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 Europeans. We also look at the difficulties of investing through a broker, and see how Curvo solves them. By the end, you'll be able to determine which option suits you best to invest your savings.

Why you shouldn't invest through your bank

For many making their first steps into the world of investing, their bank is the one-stop shop for anything related to finance. Unfortunately, they are likely not your best partner when it comes to investing.

First, they try to sell their expensive actively managed funds to you. In an active fund, the fund managers try to outsmart other investors in search for a higher return. But the European finance regulators found out that the majority of them don't succeed. On top of that, the bank charges hefty fees to invest in the fund. Good for the bank, bad for you. You're better off investing through another means.

Why a broker

Through a broker, you gain access to the financial markets, where you can buy stocks, ETFs, bonds and even some more complex products like derivatives. It's cheaper than investing in an active fund offered by a bank. Alternatively, most banks offer brokerage services. Yet again, it's the most expensive option. Specialised brokers offer a better experience at a cheaper cost.

So let's compare two such brokers available to Europeans: Interactive Brokers and DEGIRO. We are going to see how they differ on important criteria like cost, trust, and ease of use.

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers (also known as IBKR) is one of the oldest brokerage platforms and was created back in 1978 by Thomas Peterffy. It's one of the pioneers in the electronic brokerage industry and was one of the first brokers to allow easy trading.

Interactive Brokers' website focuses on professional traders

Complicated fee structure

Unfortunately, it's quite difficult to fully comprehend Interactive Brokers' fee structure. They have two fee systems, which is quite unique for the brokerage space, and you have to choose which system to use. The price further depends on the stock market you're trading on.

Fixed pricing

Interactive Brokers' fixed pricing is fairly straightforward. Let's say you buy an ETF on an Italian stock exchange. You'll pay a fee of 0.05% of the trade value, with a minimum of €3.00. This assumes the default smart routing method to route your trade. On top of that, you can choose a different routing method, which they call direct routing. But this option costs more. The difference between direct routing and smart routing lies in the level of control and expertise required from you. If you want to control where your order is sent, direct routing might be the best option for you. If you prefer Interactive Brokers to automatically route your order in search of the best possible execution, then you might want to use smart routing.

Tiered pricing

The tiered pricing model is more complicated. You pay a lower percentage than with the fixed pricing, depending on the size of the trade. But on top of that, there are exchange, clearing and regulatory fees. These fees depend on the exchange you execute your trade on. You definitely need to get your calculator out for a clear idea of the total fee! In most cases it's easiest to stick with their fixed pricing. But it really depends on your use case so make sure you double-check.

A benefit of Interactive Brokers is that there aren't any custody or inactivity fees, unlike other brokers like eToro. But their pricing is confusing, and it may take some time to calculate how much you'll end up paying before each transaction. This is definitely not ideal.

The interface is confusing

They offer all sorts of options for trading and buying stocks. Considering it's been developed with traders in mind, it's no surprise that it's full of buttons and confusing sections. It's best you stick with the standard view if you're mostly buying ETFs.

Poor customer service

Interactive Brokers does not have a solid reputation when it comes to customer service, leaving many customers unhappy. Requests have been known to take days, even weeks in some cases, to get a response. Note that we haven't experienced this ourselves, but we're sharing what we read in reviews.

They support fractional shares

Interactive Brokers allows you to buy slices of stocks of your favourite companies. You can also buy fractional shares of ETFs. This is an important benefit for investors as you don't need to leave cash on the side. All your money is invested and working for you! They also make periodic investing easier.

Moving between countries is easy with IBKR

A big advantage of using Interactive Brokers is that you can move from one country to another without changing your account to a new entity. You simply have to reach out to them and they will make sure your account is correctly switched. In contrast, this is a complicated process for other brokers.

For Belgians 🇧🇪

Unfortunately, IBKR is not tailored for Belgian investors and you need to take care of your taxes and administration yourself. Compared to brokers who do take on this responsibility, this is a burden and a potential fiscal risk.

