Choosing an online broker that meets your needs involves knowing what your needs actually are. For example, if you’ve been trading or already have a sense of what’s involved, you might stick to an established broker with lower commissions.
On the other hand, if you’re new to trading and need to gain experience, then a broker with an intuitive trading platform and educational resources might be your best bet. If your home base is in Germany, you have a choice of several top brokers to choose from regardless of your level of experience.
Quick Look: The Best German Stock Brokers
- Best Overall: Interactive Brokers – Open an account
- Saxo Bank
- Comdirect Bank
Brokerage Accounts in Germany: What You Need to Know
Founded in 1585, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange makes up 90% of stock trading in Germany through its two trading venues, Börse Frankfurt and Xetra. Other major stock markets in Germany include Berlin, Stuttgart, Bremen, Hamburg, Munich and the Tradegate Exchange.
The German stock market has the oversight of the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht, generally abbreviated as BaFin, or Federal Financial Supervisory Authority.
BaFin was created as the merger of Germany’s three other supervisory agencies that regulated the insurance, banking industries and stock markets. This put all financial companies in Germany under one supervisory authority.
Keep in mind that if you live in Germany and trade stocks, you are subject to a 25% investment tax introduced on Jan. 1, 2009. The tax encompasses all capital gains and investment income.
Germany gives a tax allowance of €801 (or €1,602 for couples) for income derived from interest and investments, which can be divided between different institutions, such as a bank and a stockbroker, for example.
What to Consider Before You Open an Account
Several elements should be considered before you open an account with a stock brokerage company that does business in Germany. Pay attention to these elements, because it could save you considerable time and money in the long run. Remember, not all brokerages are created equal, so make sure to carefully consider your needs before you open an account.
In order to represent you when purchasing stocks on a German stock exchange, the broker must be registered with BaFin. Whether a company has oversight from BaFin can be verified through its website portal. If you purchase German securities through a non-registered broker, you might run a risk in the delivery of the shares, unless the German stock is dually listed on other exchanges.
An easy-to-use, intuitive platform to enter orders and receive confirmations makes up another key element to consider when choosing a stockbroker for the German market. Many modern online trading platforms include research material, stock charts and a news feed.
Brokerage Fees and Commissions
The broker’s fees and commission schedule could impact your profits significantly if you trade actively in short-term strategies. If you plan to trade infrequently and don’t mind paying full commission, you could use a full-service broker for your investments, which would give you access to the full-service broker’s research and other offerings.
The ability to contact your broker in the event of a misunderstanding or to just ask a question related to your account is important. Your broker’s customer service department would ideally include telephone access, a live chat feature on its website or trading platform and correspondence through email, as well as support in German for traders who prefer that.
A good stockbroker will have educational resources for less experienced traders and investors as well as market research and analysis useful to traders of all levels. Also, many stockbrokers allow traders to operate in other markets, such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs), forex, commodities and bonds, for example.
The Best Online Brokers in Germany
The best online brokers for the German stock market don’t necessarily have to be based in Germany. Some of our picks include brokers from the United States, the Netherlands and Denmark. All of the brokers described below are registered with BaFin and can execute orders for customers on German stock markets.
Best Overall: Interactive Brokers
This U.S.-based multi-asset international broker can execute stock orders for the German market through its Interactive Brokers U.K. subsidiary. Supported German stock markets include BATS Europe (BATEDE), CHI-X Europe Ltd Clearstream, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Stuttgart Stock Exchange, Tradegate Exchange, Turquoise TRQXDE and the XETRA Exchange.
Interactive Brokers offers its Client Portal and Trader Workstation (TWS) trading platforms that can accommodate both seasoned traders (TWS) and new traders seeking a simplified trading interface (Client Portal). IB also offers its TWS platform on mobile and an Interactive Brokers WebTrader web-based platform, as well as IBot that consists of a hands-free voice-activated add-on available on its TWS desktop, Interactive Brokers mobile and Client Portal. Customer service is available 24/6 and includes phone, email and live chat options.
You can trade multiple assets on 120 world exchanges with its Integrated Investment Account. The Client Portal platform works for traders at all levels, the broker has a $10,000 minimum deposit to open an account, which would make it a better choice for more experienced traders.
Other important features include earning interest on idle deposits and having the opportunity to borrow at the lowest market rates. Also, you can use the Bill Pay feature to pay for goods and services with an IB issued Mastercard Debit card.
