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Comparison of Stock Brokers for US Stocks in Malaysia

With Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq going higher and higher, there is no telling how far they will go. Is it a good time to long the stocks or shall we start to short the stocks? Only time and the market will tell. However, to purchase or short sell US stocks, you will have to create an account with a stock broker first. In this post, let’s compare the stock brokers and the brokerage fees to involve in the US stock market.

eToro

eToro is the most active platform among all the others here in the list in terms of ad spending. Besides stocks and ETFs, they also offer cryptocurrency and CFD trading. For stocks and ETFs, they offer 17 exchanges around the world which includes US, EU, UK, and HK. The full list can be found here. However, do take note that not all stocks are available in those stock exchanges.

In terms of fees, eToro does not charge any commission or management fees. However, they do charge for withdrawal fee of USD5, conversion fees for currencies besides USD, and also a USD10 per month of inactivity fee after 12 months with no login activity. For the full list of items, you may refer to their page here.

eToro has a few unique points compared to the other stock brokers in this list. Firstly, you can deposit your account with a credit or debit card. This means that you can earn those cash back or reward points from the cards. However, do take note that the conversion rate for credit card is less attractive than debit card. Besides that, there is a CopyTrader function where you can copy a person’s trades easily with just a single button. For example, you can copy Dividend Magic or Spark Liang at eToro. To understand in-depth on how it works, you may refer to this page.

Lastly, do take note that eToro is not licensed to operate in Malaysia. Therefore, our account is actually registered under eToro AUS Capital Pty Ltd which is authorised by Australian Securities and Investments Commissions (ASIC). However, it is legal to use eToro in Malaysia.

Firstrade

With Firstrade, you can trade US stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options with $0 commission. Besides that, there is no account fees or minimum deposit to open an account. However, there are certain fees to take note of when you deposit or withdraw your funds which you can refer to the full list here.

Besides trading and investing, Firstrade also offers DRIP and Securities Lending Program. DRIP stands for Dividend Reinvestment Plan and with this, the dividend that you receive for a stock will be reinvested to purchase more of the same stock. You can read about DRIP here. On the other hand, you can lend shares that you own to earn some extra income. However, do take note that not all stocks that you own can be loaned out. For the FAQs, you can refer to this page.

FSMOne

FSMOne is famous in Malaysia for its wide selections of funds and bonds. However, in Mar 2021, they start to offer Malaysia stocks and ETFs on their platform which I have compared it to the other local brokers here. Few months after that, they are now offering HK and US stocks and ETFs as well. Although FSMOne has one of the lowest brokerage fee for Malaysia stocks and ETFs, they are the highest charging platform for US stocks. For HK and US stocks and ETFs, the processing fee is 0.08% or minimum of HKD50/ USD8.80 respectively. Besides that, there are other charges such as exchange settlement fee and trading fee which you can refer to the table here.

Interactive Brokers (IBKR)

If 17 market exchanges by eToro sounds a lot, Interactive Brokers is in a whole new level by offering a whooping 135 markets. In addition, they have the most comprehensive offerings compared to the other stock brokers. Besides the usual stocks, ETFs, and options, they also offer futures, currencies, bonds, and funds. In fact, they have almost everything covered except cryptocurrency.

Interactive Brokers offers 2 commission structures which are tiered and fixed. For fixed commission, the rate is USD0.005 per share with minimum of USD1 while tiered commission varies based on your trading volume as per the table below:

Interactive Brokers Tiered vs Fixed commission rates for US stocks and ETFs

Interactive Brokers has one of the most detailed and most complicated pricing structure. You can refer to this page for the full pricing details.

Besides that, Interactive Brokers also offers something similar to Firstrade’s Securities Lending Program. It is known as Stock Yield Enhancement Program. For Interactive Brokers, they will pay you 50% of the income for the stocks that you lent. However, this program is only available if you have a margin account with them or cash account with more than USD50k. You may read the full details of the program here.

MIDF Invest

MIDF Invest is launched by MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd in partnership with Saxo Markets Asia Pacific, a subsidiary of Saxo Bank. It offers Malaysians US stocks and ETFs on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Nasdaq. Their charges are as below:

1) brokerage fee

  • trades above USD1k has a fee of 0.4% per trade with minimum of USD5
  • trades below USD1k has a fee of 0% (promotional rate)

2) stamp duty of RM1 for every RM1k with maximum charge of RM200

3) SEC clearing fee of 0.00051% of the total sale value

4) no custodian fee until further notice

One of the unique features of MIDF Invest is that you can choose between conventional or Islamic when you open an account. If you choose Islamic account, you can only see Shariah-compliant US stocks and ETFs. MIDF Invest works with IdealRatings Inc to perform the quarterly Shariah screening. If you would like to learn more about the selections of Shariah-compliant US stocks and ETFs, you may refer to this FAQ page under ‘Shariah Investing’ section. Besides the fees and charges section in the FAQ page, one of the most important thing to take note is the selection of your account. If you choose conventional account, you cannot switch to Islamic account and vice versa. You can download MIDF Invest from Google Play or the App Store.

moomoo

moomoo app is offered by Futu Singapore Pte Ltd (Futu SG) which is a subsidiary of Futu Holdings Limited. Futu Holdings Limited offers digitized brokerage and wealth management platforms and is listed in Nasdaq.  With moomoo, you can participate in the US, HK, and SG market. Besides that, you can also purchase China A-shares via moomoo. For US stocks and ETFs, moomoo charges USD0.0049 per share with a minimum of USD0.99 per order. In addition, they also charge a fixed platform fee and variable regulatory fees for each order. You may refer to this page for the pricing list.

