Best Online Trading Platform (UK) in 2021
Testing over 20 different online share dealing accounts was costly... Still, we managed to select the 5 best choices for UK citizens.
Are you ready to invest a portion of your savings but you're not sure where to begin buying shares? Or are you a seasoned trader, but want to swap brokers?
You’re in the perfect place for an updated guide -->> the best stock trading online picks of 2021.
Here, we share the 5 best online brokers with platforms/apps that are simple to use, as well as more complicated ones.
2021 has shown itself to be a topsy turvy time, full of global crises and disturbed financial market waters… In such worldwide change, all investors have been impacted and new opportunities opened. HostingData hopes to help you make optimal decisions.
Best CFD, Trading & Investment Platforms (UK)
Our list focuses on providers with an excellent level of customer service, easy navigation, transparent pricing and commission structures, and portfolio-creation features. You will also find some who require a very low minimum-starting account balance - as well as have live demo accounts that you can use to get the hang of things.
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. Between 74-89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
1. eToro - The Social and Copy-Trading Wizard 🧙♂️
Free Signup & Zero Commissions on Trades
0% Commission Charges Per Trade (eToro Pays UK Stamp-Duties FOR YOU)
This is one of the major selling-points of this platform. There is zero stamp duty, zero commission - and you have unlimited trades, with no dealing charges or management fees.
This reduces the overhead when you're trading, although this does not apply to leverage or short stock trades. What zero commission means is that you will not get a broker fee when making or closing your order.
There are withdrawal fees, however, but these are the only charges you will come across - in most cases. You get what you actually paid for. eToro pays your UK stocks and shares stamp duties for you (as this is FCA-regulated).
This next Generation investment product has virtually thousands of minds working for you. You can invest in two types of portfolios, Market Portfolios or Top Trader Portfolios.
If you use Market Portfolios, you'll get a bundle of complicated CFD stocks, ETFs or commodities - all being structured around a specific marketing strategy, on your behalf.
If you choose Top Trader Portfolios, you get access to the most long-lasting and top performing traders on the platform.
This system is designed to minimize your risk long-term. Your also get pointed towards new opportunities and pushed towards diversification. To get started:
- Simply select the CopyPortfolio that you think looks good
- Choose an amount of money that you want to invest
- Hit the “Copy!” button and your assets will be managed automatically
There is a professional committee who takes care of your capital. Your performance is analyzed automatically and they use world-leading, financial-analysis companies to get technical data on this.
This feature has been around since 2013, in which time they've … streamlined it. Using the eToro OpenBook, get user posts that work in a similar way to Twitter.
With each post, there’s a username with the currency symbol concerning the post. The system automatically links the post to specific markets - and you can head into specific profiles of individuals.
Access discussion groups, which can be automatically added to Google's and Facebook's streams. There’s even a ‘like’ feature.
Fractional Shares Available
The 0% commission comes in very handy if you want to partake in fractional shares. As an example, perhaps a share price unit is a thousand pounds.
Share orders can be divided into something called “Lots,” what you can think of as a ratio of the total share value. Each “0.1” or “lot” is a fraction of $250. So, using fractional shares, you can purchase a fraction of the share’s total value - for, say, only £50 or much less (under a pound).
Wide Range of Stocks
With all the other things it does well, there are surprisingly large number of financial markets you can access if you open an account with eToro, making this a great solution for:
- Currency Forex
- Penny stocks
Nikkei and the Dow Jones are two exceptions.
We've already mentioned the CopyPortfolios investment strategies. CopyTrader works in a similar way.
The user-base has over 10 million subscribers from over 140 countries. The social nature of the system is a way of allowing users to share information to make a profit.
The fintech revolution sees eToro as the best online trading platform and a market leader because of the Copy That system... Quite simply, you follow the traders who are very successful long-term. Decide how much you want to invest and simply copy everything that they do.
The very powerful thing is that you can do this automatically - with just a single click of the button. The minimum amount you have to trade is $200, per trader.
