DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for European Portfolio: Who is cheaper in 2021?

By Baptiste Wicht | Updated: | Investing

(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)

DEGIRO and Interactive Brokers are great brokers for European investors. But how do they compare exactly? Which one should you choose? Let’s find out!

In this article, I compare DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers in terms of price for a portfolio of European ETFs. I compare different scenarios, that should cover the needs of most long-term investors.

We will only compare the costs of both brokers, not the features and usability, for instance. If you are interested in the features, I have written reviews of both brokers.

And remember: Investing involves risk of loss. Always do your research before you invest and know why you invest and what you invest in.

Our investment portfolios

For this comparison of brokers, we are going to consider two different portfolios.

Since the fees will not change, we are not interested in the exact ETFs being used. We are only interested in which exchange the ETFs are purchased from. For a choice of ETFs, I wrote about possible portfolios with European ETFs. To know why we have to invest in European ETFs, you can read about why we may be losing access to the superior U.S. ETFs.

The first portfolio is for a Swiss investor. This investor has 25% of his portfolio in a Swiss ETF (from the SIX stock exchange). And the rest of the portfolio is from a European ETF (from the Euronext Paris stock exchange).

Our second portfolio, for a European investor, is even more straightforward. This investor has 100% of his portfolio in European ETFs (from the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange).

In both cases, each investor is only investing once a month in one ETF. It is a perfect way to invest and with low fees. Some people are investing in every quarter. But it barely reduces fees, and it makes you keep more cash. Investing every month is also an excellent way to build an investment habit. So monthly investments make more sense.

For these two investors, we will compare the prices of two brokers: DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers. These two brokers are among the cheapest available in Europe. But who is cheaper for each scenario? Let’s find out!

DEGIRO Fees

First, we need to study the fees for each service. Let’s start with DEGIRO. DEGIRO has two different accounts: Basic and Custody. There are a few others, but they do not matter for simple investors. So, we are going to focus on these two.

The difference between the accounts is that DEGIRO can lend your shares if you have a Basic account. With a custody account, they cannot lend your shares. But you will pay some extra fees.

Regardless of which account you use, you will have to pay a connectivity fee of 2.5 EUR (2.68 CHF) per year and per stock exchange on which you own shares. If you have an ETF on SIX and one on Euronext Paris, you will pay 5 EUR per year. However, your local stock exchange for free. So, if you are a Swiss investor, you get SIX for free.

If you convert currency on your account, you will pay a fee of 0.25%. It can quickly become expensive once you invest a large amount of money. A currency exchange will happen if your base currency is CHF, and you have to buy an ETF in EUR.

The fee system of DEGIRO is pretty simple. Unfortunately, it is slightly different for each country. I wish DEGIRO had the same prices regardless of which country you come from.

There are also a few ETFs that are free of transaction costs with DEGIRO. You will still have to pay currency exchange fees if necessary. But the other fees are waived. For this comparison, we will not use that since that would restrain our choice a lot. But if you choose ETFs in the free list, you can make it much cheaper.

Basic Account

With DEGIRO Basic, a Swiss investor will pay 2.50 EUR (2.65 CHF) for each purchase of a Swiss ETF. And the price is also the same (2.50 EUR (2.65 CHF)) for a European ETF. 2 EUR goes to DEGIRO while the other 0.50 EUR are covering the third-party (the stock exchange) costs.

Now, for the European investor case, I am going to take the example of DEGIRO France. The fees are a bit different from country to country. So, if you are not in France, you can check out the fees on your DEGIRO website.

Interestingly, this investor will only pay 0.50 EUR (0.50 CHF) for each purchase of a European ETF. DEGIRO has no fees for this transaction, there are only third-party costs. It would be the same price for a Swiss ETF. But European investors are unlikely to invest in Swiss ETFs. Interestingly, this is significantly cheaper than investing for a Swiss investor.

Custody Account

With DEGIRO custody, the transaction fees are the same as for Basic.

But you will also have to pay a fee when you receive a dividend. For each dividend, you will pay 1 EUR and 3% of the dividends. In our simulation, we simulate a 1.8% dividend yield and quarterly dividends.

