Best online brokers in Germany

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Using the best online brokers in Germany can help you achieve long-term goals: buying a house, preparing for retirement, achieving your FIRE strategy.

This a selection of trading platforms that can fit different level of experiences and the needs of foreigners in Germany.

best online brokers germany

What is an online broker?

An online broker is a middleman between you and the purchase of a financial instrument such as a stock, future, or exchange-traded fund (ETF). They facilitate the purchase of this security, often for a small fee or commission, over a digital network. In the past, if you wanted to buy stocks, you had to visit a broker in person or call them over the phone to place the order. 

But in recent years it’s become possible to trade stocks in Germany via online trading platforms and investment algorithms, using a simple app on your laptop or smartphone.

Pros:

  • Make trades immediately, in real-time, with a few taps or swipes.
  • Typically much cheaper
  • Comes with an array of tools to help you optimize your trading strategy, and give you more control and flexibility when it comes to monitoring your trades.

Risks

  • Because of the ease of use of these platforms, it can be very easy to invest too much too quickly, especially if you’re new to the game and don’t understand stock market principles.
  • You’re not able to talk with a qualified professional for advice on a personal level.

That being said, the convenience offered by online brokers is unrivaled, and a great way to get your foot on the trading ladder, regardless of where you live or how much (or little) you want to invest.

Which online broker in Germany is best for you?

There are generally three different platforms or organizations through which you can buy securities. While there’s no single best online broker in Germany, the broker that suits you best will depend on your trading style, how much money you want to invest, and your risk appetite.

Traditional banks

Many banks, such as ING or Commerzbank, offer securities accounts through which you can purchase stocks, equities, and other financial instruments. Since they are established banks, they offer a lot of security, but since they have many operating costs, they’re also expensive. You end up paying high fees for individual transactions (i.e. buying a stock) and for having them keep your money safe. These fees, especially in the long term, can heavily impact the return you receive on your investment. 

Neo-banks

In the last decade, we’ve seen the rise of digital banks or neo-banks. Often without any physical branches, these banks exist solely online. They’re able to offer much cheaper, faster, and more modern banking services than traditional banks. Instead of physical visits, communication takes place via email, chat, or phone. Many neo-banks offer a range of securities accounts with few or no fees. Vivid Money and Revolut are two good examples of this type of bank, which both offer affordable accounts with investment capabilities and low fees.

Trading platforms and apps

Trading platforms and apps have seen a huge rise in popularity in recent years. Often free to use (except for low fees and commissions), these specialized trading brokers have completely dissolved the barrier for entry for the everyman who wants to get involved in trading. Trading platforms in Germany don’t offer any banking services like traditional banks or neo-banks and instead focus solely on securities account management. Because of this, they can generally offer much lower fees (although this depends on how you trade).

Since these online trading platforms and apps are the main focus of this article for Germany, we’ll take a look at them in more detail below.


The best trading accounts in Germany

eToro

Features at a glance

Founded in 2007, eToro is an established online broker both in Germany and abroad that allows for social copy trading and cryptocurrency trading. They began as a general trading platform that allowed for trading commodities, currencies, and ETFs, but expanded to offer cryptocurrency and other financial instruments as demand for them changed and grew. They use both a web platform and an app that is intuitive and easy to use, which makes it a great option for beginners learning how to trade

eToro is widely-known for their social copy trading capabilities, and they’re actually a pioneer in this field. Their most popular feature, CopyTrader, lets you leverage other traders’ experience by tethering your investment strategy to theirs and copying any trades they make automatically. This is an incredible tool for beginners who don’t understand the intricacies of trading just yet, or for people who simply don’t have time to learn about them, and want to take a more passive approach to trading

eToro uses a sister program to encourage experienced traders to sign up and allow rookie investors to copy their trades. The Popular Investor Program is an innovative approach to trading that allows traders to generate a potentially significant income by being copied by other clients on the eToro platform.