2. Plus500 - Experienced CFD Provider 🌞
Access To More Than 50 Different Countries
Features & Fees:
76.4% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
An Israeli based trading platform established in 2008, Plus500 has risen up in the ranks in the last few years when it comes to CFD trading and investment.
Lots of on Offer
Probably one of the best things you can expect from Plus500 is the diversity and range of CFDs that they work with. They provide access to more than 50 different countries, as well as access to CFD on trading Forex, ETFs, stock indices, options, and individual shares.
Even better, Plus500 is considered SSL secure. It’s not only regulated by the FCA, but also by the CySEC, MAS, FSA and ASIC regulatory bodies. That means that Plus500 isn’t only regulated by one government-backed body, but few, providing extra security and peace of mind for any potential user.
Also, since it is regulated in this manner, Plus500 offers negative balance protection. This is actually also mandated by ESMA since 2018, wherein a user cannot lose more money than they’ve put into their account.
While Plus500 uses its own proprietary platform, called Webtrader, it’s easy to access from a variety of devices, whether that’s PC or even on a mobile device through their browser.
Webtrader’s interface is sleek and easy-to-use for most and allows you to do things such as analyze charts, place and monitor trades and even create watchlists. Their technical analysis charts have nearly 100 indicators for you to pick and from a variety of time frames.
Advanced traders will find some nice features, such as a familiar layout, customizable technical analysis chart, and the ability to place a trade in a few clicks. That being said, it’s sadly a system that doesn’t allow for external third-party tools, and so that may very well be a drawback for some who are used to those tools.
Good Customer Support
While Plus 500 doesn’t offer phone support, their chat and email support is available 24/7. Response times are really good and are often within a few minutes.
That being said, the chat does seem to be initially manned by a bot, but that’s not necessarily an issue if you’re asking about one of the common cases. Even better, reaching a human being is relatively easy if you need them, so that’s certainly nothing to worry about.
Putting all that together, and you get a pretty great trading platform. Although it’s missing out on some of the features advanced traders might look like, it’s great for those who want a more straightforward experience.
Plus500UK Ltd authorised & regulated by the FCA (#509909)
3. Pepperstone - All-Around Superstar ☑️
Perfect for Experienced Traders
Compatible & Capable
Pepperstone doesn't stand out as the best share dealing account in any specific area. And they’re not the oldest provider on the list. But, Pepperstone is very strong all- around, including being fast and low in cost.
They use high-speed processing and have eight years worth of market intelligence, giving you guide-points that you can use to make informed ordering decisions.
They also have cTrader a MetaTrader 4, which are world-class trading platforms. These instruments make it possible for you to do mirroring of other people's trades, though it's not as obviously-integrated as something like eToro.
We recommend you using the split-screen function on your Android or Mac device, so that you can access the source of your trade information - while having the trading screen also open on one section of your device. (On eToro, this is automated … it can be a nuisance to use split-screens with Pepperstone, but you get used to it.)
Segregates Your Funds
What is fund segregation (for online trading)?
Since the late 1960s, it has become the benchmark to segregate the various uses of funds on a brokerage. This prevents brokerage firms from commingling company assets with client investments.
If a brokerage firm liquidates for some reason, the client's assets can be immediately returned. This stops businesses from illegally using client investments for their own purposes (and putting them at risk).
All risk-managements are decided by the client, without any third-party pressures. This differs from something like a mutual fund, where a portfolio manager will be responsible for managing the asset as one; dividing it amongst the co-owners.
If an online trading platform does not use funds segregation, it is not suitable to use and should be avoided.
There’s a UK phone-line and the option to contact via email support, but the swiftest (and simplest) method for getting customer support is usually via live chat. You'll be able to find 24/7 help, as they have international bases - these range from Australia to the UK.
Also check out the FAQs section, which is well-organized and gives you quick answers to the most common questions around setting up accounts and various conditions of trading with Pepperstone.
Price Alert Feature
Smart Trader tools are expertly-designed tools that allow you to trade in the optimal and most informed way.
Some of the most popular names in the space on MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5.
