Best Brokerage Accounts To Start Your Investment Journey In Singapore

Ching Sue Mae

Ching Sue Mae

Last updated 05 December, 2022
 

Every spending situation is unique. SingSaver assembles the 'Best For' list, so you can decide what’s best for you.


The first step to investing in the financial markets starts from opening a brokerage account. But as for that step before the first step, you’ll have to invest in the best choice of brokerage account for yourself. 

Despite the volatility in the markets since the start of COVID-19 last year (or perhaps, thanks to this pandemic), more young investors have started their first foray into investing. In the US market, investors have put more money into stocks in the first five months of 2021 than in the last 12 years combined.

Here in Singapore, there has also been increased interest in investments

Rather than allowing our idle cash to erode due to inflation in this low-interest rate environment, investing these dollars is one way to reduce the opportunity cost and grow our wealth. 

To invest in the various financial products available, a brokerage account and CDP account is required. Here’s what you need to know: 


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What is a brokerage account and CDP account? 

A brokerage account is the second step to your investment journey, with the first step being to open a Central Depository (CDP) account. 

CDP account: Owned by the SGX, a CDP account provides integrated clearing, settlement and depository services for a wide range of products in the Singapore Securities Market. Your CDP is where your securities are held. To apply, you must be 18 years old and you will require a Singapore bank account. You can open a CDP account by applying online and using MyInfo for quicker application. 

Brokerage account: A brokerage account comes with more choices and you can choose from more than 10 different brokerage firms. You will need a brokerage account to buy and sell investment products on the financial market. This includes equities, fixed income products and other trading products. 

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SingSaver Exclusive Offer: Receive S$20 cashback when you open and fund S$100 into a moomoo Cash Plus Account and hold the balance for 30 days. Valid till 31 December 2022. T&Cs apply.

In addition, enjoy a guaranteed return of 5% p.a. for 3 months when you make a subscription between $100 to $10,000. T&Cs apply.

Plus, apply for this product and score 1x entry in our Score Big Grand Lucky Draw, where you stand to win your share of over S$30,000 worth of exciting prizes! Valid till 18 December 2022. T&Cs apply.

Apply Now


CDP-linked vs Custodian account

When choosing a brokerage account, you’ll find that there are generally two different types of accounts: CDP-linked and custodian accounts. Each type of account has its own pros and cons.

CDP-linked account: With a CDP-linked account, the stocks are purchased under your name and will be credited into your CDP account. This means that you own these shares and become a shareholder of the company. This is only applicable for trades made on the SGX. 

Pros Cons
Enjoy perks of being a shareholder of the company, such as attending annual general meetings (AGM) and being entitled to voting rights Higher brokerage fees and minimum commission amount
View all your stock holdings in one single CDP account, even if you made the trade using different brokerages. This also allows you to use different brokerages to buy and sell.  Incur additional fees such as
- Clearing fee: 0.0325%
- SGX access fee: 0.0075%

Custodian account: Your stocks are purchased through a nominee account that is managed by the brokerage firm. This means that the owner of the stock is legally the brokerage house and they hold the stocks on your behalf. If you’re buying overseas stocks, you will require a custodian account. 

Pros Cons
Lower brokerage fees and lower minimum commission fee Do not have the same benefits as shareholders (e.g. attend AGM, enjoy voting rights)
More providers available  Incur additional fees
- Custody fee: This varies based on the brokerage, as some do not charge a custody fee
- Transfer fee: Fees incurred (per counter) when you transfer shares in or out of the custodian account into your CDP account

If you’re a short-term trader, custodian accounts will be more ideal as it saves you from paying higher costs when you make numerous trades. If you’re a long-term investor, there could be more value in getting the stock credited to your CDP.