Interactive Brokers Fees

Now, we also have to study the fees for Interactive Brokers. They do not have two account types, but they have two fee systems: Fixed and Tiered. So we are going to compare these two. Other than the prices, there are no other differences between the two pricing systems.

Regardless of where you live, you will pay the same fees. This makes the fees a bit simpler. In both cases, there are no custody fees nor inactivity fees!

For both account types, you will pay 2 USD (2 CHF) for currency exchange. The Swiss investor will have to exchange some CHF into EUR to buy European ETFs.

Fixed Pricing

The Interactive Brokers Fixed pricing is straightforward.

For buying an ETF on the Swiss Stock Exchange, you will pay 0.10% of the total transaction. The minimum fee is 10 CHF, and there is no maximum fee.

For purchasing an ETF on the European Stock Exchange, you will pay 0.10% as well. But the minimum fee is only 4 EUR (4.28 CHF), and the maximum is 29 EUR (31.05 CHF).

Tiered Pricing

The Interactive Brokers Tiered system is incredibly more complicated.

First, for each region, you will have to pay some transaction fees to IB. Then, based on the stock exchange, you will have to pay some fees. And they are entirely different based on which exchange.

For buying an ETF on the Swiss Stock Exchange (I took EBS), you will pay 0.05% in transaction fees to IB (with a minimum of 1.5 CHF and a maximum of 49 CHF). You will then pay a flat fee of 1.5 CHF for the exchange and an exchange fee of 0.02%. On top of that, you will pay a 0.55 CHF clearing fee and  1 CHF trade reporting fee.

For buying an ETF on the European Stock Exchange (Euronext Paris), you will pay 0.05% in IB transaction fees with a minimum of 1.25 EUR (1.34 CHF) and a maximum of 29 EUR (31.06 CHF). You will pay a 0.01% exchange fee (with a minimum of 0.8 EUR). And the clearing fee will be 0.1 EUR.

We can observe that it is much cheaper to trade on Euronext than on SIX. Switzerland does have a reputation for being expensive!

As you can see, this is much more complicated than the Fixed system. But you do not have to worry about all of this; I will do the math for you!

Swiss Investor – DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers

Let’s start with our Swiss portfolio, with 25% of a Swiss ETF and 75% of a European ETF. In this case, our example investor will invest once every four months in the Swiss ETF and the other months in the European ETF. The Swiss Investor will have CHF as its base currency. It means that buying the European ETF will incur a currency conversion.

It is the kind of portfolio that most Swiss invest in. If you do not want a Swiss ETF, skip to the next section for a complete Europe ETF Portfolio. However, the next section uses EUR as a base currency.

For this Swiss investor, we are going to compare DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for several scenarios.

Starting investor

Our first scenario is with a person starting investing. The investor begins with 25’000 CHF and invests 1000 CHF every month. It is a typical scenario for a person just starting investing in the stock market. But this is only an example. There is no problem starting with zero CHF.

Here are the detailed results of this scenario:

DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Standard Swiss Investor
DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Standard Swiss Investor

And here are the total fees for each broker account:

  • DEGIRO Basic: 56.98 CHF
  • DEGIRO Custody: 78.42 CHF
  • Interactive Brokers Fixed: 86.52 CHF
  • Interactive Brokers Tiered: 52.35 CHF

In this case, Interactive Brokers Tiered is very slightly cheaper than DEGIRO Basic, but it is not a very significant difference. We can see that even for a small portfolio, the Basic account of DEGIRO is already considerably cheaper than the Custody account.

So, in this particular case, Interactive Brokers Tiered and DEGIRO Basic are the best choices.

Standard Investor I

For the second scenario, we can take an investor with 100’000 CHF and investing 2000 CHF every month. After a few years of investing, this is the state that many investors will reach.

This scenario yields the following results for the different brokers:

DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Standard Swiss Investor
DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Standard Swiss Investor

And here are again the total fees for each broker account:

  • DEGIRO Basic: 79 CHF
  • DEGIRO Custody:  146 CHF
  • Interactive Brokers Fixed: 87 CHF
  • Interactive Brokers Tiered: 53 CHF

Interactive Brokers Tiered is now significantly cheaper than DEGIRO Basic. We can also observe that the Custody account of DEGIRO starts to become expensive because we get more dividends.