Currently, moomoo is having a promotion which you can obtain the following if you open an account with them:

  • Up to 11x Apple (AAPL) shares
  • unlimited commission-free trades for 180 days
  • free real-time US stocks level 2 market data
  • free real-time SGX securities level 1 market data
  • SGD50 cash coupon for stock transfer in

To obtain 1x Apple share, you have to deposit SGD2,700/ USD2k/ HKD16k into your moomoo account. Then, with every 2 friends that you refer to, you will get additional 1x Apple share up to 10x additional Apple shares. For the full terms and conditions, you may refer to this page.

POEMS

Philip’s Online Electronic Mart System aka POEMS is owned by Philip Securities Pte Ltd. With POEMS, you get access to 26 market exchanges with products such as stocks, CFDs, forex, futures, unit trust, and bonds. POEMS offers 2 types of accounts which are Cash Plus Account and Cash Management Account. For Cash Plus Account, there are 3 categories based on your Total Asset Value (TAV) in the account. The higher the asset value you have with POEMS, the better your rate will be. On the other hand, for Cash Management Account, the commission will be based on each contract value. However, this is only applicable for SG stocks as US stocks has a flat rate of 0.3% with minimum of USD20. Below is the comparison of online rates between Cash Plus and Cash Management accounts.

POEMS pricing table between cash plus and cash management accounts for SG, HK, US stocks and ETFs

However, please take note that the rates above are promo rates which will last until 31 Dec 2021 which you can read here. After that, it will likely use back the default flat rate of USD10.88 for Starter Cash Plus Account which can be found here.

POEMS also offers Regular Savings Plan (RSP) which is a Dollar cost averaging (DCA) method that buys periodically into shares or unit trusts. There are 3 RSP which are Recurring Plan, Share Builders Plan, and Unit Trust Regular Savings Plan. Below is the comparison table between the 3 plans. You can also read more about it here.

POEMS Regular Savings Plan (RPS) comparison table

Last but not least, by trading with POEMS, you will get 1 POEMS reward point for every SGD1 commission. With the POEMS reward points, you can then exchange them for live prices, vouchers, magazines, and trading services. You can read more about it here under ‘POEMS Market Data & Rewards’ tab.

Saxo Bank

Saxo Bank offers 40+ exchanges worldwide and as much products as Interactive Brokers which includes forex, futures, commodities, bonds, mutual funds etc. However, they also offer cyrpto which IBKR does not. Saxo Bank has 3 account tiers which are Classic, Platinum, and VIP which requires different minimum initial funding. The differences between the accounts are summarized in the table below:

Comparison of account tier of Saxo Bank

And based on your account tier, the commission charges differ as below. For the full price list, you may refer to this page.

Pricing list of Saxo Bank for US stocks

Besides the commission charges, please note that Saxo Bank charges an annual custody fee of 0.06-0.12% based on your account tier for non-SGX stocks and ETFs.

Just like POEMS, Saxo Bank also offers Regular Savings Plan. However, you only have 4 options as below which are managed ETF portfolios with insights from Lion Global and BlackRock. For more info, you may refer to this page.

Regular Savings Plan by Saxo Bank

In addition, you will also earn reward points when you trade with Saxo Bank. The points are collected to move you from one account tier to another higher level tier. To achieve Platinum tier, you will need 120k points and for VIP tier, you will need 500k points. You can refer to this page for the point catalogue.

TD Ameritrade

Unlike the others in this list, TD Ameritrade is a no-nonsense stock broker. They offer US stocks, ETFs, options, futures & futures options only. TD Ameritrade offers $0 commission on all US exchange-listed stocks, ETFs, and option trades. However, based on the comments from forums and groups, opening an account with them can be a pain and it can take up to 6 months for account opening. In addition, their response can be quite slow but it depends on case to case. I personally uses TD Ameritrade and sometimes I get email replies after a week, sometimes I can get it in the next day. Therefore, one of the way you can bypass this is to use the live chat in the thinkorswim platform. However, this is only applicable once you have an account with them and it also depends on the issues that you are facing.

Tiger Brokers

Tiger Brokers is very similar to moomoo in almost everything. Firstly, their parent company UP Fintech Holding Limited is also listed in Nasdaq. Besides that, Tiger Brokers also offers US, HK, SG markets, and China A-shares. But in this case Tiger Brokers also offers Australia market. In addition, they charge the same fixed platform fee and variable SEC fee. In terms of pricing, Tiger Brokers charges a tad bit higher for US stocks at USD0.005 per share with minimum of USD0.99 per order. For the full list of pricing, you can refer to this page.