You have to handle the Belgian taxes yourself

Interactive Brokers provides little comfort to Belgian investors. You have to handle the Belgian transaction tax (also known as the TOB or “beurstaks” or “taxe boursière”). Every time you buy or sell anything, you have to pay this tax which ranges from 0.12% to 1.32%. You have to make the calculations yourself and then declare and pay it. Failure to do so may result in a hefty fine from the taxman.

As well as not declaring the Belgian transaction tax, you'll also have to declare and cover the tax on dividends (“roerende voorheffing” or “précompte mobilier”). This is a 30% tax on the dividends you perceive through the shares that you hold. You need to make sure that you calculate and declare them in your yearly tax declaration.

The Reynders tax, a tax on capital gains on bond funds, is also not taken care of. You'll have to pay a 30% tax on the profits you make when you choose to any bond fund in your portfolio. Again, IBKR pushes the responsibility to you for declaring the right amounts in your tax declaration.

You need to declare your IBKR account to the Belgian National Bank

IBKR is a foreign broker for Belgians. So you’ll have to declare your Interactive Brokers account to the Belgian authorities. It’s a simple enough process that you only need to do once, and it takes a couple of minutes. You can follow our guide for declaring your DEGIRO account. DEGIRO is another broker, but the steps are similar.

👍 Pros of Interactive Brokers

  • Low prices: despite their confusing pricing structure, Interactive Brokers is one of the cheapest options on the market.
  • Move country easily: it's helpful to know that you can easily move abroad and keep your investments in one place.
  • Best for buying US stocks: this eases the process of buying shares of your favourite companies.
  • Fractional shares: this is a big benefit as you get to buy slices of shares. Helpful if you wish to buy an expensive stock like Apple, or an expensive ETF.

👎 Cons of Interactive Brokers

  • Confusing pricing: the two pricing options make it difficult to know if you've made the right choice.
  • You have to figure out the taxes yourself: they don't help you declare or figure out how to pay many local taxes. You don't want to make an error that may cost you a large fine!
  • Confusing interface: it may take you a while to get to grips with their platform to buy stocks and ETFs. It's not well laid out.
  • Built for traders: their trading platform is confusing because it focuses on professional traders. You can not only trade stocks and ETFs, but also options, warrants, futures "CFDs"... Beyond being intimidating to beginners, these are risky instruments that you need to understand well before investing in them.


The founders of DEGIRO were former employees of BinckBank and launched their online trading platform in 2013. It 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.

DEGIRO is available in a wide range of European countries:

Opening a DEGIRO account is annoying if you're Belgian. Choose either the French or Dutch version of DEGIRO.


DEGIRO charges some of the lowest fees on the market. They even have a large selection of ETFs as part of their core selection that cost only €1 for each trade. IWDA, a popular ETF offered by iShares, is one of those. Every month, the first transaction of IWDA on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange will cost just €1. Subsequent transactions for IWDA that same month will also cost just €1 provided:

  • the transaction is in the same direction (i.e. buy/sell) as the first transaction
  • the value of the transaction is at least €1,000

For ETFs that are not part of the free selection, DEGIRO charges a €3 fee. Read more about the costs of investing with DEGIRO.

Handling of taxes

DEGIRO will provide you with an annual report to help you file your taxes. It's usually provided by the end of February or early March. They will also withhold tax for you automatically depending on where you are registered with an account.

For Belgian investors 🇧🇪

DEGIRO provides some comfort to Belgian investors as they handle the Belgian transaction tax (also known as the TOB or “beurstaks” or “taxe boursière”). Every time you buy or sell anything, you have to pay this tax which ranges from 0.12% to 1.32%. DEGIRO makes sure the tax is paid and declared for you.

However, they do not handle the following:

  • Tax on dividends (“roerende voorheffing” or “précompte mobilier”). A 30% tax on the dividends you perceive through the shares that you hold. You need to make sure that you calculate and declare them in your yearly tax declaration.
  • Tax on capital gains on bond funds (also known as the Reynders tax). There’s a 30% tax on the profits you make when you choose to sell the bonds in your portfolio. Again, DEGIRO pushes the responsibility to you for declaring the right amounts in your tax declaration.

