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Articles / Is Charles Schwab available in the UAE? How it compares

Is Charles Schwab available in the UAE? How it compares

George Sweeney, DipFA| Updated May 10th, 2023

Investors looking to buy and sell stocks will often first look towards recognisable names and brands. Charles Schwab is an investment company that’s well known and respected around the world, so it’s no surprise that investors in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) want to know if it’s possible to trade shares using the platform!

Keep on reading if you’re keen to find out if the Charles Schwab platform is available to investors in the UAE. We’re going to cover everything you need to know about the Charles Schwab stock brokerage and reveal some potential alternatives.

Is Charles Schwab available in the UAE?

Yes, it can be possible to sign up for the ‘Schwab One International’ brokerage account. But there are some crucial things investors need to understand about using the platform in the UAE.

Charles Schwab does offer an ‘international’ service that’s open to applicants from the UAE. The downside is that there’s some strict criteria to meet, which may limit who this brokerage is suitable for.

How to use Charles Schwab in the UAE

If you’re curious about using the Charles Schwab brokerage in the UAE, you’ll need the following information to hand:

  • Your tax ID or social security number – in the UAE, this will be your TRN (tax registration number) given to you by the FTA (Federal Tax Authority).
  • Current ID – this will need to be your passport.
  • Proof of residence – you’ll need a recent utility bill or some other proof of address (containing your full name, address, and date).
  • Employment details – you have to provide the name and mailing address of your current employer.
  • Access to a scanner – to upload all your documents with Charles Schwab, you’ll need a printer and a scanner.

Along with all these documents, Charles Schwab has some pretty strict requirements and limitations for investors in the UAE hoping to use its Schwab One International brokerage account.

Here’s the other main points you need to consider about opening a Charles Schwab account in the United Arab Emirates:

  • There’s a $25,000 (USD) minimum deposit to open an account.
  • You can only trade in US dollars.
  • Only using one currency means that if you use UAE dirham (AED) or any other currency, you’ll have to pay a currency conversion fee to invest.
  • For most US stocks there’s no commission, but investment choice is limited. For example, you can’t buy US ETFs.

Charles Schwab alternatives in the UAE

If you’re in the United Arab Emirates and want to access the best brokerages and investing options, there are some alternatives to Charles Schwab that provide more choice and flexibility.

Here are some of the best brokerages available in the UAE that may be more suitable than the limited Charles Schwab Account:

eToro | Social trading and 0% commission on stocks

Established in 2007, eToro is a fintech company that allows investors to safely invest in multiple assets such as stocks, ETFs, commodities, CFDs, FX, or cryptocurrencies. The social-trading platform is user-friendly, comprehensive, and functional.

Interactive Brokers | Sophisticated trading tools

Online broker with a sophisticated trading platform that offers a wide range of products. The company, founded in the US and you also get access to the useful IBKR GlobalTrader app.

Saxo Bank | Great educational resources

Full-service brokerage offering stocks, ETFs, bonds, derivatives, crypto, and other products. In the UAE, you can access 36 different overseas markets.

Plus500 | Ideal for demo account

Well-established broker who offers CFDs on Forex, cryptocurrencies, stocks, commodities, ETFs, options and indices to UAE investors. Plus500 also provides user-friendly web-based and mobile apps with attractive features like a demo account to practice.

XTB | Great for forex and CFDs

Headquartered in Poland and listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, XTB offers UAE investors access to a range of CFD on stocks on its trading app, where you can also trade Forex at a competitive price.

Freedom24 | Excellent for new stocks and IPOs

A rising name in the world of European brokers, Freedom24 provides its 400,000+ users the opportunity to participate in popular IPOs, in addition to over 40,000 stocks and 1,500 ETFs.

