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Broker & depot comparison

With these depots you trade well and cheaply

Hendrik Buhrs
Expert for banks and stock exchanges As of April 23, 2021

Hendrik Buhrs

Hendrik Buhrs is an editor in the bank and insurance team. Before joining Finanztip, he reported on economic and consumer issues for the radio programs of the Hessian and later of the West German Broadcasting Corporation. Hendrik studied economics in Münster and Exeter. He gained his first professional experience at Radio Q and on Recklinghausen local radio. He likes to invest the money he has saved in travel.

  • You need a securities account for your stocks or funds (such as ETFs).

  • Most banks offer a deposit. Direct banks and online brokers are particularly cheap. You can open it with just a few clicks.

  • With your credit you can buy and sell ETFs or stocks. Good custody accounts offer savings plans that, for example, put 50 euros in for you every month.

  • Pay attention to the costs: inexpensive depository providers do not charge a basic fee, the trading costs for purchases, sales and savings plans are minimal.
  • Our analysis of 26 providers has shown: You can find recommended custody accounts with the lowest fees at the online brokers Scalable Capital (Free Broker), Smartbroker and Trade Republic.
  • But we have also identified inexpensive depots with a wide range of services. If that is the right category for you, go to ING, Comdirect, Consorsbank or DKB.

Do you want to invest your money in funds or stocks? Then you need a custody account in which your securities are stored and managed. The operation is usually not much more complicated than with online banking. The providers differ greatly in terms of costs and service. With our comparison we will help you to find the right depot. This is how you take the first important step towards a successful investment.

Which depot is right for you?

For some depots you have to spend more time than you have. Or you need more previous knowledge or more money. But above all, we show you how to save your money uncomplicated and profitable invest, for example in ETFs. Because Finanztip recommends cheap equity funds that contain shares in several 100 companies.

You can control your depot from your home PC, sometimes via an app for your smartphone. You can then Set up a savings plan with just a few clickswho, for example, invests 100 euros of your money every month. This works like a standing order for transfers, so you don't have to actively take care of the purchase (order) of securities every time. But you can also start with just a basic amount and invest it in one fell swoop.

The providers of custody accounts differ in the variety of tradable securities, with some you can buy very complex financial products such as warrants. However, these differences do not play a role for most investors. Because you can trade the “bestsellers” on the stock exchange, that is, popular ETFs and important individual stocks, using any common portfolio and at almost identical prices.

If you already have a securities account and would like to move to another provider, we have listed tips below. If you have special requirements - for example owning individual shares abroad - you should definitely read the price list of the custodian bank. Some processes, such as ordering tickets for a general meeting abroad, may be subject to extra fees.

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Broker, online bank, branch bank?

You can also get a deposit at the Sparkasse or Volksbank in your neighborhood. This is a solid, but often quite expensive, solution. At many branch banks you pay high fees for individual transactions as well as for the safekeeping of your securities. This money reduces the return on your investment. However, branch banks offer the option of managing the custody account completely offline, i.e. in writing or in personal contact with a bank employee. Pure online depots of the branch banks are cheaper in comparison.

Differences in fees for purchase and custody

 Sparkasse MunichDirect bank
(e.g. DKB)
Online broker
(e.g. Smartbroker)
Purchase of securities € 5,00025 euros plus expenses10 Euro0 euros
Safekeeping45 euros per year10 euros0 euros
Costs for a 10-year holding period475 euros10 Euro0 euros

1Reduced to € 9 per year if investors buy or sell stocks or funds at least once per quarter.
Source: Stadtsparkasse München, DKB, Smartbroker (as of March 1, 2021)

With the triumph of the Internet, they grew too Direct banks. Without branches, but with service via e-mail, chat or telephone, they not only offer current accounts and credit cards, but also online depots. There are a number of custody accounts with no ongoing custody fee. Purchases and sales usually cost you less than with branch banks.

The third and youngest category are specialized Broker, sometimes also called neo-brokers, who do not offer any other banking business, but concentrate on custody account management. Here you usually pay even lower fees than with the direct banks. However, it depends on your usage behavior. In the next section we will introduce you to recommended depots.

Which deposits does Finanztip recommend?

In February 2021, Finanztip took a closer look at the costs and services of 26 securities accounts, of which we can recommend seven. You can read how we selected the recommended providers under This is how we analyzed.

