Best Online Broker in Germany For Expats

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Researched & written

by Yvonne Koppen

Updated

Investing in stocks, options, and ETFs has become easier than ever, and more and more Germans, especially the younger generation, are entering the stock markets. To allow you an educated decision on which online broker service to use to build your portfolio, we have reviewed the best online brokers in Germany for expats. 

If you are short on time and just want an answer, here are the best online brokers in Germany:

  1. Scalable Capital β€“ free securities account and free ETF savings plans, flat-rate plans for active traders, desktop, and app in English.
  2. Trade Republic β€“ free securities account and savings plans, mobile-only app in English, great for beginners.
  3. flatex β€“ for advanced traders, domestic and international exchanges, German only, free savings plans.
  4. Commerzbank β€“ traditional branch bank with free checking & securities account, moderate savings plan pricing, expensive for active day traders and inactive traders.
Scalable CapitalTrade RepublicflatexCommerzbank
English Website or App pro checkpro checkx iconPartially
Free Securities Accountpro checkpro checkpro checkpro check
Cost per Savings Plans1 free
each extra costs €0,99
freefree€2,50 + 0,25% order fees
Cost per Order€0,99 or flat rate€1free to €15,90€9,90 to €50 or more
Number of Stocks & ETFsβ‰ˆ12.900β‰ˆ10.400β‰ˆ1 millionToo many to count
Crypto Possibleyes, but only as ETPpro checkx iconx icon

Which financial products can you trade with an online broker in Germany?

Not all online brokers in Germany are built the same. Some are more streamlined and only offer orders at one or two exchanges, which allows them to offer very competitive prices. Others are much more complex and offer domestic and international trading with all possible investment types, at usually higher fees. The most common investment types with online brokers are:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
  • Derivatives
  • CFDs
  • Forex currencies
  • Cryptocurrencies

We only look at stocks, ETFs, and crypto investment possibilities for the scope of this guide.

What are the possible fees of an online broker in Germany?

Investing money usually costs money. I used to have my securities account with Commerzbank, which my dad opened when I was still a teenager. Since then, the online broker market has changed tremendously, and only a few years back did I realize that I paid several hundred euros per year in upkeep fees, which was totally unnecessary. This is when I started my research into online brokers and discovered multiple different options and fee schedules. The most common fees when it comes to online brokers are the following: 

Securities account fees

To invest in or trade with stocks in Germany, you need to have a specific securities account (Wertpapierkonto), also called a Depot. Similar to a regular bank account, you can find free and paid versions. This is usually a per month or per year cost; however, we will give you multiple online brokers that offer a free securities account.

Order placement costs

Most orders of stocks, ETFs, and other investment options carry an order fee, meaning the more active you are, the higher amount of fees you will pay. Unless you choose a broker, which offers trading flat rates, like Scalable Capital, ETF savings plans are usually cheaper (if not free!) than one-time orders.Β 

Which is the best online broker in Germany?

Here are our top picks for the best online brokers in Germany this year.

1. Scalable Capital

Broker homepage of Scalable Capital
πŸ“Έ Screenshot / Source: Scalable Capital

Scalable Capital was founded in 2014 in Munich and offers two different products: their robo-advisor (automated trading) and online brokerage (manual trading). During the scope of this guide, we will only focus on the online brokerage. Scalable Capital also operates under their own BaFin license as a trading bank and can be used on desktop and via their mobile app alike, making it a full-scale trading platform. However, the registration on the website is only available in German. For English usage, you need to use the app. 

Scalable Capital offers three different plans for their broker service. The Free Broker, which is great for beginners or long-term ETF investors, as it comes without a monthly fee. And the Prime Broker and Prime+ Broker for 2,99 or 4,99 euros a month, which is a great option for active day-traders. We will focus on the Free Broker in this comparison.

Scalable Capital also offers crypto investment (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Tezos, Polkadot, Ripple, Cardano and Solana) only via ETPs (Exchange-Traded-Products) and not into the coins themselves. ETPs are securities that get traded at the stock exchange and which form the value development of cryptocurrencies. 

To transfer money into your trading account, you can set up a direct debit from your checking bank account or do a wire transfer. Credit/debit cards or Apple and Google pay are not possible.

Scalable Capital Benefits:

βœ… App & customer service in English
βœ… Easy & fast online account opening
βœ… Free ETF or stock savings plans from 1 euro per month 
βœ… Big trading portfolio of over 10.000 stocks & ETFs and 2.400 ETFs for savings plans
βœ… Only 0,99 euros trading fee per trade 
βœ… No trading fee on PRIME ETFs from 250 euros
βœ… Flatrate pricing for active traders
βœ… Only 1 euro minimum initial deposit necessary
βœ… No account management, withdrawal, or inactivity fees
βœ… Blog, seminars & webinars to educate about finances and trading
βœ… Phone, Chat & Email support

Scalable Capital Drawbacks:

⛔️ Registration on the website only available in German
⛔️ No direct investment into crypto possible 
⛔️ No money deposit via credit/debit card & Apple/Google pay possible
⛔️ Not available for US nationals or anyone taxable in the US

Risk Disclaimer

2. Trade Republic

Homepage of Trade Republic
πŸ“Έ Screenshot / Source: Trade Republic

Trade Republic was founded in 2015 and is a German securities trading bank with its own BaFin (German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority) license. Trade Republic was the first company to launch a mobile-only trading app in 2019, allowing trading on the go. The website and app are available in English. Next to the app, they are also revolutionizing the trading industry by offering commission-free trading. 

