Broker profile

Charles Schwab One Account

This US online brokerage giant now has two international brokerage services: The Schwab Global Account, open to US citizens and residents only, and the international trading part of its long-standing Schwab One Account. The firm has never really advertised the latter much, but it can deal in a very wide range of overseas markets, albeit by telephone during US hours only.

Schwab One Accounts are available to clients outside the US, although the minimum account size will be larger – US$25,000 for most markets, US$10,000 through the Hong Kong and UK arms. Overseas dealing is likely to have a minimum of around US$5,000 per trade for some markets.

The main snag with the service is cost. International dealing rates are 0.75% with a minimum of US$100. While this is lower than rates at the wirehouses, you can do better than that for many of the markets it offers – within the US, try Interactive Brokers, Fidelity or Schwab’s own US resident-only Schwab Global Account. On top of this, its correspondent stock brokers in the overseas markets will add their own charges, include FX conversion (since you can only hold US dollars within the account). That will vary by market, but it’s likely to add 0.15-1.5% depending on region (Europe will be cheaper, emerging Asia more expensive).

That said, while nobody I know well has used Charles Schwab for buying international shares, second-hand feedback says the customer service is very good. Certainly, I was impressed with the knowledge of its representatives when I enquired about opening an account. At this price, I’d still say look for a cheaper broker for the easy markets. But perhaps consider this firm for the more exotic ones if you trade in reasonable size and the US$100 minimum is bearable.

Markets available
Online tradingUSA, USA OTCBB and Pink Sheets
Telephone tradingArgentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany - Frankfurt, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan - Osaka, Japan - Tokyo, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK
Dealing commissions and charges
Typical onlineUS$8.95
Online detailsUSA US$8.95, foreign stocks traded over-the-counter in the USA US$58.95
Typical telephonemin US$100
Telephone detailsUSA US$33.95, foreign stocks traded over-the-counter in the USA US$83.95, stocks traded directly on a foreign exchange 0.75% (min US$100),
Other fees and charges
Account fees and inactivity feesNone
Custody charges for stocksNone
Dividend chargesNone
Corporate action chargesNone
Currency conversion chargesNot stated
Hold cash in foreign currenciesNo
Currencies allowedUSD
Other details
Tax-advantaged accountsIRA
Other products and servicesBonds, funds, options
Minimum account sizeUS$1,000 for USA accounts, US$10,000 for UK and Hong Kong accounts, US$25,000 for others
Company locationUSA
Further information

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