With all of our recommendations, you can buy ETF shares on an individual date (single investment), or alternatively regularly with an automatic savings plan. Set up with just a few clicks, your savings plan runs month after month and buys additional ETF shares for you. With 50 euros per execution you are included in all recommended depots - some also accept lower amounts for a savings rate, such as 25 euros or even 1 euro. In addition, the Finanztip recommendations do not charge you an ongoing fee for the safekeeping of your securities (with the Comdirect this only applies if you set up a savings plan).

The cheapest depots

If low order fees are particularly important to you, we recommend you take a look at the Scalable Capital Free Broker, the Trade Republic app and the Smartbroker. All three offer particularly favorable conditions for individual purchases and savings plans.

This is how it costs you in the Free Broker from Scalable Capital nothing extra if the installments in your first savings plan are executed. For further savings plans, 0.99 euros are due per execution - however, Scalable excludes around 600 ETFs from this fee. This way, you could also save several ETFs in parallel without any fees. The fee-free offering from Scalable Broker includes ETFs from the major providers iShares, Xtrackers and Invesco.

Individual purchases outside of a savings plan cost a flat rate of 0.99 euros at Scalable Broker in the freebroker model if you process them via the Gettex trading center. There used to be a minimum investment amount of 250 euros, this was lifted in May 2021 (initially limited according to Scalable). The approximately 600 ETFs ("Prime ETFs") that are discounted at Scalable can also be traded free of charge for individual purchases and sales;

Alternatively, there is the Prime Broker portfolio option, where all orders and savings plans are free, but there are costs for portfolio management (4.99 euros per month, with annual payment 2.99 euros per month). The Finanztip recommendation only applies to free brokers.

Trade Republic only offers a smartphone app for trading. You cannot access the depot via your computer's browser. Savings plans are generally implemented free of charge. Trade Republic now has a large selection of ETFs that can be saved.

Single orders cost a flat fee of 1 euro. The transactions are carried out via the Lang & Schwarz trading center.

Smart broker has an extensive range for a cheap portfolio, with many ETF brands and all common German trading venues. With a savings plan with installments of up to 400 euros, each version costs 80 cents, for higher savings amounts 0.2 percent of the sum is due. Almost 300 savings plans can be implemented free of charge.

A single purchase does not cost you anything via the Gettex trading center if you invest more than 500 euros. Below this order size, the fee is 4 euros.

  • low fees: orders for 0.99 euros (Gettex)
  • first savings plan free of charge
  • additional savings plans for 0.99 euros each
  • around 600 ETFs permanently free of charge for savings plans and individual purchases
  • The account and securities are held by Baader Bank
  • Trading via Xetra also possible (from 5.49 euros)
  • low fees: buy and sell ETFs for 1 euro
  • currently around 1,500 free ETF savings plans
  • Deposit with Trade Republic, settlement account with Solaris Bank, safekeeping of ETF shares with HSBC
  • Low fees: Orders from 0 or 1 euros (only Gettex / L&S, investment amount at least 500 euros), otherwise from 4 euros
  • EUR 0.80 fee for savings plan installments of up to EUR 400
  • almost 300 savings plans free of charge for a limited period
  • The account and securities are held by DAB BNP Paribas

Inexpensive and versatile depots

In addition to these particularly cheap depots, there are other providers that you may consider. In some places they charge slightly higher fees than the online brokers, but offer a number of extras. For example, in addition to your deposit, you can also have a normal current account or set up a children's deposit.

For investors who follow the so-called “buy and hold” principle, ie who buy securities and then keep them for years or decades, most custody accounts can be managed inexpensively. We have selected four direct banks that offer many advantages.

The ING has been running all ETF savings plans free of charge since April 2021. This makes it a very attractive choice for savings plan fans who prefer a direct bank. Individual orders outside of savings plans cost 0.25 percent of the investment amount at ING, at least around 5 euros.

The fee structures of Comdirect and Consorsbank are similar, both charge 1.5 percent per savings plan rate. There are regular promotional ETFs that do not incur a fee. We will keep you up to date on such offers in our newsletter. For one-off investments, you pay 0.25 percent of the order volume at both banks, at least around 10 euros.

At the Comdirect, however, usage fees arise from the 4th year: 1.95 euros per month. In order to manage the deposit for free, you have to set up a savings plan here or make two individual purchases per quarter. Even with a giro account at the Comdirect, there are no ongoing fees for the deposit. (In this case, however, check whether there are any fees for the current account.)

