Most UK brokers now give you access to a free stock trading app. In its most basic form, this allows you to buy, sell, and trade shares on your mobile phone. This ensures that you have unfettered access to your investment account no matter where you are.
In this guide, we discuss the best free stock trading apps UK of 2020. We also explore what trading apps allow you to do – and what you need to look out for before installing one on to your phone.
- 1 What are Free Stock Trading Apps?
- 2 How do Free Stock Market Apps Work?
- 3 Best Stock Apps UK for 2020
- 4 What are the Benefits of Using Free Stock Trading Apps?
- 5 Are Stock Apps Safe?
- 6 Are Free Stocking Trading Apps Really ‘Free’?
- 7 Getting Started With a Stock Trading App: Step-by-Step Walkthrough
- 8 The Verdict
- 9 FAQs
What are Free Stock Trading Apps?
The term ‘free stock trading app’ is somewhat of a broad one, as it can refer to a number of different things. With that said, at its core, free stock trading apps are simply mobile applications that allow you to buy and sell shares via your phone.
Behind the stock trading app will be a fully-fledged brokerage firm, which will likely have its main trading platform hosted at its desktop website. For example, let’s suppose that you opened an account with IG.
In doing so, you would be opening a brokerage account, meaning that you can buy and sell stocks at the click fo a button. Crucially, you can either do this at the IG desktop website or through the broker’s proprietary mobile app.
On the other hand, free stock trading apps can also refer to a brokerage firm that allows you to [A] buy shares on your mobile phone and [B] invest without paying any fees or commissions. In this respect, you have the likes of eToro and Robinhood – who both facilitate commission-free share dealing. The latter, however, requires new users to join an ever-growing waiting list.
How do Free Stock Market Apps Work?
In a nutshell, free stock trading apps work much the same as an online share dealing platform. That is to say, you will be required to open an account with an FCA-regulated stock broker, deposit some funds with a UK debit/credit card, bank account, or e-wallet, and then choose which companies you wish to invest in.
Ultimately, the investment process remains exactly the same regardless of whether you trade via your phone or desktop device.
Here’s a super-basic example of how free stock trading apps work in practice:
- You find an FCA-regulated share dealing platform that you like the look of
- You download and install its mobile app to your phone
- You register by providing some personal information
- You instantly deposit £250 with your UK debit card
- You buy £50 worth of Royal Mail shares, leaving the rest of your balance for a later date
As you can see from the above, you were able to buy Royal Mail shares via your mobile phone in a matter of minutes. Crucially, free stock trading apps typically give you access to hundreds, if not thousands of companies – both in the UK and abroad. This allows you to invest in popular US companies like Microsoft, Nike, Ford, Facebook, and Twitter at the click of a button.
Best Stock Apps UK for 2020
Most UK stock brokers offer a native mobile application that can be downloaded and installed free of charge. This ensures that you have the capacity to buy, sell, and trade shares no matter where you are. However, it is important that you spend some time researching the share app before taking the plunge.
- Is the share app authorized and regulated by the FCA?
- Will you be using the stock app to buy shares or trade CFDs?
- Does the stock app allow you to deposit funds with a UK debit/credit card or bank account?
- What stock markets does the app give you access to?
- Is the stock app easy to use?
- Can you perform the same account features on the app as found on the main desktop site?
All in all, you need to ensure that your chosen stock trading app meets your long-term investing goals. If you don’t have the time to perform your own research, below you will find a selection of the best free stock trading apps currently available to UK investors.
1. eToro – Best Free Stock Trading App for Beginners – Buy Shares Commission-Free
eToro is a free stocking trading app in the truest form. That is to say, not only is its stock trading app free to use – but you can purchase shares without paying any fees or commission. This makes eToro one of the most cost-effective share dealing apps in the space.