You also have to declare your DEGIRO account to the Belgian National Bank as DEGIRO is a foreign broker.

Depending on the makeup of your portfolio, taxes are an important consideration to take in mind when choosing a broker. They're an administrative burden that take time and effort. Failing to pay or declare a tax can also lead to a costly fine. We’ve written extensively about taxes Belgian investors should know if you wish to dig deeper into the topic.

Issues with the Dutch regulator

Throughout its existence, DEGIRO has had numerous run-ins with the AFM, the Dutch regulator for the finance industry. For example, they were fined in 2018 because they did not implement an adequate policy for conducting their business with integrity. As we’re dealing with our long-term savings, safety and trust is vital.

You can only buy whole shares

A popular investment strategy is euro-cost averaging, where you invest periodically instead of investing large lump sums in one go. You invest at fixed times, for instance every month, regardless of how the markets are performing. Most people are paid monthly, so it makes sense for their investments to follow the same pattern.

Unfortunately you can’t buy fractional shares with DEGIRO. This means you need to buy whole units. Following a euro-cost averaging strategy can then become tedious and expensive.

Let’s take the IWDA ETF as an example again. At the time of writing, it’s sold at €71.12. If you contribute €200 towards your savings, you’re only able to buy 2 whole units for €142.24. The rest of the money is sitting on a cash account not working for you. Due to this, many investors have lots of cash sitting around waiting to be invested.

👍 Pros of DEGIRO

  • Cheap: they have some of the lowest fees of almost all brokers available to us in Europe especially if you choose ETFs which are part of their core selection.
  • Large selection of ETFs: they have such a large variety of options available for European investors.
  • They help with withholding taxes: this can be a significant time saver for you so you don't have to calculate everything yourself.

👎 Downsides of DEGIRO

  • Confusing interface of the app: the app is intimidating to use if you're new to investing as you’ll encounter some technical terminology and features. DEGIRO offers many types of securities: turbos, warrants, stocks, ETFs… And when you place an order, you also have to choose between a market order, a limit order, a stop-loss order, amongst others.
  • Issues with the regulator: they've regularly had problems with the Dutch financial authorities (AFM) over the years which doesn’t give much confidence.
  • No fractional shares: this can be frustrating as you have to purchase whole units of shares. Essentially, we’re leaving money on the side not doing anything.
  • Transfer fees: transferring your assets away from DEGIRO to another brokerage costs €10 per position and “external costs” that are unclear.

The easier way: Curvo

When you choose a broker, you then have to figure out what to buy, when to buy, understand the tax implications of your decisions, rebalance your investments and make sure they stay in line with your goals and risk tolerance. We realised the difficulties of investing through brokers like Interactive Brokers and DEGIRO. That's why we created Curvo: the right investment decisions are made for you, so you don't have to worry, where we rely on NNEK, a Dutch investment firm supervised by the Dutch regulator (AFM).

Based on index investing

We are convinced index investing through ETFs are the best way for most people to invest and grow their savings. 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.

There are many benefits to index investing.


ETFs and index funds are inexpensive to run, and are therefore cheap for investors compared to active funds or buying individual stocks.


One of the goals of index investing is to diversify as much as possible. We saw that an index fund such as "iShares MSCI ACWI" invests in 2,800 companies across 47 countries. Through diversification across many countries and sectors, you eliminate unnecessary risk. And you also benefit from the growth of the best companies in the world, not just the large German, French or American companies you know. By investing in as many companies as possible, you're almost sure of including the winners, namely the minority of stocks that are responsible for most of the returns.

You can invest with low amounts

Another advantage of index investing is that you don't need a lot of capital to get started. You can even invest with as little as €50. This makes index investing possible for everyone, especially young people who just started their career and want to grow their wealth by putting their savings. In contrast, real estate is much less accessible. Just the down-payment for a property requires several tens of thousands of euros.