The DKB has flat fees. You pay 1.50 euros per savings plan rate. If you choose higher savings rates, you benefit from comparatively low costs. A number of ETFs can be saved as part of a promotion for EUR 0.49 per execution. This offer is valid until the end of 2021. If you invest up to EUR 10,000 at once, you pay a flat fee of EUR 10. One-time purchases over 10,000 euros cost a flat rate of 25 euros.

Conclusion on the direct banks: One Single order More than 2,000 euros costs roughly the same fees for all four depots. ING is cheaper for smaller order sizes, and DKB for larger orders. Savings plans are generally free of charge at ING. At the DKB, large savings plan rates are relatively cheap due to the flat fee, while at Comdirect and Consorsbank, small savings plan rates are cheaper due to the proportionate fee.

You can read which extra functions of the depots we have taken into account in order to arrive at our selection under “This is how we analyzed”. There we also introduce the other providers that Finanztip has examined.

  • Regular fees of EUR 4.90 plus 0.25 percent of the order amount, up to a maximum of EUR 69.90
  • all ETF savings plans free of charge
  • Children's depot and community depot possible
  • Can be combined with a current account (free of charge for incoming payments of 700 euros or more)
  • regular fees of 4.90 euros plus 0.25 percent of the order amount, minimum 9.90 euros, maximum 59.90 euros
  • Savings plan for 1.5 percent of the savings rate
  • lots of free savings plans
  • Children's depot and community depot possible
  • Can be combined with a current account (free of charge from 700 euros incoming payments)
  • Free deposit with securities savings plan or current account, otherwise 1.95 euros per month after three years
  • Regular fees of 4.95 euros plus 0.25 percent of the order amount, minimum 9.95 euros, maximum 69 euros
  • Savings plan for 1.5 percent of the savings rate
  • lots of free savings plans
  • Children's depot and community depot possible
  • Can be combined with a current account (free of charge from 700 euros incoming payments)
DKB
Online depot DKB broker
  • Regular fees of 10 euros for orders up to 10,000 euros, above 25 euros
  • Regular savings plan 1.50 euros, regardless of the savings rate
  • Special offers with discounted savings plans (0.49 euros)
  • Children's depot and community depot possible
  • Can be combined with a current account

A number of other providers also have solid securities accounts in their range. Until 2021, for example, belonged to Onvista Bank to the recommendations of Finanztip. It has not changed its favorable cost structure, but does not do so well in the broker comparison with the new provider Scalable Capital as well as with Smartbroker and Trade Republic. If you already have your depot with Onvista and are satisfied, from our point of view you can leave it there without any problems.

Many years also belonged Flatex to the recommendations of Finanztip. From March 2020, however, there was a custody account management fee of 0.1 percent per year on the custody account volume (since April 12, 2021, this has at least not been offset against the ETF and fund components of the custody account). Such a permanent fee is particularly unfavorable for long-term investors.

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What should you know about brokers?

Unlike the direct banks, the cheap online brokers have only been on the market for a few years. We are therefore introducing them to you in more detail.

All three brokers have in common that they only charge you a symbolic fee or no fee at all when you buy stocks or ETFs. You have contracts with smaller stock exchanges such as Gettex, Lang & Schwarz or Quotrix, which are docked to the regional stock exchanges in Munich, Hamburg and Düsseldorf. The brokers get for their services instead of from the investor Money from these exchangesthrough which they conduct your business. Depending on the price model, you pay 0 or 1 euro, for example - and the stock exchange pays another, let's say 3 euros, to the broker. This is okay and is listed in the small print of the statement.

The securities themselves are the same no matter which exchange you buy them on. Prices may vary, but a quick glance at the clock will help you shop cheaply. Even the smaller trading venues must ensure that buying and selling prices for securities are always at least as good as those on a recognized reference exchange - in this case the electronic trading platform Xetra in Frankfurt. However, if Xetra is closed, this corrective no longer applies. We therefore advise you, always to be traded during Xetra opening times (weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5.30 p.m.), even if you could theoretically use more generous opening times at your broker. If you get a price that is too expensive during Xetra opening times, you can contact the exchange's supervisory board.

