASDAQ, subsequently allowing you to diversify your portfolio. Although the broker charges $1 per month for account balances of sub-$5,000, this is still very reasonable.
- Start investing with just $5
- Trade on-the-go via the mobile app
- Low fees of $1 per month
- Number of shares listed not as extensive as other brokers
If you haven't heard of the stock broker Robinhood, then you are missing out. Why? This US stock broker does not charge any fees when buying and selling stocks through its trading platform.
This is great for those of you that want to keep your trading costs down. With stock prices on the rise, it may be a good idea to make the most out of a reliable platform to trade stocks.
Don't worry if you're a newbie, as Robinhood is also super simple to use. You'll be spoilt for choice if you're looking to diversify, as the broker lists over 5,000 US-listed stocks, as well as bonds and ETFs. Take note, you will need to deposit at least $200 to get started.
- Zero-free stock trading
- 5,000+ stocks listed
- Access to ETFs and bonds
- Minimum deposit is $200
4. Fidelity Investments
If you're looking for a well-established online stock broker with a super-long track-record, then we'd have to point in the direction of Fidelity Investments. The US institution is offers virtually every asset class you could ever imagine.
This covers bonds, ETFs, options, futures, and of course - stocks. Even better, the trading platform does not demand any minimum account balances, meaning you can start off with smaller amounts.
The only slight gripe that we have about Fidelity Investments is that the open account process takes a little longer than the other brokers we have mentioned. However, as long as you aren't in a rush, this shouldn't be an issue.
- One of the most established stock brokers in the world
- No minimum account balance
- Huge list of stocks and other financial products available
- Opening an account takes longer than other online stock brokers
Launched way back in 1982, E-Trade offers you the option of trading on your desktop or mobile device - which is great for flexibility. The trading platform has a hugely extensive list of stocks to buy, and an excellent educational section to help newbies learn their trade. E-Trade is also know for offering its customer first-rate customer service, and a very straightforward account opening process. As great as E-Trade is, do bear in mind that the platform charges $6.95 per trade, and requires a minimum deposit of $500.
- Over 37 years of experience in the stock broker space
- Easy account set-up
- Educational tools
- Slightly expensive at $6.95 per trade
Best US Stock Broker List for 2020
Below you will find a list of the top brokers offering their services for retail investors in the US.
1. Fidelity Investments
Fidelity is a global financial services company that has been in operations since 1946. Its headquarters are in Boston. The company has great offers all-around from its services, tools, and value. The company manages more than $2.5 trillion in assets. This makes it a massive broker with the ability to use its scale to provide low trading costs and deliver excellent customer experience and support.
The company offers a wide range of products and services including retirement plans, mutual funds, ETFs, annuities and 529 plans among others. It also has a financial advisor division, Fidelity Investments and a Robo-advisor service known as FidelityGo.
With a Fidelity trading account, you can sell and buy stocks, mutual funds, and other securities. It also provides charts where you can observe the performance of your investments over time to see if you need to reassess or they are effective. The trading platform provides some education and research tools to help you with investing, an option to test your strategy, videos and articles to help you familiarize yourself with trading.
The platform offers a robust online experience for desktop and mobile users with availability on all android devices, IOS, and iPads. The company offers excellent customer support with its automated virtual assistant. On the mobile app, you can connect with a representative at the click of a single button. You can also use its branch locator tool to find the nearest physical location.
- Fees are considerably low
- Excellent trade executions that generate price improvement in stock and options trades
- Large selection of research providers
- Fidelity’s extensive menu system can make it difficult to find a particular tool
- Relatively high broker-assisted trade fee
- You might require the use of multiple trading platforms to access all of Fidelity’s tools
2. TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade is one of the largest and oldest names in online stock brokerages with millions of customers, 3.5 million of which were brought over from last years' acquisition of Scottrade. The platform has several platforms for investors to choose from, from their basic site to the Thinkorswim designed for traders who are very active.