So, in this particular case, Interactive Brokers Tiered is the best choice. However, it is only marginally cheaper than DEGIRO Basic. Both are excellent choices for this scenario.

Standard Investor II

Let’s see what happens if we invest 5000 CHF every month instead of 2000 CHF. It is still a typical investing case.

DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Standard Swiss Investor - 5000 CHF per month
DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Standard Swiss Investor – 5000 CHF per month

This scenario would give us the following totals:

  • DEGIRO Basic: 147 CHF
  • DEGIRO Custody:  224 CHF
  • Interactive Brokers Fixed: 93 CHF
  • Interactive Brokers Tiered: 68 CHF

We can see that Interactive Brokers is the best option here. But we can also see that the gap between Tiered and Fixed pricing is not that big anymore. DEGIRO Basic starts to get expensive because of the currency exchange fees. And the Custody account is starting to get expensive because of the fees on dividends. Interestingly, DEGIRO Basic is now even more expensive than IB Fixed.

Once again, in this particular case, Interactive Brokers Tiered would be the best choice.

    Advanced Investor

    Let’s check the last scenario for our Swiss investor. This time, our investor has 500’000 CHF and is investing 10’000 CHF every month. This scenario is not typical since this is a lot of money. But this is still possible.

    DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for an Advanced Swiss Investor
    DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for an Advanced Swiss Investor

    We get the following totals from this case:

    • DEGIRO Basic: 259 CHF
    • DEGIRO Custody:  571 CHF
    • Interactive Brokers Fixed: 138 CHF
    • Interactive Brokers Tiered: 100 CHF

    Not a lot of things have changed in this scenario. We can note that the gaps between the different options are increasing. The Tiered account is still the best option. Custody is too costly now, about two times more expensive than DEGIRO Basic.

    In this case, Interactive Brokers Tiered is the cheapest option.

    Conclusion Swiss Investor

    My top pick
    Interactive Brokers
    5.0
    No custody fees

    Everything you need to buy stocks and ETFs, reliably and at extremely affordable prices. Trade U.S. stocks for as little as 0.5 USD!

    Pros:
    • Extremely affordable
    • Wide range of investing instruments

    We can draw several conclusions for Swiss investors:

    • Interactive Brokers Tiered is the cheapest account
    • The difference between Interactive Brokers Tiered and DEGIRO Basic is relatively small.
    • DEGIRO Custody account starts to be expensive once your portfolio increases and generates more dividends. You may want to consider using Interactive Brokers if you do not want your broker to lend your shares.
    • Most of the fees of DEGIRO are coming from the currency exchanges.

    For Swiss investors, I would recommend using Interactive Brokers.

    This does not mean that DEGIRO is a bad broker for Swiss investors. In the worst scenario, you are going to pay 159 CHF more per year. This is not a big amount. DEGIRO is still a great broker, not just as cheap as IB. If you do not want a broker from the United States, go with DEGIRO!

    European Investor – DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers

    If you live in Europe, you will likely have a portfolio with only European ETFs.

    In this case, the example investor will invest every month in a European ETF. It is a simple scenario. Since a European investor will have euros, it will not need any currency conversion in this scenario. It will make a significant difference!

    This should be the case for most European Investors except for Swiss investors. It could also be different for people from the United Kingdom since they do not have euros.

    Some of the prices from DEGIRO vary from country to country. For this example, I took the prices from France. With Interactive Brokers, there are no differences based on where you come from.

    For this European investor, we will compare DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for the same scenarios as before.

    Starting investor

    Our first scenario is for a person that is starting to invest. The investor begins with 25’000 EUR and invests 1000 EUR every month. This scenario is typical for a European investor just starting investing in the stock market.

    Here are the detailed results of this scenario:

    DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Starting European Investor
    DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Starting European Investor

    And here are the total fees for each broker account:

    • DEGIRO Basic: 6 EUR
    • DEGIRO Custody: 27.12 EUR
    • Interactive Brokers Fixed: 48 EUR
    • Interactive Brokers Tiered: 24.60 EUR

    In this case, DEGIRO Basic is significantly cheaper than Interactive Brokers. But both are really

    So, in this case, DEGIRO Basic is the best option. But IB is also very cheap.