Scalable Capital (Free Broker)

The Munich-based company initially started one in 2016 digital asset manager (Robo-Advisor). Since 2020, customers have also been able to put together their own individual portfolio via Scalable Broker. What is unusual for Germany is the option of being able to trade securities for a flat rate in the Prime Broker pricing model, as in a subscription. However, Finanztip recommends this for building your wealth Free broker pricing model with no ongoing fee. Free broker customers can buy around 600 ETFs free of charge via savings plan or individual orders. In addition, the first savings plan is generally free of charge. You have to choose one of the two pricing models, but you could switch to the other later for free.

Incidentally, Scalable Capital is not a bank, but works as an intermediary.The clearing account and the safekeeping of your fund shares are with Baader Bank. For you as a customer, however, the Scalable Capital price list is relevant. In addition to trading via the app, you can also manage the depot using an internet browser on your PC.

With Scalable Capital you can trade on two markets: either with Gettex or via the much larger system of Xetra. Here you have to pay higher order fees, but they are usually still lower than with the direct banks.

Trade Republic

Behind Trade Republic is a Berlin fintech, on the market since mid-2019. The company has extremely low prices for buying and selling securities. Trade Republic offers all orders at a price of one euro. The model for this pricing model is the US broker Robinhood.

All orders at a flat rate for just one euro - such a business model can be sustained by limiting the service to the essentials. The fintech company therefore works with a pure app solution. It is the only trading venue to offer the Lang & Schwarz Exchange. There is no minimum amount for single purchases.

In early 2021, Trade Republic annoyed some customers because the broker had temporarily restricted trading in the highly sought-after shares of Gamestop and similar securities. To our knowledge, however, long-term investors such as savings plan users were not affected.

Smart broker

Smartbroker started as a new provider at the end of 2019. Behind it is the financial data portal Wall Street Online. The broker offers a comprehensive offer: Customers can buy and sell numerous ETF brands and other securities on all major German trading venues. There are particularly favorable contracts with Gettex and Lang & Schwarz: Individual purchases of 500 euros or more cost 0 euros or a flat fee of 1 euros.

Smartbroker is also not a bank, but acts as an intermediary. The clearing account and fund shares are held by the major bank DAB, which is now a brand of the French BNP Paribas. You will find references to the DAB in many contract documents. For you as a customer, however, the Smartbroker price list is relevant.

Smartbroker charges a fee of 0.5 percent per year on money that you have in the clearing account. The penalty interest will only be charged if your parked cash accounts for more than 15 percent of the total deposit value. Newly deposited money from you is excluded from the calculation for three months. We do not recommend leaving large amounts on the clearing account.

How do you open a depot?

When you have chosen a provider, you can now open the depot. If you already have a current account with a direct bank and would like to activate the deposit, you normally do not have to prove your identity again. As a new customer, however, you cannot avoid a few details.

The custodian asks for data such as Address, bank details or salary. The EU directive Mifid-II, which has been in force since 2018, also requires every new customer to enter their previous experience with securities on a scale. Should you later buy securities that exceed your stored knowledge, the bank or broker would issue a warning.

Finally, proof of identity is required. This is now often done using the videoident process, i.e. a short video call using a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Above all, a special call center checks your ID, which you have to hold up to the camera. Most banks offer the Postident procedure as an alternative. You will receive an application to open a deposit, with which you go to a post office counter, where you will identify yourself. The depository provider checks the documents and only then activates the depository. It can take one to two weeks before you can use your depot. In exceptional cases, such as the first corona lockdown in spring 2020, the waiting times were sometimes even longer.

First steps in the new depot

Your bank or broker will let you know as soon as the new depot has been set up. You can then transfer money from your current account to the clearing account with a normal transfer (with direct banks, this step may not be necessary if it is one and the same account). And off you go - you can set up a savings plan or buy ETF shares.

How do you change your depot?

If you want to change your depository provider, this is relatively easy. To do this, first open a new account with another bank or broker. Most banks offer one Moving service (depot change service) at. To do this, fill out a form that authorizes the new bank to transfer the securities from your old securities account. Before doing this, you have to delete open orders and, if there are any, sell fragments (i.e. the fractional part from a savings plan).

You can also select just individual stocks or funds to carry over. Check beforehand whether the securities can also be traded with the new custodian provider - otherwise a transfer would neither be possible nor useful. Transfers to direct banks as well as from well-known individual stocks and large ETFs are usually unproblematic. Trade Republic and Scalable Capital expressly point out, however, that you should check online or in the app to see whether a security can be transferred there. If in doubt, customer service can help you.

