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 DEGIRO and Saxo Bank, two brokers available to European 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 DEGIRO compares to Saxo Bank for different criteria. Read on to get the full details!

DEGIRO

✅ Pros of DEGIRO ❌ Cons of DEGIRO
Cheap No fractional shares
Large selection of ETFs Issues with the regulator
Popular in Europe Confusing app
Transferring shares is expensive
Doesn't help with all taxes
Connectivity costs

Story of DEGIRO 🇳🇱🇩🇪

DEGIRO emphasises the fact they are on the largest brokers in Europe.

The founders of DEGIRO were former employees of BinckBank. They founded the company originally in 2008 and originally focused on professional investors. However, they started to reach success once they launched their online trading platform in 2013. They quickly grew across the European Union and now serve more than 2.5 million customers which makes it one of the largest brokers.

DEGIRO is now part of the German Flatex bank. It has thousands of ETFs and stocks to choose from and it’s one of the brokers on the market that offers the best value. Like many brokers, they started with stocks, but you can now also trade commodities and make margin calls.

Fees for ETFs

Essentially, DEGIRO charges two types of fees:

  • transaction fees
  • connectivity fees

The transaction fee depends on the inclusion of the ETF in their core selection. For those ETFs, the transaction fee consists only of a €1.00 handling fee, instead of €3.00 for ETFs not in the core selection. There's a caveat though: you need to buy the ETF on the right exchange. ETFs are traded on stock exchanges. Famous ones are the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or Nasdaq, or Xetra and Euronext Amsterdam in Europe.

Type Transaction fee
ETFs (core selection) €1
ETFs (non core selection) €3

As an example, buying €1,000 of the popular iShares MSCI World Accumulating ETF (known as its ticker IWDA) when using the Dutch DEGIRO will cost just a €1 transaction fee when buying it Euronext Amsterdam.

A peculiarity of DEGIRO in comparison to other brokers is that they charge a connectivity fee of €2.50 per stock exchange per year. This means that you need to pay €2.50 in a given year for each stock exchange where you've purchased or sold anything.

As an investor, you have to choose which exchange to use in order to reduce the fees. DEGIRO waives the connectivity cost for the home exchanges:

  • 🇳🇱 DEGIRO.nl: no fee for Euronext Amsterdam and Euronext Brussels
  • 🇫🇷 DEGIRO.fr: no fee for Euronext Paris and Euronext Brussels
  • 🇮🇹 DEGIRO.it: no fee for the MTA Italian exchange

DEGIRO's fee structure varies per country which can make it confusing.

Convenience

Savings plan ❌ No
Fractional shares ❌ No
Customer support ✅ FAQ, chat, email, phone
🇮🇹 Taxes ❌ Declaratory regime
🇧🇪 TOB ✅ DEGIRO handles it
🇧🇪 Dividend tax ❌ DEGIRO doesn't handle it
🇧🇪 Reynders tax ❌ DEGIRO doesn't handle it
🇧🇪 Declare your account to the NBB ❌ You have to do it yourself

For Italian investors, you'll receive an annual tax report from DEGIRO. You'll have to manually take that date and input it into your tax reports. You'll have to declare your income, capital gains as well as the IVAFE (wealth tax). Note that you'll have to complete this manually as DEGIRO puts the burden on you as an investor and they have previously made errors in their tax reports.

For Belgian investors, the handling of the stock exchange transaction tax (TOB) is what DEGIRO sets apart from the other foreign brokers. However, you're still responsible for declaring any dividends yourself, as well as the Reynders tax. On top, you have to declare your DEGIRO account to the Belgian National Bank.

Setting up an account

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

Account openings for DEGIRO are quick and usually only take a day. A drawback is that DEGIRO does not use itsme, meaning that you'll have to get out your ID card or passport for identification. They also don't support children accounts nor joint accounts.

