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How to invest in US stocks from Singapore
Find the cheapest brokerage fees when you trade US stocks from Singapore.
What's in this guide?
- Compare share trading accounts that trade US stocks
- Why invest in US stocks?
- What are the different indices available?
- Which platforms trade US shares?
- How do I compare trading platforms?
- Fees to look out for
- Top 10 blue chip US stocks to invest in 2021
- What are the pros and cons to investing in US shares?
- What are some of the risks?
- Frequently asked questions
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Not all brokers or trading platforms provide access to global stock exchanges, so if you want to buy and sell US shares, you’ll need to find one that offers the service for a cost effective brokerage fee.
Why invest in US stocks?
There are many reasons for Singapore investors to own stocks listed in the US:
Compared to companies in Singapore, US firms benefit from various competitive advantages, including the country’s vast geographical reach and market size. As such, US companies are exposed to growth potential on a much larger scale.
In the last decade, Wall Street’s S&P500 index has delivered returns of around 103%, while Singapore’s equivalent the SGX STI30 returned around 9.2% for the same period (one-fifth higher than the regional APAC benchmark).
US stock markets also offer a greater diversity of companies than is available in Singapore. The New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ are the two largest stock exchanges in the world in terms of market capitalisation, and also offer some of the most lucrative opportunities in the world. Many of the world’s biggest global growth companies, such as Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet, Netflix and Google (FAANG) are listed in the US.
Aside from opportunities to profit, it’s important to have a diversified portfolio of stocks. This means investing in companies from a range of sectors as well as countries. If Singapore’s economy were to slow, stocks listed in another country can act as a buffer.
What are the different indices available?
Before we leap into the specifics of investing in US stocks, it’s important to know the different indices available. In Singapore, our local stock market benchmark is the Straits Times Index (STI).
In the US, there are three major indices:
- S&P 500 index
- Dow Jones Industrial Average
- Nasdaq Composite Index
Which platforms trade US shares?
There are a growing number of online share trading platforms that offer access to international stock exchanges for Singapore investors. Some platforms offer international accounts that are separate to their Singapore trading accounts, while others are fully integrated on the one platform.
Here are some of the platforms that allow US share trading in Singapore:
- IG Share Trading
- Saxo Capital Markets
- City Index
- TD Ameritrade
- Standard Chartered
- Interactive Brokers
How do I compare trading platforms?
Make sure that you take the following features and questions into consideration when comparing between of US share trading sites:
- Trading fees.Compare the commission that’ll be charged by each company each time you place a trade on US stocks. Be aware that this will be different to broker fees for SGX-listed stocks.
- Exchange rates. Exchange rates vary from platform to platform and this will partly be used to offset low broker fees.
- Account fees. Some platforms require you to pay a monthly fee in order to keep your account running or to access certain features.
- Market information. Does the platform offer an instant overview of market prices, spread, and margin? Being able to make trades based on current information is critical, so make sure that the market data displayed refreshed frequently.
- Market access. Some platforms offer access to a few key international markets while others let you to buy and sell shares on a much larger number of exchanges.
- Scope of products. Find out what are the asset classes available — forex, CFDs, gold, bonds and more.
- Trading platform. Is the platform only available online or can you also place trades over the phone? Are flexible options like limit orders available to let you take advantage of market fluctuations?
- Ease of use. Is the platform user-friendly? You’d want to make sure that it’s fast, simple and convenient to execute a trade, as well as monitor market performance.
- Resources. Does the platform offer any educational and research resources to help boost your investment knowledge?
- Customer support. What are the various modes of contact available and how soon can you expect a response for your queries?
Fees to look out for
- Trade commission. Also known as a stock trading fee, this fee is charged whenever you buy or sell stocks (or any other type of investments).
- Custodian fees. All US stocks will be held in a custodian account and your broker may impose a small fee to cover the costs of managing this account.
- Forex rates. When you purchase US stocks, your SGD funds will be converted to USD at the broker’s own rates. This means if the rates aren’t competitive, it’ll have a direct impact on your profits. Unfortunately, brokers typically don’t publish their forex rates so this would be a hard factor to compare.
- Dividend withholding taxes. Under US domestic tax laws, a foreign investor will need to be subjected to a 30% withholding tax on dividends.
- Expense ratios (for ETFs). An expense ratio indicates how much an ETF costs, but bear in mind that it doesn’t include any brokerage commissions that’ll be charged when you buy and sell the ETF shares. Standard US all-market or S&P 500 ETFs can go as low as 0.03%.
Top 10 blue chip US stocks to invest in 2021
A blue chip is stock from a well-established company with a strong reputation for quality, reliability and stability. Blue-chip companies have a history of solid performance and often pay dividends.
Here are the top 10 blue chip stocks for this year, as identified by U.S News & World Report:
|US blue-chip stocks||Ticker||Share price (As of 2 February 2021)||Daily dividend yield|
|Johnson & Johnson||JNJ||US$161.25||2.47%|
|JPMorgan Chase & Co.||JPM||US$232.24||2.69%|
|The Walt Disney Co.||DIS||US$176.96||0.00%|
|Procter & Gamble Co.||PG||US$128.69||2.46%|
*Data source: MarketWatch, Inc.
What are the pros and cons to investing in US shares?
- Access different investment opportunities. Trading via US stock exchanges allows you the freedom to take advantage of investment opportunities that are not available in Singapore.
- Increasingly more affordable. As a growing number of online share trading platforms compete for market share, brokerage fees are becoming more affordable.
- Diversify your portfolio. If all your investments depend on the performance of one national economy – i.e. Singapore’s – is your portfolio really as diverse as you think? Buying international shares protects you against having all your eggs in one basket.
- Brokerage fees. You’ll need to contend with potentially higher brokerage fees whenever you place a trade on an international share market.
- Exchange rates. The SGD-USD rate fluctuates frequently which might negatively impact your investment.
- Additional fees. International trading accounts are sometimes subject to fees that Singapore-only platforms are not, such as inactivity fees and exchange fees.
What are some of the risks?
One of the key risks to be aware of when trading US shares is that you may not have the same level of knowledge and expertise as you have when trading SGX shares. Investing in an area, industry or country which you know little about is always risky, so it always pays to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Another factor worth considering is the tax implications of international trading. You don’t want to make any mistakes when declaring your income and find yourself on the wrong side of the IRAS, so familiarise yourself with the tax treatment of your investments as soon as possible.
Frequently asked questions
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