Investment Platforms for Expats [What to Know]

For expats, it can be challenging to find investment platforms to work with.

A lot of traditional US brokerages, for example, will not accept international clients. And they may even freeze or restrict transactions if they see logins from abroad or discover that you have moved internationally.

Worse yet, investment platforms typically don’t publish this information publicly, so you may not know about these restrictions until it’s too late and your account is already frozen.

Luckily, some investment platforms have no problems accepting international clients.

So if you know where to go and what you need to start an account, you can get access to some top-notch investment platforms.

If you follow the guidance in this article, not only will you be able to find out how to invest in your home country as an expat, but you will also be able to take advantage of great opportunities to invest in other markets as well.

Here’s how you can find the best investment platforms for expats…

Investment Platforms for Expats

There are some excellent investment platforms available to expats, if you know where to look. These enable you to invest both in your home country as well as in international markets. Read on to learn how and where to find the best investment platforms for expats.

To help you get started, we’re going to share some insight on why it’s so important to take your time to choose the right investment platform. We’ll also uncover what investment platforms are specifically available to expats and how you can get started investing today.

But, before diving in, if this is your first time visiting GlobalBanks, don’t forget to download your FREE Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide. It’s designed to help non-residents open accounts in top banking hubs around the world.

Why Choosing the Right Investment Platform Is So Important

As an expat, when it comes to picking an investment platform, you have to consider many more factors than someone who is investing from their home country.

First, you need to find an investment platform that both accepts foreign residents and works with international bank accounts and multiple currencies.

Of course, you must also take into consideration the usual investment considerations, such as how much money you can invest and what you want to invest in.

To help you get a better idea of everything you need to consider, here’s a look at the key questions you should ask yourself before choosing an investment platform.

Questions to Ask When Choosing Investment Platforms for Expats:

  • Are you going to use an advisor or manage your investments on your own?
  • Are you primarily based in one specific country?
  • Or do you move frequently between multiple countries?
  • What tax treaties are applicable to you (based on where you live or will live)?
  • What costs and fees are associated with where you want to invest?
  • How will you make transactions to and from the investment platform? (eg. from bank accounts in which countries?)
  • What is your risk tolerance level?

As you can see, many factors contribute to deciding which investment platforms for expats is best suited for you.

Choosing the right investment platform is key to making sure that you not only keep your investments safe but also reduce fees and maximize returns.

That’s why it’s important to answer the questions above and familiarize yourself with your specific investment needs and wants.

Now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s go over how to choose the right investment platform for expats.

How to Choose the Right Investment Platform for Expats

how to choose the right investment platform for expats
As referenced above, when it comes to figuring out how to choose the right investment platform for you as an expat, the first thing you need to decide is if you’re going to use an advisor or manage your investments on your own.

Of course, this decision comes down to your preference and what you think is best for you.

To help you make that decision, we’ve broken down each option to give you an idea of what to expect when investing through an advisor versus on your own.

So, let’s first look at …

Advisor Managed Investment Platforms for Expats

With an advisor-managed investment platform, you will be matched up with a certified investment advisor to help you develop an investment plan and to manage your portfolio.

When investing with an advisor, fees tend to be higher to cover this service. You may also find that you have less autonomy over your investments. But for some, this may be ideal, so you don’t have the headache of staying on top of your investments and having to manage when exactly to buy and sell.

On the other hand, if you enjoy being more involved with your investments and you’re looking to invest on your own, here’s what you need to know…

Self-Managed Investment Platforms for Expats

Self-managed investment platforms for expats give you full control over what you invest in, how often you invest, and when you want to pull out of an investment.

This is ideal for those who have the time to stay on top of the latest investment news and want to be more hands-on with their investments. But it’s not ideal for those who want to grow their funds more passively.

Typically self-managed investment platforms for expats offer a wider range of products to choose from. And unsurprisingly they come with much lower fees as you’re not paying for the service to have someone manage your funds or invest on your behalf.

So, which approach is better? There is no right or wrong answer here. As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both scenarios. It all depends on your personal investment goals.

Once you’ve decided what’s best for you, it’s time to pick which platform to invest with. Read on to learn how to choose the right platform for you.

Choosing Advisor-Managed Investment Platforms for Expats

investment platforms for expats advisor
If you choose to go down this route, it’s crucial to vet all potential advisor-managed investment platforms thoroughly.

To do this, first, you need to check if the advisor, brokerage, or bank you’re looking to work with offers the products you’re interested in investing in.

