Disclosure: All content is provided for educational purposes and should not be considered as investment advice. This article may contain links to services from our partners who compensates us.
High fees and commissions have long haunted European investors. At least that’s how it was until just a few years ago. Thanks to the growing amount of educational resources available online, retail investors are increasingly becoming aware of the long-term implications of fees on their assets.
Inspired by Robinhood and other free trading platforms from the US, a number of European brokers are now following suit by offering zero-commission trades for stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs). Prices are no doubt going down, but at the same time, the number of brokerages to choose from is only going up.
But while all these online platforms fight to lure new clients with sleekly designed mobile apps and very few strings attached, the question arises: How do you find the right broker for your needs?
To help you make up your mind about where to start, I tested and compared a number of brokerages offering commission-free trading for Europeans. Some are native European ones, while others are based in the US. I primarily looked at the top brokerages for zero commission trading in Europe of stocks and ETFs, but some providers are starting to offer different instruments like options with low or no trading fees. There should be something for everybody.
Risk warning: We do not endorse Contracts for Differences (‘CFDs’), however, EU law requires that we provide the following disclaimer: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. Between 59 – 80% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with these providers. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
The Best Brokers for Commission-Free Trading in Europe
Overview of the best brokers for commission-free trading in Europe:
- eToro: Best for free stock & ETF investing. Founded in 2007 and highly regulated, eToro offers commission-free stock and ETF trades for Europeans, with access to over 1,900 instruments. It’s a solid, all-around broker for new investors.
- DEGIRO: Great low-cost equity broker. Launched in 2013, DEGIRO is a popular European discount broker with commission-free monthly ETF trades and low stock trading fees. Investors looking for low-cost and easy maintenance may find DEGIRO a great fit.
- XTB: Best for active traders. Regulated by multiple top-tier financial authorities across Europe, XTB is a highly popular low-cost brokerage due to its cutting-edge tools and platforms, and zero commission fee structure on stock indexes, commodities, forex, and cryptocurrencies.
- Firstrade: Best for US options and investor protection. Operating since 1985, Firstrade is a long-standing US broker that offers free trading of US options and stocks to European investors, with the benefit of $500,000 account protection through the SIPC.
eToro: Zero-commission on stocks and ETFs
Best for: Zero-commissions stocks & ETFs
Founded in 2007, eToro is an international discount broker with 12 million users, making it one of the largest in the world. Investors based in the EU or UK can enjoy commission-free trading of stocks and ETFs, while traders have access to an extensive list of commodities, cryptocurrencies, forex, and indices at competitive spreads.
- Zero-commission on real stocks and ETFs
- Regulated by the FCA (UK), CySEC (EU), and ASIC (AU)
- 12 million registered users
- Auto-copy trading strategies of others
Besides its long track record, eToro is regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) and the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), meaning EU investors are protected up to €20,000, and UK clients up to £85,000
We do not endorse Contracts for Differences (‘CFDs’), but we are required to provide the following disclaimer: 67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
eToro charges no fees for opening or closing normal stock or ETF trades (non-leveraged positions), and there are no mark-ups, no ticket fee, and no management fees involved. This means clients can enjoy a large amount of commission-free stock and ETF trades with few restrictions. The one downside is that eToro only offers USD-based accounts.
CFD trades incur a spread fee of 0.09% for buy and sell and overnight and weekend rollover fees. However, these are not relevant if you plan on holding normal stocks and ETFs.
|Trading fees||None, low|
|Products||Stocks, ETFs, indices, crypto, forex, commodities, CFDs|
|Supported countries||Most of Europe (minus Serbia)|
|Regulation||FCA (UK clients), ASIC (Australian clients), CySEC (EU clients & others).|
|Inactivity fee||Yes, $10 monthly if no login for 12 months|
|Time to open account||48 hours|
eToro is a multi-asset platform that offers both investing in stocks and crypto assets as well as trading CFD assets.
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Cryptoassets are volatile instruments that can fluctuate widely in a very short timeframe and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Other than via CFDs, trading crypto assets is unregulated and therefore is not supervised by any EU regulatory framework.
Past performance is not an indication of future results.
Your capital is at risk.
DEGIRO: Zero-commission ETF broker with low trading fees
Best for: Everyday investors
Based in the Netherlands, DEGIRO is a highly popular discount broker due to its low fees and monthly free ETF trades. Aside from stocks and ETFs, DEGIRO offers bonds, options, futures, and leveraged products and access to around 50 exchange worldwide.
With industry-leading commission rates, according to their website, and a beginner-friendly trading platform, DEGIRO may be a perfect fit for investors looking for low costs and ease-of-use.
Disclaimer: Investing involves risk of loss.
While DEGIRO’s fees are among the lowest in Europe, as compared on their website, the broker only allows one commission-free ETF trade per month, regardless of size. See the list of included ETFs and applicable terms here. If you plan on trading more, eToro might be a better choice.
DEGIRO charges no fees for depositing or withdrawing funds, and no account minimums, trading requirement, no inactivity fee, no charge for annual maintenance, and no custody fees.
Free services aside, trading an international ETF costs €2 plus 0.03% of the order value. Charges for trading stocks vary more, but the fees are generally very low. Trading a stock on the London Stock Exchange will set you back £1.75 plus 0.022% (with a maximum of £5.00), while trading on Xetra costs €4.00 plus 0.05% (with a maximum of €60).
