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 Interactive Brokers and DEGIRO, 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 table shows an overview of how Interactive Brokers compares to DEGIRO for different criteria. Read on to get the full details!
Story of Interactive Brokers 🇺🇸
Interactive Brokers is an American brokerage firm established in 1978 by Thomas Peterffy, who still serves as its chairman. It's grown to be one of the largest in the world with over 2 million customers. It employs just under 3,000 staff across 15 countries, and is publicly traded on the stock exchange under the ticker symbol IBKR. The brokerage offers a comprehensive trading platform, providing investors access to a diverse range of financial instruments across 150 exchanges in 33 countries.
Interactive Brokers is renowned for its low transaction costs, making it one of the cheapest options out there but let's take a look at their offer in more detail.
Fees for ETFs
Interactive Brokers is one of the cheapest brokers on the market. For instance, it costs €3.00 when buying €1,000 of the popular ETF IWDA by iShares.
Interactive Brokers does not provide automated savings plans, requiring manual account funding and trade execution, but it does offer fractional shares for strategies like euro-cost averaging. Their customer service is via email but note that they do not speak Dutch so you'll have to communicate in English or French. Unfortunately Interactive Brokers does not help with declaring any of the taxes. This makes it a cumbersome broker to use as you'll have to handle everything yourself.
Setting up an account
Opening an account with Interactive Brokers is better done via computer. They don't have an itsme integration. The account verification takes usually 3 business days. Interactive Brokers supports joint accounts and children accounts.
Interactive Brokers is regulated entity in the US. However, in Europe, it has two main regulators: by the Central Bank of Ireland and the Central Bank of Hungary. Unfortunately, they have had issues with regulators and had to pay a $38m fine for it's lack of anti-money laundering processes. While Interactive Brokers participates in securities lending through its opt-in "Stock Yield Enhancement Programme," they do not engage in payment for order flow (PFOF), a practice common among many brokers like Trade Republic.
The full review
Read our review to get a full breakdown of Interactive Broker's pros and cons.
Story of DEGIRO 🇳🇱🇩🇪
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 Interactive Brokers or DEGIRO, 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).
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”.
We highlighted the key differences between Interactive Brokers and DEGIRO, two brokers accessible to Europeans. Because Interactive Brokers is targeted to professional traders and doesn't offer any local tax support, it's not a brokerage platform we can recommend. Although DEGIRO costs more than Interactive Brokers, it's affordable if you invest in ETFs from their core selection. But the administrative tax burden that Interactive Brokers puts on you means DEGIRO is likely the better option for you. However, 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, or the difficulty of investing your savings on a monthly basis. There are fortunately many other brokers to choose from.
We built Curvo to make good investing easy and accessible to all Europeans, and we explained its benefits. Feel free to explore Curvo if you wish to learn more.
Questions you may have
Is DEGIRO better than Interactive Brokers?
The answer is: it depends on what's important to you. If you want to have all the bells and whistles when it comes to trading, then Interactive Brokers is a good fit. However, for ease of use, we advocate for DEGIRO.
Is DEGIRO cheaper than Interactive Brokers?
No it isn't. DEGIRO has some of the lowest fees available for European investors, especially the ETFs in their core selection. But Interactive Brokers is a cheaper option overall. Learn all about the costs of ETF investing with DEGIRO.
Do professional traders use Interactive Brokers?
Yes they do. Interactive Brokers has a lot of professional traders, at large financial institutions and even hedge funds, using their platform. This allows them to offer low commissions but it also vastly complicates the product for the individual investor like yourse
What you should do now
- Determine if you're more of an active or passive investor. Our comparison can help you decide.
- Consider if a broker is the right way for you to invest.
- If you want to manage your investments through a broker, assess if Interactive Brokers or DEGIRO suits you better based on the pros and cons we highlighted. Or explore one of the many other brokers available.
- But if you want to spend the least amount of time managing your investments, Curvo may be a solution!