If you wish, you can have the old depot closed. The depot must be changed free of charge. This has been confirmed by the Federal Court of Justice (judgment of November 30, 2004, Az. XI ZR 200/03). However, this does not apply to foreign providers such as Degiro from the Netherlands.

A change should be completed after about two weeks. However, it can take significantly longer if there is a large number of customers. You should therefore not start a securities account transfer if you already know that you would like to sell securities soon - that would be safer to do from the old securities account.

How safe is a depot?

Securities remain your property, they are only kept in safe custody by the custodian bank. Should this file for bankruptcy, you have a right to have the securities issued - they do not fall into the bankruptcy estate. You could then transfer the securities to another depository.

The performance of your ETFs or stocks, however, is not hedged. There is no guarantee that you will get a total X at any given time in the future. It is therefore important that you balance the risk and make an overall plan for your investment.

For the money in your clearing account, the statutory deposit protection applies, normally 100,000 euros per person and bank account.

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So we analyzed

Comparison of online depots in 2021

We only recommend providers from Germany who offer free custody account management. From our point of view, deposits that are free after setting up a savings plan also meet this requirement. So it must be possible to set up automatic savings plans on ETFs. There should be no fees for reserving, changing or canceling a limit for an order. After all, it should be possible to trade shares in addition to ETFs.

Some providers charge negative interest for credit balances on the clearing account, but that does not speak against a recommendation - the allowances are generous and should be sufficient for your investment.

We also have that service looked at various providers, but did not make this a binding criterion. Every saver has different preferences. In the chapter “What else should you know about the broker?” We go into some points on how the depot can (not) be used. You can also find impressions of other Finanztip readers, which always represent individual usage behavior, in our experience reports and in the Finanztip forum.

The market overview

In order to come up with an initial population, we carried out a Google search and searched for the keywords “online broker” and “securities account”. We have taken the first 5 Google results pages into account.

We have identified 24 providers that are suitable for private investors. We left out depots with a user interface for professional frequent traders.

In order to reduce the risk of overlooking an important provider and to ensure the completeness of the data, we compared our first selection with the last comparison by Stiftung Warentest (11/2020) and publications in the trade press and added two more providers.

Of the 26 providers, 12 remained after we applied the criteria mentioned: free custody account management (with savings plan), free limit allocation and stock trading.

These 12 remaining depots we filtered according to two criteria: particularly cheap depots and inexpensive and versatile depots.

Inexpensive: The providers with the lowest order fees we determined by looking at the regular fees for savings plans and single purchases, but at the cheapest available trading venue. This ensures that users can buy ETF shares at low fees or no fees at all, regardless of special offers.

Versatile: we have 14 characteristics definedthat a depot either fulfills (1 point) or does not fulfill (0 points). We assigned 2 points to 4 of the 14 characteristics that we believe are particularly relevant, and defined an intermediate level for one characteristic (banking service). Here, a depot can fully meet the criterion (2 points), partially fulfill (1 point) or not fulfill it (0 points).

The following tables show all 12 depots examined and the recommendations for the categories "particularly cheap" and "cheap and versatile".

The particularly cheap depots

First of all, we looked at those of the remaining portfolios that are absolutely cheapest in terms of order costs, both for various savings plan sizes and for the cheapest option of investing 2,000 euros and 5,000 euros in ETFs. As a rule, these were purchases in so-called direct trading, not via the stock exchange. Investors there often only pay order fees; there are no additional exchange fees.

Order costs of the custody accounts in €

 

Savings

plan

50 € 

Savings

plan

100 €

Savings
plan
200 €
Once-
investment
2.000 €

Once-
investment
5.000

 

Scalable Capital
(Freebroker)

 

01000,9920,992
Trade Republic0001,001,00
Smart broker0,800,800,8000
ING0009,9017,40
Onvista Bank1,001,001,007,007,00
Santander0,850,850,857,9010,00
DKB1,501,501,5010,0010,00
Comdirect0,751,503,009,9017,40
Consorsbank0,751,503,009,9517,45
Targobank1,502,503,008,9012,50
18221,901,903,009,9517,45
S broker1,252,505,0010,4817,98

Order costs plus exchange-related fees, if applicable.
1For the first savings plan. Additional savings plans EUR 0.99 per execution. Around 600 ETFs of relevant brands are exempt from the fee and can be saved for 0 euros.
2