This means that their securities account and fixed monthly payments into savings plans in ETFs or stocks are entirely free of charge. You can choose from over 1.500 ETFs, 7.000 stocks and only need a minimum monthly savings amount of 10 euros to begin. That makes it a great platform for long-term investments and beginners. But also, more experienced day-traders can benefit from low fees per trade of only 1 euro and a selection of over 8.500 stocks and ETFs.

Since May 2021, Trade Republic also offers the purchase and selling of cryptocurrencies. Currently, their crypto portfolio includes the coins of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash. Similar to stocks, the orders are commission-free, with only 1 euro of external fees. Your crypto gets stored in an external cold wallet by Trade Republic. However, it is important to note that you cannot payout your crypto coins with Trade Republic, meaning you can’t use your crypto to buy things.

You can deposit money into your account via bank transfer or via credit/debit card and Apple or Google pay, which is an instant transfer. 

Trade Republic Benefits:

βœ… Website, app & customer service in English
βœ… Easy & fast online account opening
βœ… Free savings plans for 2.400 ETFs & 2.500 stocks
βœ… Big trading portfolio of 8.000 stocks & 2.400 ETFs
βœ… 50 cryptocurrencies available for trading
βœ… Only 1 euro trading fee per trade 
βœ… Transparent & cheap pricing
βœ… No minimum initial deposit necessary
βœ… No account management, withdrawal, or inactivity fees
βœ… Customer support via chat, phone, and email
βœ… Money deposits via bank transfer, credit/debit card & Apple/Google pay possible

Trade Republic Drawbacks:

⛔️ Support section is only available in German
⛔️ No chat or phone support – only contact form 
⛔️ Not available for US nationals or anyone taxable in the US

3. flatex

Homepage of Flatex
πŸ“Έ Screenshot / Source: flatex translated by Google

flatex is the brand of the Flatexdegiro Bank AG, a more experienced online broker founded in 2006. They target active and well-informed traders who act independently and are confident in German, as there is no English website or app. The trading offer extends to all types of securities with trading opportunities on all German and many international stock exchanges and direct over-the-counter trading. 

flatex also offers over 4.500 ETF and funds savings plans for 0,00 euros (plus standard market spreads, allocations and product costs); however, because of the size of their portfolio, flatex is not the best option for beginners. On the other hand, it is a great option for advanced traders who would like to have access to a bigger trading portfolio than what Trade Republic and Scalable Capital offer. The pricing model is complex, depending on the exchange you are trading in.

The only possible payment option flatex offers is the traditional wire transfer to your cash trading account. 

flatex Benefits:

βœ… Easy & fast online account opening
βœ… Over 4.500 ETF or funds savings plan for 0,00 euros (plus standard market spreads, allocations and product costs)
βœ… Since 2023 no more securities account fees
βœ… Massive trading portfolio of 1 million funds, stocks, ETFs, certificates, and more
βœ… Blog, seminars & webinars to educate about finances and trading
βœ… Customer service available via email and phone in German

flatex Drawbacks:

⛔️ Website and app only available in German
⛔️ No investment into crypto possible 
⛔️ No transparent pricing for orders, as prices depend on the chosen exchange platform
⛔️ No money deposit via credit/debit card & Apple/Google pay possible

Risk Disclaimer

4. Commerzbank DirektDepot

Homepage of Commerzbank Online Broker
πŸ“Έ Screenshot / Source: Commerzbank translated by Google

Commerzbank is the fourth largest bank in Germany and has been voted for four years in a row as the best branch bank in Germany. Recently, it started offering a free securities account (as long as you do one order per quarter) with competitive pricing compared to other traditional banks in Germany, yet higher fees than the neo-brokers like Trade Republic and Scalable Capital. 

Commerzbank also offers a free checking account, a favorite amongst internationals. Both, banking and trading are available in English on desktop and via app. However, the sign-up is only available in German. We have written an in-depth guide on how to sign up for the free Commerzbank bank account. You can also use this guide as a guideline for the depot sign-up, as the process is similar.

Whether or not you are already a Commerzbank banking customer and would like to invest in an ETF savings plan, the Commerzbank broker is a great option. As long as you do one order per quarter (which you do with a monthly savings plan), you do not pay any fees for the securities account.