Best of all, not only will you have access to UK shares, but heaps of international markets, too. For example, you can buy US shares on a commission-free basis, as you can with companies based in Germany, Sweden, Japan, Canada, and more. The commission-free offering available at eToro also extends to ETFs and cryptocurrencies.
If you are looking to ‘trade’ stocks on a short-term basis, you will also have the option of applying leverager and going short. The mobile application itself is available on iOS and Android devices, and you can perform all of the same account functions as found on the broker’s desktop website. In terms of payments, eToro supports UK debit/credit cards and bank accounts, as well as e-wallets.
You will need to meet a minimum deposit of $200 (about £160), which comes with a small conversion fee of 0.5%. This is because the entire platform is denominated in US dollars, meaning you can trade stocks without worrying about fluctuating exchange rates. Finally, eToro is licensed with the FCA, CySEC, and ASIC – and you can set up 2FA as an additional layer of security.
- $200 minimum deposit (£160)
- Super user-friendly online stock broker
- Buy stocks without paying any commission or share dealing charges
- 800+ stocks listed on UK and international markets
- Deposit funds with a debit/credit card, e-wallet, or UK bank account
- Ability to copy the trades of other users
- Not suitable for advanced traders that like to perform technical analysis
75% of retail investors lose money trading CFDs at this site
2. Plus500 – Commission-Free CFD Provider With a Mobile App
Plus500 is an online CFD provider that allows you to trade via its desktop website, or through a dedicated mobile app. The application is available on iOS/Android devices and it can be downloaded free of charge. Once you have gone through a registration process and uploaded a copy of your ID, you will then have access to thousands of CFD instruments.
This includes over 2,000 stock CFDs from heaps of UK and international markets. For example, you can enter buy/sell positions on companies based in the US, Australia, France, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, South Africa, Belgium, and of course – the UK. As a retail trader, Plus500 allows you to apply leverage of up to 1:5 when you trade stocks CFDs – so a £500 balance would permit a maximum position of £2,500.
Plus500 allows you to enter both buy/sell positions on your stock CFD trades -which is ideal if you think the value of a company is likely to go down. You can get started with an account by meeting a £100 minimum deposit, and supported payment options include a debit/credit card, bank account transfer, and Paypal. In terms of safety, Plus500UK Ltd is authorized & regulated by the FCA (#509909). Finally, Plus500 also lists other CFD asset classes if you want to diversify – including but not limited to hard metals, energies, indices, and ETFs.
- Commission-free CFD platform – only pay the spread
- Thousands of financial instruments across heaps of markets
- Retail clients can trade stock CFDs with leverage of up to 1:5
- You can short-sell a stock CFD if you think its value will go down
- Takes just minutes to open an account and deposit funds
- CFDs only
- More suitable for experienced traders
80.5% of retail investors lose money trading CFDs at this site
3. IG – Free Stock Trading App to Buy Shares or Trade CFDs
UK-based broker IG gives you the best of best worlds, insofar that you will have access to share dealing services and a CFD stock trading facility. Regarding the former, you will have the opportunity to buy and sell over 10,000 shares. This includes companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, as well as dozens of international markets.
Its free stock trading app – which is available on both iOS and Android, allows you to buy shares from just £3 per trade. If you want to trade CFDs, IG covers stocks, indices, gold, oil, interest rates, and more. You will need to meet a minimum deposit of £250 at the broker, and you can quickly add funds with your debit/credit card or bank account.
With that said, you’ll need to complete your deposit and withdrawal requests via the main desktop website if you’re using an iOS device, as this is only available on Android models. Similarly, the iOS version of the app does not permit stock pricing alerts, while Android does.
Nevertheless, both versions of the stock trading app allow you to place buy and sell orders and check the value of your portfolio at the click of a button. The platform is regulated by the FCA, so you should have no concerns with safety. If you do opt for IG and its free stock trading app – you will be joining over 178,000 other users. .