And best of all, it doesn’t cost the everyday trader anything. eToro is very transparent about their pricing structure. Accounts are free to create, there’s 0% commission on stocks and no management fees to speak of. eToro charges various spreads and fees for some trades and withdrawals, so it’s not completely fee-free, but close enough. Fees include:

  • Spreads for cryptocurrencies cost anywhere between 0.75 % and 4.5%.
  • Spreads for stocks & ETFs cost 0.09%. 
  • A fixed withdrawal fee of $5.
  • An inactivity fee (after 12 months of inactivity) of $10/month.

Like any platform, however, there are limitations. eToro’s range of traditional research materials and tools is limited compared to many of its competitors, and their customer service leaves something to be desired. And when it comes to trading forex, eToro is slightly more expensive.

That being said, with over 6 million registered users, eToro is one of the biggest online brokers in Germany and the world, and a great option if you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of trading.

Pros and cons of eToro

Pros:

  • Free stock and ETF trading
  • Opening an account in seamless
  • Social trading makes it easy to copy the trades of experienced traders
  • eToro wallet for crypto-trading is regulated under the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bafin)

Cons:

  • Non-trading fees are high
  • Customer service could be better

Trade Republic

Features at a glance

Trade Republic is a mobile-first trading platform and online broker operating in Germany, Austria, and France. Trade Republic users can trade individual stocks, ETFs, derivatives, and, more recently, a handful of major cryptocurrencies.

Trade Republic launched in 2019 with the goal of becoming the best all-mobile trading platform on the market. What sets it apart from other online brokers in Germany is that it has a certified banking license. This means that users that trade on Trade Republic are dealing with a securities trading bank and that any deposits in a user’s clearing account are legally protected up to €100,000. They are held in a trust collective account with Solarisbank and are subject to supervision by the Federal Bank of Germany and the BaFin (Federal Financial Supervisory Authority). Trade Republic is also partnered withHSBC Germany, BlackRock, and the Lang & Schwarz Exchange.

Signing up for the app is really simple. It’s completely digital and user-friendly and all takes place directly on your smartphone. Like signing up to a digital bank, you will have to participate in a live video identification call with one of the Trade Republic’s employees. Once your identity has been confirmed you can then start trading.

In terms of fees, Trade Republic charges €1 fee for every trade, regardless of the trade volume. This is fine if you’re making a few trades worth a lot of money, but if you’re making frequent small trades, then fees can quickly add up. If you buy or trade stocks five times a week, for example, this adds up to €20 per month. That being said, Trade Republic’s non-trading fees are quite standard for only brokers; they don’t charge any deposit, withdrawal, or inactivity fees.

The limited functionality of the app makes it very difficult to construct your own trading strategy. 

Pros and cons

Pros

  • No deposit, withdrawal, or inactivity fees.
  • Supported by regulated banks like HSBC Germany and Solaris Bank.
  • Each investor’s clearing account is insured up to €100.000.
  • The platform is intuitive and really easy to use.
  • You don’t need a minimum balance to start trading.
  • It has a large number of different financial instruments to invest in, including major cryptocurrencies and international stock markets.
  • Interface support in German, English, and French

Cons

  • €1 fee per trade, which can quickly add up.
  • No telephone support, it’s only available via email.
  • Only available for German, Austrian and French residents.
  • Only basic array of trading products available.

My experience using TradeRepublic

Like a lot of people during the pandemic days, I suddenly had extra cash every month that I was not using. I must say I got a caught by Trade Republic’s marketing campaign and I thought it would be a a good experiment.

I have been very impressed with the onboarding experience and the app does look good and intuitive. Everything happens in a breeze. What I soon realized however is that TR doesn’t fit my investor’s profile. I am not interested in day to day trading of stocks. I am more a set-and-forget type of person, aggregating risks over a lot of different commodities & indexes.