Both are available if you open an account with Pepperstone. They have a ton of inbuilt features, that include live charts, useful tabs, and an alarm manager. The alarm manager has a lot of advanced tools possible, but the main 3 thing it allows are:
- for you to get notifications about any notable event on your account and in the market
- to send automatic updates to your subscribers via email, SMS and Twitter
- for you to let it take automatic steps, when certain events are triggered
4. IG - Great for Activity & Diversity (Discounts) 📈
Smaller Commissions for Regular Traders
Rewards Based on Activity-Tracking
While eTor offers a zero charge on each trade, whereas IG charges you a commission, they really shine when it comes to the wide array of trading types (for you to spend all that money you made from your launched online business ideas).
If you are active, they lower their prices. £8 per UK trade drops to £5 - if you make at least ten trades on a monthly basis. And US shares are completely zero-commission, as long as you have made 3 trades in the last month.
That’s not a big ask if you are a half-active user. Also, you can take advantage of the greater types of trades possible with this platform. IG allows the Dow Jones and IPO exchange markets, while eToro does not.
Headquartered in UK (FCA-Regulated)
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the independent administration organization responsible for regulating financial markets and financial services that reside in the UK.
They are admired for being reasonably-lenient and allowing a diverse possibility of trading. Some countries have stricter regulations, as they fear money laundering. Because of this lenience, there is healthy competition and a stable industry.
The FCA also protects you against any fraud on the part of the brokerage firm. They can hand out - and do hand out - fines in the hundreds of millions. For example, in 2019, the FCA handed out almost 400 million pounds worth of fines.
No-Commission US Shares
One of the best investment platforms to use if you want to trade in US shares regularly. As long as you make at least three trades a month - which is considered being an active trader - there’ll be zero commission on US shares.
Furthermore, although it costs £8 per trade - for UK shares - this drops to a fiver, if you make a minimal 10 orders in a month. If you are doing fractional share, this would be a big problem. It wouldn’t make financial sense, unless you are trading in no-fee US stocks.
IG is not as affordable as eToro. The commission rates could be a nuisance, particularly for a new user. Or somebody who wants to do fractional share trading.
Pennystone uses cTrader, MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5, which all work on Android and Mac devices. All are world-class systems that let you customize the way you trade.
The most skilled traders in the world use these platforms - in order to manage teams and share trades. This is also available on desktop for Windows and Mac OS. Use on mobiles, tablets, or the web app, which is called WebTrader.
5. Interactive Investors - Great for Investment Funds 💰
Affordable but Lacks Support Options
Great for Diversification (Diverse Products)
Interactive Investor really stands out as of the best share dealing accounts that allow you to make diverse Investments. This is a sort of platform you would use if you wanted to make long-term decisions with your money, based on long research.
Probably more for the informed user, access SIPPs, ISAs, regular trading accounts, junior ISAs, regular trading accounts, company accounts, free research tools, cash trading and pension trading.
If you are looking to really diversify your investments - and you already know how, have access to advice, or don't mind taking the time to figure out various long-term strategies - this platform gives you a wide reach.
Trading Central (Recognia)
Interactive Investor has superb fundamental research that comes from Morningstar. Automated technical insights are available via Trading Central.
Trading Central is a comprehensive research tool that gives you information on shares, investment trusts, funds, and ETFs. In most cases, you can find professional-level PDF reports.
The research tools available are world-class. Find lots of articles and a podcast. In each case, people talk about how the markets will be affected by various events happening around the world. The podcast is a great way to stay updated during your commute.
If you have somebody who loves technical insights, those available - powered by Trading Central - will be one of your most-loved aspects of this platform.
Live Demo Account & $1 Minimum Account Deposit
Over a hundred thousand traders use Interactive Investors. One of those reasons is that the minimum deposit is $1. With that, you can open up a live account.
With it also comes a free live demo account, with no time-limit, where you can practice against live markets in order to get use the platform.
While they were limited features for self-education purposes - only a few sections telling you how to basically sell and buy shares - it's extremely cost-effective to get started trading. Honestly though, we would not recommend this for beginners.
But … No Live Chat
This is a little bit baffling. Sure, we don't expect to have a live chat where you go to get inside trader information on how to make killer bets. But it’s always nice to know that you can quickly secure an answer, if you have an urgent technical issue.
