Based in the UK and looking to get your hands on some stocks and shares? There are hundreds of FCA-regulated brokers active in the online space that allow you to buy and sell companies at the click of a button. The process rarely takes more than a few minutes.
In this guide, we explore the best UK stock brokers to do this within 2021. We cover key factors like fees, dealing charges, tradable shares, customer support, user-friendliness, and regulation.
- 1 Best UK Stock Brokers & Online Trading Platforms
- 2 Best Stock Brokers / Share Dealing Platforms of 2021
- 3 Other UK Stock Brokers and Trading Platforms Worth Considering
- 4 What is an Online Stock Broker?
- 5 How Do Online Share Dealing Platforms Work?
- 6 UK Stock Broker Fees: What you Need to Know
- 7 Share Dealing vs Stock CFD Trading
- 8 UK Stocks and Shares ISAs
- 9 Is my Money Safe at a UK Share Dealing Platform?
- 10 Best UK Trading Platform – Conclusion
- 11 eToro – Best UK Stock Broker with 0% Commission
- 12 FAQs
Best UK Stock Brokers & Online Trading Platforms
If you don’t have time to read our guide in full, here’s a list of our top-rated UK stock brokers.
- eToro – Social and copy trading stock broker with 0% commission
- Libertex – CFD broker with zero spreads
- Fineco Bank – Buy and sell shares at just £2.95 per trade
- FXCM – Long-standing stock broker with MetaTrader 4
- IG – Share dealing broker with over 10,000 shares
- DEGIRO – Popular stock broker with a variety of international shares
With hundreds of UK stock broker sites now active in the market, knowing which platform to sign up with has never been more challenging. For example, while a share dealing platform might stand out for offering super-low fees, it might not give you access to international companies.
With this in mind, below you will find our five top-rated UK stock brokers of 2021. All of our picks are heavily regulated, allow you to easily fund your account with a UK payment method, and offer top-notch customer support
1. eToro – Best All-Round UK Stock Broker
If you’re looking for the best share dealing account UK that ticks all of the right boxes – look no further than eToro. First and foremost, the stock broker allows you to invest in traditional stocks without paying any commission or share dealing charges. Instead, the only ‘fee’ that you pay is that of the spread. As long as you do not apply leverage or short-sell your chosen company, you will be entitled to company dividends as and when they are paid.
In terms of markets, eToro lists more than 800 equities. This includes major companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, as well as US firms. As such, you’ll get to buy shares in companies like Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft without the need to pay any fees. Heaps of other stock markets (17 in total) are covered at eToro – including but not limited to Australia, Canada, Sweden, and Germany. If you’re looking to dabble in other areas of the investment space, eToro also gives you access to funds and ETFs. This really gives you a great opportunity to build a diverse portfolio, other platforms only serve as CFD platforms, you can see the contrast in our eToro vs Plus500 comparison.
What we also like about eToro is that it offers a copy trading feature. For those unaware, this allows you to copy the trades of seasoned investors, subsequently allowing you to earn a passive income. There are no additional fees to engage with copy trading. In terms of getting started, it takes just minutes to open an account at eToro, and you can deposit funds on a fee-free basis via a debit/credit card, e-wallet, or UK bank account.
The minimum deposit stands at $200 – which is about £160. As all eToro balances are displayed in US dollars, your deposit will come with a small 0.5% conversion fee. This does, however, allow you to access both UK and international stocks with ease. We should also note that you can deposit up to €2,000 (about £1,800) without needing to upload ID straight away, so you can buy your chosen shares instantly.
Finally, eToro is regulated by the FCA, meaning that your funds are safe at all times. In fact, you will benefit from the protections of the FSCS – which covers you up to the first £85,000 in the event the broker ceased to exist.
|Inactivity fees||$10 a month after 12 months of inactivity|
- 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
- FCA and FSCS protections
- Not suitable for advanced traders that like to perform technical analysis
67% of retail investors lose money trading CFDs at this site
2. Libertex – Best Online Trading Platform for CFDs with Zero Spreads
Libertex is a CFD broker with a difference – it charges commissions instead of spreads. The commission varies depending on the asset class you’re trading. For stocks, the commission ranges from 0% up to 0.5%, so, depending on the asset class and instrument you’re trading, Libertex can be a much cheaper option than other CFD brokers.
