Best Online Brokers & Trading Platforms Singapore 2023

Meiling Tan
Updated:

Learning to invest begins with finding an appropriate trading platform.

But the best trading platform for you depends on your purposes.

If you plan to make frequent trades, you’ll want a low-cost brokerage so the fees don’t eat into your returns.

Conversely, someone using a dollar-cost averaging or buy-and-hold strategy is better off with a reputable brokerage with no inactivity fees.

And you’ll have to consider where you want to trade as well: beginner-friendly platforms may not offer access to many global markets or have good foreign exchange rates.

That said, here are our recommendations for online brokers & trading platforms:

  1. Best for Beginners: Impact by Interactive Brokers and Tiger Brokers
  2. Best for Low Capital Investing: Webull and Interactive Brokers
  3. Best for Singapore Stock Trading: Interactive Brokers and FSMOne

Best for Beginners: Impact by Interactive Brokers and Tiger Trade by Tiger Brokers

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) caters to professional traders, so their usual Trader Workstation (TWS) platform can be daunting for beginners. However, they have a far more user-friendly version in IMPACT, their new iOS/Android app:

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Well known in the financial sector, IBKR is a well-established brokerage that gives you plenty of room to grow. For starters:

  1. You’ll have no platform fees, custodian fees, or inactivity fees to deal with. These are small charges, but they add up in the long run.
  2. Interactive Brokers offers the best foreign exchange fees, lowest margin rates, and some of the lowest commissions you’ll find. These are important if you’re planning on trading outside of the Singapore market or trying out more advanced instruments in future (like options).
  3. Interactive Brokers offers excellent market access. You’ll be able to trade not just markets in Singapore, but also in 30+ other countries (including the US and HK).

That said, Interactive Brokers does not provide free real-time market data. Instead, you’ll get delayed market data for available exchanges, and then the option to subscribe to real-time data at extra cost.

That’s why some beginner investors prefer Tiger Brokers. While they don’t have the reputation and market access that IBKR offers, Tiger Brokers offers free L2 market data for US stocks. They also charge lower commissions for all but the US market if you’re just starting out.

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Here’s a quick comparison of the two:

Tiger BrokersInteractive Brokers
Commissions for US Stocks & ETFsUSD0.005/share, min USD0.99 per order, max 0.5% of trade valueUSD0.0005 – 0.0035/share, min USD0.35 per order, max 1% of trade value
Commissions for SG Stocks, ETFs, REITs, & DLCs0.03% of trade value, min SGD0.99 per order0.02 – 0.08% of trade value, min SGD0.90 – 2.50 per order
Commissions for HK Stocks & ETFs0.03% of trade value, min HKD7 per order0.015 – 0.05% of trade value, min HKD4 – 18 per order
Commissions for China A-Shares0.03% of trade value, min CNH7 per orderN/A
Commissions for Australian Stocks0.03% of trade value, min AUD2 per order0.015 – 0.08% of trade value, min AUD1 – 5 per order
Commissions for UK StocksN/A0.015 – 0.05% of trade value, min GBP1 per order
L2 Market DataFreeSubscription Required
* Brokers with a range in commissions offer lower commissions the more you trade.

Best for Low Capital Investing: Webull and IBKR

Both Webull and IBKR are our top picks here because:

  • Neither brokerage has a minimum initial funding requirement, so you can begin investing with whatever amount you can spare
  • Both offer fractional share trading, meaning you can buy higher-priced stocks like Netflix even if you can’t afford one full share
  • Both brokerages have no platform or custodian fees. Other low-cost brokerages like moomoo and Tiger Brokers still charge these fees
  • Both have competitive fees when you account for not only the commissions but also other charges like inactivity fees and foreign exchange rates

Between the two, Webull is best if you’re content to trade only in the US and HK markets. Webull’s current offer of true zero commissions makes it by far the cheapest on this list. They’re quick to note that this is a “promotional rate” that is “valid till updated” though.

However, if you want to trade in markets outside of US and HK, IBKR is the better choice. IBKR has best-in-class margin rates and forex fees on top of its access to 135 markets across 33 countries. 

Here’s a quick comparison of the commissions & platform fees for each brokerage:

US Stocks & EFTsHK Stocks & EFTs
Tiger BrokersCommission: USD0.005/share, min USD0.99 per order, max 0.5% of trade value
Platform Fee: USD0.005/share, min USD1 per order, max 0.5% of trade value
Commission: 0.03% of trade value, min HKD7 per order
Platform Fee: 0.03% of trade value, min HKD8 per order
moomooCommission: None!
Platform Fee: USD0.99 per order
Commission: 0.03% or HKD3, whichever is higher
Platform Fee: HKD15 per order
Interactive BrokersCommission: USD0.0005 – 0.0035/share, min USD0.35 per order, max 1% of trade value
Platform Fee: None!
Commission: 0.015 – 0.05% of trade value, min HKD4 – 18 per order
Platform Fee: None!
uSMARTCommission: None!
Platform Fee: USD0.005/share, min USD1 per order, max 0.5% of trade value
Commission: None!
Platform Fee: HKD12 per order
Phillip MetaTrader 5Commission: 0.01% of trade value, min USD5 per order
Platform Fee: None!
Commission: 0.08% of trade value, min HKD28 per order
Platform Fee: None!
WebullCommission: None!
Platform Fee: None!
Commission: None!
Platform Fee: None!
* Brokers with a range in commissions offer lower commissions the more you trade.

