Choosing a broker is an important step when investing. There are many different options available, so picking the right one for you is challenging. We compare investing in ETFs through Re=Bel by Belfius and Bolero, two brokers available to Belgian investors. The goal of this article is to help you find out which broker is best for you for investing in ETFs. We’ll compare the brokers based on their fees, convenience, the ease of setting up an account and importantly the safety of your assets.

The overview

The table shows an overview of how Re=Bel compares to Bolero for different criteria. Read on to get the full details!

Re=Bel

✅ Pros of Re=Bel ❌ Cons of Re=Bel
Handles all taxes for you High fees
Easy to use if you're a Belfius customer No fractional shares
itsme integration You need to be a Belfius customer
Not suited for monthly investing
No savings plans

Story of Re=Bel 🇧🇪

The investment app with a cause is their tagline.

Belfius launched their own trading platform aimed for do it yourself investors in 2021 called Re=Bel. Trying to catch up to their bank rival KBC's Bolero, Re=Bel differentiation is to focus on promoting sustainable investing. Re=Bel stands for Resolute Belfius. Re=Bel makes it easy to buy ETFs. They also heavily focus on themes such as AI investing and have "experts" provide stock tips. The sustainability principles of Re=Bel are brought to light when you're making a purchase on their app, you may encounter a "sustainability" warning. Note that Belfius Re=Bel is only available to you if you're a Belfius customer. If you wish to use Re=Bel, you have to sign up for a bank account with Belfius first and then you'll be able to access the app.

Fees for ETFs

Buying €1,000 worth of IWDA costs €6.00 in fees, and increases as you invest higher amounts. This is a difference with other brokers where there's little to no transaction fee. This makes Re=Bel stand out as quite an expensive proposition for Belgian investors.

Convenience

Savings plan ❌ No
Fractional shares ❌ No
Customer Support ✅ FAQ, chat
❌ No direct email, phone
TOB ✅ Re=Bel handles it
Dividend tax ✅ Re=Bel handles it
Reynders tax ✅ Re=Bel handles it
Declare account to the NBB ✅ No need

Re=Bel, part of the Belgian Belfius bank, manages the transaction tax (TOB), automatically withholds and declares the 30% dividend tax and the Reynders tax on ETF profits. However, Re=Bel does not offer automated savings plans, requiring manual transfers for account top-ups. The broker's customer support is not highly rated, lacking direct email or phone contact options, and Re=Bel does not offer fractional shares, making regular, smaller investments impractical due to high fees.

Setting up an account

🕰️ Time to open an account ✅ Fast (if already Belfius customer)
🙋 itsme ✅ Yes
📱 Mobile app ✅ Yes
💻 Web app ✅ Yes
🙂 Ease of use ⭐ 2/5
🧒 Children accounts ❌ No
💑 Joint accounts ✅ Yes

Using Re=Bel requires a Belfius bank account. Re=Bel's integration with the Belfius app smooths the account creation process but limits its use to Belfius customers. While Re=Bel allows the creation of joint accounts for Belfius customers, it does not offer the option to set up children's accounts.

Safety

Regulator FSMA and BNB
Past issues with the regulator ✅ None
Protection of financial assets €20,000
Cash safeguarded by deposit guarantee €100,000
Securities lending ✅ No
Payment for order flow ✅ No

Re=Bel, owned by Belfius, one of Belgium's largest banks, is regulated by the FSMA and the Belgian National Bank. Despite a lack of regulatory issues for Re=Bel, its parent company Belfius emerged from the bailout and subsequent acquisition of Dexia in 2011, and is fully owned by the Belgian government. Re=Bel does not engage in securities lending or payment for order flow (PFOF).

The full review

Read our review of Re=Bel to get a full breakdown of the pros and cons.

Bolero

✅ Pros of Bolero ❌ Cons of Bolero
Handles all taxes for you High fees
Integration with itsme No fractional shares
Cheaper fees for the ETF playlist Confusing interface
Not suited for monthly investing
No savings plans

Story of Bolero 🇧🇪

Bolero's website is fairly traditional for a bank!

Bolero is one of the first online brokers in Belgium and launched in 1999. The name Bolero stands for Belgian OnLine Exchange Realtime Operated. It's owned and run by KBC Bank and allows Belgians to invest in many different types of assets. Note that you don't have to be a KBC customer to use Bolero. Bolero has a wide range of ETFs to choose from and continues to be one of the most popular brokers in Belgium although it also charges some of the highest fees.