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Brokerage account fees and charges 

CDP-linked brokerage accounts

Provider Min. commission fee Trading commissions:<S$50,000 Trading commissions:S$50,000 - S$100,000 Trading commissions: >S$100,000
CGS-CIMB Securities S$25 0.275% 0.22% 0.18%
DBS Vickers S$25 0.28% 0.22% 0.18%
DBS Vickers Cash Upfront Account (only applicable to ‘Buy’ trades) S$10 0.12% 0.12% 0.12%
FSMOne (CDP account linkage available for ‘Sell’ orders only)  S$8.80 S$8.80 S$8.80 S$8.80
KGI Securities S$25 0.275% 0.22% 0.18%
Lim & Tan Securities S$25 0.28% 0.22% 0.18%
Maybank Kim Eng Securities S$25 0.275% 0.22% 0.18%
OCBC Securities S$25 0.275% 0.22% 0.18%
Phillip Securities (POEMS) S$25 0.28% 0.22% 0.18%
RHB Securities S$25 0.275% 0.22% 0.18%
UOB Kay Hian S$25 0.275% 0.22% 0.20%

With S$25 being the common minimum commission fee, what stands out is the low minimum commission fee for DBS Vickers Cash Upfront account and FSMOne, although this is limited specifically to 'Buy' and 'Sell' orders respectively. 

Custodian accounts (based on SG stocks)

This is based on commissions charged for the Singapore market, with assets of less than S$30,000. For customers that have more assets with the brokerage firm, you can enjoy lower commission fees.

Provider Min. commission fee Trading commissions
CGS-CIMB Securities S$18 0.18%
Citibank Brokerage S$28 0.25%
FSMOne S$8.80 S$8.80
HSBC S$25 0.25%
Interactive Brokers S$2.50 0.08%
KGI Securities S$25 0.18%
Lim & Tan Securities S$18 0.18%
Maybank Kim Eng S$10 0.12%
moomoo SG 0.03%  0.0075% 
OCBC Securities S$18 0.18%
Phillip Securities (POEMS) No minimum 0.12%
SAXO Markets No minimum 0.08%
Standard Chartered Online Trading S$10 0.20%
Tiger Brokers 0.03% 0.0075%
UOB Kay Hian S$10 0.12%
uSMART No minimum (until 31 December 2022) 0.0075%

The minimum commission fee of S$10 is common, with the exception of POEMS, Saxo Markets and uSMART currently offer no minimum commission fees.

If you are a priority customer of these brokerages, you also enjoy additional perks such as lower commission fees. For example, if you are a Standard Chartered Priority Banking client or a POEMS Privilege client.

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SingSaver Exclusive Offer: Receive S$100 cash when you apply for a Webull account and fund min. S$2,000 within 30 days of account opening. Valid till 7 February 2023. T&Cs apply.

Additionally, get up to USD150 worth of cash vouchers and enjoy zero-commission trading. What's more, refer a friend and get USD120 worth of shares; refer 10 friends and stand to win an iPhone 14. T&Cs apply.

Plus, apply for this product and score 2x entry in our Score Big Grand Lucky Draw, where you stand to win your share of over S$30,000 worth of exciting prizes! Valid till 18 December 2022. T&Cs apply.

Custodian accounts (based on US stocks)

Dabbling in US stocks has gotten cheaper and far more accessible, thanks to the new online brokerages in recent times. Here's how much (or how little) you'll have to pay when trading US stocks.

Provider Min. commission fee Trading commissions
CGS-CIMB Securities US$18 0.18%
Citibank Brokerage US$25 0.30%
FSMOne US$8.80 US$8.80
HSBC US$20 0.25%
Interactive Brokers US$1 US$0.005 per share
KGI Securities US$20 0.3%
Lim & Tan Securities US$20 0.3%
Maybank Kim Eng US$10 0.12%
moomooo SG No minimum  US$0.0013 per share
OCBC Securities US$20 0.3%
Phillip Securities (POEMS) No minimum US$0 for contract gross value ≤ US$2,000 (otherwise from US$5.88)
ProsperUs US$5 0%
SAXO Markets US$4 0.06%
Standard Chartered Online Trading US$10 0.25%
TD Ameritrade No minimum Free for US exchange-listed online stock, ETF, and option trades
Tiger Brokers US$0.005 per share US$0.0013 per share
Webull No minimum US$0.0000229 total trade amount
uSMART No commission (until 31 December 2022) US$0.00013 per share
UOB Kay Hian US$20 0.3%