In addition to stocks, Libertex offers CFDs for ETFs, commodities, forex, and indices. The maximum leverage for stocks is 1:5, although this is higher if you have a professional account. If your interest is investing in cryptocurrencies then Libertex offers a wide range as the best bitcoin trading platform.
Libertex offers some useful educational tools, including a beginner’s course, a blog, and webinars. There’s also a demo account you can use to try out the platform. This broker is compatible with MT4 and is also our most recommended best MT4 broker UK.
Founded in 1997, Libertex is a licensed and trusted broker with a great reputation. It’s won a host of awards, so you know you’re in good hands with this trading platform.
|Commission||0%-0.5% for stocks|
|Withdrawal fee||1 EUR for credit/debit card, 1% for Neteller, free for Skrill|
|Inactivity fees||10 EUR after 180 days|
- Zero spread CFD trading
- Good educational resources
- Long established broker
- Compatible with MT4
- Competive spreads
- Only offers CFDs
Your capital is at risk.
3. Fineco Bank – Buy UK Stocks From Just £2.95
Italian financial institution Fineco Bank recently entered the UK stock broker scene. It allows you to buy and sell shares in a super-competitive manner at just £2.95 per trade. This is also the case for ETFs. If you’re looking to add some international shares to your portfolio, Fineco Bank gives you access to heaps of foreign markets.
You will need to pay an annual fee of 0.25% on all stock investments, but this still makes the platform viable for a low-cost share dealing strategy. If you’re keen to invest in the financial markets but don’t know how to pick stocks, Fineco Bank offers automated portfolios.
All you need to do is select your preferred risk rating, and Fineco Bank will add assets to your portfolio based on your financial goals. Fineco Bank is also popular with UK investors as it allows you to get started with a small investment of £100. If you do feel comfortable investing on a DIY basis, Fineco Bank offers excellent research tools and ongoing market commentary.
Fineco Bank fees:
|Commission||£2.95 per UK stock trade (0.25% annual fee)|
- No commissions or inactivity fees
- Includes portfolio management tools
- Excellent fundamental analysis and commentary
- Simple system for tracking investment performance
- 25% annual management fee
Your capital is at risk
4. FXCM – Reputable UK Broker with MetaTrader 4
Also known as Forex Capital Market, FXCM is an established share and stock CFD broker. This brokerage was formed all the way back in 1999, so it’s one of the most experienced platforms in the space and is among the most popular brokers in the UK.
FXCM offers a wide range of financial assets in the form of CFDs, including stock and share CFDs. The fees are very competitive, with no commissions and tight spreads, so you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy trading on FXCM.
Traders have a choice of platforms with FXCM – the broker’s own proprietary platform, Ninja Trader, or the ever-popular MetaTrader 4. Both provide access to advanced trading, analysis, and risk management tools. There’s also a wealth of educational, research, and insight resources available on FXCM, so it’s a great option for traders of all levels.
FXCM has a very low minimum deposit of just £50, so you can get started without a huge outlay. You can also try out the platform for free with the FXCM demo account. If you want to trade shares on your mobile, you can do it seamlessly on the FXCM app.
|Commission||0% (spreads on CFDs)|
|Inactivity fees||$50 a year after 12 months inactivity|
- Supports MetaTrader 4 and Ninja Trader
- A long-established and reputable broker
- FCA Licensed
- Mobile trading app
- No commission and tight spreads
- CFDs only
- Less shares than other brokers
73.05% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs at this site
5. IG – Trusted UK Share Dealing Platform With Competitive-Fees
IG is a highly established UK broker that offers a full range of asset classes. This includes traditional stocks and shares, as well as CFDs in the form of indices, interest rates, funds, commodities, and cryptocurrencies. IG also offers spread betting services, which is worth considering as you will benefit from tax-exempt gains. In terms of pricing, IG offers a variable model that gets more competitive when you trade more often.
For example, if you placed less than two trades in the prior calendar month, you will pay a flat fee of £8. If you up this to three trades, the fee is reduced to just £3. This makes IG one of the cheapest share dealing platforms in the UK space. If you’re looking to buy and sell international stocks, US companies come at a fee of $0.02 per share. You will, however, need to meet a minimum commission of $15 – so this option is only worthwhile if you are happy to invest larger amounts.