TradeRepublic is not good for that. You can get ETFs cheaper somewhere else and there is only a limited selection of assets you can trade. I closed my accounts after some time to put it somewhere else instead.


Scalable Capital

Features at a glance

Scalable Capital started out as a robo-advisor, but is now also active as a broker for self-trading. They offer over 1300 free ETFs with their free trading account, as well as an extra 600 Prime ETFs from Invesco, Extracker and Ishares that are available to users with a Prime trading account. The three trading accounts available cost €0, €2.99, and €4.99 respectively. While the free trading account doesn’t cost a monthly fee, each trade costs €0.99. Premium accounts offer more features such as free trades and access to Prime ETFs.

Scalable requires trades to be made with a minimum order value of €250, down from €500 a few years ago. Like other brokers on their list, this shows that the platform is committed to lowering their prices to allow smaller, newer traders to start trading on their platform. Savings plans, or Sparpläne, can be set up for as little as €25, however, and are automatically deducted from your bank account every month.

Trading takes place through their Scalable Capital app, which can be downloaded on most mobile devices and platforms. The app itself is neat, intuitive and quite easy to use, although the language used throughout is German without the possibility of switching to English.

Where Scalable really shines is their customer service. Not only are you able to chat with them via their app, but you can also email support and phone them directly. The phone support is great if you have an urgent question that can’t wait, and something that many online brokers in Germany don’t offer.

If you’re unsure about whether or not you want to create an account with Scalable, you can speak to a human advisor for a free financial consultation. Just visit the Advice area on its website, click on the Book a Call button and select an appointment time.

As mentioned above, Scalable Capital also offers robo-advisor services that automatically create, curate, and manage your portfolio using an investment algorithm. This is a great approach for someone who wants a more hands-off approach to trading. However, if you just want to contribute €100 every month, this isn’t for you. Using Scalable Capital’s robo-advisor services requires an initial upfront investment of at least €10,000, making it pretty inaccessible to new investors or those without upfront capital to spare.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Allows for a very hands-off approach to trading via their robo-advisor
  • Interface and support available in English
  • Provides a free financial assessment for new clients
  • Pricing and fee structure is completely transparent
  • Self-trading accounts are fairly inexpensive
  • Easy to use and intuitive
  • Regulated under the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bafin)

Cons

  • Requires a lot of capital to get started with the robo-advisor
  • Transferring existing portfolios can be complicated
  • Limited support on weekends or during the night

DEGIRO

Features at a glance

DEGIRO is an online broker in Germany and other EU countries that was established in 2008 that promises much lower trading fees than its competitors. After merging with flatexDEGIRO Bank AG in early 2021, it became the largest online execution-only broker in Europe with its own banking license and is regulated by top-tier financial authorities such as the BaFin in Germany.

DEGIRO’s web and mobile trading platforms are easy to navigate and simple to use. Users can withdraw money without paying any fees, and there’s no minimum deposit, so anyone can start trading regardless of how much money they want to invest.

Like using the rest of the platform, opening an account with DEGIRO is fast, easy, and free. The entire process takes place online and all you need is a copy of your passport or ID card, and a bank account to link to your DEGIRO account. 

After the initial registration, there are three more steps to complete before your account is activated and ready for trading:

  1. Complete an appropriateness test in order to assess if you have a minimum amount of trading knowledge required to use the platform. 
  2. Agree to the conditions for real-time prices.
  3. Transfer money to your investment account.

Once you’ve finished with this last step, you can expect your account to be fully operational within a day or two, which is quite amazing considering that other online brokers in Germany can take anywhere between three and five days.

DEGIRO isn’t all bells and whistles, however. While they have a huge number of individual stocks and ETFs to choose from, they don’t offer forex trading, and their range of research tools is limited, making it difficult to employ more intricate trading strategies.