You can start an ETF savings plan from 25 euros a month. Each ETF savings plan costs 2,50 euros flat per purchase plus 0,25% order fees.

The order price for stocks or ETFs outside of a savings plan ranges from 9,90 to 50 euros or more, depending on the amount and the chosen exchange. Due to these comparatively higher prices, Commerzbank is not a good option for active day-traders.

Along with the depot, you can also open a free securities money account as a cash account for your investments, or you can simply use your Commerzbank checking account as well.

Commerzbank DirektDepot Benefits:

βœ… Easy & fast online account opening (in-person verification for non-EU/EEA citizens)
βœ… Massive trading portfolio of tradable securities
βœ… Free securities account (if one order is done per quarter)
βœ… Over 700 products for saving plans
βœ… All other ETF savings plan for only 2,50 euros per month + 0,25% order fee
βœ… Customer service available via email, phone, and in-person in English
βœ… Desktop and app banking & trading available in English
βœ… Available for almost all nationalities

Commerzbank DirektDepot Drawbacks:

⛔️ Sign-up only available in German
⛔️ No investment into crypto possible 
⛔️ Depot fee of 0,175% (min. 4,95 euros) per year of depot volume if inactive (no order done per quarter)
⛔️  Pricing per single order varies between 9,90 and 50 euros or more
⛔️ No money deposit via credit/debit card & Apple/Google pay possible

How do you start online trading in Germany?

You can start online trading in Germany with 5 steps.

1. Compare online brokers and choose one

In this guide, we have already compared the four best online brokers in Germany for you, which should help you make a decision.

2. Open a securities account 

Once you decide on the online broker you want to use, you need to open a securities account (Depot). For example, for Trade Republic, you need to be older than 18 years and a tax-paying resident of Germany. You also need to have a European mobile phone number and a SEPA bank account.

You need to provide a reference account during the account opening, also called a cash or clearing account. This can be your regular checking bank account. This is the account you should use to wire money to the securities account and where any capital gains from selling securities will be transferred to. For Commerzbank, it needs to be your Commerzbank checking or securities clearing account.

Additionally, you may be asked to answer questions for a self-assessment about your stock-market knowledge and experience. If you have no experience or won’t fill out the questionnaire, the online broker can exclude you from riskier trading products.

3. Get legitimized 

After completing the securities account application, you need to legitimize your identity. Usually, this happens digitally via Video-Ident with your desktop or your smartphone. Scalable Capital shares a list of all supported IDs for Video-Ident. If your passport is not supported, you can legitimize yourself at the nearest post office. Here you can find a list of all accepted passports for the physical Post-Ident. For Commerzbank, you can of course also verify your identity directly at one of their branches.

4. Transfer money into your securities account

You don’t need a big amount of money to start online trading. The smallest possible amount with Trade Republic is 10 euros per transaction. If you are looking for a long-term investment in an ETF savings plan, you can benefit from the compound interest. Already 25 euros per month can generate a comfortable amount of money over a span of 20-30 years.

5. Set up order or savings plan

This is the final step for you to start investing money online. Choose the ETF savings plan, stock, or fund you would like to invest in and set up the order within your online broker interface.

Conclusion

Entering the stock market in Germany has become easier and cheaper than ever before. Whether you are looking to invest long-term to complement your retirement or you want to actively day-trade for short-term wins (or losses), you can select the right online broker in Germany for your purpose. If you don’t have any experience yet, we suggest that you start small and continue educating your financial knowledge.

Scalable Capital – best for active traders.
Trade Republic – best for beginners.
flatex – best for advanced traders.
Commerzbank – best for convenience for ETF saving plans, when also using the Commerzbank checking account or anyone wishing to use a traditional bank.

Disclaimer: Simple Germany or myself as an author do not provide investment advice or financial services. Please be aware that this article is intended to provide you with a brief overview of investing in Germany via online brokers. The statements, comments, and other content contained in this article, even if individual issuers or financial instruments are mentioned, are not to be construed as investment advice and do not constitute, directly or indirectly, a recommendation or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument or any advice relating thereto. It does not substitute any professional investment advice. You are responsible for your own risk if you decide to participate in any form of investment. Please note that no investment can guarantee a profit. Every investment in securities involves risks and can lead to a complete loss of your invested money.  

This article contains affiliate links. When you click on the links to the products we mention in this article and purchase them, we will receive a small commission. It will not make any difference to you in price; however, it allows us to keep Simple Germany alive and striving.

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About the Author

Yvonne Koppen is a researcher and writer at Simple Germany, focusing on demystifying German bureaucracy for international skilled workers.

She has lived and worked abroad, which helps her understand how difficult a move to a new country can be. Beyond her professional pursuits, Yvonne loves to plan and go on road trips, puzzle, and do a triathlon here and there.

She is committed to creating accessible, empowering content through her writing and YouTube videos. Yvonne's passion for continuous learning and her ability to simplify complex topics make her an invaluable resource for expats seeking to navigate their new life in Germany.