The Dutch brokerage company DEGIRO has become known for its low fees and value for money, offering retail investors access to a wide range of securities at wholesale prices. Founded in 2008 by ex-employees of Binck Bank, the company was opened up to non-professional traders in the Netherlands in 2013, and over the next couple of years expanded across Europe. DEGIRO launched their English language platform in the UK in 2015, and now services 18 countries across Europe and Scandinavia. But just how impressive are DEGIRO fees? And are DEGIRO the best choice in an unbiased stock broker comparison?
On its own website, DEGIRO claims to offer an average saving of 85% on transaction fees compared to other popular traders and high street banks. Certainly on paper the savings look impressive, showing DEGIRO trading fees averaging around £2 or less on UK share purchases from £1,000 to £10,000, compared to £6 from Barclays and £10 or more from the other five traders offered for price comparison on three UK share examples. On US shares, DEGIRO charges around 50p on the three examples given, compared to £10 from Interactive Investor (AKA ii, the next cheapest trader listed), and £22.16 from HSBC, with other traders' transaction fees falling somewhere in between.
European transactions attract a somewhat higher fee: roughly £4–£5 from DEGIRO according to its own price comparison chart, although again this is significantly less than the fees asked by its main competitors. The Halifax, Selftrade and Hargreaves Lansdown all charge around £12, while HSBC asks for £22.66 and Interactive Investor a flat £20. What's notable is that although DEGIRO's transaction fees vary they remain a great deal lower than the standard rates charged by other trading platforms and banks. This also extends to DEGIRO fees on ETFs, Options and Futures. A direct comparison with other platforms isn't possible in all of these areas, but DEGIRO fees range from zero to £1.96 – all extremely reasonable.
Since it was established ten years ago, DEGIRO has won numerous awards, plus recognition and positive reviews focusing on its low-cost, high-value service. There have been some negative comments, but we'll come to them in a moment. First, let's focus on the positive. In 2014, shortly after DEGIRO moved from only serving professional traders to being available to retail clients, it was voted the cheapest broker for investments in bonds, shares, options and turbos by VEB. The same year, Beleggers Belangen voted them the number one Dutch broker in terms of cost, trade opportunities, service and convenience. The independent, non-profit consumer watchdog Consumentenbold declared DEGIRO the cheapest Dutch broker, a verdict also endorsed by Financiel Dagblad. In 2015 they won the prestigious Golden Bull Award for best stock broker, and in 2017 scooped another Golden Bull, this time for best online broker. In the same year, the Investors' Chronicle and Financial Times gave DEGIRO the award for best mobile share dealing. Overall, the Dutch company has won over 30 awards. That's impressive considering it has only been open to international retail clients for a few years. In terms of security and reliability, DEGIRO has some strong endorsements too. The company is supervised by the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets and the Netherlands Bank (DNB), and is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The claims by DEGIRO that they have, on average, 85% lower fees than their competitors seem to be largely accurate. DEGIRO account fees are basically non-existent, as they have none of the monthly or quarterly fixed or percentage fees many brokers charge simply for managing your account. Similarly, there are no DEGIRO account fees on opening or closing an account. They do charge custodial fees of 0.2% per annum for holding unit trusts, and what DEGIRO calls a ‘connection fee’ of €2.50 per calendar year when trading on exchanges other than the London Stock Exchange. This fee – which equals around £2.19 at the time of writing (for comparison purposes) – may sometimes be lower, and of course if you don't have any dealings on other exchanges you won't have to think about this fee at all. It is charged per exchange, not per transaction, and is either €2.50 or 0.25% of your total portfolio value – whichever amount is lowest. With other traders charging regular account fees of up to £22.50 a quarter, it has to be admitted that DEGIRO's claim to be among the cheapest brokers around really does hold water in all circumstances, with no hidden costs to make you think again. It seems that, in this case, you really can believe the hype.
Let's take a closer look at how those extremely low DEGIRO trading fees are actually worked out. In short, it all depends on where you're trading. For UK transactions, DEGIRO charges a basic £1.75 plus 0.004%, up to a maximum trading fee of £5. In the US, it's €0.50 plus 0.004 US dollars, which is a slightly confusing combination of currencies but, as we have seen, it generally doesn't add up to much (although there is no maximum fee limit). In most European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland) as well as German transactions through XETRA, the DEGIRO fees are €4 plus 0.04%, up to a maximum fee of €60. German transactions via Zertifikate-Börse Frankfurt are charged at €2 plus 0.10%, while Frankfurt stock transactions incur a fee of €7.50 plus 0.08%. In Canada, it's €2 plus 0.01 Canadian dollars per share, and in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore the fee is €10 plus 0.05%. Poland is €5 plus 0.15%, and for the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary and Turkey it's €10 plus 0.15%. Worldwide ETFs tracking fees are €2 plus 0.02%, but you can also choose one free trade per month for each ETF on DEGIRO's ‘free' list. The most you'll pay in fees is for certain non-exchange listed funds, which could cost up to €75 plus 0.1%.
