We know only too well that the requirements that traders may have for their personal ETF broker are highly individual. So, there may well be two different test winners for two different investors. On this page you will find only the assessments made by our readers. That’s why we value your opinion. If you already have experience with one or more providers, please vote – this will help other readers get an authentic picture of the ETF brokers available.
At AskTraders.com, we have been trading for many years, meaning we can draw on our relevant online trading experience. Since we are in no way dependent or committed to any particular ETF provider, we conduct our reviews objectively and reliably, and know exactly what to look for in a broker test. To help you understand which points to consider in your own personal ETF broker test, we will show you the guidelines we follow in detail.
We have developed a checklist consisting of 10 categories. This checklist shows you exactly what we would take into account, but please consider this a suggestion. If there are factors you believe to be more important, please note them in your own reviews.
The first point we examine is the trade offer available from the ETF broker, which signifies how many ETFs an investor can trade with the provider. Of course, we are not just looking at the number of ETFs, we dig a little deeper than that. If a broker wishes to be considered the best, it has to offer a certain range of ETF options. In addition, the ETFs should cover a broad selection of industries, regions, countries, asset classes and themes. It is of little use to you as an investor if a broker offers 20 different ETFs on the S&P 500, but lacks other important ETFs.
Here are some examples of what a wide selection incorporates:
Since ETFs are designed for regular savings, we also examine the range of ETF savings plans. It is important to us that there are as many ETFs as possible for savers. The entry barriers should be low, with the savings rate set as low as possible. A reasonable selection of savings intervals, such as monthly, bimonthly, and quarterly, are also desirable.
Investors who put money in ETFs are often very price sensitive. This is understandable, because when it comes to ETFs, the cheaper fees are a major selling point. Most ETFs are assessed in comparison to actively managed funds, which is exactly where the argument for reasonable fees is comes in. In the end, every ETF investor is likely to make a profit, so it is important that fees and costs should be as low as possible.
A broker aiming to be the best ETF provider should, in our opinion, not only have low fees for executing each order, but should also offer a range of free ETFs. This means that for the ETF purchase, at least, there are no additional fees. The same goes for ETF savings plans. Here, too, at least some ETF savings options should be free of charge. We expect this because, in our broker comparisons, we generally find that it is almost standard to allow some ETF purchases for free. Of course, these do not necessarily include exotic ETFs, but ETFs on the classic big indices should be included in these special fee-free offers.
In addition to the order fees and costs for ETF savings plans, you can also include all other fees in your rating, such as:
As mentioned above, the demands an investor may make on their personal ETF broker are highly individual. Nevertheless, we can categorise many investors into certain groups, or investor types. Each type of investor places more value on certain aspects than others. In order to meet these demands, some ETF providers offer several account or deposit models.
At this point, we do want to state that this feature matters less to us than the conditions of the broker – often, most investors simply don’t need a range of different account models. For example, an investor may always buy ETFs directly, either through a stock exchange or through direct trading, with both options usually offered by brokers.
We have gained our own ETF experience, and we have noticed that there are different price models. For example, some ETF brokers offer a so-called flat rate in ETF trading. This means that you, as an investor, always pays the same fee – regardless of the trading volume or frequency of trading. This is an advantage, but when it is the case, other features are often more expensive or non-existent.
For VIP customers (with each provider having a different definition of ‘VIP’) there are often special accounts with extensive services, etc. This group of investors is generally characterised by a very high trading volume and/or portfolio volume.
Usually, brokers do not offer an ETF-specific trading platform for download. The majority of online trading takes place directly on the broker’s website. Investors log in to the customer area and then call up the custody account administration or the order mask. In our ETF broker test we primarily examine the providers’ web-based trading platform. There are brokers offering separate software for download and installation, but we do not think this is crucial for ETF investors.
It is important to us that the company not only provides a simple order form, but other functions too – such as chart analysis and background information on the respective ETFs such as fees, values, information on the issuer etc. It would be great if a provider’s services were applicable for both beginners and for more experienced traders – depending on your experience, the choice is yours.
Our evaluations also include the mobile trading options offered. We’ll check if there's a mobile brokerage app for Android and iOS. However, this is not absolutely necessary, as investors can usually access the ETF depot via their smartphone browser or other mobile device. Many brokers also offer a mobile view of the custodian account and order administration.
Ease of use covers several factors. In this category, we examine the general functionality of the provider’s website, but also the trading platform and the order mask. The investor should find all relevant information and access to the order mask easily, and be able to get there with a few clicks. When selecting the ETF test winner, you are welcome to include these factors. For example, you can ask yourself whether the homepage is clearly designed and visually appealing.
We also test the accessibility of the website and the platform during hectic stock market phases. A good broker provides enough power and IT infrastructure to enable investors to trade easily during turbulent times.
You might want to pay particular attention to the following:
Opening a depot has become increasingly complex in recent years, but this is not due to the ETF provider, but to various legal provisions. The banks have to stick to these, so we would not give a negative rating if account opening takes a little longer than we would like, even though this doesn’t exactly contribute to user friendliness. We do check whether the broker manages to keep account opening and other processes as simple and as customer-focused as possible, given legal restrictions.