However, the platform is also among the priciest with a flat fee of $6.95. Is the price justified considering there are other trading platforms offering only half as much? Considering the advanced tools and research possibilities it offers, the prices may be roughly in line with what major brokerages offer, although it's not the cheapest.
The trading platform has no minimum opening deposit, this makes it a great option for new traders who want to start investing immediately. The fees are also pretty reasonable considering it is for any stock transaction and there are no maintenance fees.
The company offers advanced trading tools and mobile applications with its Thinkorswim being voted for the top trading platform several times. Their mobile applications can be accessed using Android, iPhone tablets or apple watch. Also, TD Ameritrade provides the option to ‘graduate’ into a more advanced platform any time you feel like you require more in-depth analysis.
The users also have round the clock access to customer care, either by phone or email. This comes in handy when you need quick answers or you are stuck. You can also link your brokerage account to your TD Ameritrade bank account if you have one, or you can open one to simplify transactions.
If you are new to trading you might find that the Thinkorswim App can be a little bit intimidating at first, but once you've learned your way inside the program it becomes the best stock broker for beginners.
- Advanced research and analysis tools for experienced traders
- Education resources for new traders and advanced investors to level their knowledge
- No minimum deposit to open an account
- Above market per trade fee at $6.95
- Multiple apps and trading platforms may bring around confusion as they have very different target audiences.
- You may need to use more than one trade system to find all the tools you require
3. Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab is among the most recognizable brands among investors. It was founded in 1973 and is home to over 11.6 million active brokerage accounts. It is regarded as the first company to use a discount brokerage model because after commission prices were deregulated in 1975, it adopted a model offering lower commissions than investors were used to paying.
This trading platform also offers different platforms aimed at different levels of investor experience. It offers a desktop ‘StreetSmart Edge’ trading platform for advanced traders, a streamlined web trading tool called ‘Trade Source in addition to its basic browser-based solution. Charles Schwab also offers mobile apps for Windows, IOS and Android platforms with the ability to place complex trades.
Charles Schwab offers a combination of low fees, advanced trading tools, extensive investment options and $0 account minimums to make it one of the most preferred stock brokers for Beginners and veteran investors alike. It also provides high-quality in-house and third-party research complete with live streaming events and market commentary.
As most large brokers do, Charles Schwab offers round the clock customer care in addition to its vast physical branch network. Clients can get help in person at any of its 340 branches in the United States.
- The platform offers advanced trading tools in its StreetSmart Edge platform and beginner-friendly tools in its basic website
- The web platform is optimized for small screens in such a way that it offers the same functionality in mobile web and native app platforms
- The platform’s commissions are lower than any other brokers in the same category
- Charles Schwab only provides just 24 months of transaction history online
- Different trading platforms may make it hard to keep track of everything
- A large number of reports and features may confuse new traders or feel overwhelming. It takes some effort to find the features you need
4. Merrill Edge
Merill Edge is an extension of Merill Lynch which is now owned by Bank of America. The platform is known for its reliable and responsive customer service but it is its synergy with Bank of America that makes it more interesting.
Bank of America customers can view the accounts together, transfer funds instantly from either and manage both accounts together.
Compared to other brokers such as TD Ameritrade and ETRADE, Merill Edge is evenly priced with its flat fee of $6.95. thanks to promotions and rewards programs, the platform is often least-expensive for those with Bank of America accounts.
It has great customer care and support in addition to Merill Edge advisors present in the BoA branches during normal banking hours.
- Bank of America integration works to those who have both accounts advantage
- Self-directed investing options
- No surcharges for stocks trading under a dollar
- High costs and fees
- Dated interface
ETRADE is an online broker that was founded in 1982. It is highly advertised and fairly well known in and outside financial circles. It is however best known for its user-friendliness on all browser, mobile and desktop platforms. With the E-Trade 360, you can view everything in your account in one page, as well as make trades.
