The online trading space is moving at an incredible pace – with many UK traders now opting for dedicated investment apps. This allows you to buy, sell, and trade assets at the click of a button – no matter where you are. You will still need to open an account with an FCA broker, as investment apps typically form part of a much wider online trading platform.
In this guide, we discuss the best UK investment apps of 2020. We also explain how investment apps work, what they allow you to do, and what you need to look out for prior to installing one onto your phone.
What are UK Investment Apps?
As the name suggests, investment apps are applications that you install on to your mobile phone – with the view of buying, selling, and trading assets on the move. Before we go any further, it is important to note that the vast majority of UK investment apps are actually brokerage firms.
That is to say, the broker in question will have its proprietary trading arena on its desktop website – while also giving you the option of investing via your phone.
For example, if you opt for an investment app like eToro – you will need to open an account and deposit funds – regardless of which device you plan to use. It is also important to remember that the types of assets that you are able to invest in will be dependent on the respective broker.
As an example, UK brokerage site IG offers tens of thousands of financial instruments – which you can trade online, via desktop software, or through a mobile application. This includes everything from traditional stocks and shares, indices, commodities, bonds, cryptocurrencies, and more.
Best UK Investment Apps of 2020
The vast majority of UK brokers now offer a native mobile app. This is typically available on both iOS and Android devices – and there is never a requirement to pay anything extra to trade on your phone. With that said, you need to have a think about what you are looking for in an investment app – as no two-brokers are the same.
- Are you looking to invest in traditional stocks and shares, or trade assets via CFDs?
- Is the broker regulated by the FCA, and are your investment funds protected by the FSCS?
- Is the investment app compatible with your mobile device?
- What is the minimum investment amount required, and what UK payment methods can you use?
- How much does the investment app charge to place trades?
These are metrics that we will explore in more detail further down in our guide. In the meantime, below you will find a list of the most popular UK investment apps currently active in the market.
1. eToro – Best All-Round UK Investment App
eToro is an online broker that is hugely popular with UK investors that are just starting out in the space. There is nothing complicated about the platform – as the broker ensures that first-time traders can invest with ease. You will have the choice of buying and selling assets via its main desktop website – or through a fully-fledged investment app.
If opting for the latter, this is available on both iOS and Android devices, and you can download the app from the Apple/Google store. Crucially, each and every feature available on the main eToro website is also hosted on the investment app. As such, you will have access to thousands of financial instruments across a variety of asset classes. This includes more than 800 stocks that you can buy in the traditional sense.
If investing in shares is what you are after, eToro does not charge any dealing fees or commissions. You will also find an extensive list of CFD products on the investment app. This covers the likes of stock market indices, oil, gas, gold, and even digital currencies like Bitcoin. This comes with the option of applying leverage – with limits set at between 1:2 and 1:30 depending on the asset you wish to trade.
If you’re concerned about safety, you’ll be pleased to know that eToro is regulated by the FCA. With more than 12 million users across multiple jurisdictions, the broker is also licensed with ASIC and CySEC. If you want to take the plunge with eToro, you can open an account in minutes. You simply need to download and install the app to your phone, enter some personal information, take a picture of your ID, and then deposit funds with a debit/credit card, bank account, or e-wallet.
- $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 carries a lot of similarities with eToro. Firstly, the CFD platform has created its app with the view of simplifying the trading process. You merely need to download the app to your phone, deposit some funds, and you can start trading straight away. Secondly, the Plus500 app gives you access to thousands of CFD financial instruments.
This includes over 2,000 stocks, indices, hard metals, energies, cryptocurrencies, bonds, and interest rates. With that said, Plus500 does not offer traditional investment products – as you will be trading CFDs. This simply means that instead of taking ownership of the asset, you will be speculating on its future price.
The main benefit that this presents is that you will be able to place both a buy/sell order on your chosen CFD. Whether that’s stocks, gold, oil, or Bitcoin – you can speculate on the value of the CFD instrument going up or down. The Plus500 investment app also comes with a fully-fledged leverage facility. Much like eToro, this stands at between 1:2 and 1:30 for UK retail clients. When it comes to fees, you won’t pay any trading commissions – regardless of whether you invest via the app or online.
Getting started at Plus500 takes minutes. Once you have downloaded the app and registered an account, you will be able to deposit funds with a debit/credit card, bank account, or Paypal. Minimum deposits start at £100 – and neither payment option comes with any fees. The platform takes its regulatory obligations seriously, as Plus500UK Ltd is authorized & regulated by the FCA (#509909). Finally, Plus500 as a group is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
- 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 – Trusted UK Share Dealing Platform With Competitive-Fees
Make no mistake about it – you will struggle to find an investment app that comes with more financial instruments than IG. In total, this figure now stands at well over 17,000 assets. This includes share dealing services across heaps of stock exchanges, as well as CFD trading facilities. The latter covers everything from bonds to cryptocurrencies, indices and gold.
