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Compare the Best Online Trading Platforms in The UK (March 2022)

8 Best Trading Platforms

The world of online investing offers a lot of exciting investment opportunities, although it is important to find the right broker to match your budget and risk limits. Every online trading platform has its pros and cons, including varying fees, trading tools, investment options, and market research, which can make it difficult to identify the right one for you. In our beginners guide to investing, we’ve put together a list of some of the best online brokers for you to compare the best trading platforms in the UK.

What are The Best Trading Platforms in the UK?

Below are some of the best online trading platforms in the UK for you to compare:

Interactive Investor  

Interactive Investor is a rapidly expanding trading platform that offers over 40,000 investments, ensuring there should be something to suit everyone, whether you’re a beginner or a more seasoned trader. Their services include Stocks and Shares ISA, SIPP, Trading Accounts, and Junior ISA, offering UK and global shares coverage, along with ETFs, funds, and investment trusts. Currently, there are 16 markets available globally online, with the Swedish and Swiss exchanges available via phone. The mobile app is user-friendly, and users can log in using biometric authentication, which offers good protection and easy access.

Interactive Investor also gives you one free trade every month, which you are completely free to use to buy or sell any investment. It’s a platform that doesn’t scrimp on providing expert research, ideas and insights, giving you great support to help you choose the right investment. This is one of the major plus points of the platform, as it removes a lot of the leg work, especially for first-time investors, allowing you to make considered and well-informed investment decisions based on detailed information.

eToro

For anyone looking for a well-established platform to invest through, eToro could prove to be a good option. It’s a social training network and contract for difference (CFD) brokerage that offers cryptocurrency and online stock trading. You can sign up free of charge and you’ll be given access to a US$100,000 demo account where you can get used to the platform mechanics. The platform does a lot to create a smooth experience for traders, such as subtle features like having the option to choose between CFDs and the underlying assets directly from the trade-ticket window.

Ready-made portfolios are available if you want to get started right away, with more than 40 balanced investment portfolios to choose from. These cover areas such as CyberSecurity, BigTech, DividendGrowth and many more, making it easy to find the right match. While ISAs and SIPPs are not included in these portfolios, they do feature a mixture of assets including ETFs, cryptocurrencies and stocks. There is also no markup, ticketing fees or stamp duty applied to stocks. For traders able to maintain balances between $5,000 to $250,000, VIP membership is available, with five tiers ranging from Silver to Diamond, each one offering their own features and benefits.

Freetrade

Aside from the one million-plus trading instruments that are made available to users, another attractive feature is that there is no commission applied to your trades. The platform also offers a route for retail investors to get involved with notable IPOs like Snowflake and Airbnb, due to Freetrade being owned by Freedom Finance Europe, the only EU-based stockbroker listed on Nasdaq. To date, Freetrade has attracted more than 1,000,000 registered users, who all have the opportunity to start investing from just £2. There are currently four service plans to choose from, with prices varying depending on your level of commitment. 

It’s a well-designed and easy-to-use app, which is particularly helpful for first-time investors acclimatising themselves to the market. The free demo terminal made available upon signing up is another useful tool for beginners, where you can take your time to practice and gain a better understanding before making any real investments. The extensive range of training instruments includes bonds, option, stocks and futures that span 15 different stock exchanges (although ISAs and SIPPs are not available). You may also be able to claim freebies once you hit a set earning market. For example, if you own at least 500 shares in Fuller’s brewery, you could receive a discount card that can be used in its pub and hotel chain.

Trading 212

Not long after Trading 212 entered the UK market in 2016 they became one of the first apps to offer zero-commission trading, a feature that has played a key role in helping them become one of the most popular trading apps in the UK. However, while brokerage fees per trade are free, a rate of 0.15% is applied to every FX trade. Trading 212 are transparent about these charges, for example, publishing daily swap rates, which you shouldn’t have any trouble finding on the trading platform.

The app is well-designed and easy to use, which is good news for first-time investors, although research is quite limited and may not provide the background some traders need. There are over 10,000 global stocks and EFTs available to trade, but you may find options are limited as there are no investment trusts, funds government bonds available.

It is important to note that only clients without a waiting list from the EEA region are being onboarded at the moment. Customers residing in other eligible countries are able to join the waiting list, but there may be some delays until restrictions are lifted and the waiting list is removed.  

Stake

Stake specialises in US stocks and EFTs and because it is an Australian-based zero-free discount broker the company is also overseen by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, as well as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. Traders have access to over 6,000 stocks and EFTs which can be accessed via their web or app platforms, and new stocks are being added to Stake all the time.

Stake Free enables you to access all the assets along with unlimited commission-free trades, fractional trading and advance order types. The fractional share service is a good option for early-stage traders who want to carefully track their investments and is also handy for more expensive stocks. While the product portfolio is quite basic, users can upgrade to Stake Black for a monthly charge to access additional features. This opens access to price targets, analyst ratings, full company financials and trading on unsettled funds. ISAs and SIPPs are not available and FX rates apply to withdrawals and any non-USD funds that are deposited.

Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown is one of the largest listed firms and one of the biggest DIY online stock trading platforms in the UK, taking care of more than £100 billion of investors’ money. Users have access to thousands of investments, covering everything from funds and investment funds to ETFs and shares in both the UK and around the world. Both the website and app are well designed and easy to navigate – although very product-focused so it does require a certain level of knowledge to have a full understanding. Customer service is a standout feature and there is a lot of calculators and supporting information to guide you along the way.

Fund and Share Account users are not charged a platform fee, although charges of 0.45% (with a £45 cap) a year are applied to its ISA and o.45% (with a £200 cap) applied to its SIPP. You can also trade with stocks and shares ISA, Junior ISA, Funds and Shares, Lifetime ISA and SIPP. If you are a first-time investor or have only been trading for a while, you may want to seek advice before trading with these products as it will require you to trade independently without any advice.

AJ Bell Youinvest

AJ Bell Youinvest is formerly known as Sippdeal and was the first to offer an online SIPP in the UK back in 2000. The platform tends to be a good option for cost-conscious investors who want to trade with a broad range of assets and is likely to be a good option for small and medium portfolios, whether it is shares or funds being traded. So, you make at 10 or more trades a month, this platform could work well for you.

There are thousands of investment options available, covering everything from ETFs and investment trusts to stock and shares and funds. Investment services include Stocks and Shares ISA, Junior ISA, SIPP, Share Dealing Account, pensions and Stocks and Shares. Ready-made portfolios are available if you want a quick start, along with robo-advisors make things a little more accessible, although the technical research tools are not suited to more in-depth analysis. Deposit and withdrawals are free, while a custody fee is charged based on your training history and asset volume.

Degiro

Degiro is known for offering a huge range of regulated products and highly competitive fees that some other online trading platforms struggle to compete with. The number of discount brokers arriving on the scene continues to grow, but Degiro remains a market leader in this area. While there is no forex trading available, you can get involved with bonds, stocks, ETFs, warrants, futures, options, certificates, and lots more, all made accessible from more than 50 international exchanges. Thanks to the breadth of financial instruments on offer it puts investors in a great position to diversify their portfolios.

You can access as many as 200 commission-free ETFs which means dealing charges may not be applied when you invest. UK stocks cost £1.75 + 0.014% per deal, while trading in US stocks cost €0.5 + $0.004 per share and €4 + 0.05% per deal for Irish stocks. Degiro research and education tools are limited, but you can use the Investors Academy as a basic training course for first-time investing, which can prove helpful as a refresher or for beginners.

Compare Online Trading Platforms – Stocks and Shares ISA

How much you will have to pay annually is determined by whether there are funds or shares in your stocks and shares ISA. To make things simpler to understand, our comparison table below is based on investing in individual stocks and shares.

It details the annual platform and dealing charges that are applied for holding individual stocks and shares in a DIY or self-select ISA. These types of ISAs give you more control over the investments featured in your portfolio, so you can pick and choose as you need. Options vary depending on the provider, so you can decide whether you want to select individual shares and stocks or use a ready-made portfolio that is managed on your behalf.

The second column in the table reveals the regular investor charges, while the third column shows the share dealing charges for more improvised investments that are made as and when. The figures below assume that you making one investment a month across the space of a year. We also give you an idea of the charges involved for larger sums in the fourth and fifth column.

These costs also only apply to the first year of investing. Some online stock trading platforms, such as iWeb, reduce charges after the first 12 months, while others may increase them after one year, so these are not definitive figures for using the platform over an extended period of time.

PlatformRegular investor ChargeDealing Charge£20,000£100,000
AJ Bell£1.50£9.95£161£161
Barclays£1.00£6.00£120£172
Bestinvest£7.50£170£490
Charles Stanley£11.50£208£378
Close Brothers£8.95£157£357
EQi£1.50£10.99£192£407
FINECO Bank£2.95£71£71
Freetrade£0.00£36£36
Halifax£2.00£9.50£150£150
Hargreaves Lansdown£1.50£11.95£188£188
iDealing.com£9.90£139£139
IG£8.00£192£192
Interactive Advisor£7.99£120£120
Interactive Advisor£7.99£168£168
Interactive Advisor£3.99£240£240
InvestEngine£0£0£0
IWEB£5.00£160£160
Strawberry£7.50£160£340
Willis Owen£1.50£7.50£170£440
X-O.co.uk£5.95£71£71

Frequently Asked Questions

Which trading platform is best for beginners in the UK?