For advanced investors, E-Trade provides advanced trading tools and extensive market research. It also provides tons of user educational tools and guidance for new investors.
This trading platform is however not the most expensive or the cheapest for that matter. For the first 30 trades per quarter, you will have to pay $6.95, just like in Merill Edge and TD Ameritrade, after that, you are given a discount to $4.95 per trade.
The platform provides great customer service and support in addition to the online trader community that allows you to chat with other traders.
- High quality integrated third-party research offerings
- One of the best mobile trading app
- Active online trader community that lets you know what others are doing
- No virtual trading to help new traders practice without using any money
- High costs and fees, at least for the first 30 trades
How We Rank Brokers
If you’ve read our guide up to this point, then you’ll know just how competitive the online stock broker arena has become.
On the one hand, this is great for you as the consumer, as you have heaps of trading platforms to choose from. On the other hand, it can be really difficult to know which platform to pick! That’s why we decided to independently test and review all of the brokers that we recommend.
To make the best stock broker comparison, there are a few factors to consider. Here’s how we ranked them:
What to Look for When Choosing a Broker?
Fees: You need to assess how the stock broker charges its fees. They might impose a fixed fee every time you trade, a monthly or annual fee, or they might charge you in the form of the spread.
Reputation: Ideally, you want to be choosing a broker that is highly established, and with an excellent reputation in the public domain. You should also check to see what regulatory licenses the broker in question holds.
Security: Always choose a broker with excellent security safeguards. This should include enhanced login controls like two-factor authentication (2FA).
Number of Shares: You will want to choose a broker that offers a huge list of stocks and shares. Not only should this cover the US markets, but, if possible, foreign markets too. As an added bonus, the broker will also list ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, cryptocurrencies, and indices.
Payment Methods: Try to choose a broker that offers a number of different payment options. This should cover debit/credit cards, bank transfers, and e-wallets like PayPal or Skrill.
What to Avoid
Hidden Fees: Always avoid an online broker that is not transparent on its fees. You might find that while the stock broker claims to offer ‘Zero Commission Trades’, you might end up paying huge fees via the spread.
Unregulated Broker: Under no circumstances at all should you ever open an account with an unregulated stock broker. Ultimately, if anything went wrong, you could end up losing your entire balance.
High Withdrawal Fees: It is all good and well when online stock brokers offer zero-fee deposits, but what about when it comes to withdrawing your funds back out? Avoid brokers that charge really high withdrawal fees.
Poor Customer Service: There might come a time where you need to contact customer support. Whatever the issue might be, never choose a broker that offers poor support. In fact, you should try to use a broker that offers 24/7 support across both live chat and telephone.
Stock Broker Apps
If you are a very active trader and want to trade on the go, we would strongly recommend a stock trading app. There are a plethora of stock broker apps in the market today both for U.S. and UK traders, including the Robinhood trading app.
For a full list of our recommended apps and tips to choosing a reliable platform, be sure to read our guide to the top 5 stock trading apps for 2020.
Stock Broker Education
If what you’re looking for is to become a stock broker yourself, there are plenty of stock broker training programs and courses you can take.
Typically, you will need a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree in finance or business administration to become a stock broker.
A finance degree will prepare you to work as a stock broker by learning the foundations of economics, financial forecasting, and planning. Typically, degrees will last between 3 and 4 years, depending on your country of residence.
Although a major part of your stock broker education will come from studying, most of your learning will be achieved through brokerage experience. Employers tend to hire stock brokers with at least 1-3 years of experience. You can get started with your stock broker job by applying for a free stock broker internship which will allow you to gain knowledge and learn the ropes.
For more information on this topic, we recommend giving the following articles a read:
Choosing the best stock broker can be a hard task to handle especially in this technology era where you are spoilt for choice.
It is important that you consider several factors including the fees and commissions, analysis tools, minimum amounts required to open an account, and your investment style. Ensure that the broker is legitimate, especially if the fee is too good to be true.