Fees for ETFs

Although Bolero recently reduced their pricing, unfortunately it's still one of the most expensive brokers in Belgium. As part of their new pricing, they launched the Bolero ETF playlist. Essentially, it reduces the price for a specific list of ETFs. They inspired themselves from DEGIRO's core selection in order to be competitive for more Belgians. For example, buying €1,000 of the IWDA ETF will cost you €5.00 in transaction fees.

Convenience

Savings plan ❌ No
Fractional shares ❌ No
Customer Support ✅ FAQ, phone, email
❌ No chat
TOB ✅ Bolero handles it
Dividend tax ✅ Bolero handles it
Reynders tax ✅ Bolero handles it
Declare account to the NBB ✅ No need

Bolero handles the transaction tax (TOB). They also automatically withhold and declare the 30% dividend tax on shares and distributing funds, as well as the Reynders tax on ETF profits. However, Bolero does not offer automated savings plans or fractional shares, which, combined with high fees, makes regular investing less practical, potentially necessitating larger, less frequent investments.

Setting up an account

🕰️ Time to open an account ❌ Process can take a few days
🙋 itsme ✅ Yes
📱 Mobile app ✅ Yes
💻 Web app ✅ Yes
🙂 Ease of use ⭐ 3/5
🧒 Children accounts ❌ No
💑 Joint accounts ✅ Yes

Creating a new account with Bolero is easy with itsme, but requires a Belgian phone number, and offers both individual and joint account options, with joint accounts only creatable via computer. Account approval can take a few days, but for KBC customers, this process is faster and allows easy linking of KBC current accounts for transactions. Bolero does not provide accounts for children.

Safety

Regulator FSMA
Past issues with the regulator ✅ None
Protection of financial assets €20,000
Cash safeguarded by deposit guarantee €100,000
Securities lending ✅ No
Payment for order flow ✅ No

Bolero, owned by Belgium's largest bank KBC, is regulated by the FSMA and has not had any known regulatory issues, providing a sense of safety for investors' assets. Bolero does not engage in securities lending or payment for order flow (PFOF).

The full review

Learn more about the pros and cons of Bolero in our review.

Curvo: easier than a broker

Brokers push you to trade and to pick individual companies to invest in. Rather than picking individual stocks such as Amazon or Tesla, index funds are a way to buy the whole market, across all sectors and regions of the world. Essentially, you own a small portion of thousands of companies throughout the world. Instead of betting on a particular company, you are placing a bet on the global economy.

Rather than having to pick the right stocks or ETFs among the thousands available through Re=Bel or Bolero, you invest in a portfolio that is tailored to you and your goals. These portfolios are composed of globally diversified index funds, meaning you earn a piece of the growth of the global economy, and they're best suited to make the most of your savings long term. And they're secure, as they're managed by NNEK, a Dutch investment firm under supervision of the regulator in the Netherlands (AFM).

How Curvo works
Investing through Curvo is an easy way to invest well in Belgium. All portfolios are managed by NNEK, a Dutch investment firm licensed with the AFM.

We believe that investing is an important tool for our generation to improve our financial well-being and to prepare for our future. We are building Curvo to fulfil that vision, by making good investing easy and accessible to all:

  • Diversified portfolio set up for you: The best portfolio for you is built by NNEK based on your time horizon and financial goals. Simply answer a short questionnaire and you’ll get everything set up for you.
  • Automated savings plans: Through Curvo’s app you can set up a monthly contribution from €50. That means that money is automatically invested for you in your portfolio. Put your savings on autopilot!
  • Fractional shares: All the money you send towards your portfolio is fully invested by NNEK. No cash is left on the side.
  • No TOB 🇧🇪 : Significant savings as the portfolios aren’t liable for the Belgian transaction tax (or "TOB"). This saves you between 0.12% and 1.32% for every time you buy or sell!
  • Sustainable investments: Your investments focus on one guiding principle: don’t invest in companies that are considered destructive to the planet. This means that sectors like non-renewable energy, vice products, weapons and controversial companies are all excluded.
  • Project yourself into the future: Through Curvo you can see how much your portfolio is expected to be worth in the future. You can answer questions like “how will increasing my monthly contribution by €50, €100 or €200 affect my long-term savings?” to give a concrete idea for the “future you”.

Learn more on how it compares to investing through a broker.

Summary

In this article we highlighted the key differences between Re=Bel and Bolero, two brokers accessible to Belgians. As they are both owned by Belgian banks, they are both safe and secure. Bolero is a slightly more cost-effective way of investing your savings. But cost is not the only factor to take in consideration when you’re putting your savings to work. The fact that you need to be a Belfius customer in order to use the Re=Bel app is an additional barrier for potential customers.