As well as receiving praise for its low fees, DEGIRO has also been singled out by experts and the public alike for its straightforward, easy-to-use website. The company uses its own in-house trading platform, specially developed to offer an intuitive and transparent service to beginners and experienced traders alike. The DEGIRO mobile trading app is also extremely user-friendly, with many considering it an excellent way to trade stocks and move money around from their smartphone while out in the world. Both the app and the main website give clear information and the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section does indeed answer the basic questions you're likely to find yourself asking. Some have criticised the DEGIRO website for its lack of tutorials, educational and research materials, but while these add-ons would be nice, they can all be found elsewhere – and their absence doesn't detract from the DEGIRO site's core purpose, which is providing a straightforward, no-frills trading platform that's open to everyone. Most users would surely agree that given the choice between keeping transaction fees low while having a basic site that fulfils its primary functions, and paying more – including DEGIRO account fees – for a site with all the tutorials, whistles and bells you could hope for, they'd certainly opt for the latter option.
DEGIRO has rewarding extra services on their website available at no extra cost. These include streaming global financial markets in real-time and the option to easily put together a “favourites” list, saving time (and potentially money) when you want your preferred options fast. On a similar note, each page also has a Quick Order call to action button right at the top, saving you the bother of having to navigate back to the site's homepage. Complementary services offered to DEGIRO account holders include the processing of dividends and coupons at no extra cost, as well as manual money transfers. The range of flexible products and services available varies depending on what kind of profile you adopt. There are five to select from: basic, custody, active, trader or day trader. This is a great feature as it allows you to use DEGIRO at a level commensurate with your trading experience and risk tolerance. Beginners or the risk averse can trade in confidence, while more experienced traders get access to a more sophisticated range of investment options and the possibility of taking on greater risk with the possibility of higher returns if they play the game well. Basic and custody accounts are low-risk and are open to anyone; custody profiles are ring-fenced, so DEGIRO cannot lend your funds to third parties, while a basic account can be upgraded at any time.
Once you've set up an account with DEGIRO, you have the option of transferring your full investment portfolio across. Opening an account with DEGIRO requires registering one bank account that you will use to conduct all transactions, and verifying your identity. Once this is done, you can only make payments to and from your registered account, and you can't make transfers to or from third-party platforms such as PayPal. This is all for reasons of greater security and isn't an uncommon practice, but it's certainly something potential DEGIRO users should be aware of. Another thing they should think about is that, although it's possible to transfer over your entire investment portfolio, the process needs to be done manually and DEGIRO charges a fee for this service. Although the transfer will be handled by DEGIRO's specialist transfer team, it is a very time-consuming process, and the time this can take has been the main source of criticism when a DEGIRO review has taken a negative tack. It seems that while DEGIRO's automated services are extremely smooth and timely, portfolio transfers done manually can be subject to long delays if there is a high volume of traffic. Some users can start to get panicky as their accumulated investments seem to have vanished into limbo, but in fact this is a complex process that cannot be rushed, and it's better to take the time to make sure it's done right than to hurry it along and risk making costly mistakes.
DEGIRO's customer service telephone lines are open 14 hours a day, 5 days a week. The customer service team can also be contacted by email, but at the time of writing there is no live chat option on their website. Any objective broker comparison would have to note the lack of 24/7 customer service as one of DEGIRO's main weaknesses. Not being able to contact a representative at the weekend is a particular drawback, and with DEGIRO providing unbeatable access to markets and exchanges around the world, one would have thought that a round-the-clock customer service helpline would be a given. The main consolation is that with the straightforward and mostly automated services that DEGIRO offer, there's not that much that is likely to go wrong. However, when there is a problem, users have criticised DEGIRO's customer service, especially when they've experienced unexpected delays in funds showing up in their accounts. DEGIRO customers posting reviews on sites like Trustpilot have occasionally suggested that poor customer service is the price you pay in return for extremely low fees. While it must be stressed that many more are perfectly happy with both DEGIRO's fee structure and their customer service, perhaps the disgruntled few would prefer to pay a DEGIRO commission in return for 24-hour customer service availability and a faster response time?
DEGIRO is certainly among the cheapest broker services available to the general public, and with its exceptionally low fees, it offers virtually unbeatable value for money. Their wide range of access to different markets around the world is their next major selling point, as the company has direct access to 21 major markets, plus smart order routing to another four in Europe and the big North American Exchanges including NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange. Bonds and futures are all widely available, and the easy-to-use website and choice of profiles makes DEGIRO trading as accessible to the stock market beginner as the experienced trader. There may be flashier sites out there, but with them you generally pay more for a range of frankly inessential features and services. With DEGIRO you pay only for what you need – and what you get is very impressive indeed.