It's tax-efficient

In most European countries, investing in the stock markets is tax-efficient compared to other types of investments. Some countries like Belgium even don't tax profits from investments in stocks, making index investing particularly tax-efficient for them.

Great for beginners

Index investing is one of the best ways for new investors to start investing. It's a proven strategy and doesn't take too much time to set up. Furthermore, it's a lot less risky than investing in individual stocks, or trading in highly leveraged instruments like options of CFDs.

It works

Long-term index investing has worked in the past. And there's no reason it shouldn't work in the future. Just take the global index MSCI World as an example, which is composed of 1,500 companies across 23 countries. It has delivered an average yearly return of 10.8% since 1979.

The challenges of investing through a broker

You can invest in ETFs through a broker. But that comes with challenges:

  • The allocation of your portfolio is in your hands: you need to figure out how to build the right allocation that meets your long-term goals.
  • You need to do your own homework: figuring out how to start and understanding the intricacies of investing in ETFs takes an effort. Yet it's important, because in investing the devil is often in the details.
  • It takes time: send money to your broker monthly and then make the purchases.
  • Costly for monthly contributions: if you wish to invest on a monthly basis, you’ll have to pay a lot in broker fees. Also, as you buy units and can’t buy fractions, you’ll always be left with cash on your account.
  • Learn how to rebalance: if you have multiple funds in your portfolio, how will you rebalance? Quarterly or yearly? How do you decide?
  • Keep track of your portfolio: you may have to set up a spreadsheet to stay on top of things!
  • Understand taxes: this can be complicated and they also often change.
  • Discipline: it requires self-confidence and discipline to stay the course.
  • Brokers want you to trade: the majority of brokers make money on you trading. So as a buy-and-holders, you are not a good customer to them.

Curvo solves all the complexities of good investing

Rather than having to pick the right stocks or ETFs among the thousands available through these brokers, through the Curvo appyou 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. Each portfolio is managed by NNEK, a Dutch investment firm supervised by the Dutch regulator (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.

How Curvo works

👍 Pros of Curvo

  • Diversified portfolio set up for you: the best portfolio for you is built based on your time horizon and financial goals. Simply answer a short questionnaire and you’ll get everything set up for you. The point is that you don't need to decide which ETFs to buy. Each portfolio is managed by NNEK, a Dutch investment firm supervised by the Dutch regulator (AFM).
  • 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 everything on autopilot.
  • Fractional shares: all the money you send towards your portfolio is fully invested. No need to leave the cash on the side, everything is invested for you.
  • 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.
  • Withdraw at any time: there are no long-term contracts or exit fees if you wish to stop investing.
  • 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”.
  • Start from €50: this makes good investing accessible to all.
  • Business model aligned with your goals: brokers want you to trade, yet buy-and-hold works best for most people.

👎 Downsides of Curvo

  • Price: It’s more expensive than investing yourself through a broker. As you pay a yearly fee on your assets, it’s more expensive in the long run than managing the investments yourself.
  • You can’t choose what to invest in: You are offered a portfolio of index funds with over 7,500 companies that's tailored to you. But you can’t select the stocks or particular ETFs that you want to invest in.

We have successfully launched the app in Belgium and are now expanding across the EU. Download the app to be added to the waitlist for your country and be notified when we're available.

Comparison of Interactive Brokers vs DEGIRO vs Curvo

Interactive Brokers DEGIRO Curvo
Automated investments
Choose the companies you love to invest in
Portfolio set up for you
Ease of use
Invest in €
Suited for regular investments
Fractional shares
No deposit fee
Start from a low amount
No inactvity fee


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 also highlighted the challenges of investing yourself through a broker. 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.

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

  1. Determine if you're more of an active or passive investor. Our comparison can help you decide.
  2. Consider if a broker is the right way for you to invest.
  3. 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.
  4. But if you want to spend the least amount of time managing your investments, Curvo may be a solution!