    Standard investor I

    Our second scenario is with a person in the second stage of investing. The investor already has a portfolio of 100’000 EUR. This standard investor invests 2000 EUR each month.

    Here are the detailed results for this scenario:

    DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Standard European Investor
    DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Standard European Investor

    And here are the total fees for each broker account:

    • DEGIRO Basic: 6 EUR
    • DEGIRO Custody: 71.41 EUR
    • Interactive Brokers Fixed: 48 EUR
    • Interactive Brokers Tiered: 24.60 EUR

    Almost nothing changed in this scenario. DEGIRO Custody gets more expensive because of more dividends.

    So, in this case, DEGIRO Basic remains the best option. But IB is also very cheap.

    Standard Investor II

    Let’s see what would happen if this standard investor would invest 5000 EUR per month instead of 1000 EUR.

    DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Standard European Investor - 5000 EUR per month
    DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for a Standard European Investor – 5000 EUR per month

    This scenario would give us the following fees per broker account:

    • DEGIRO Basic: 6 EUR
    • DEGIRO Custody: 81.99 EUR
    • Interactive Brokers Fixed: 60 EUR
    • Interactive Brokers Tiered: 39.60 EUR

    Now that the investments increase, IB becomes more expensive while the prices for DEGIRO do not change. The gap is starting to be significant here.

    For this particular case, DEGIRO Basic is the best option.

    Advanced Investor

    Let’s check the final scenario for our European investor. This time, our investor has 500’000 EUR and is investing 10’000 EUR every month. It is not a typical scenario since this is a lot of money. But this is still possible for dedicated investors or high-income earners.

    This scenario would give us these detailed results:

    DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for an Advanced European Investor
    DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for an Advanced European Investor

    Here are the prices for each broker account:

    • DEGIRO Basic: 6 EUR
    • DEGIRO Custody: 317 EUR
    • Interactive Brokers Fixed: 120 EUR
    • Interactive Brokers Tiered: 69.60 EUR

    Once again, DEGIRO Basic is the best option,  11 times cheaper than Interactive Brokers Tiered.

    Conclusion European Investor

    Great broker for Europe
    DEGIRO
    4.0
    Very affordable

    Everything you need to start investing in the stock market! Trade U.S. securities for as little as 0.50 CHF!

    Pros:
    • Great prices
    • Many investing instruments

    We can draw several conclusions for European investors:

    • DEGIRO Basic is the cheapest account
    • Interactive Brokers Tiered is a good option for small investors
    • DEGIRO Custody account starts to be expensive once your portfolio increases and generates more dividends. You may want to consider using Interactive Brokers if you do not want your broker to lend your shares.
    • Investing without currency exchanges can save a lot of money.

    Most European Investors should go with DEGIRO.

    Conclusion – DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers

    My top pick
    Interactive Brokers
    5.0
    No custody fees

    Everything you need to buy stocks and ETFs, reliably and at extremely affordable prices. Trade U.S. stocks for as little as 0.5 USD!

    Pros:
    • Extremely affordable
    • Wide range of investing instruments

    There you have it! We now know the cheaper option between DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for several scenarios. Interestingly, both broker accounts are competitive. There is no bad option between these two brokers.

    We can draw a few conclusions from this comparison:

    • For a Swiss Investor, Interactive Brokers Tiered should be the most affordable broker.
    • For a European Investor, DEGIRO Basic should be the most affordable broker option.
    • There is very little difference in prices between DEGIRO Basic and Interactive Brokers Tiered. Both brokers are very affordable.
    • DEGIRO Custody is quickly becoming expensive as your portfolio grows in size.

    So which should you choose? Swiss investors should probably go with Interactive Brokers Tiered Account. If they do not want a US broker, then, they should go with DEGIRO.

    European investors, on the other hand, should probably go with DEGIRO. It is significantly cheaper for beginner investors.

    If you need more information on these brokers, you can read my reviews:

    What about you? Which broker do you use?

    Baptiste Wicht is the author behind thepoorswiss.com. In 2017, he realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut on his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

    134 thoughts on “DEGIRO vs Interactive Brokers for European Portfolio: Who is cheaper in 2021?”