- Trusted UK broker with a long-standing reputation
- Good value share dealing services
- Leverage and short-selling also available
- Spread betting and CFD products
- Access to UK and international markets
- Great research department
- Minimum deposit of £250
- US stocks have a $15 minimum commission
What are the Benefits of Using Free Stock Trading Apps?
If you’re used to trading stocks or buying shares on your desktop device – there are several reasons why having a fully-fledged mobile brokerage app is important for your long-term investing goals.
Close a Losing Position Without Delay
Let’s suppose that you are out of the house and you have just found out that BP has announced the suspension of its dividend policy.
Naturally, negative news such as this will typically result in a mass-market sell-off, subsequently resulting in the value of the stocks going down – and in quick fashion.
As such, a seasoned investor would have their finger at the pulse by closing their BP stock position via a share app.
Those without a free stock trading app at their disposal would likely need to wait until they get back to their desktop device to close the position, which could result in extended losses.
Never Miss a Trading Opportunity
This point follows on from the section above – but in reverse. In simple terms, let’s suppose that Tesco has just released its latest quarterly results, which are significantly better than the markets had anticipated.
This would likely result in the value of Tesco stocks shooting up – and quickly. Once again, by having a free stock trading app installed on your phone, you can place a market order in a matter of seconds.
Stay in the Loop With Real-Time Stock Alerts
The best free stock trading apps come jack-packed with useful features and tools. At the forefront of this is real-time pricing alerts.
- Let’s suppose that you are analyzing HSBC shares
- The shares are currently priced at 380p per stock
- Your research points to a possible market upswing if the price surpasses 400p
- As such, you set up a pricing alert via your stock trading app
- If and when HSBC shares hit 400p, you will receive a real-time pricing alert via your mobile phone
Check the Value of Your Portfolio With Ease
Having a free stock trading app installed onto your mobile device is also great for keeping tabs on your portfolio. Ordinarily, you would need to load up your desktop device and head over to your chosen trading platform. However, by downloading a share app onto your phone, you can check the value of your portfolio in seconds.
Are Stock Apps Safe?
In order to determine whether or not your chosen share app is safe, you first need to look at the credentials of the broker. At the forefront of this should be a fully-fledged brokerage license with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If the underlying broker isn’t FCA-regulated, you should avoid it.
The benefits that this presents include:
- Stock apps that are licensed by the FCA are required to keep your funds in separate bank accounts from its own. You can read more about segregated bank accounts at FCA brokerage firms here.
- The brokerage firm must also ensure that it complies with UK anti-money laundering regulations. As such, you and your fellow investors will be required to upload a form of ID before having the capacity to make a withdrawal.
- FCA-regulated stock apps are also required to present the risks of investing in a clear and easy-to-understand manner.
On top of ensuring that your chosen free stocking trading app is regulated by the FCA – you should also explore what security features are offered. For example, the eToro trading app allows you to install two-factor authentication (2FA). This means that on each login attempt – whether that’s on your phone or via the main desktop website, a unique code will be sent via SMS.
Additionally, withdrawals can only be sent back to the payment method that you used to make a deposit. For example, if you loaded your stock app with a debit card, funds must be sent back to the same card. You will also benefit from the security features that you already have in place on your phone – such as a screen lock or TouchID.
Are Free Stocking Trading Apps Really ‘Free’?
In terms of downloading, installing, and subsequently using your free stocking trading app – you will not need to pay any fees. After all, the underlying brokerage firm wants you to use the app to buy, sell, and trade assets. With that being said, stock brokers and CFD platforms are in the business of making money, so you will always need to pay a fee of some sort.
- Share Dealing Charge: If you are looking to use your stock trading app to invest in shares, then it’s likely you will need to pay a share dealing fee. This is charged when you buy shares and again when you sell them. The good news is that eToro’s free stock trading app allows you to invest in shares on a commission-free basis.