If you want customer support, you will need to go to the FAQ section or to email. Overall, Hargreaves seems to be unconcerned with the community side of things, though we’ve heard that they're working hard (or making efforts) to improve on their self-education tools.
And No Standalone Platform
Every provider on this list offers a standalone trading platform. You can access the markets using a tailor-made system available on a wide range of devices. However, Interactive Investor is surprisingly non-interactive.
There's no stand-alone trading platform. You have to use the website as a platform. Still, you can find an application that you can download onto your phone, which is efficient and does the job. This works on Android and iPhone but not Windows desktop.
There is also a lack of charting tools. Customizability is poor. You really only get the basics for charting. You won’t find drawing tools and there are only a dismal ten technical indicators available.
Related Read: Best Online Trading Platform for Beginners
6. Hargreaves Lansdown - Nice Automated Self-Ed Tools 👨🏫
Reputable & Educational
A Large Reputation
Not many on this list will be able to say that they've been around since the 80s. In that time, Hargreaves has had a whopping 86 billion pounds under its management, with over a million clients.
They’ve developed a vast supply of market analysis and technical insights - available on-demand. And they have excellent platforms, with a great array of compatibilities across devices, with easy-to-use apps.
The main drawback is that they are pricey… You will pay over a tenner per trade, although this can half, if you deal with at least 20 trades in a month. (Which is quite a bit of activity. Not for the casual user).
You're definitely at the higher-end in the industry with HG. But, fortunately, they do not charge if you are inactive on your account. Overall, you can get a better offering - in terms of value - from the other platforms on this list.
Surprisingly Good Mobile App
Definitely one of the top features - the mobile app is super. For sure, it's one of the top mobile apps available out of all of the platforms.
Charting functions are cool. You can access 2g drawing indicators, using them to add overlays to commodities or indices. Also tweak the charts to show financial results, forecasts and/or dividends ... a feature that is surprisingly hard to get in the UK.
The mobile trading service is brought to you via the native HL Live Mobile app. This can be used on iPad, iPhone and Android. It really is top-notch, giving you a simple way to trade while still being able to access key fundamental research.
Trade from the comfort of your phone, without sacrificing insights. As of yet, there is no desktop platform available for Windows.
What we really like about this platform is the automated guides and calculators that clients can automatically use to self-educate. You can learn on general topics ranging from SIPPs, ISAs, and how to select shares.
Educational guides are pretty good, but pale in comparison to eToro - the fintech hero - in terms of cutting-edge sharpness and market-relevance. For example, there is no community database to draw from, where you can engage in discussions and feeds. And there aren't any webinars or video tutorials, which is a let-down.
Best Stock Trading Online Buying Guide ⭐
CFD Trading How To “Mini-Guide”
Let’s break down CFD trading into two parts, as this is quite a complex form of investment - and which can be high-risk even if you're using the best share dealing account available.
First - What is CFD Trading?
CFD training is a form of speculation on financial markets without making physical orders.
When you trade on the Forex market, you make buy and sell actual shares in assets.
On the other hand, CFD trading does not make orders on any real-time assets or capital. Another name for this is “derivative trading.”
These types of traders make speculations on how various markets will move, including physical shares, treasuries and the Forex.
The CFD Trading How To
Okay, so now you know roughly about CFD trading. How to make the most of this?
Best thing to do would be to set up an account with any of our top five platforms - while you learn - such as eToro, which has a big user-base of experts who can share their know-how and answer questions. (For an app that will teach you CFD trading automatedly, consider Hargreaves Lansdown).
Either is all you need to do CFD trades. Rather than buying a physical share or trading in currencies, you buy or sell units that relate to financial instruments; making a marginal speculation on whether the price will go up or go down.
We highly recommend that - if you are new to this - you set up a live demo account, which enables you to live trade using virtual funds on Next-Generation platforms (that includes doing “mirroring/copy trades.”
Is Online Trading Legal in the UK?
Actually, the UK has one of the most relaxed set of regulations and laws when it comes to being an online Forex trader - or an online Forex broker.