Next, ask yourself if you trust the platform. Does their fee structure make sense? Do you agree with their general investment approach?

This is your money and your future on the line, so it’s important to do your homework before you choose an advisor. It will take extra effort up front but will pay off many times over in the long run.

If you want help to shortlist your options, we’re here to help with GlobalBanks IQ.

GlobalBanks IQ is our dedicated international banking intelligence platform. It helps foreign and non-resident individuals (and their businesses) open bank accounts around the world. 

And, when you join GlobalBanks IQ, our team will share specific suggestions based on your banking and investment goals. This includes specific banks, branches, and even advisors around the world for you to consider opening with.

So, whether you need personal, corporate, or private banking suggestions, we have an account opening solution that will work for you.

And, of course, this will include helping you identify the right advisor-managed investment platforms for your client profile.

Meanwhile, if you’d prefer to go with a self-managed investment platform suited for expats, we’ve also got you covered. Read on for how to pick the best option for you.

Choosing Self-Managed Investment Platforms for Expats

investment platforms for expats self managed
Here we’ve broken down some of the best self-managed investment platforms for expats. With each, we’ve included where they’re based, the required minimum investment, the investment products they offer, and who they typically cater to.

In addition, we’ll also discuss the pros and cons of each self-managed investment platform.

So, with that said, let’s dive into each of these options one by one…

Vanguard Investment Platform

  • Location: United States
  • Minimum: $0 – $3,000
  • Best for: Individuals looking for long-term low-cost investments. Or, those interested in investing in an index fund or ETF.


  • Leader in low-cost investing
  • Wide range of fund selections
  • Access to ETF trades
  • $0 stock trading cost
  • Low to no account fees


  • No physical branch
  • Basic trading platform
  • The minimum purchase can often be $3,000

Vanguard is a popular investment platform for many expats. In fact, they lead the pack when it comes to low-cost investing and have some of the best funds on the market today.

So, it’s no surprise many expats, who are looking for long-term investments, choose Vanguard as their primary investment platform.

However, it’s important to note, that Vanguard can require a minimum investment of up to $3,000 depending on the funds you choose to invest in.

So, if you’re able to meet this minimum investment and are looking to invest in long-term index funds, Vanguard may be the right investment platform for you as an expat.

Fidelity Investment Platform

  • Location: United States, Canada, Europe, Asia
  • Minimum: $0
  • Best For: American ex-pats, first-time investors, frequent traders, and individuals in need of assistance with retirement planning.


  • Have multiple physical branches
  • No commission on stock, ETF, or trades
  • Large selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds
  • Zero fee index funds
  • Excellent customer service
  • No account fees


  • Higher broker-assisted trade fees than other investment platforms

Fidelity, similar to Vanguard, is another popular investment platform for expats with excellent customer service. That said, there are some obstacles to opening accounts here and investing as a non-US citizen expat.

This is because in most cases, to use Fidelity as an investment platform for expats, you must provide a valid SSN. And, to acquire a valid Social Security Number, you must have a valid U.S visa.

Luckily, if you fall into this category, you can check out our free article, “US Bank Accounts for Non-Residents [Start here]” for additional information on how to open a bank account in the US as a non-American expat.

Meanwhile, if you are an American expat, starting an account with Fidelity is relatively straightforward.

Saxo Bank Investment Platform

  • Location: Denmark, UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia
  • Minimum: $600-$2000
  • Best For: Spain-based first-time investors or those who are looking to build a retirement fund.


  • Excellent trading platform
  • Superb research services
  • Large product selections


  • Higher minimum deposit than other investment platforms for expats
  • High trading fees
  • Lacks customer service
  • Slow account opening & verification process

Saxo Bank is another popular online investment platform. However, the specific services, fees, and product portfolios can differ depending on which Saxo Bank division you choose to open with.

But, like the other international investment platforms mentioned, Saxo Bank offers streamlined account opening, completely managed online, and access to international investments.

So, if you’re looking for a trading platform with a wide range of products, Saxo Bank might be worth considering.

Charles Schwab Investment Platform

  • Location: United States
  • Minimum: $0 – $100
  • Best For: First-time investors and also experienced traders. Or, non-residents looking for non-minimum index funds.


