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Trading platforms

Do you want to trade stocks, bonds or other assets? You can invest through the bank, but this can be expensive. Online trading platforms make it easy and accessible to start investing money in anything from the stock market to cryptocurrency. These investment platforms are aimed at first-time investors and usually have lower costs.

Please note: trading on the financial markets involves risks, you can (partially) lose your investment.

Leading trading platforms in Europe

To start investing in shares or other assets you need a trading account at a broker. There are many online brokers out there. Below, you will find a selection of the biggest and best trading platforms active in Europe.

eToro

eToroIf you want to trade and invest all by yourself eToro is currently Europe’s online brokerage champion. eToro is a large international platform with millions of users from over a hundred countries. You can trade in stocks, but also in commodities, crypto or currencies. Templates also allow you to invest directly in a variety of sectors.

Freedom24

freedom24The online broker of Freedom24 is known for offering a lot of IPOs. From $2,000 in deposit, it offered shares of Facebook, Airbnb, Gitlab, Rivian and hundreds of other companies before their IPO. Through this trading platform you can also invest in exchanges such as the Nasdaq, NYSE, CME, AMEX LSE, Deutsche Börse, MOEX and via HKEX in Asian companies.

Bitpanda

bitpandaVia Bitpanda you can easily invest in well-known stocks such as Apple, Microsoft, or Tesla or invest in the larger ETFs. In addition, it offers many cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ethereum and solana and you can invest in commodities such as gold and silver via the platform. It is headquartered in Vienna and was Austria's first unicorn in 2021.

NAGA

nagaJust like eToro, NAGA is an international investment platform where you can invest in shares, bonds, but also in commodities or currencies. NAGA distinguishes itself because you can share or view tips from others. You can invest according to templates from other investors. People who are copied a lot earn extra points.

Saxo Bank

Saxo Bank is a well-known trading platform. The company does not engage in side activities such as issuing credit cards and loans. Saxo has several offices in Europe.

The European market for trading apps

European trading appsThe European market for trading platforms is evolving and constantly growing.

In most European countries, up to 35 percent of household assets are put into stocks according to the OECD. Estonia is the global frontrunner with over 50 percent of household funds in stocks, followed by Finland, Lithuania and Sweden. These four countries even surpass the United States, where stock-trading is famously widespread among consumers.

In most European countries, up to 35 percent of household assets are put into stocks.

The majority of new traders invest money via trading apps. The most popular trading platform is eToro with around 20 million retail investor accounts of which around 70 percent are located in Europe. eToro is later followed by brokers like Flatex, which also owns DEGIRO.

Bank versus investment platforms

When you start investing money, you can go the old fashioned way and make all trades via your bank’s own trading services. This is an easy option, but certainly not as popular anymore.

The trading or subscription costs are higher overall, in part because banks usually provide investment advice in addition to asset management. But maybe you would rather make your own investment decisions. Besides, banks might not have the assets some investment platforms offer, such as growing companies that are not that popular yet and newer investments like crypto and blockchain.

Why choose an online trader?

the best trading platform in EuropeFirst of all, investment platforms are generally more cost-effective than when you trade assets through the bank. These stock brokers are specifically aimed at new investors: the process to start trading is made easy, accessible and relatively cheap online.

For investors that want to be actively involved, trading platforms are also the better choice. For example, an online trading platform will usually offer advanced mobile apps. This way you can trade or look at your investment results on the go.

Making your own investment decisions on the global markets comes with its own risks of course. However, there are also more passive ways to invest on a trading platform, like through investing in exchange traded funds (ETFs).

An online trading platform will usually offer advanced mobile apps.

Another advantage of a trading platform is that they can offer assets that a bank can often not. Buying shares of the top 500 companies on the stock exchange will be no problem. But if you want to invest money in new assets like cryptocurrency or new companies that recently did their IPO on a smaller stock exchange, you have better chances with an online broker.

How investment platforms work

If you want to start investing, choosing a trading platform is usually your first step. You will need a trader to buy stocks, bonds, ETFs or funds. On investment platforms you can trade with other users and buy company shares on the stock exchange, for example. Usually a platform also offers insight into different investment products and their market rates. This includes historic rates as well as current rates. A trader can also store your funds in an account before you choose to withdraw or exchange it.

In the list above you will find overarching trading platforms that offer a wide selection of investment products, from stocks and bonds to blockchain. There are also investment platforms that specialize in one type of asset, such as real estate investment platforms and cryptocurrency traders. Of course, you can choose to open an account with different investment platforms. This has the benefit of trying out different traders and seeing which one you like best.

What does an online broker platform cost?

costs of online brokersWhen choosing your investment platform, first of all make sure to compare the costs.

Since a platform’s costs will eat at your returns, the price should be a deciding factor. The lower the costs, the higher your returns will effectively be. A fee of 1 percent may seem very little at first. But with an annual return rate of 5 percent, this is already one fifth of your yearly profits.

There is usually an upfront fee as well as a cost per transaction. If the first one is cheap, the transaction fees may be higher and vice versa. Depending on whether you make investment decisions yourself or let the platform do this for you, there may also be additional service fees.

Since a platform’s costs will eat at your returns, the price should be a deciding factor.

The fees mentioned above are made public on the platform’s website. But there may be indirect costs as well, usually charged by mutual funds, ETFs and trackers. Like for example management fees, accountancy fees and legal costs. If a trader also pays out dividends, saves securities and offers additional market rate information, these services may be charged as well. These fees will be incorporated in the market price. You can find them in the terms and conditions. So take a good look, because the indirect costs can vary a lot.

Choosing a trader that suits your investment style

best trading strategies for everyday investorsAnother way to determine which trading platform is for you, is by looking at your investing style and investment horizon.

Most investing platforms are suited for low-cost investing for the long term. This means you will put in money for at least five years. Are you a long-term investor? Then you are better off with a trader that has low upfront costs and high transaction fees. Since you will not buy and sell a lot, this will be more profitable for you.

When long-term investing such as in shares or bonds, online brokers will issue an additional monthly payment in addition to a transaction fee. Some online brokers may offer to make investment decisions for you as well. This saves time and effort, as you will not have to follow market developments yourself. And as a starting investor you may not know what to invest in anyway. If you outsource this to the investment platform, you will be paying a service fee instead of a transaction fee.

A short-term investor will have an investment horizon of under five years. Maybe your investment horizon only spans months or days. Short-term investments are usually more risky, since they profit off highly volatile markets. If you want to invest in the short-term, you will want a platform with low transaction fees. This means the upfront fees may be higher, though.

Frequently asked questions

Some frequently asked questions about trading platforms are:

What is a trading platform?

Shares of companies are traded continuously. The companies do not arrange this themselves, but through marketplaces. To trade on this marketplaces, you need a stock broker or account on an investment platform to buy and trade shares or other products.

What are the best online trading platforms in Europe?

Which platform is best in your case, depends on what you’re looking for in a broker. Do you only want to invest via your mobile? Or only in shares on a stock market, or also in bonds and internationally tradable investments?

For some, the best platform means the one with the lowest rates, the best ease of use is most important for others, while there are also investors who mainly look at the most options for investments.