Currently, Tiger Brokers is also having a promotion where you can obtain the following:

  • 500 Tiger coins
  • 5 commission-free trades for futures within 30 days
  • 60 commission-free trades within 180 days
  • 1x share of Apple (AAPL)

However, you can only obtain the free AAPL share if you deposit SGD2k and above in one go. In addition, there is a clause in the T&Cs that stated you can only withdraw the proceeds generated from the free share after you have completed 10 trades. You can view the full T&Cs here.

Tiger Brokers and moomoo is a trading platform + social media platform. This is because you can post on your wall, like/share/comment on others’ posts, follow other traders etc. With Tiger Brokers, everyday you will be given missions such as leave 1 comment, follow 3 users etc where you will earn Tiger coins. The coins can then be used to exchange for commission-free vouchers or stock vouchers.

In addition, Tiger Brokers also offers Stock Yield Enhancement Program (SYEP) which you can lend your shares to earn interest. You can read about it here.

Lastly, Tiger Brokers has 3 certifications on your account which are Silver, Gold, and Ace level. Basically you have to complete a certain amount of trades to qualify for the different tiers to get different rewards as below. You can read more about it here.

Tiger Brokers' account tiers

I personally uses Tiger Brokers and you may use my referral code IJ9KKD or via this link as a support to this blog 🙂

TradeStation Global

There are 2 TradeStation websites which are beautifully differentiated as below:

TradeStation US vs TradeStation Global

TradeStation US can only trade the US markets and only available to the US residents. Therefore, do make sure you are accessing TradeStation Global.

When you open an account with TradeStation Global, you are actually opening an Interactive Brokers Universal account but powered by TradeStation. Therefore, you will also have access to the same 135 markets and products such as options and futures that you can find in IBKR. However, TradeStation Global charges USD0.007 per share with minimum of USD1.5 per order. For the full pricing list, you can refer here.

In the past when IBKR charges a monthly inactivity fee of USD10, TradeStation Global is the better choice for non-active traders. But now that IBKR has removed the inactivity fee, TradeStation Global doesn’t seem attractive anymore due to its higher commission charges.

Webull

Webull is somewhat similar to TD Ameritrade where they only offer US market and $0 commissions. However, besides stocks, ETFs, and options, Webull also offers cryptos. In addition, they also support full extended trading hours which includes pre-market and after-hours. However, compared to TD Ameritrade, Webull is still very new which was established in 2017 and is not listed in any exchanges.

Table of Comparison

Stock brokerMarketsCommission for US stocksRemarks
eToroUS, UK, EU, HK$01) can deposit with debit or credit card
2) CopyTrader function
Firstrade US$01) DRIP
2) Securities Lending Program
FSMOneUS, HK, MY0.08%, min USD8.81) has local office
2) licensed by SC
Interactive BrokersUS and 134 marketsfixed - USD0.005 per share, min USD1
tiered - USD0.0035 per share, min USD0.35
Stock Yield Enhancement Program
MIDF Invest USbelow USD1k,
above USD1k - 0.4%, min USD5
1) has local office
2) Shariah-compliant option
moomooUS, HK, SG, CNUSD0.0049 per share, min USD0.99free share promotion
POEMS US and 25 marketscash plus:
starter - USD3.88
premier - USD2.88
privilege - USD1.88
cash management: 0.3%, min USD20
1) Regular Savings Plan
2) POEMS reward points
Saxo Bank US and 40+ marketsclassic - 0.06%, min USD4
platinum - 0.05%, min USD4
VIP - 0.04%, min USD3
Regular Savings Plan
TD Ameritrade US$0
Tiger BrokersUS, HK, SG, AUS, CNUSD0.005 per share, min USD0.991) free share promotion
2) Stock Yield Enhancement Program
3) Tiger coins
4) certifications
TradeStation GlobalUS and 134 marketsUSD0.007 per share, min USD1.5
WebullUS$0full extended trading hours

Conclusion

There is no perfect stock broker as each of them has their pros and cons. However, here are a few things to consider so that you can make a decision. Firstly, determine if you are an investor or trader. If you are an investor, as long as the commission fee is not too expensive, any stock broker should be fine. However, if you are a trader, then $0 commission is the best choice as the fees can quickly add up to a huge sum.

Next, decide if you only want to use a platform that is approved by the Securities Commission (SC). In the table above, only FSMOne and MIDF Invest are licensed by SC. However, do also take note that a few stock brokers like eToro and TD Ameritrade are in SC’s alert list here.

In addition, decide if you need any additional features or services that are provided by the stock broker. For example, if you like the CopyTrader function, then you can go for eToro. Or if you are a long-term investor, then you can consider those platforms where you can lend out your shares to earn interest.

Last but not least, if you have shortlisted with 2 stock brokers left, you should pick the one with the promotion. However, this should not be the main consideration and it is just by-the-way value-added stuffs. moomoo and Tiger Brokers are currently giving out free Apple (APPL) shares. If you decide to go with Tiger Brokers, you may use my referral code IJ9KKD or via this link as a support to this blog 🙂

Which stock broker that you are currently using for US stocks? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below.

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