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Choosing a brokerage account that suits you

With so many brokerage accounts to choose from, how do you pick the one that suits your investment needs? Here are a few factors that you should consider.

Fees: Fees can eat into your investment returns. Most brokerage providers impose a minimum commission fee, with a few rare exceptions. With this minimum fee imposed, it could make more financial sense to be trading a larger amount of money so that the commissions would not take up a significant portion of your capital. Do also keep in mind that the fees could differ depending on the market you trade.

On this note, do not be fooled by zero-commission free trades that might convince users that trading is absolutely free. Do beware of other fees like a per-share settlement fee that some brokerage accounts charge, especially those without a cap. This could potentially put you in a deficit if the price of each share is low. A recent article by The Business Times highlighted a trader who sold his shares for a total of US$5,000, only to realise that he found himself with a US$11,000 deficit because of the high settlement fee that he was charged.

Perks given through promotions: Brokerage providers run promotions from time to time. This can come in the form of commission fee waivers, lowered commissions, vouchers and cash rebates. You can make the most of commission-free promotions by making more transactions during that period. 

Products available: What investment products are you planning to use and what does the brokerage provider offer? For example, this could be stocks, bonds, Contracts for Difference (CFD), forex, commodities, futures and more. 

Tools and indicators provided: What tools do you frequently use and does the brokerage account provide those tools? This could be technical charting tools, various indicators, drawing capabilities, stock screeners and more.

Market access: Which global exchanges can you access with that provider? This would be important for those looking to trade in overseas markets such as Hong Kong, China and the USA, or if you are looking to trade in specifically in lesser known markets.

Platform interface: Not all apps are created equal. Some are more user friendly than others, being easier to navigate and execute trades. However, this user appeal could also be a largely personal preference. The speed and responsiveness of the app to show prices and execute trades are also important, particularly for traders that trade with short timeframes.  

Investment insights: Brokerage accounts also go the distance to value add by providing investment insights such as buy/sell/hold calls, research reports, market outlook commentary, stock ideas and other materials for their clients to use. 

Some brokerage accounts also offer demo accounts. These demo accounts are a great way to test out the platform and decide for yourself if their web platform or mobile app is your cup of tea. 

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Best brokerage accounts

With so many different brokerage accounts available, we have filtered them down into a few important categories. 

Best overall and for overseas stocks: Interactive Brokers or ProsperUs

Known for their incredibly low fees, you can use Interactive Brokers (IBKR) to invest globally in a variety of products — stocks, options, futures, currencies, bonds and funds — all from a single integrated account in 135 markets across 33 countries.

There are two different pricing plans, IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro, both of which offer low or zero commission fees. However, IBKR Lite is only offered to direct US clients and any client of an Introducing Broker or if you are an employee of a firm using Employee Track. 

Previously, customers could not use IBKR to trade Singapore shares, making IBKR a great option for low-cost trades in overseas markets. However, in July 2020, Interactive Brokers opened their Singapore office and investors will now be able to use IBKR to trade Singapore stocks.

IBKR has also removed their account maintenance fee requirement. Previously, this was US$10 per month, less commission paid that month — a deterring factor for investors that don't make multiple trades monthly.

Check out our full review of IBKR here.

 

Meanwhile CGS-CIMB-backed ProsperUs is also one of the best overall brokers out there. Aside from stocks, ProsperUs also offers ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, CFD, FX, and option across markets like the U.S, China, the U.K, Singapore, Australia, Europe, Malaysia, Japan, and more.