Broker Fees for US stocks Minimum Deposit
eToro $0 $200
Interactive Brokers $0.0035 – $0.005 (max 1% of trade) $0
Saxo 0.02 USD per share (min $10.99 USD on classic) $5,000
Plus500 $0 (only for CFDs on stocks where you pay a spread) $100
XTB $0 $0
Freedom24 As low as $0.008 (depends on plan) $0

#1 eToro

Is Charles Schwab available in the UAE? How it compares 2
Visit eToro

77% of retail CFD accounts lose money.

eToro at a glance

Products availableStocks, ETFs, Cryptocurrencies and CFDs on Stocks, ETFs, Commodities, Forex, Indices and Cryptocurrencies
Minimum deposit$200
Deposit methodsCredit/Debit card, Skrill, Rapid Transfer, Neteller and Bank Transfer
Fees and commissions$0 for buying and selling stocks (spread and a conversion fees may apply)

eToro was founded in 2007. It’s famous not only for allowing investors to buy and sell financial instruments but also for its social (copy) trading features. Today, it’s one of the most well-known brokers in the world, with over 30 million users. It’s regulated by top-tier authorities such as the FCA, ASIC, and the CySEC, and has an in-principle approval from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).

Your funds will be segregated and also secured by up to 1 million Euros, due to private insurance. If you are still not convinced or want to know more about this subject, please check out our article on the safety of eToro.

On the platform you can discuss investments, speculations, and market news with other traders – even copying their strategies. The platform offers a wide range of assets suitable for beginners but also riskier assets recommended for advanced traders, such as cryptocurrencies and CFDs. You can open a demo account to practise your investments before trading with real money.

As a downside, the base currency of the platform is USD$. So you will have to pay a currency conversion fee when exchanging between USD$ and AED (depositing and withdrawing using a bank transfer is the cheaper option). Still, eToro is probably one of the best alternatives you have to Charles Schwab in the UAE. Take a look at our eToro review if you’d like to know more.

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 77% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

#2 Interactive Brokers (IBKR GlobalTrader)

interactive brokers logo
Visit Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers at a glance

Products availableStocks, futures, options, Forex, commodities, bonds, mutual funds, hedge funds, ETFs, CFDs
Minimum deposit$0 ($2000 for margin accounts)
Deposit methodsWire bank transfer
Fees and commissionsBetween $0.0005 and $0.0035 per US share (maximum 1% of the trade) Between 0.01% and 0.08% for other markets

Interactive Brokers is an exceptional broker available to UAE traders and investors. It’s a popular online brokerage due to its sophisticated and powerful tools, the wide range of products available for trading, and its low prices. Interactive Brokers normally attracts advanced traders. However, the mobile app IBKR GlobalTrader is user-friendly and more suitable for beginners, simplifying investments without losing the powerful tools for which the broker is famous.

If you want to make the most out of the powerful tools the broker provides, you can use IBKR Mobile, a complete and sophisticated trading app where you can trade stocks, ETFs, and options. As some features of this app can be overwhelming for beginners, we would recommend the IBKR GlobalTrader if you don’t have a lot of experience.

In addition to the mobile apps, you’ll also find a desktop and web-based app where you have advanced trading tools to access the global financial markets. Overall, we believe that Interactive Brokers offers one of the best stock trading platforms in the UAE, and an excellent competitor to Charles Schwab. If you’d like to find out more, check out our full Interactive Brokers review.

#3 Saxo Bank

Is Charles Schwab available in the UAE? How it compares 3
Visit Saxo Bank

Saxo Bank at a glance

Products availableStocks, Forex, ETFs, commodities, indices, options, bonds, and futures
Minimum deposit$5000
Deposit methodsCredit/Debit card, Wire transfer
Fees and commissionsBetween $0.01 and $0.02 per US share (minimum between $3.99 and $10.99 per order), between 0.05% and 0.35% for other markets.

Saxo Bank is a subsidiary of the Danish bank with the same name founded in 1992. It operates in more than 170 countries, including the UAE. Saxo operates in the UAE via its representative office in the UAE, whose licence was issued by the Central bank of the UAE. In the UAE they also offer a comprehensive and customisable mobile trading app that’s among the best in the market: SaxoTraderGO.

The broker is a reliable option for advanced traders and beginners, providing safety, fair prices, and useful tools. Although it still has a relatively high minimum deposit of $5,000 – this is still much lower than the $25,000 required by Charles Schwab’s ‘Schwab One International’ account.

In a nutshell, the broker offers low prices, great educational resources, an impressive range of tradable assets, and user-friendly trading applications, making it an excellent alternative to investors in UAE thinking about using Charles Schwab.

#4 Plus500

Is Charles Schwab available in the UAE? How it compares 4
Visit Plus500

86% of retail CFD accounts lose money.