The best training platform for beginners in the UK depends on your goals and what you want to get out of your investment. So, rather than pick out one individual platform, we’ve selected a few from our summaries above which will give you a good spread of options to review:

  • Interactive Investor

The knowledge centre offers lots of research and helpful tips and you can access one free trade per month. Just as importantly, the research tools are easy to use, so you should be able to find the information you need quite easily.

  • Stake

Stake is another broker that can work well for beginners. It offers free trading and is user-friendly, while users with limited funds can invest in fractional shares. The analyst ratings are also a good way to measure stock performance levels to make better informed decisions.

  • eToro

The user-friendly design makes it easy to navigate and enables starter investors to start buying and selling cryptocurrencies. There’s free stock and EFT trading, low forex and CFD fees and lots of educational material to access.

  • Degiro

Degiro’s web platform is another that is user-friendly and likewise for the mobile app. Beginners can take advantage of the opportunities on this online share dealing platform with up to 200 commission-free ETFs. The account opening process is simple and no inactivity fee is applied to your account.

  • AJ Bell Youinvest

Beginners rely heavily on educational material and guidance to help them along the way and AJ Bell Youinvest performs well in that area. Non-trading fees are low as are mutual fund fees and getting started is reasonably straightforward.

Which app is best for trading?

The best app for trading comes down to several factors. Similar to our recommendations for beginners, we’ve compiled a list of options for you to consider:

  • eToro

The free US$100,000 demo account lets you get accustomed to the platform and is a good start point. You can access ready-made portfolios that include cryptocurrencies, ETFs and stocks – with no markup or ticketing fees applied to the latter.

  • Interactive Investor

Interactive Investor is a good pick for both first-time and experienced traders. Aside from being given one free trade every month, they have a whole host of services to choose from and lots of research and tips to work with, so you can better-informed judgements on where to invest next.

  • Hargreaves Lansdown

There is no shortage of trading options with Hargreaves Lansdown, with thousands of investment opportunities available. Customer service is great and there are a lot of hints and tips you can use to guide you along the way.

  • Stake

Stake offers unlimited commission-free trades, advance orders and fractional trading – which is good news for beginners and investing in expensive stocks. Premium account holders can access to more advanced features that offers analyst ratings, price targets and more.

Where can I invest with little money?

Most online trading platforms allow you to start investing at a low rate, which can be as low as £2 in some cases (Freetrade, for example). Some may be a little higher, but not by much, so you’ll find that most of the online trading platforms you try offer a reasonably financially safe point of entry for first-time investors and novice traders.  

What is a brokerage account?

A brokerage account is a trading tool that enables you to buy a variety of investment assets, ranging from stocks and funds to bonds and ETFs and more. There is no contribution limit on a brokerage account, and you can withdraw your money whenever you need and for any reason. Most brokerage accounts are not tax-advantaged, which means you may have to pay taxes on any earnings you receive.

How do I open a brokerage account?

Opening a brokerage account is a relatively simple process, usually requiring you to complete an account application form on your preferred investment platform. You will be asked to provide proof of ID (passport/drivers license etc.), personal details such as your name, phone number, home address and email, national insurance number and bank card details.

The process may vary slightly depending on the broker, and you may be asked for additional information regarding your annual income, employment status and any savings and investments you have. Once the account is approved, you can then deposit money and start investing.  

What is a self-select ISA?

A self-select Individual Savings Account (ISA) is a stocks and shares account that allows you to pick your own investments. You can hold a variety of investment types within a self-select ISA and you are in total control of how it is used. Self-select ISAs are also sometimes known as investment platform ISAs or investment supermarket ISAs.

What types of assets can be held within a self-select ISA?

There are lots of different assets that can be held within a self-select ISA. This includes:

  • Stocks and shares
  • Unit trusts
  • Investment trusts
  • Funds
  • Gifts
  • Bonds
  • Exchange traded funds
  • Structured products
  • Open-Ended Investment Companies

A self-select ISA is very much a ‘DIY’ approach to investing, so you can pick and choose what you add over time.

How do I open a self-select ISA?

Once you have settled on the best investment platform to suit your requirements, you can make an application on their website. If your account is approved, you can start adding funds and building your portfolio. To make things easier, most providers offer ready-made portfolios and financial advice, if you need help getting started.  

What are the advantages of a self-select ISA?

Self-select ISAs offer a number of great advantages. You have greater control over your investments compared to handing things over to a fund manager. Self-select ISAs also offer great tax benefits. Any dividends or investment growth received within the ISA are exempt from capital gains tax and income tax, which is good news for higher rate taxpayers and anyone with a large share portfolio.

What are the disadvantages of a self-select ISA?

A disadvantage to being aware of and using self-select ISAs is that they can be at higher risk compared to other ISAs. It is always a good idea to seek independent financial advice before you make this type of investment, as there is always a chance it could fail, and you lose your money.

Tom
About author

Fully qualified CISI Investment adviser for 5 year. Managed UK private client portfolios.
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