There are three account tiers (Rookie, All-Star, Hall of Fame) and the commission fee depends on the account that you hold. However, if you're trading in the U.S stock market (AMEX, NYSE, NASDAQ), the platform charges a US$5 flat rate commission fee across all tiers. While it's not the cheapest, the price is still quite competitive if you're not a frequent trader, and considering that it's also regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Furthermore, ProsperUs doesn't charge a platform fee, account maintenance fee, and inactivity fee. There's also no minimum deposit required.

If you open a new global investment account with ProsperUs from 1 October to 31 December 2022, you'll be rewarded with S$30 cash credit for every buy trade you make, up to a maximum of three days buy trades using the same ProsperUs account. You must make the three buy trades within 30 days upon account opening.

On top of that, you'll also be rewarded with free level 1 market data subscription for U.S stocks (NASDAQ, New York Stock Exchange, AMEX and ARCA) until 31 December 2022.



Best for low fees: moomoo SG, Tiger Brokers, or Webull

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One of the newest entrant to the online brokerage space in Singapore, moomoo SG first made waves during the pre-launch by offering a free Apple (AAPL) stock with each funded account.

moomoo SG charges a commission fee of 0.03% per transaction amount for SG stocks, with a minimum commission fee of S$0.99 (except for commission-free months). Do note that you can only trade US, HK or SG stocks on moomoo SG and will also incur a platform fee of 0.03% of the transaction amount (minimum S$0.99 per order).

Investors take note - moomoo is offering users lifetime zero commission for US stocks and $0 platform fees for 1 year for the US market.

Upon successful account opening, you'll also get free access to Level 2 Market Data for the US stock market and free access to Level 1 market data in the SG stock market and China A shares market.

On top of that, you'll also enjoy a S$2 cash coupon every day for 10 days if you invest at least S$100 in moomoo Cash Plus and hold S$100 or move for 10 days. 

If you deposit S$2,700 or more, you'll have one chance to spin the wheel and win 1 free share worth between S$35 to S$200.

The above promos end on 31 December 2022.

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SingSaver Exclusive Offer: Receive S$20 cashback when you open and fund S$100 into a moomoo Cash Plus Account and hold the balance for 30 days. Valid till 31 December 2022. T&Cs apply.

In addition, enjoy a guaranteed return of 5% p.a. for 3 months when you make a subscription between $100 to $10,000. T&Cs apply.

Plus, apply for this product and score 1x entry in our Score Big Grand Lucky Draw, where you stand to win your share of over S$30,000 worth of exciting prizes! Valid till 18 December 2022. T&Cs apply.

Apply Now

 

Having entered the market in 2020, Tiger Brokers continues to offer a low fee of 0.08% for every trade made. For US stocks, Tiger charges US$0.01 per share, with a minimum fee of US$1.99. There is also no inactivity fee or custodian fee, adding to the perks of opening a Tiger Brokers account. You will have to fund your Tiger Brokers account before you can make a trade.

Check out our full review of Tiger Brokers here.

 

webull

Meanwhile, Webull is one of the newest brokerages in Singapore. A popular online broker in the US, the trading platform offers zero commission and platform fees for the US and HK markets.

Additionally, it also supports fractional share trading for as low as US$5 per fractional share. This allows you to buy high-priced shares of big companies such as Alphabet, Apple, and Amazon, even if you don't have a large capital. 

WEBULL_BLOGARTICLE

SingSaver Exclusive Offer: Receive S$100 cash when you apply for a Webull account and fund min. S$2,000 within 30 days of account opening. Valid till 7 February 2023. T&Cs apply.

Additionally, get up to USD150 worth of cash vouchers and enjoy zero-commission trading. What's more, refer a friend and get USD120 worth of shares; refer 10 friends and stand to win an iPhone 14. T&Cs apply.