- Stock Trading Commission: If you are looking to trade stock CFDs via your phone, then you might need to pay a trading commission. This is typically implemented as a variable percentage rate – which often comes with a minimum charge. eToro and Plus500 do not charge commissions when you trade stock CFDs, although spreads and overnight financing still applies.
- Non-Trading Fees: Always check whether or not any non-trading fees apply. In particular, look out for inactivity fees, currency conversion fees, and deposit/withdrawal fees.
Getting Started With a Stock Trading App: Step-by-Step Walkthrough
If you’re ready to take the plunge by downloading and installing a free stock trading app, we are now going to show you what you need to do. The step-by-step instructions outlined below are based on popular broker eToro – which allows you to download its stock trading app for free. You can also get your account set up in minutes and easily deposit funds with a UK payment method.
Step 1: Download and Install the eToro App
Your first port of call will be to head over to the eToro website and navigate to the mobile app section of the site. You will then be presented with the respective link for the Google Play and Apple stores. This is the safest way to install the eToro trading app – as you can be 100% sure you are downloading the official version.
Step 2: Open Account and Upload ID
Once you have installed and opened the eToro app, you will then be asked to open an account. The process takes minutes and simply requires some personal information from you. This includes your name, address, date of birth, national insurance number, and contact details.
As eToro is licensed by the FCA, it is also required to request some ID from you. You will be instructed to take a picture of your passport or driver’s license, alongside a proof of address. This can be a utility bill or bank account statement – as long as it was issued within the last three months.
Step 3: Deposit Funds
You will now be asked to fund your account. If you want to benefit from an instant deposit – opt for a debit/credit card or e-wallet. If you want to transfer the funds from your bank account, it might take a couple of working days before this is reflected in your account.
Step 4: Place a Trade or Invest
As soon as your eToro account has been funded, you can start trading stocks. With more than 800 companies listed at the broker, it might be worth browsing through its stock library to see what equities you can trade. Otherwise – if you already know which stock you want to trade, enter it into the search box.
In our example, we are looking to trade GlaxoSmithKline stocks. After clicking on the ‘Trade’ button, you will be shown an order box. If you simply want to invest in stocks then leave this set as a buy order, and enter the amount that you wish to stake (in US dollars). As you can see from the example below, we are looking to buy $50 worth of shares.
Alternatively, if you want to short-sell a company or apply leverage – your order will transition in a stock CFD trade. This means that you will not own the underlying asset. You can read more about stock trading via CFDs here.
Finally, click on the ‘Open Trade’ button to complete your stock trade or share purchase!
In summary, free stock trading apps ensure that you never miss a trading opportunity again. Not only can you make that last-minute investment at the click of a button, but you can also ensure that you are able to exit a losing position without needing to wait until you get home.
With that said, you still need to ensure that the broker behind the free stock trading app is credible. On top of a fully-fledged FCA license, you need to look at things like security, tradable assets, and fees.
All in all, if you are looking for a free stock trading app that ticks the right boxes – including that of commission-free share purchases, eToro has proven popular with UK investors that are just starting out in the space.
What are free stock trading apps?
Free stock trading apps allow you to buy, sell, and trade shares on your phone. You will be doing so via a dedicated mobile app that is backed by an FCA-regulated broker or CFD platform.
What operating systems are free stock trading apps available on?
In the vast majority of cases, online brokers will only develop mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. As such, if you're using Windows, Blackberry or any other device for that matter - you will need to use your standard mobile web browser to trade.
Are free stock trading apps safe?
Largely, yes - but you still need to your homework on the underlying broker. Most importantly, make sure that the broker is regulated by the FCA - and that your funds are protected by the FSCS.
How do I fund a free stock trading app?
Most free stock trading apps allow you to deposit funds with a UK debit or credit card, as well as a bank account. Some platforms even allow you to use an e-wallet like Paypal.
Do free stock trading apps come with technical indicators?
Typically, yes - but this will vary from broker-to-broker. This is why you need to explore the merits of the broker in question before downloading its mobile app!
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