An honest review of Degiro (Germany)

An honest review of Degiro (Germany)

I review my experience with Degiro in Germany. This new online stock broker is really cheap, but is it any good?

I created a Degiro account to avoid Commerzbank's excessive transaction fees. Degiro is an online stock broker that promises significantly lower trading fees, so I opened an account. I have been a Degiro customer for 6 months, and I am actively trading stocks on their onliner platform. This is my review.

Nur auf Deutsch

If you live in Germany, the Degiro platform, paperwork and technical support are only available in German. Even though Degiro is available in a 18 countries including the United Kingdom1it's impossible to change the language to English1.

Low fees, with caveats

As promised, the fees are generally very low. You will normally pay less than 1€ per trade, while most banks charge 10-20€ per transaction and monthly fees. Switching to Degiro seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it?

Well... not quite. Degiro's pricing chart is deceptively structured. Trading Börse Frankfurt stocks was surprisingly expensive: 8€ to 12€ per trade. This information is really hard to find.

On the bright side, trading Xetra or NASDAQ stocks is much cheaper. I paid 10€ to 15€ per transaction with Commerzbank, and now I pay a tenth of that. Xetra transaction fees are usually a little over 2€, and NASDAQ transaction fees are always under 1€.

Over time, Degiro saved me a lot of money. While this review focuses on the negative points, saving a few hundred euros in fees is worth the trouble.

The signup process

The signup process went very smoothly. Once you have entered your personal information, you upload a scan of a valid ID, then fill a questionnaire to prove that you understand the risks of stock trading, then agree to various legal and tax-related documents. It was surprisingly easy.

This entire process takes less than an hour, and you never need to leave your home. Once you are done, you can transfer money to your Degiro account with SOFORT, and a few minutes later, you are ready to trade.

The interface

The Degiro interface is okay. It's ugly, but it's easy to use.

When you make a transaction, you can see the expected fees before you confirm the transaction. That's really nice. You can see your portfolio, your favourite stocks and your order history very easily. With Commerzbank, this was really hard.

However, the information is sometimes spread across different pages for no reason. You can see the bid/ask for your favourite stocks, but not for those in your portfolio. When placing an order, you can't see how much cash you have available, so you have to go back, memorize the amount, and place the order again.

Some information is simply not available. You can't see a graph your gains/losses over time, or even see your daily/weekly/monthly/yearly earnings. You cannot see when you transferred money in/out of Degiro either.

There are also awkward navigation bugs. The browser's back button doesn't work when viewing a single stock, and the back button in the interface takes you to the wrong page.

However, the worst part is that you still need write emails and make phone calls for some operations. If you want to change your bank details, you must email their customer service. If you were got your password wrong too many times, you must call them to unlock your account. Fortunately, their customer service is very responsive.

As a startup, I would expect Degiro to have a kick-ass website that would put traditional banks to shame, but that was unfortunately not the case. It's not that bad, and it's still much better than what Commerzbank offers, but it could be better.

The mobile app

You can't use the Degiro mobile app alone, since some features are only available on the desktop website, but it's good enough to manage your portfolio on the go. You can trade stocks and see how your portfolio is doing, but that's it. It has no widgets, no alerts and no fingerprint reader support.

The mobile app has this one annoying issue: it does not log you out properly. It just displays outdated information until you restart the app or press a button that triggers the logging form. It's a minor annoyance, but it should have been fixed a long time ago.

Nonetheless, the Degiro mobile app is stable and lets you check your portfolio from your phone.

Reliability

Degiro is a startup, and by doing business with a startup, you must expect problems. Degiro is no exception.

The Degiro platform went down several times in the last few months. It went down for an hour in the middle of the trading day without any announcement, acknowledgement or apology. This is acceptable for Instagram, but not for a bank. It also goes down every day around midnight, again without any announcement.

Otherwise, Degiro has been very reliable. Aside from the occasional downtime, and the design issues mentioned above, I have not encountered any bugs on website or in the app. I never had any issues completing trades.

Summary

It's hard to ignore that Degiro's trading platform is far from perfect. At times, it feels like an unfinished product.

Would I still recommend Degiro? Yes, but only because it's cheap. Degiro saved me a lot of transaction fees, but their platform has lots of small issues that are hard to overlook. If you are looking to pay very low transaction fees, it might be a good place to start, but perhaps there are better options out there.

Alternatives to Degiro

Interactive Brokers is often mentioned as an alternative to Degiro, and gives you access to US stock options. Comdirect, DKB, Sparkasse and 1822direkt also offer broker accounts. Most classic banks also let you trade stocks, but their transaction fees are usually very high, and their interface is rarely suitable for active traders.

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