If opting for CFDs, you’ll have access to leverage and short-selling features, as well as commission-free trades (apart from stocks). The IG investment app is free to download and available across iOS and Android devices. You can place buy and sell orders, view your portfolio balance, and much, much more. In fact, IG is potentially the best option if you are are looking to perform in-depth chart analysis through an investment app.
This includes the ability to use drawing tools and apply technical indicators. A slight flaw with the IG investment app is that pricing alerts are only available via Android, and not iOS. Moreover, the iOS version of the app does not allow you to deposit and withdraw funds – so you’ll need to do this via the main desktop website. Nevertheless, IG is regulated by the FCA, ASIC, and several other licensing bodies – so you should have no concerns with safety.
You can easily open an account with the broker, albeit, you will need to meet a minimum deposit of £250. You can fund your account with a UK debit/credit card or bank account. If going with the former, deposits are instant but you will be charged a 0.5% or 1% fee if using MasterCard/Visa. Finally, IG offers an in-depth research and analysis department which is ideal if you are looking to pick assets on a DIY basis.
- 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
How do Investment Apps Work?
The term ‘investment app’ is used to refer to an online broker that offers mobile trading. That is to say, the end-to-end process of opening an account, depositing funds, and subsequently placing buy and sell orders remains constant.
The only difference is that you will have the option of doing this via a dedicated mobile app. As we briefly mentioned earlier, the best UK investment apps are typically only available via Android and iOS devices.
With that being said, you can still invest via your mobile phone if you have an alternative operating system (such as Windows or Blackberry) – it’s just that you will need to access the broker via your mobile web browser.
Once you are all set up with your investment app, you will then have access to thousands of financial instruments. Depending on the broker you sign up with, you might have the option of investing in traditional shares – or actively trading CFDs. Either way, you will be risking your own money – so make sure that you have a firm understanding of the risks.
Getting Started With a UK Investment App: Step-by-Step Walkthrough
If you’re keen to start trading via your mobile phone, but you need a little guidance – here we walkthrough you through the process. The specific steps outlined below are based on popular UK investment app eToro, albeit, feel free to use any broker of your choosing (as long as it is FCA-regulated).
Step 1: Download and Install the eToro App
To get the ball rolling, you will need to download and install the eToro mobile app – which is available on both iOS and Android. We would strongly suggest that you do this through the official eToro website – as opposed to searching for it through your respective Apple/Google stores. This will ensure that you do not download a fraudulent application by mistake.
Step 2: Open Account and Upload ID
You will now need to open an account with eToro – which you can do through the mobile app. This will require some personal information from you – such as your full name, home address, date of birth, and contact details.
As eToro is regulated by the FCA (as well as ASIC and CySEC), you will need to verify your identity. You can do this by taking a clear photo of your passport/driver’s license and a proof of address. This can be a utility bill or bank statement.
Step 3: Deposit Funds
You can now deposit funds with your debit/credit card, bank account, or an e-wallet like Paypal and Skrill. Minimum deposits start at £200 (about £160). The funds should be credited to your investment app instantly – unless you are using a bank account.
Step 4: Place a Trade or Invest
Once your eToro investment app has been funded, you can then start trading straight away. The stock broker lists thousands of financial instruments across several asset classes – so you are best advised to use the search box.
Once we click on the ‘Trade’ button, we need need to enter the amount that we wish to invest. We are investing the minimum in our example, which is $50 (£40). Finally, click on the ‘Open Trade’ button to complete your mobile investment!
How to Find the Best UK Investment Apps?
Mobile trading is now one of the fastest-growing investment spaces in the UK. This does make sense when you factor in just how convenient mobile investing is – not just in terms of actually buying and selling assets, but also checking the value of your portfolio too.
Furthermore – and perhaps most importantly, investment apps ensure that you never miss a trading opportunity again. Whether you want to place a last-minute stock investment or you need to exit a position – this can now be done at the click of a button.
With that said, the difficult part is knowing which UK investment app to sign up with. To help you along the way, below you will find some of the metrics that you need to consider before taking the plunge.
- FCA Regulation: Make sure that your chosen UK investment app is regulated by the FCA, and that the platform is covered by the FSCS. If it isn’t, you should avoid it. Crucially, this will ensure that you are able to trade on your mobile phone in a safe and secure manner.
- Traditional Investments or CFDs: You then need to figure out the type of assets that you wish to buy, sell, or trade. For example, if you are looking for a conventional share dealing platform that you can access via your mobile phone, you’ll be better suited to the likes of eToro. If you’re looking to trade more sophisticated products like oil, gas, indices, or bonds – you might be more aligned with a CFD provider like Plus500.
