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 over a year, and I am actively trading stocks on their onliner platform. This is my review.

Only in German

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 Kingdom1, it'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 plus 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 really cheap. I paid 10€ to 15€ per transaction with Commerzbank, and now I pay a tiny fraction 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. Unlike many startups, they have handled those problems very poorly.

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 a few times 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 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. More importantly, the Degiro platform goes down without warning or acknowledgement. They treat downtime and other issues with alarming indifference, and this is unacceptable for a financial service.

Would I still recommend Degiro? Only if transaction fees are your only concern. Degiro saved me a lot of transaction fees, but I have very little trust in their product after all the issues I have experienced.

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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Comments

  • Vytautas

    Interactive brokers is a terrible alternative to Degiro. Degiro is design for people with low incomes and little experience. IB on th other hand requires you to have 10000 USD just to open an account, has high inactivity fees (10 USD a month) and its platform is very confusing for a beginner.

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  • Bruno Ambrozio

    Just started on it here in Ireland. Really nice review, thanks! Although the bad points mentioned, it does seem ok for me yet. Only one thing it's not actually clear yet: Does DeGiro good enough to keep the money not yet invested? I saw the money keep invested in the market fund from either Morgan Stanley Investment Management or FundShare.
    Another point, do you guys usually use more than one trade? Not sure if it's fine get like >200k into DeGiro to mount up the investment portifolio... What do you think?

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  • Simon Jones

    the boerse frankfurt charges are not Degiro charges, but charges you have to pay that exchange just to make a trade with them. Everyone has to pay those charges, so another more expensive application would charge you the 12E and then their own trading fees on top of that.

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  • Bert S

    What really turns me off on DeGiro is that they took the initiative to shut us out of thousands of ETFs because of MIFID II. Just because off the horrendously stupid 'rule' that information on an ETF must be available in one's local language, I cannot trade anymore in those ETFs. Instead, if there are alternatives available, they are always much , much more expensive. Who can help me and tell me which US broker accepts foreigners as clients and let them buy non-MIFID II compliant ETFs???

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  • Alex

    I used to like DeGiro but recently 2 events led me to decide to switch the account.
    1. I transferred funds to DeGiro which they could not process (wire from US). Although this is annoying, it can happen. What happened next is beyond comprehension - they could not send the money back and I am currently still waiting (almost 3 months since the money was received). Questions about tracking the wire are not answered. If you consider waiting for 3 months to get funds normal - good luck using DeGiro!
    2. They seem to change margin requirements at a whim, downgrading liquid stock, but not the comparable illiquid ones. So you may have a comfortable situation one day having large liquid position (with capacity to borrow and buy more shares) and next day you will get a margin call. This makes trading with DeGiro totally unpredictable as you may be forced to close positions at the worst possible time as requirements do not seem to have any underlying reasons.
    I am changing to IB, who not only provide better margins, but a generally much cheaper source of funding.

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  • Nicolas Bouliane

    No costs. I simply used both in parallel for a while until I had no more positions with Commerzbank. Otherwise, I don't know what the costs would be.

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  • Robert

    Hi,

    What kind of costs did you took from moving your existing portfolio from commerzbank do degiro?

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