Following my move to Spain, I started searching for a local broker to start investing in stocks.
I’m not a huge fan of Spanish financial institutions, and given the choice, I’d much rather use an international stockbroker. That also makes it easier for me if I eventually move my residence to another country.
There are two main advantages of working with a Spanish broker, on the other hand:
- No need to fill in any foreign asset reporting documents at the end of the year (Spanish Modelo 720 in this case).
- Advantageous commissions (or lack thereof) for the local stock market.
The Modelo 720 form is an absolute drag to compile, but once you get the hang of it or outsource it, this factor becomes less of a deal-breaker. However when the March deadline for that form comes around, it’s a good reminder of how backward the Spanish taxation system is. I invest internationally and not in the Spanish market, so the second advantage is not so important to me.
With that said, here are the best options I’ve found.
eToro – The Best Option for 0% Fee Trading on Stocks
If you’re actively involved in the online trading space, there is every chance that you have heard of eToro. After all, the provider now has 13 million users under its belt – making it one of, if not the largest trading platform around.
eToro offers a wide selection of markets – all of which can be accessed online or via the app. When it comes to traditional ownership, you can buy and sell shares from 17 marketplaces. This includes stocks listed in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, and more.
You can also invest in ETFs – such as those backed by Vanguard and iShares. This is good for diversification purposes or gaining exposure to difficult-to-reach markets. You can also buy and sell cryptocurrencies. This covers 16 digital coins – including the big two: Bitcoin, Ethereum.
eToro does not charge any commission on stocks or ETFs, however, spreads do apply. There is no sign-up fee or monthly/annual subscription, either. You will also avoid stamp duty when buying UK stocks, which saves you an extra 0.5%.
Getting started at eToro takes minutes. You’ll need to first open an account – which you can online or via the app. Then, you’ll need to meet a $200 minimum deposit, which you can instantly with a debit/credit card or e-wallet. Bank transfers are also an option, but this can take up to 7 working days.
You can read my full eToro review here, where I delve deeper into why I like this platform, and what you need to be aware of when trading on it.
Your capital is at risk. Other fees apply. For more information, visit etoro.com/trading/fees.
DEGIRO – A Popular Low-Cost Broker
There’s not a lot of online brokers that offer an asset library as extensive as DEGIRO. Whether it’s shares, bonds, ETFs, or funds – you’ll have access to thousands of instruments across 50 markets and 30 exchanges. This ensures that you can build a highly diversified portfolio and thus – mitigate your exposure to a single asset or marketplace.
In terms of the main attraction – fees, this is largely very competitive. In fact, if investing in major marketplaces found in the UK, US, and parts of Europe, the fees are much lower than most brokers out there. However, it is important to remember that the likes of eToro allow you to buy shares in a 100% commission-free environment.
As such, if you really want to focus on keeping your costs to an absolute minimum, eToro might be better. On the other hand, although you might pay a slightly higher fee at DEGIRO, the platform does offer much more in the way of asset diversity.
Finally, I do like the fact that DEGIRO does not have a minimum deposit in place and charges no transaction fees, albeit, it’s a bit frustrating that you can only fund your account via bank wire.
You can take a look at my review of DEGIRO for more information.
DEGIRO – My choice for a buy-and-hold broker
With all the options out of the way, let’s move onto some of my requirements for an ideal buy-and-hold broker:
- Zero fees for custody and account maintenance.
- Low fees on USA share purchases.
- Low fees on transferring holdings outwards to another broker.
- Protection up to 100K.
- No loaning out of shares.
- Ability to keep money in other currencies and transfer USD in and out.
- Good web interface and mobile one too.
Fees and commissions are top on my list as a buy and hold investor, and the only one I found that makes sense for me is DEGIRO.
DEGIRO was founded in 2008 and has been expanding rapidly since then across Europe. The platform has a nice and modern interface that works perfectly fine for my needs.
After having covered my wishlist and some essential information on my shortlisted broker DEGIRO, let’s dig a little deeper.
Asset protection for DEGIRO is handled by the Dutch DGS. The Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS) is a set of rules that guarantees the deposits of bank account holders. If a bank goes bankrupt, the DGS guarantees deposits to a maximum amount of EUR 100,000. The guarantee applies to most account holders and virtually all types of bank accounts. My understanding is that for stock purchases protection is only up to 20,000 Euro. This is not as good as the Spanish FGD which guarantees up to 100,000 Euro. The chances of DEGIRO going bust and clients losing their stock assets is minimal, but possible. I would definitely be more comfortable with a 100K guarantee, but I’m ready to go with the 20K guarantee given the inconvenient commission structures of the Spanish brokers.
One of the bigger problems with DEGIRO is that they automatically convert your money to other currencies when required. Let’s explain this further.
Let’s say you put in a thousand euro in your account. Then you decide to invest in a US stock, which is of course denominated in USD. When you purchase, the broker will automatically convert the amount needed from your EUR balance to USD in order to buy the shares.
Secondly, when you receive a dividend from a US stock, or you sell that stock, the proceeds will be in USD, however on arrival at your brokerage account, the money will be converted back to EUR.
Most people forget to take this currency exchange issue into consideration when calculating the costs of operating with a broker.
The DEGIRO FX fee is 0.10% using AutoFX. You can do it manually, but the fee is then €10 + 0.04%. Probably not worth the bother on modest amounts. AutoFX means any sales/dividends will be converted into Euro automatically also. If for example, you would like to buy American shares for USD 3,000, the AutoFX facility will automatically convert the exact amount of EUR required to complete the transaction in USD. This means you do not first have to conduct your own currency conversion.
W8-BEN for US Stocks
If you go with the US exchange, DEGIRO will offer a prefilled W8-BEN online form. It takes a whole minute to review and submit. This reduces the US dividend tax from 30% to 15%. Note: You’re still on the hook for Spanish tax either way on dividends (even if you reinvest them), but can claim the US withholding tax paid as a credit.
Fees and Commissions
With regards to commissions and charges, here’s the important info for DEGIRO:
- Yearly fee per stock exchange used (purchase, sale, or holding): 0.25% of portfolio value, max 2.50 Euro.
- Costs of US stock in DEGIRO: €0.50 + USD 0.004 per share
- Transfer costs from DEGIRO: 10 Euro per position
- Custody fee: None.
DEGIRO offers a selection of 200 commission-free ETFs (conditions applicable).
I’m happy with DEGIRO and would recommend it to anyone living in Spain or other European countries where it’s available.
On the other hand, if you’re more adventurous and want exposure to multiple asset classes including crypto, check out eToro.
Do you reside in Spain and invest in the stock market? I’d love to know your thoughts on which brokers you prefer.
Investing in stocks, bonds, and ETFs involves risks including complete loss. Please do your research before making any investment.
Disclaimer: eToro is a multi-asset platform which offers both investing in stocks and cryptoassets, as well as trading CFDs.
Please note that CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 79% 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.
Past performance is not an indication of future results. Trading history presented is less than 5 complete years and may not suffice as basis for investment decision.
Copy trading is a portfolio management service, provided by eToro (Europe) Ltd., which is authorised and regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission.
Cryptoasset investing is highly volatile and unregulated in some EU countries. No consumer protection. Tax on profits may apply.
eToro USA LLC does not offer CFDs and makes no representation and assumes no liability as to the accuracy or completeness of the content of this publication, which has been prepared by our partner utilizing publicly available non-entity specific information about eToro.