  • Excellent customer service
  • $0 trade commissions
  • Wide range selection of funds
  • No transaction fees
  • Strong research offerings
  • Checking account with free ATM withdrawals


  • A limited selection of fractional shares
  • Higher minimum deposits

Charles Schwab may not be as popular as Vanguard and Fidelity, but it stands out for offering a large list of ETFs for international and US expats to choose from. Not to mention, excellent customer service and strong research offerings.

Additionally, Charles Schwab is an attractive investment platform for expats due to the number of physical branches they have and also the checking accounts that clients can access when investing through Charles Schwab.

But that’s not all.

In fact, Charles Schwab offers expats attractive expense ratios, sitting as low as 0.04%. Making them more attractive than even Vanguard at 0.09%.

So, if you’re looking for an investment platform for expats that provides you with a checking account and a large selection of funds to choose from, Charles Schwab may be worth considering.

Interactive Brokers

  • Location: USA, Switzerland, Canada, Hong Kong, UK, Australia, Hungary, Russia, Japan, India, China, Luxembourg, Singapore, Ireland, and Estonia
  • Minimum: No minimum required
  • Best For: Frequent and experienced investors. Including day traders, international investors, and advanced investors. And, even business owners.


  • Accessible worldwide
  • +7,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds
  • Large investment selection
  • Accepting of business owners (legal entity)


  • The online website is difficult to navigate
  • Monthly commissions can apply
  • The opening process can be difficult to overcome

Interactive Brokers is available worldwide and offers some of the lowest transaction costs on the market. In fact, Interactive Brokers does not charge a monthly fee and no longer has a minimum deposit requirement. Making it an appealing investment platform for expats.

Now, Interactive Brokers may not be for all expats. However, if you’re a business owner, an experienced investor, or have a large sum of money to invest, Interactive Brokers is one of your best options.

As you can see, there are a variety of self-managed investment platforms for expats to choose from.

But, the platform that’s right for you will highly depend on your specific profile. Including, where you live, how much you’re looking to invest, and what you’re looking to invest in.

Once you’ve picked the investment platform you want to work with, your next task is to figure out how you will send money to and from the account. Read on to find out how to set up the best investment platform/banking structure to save on fees and headaches.

Funding & Maintaining a Self-Managed Investment Platform

isle of man
A key part of getting started with a new investment platform as an expat is to determine how you are going to fund and maintain your accounts.

For instance, if you currently live in the Isle of Man, but have a Canadian bank account, you’re not going to be able to invest in certain European investment platforms with your Canadian bank account.

Without the right complementary bank accounts, you’ll find yourself limited in the investment platforms you can access.

So, after you choose an investment platform, it’s important to open an international bank account that will help you efficiently fund your investments.

This way you can make quick and easy transfers into your investment platform. Not to mention, allow for seamless transfers directly into your account when you need to withdraw from your investments.

Now, there are many banking jurisdictions to choose from. And, the banking jurisdiction that is right for you will highly depend on a few factors. Including your residency, your citizenship, and whether or not you can meet bank-specific requirements.

As a start, one banking jurisdiction that’s worth considering is the Isle of Man.

Banking in the Isle of Man as an Expat

The Isle of Man is one of the most stable offshore banking jurisdictions that expats can tap into. In fact, not only is the Isle of Man economically stable, but it’s also home to many solid banks, has a strong culture of professionalism and accountability, and accepts expat clients from around the world.

And the best part is that expats can even open bank accounts in the Isle of Man 100% remotely. However, to do so, you need to know the right bank and bankers to contact.

We cover all of the available expat banking options in our member-only premium report “Banking in the Isle of Man: Expat Banking Goes Mainstream”.

You can access this report immediately when you join GlobalBanks IQ.

Of course, if you don’t think the Isle of Man is the right banking option for you, our team of experts is standing by to help you identify which banks are best suited for you. Including how to properly access the best investment platforms for expats.

Ready to Find an Investment Platform for Expats?

Whether you’re ready to open with an investment platform for expats today or you’re just starting to explore your options, we can help.

GlobalBanks IQ gives you everything you need to start finding and opening accounts.

When you join GlobalBanks IQ, you immediately unlock the entire GlobalBanks Database of international banks. It’s home to 250+ banks in 50+ countries.

And, you get access to our library of premium (members-only) reports. These include proven account opening strategies, country-specific banking options, and lists of banks for specific client types.

Plus, you unlock our account opening checklists, dedicated account opening alerts, and much more.

To get started, click here to see if GlobalBanks IQ is the right choice for you.

You can also view all of the account opening solutions offered by GlobalBanks on our products page by clicking here.

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