Outside of the traditional stocks and shares department, IG also gives you access to leverage and short-selling. We should also note that IG is regulated on several fronts. On top of a fully-fledged FCA license, the broker is also regulated in Australia, Switzerland, the US, Japan, Singapore, and others. If you like the sound of IG, minimum deposits start at £250, which you can do via a debit/credit card or bank transfer.
|Commission||UK shares £3 if more than 3 trades made in the previous month, £8 if 2 or fewer trades |
US shares free if more than 3 trades made in the previous month, £10 if 2 or fewer trades
All other shares 0.1% with a minimum of EUR 10
|Inactivity fees||£12 a month after 2 years of inactivity|
- 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
6. DEGIRO – Best for International Stocks and Shares
If you’re looking to diversify your portfolio by investing in companies from several countries, it might be worth exploring the merits of DEGIRO. This trading platform offers thousands of equities from heaps of stock exchanges.
On top of major markets like the UK, US, and Japan – you’ll also have access to less liquid exchanges. You will be buying the stocks in the traditional sense, meaning that you will be entitled to dividends if and when they are paid.
DEGIRO is also well-known for offering a super-low fee structure on its stocks. This works out at just £1.75 +0.014% when buying UK shares – at a maximum of £5 per trade. If its US stocks you’re after, this works out at just €0.50 + $0.004 per share.
We also like DEGIRO because the platform allows you to buy and sell a selection of 200 ETFs for free, although bear in mind that there are conditions that apply to these. After that, the standard ETF works out at €2 + 0.03% per trade – which again is competitive.
It takes 24-48 hours to get your DEGIRO account set up in the vast majority of cases. This broker is licensed by AFM in the Netherlands.
|Commission||£1.75 + 0.014% with a maximum of £5|
- Very low fees to buy and sell stocks
- Thousands of stocks across multiple international markets
- One free ETF trade per month
- Also offers bonds and funds
- Good reputation
- A newly designed website makes it easy to invest
- Takes days to get your account set up
- Does not accept debit/credit cards or e-wallets
Investing involves risk of loss.
Other UK Stock Brokers and Trading Platforms Worth Considering
As we briefly touched upon earlier, there are hundreds of UK trading platforms active in the online arena. As such, although we have already discussed some of the most popular platforms of 2021, there are many others to consider.
- Hargreaves Lansdown: Hargreaves Lansdown is arguably one of the most reputable UK trading platforms. It gives you access to both UK and international shares, as well as bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. The broker is also known for offering one of the best stock research platforms in the space, as well as heaps of educational materials. However, Hargreaves Lansdown is somewhat expensive, with share dealing charges costing up to £11.95 per trade.
- Share Centre: The Share Dealing Centre is a UK broker that is also popular with first-timers. This is because the process of opening and funding an account and then buying shares, is super easy. Fees, however, can be on the high side if you are looking to invest small amounts. You will pay £7.50 per trade for anything under £750. Thereon, you will pay 1%.
- Halifax: Halifax also offers share dealing services, and you don’t need to have an account with the bank to be eligible. You will have access to heaps of UK companies, and the buying process can be initiated by investors of all skill-sets. You will need to pay a flat fee of £12.50 for each trade that you place.
- Fineco: Fineco Bank is an Italian financial institution that also offers share dealing and trading services to UK investors. Although you might not have heard of the platform, it is actually one of the cheapest in the UK. Crucially, you will pay just £2.95 per trade at Fineco, and you will have access to both UK and international markets.
Here’s a comprehensive list of share dealing platforms:
- Interactive Investor
- Hargreaves Lansdown
- The Share Centre
- AJ Bell
- Fineco Bank
- Saxo Bank
- TD Direct Investing
What is an Online Stock Broker?
If you want to buy and sell shares, you will need to use an online stock broker. Otherwise referred to as a share dealing platform, you will have the ability to invest in hundreds of UK and international companies from the comfort of your home.
As and when you find a stock that you like the look of, you simply need to determine how many shares you wish to buy, and the funds will be taken from your share dealing balance.
Then, you will retain full ownership of the stock until you decide to sell. Best of all, any dividends that your chosen company pays will be added to your brokerage account.
This allows you to re-invest the dividends into other companies, or withdraw the money out to your bank account. Crucially, there is no longer a need to speak with a trading platform over the phone – as everything is facilitated online.