Based in the Netherlands, DEGIRO offers some of the lowest fees and commissions in the business and features an intuitive, easy to navigate trading platform. DEGIRO offers access to most international stock markets, as well as XETRA and the Frankfurt Börse. In addition to stocks, DEGIRO lets clients trade ETFs, futures, bonds, options, warrants, leveraged products and contracts for difference (CFDs).
DEGIRO’s trading platform features streaming stock quotes, charting capabilities and a news feed. The platform is intuitive and easy to use, which would make it ideal for novice traders. Also, the web-based platform has a mobile application for Android and tablet devices.
The broker has another interesting feature not found on other broker’s platforms: you can enter a stock order by the value of the order instead of the number of shares. DEGIRO accepts customers based in the EU and other countries but does not accept U.S. clients. Also, you can’t trade currencies through DEGIRO.
DEGIRO’s research offerings seem thin, despite having an Investor’s Academy and a tutorial on using their platform that should suit newer traders. With respect to customer service, DEGIRO’s service desk can be reached by telephone Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. GMT until 10:00 p.m. GMT. Otherwise, you can send a message on its website or consult the FAQs.
Based in Denmark and founded in 1996, Saxo Bank offers trading in more than 35,000 financial instruments. In addition to stocks on 36 global stock exchanges, Saxo traders can trade currencies, CFDs, ETFs, forex and stock options, futures and bonds. While Saxo charges higher commissions, it offers a lot for your money.
Saxo features two trading platforms: SaxoTraderGO, a web-based platform with a mobile application for Android, Mac and tablets, and SaxoTraderPro, a downloadable platform with trading software suitable for professionals and more advanced traders. You can access your SaxoTraderPro application through the SaxoTraderGO mobile platform when you’re away from your workstation.
The broker features a number of top-notch research options, with market analysis, macro-economic analysis, equities, a daily Morning Call, a Quarterly Outlook and even an Outrageous Predictions category. The research department is staffed by a panel of experts who give market insights traders can access through Saxo Bank’s website.
As far as customer support is concerned, Saxo Bank has a chat function on its website, phone support 24/5, and a comprehensive FAQ section that covers most questions you might have about their trading platforms, account funding, account management, etc. In addition, their website has video tutorials on many topics.
Established in 1994, this online broker’s website and platform are only available in the German language. A member of the Comdirect Group, Comdirect is also a top German bank and a leader in the German online securities business, with over 2.5 million private customers.
Commerzbank owns 80 percent of Comdirect’s shares, and the company has been listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since 2000. It has also been in the SDAX since 2005, which is the DAX small and medium companies stock index. Although Comdirect charges higher commissions, the broker makes up for them through its research offerings.
Comdirect offers trading on all major German exchanges, currencies, CFDs, ETFs, futures, options, bonds and funds. The broker has an impressive array of research offerings from major banks throughout Europe. Comdirect’s customizable trading platform ProTrader has an intuitive interface and advanced charting capabilities, as well as a news feed.
One advantage of the Comdirect trading platform consists of giving you the choice of the stock exchange where you would like your order to be executed. Comdirect also offers a mobile platform option, although it lacks many features found on the ProTrader platform. With respect to customer service, Comdirect can be contacted through telephone, live chat, video chat and email in German.
Based in Luxembourg and backed by J.C. Flowers and Company, Internaxx provides a stock brokerage service for exchanges all over the EU, the United States and elsewhere.
Internaxx gives traders access to trading on 18 different stock exchanges, including the Frankfurter Wertpapierbörse, or Frankfurt Stock Exchange. In addition to stocks, you can trade ETFs and investment funds on Internaxx. The broker offers a web-based trading platform as well as a mobile platform for iOS and Android devices.
Internaxx features free investment tools and research from Morningstar equity research, in addition to its own research, which includes coverage of ETFs and investment funds. In addition, the broker offers a Smart Portfolio option for a 10,000 unit deposit of USD, EUR or GBP. The Smart Portfolio is designed for people with different risk profiles who prefer a professionally managed account.
The customer service department consists of email contact, plus telephone and fax numbers for the stock trading and derivatives departments. The customer service staff is multilingual and can be reached during U.S. and European market hours.
Taking the Next Step
Once you have decided on a broker, you can proceed to research individual equities and invest in the German stock market. Remember to keep your investment risk low by employing money management techniques in addition to your trading or investment plan. You can consult with a German tax expert to find out what the tax implications of your investments might be.