Safety

Regulator BaFin (Germany) + AFM (Netherlands)
Past issues with the regulator ❌ Yes
Protection of financial assets €20,000
Cash safeguarded by deposit guarantee €100,000
Securities lending ❌ Yes
Payment for order flow ❌ Yes

DEGIRO is one of the few brokers that have had past issues with regulators, namely the Dutch regulator (AFM). They also lend out your securities, as well as receive payment for order flow, a controversial revenue model for brokers.

The full review

Learn about all the pros and cons of investing with DEGIRO in our in-depth review.

Saxo Bank

✅ Pros of Saxo Bank ❌ Cons of Saxo Bank
Handles all taxes for you High fees
Easy to sign-up No fractional shares
Built for traders
Not suited for monthly investing
No savings plans

Story of Saxo Bank 🇩🇰

Saxo Bank has a focus on traders.

The story of Saxo begins with its founding in Copenhagen in 1992. The company was established with a vision to make global financial markets more accessible to a wide audience. By 1998, Saxo Group had launched one of the first online trading platforms in Europe, offering professional-grade tools and easy access to global financial markets for anyone interested in investing. They serve over 1m customers and have over €100bn under management. In 2018, they purchased the popular online broker BinckBank for €428m. All BinckBank customers were automatically switched over to the Saxo Bank platform for trading.

Fees for ETFs

Saxo Bank is one of the most expensive brokers in Europe. To buy €1,000 worth of IWDA, the cost is €9.75 for the transaction fee alone.

Convenience

Savings plan ❌ No
Fractional shares ❌ No
Customer support ✅ FAQ, email, phone
🇮🇹 Taxes ✅ Adminstered regime
🇧🇪 TOB ✅ Saxo handles it
🇧🇪 Dividend tax ✅ Saxo handles it
🇧🇪 Reynders tax ✅ Saxo handles it
🇧🇪 Declare your account to the NBB ✅ No need

Saxo Bank, catering to experienced traders, supports a wide array of complex order types but does not offer automated savings plans or fractional shares making regular investing less practical due to high fees. Depending on where you're registered in Europe, Saxo Bank assists investors. For example, in Belgium, it helps with transaction taxes, dividend taxes, and the Reynders tax on ETF profits, and due to its direct presence in Belgium, customers don't need to declare their accounts to the Belgian National Bank.

Setting up an account

🕰️ Time to open an account ✅ Within a few days
📱 Mobile app ✅ Yes
💻 Web app ✅ Yes
🙂 Ease of use ⭐ 2/5
🧒 Children accounts ❌ No
💑 Joint accounts ✅ Yes

Setting up an account with Saxo Bank is streamlined though approval may take a few days. While Saxo Bank does not provide children accounts, it does offer the option to set up joint accounts.

Safety

Regulator DFSA (Denmark)
Past issues with the regulator ❌ Yes
Protection of financial assets €20,000
Cash safeguarded by deposit guarantee €100,000
Securities lending ❌ Yes (opt-in)
Payment for order flow ✅ No

Saxo Bank, with its primary regulator being the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (DFSA), continues to operate under a Dutch banking license after acquiring BinckBank. Saxo Bank participates in securities lending with an opt-in policy for transparency, and does not engage in payment for order flow (PFOF).

The full review

Learn more about the pros and cons of investing through Saxo Bank 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 DEGIRO or Saxo Bank, 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”.

Summary

In this article we highlighted the key differences between DEGIRO and Saxo Bank, two brokers accessible to Europeans. Due to the fact that Saxo charges high fees, you need to ask if it's worth it to invest through their app over the long-term. But cost is not the only factor to take in consideration when you’re putting your savings to work. For instance, you should also take into account the ease of use of the app and their help with taxes. The fact that Saxo Bank hasn't had any issues with the regulator is a benefit in comparison to DEGIRO when it comes to trust for our savings.

Questions you may have

Is Saxo Bank a good investment platform?

Yes. Saxo Bank has been around a long time and supports many different types of orders. You can run complicated orders like limit, market, stop, stop limit, market if touched, limit if touched, trail, relative, etc...This means it's a powerful broker, but it also makes it a lot more complex in use. It's clear that Saxo Bank targets the experienced trader rather than the beginning investor. It's similar to trading platforms such as eToro and MEXEM.