Moreover, there is a connectivity fee of €2.5 per year for each exchange you trade on (except the London Stock Exchange), and a currency exchange fee: 0.10% of the traded amount.
|Products||Shares, ETFs, bonds, options, futures, leveraged products|
|Supported countries||See list|
|Time to open account||24 hours|
|Supported currencies||CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HUF, NOK, PLN, SEK|
XTB: Zero-commission indices & commodities
Best for: Active trading
Founded in 2002, XTB is a trusted multi-asset broker regulated by several prudent financial authorities in Europe. XTB offers a broad suite of instruments tradeable at low costs, including over 1,500 stocks, 100 ETFs, 40 indices, major commodities, plus all the most popular FX and cryptocurrency pairs.
XTB recently started offering commission-free real stocks and ETF trades (not CFDs) in a number of European countries: the Czech Republic, Germany, Portugal, Poland, France, Spain, and Slovenia.
We do not endorse Contracts for Differences (‘CFDs’), but we are required to provide the following disclaimer: 82% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
XTB delivers a great all-around package for active traders thanks to its beginner-friendly trading platform suite, the xStation 5, but also because of its simple pricing model for private traders, with zero commissions charged on indices, commodities, forex, and cryptocurrencies for its retail ‘Standard’ account.
- Regulated by multiple European authorities (e.g. FCA, CySEC, KNF)
- Negative balance protection for private customers
- Long track record since 2002
- Beginner friendly trading platforms
The Standard account keeps things simple by avoiding calculating commission for each trade as it instead charges a spread at min. 0.35. Besides the commission-free products, XTB offers CFDs on stocks and ETFs from as little as 0.08% per lot.
|Products||Stock indexes, commodities, forex, CFD, crypto (real stocks and ETFs in certain countries only)|
|Supported countries||Most European countries|
|Regulation||FCA (UK), CySEC (Cyprus), KNF (Poland), CNMV (Spain)|
|Time to open account||48 hours|
Firstrade: Commission-free US equities and options
Best for: Commission-free options trading and investor protection
Founded in 1985, Firstrade is a highly trusted US broker that offers commission-free US equity and option trades to European investors and is popular for its easy-to-use mobile trading app. Overall, Firstrade is a great brokerage for investors and retail trader and presents a robust alternative its Europe-based competitors.
Besides its long track record, Firstrade is strictly regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and international investors enjoy protection from the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) up to $500,000 – far surpassing the EU’s mandatory compensation scheme of only €20,000.
on Firstrade’s secure website
EU citizens should note that US-domiciled ETFs are not accessible due to new MIFID & PRIIPs rules.
While the design of Firstrade’s web-based trading platform is slightly outdated, I am highly impressed by its mobile app. It offers a clean design and beginner-friendly layout, with numerous order types for trading. Other benefits include cross-device synching of watch lists and real-time streaming quotes.
Firstrade offers commission-free stock and option trades for the US market for international customers. There are no minimum deposit, inactivity, or account maintenance fees for equities. However, international outgoing transfers costs $50, which is something to keep in mind.
|Products||US stocks, options, bonds|
|Supported countries||Most European countries|
|Time to open account||48 hours|
Firstrade is available in: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
How to Choose a Commission Free Broker in Europe
Whether you’re an active trader or buy-and-hold investor, there are a number of things to keep in mind before choosing a broker. ‘Commission-free’ brokers in Europe can in some cases be expensive to use if the overall costs are not assessed appropriately.
Although it may not seem so from the surface, commission-free trading in Europe is never completely free. While the price for opening or closing a position is generally cheaper than with traditional brokers, the companies offering these services still need to make money.
They charge some kind of fee, be it for exchanging currency, withdrawing funds, or something else. Commission-free trading in Europe often means that the fees are incorporated in the spread. Also, low-cost brokers often lack the breadth of products, charting, news streaming, or advanced tools offered by heavy-weight firms.
With the above pros and cons in mind, its time we delved into the list of brokers and mobile apps offering commission-free trading in Europe.
Watch Out For Exchange Fees
When topping up your account, some brokers automatically exchange your funds into a different denomination than you deposited, often USD. However, larger brokers usually accept local currency deposits.
These are then subsequently exchanged into the denomination of the asset you purchase, either automatically or manually. In return for this service, the broker will charge a flat fee, percent of the exchanged amount, or a give a less attractive exchange rate than the one you find on Google (the so-called Inter-Bank Exchange Rate).
Mind the Spread
A spread refers to the difference between the sell (bid) and the buy (ask) price of a security. When trading stocks, most brokers use market spreads, meaning they match the bid and ask price on the market. For this they charge a fee for every trade. Commission-free brokers might incorporate these fees into the spread which is perceived as less transparent.
Are They Licensed?
Choosing an unlicensed broker is never a good idea. Frankly, it’s a great way to walk headlong into a scam. Only trust a licensed broker with your money, as these are overseen and regulated by national regulatory bodies. Meaning they have to comply with strict rules and perform AML and KYC verification.
Equally important, client funds are protected through compensation schemes in case the company goes bankrupt.
For serving European clients, a lot of brokerages settle on Cyprus as their base. Cyprus has a low corporate tax rate of only 12.5%. At the same time, the country is member of the EU and has fully implemented the Markets In Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), meaning they’re allowed to sell their financial services customers in all EEA member states.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Commission?
A commission refers to the fee charged by a brokerage for handling sales or purchases of securities on your behalf.
What is a spread?
A spread is the difference between two prices, usually the buy versus sell price. In equity trading (stocks, ETFs), the spread refers to the difference in price between bid and sell orders on the market. However, some brokers incorporate their fees into the spread which is considered less transparent.
What are spreads in trading?
In forex and CFD trading, spread can be thought of as the brokerage fee for executing a position. When buying, the price will always be higher than the real market value, and when selling it will be below it.
What are CFDs?
A CFD (‘contract for difference’) is a financial derivate used to speculate on price movements of financial markets like shares, crypto, forex, commodities, and indices.