Also, if you live in Germany and want to open an account, all of the paperwork and technical support are only available in German, and it’s impossible to change the language to English. This can be frustrating if you’re not proficient in the language, especially since DEGIRO is available in 18 countries, including the UK. A good workaround here, however, is to open an Irish DEGIRO account. Since it’s part of the EU, it functions exactly the same as a German account, but with the added benefit of everything being in English.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Some of the lowest fees on the market
  • Regulated by multiple top-tier authorities
  • Easy-to-use web and mobile platform
  • Regulated under the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bafin)
  • Interface and support available in English

Cons

  • Forex not available 
  • Limited research tools available
  • German platform is not available in any other languages

My experience using DEGIRO

Of all of the best online brokers in Germany listed here, the one I’m most familiar with is DEGIRO. I’ve had an account with them for over a year now, and the experience has been extremely smooth. As I mentioned above, I had to open an Irish account instead of a German one to access the platform in English, but that’s pretty much the only hangup I’ve encountered. That being said, since the Irish platform is not a German broker, they don’t automatically handle your taxes on dividends or capital gains. As far as I know, the German version of DEGIRO doesn’t do this either, so it’s important to speak to a steuerberater if you’re unsure of how to declare your trading profits.

Setting up an account was much less hassle than I thought, and navigating the interface is a breeze. They make it very easy to deposit money into your trading account. Simply send a bank transfer to their IBAN and it usually reflects within two hours. From there, buying securities is also really simple. The fees are really transparent and you can see all of your orders, fees and past purchases whenever you need to. 

They have an extensive help section if you’re unsure of things, and because they’re so popular there are tons of user-generated YouTube videos to guide you in the right direction if you get lost. 

I had an issue with my password once and so contacted DEGIRO support. They were extremely helpful and efficient and I was able to access my account minutes later. So all in all, I think they’re a really of of the best online brokers in Germany, and I would recommend them to everyone.


ComDirect

Features at a glance

ComDirect is a German direct bank established in 1994 and a subsidiary of Commerzbank. It is regulated by Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) and also listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, making it one of the most secure and regulated online brokers in Germany.

With a ComDirect securities account, you will have access to a number of different German and international markets, and a wide range of shares, funds, ETFs, and other securities. For all of its security and access to markets, however, ComDirect suffers when it comes to user-friendliness, and we recommend only opening an account with them if you have a good command of German.

Opening an account is not a quick affair like it is with other online brokers in Germany such as DEGIRO, and can take several weeks to process. It’s also not obvious which nationalities are able to open an account with ComDirect, although it seems as though citizens from most European countries can open an account. The entire process is more complicated if you’re not German or Austrian, however, as the entire platform and process is available only in German. On top of this, there is no live chat, and the phone support can be slow and frustrating. 

When it comes to fees, ComDirect has some of the highest around, especially for stocks. You can expect to pay a minimum of €3.90 per trade, which is quite steep, especially if you’re a day-trader. However, their non-trading fees are low, there are no withdrawal fees, and their fee structure is transparent so you’ll always know how much you’re paying.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Extensive range of products and exchanges
  • Great mobile platform
  • Rock-solid background
  • Regulated under the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bafin)

Cons

  • High fees
  • Account opening can be complicated if you’re not from Germany or Austria 
  • Slow phone support and no live chat 
  • Only available in German

DKB

Features at a glance

Deutsche Kreditbank (DKB) was originally founded in 1990 as East Germany’s first private bank. Since then it has been rebuilt several times and emerged as one of the country’s most popular and trusted online banks. In addition to its standard banking accounts, DKB also offers a number of securities accounts and investment options. You can actually read a full DKB bank account review here.

In terms of trading, DKB allows its customers to place orders for shares, bonds, ETFs, and funds on a number of different German, European, and international exchanges. However, other financial instruments such as contracts for difference (CFDs), options, futures, and currencies are not offered.

When it comes to fees, DKB is quite expensive compared to other online brokers in Germany. Order fees cost €10, with orders with a volume of more than €10,000 costing €25.