    1. If I use Degiro Custody with accumulating ETFs the fees (more or less) are the same as Degiro Basic, right?

      Since the currency conversion got much worse on Degiro, does it make sense to convert it when transfering from my bank?

      1. Hi Berny,

        Indeed, DEGIRO custody using only accumulating ETFs should remove the downside of DEGIRO Custody.
        I am not sure you can transfer EUR directly to DEGIRO. If you can, maybe that’s interesting, but your bank will likely be worse than 0.25%.

    2. Hello Mr. TPS!
      Considering that we should (unfortunately) not be able to buy VT shares from Switzerland as of January, I am considering starting my future position of VWCE/VWRD in Degiro since it’s a free ETF there. VWCE would probably be the only ETF I would purchase in Degiro (about once a month or every other month). Would you recommend this?

    3. Hello Poor Swiss

      Quick question how does that behave with the fees when buying an ETF at ACRA via IB UK for example the Vanguard Total World Stock (VT)?
      According to the InteractiveBrokers homepage it costs up to <300'000 shares 0.0035$ per share (Min.: 0.35 Max.: 1% of the trade) then in the case of the VT again 0.003 per share of the Exchange(ACRA) is added. For 100k it is then a total of 650$ in fees, correct?
      Link IB Stock Fees: https://investors.interactivebrokers.com/en/index.php?f=1590&p=stocks2

      Greetings,
      Tim

      1. Hi Tim,

        I am guessing you are talking about NYSE ARCA, not ACRA.
        How did you get 650$ in fees? This is definitely (and fortunately) not correct.
        100’000 dollars in VT is current about 935 shares. If we multiply this by 0.0035, we get 3.2725$. This is what you are going to pay in fees, not 650$

        1. Yes, you are right, you still have to divide the 100k by the price of the share and then multiply by the factor. Can I also change the exchange location with IB and buy ETF or shares on a European exchange?

          Thanks for your feedback!

          Greetings Tim

    4. Degiro just updated their fees, currency exchange is much more expensive now. Maybe time for a new update?

      What I’m also interested in is the comparison if you’re only interested in the commision-free ETFs on Degiro (like VWRL).

      1. Hi Sven,

        Thanks for letting me know. They have more than doubled their currency conversion fees, that’s pretty bad! I will have to update my articles about DEGIRO then!
        I will try to use a commission-free ETF in a future conversion, but that should be easy to compute since you will only pay the currency conversion fee on DEGIRO and you will pay 2 USD for the currency conversion and about 3 EUR for the ETF. So, IB is cheaper when 0.25% of the value is higher than 5 EUR, so starting from 2000 EUR investments.
        And obviously, if we are comparing VWRL with VT, IB will beat DEGIRO by a big margin since it will cost 0.35 USD to buy the ETF.

    5. Hello
      Small correction, I think that currency exchanges are not a fixed 2 USD with IBKR. Just paid a commission of 5.97 CHF on CHF.USD trade.
      All the best,
      Eon

    6. Hi,

      I see that the monthly maintenance fee for IB is not included in the calculation. Wouldn’t it be more expensive for a starting investor (portfolio size <100,000) to use IB if we would take in account all the other recurring monthly fees?

    7. maybe also to hightlight, it takes so much time and effort to open an account on Interactive Brokers. I cancelled after wasting 20min, really annoying!

      1. Hi Marius,

        What takes so long? I don’t remember how long it took me, but it’s likely significantly less than 10 minutes. They only ask the standard questions that most brokers will ask.

        1. well this questionaire took long. at the end the salary does not match the standard we have for this area etc.
          I took a second approach and just filled out the fields how it works, so in order to make an account you need at least x amount of experience and x amount of trades… as I am a private investor, usually you do not make that many trades. otherwise at the end you will be classified as a professional and then good luck explaining that.
          anyhow, it worked and my account is now open. but it took more than 10m, this for sure. Swissquote is here far easier.

          1. Hello, yes, the process is a bit longer than with Swissquote, but I think this is mainly due to regulation and I feel better by their automated system on clarifying the questions in advance. For me, IB seems to have a better system assuring that an investor is up to the “job”.
            Best, Eon

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