Plus, apply for this product and score 2x entry in our Score Big Grand Lucky Draw, where you stand to win your share of over S$30,000 worth of exciting prizes! Valid till 18 December 2022. T&Cs apply.


Best for US markets with no commissions: TD Ameritrade

One of the largest US online broker, TD Ameritrade features an unbeatable US$0 commission on US exchange-listed online stock, ETF, and option trades for all new and existing clients. There is also no platform fee, no inactivity fees and no minimum deposit required.

Beyond commission-free trading, TD Ameritrade Singapore's trading platform, thinkorswim, was voted the 'Most Preferred Platform' at INVEST Fair 2019. They also offer comprehensive investor education and trading tools.

 

Best for flat fee: FSMOne

If you’re trading on FSMOne, you enjoy just S$8.80 flat processing fee regardless of the size of your trade. Silver account holders also earn 10% additional points on top of the Standard Rewards points. To become a Silver FSMOne account holder, you need to have at least S$100,000 in your FSMOne account

However, do note that this is only applicable for trades in SGX-listed stocks and ETFs. This flat fee also excludes CDP clearing fees and SGX trading fees.

 

 

Best for Singapore stocks: DBS Vickers Cash Upfront

Enjoy lower commission fees and a low minimum commission fee of S$10 for buying Singapore stocks with the DBS Vickers Cash Upfront account. This makes it the cheapest brokerage account to use if you want the stocks to be transferred into your CDP account. A pre-funded account, you will have to top up sufficient cash into the account before you can execute a trade.

However, this low commission is only applicable to ‘Buy’ trades. This makes it a great option if you are looking at long-term investments and do not plan on selling the stock. If you do want to sell the stock in the future, you could consider other brokerages such as FSMOne to execute that trade at a low commission fee instead.

 
 

Best for promotions: Tiger Brokers, moomoo SG, or uSMART

The aforementioned brokerages have made their mark in the Singapore brokerage market despite being relatively new here.

The game changer when it comes to promotions, Tiger Brokers were the ones that introduced the idea of collecting coins (much like Shopee), attractive referral gifts, stock vouchers and more.

Tiger Brokers is also offering a welcome gift promotion till 30 November 2022 that rewards new customers with 180 days of unlimited commission-free trades for U.S. stocks, and 365 days of unlimited commission-free trades for HK, SG, and China A stocks. You'll also receive one free Grab share.

On top of that, you'll receive S$88 when you fund at least S$1,000 into your account and make at least five new buy trades. However, note that your total assets would need to amount to S$1,000 or above every day until 30 November.

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As mentioned above, moomoo is offering users lifetime zero commission for US stocks and $0 platform fees for 1 year for the US market. Check out our full review of moomoo here.

For both Tiger Brokers and moomoo SG, if you're an existing user, you can still earn other rewards such as stock vouchers through referrals made.

Finally, as part of the welcome promo, new uSMART users will get to enjoy zero-commission charges for US, SG, and HK stocks and zero US market settlement fees until 31 December 2022. 

You'll also receive 0.02 worth of Tesla vouchers (worth up to US$6); free US and SG market live price; one wire transfer reimbursement voucher pack; and one cash voucher reward pack.  

Read our review of uSMART here

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Besides opening a brokerage account, if you're looking for a diversified investment solution, you can also consider investing with robo-advisors.

Read these next: 
Tiger Brokers Review: New Kid On The Block With Low Commissions
moomoo Review: Low Cost Trades And A Free AAPL Share
Interactive Brokers (IBKR) Review: Pros, Cons and Why They’re So Popular
7 Popular Types Of Investment In Singapore (And Tips To Use Them For Optimal Gains)
Best Robo Advisors To Auto-Pilot Your Investments In Singapore

 

 

A flat white, an adventure-filled travel and a good workout is her fuel. Sue Mae enjoys sharing knowledge on personal finance while chasing the dream of financial independence.