And while opening an account with DKB is fairly straightforward, the entire process can take up to two weeks to complete. Also worth noting is that all services are only available in German. This means that newcomers to Germany will struggle to navigate the website and communicate with customer service if they encounter any problems.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • You will be trading with an established German bank
  • Opening an account is fairly straightforward if you speak German
  • Regulated under the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bafin)
  • Each investor’s clearing account is insured up to €100.000.

Cons

  • All services are in German
  • Only available to residents in Germany.
  • Trading fees are expensive
  • DKB only offers a limited number of financial instruments
  • DKB only trades on a limited number of exchanges

Best online brokers Germany – Good to know

How to open a broker account in Germany

Opening a securities account is generally a very straightforward experience. Traditionally, this would have been handled at a bank after filling out a number of forms. Today, the entire process takes place online. It varies from broker to broker, but it usually involves the following:

  1. Submitting an online form with your personal details such as email address and telephone number.
  2. Submitting a self-disclosure form that details your experience with trading. Some brokers will only accept your application if you have a certain level of trading knowledge to prevent new users from blowing all of their savings on trades they don’t understand. It also allows the brokers to clear more experienced users for riskier transactions, such as futures.
  3. Most brokers in Germany also require you to validate your identity. This is usually done by video-calling a broker representative and showing them your passport or ID in real-time. A few countries are not sometimes not supported by the verification partner for online verification. In most cases, this then can also be done in a Post office.
  4. In some cases, setup a 2-factor authentication before you can access the account.

Is it possible to switch securities accounts?

If you’re opening a securities account with a new bank, it’s quite easy to transfer your current securities accounts. To do so, you will have to fill out a transfer form that gives the new bank authority to transfer your securities to the new securities account and seal it with a digital signature.

Are online trading accounts secure in Germany?

The safety of online trading apps depends on a number of different factors, all of which should be considered before you buy your first share or ETF. 

  • While regulatory authorities are required to monitor and regulate online trading and investment service providers, many apps are not licensed. It’s up to the individual trader to check whether or not these apps are licensed, and if their licenses are authentic. In Germany, the regulatory body responsible for overseeing trading and investment providers is the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, or BaFin. This regulatory body ensures that the best trading platforms in Germany are in compliance with the law, and gives traders protection if these platforms are in any breach of compliance. All providers listed above in this post have a license from BaFin.
  • In terms of account security, all online brokers in Germany need some sort of identity verification, and require you to set a password to access your account. Protection of the login credentials is of utmost importance while trading and investing online. No matter how secure or trustworthy the broker or platform is, any online account can be compromised if the password and login details are leaked, even from the user side.
  • It’s best to use a complex password generated by your phone, computer or third party password generator. Many trading apps also require that you have 2-factor authentication to access your account, which provides an extra level of protection should your account somehow get compromised. Even if it isn’t mandatory, we recommend activating 2-factor authentication and any other security features your broker offers to enhance the security of your online trading activities. After all, you’re likely dealing with large amounts of money.

Best online brokers FAQ

What level of trading experience is needed to use online brokers in Germany

Consider what matters most to you in a trading platform. Advanced charting capabilities and conditional order options may be prioritized by an experienced investor. If you’re just getting started, you might value easy access to support staff and the ability to place practice trades.

Is my money safe with a trading platform in Germany?

Your investment is protected by the trading platform in the sense that no one can steal it. However, no platform can protect from the market downturn. Be aware there is a risk to lose it all as well.

Do I need a local bank account to use a broker?

Not necessarily, especially if the bank account is located within the EU, where IBAN transfers are cheap.

I hope this overview of the best online brokers in Germany was relevant to you. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Bastien

Disclaimer: this blog post and associated content are intended for informational and educational purposes around trading platforms in Germany, and do not replace the advice of a financial advisor. Any stock trading and investing come with financial risk, and this risk should be understood before you spend a single euro on stocks or financial products. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment based on your own personal circumstances. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3