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 Keytrade and DEGIRO, two brokers available to Belgians. 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.

The overview

The table shows an overview of how Keytrade compares to DEGIRO for different criteria. Read on to get the full details!

Keytrade

✅ Pros of Keytrade ❌ Cons of Keytrade
Handles all taxes for you Long account opening times
Integration with itsme High fees
They reimburse incoming transfers No fractional shares
Confusing interface
Not suited for monthly investing
Fee for dormant accounts

Story of Keytrade 🇧🇪🇫🇷

Keytrade was started in 1998 and was one of the first online brokers in Belgium. Their offer has grown a lot since then, as they propose full banking services today. In 2005, Keytrade Bank was acquired by Groupe Crelan (formerly Crédit Agricole) and is now part of the Crédit Mutuel Arkéa group.

Fees for ETFs

Buying €1,000 of the popular IWDA ETF will cost €14.95. As you pay this fee for every purchase, it will compound to a lot of money and missed returns on the long term. Keytrade is among the most expensive brokers available to us in Belgium.

Convenience

Savings plan ❌ (only through Keyplan)
Fractional shares
Customer Support ✅ FAQ, phone, contact form, email
❌ No chat
TOB ✅ Keytrade handles it
Dividend tax ✅ Keytrade handles it
Reynders tax ✅ Keytrade handles it
Declare account to the NBB ✅ No need

Keytrade handles the stock transaction tax (TOB), automatically withholds and declares the 30% dividend tax, and handles the Reynders tax on capital gains. However, Keytrade does not offer automated savings plans or fractional shares, making regular, smaller investments impractical due to high fees. Despite offering traditional support mechanisms like email and phone, Keytrade's customer service is not notably customer-centric, with potential delays in email responses.

Setting up an account

🕰️ Time to open an account ❌ Process can take weeks
🙋 itsme ✅ Yes
📱 Mobile app ✅ Yes
💻 Web app ✅ Yes
🙂 Ease of use ⭐ 2/5
🧒 Children accounts ✅ Yes
💑 Joint accounts ✅ Yes

Creating a new Keytrade account is efficient thanks to itsme, as the traditional six-step process can be slow, with some users experiencing long waiting times for account approval. Account setup is only available on the web platform, not on mobile. Where Keytrade stands out is the ability to set up accounts for children and joint accounts.

Safety

Regulator FSMA
Past issues with the regulator ✅ None
Protection of financial assets €70,000
Cash safeguarded by deposit guarantee €100,000
Securities lending ✅ No
Payment for order flow ✅ No

Keytrade, regulated by the Belgian FSMA, has no known regulatory issues. As it's asubsidiary of the French Arkéa, Keytrade's clients benefit from the French Fonds de Garantie des Dépôts et de Résolution (FGDR), which protects assets up to €70,000. Keytrade does not engage in securities lending or payment for order flow (PFOF).

The full review

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

DEGIRO

✅ Pros of DEGIRO ❌ Cons of DEGIRO
Cheap No fractional shares
Large selection of ETFs Issues with the regulator
Popular in Belgium 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 a Belgian investor, you have to choose between signing up to the Dutch or French version of DEGIRO. 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'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 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.

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 Keytrade 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).

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

We highlighted the key differences between Keytrade and DEGIRO, two brokers accessible to Belgians. DEGIRO is a lot more cost-effective way to invest your savings as their fees are much lower than Keytrade. 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. Both products aren't tailored for this but fortunately there are many other brokers to choose from.

Questions you may have

What are the taxes when you invest with DEGIRO in Belgium?

DEGIRO declares and pays the Belgian transaction tax. However, they do not handle the other taxes related to investing:

  • Tax on dividends (“roerende voorheffing” or “précompte mobilier”). A 30% tax on the dividends you perceive through the stock ETFs 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 need to declare your DEGIRO account to the National Bank of Belgium and on your yearly tax form.

How trustworthy is DEGIRO?

Since it started, 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. They are now regulated by BaFin, the German financial regulator, as they were purchased by Flatex Bank. As we’re dealing with our long-term savings, safety and trust is vital.