Plus500 at a glance

Products availableCFDs on stocks, ETFs, Forex, commodities, indices, and cryptocurrencies
Minimum deposit$100
Deposit methodsBank Wire Transfer, Credit/Debit Card, PayPal, Skrill, Trustly, Apple Pay
Fees and commissions$0 (you can only trade CFDs and Plus500 makes money with the bid/ask spread)

Plus500 is a fintech company founded in 2008 in Israel whose shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange and who operates in the UAE via the subsidiary Plus500AE Ltd, authorised and regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (License No. F005651).

When trading from the UAE, you will only be able to access Plus500 CFD, where you can trade CFDs on several financial instruments, but not real stocks. CFDs are leveraged and riskier products, which may exacerbate your losses.

Overall, the broker offers solid CFD stock trading platforms for Emirate customers. The platform has low costs, reliability and safety, interesting features and products for beginners and experienced traders, and good usability. Besides all this, the broker allows customers to open Islamic accounts. If you want to learn more, take a look at our full Plus500 review.

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 86% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

#5 XTB

Is Charles Schwab available in the UAE? How it compares 5
Visit XTB

80% of retail CFD account lose money.

XTB at a glance

Products availableCFDs on commodities, Cryptocurrencies, Stocks, ETFs, Forex, and Indices
Minimum deposit$0
Deposit methodsCredit/Debit card, Wire transfer, Skrill, Neteller
Fees and commissionsCommission-free trading for CFD on stocks using the Standard Account (markup of 0.30% included in the spread)

XTB is a Polish company founded in 2002 that offers CFD stock trading apps in the UAE through the subsidiary XTB MENA Limited, authorised and regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (License No. F006316). XTB is also licensed and regulated in many other jurisdictions by top-tier authorities such as the FCA.

Similar to Saxo, you will only be able to buy CFDs on stocks. Therefore, you will not have direct exposure to stocks and shares, only indirect exposure via the derivative. This is a complex and risky financial instrument in which most investors lose money when trading.

However, with no commission on the CFDs on stocks, no minimum deposit, Islamic accounts, and a free demo account that can be used for a month, XTB is a reliable alternative to Charles Schwab for beginners and advanced traders.  If you want to learn more about the broker, check our XTB review!

#6 Freedom24

Is Charles Schwab available in the UAE? How it compares 6
Visit Freedom24

Investing involves risk of loss.

Freedom24 at a glance

Products availableStocks, ETFs, bonds, futures, and options
Minimum deposit$0
Deposit methodsWire transfer and credit/debit card
Fees and commissionsNo commissions are charged in the first 30 days. After this period, the commissions vary according to the instrument being traded and depending on the type of plan chosen

Freedom24 is a company founded in 2015 that offers more than 40,000 stocks from different exchanges around the globe. The broker is regulated by CySEC (License No. CIF 275/15) and, therefore, your funds are protected by the rules pursuant to the Investor Compensation Fund of Cyprus.

Freedom24 is best known for offering IPO subscriptions, an exclusive feature that you will not find in many trading platforms. Their trading app, which can be used on your mobile and on a browser, is well-designed and intuitive but lacks customisation options.

Overall, the platform is reliable and comprehensive. It offers a unique feature regarding access to IPO subscriptions that sets it apart from other brokers, giving it a unique edge compared to the Charles Schwab international account. Please check our Freedom24 review to find out more about the broker and understand their pricing structure.

The bottom line on Charles Schwab in the UAE

Although you can open a Schwab One International account with Charles Schwab if you’re based in the UAE, it may not be the best move. You need an extremely high minimum deposit to get started, and you’ll be limited with your investment options.

Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives for investors in the United Arab Emirates. You’re able to open accounts with numerous brokerages. Ones who also have a great reputation, offer Islamic accounts, and don’t have such strict requirements – giving you more flexibility for your investment portfolio.

So, investing using Charles Schwab in the UAE isn’t your only option. Let us know in the comments below if you plan on using Charles Schwab or one of the alternative platforms!

George Sweeney, DipFA

George is a freelance writer and qualified financial advisor who focuses on educating others in personal finance and investing. His work has been featured on The Motley Fool, Finder, Freetrade, Yahoo Finance, MoneyMagpie, and Online Mortgage Advisor.‍