- Compatibility: As we noted earlier, most UK investment apps are available on iOS and Android devices only. However, you still need to check whether or not your specific operating system is supported. For example, while the IG investment app does support iOS, the app doesn’t allow you to deposit or withdraw funds!
- Payments: You are going to be trading with real-world pounds and pence on your investment app, so you need to think about the most convenient way of funding your account. If you are looking for an instant and free deposit, the likes of debit cards, e-wallets, or Apple/Google pay are preferred. UK bank accounts are also supported, but this can take several days to process.
- User-Friendliness: If the investment app has been designed poorly, this can result in an adverse user experience. This could be costly if you end up making a mistake or you are unable to close a position. As such, make sure your chosen investment app makes trading on a smaller screen a seamless process.
- Minimum Deposits: You should also check to see what the minimum deposit requirement amounts to. This can actually vary quite considerably in the investment app space. For example, while Plus500 allows you to get started with a deposit of just £100, IG requires £250.
UK Investment App Fees: How Much Does it Cost to Trade on my Phone?
You will always need to pay a fee of some sort when buying and selling assets with a broker. Irrespective of whether you are trading online or via your mobile phone – fees and commissions will remain constant. That is to say, you won’t pay more or less for trading on your phone – and visa-versa with the main desktop site.
Nevertheless, below we have listed some of the main fees that you need to consider when using an investment app to trade:
Share Dealing Charges
If you are looking to invest in stocks on your mobile phone, you will need to use a traditional share dealing platform. In turn, you will likely need to pay a fee every time you trade. This is usually a flat fee – with the likes of Hargreaves Lansdown charging £11.95 per order. IG is much more competitive at between £3 and £8 – depending on how much you trade.
However, no broker quite competes with eToro at present (apart from Robinhood – but there is a significant waiting list for new customers), as the platform allows you to buy shares without paying any fees, commissions, or share dealing charges.
If your chosen investment app does charge a flat fee, you will need to pay this at both ends of the trade.
- You want to buy £500 worth of Royal Mail stocks
- The broker charges £11 per trade
- You pay this fee when you purchase the shares
- When it comes around to selling your Royal Mail shares, you once again pay £11
If you are looking to trade CFDs assets like gold, oil, natural gas, interest rates, or cryptocurrencies – you will likely need to pay a trading commission. In most cases, this comes as a variable percentage fee. Again, you will pay this at both ends of the trade.
- You want to trade stock CFDs
- The broker charges a commission of 0.5%
- The size of your order is £2,000
- This means you pay £10 in commission when you open the trade
- When you close the position, your stock CFD trade is now worth £2,100
- As such, you pay a commission of £10.50
Annual Maintenance Fees
Although more of a rarity, some UK investment apps will charge you an annual maintenance fee. This is a fee for simply having access to the platform. This is usually charged as a percentage against your account balance. For example, if you have an average annualized balance of £10,000 – and the broker charges 0.2% per year, you’ll pay £20. You will likely need to pay an annual fee if you allocate funds into ETFs or mutual funds through your investment app, too.
More and more traders in the UK are opting for mobile investment apps. Not only does this allow you to buy and sell assets at the click of a button – but you can access your brokerage account no matter where you are. Crucially, this means that you will never miss an investment opportunity again.
With that said, you need to spend some time reviewing the broker in question to ensure its investment app is right for you. As we have covered throughout our guide, you need to explore key metrics like fees, compatibility, tradable assets, and regulation. A lot of newbie investors opt for eToro – as its trading app allows you to buy shares on a commission-free basis.
What are investment apps?
As the name suggests, investment apps allow you to buy, sell, and trade assets on your mobile phone. The investment app itself will be backed by a brokerage firm - who then gives you the choice of investing via its main desktop website or the mobile app.
Do I need a separate brokerage account when I download an investment app?
You will only ever have one account with your chosen UK broker. For example, let's suppose that you open an account with eToro. Regardless of whether you invest through your mobile phone or online - you will be doing so with the same account.
Are UK investment apps covered by the FSCS?
In the vast majority of cases - yes, UK investment apps are covered by the FSCS. However, this isn't always the case - as it ultimately depends on the broker you sign up with. We would strongly suggest you check this before signing up.
Are there any free investment apps?
Most, if not all, of the best UK investment apps are free. In other words, the broker in question will not charge you a fee to download or install the app. After all, they want you to trade!
Can I trade with demo funds on my investment app?
Usually, yes - but this once again depends on the broker. In other words, if your chosen broker offers a demo account facility, you can access this online and via your mobile phone.
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