Remember, your first broker won’t necessarily be your broker for all your life, but if you choose the right one, you may have a chance to make money as an investor.
Glossary of Investment Terms
A bond is a loan made to an organization or government with the guarantee that the borrower will pay back the loan plus interest upon the maturity of the loan term. It can be advanced to the national government, corporate institutions, and city administration. It is an investment class with a fixed income and a predetermined loan term.
A mutual fund is a professionally managed investment vehicle that pools together funds from numerous investors and invests it in such securities as stocks, bonds, and other money market instruments. They are headed by portfolio managers who determine where to invest these funds. They are highly regulated and invest in relatively low-risk money markets and in turn post lower rates than other aggressive managed funds.
Peer-to-peer lending (p2p lending) is a form of direct-lending that involves one advancing cash to individuals and institutions online. A P2P lending platform, on the other hand, is an online platform connecting individual lenders to borrowers.
Bitcoin is the legacy cryptocurrency developed on the Bitcoin Blockchain technology. It is a new form of money primarily developed to solve some of the inherent challenges associated with fiat currencies like inflation and over-production. It is virtual (online) cash that you can use to pay for products and services from bitcoin-friendly stores.
An index fund refers to the coming together of individuals to pool in funds that are then invested in the stock and money markets by professional money managers. The only difference between an index fund and a mutual fund is that the index fund follows a specific set of rules that track specific investments and index stocks.
An Exchange-traded fund refers to an investment vehicle that is publicly traded in the stock exchange markets – much like shares and stocks. The fund is expert-managed and its portfolio comprises of such investment products as stocks, bonds, commodities, and more money market instruments like currencies.
Retirement refers to the time you spend away from active employment and can be voluntary or occasioned by old age. In the United States, the retirement age is between 62 and 67 years.
Penny Stocks refer to the common shares of relatively small public companies that sell at considerably low prices. They are also known as nano/micro-cap stocks and primarily include any public traded share valued at below $5.
Real Estate can be said to be the land and buildings on a given property as well as other rights associated with the use of the property like the air rights and underground rights. Real estate can be either commercial if the land, property, and buildings are used for business purposes or residential if they are used to non-business purposes – like building a family home.
REITs are companies that use pooled funds from members to invest in income-generating real estate projects. While a REIT may specialize in one real estate niche, most diversify and invest in as many high-income real estate projects as possible. They are especially interested in commercial real estate projects like warehouses, prime office buildings, residential apartments, hotels, timber yards, and shopping malls.
Asset simply refers to any resource of value or a resource that can be owned and controlled to produce positive value by an individual or business.
A broker is an intermediary to a gainful transaction. It is the individual or business that links sellers and buyers and charges them a fee or earns a commission for the service.
Capital gains refer to the positive change in the price of a capital asset like shares and stock, bonds or a real estate project. It is the difference between the current selling price of the asset and its lower original buying price and it is considered a taxable income.
A hedge fund is an investment vehicle that pools together funds from high net worth individuals and businesses before having professional money managers invest it in highly diversified markets. The difference between mutual and hedge funds is that the later adopts highly complicated portfolios comprised of more high-risk high-return investments both locally and internationally.
An index simply means the measure of change arrived at from monitoring a group of data points. These can be company performance, employment, profitability, or productivity. Observing a stock index, therefore, involves measuring the change in these points of a select group of stocks in a bid to estimate their economic health.
A recession in business refers to business contraction or a sharp decline in economic performance. It is a part of the business cycle and is normally associated with a widespread drop in spending.
Taxable Account refers to any investment account that invests in shares and stocks, bonds and other money market securities. The account is offered by a brokerage company and you are obliged to report and pay taxes on the investment income each year.