Our experience shows that a broker with excellent customer support usually offers great service. The employees ultimately represent the company, and if they are well trained, this suggests that the broker cares about a good customer relationship.
Have you already had experience with your broker’s customer service? If so, how satisfied were you? You could mention, for example, how quickly and competently the staff members answered your questions. It is, of course, fine if a member of the support team has to check on a more complex matter and then get back to the customer – although this should also be done in a timely manner.
You might ask yourself:
In addition to the actual response of the support staff, we also expect the bank to provide a range of communication channels. It is important to have telephone access, e-mail contact and live chat functionality. The latter has gained a lot of importance in recent years. Of course, the broker should also provide an extensive FAQ area, and a community or forum in which investors can exchange views would be welcome. As for the availability of the support, we don’t expect 24/7 availability, but support should at least be available during trading hours.
Often, ETF brokers provide only one payment option, namely a bank transfer. Deposits and withdrawals are usually free of charge. Crypto or social trading providers, however, usually offer several payment methods, especially credit cards (Visa and Mastercard) often PayPal, Skrill and Neteller, and occasionally even Paysafecard. Only a few ETF brokers have several payment methods on offer. Sometimes the classic bank transfer is supplemented by the offer of Sofortüberweisung or Giropay.
Payment methods such as credit card or PayPal have the advantage that the transfer is instant and the money is immediately available on the trading account. A bank transfer takes at least one working day, sometimes longer. Payment methods with immediate credit are important – when the investor sees a buying opportunity, they want to make use of it immediately. Therefore, it is beneficial to have brokers with alternative payment methods.
On the other hand, ETF investors are not typically short-term speculators who need to take a buying opportunity right away. Instead, ETFs are suitable for long-term capital accumulation and less for short-term trading.
What matters to us here:
The best ETF provider should be able to provide customers with something beyond the standard offer. It is not necessary to have all the features that other brokers have, but there should be a reasonable selection. Additional offers do not necessarily mean an ETF bonus or a premium, though obviously such an offer is a nice extra. If an ETF provider wants to be successful in the long run, it is highly beneficial for them to have expert support in online trading or asset management. Indeed, we pay special attention to the factors in this category.
A free demo account or an ETF sample portfolio benefits newcomers and more experienced dealers, but is especially good for beginners because they get a risk-free entry into the ETF trade. At the same time, advanced investors can test new strategies or conduct backtesting alongside their regular trading.
In addition, if a broker is able to offer extensive education and training provisions, these can allow investors to obtain a basic knowledge of ETFs as well as practical advice. When it comes to these services, clearly, it is a matter of quality before quantity. The training area may include free ebooks, webinars, video courses, news updates, or an economic calendar. In our broker comparisons, we take a close look at the learning content available.
In order to prevent ETF fraud when trading, the topics of regulation and deposit insurance are very important. At this point, we need to stress that ETF brokers in most European countries are subject to very strict supervision. In Germany for example, even if an ETF broker had to file for bankruptcy, at least up to 100,000 euros per investor would be protected by deposit insurance. Some banks even provide deposit insurance in the high tens of millions. Funds invested directly in ETFs are not included, as they would not be affected by the bankruptcy of a broker.
The situation would be different if the issuer of the ETF had to file for bankruptcy. Then your directly invested capital would be affected. It is therefore important to obtain detailed information about the issuer. Even though you can never completely exclude ETF fraud, consider the above points in order to minimise this risk. We strongly suggest that you as an investor inform yourself extensively about the risks incurred with ETFs.
What matters to us in terms of safety:
We always finish our check of an ETF provider with opinions from the trade press, as well as awards received. For this reason, we would not name a brand new ETF broker as one of our ‘best providers’. Even if the broker offers very good conditions and services, we want to see if it can truly prove its worth in the long-term. We believe a broker has to face the test of time, so to speak, but maybe you have a different opinion.
Of course, it‘s to be expected that particularly large ETF providers will have wide media coverage. The better known the company, the more diverse the reviews and opinions about the provider will be. We anticipate a few negative opinions, but on the whole, the coverage must be positive.
We also look at awards and prizes received by the ETF broker. Here, too, quality comes before quantity. Almost every broker can show off one award or another. That is why we check who gave the award – are they from prestigious or well-known institutions? Frequently, awards are given for outstanding customer service, product quality, trade diversity or conditions. We pay attention to the type and quality of awards received.
As you can see, we set high standards in our ETF comparisons. You‘ve seen exactly what we value in the assessment and which features are important to us. When selecting your ‘best ETF broker’, you are welcome to refer to these points. As already mentioned, the reviews on this page come exclusively from our readers, which means it‘s not us who decides the ETF test winner – it’s you.
We would like to emphasise once again that AskTraders.com is not obliged to any provider. We are an independent portal. Our reviews are based on real brokerage experience, opening accounts, testing the platform, making trades, and more. We have been in contact with many providers for several years. You can therefore rely on our objectivity and professionalism, and you’re welcome to use our expertise.
Ultimately, you must be satisfied with the provider. That's why you will only find authentic testimonials from real users here. If you already have some experience with providers, then we ask you to add your opinion, since this helps other readers to get a realistic impression of each company. The ETF broker with the most votes will receive our readers‘ award at the end of the year.