The independently-administered, regulatory body - the FCA, or Financial Conduct Authority - is to thank for that.
You can find up-to-date trading Forex services that are very competitive on the online stage (admired, actually).
The UK's regulatory guidelines are ideal for somebody who wants to be a professional Forex trader.
The reason why some countries are more strict with online trading is to prevent money laundering. But here, laws are very lenient and there are no trade restrictions. For this reason, the best UK Forex brokers are sought after.
What is a Stock / Share?
Units of stock are referred to as “shares.” When you buy a stock you are buying a piece … or share of ownership. It's only a tiny portion of that corporation’s total value (usually).
But that ownership entitles you to a fraction of the corporation's assets. As well as their profits - all relative to how much stock you own.
We mostly buy stocks on the stock exchange. But you can also purchase stocks privately, which some corporations do with their employees, particularly co-founders. However it is done, stocks are under the jurisdiction of government regulations.
What is a Stock Broker, Exactly?
A stock broker is the middle-man in a stock exchange.
You give the broker a commission on every trade you make and they give you the order that you purchased. The order is sent onto the stock exchange, and the “market makers” take it in.
The market makers do the hard work of sorting through your buy/sell order, matching it up with somebody who wants to make the deal.
It's not possible to make a stock exchange without a broker. There's nowhere to visit to make a trade yourself. Most trading is done this way, even though - on television - you see people making purchases in New York's financial district.
Types of Stock Brokers
We used to refer to any person or institution that manages stock exchanges as “stockbrokers.” Today, we divide stockbrokers into two main categories: full-service brokers for discount brokers.
Full-service brokers. These are the guys you would think of in the old days. Full service brokers use human brokers who set about to find you trades, mutual funds, or retirement plans.
They are a more expensive alternative to using computers. Human stockbrokers will charge a high minimum fee to place stock trades. This is usually at least around $75. It can be in the hundreds.
Discount brokers. We give the name “discount brokers” to anybody who brokers stocks online. They don't give you advice or personally message you to inform you of fluctuations in the market. All of the information you receive is done through apps. In many cases, you are charged nothing to place a stock trade.
How Much Starting Capital Do You Need to Start Investing?
Some platforms use minimum account requirements, for setting it up.
In other words, you cannot set up an account until you have a certain amount of money transferred into it.
If the platform you choose does not have a starting minimum, then in most cases, you can invest in a fraction of the stock, which can be even as low as under a dollar. For example, if YouTube is selling at $2,000 per share, you could buy $9 worth of it immediately. Whether this is the case depends on the investment type/company:
Usually, you will find that the minimum starting-cost is whatever you pay for a share. This also includes fractional shares (described above).
Exchange traded funds are similar to stocks, so your minimum investment level is whatever you pay for a share.
There’s lots of paperwork involved in setting up and regulating one of these accounts. So typically, you have to invest at least a grand. Fidelity is an exception, as it has no account minimums.
Best Stock Trading Online | FAQs 📈
If you are looking for a very social platform that also allows you to make trades with zero commissions, eToro is the best online trading platform for you. It’s also exceptionally good for trade-mirroring (unique CopyTrader system) - where you copy the trade patterns of a more experienced user.
For the best in overall value - including speed, price, regulations, market intelligence and tools/features - Pepperstone is your go-to choice. All of the latest Next-Gen features are available with it.
IG doesn’t stand for ‘Instagram.’ It has much more advanced features - and rewards its traders with escalations in discounts, if you trade a regular basis. If an active trader with a little bit of experience in the game, IG is an interesting solution.
Interactive Investors is more of a niche option. They have great tools for Investment Funds. Access more diverse markets such as mutual funds and ETFs.
Finally, Hargreaves Lansdown is an alternative go-to tool for beginners. While it doesn't have the social element of eToro - or CopyTrader, for those who just want to be in-and-out quickly, each day - there is an automated self-education system... If you don’t want to use it, just deactivate.
Share your thoughts
This guide is designed to make you more informed about online trading. If there's any questions that we did not answer - or anything you want to add - just leave your thoughts in the comments.