A tax-advantaged account refers to savings of investment accounts that enjoy such benefits as a tax exemption or deferred tax payment. Roth IRA and Roth 401K are examples of tax-exempt accounts whose contributions are drawn from after-tax incomes with the yields generated from investing funds therein being tax-exempt. Traditional IRA, 401K plan and college savings, on the other hand, represent tax-deferred accounts. Their contributions are deductible from your current taxable incomes but you get to pay taxes on their accrued incomes.
Yield simply refers to the returns earned on the investment of a particular capital asset. It is the gain an asset owner gets from the utilization of an asset.
A custodial account is any type of account that is held and administered by a responsible person on behalf of another (beneficiary). It may be a bank account, trust fund, brokerage account, savings account held by a parent/guardian/trustee on behalf of a minor with the obligation to pass it to them once they become of age.
An Asset Management Company (AMC) refers to a firm or company that invests and manages funds pooled together by its members. Like mutual or hedge funds, the AMC creates diversified investment portfolios that comprise of shares and stocks, bonds, real estate projects, and other low and high-risk investments.
A registered investment advisor is an investment professional (an individual or firm) that advises high-net-worth (accredited) investors on possible investment opportunities and possibly manages their portfolio.
The fed rate in the United States refers to the interest rate at which banking institutions (commercial banks and credit unions) lend - from their reserve - to other banking institutions. The Federal Reserve Bank sets the rate.
A fixed-income fund refers to any form of investment that earns you fixed returns. Government and corporate bonds are prime examples of fixed income earners.
A fund may refer to the money or assets you have saved in a bank account or invested in a particular project. It may also refer to the collective basket of resources pooled from different clients that are then invested in highly diversified income-generating projects.
Value investing is the art of using fundamental analysis to identify undervalued shares and stocks in the market. It involves buying these shares at the current discounted prices and hoping that a market correction pushes them up to their intrinsic value effectively resulting in massive gains.
Impact investing simply refers to any form of investment made with the aim of realizing financial returns while positively impacting the society, environment or any other aspect of life in the process. Investment in solar projects and green energy, for instance, posts profits and helps conserve the environment.
An investment App is an online-based investment platform accessible through a smartphone application. It lets you save and invest your funds in a preset portfolio that primarily consists of shares and stocks, bonds, ETFs, and currencies based on your risk tolerance.
Real Estate crowdfunding is a platform that mobilizes average investors – mainly through social media and the internet – encourages them to pool funds, and invests them in highly lucrative real estate projects. It can be said to be an online platform that brings together average investors and lets them enjoy real estate projects previously preserved for high net worth and institutional investors.
What is an investment broker?
An investment broker, or simply stock broker, in an individual or company that allows you to access the stock markets. Effectively, they will buy and sell stocks on your behalf, subsequently charging a fee in the process.
Must I make my investment through a broker?
Yes. If you want to invest in stocks, you will need to use a broker. The only exception to the rule is institutional investors, who are able to trade without a third party on the OTC (over-the-counter) markets.
Can I use a different stock broker from the one I have been using?
Yes, you can open accounts with as many stock brokers as you want.
Are brokerage firms regulated?
Yes, they are, in the U.S, brokerage firms are regulated by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), state government, and a Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) such as FINRA, National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates the stock market.
What happens if my stock broker goes bankrupt?
Brokerage firms are required to segregate investor’s money from the firm’s assets. In most cases, your money should be safe. The Securities Investor Protection Corp (SIPC) protects cash and securities including bonds and stocks held at troubled firms. However, there are limits of coverage per customer. SIPC can only cover the replacement of stocks and other securities up to $500,000 including $250,000 in cash claims.
What if I need to quickly cash my stock investments out?
You can sell your investments at any time, as long as it is during standard market hours. Once you do, you will then need to withdraw the money out of your stock broker account. The amount of time it takes to receive the cash will depend on the stock broker in question, as well as the type of payment method you used.
Can my investment broker direct my funds at international markets?
The modern-day online stock broker will make it just as easy to invest in international markets as it is buying shares domestically.