Best for Singapore Stock Trading: IBKR and FSMOne

Given that Singapore isn’t great for growth stocks, our recommendations lean towards a platform you can buy and hold – whether it’s REITs, ETFs, or dividend-yielding stocks.

That’s why our top picks for this category are IBKR and FSMOne, for two reasons:

  1. Interactive Brokers offers the best combination of reputability, low commissions, margin rates, and trading tools. However, IBKR isn’t linked to CDP, so your purchased shares are held in custody rather than deposited directly into your CDP account. (What does this mean?)
  2. If you prefer a CDP-linked account, FSMOne has the lowest commissions while allowing you to sell shares in your CDP account even if you bought them from other brokerages. Their fees are higher than IBKR’s initially, but the $8.80 flat rate means you’ll break even when you place orders larger than $11,000.

Here’s a comparison of the commissions each brokerage charges:

Trading PlatformCommission FeesMinimum Commission
DBS Vickers Cash Upfront0.12%S$10
FSMOne Cash Account$8.80 flat feeN/A
Interactive Brokers0.02 – 0.08%S$0.90 – 2.50
moomoo0.03%S$0.99
OCBC Securities0.18 – 0.275%S$25
Saxo Markets0.03 – 0.08%S$1 – 5
Tiger Brokers0.03%S$0.99

Interactive Brokers vs DBS Vickers & OCBC Securities

Even though they’re headquartered in the US, IBKR charges lower commissions than local bank-run brokerages like DBS Vickers and OCBC Securities.

For a $5,000 trade for example, you’ll pay only $4 in commissions to IBKR – but $10 to DBS Vickers. OCBC Securities is worse, at a $25 minimum commission. (Of course, DBS Vickers is CDP-linked, so it may be a worthwhile trade-off for some.)

Interactive Brokers vs Tiger Brokers & moomoo

We’d steer clear of Tiger Brokers and moomoo mainly because they’re China-based brokerages. On top of the regulatory crackdowns by China’s top brass, the strained relations between the U.S. and China increase the risks to any long-term holdings you may have on either platform.

Plus, Tiger Brokers and moomoo may not hold their “low-cost brokerage” standing for long. Tiger recently instituted a custodian fee for inactive accounts, and moomoo is likely to follow suit. That means they’re better suited to active trading than buy & hold strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a brokerage account and how do I open one in Singapore?
  2. What is CDP? Why is a CDP-linked brokerage useful?
  3. What’s a custodian vs CDP-linked brokerage account?
  4. What is a margin account? How does it compare with a cash account?

1. What is a brokerage account and how do I open one in Singapore?

A brokerage account allows you to buy and sell assets like stocks, bonds, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). If you’re a Singapore resident, you’ll first have to open a CDP account, then choose a broker and apply for a trading account there.

In Singapore, there are two main types of trading accounts you can open: custodian accounts and CDP-linked accounts. The former means that the broker holds the assets on your behalf, while the latter means your purchased shares go directly into your own CDP account.

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2. What is CDP? Why is a CDP-linked brokerage useful?

Operated by the Singapore Stock Exchange, the Central Depository (CDP) is an integrated clearing, settlement, and depository facility for Singapore securities. If you’re buying Singapore stocks or bonds for example, these assets will be held in a CDP account.

CDP-linked brokerages are useful because they allow you to deposit into or sell directly from your CDP account, though they’ll usually charge higher fees for this. You’ll also be a named shareholder of the company and can attend their Annual General Meetings (AGMs) if you wish.

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3. What’s a custodian vs CDP-linked brokerage account?

With a CDP-linked brokerage account, you are the legal owner of the SGX securities you buy. Custodian accounts mean that the brokerage is the legal owner of your shares, though the shares are segregated and tagged to your name.

CDP-Linked Brokerage AccountCustodian Account
Pros
  • View all your holdings under the same CDP account, even if you bought them from different brokerages
  • Can buy and sell from different brokerages to take advantage of the lowest commissions
  • Legal shareholder who gets voting rights, annual reports, and the option of attending AGMs
  • No risk of your assets being affected by brokerage bankruptcies
  • Usually lower fees
  • More options for brokerages
Cons
  • Usually higher fees
  • Additional clearing and SGX fees
  • No annual reports, voting rights, or AGMs
  • Brokerage liquidity issues may affect your holdings
  • May have to monitor multiple brokerages

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4. What is a margin account? How does it compare with a cash account?

A margin account allows you to borrow money from the broker to purchase stocks or other securities. This can come in handy if you’re making frequent trades or want to pursue more advanced trading strategies (e.g. futures and options).

For example, it usually takes a few days for a trade to settle and the cash to be reflected in your account. Having margin allows you to bypass the waiting period and purchase new securities before your previous trade has fully settled.

But since you’re borrowing money from the broker, be aware that a margin account could potentially expose you to higher losses. You’ll also need to pay interest on the amount you borrow.

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