The actual investment process couldn’t be easier at an online stock broker. First and foremost, you will be required to open an account with your chosen broker. This is to ensure that the platform complies with the FCA. This rarely takes more than a few minutes, and simply requires some personal information – such as your full name, home address, date of birth, and contact details.
67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
After that, you will then be instructed to upload a couple of verification documents. This is to ensure that you are who you say you are. Once your account has been verified, you can then deposit some funds. Most of the share dealing platforms that we recommend allow you to fund your account with a UK debit/credit card or bank account. You will also have the option of depositing funds with an e-wallet like Paypal.
As soon as your UK stock broker account has been funded, you can then proceed to invest. Unless you are using a mutual fund you will need to choose your own companies. Once you know which stocks you want to buy, you’ll need to choose how many shares you want. The good news is that you are no longer required to buy ‘whole shares’, so you can invest as little as you want as long as this meets the share dealing platform’s minimum trade size.
UK Stock Broker Fees: What you Need to Know
When it comes to fees, UK share dealing platforms are in the business of making money. As such, you will always need to pay a fee of some sort. The exact pricing model will vary from broker-to-broker, and the one you opt for should be depending on how often you plan to trade.
For example, if you’re simply looking to buy shares and hold on to them for a number of years, your best bet is eToro – as the platform does not charge any commissions. If you’re looking to trade stocks on a shorter-term basis, then Plus500 is likely to be the best option.
In other cases, Nutmeg is suitable if you are looking to invest in pre-made portfolios, as you will only need to pay an annual fee of 0.45%. Share dealing platforms like IG do things slightly differently – as you will be charged a flat fee. This means constant regardless of how large your order is, so this option is suitable if you are thinking about trading bigger volumes.
To give you an idea of what you are likely going to pay in 2021 – check out the comparison table below.
|UK Stock Broker Fees||Charge Per Trade||Annual Fee||Conversion Fee|
|IG||£3 or £8||£24 per quarter (less than 3 trades)||0.50%|
|Hargreaves Lansdown||£5.95 to £11.95||Free||0.25% to 1%|
|Barclays||£6||0.2% (£48 min.)||N/A|
|Interactive Investor||From £3.99||From £9.99 per month||1%|
Currency Conversion Fee
As you will see from the above fee table, most UK stock brokers will charge a ‘currency conversion’ fee. In the vast majority of cases, this is charged when you attempt to access international shares. In other words, if you’re from the UK and investing in pounds, but you want to buy shares listed in the US, the respective stocks will be priced in dollars. As such, the broker will charge you a currency conversion fee, which is multiplied against the value of your order.
- You want to buy £10,000 worth of Disney shares – which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange in US dollars
- Irrespective of Disney’s share price, you will pay a 0.5% fee on the amount you invest
- On an investment of £10,000, the fee amounts to £50
There is often an exception to the above, insofar that brokers like eToro will charge you its 0.5% currency conversion fee when you make a deposit. So, if you deposit £1,000, you will pay a conversion fee of £5. The reason for this is that eToro gives you access to over 17 stock exchanges. As such, it denominates all account balances in US dollars, which then gets you unfettered access to both UK and international markets.
It is important that you are able to make the distinction between a traditional ‘share dealing’ platform with that of a ‘stock trading’ site – as the two asset classes are somewhat different
When we refer to share dealing platforms, these are online brokers that allow you to invest in companies in the traditional sense. For example, if you buy 10 shares in BP, you actually own the underlying stock. As and when BP distributes dividends, you as a stockholder will be entitled to your share. Owning a stock via a share dealing platform also gives you the right to annual general meetings and other important company events.
Stock CFD Trading
Stock trading in the form of CFDs (contracts-for-differences) enables you to speculate on the future value of your chosen company without taking ownership. This will suit those of you that are looking to make gains in the short term. For example, you will have the capacity to apply leverage on your trades, meaning that you can amplify your account balance by up to 5:1 on stocks.
You can also short-sell companies – meaning that you will profit if the value of the stock declines. Stock CFD trading is also conducive for profiting from ultra-small pricing movements, as fees and commissions are typically wafer-thin. On the flip side, you will not be entitled to dividends when trading stock CFDs, as you don’t own the asset.
If your chosen UK share dealing platform gives you access to an ISA, this will be highly beneficial for you. This is because stocks and shares ISAs allow you to invest up to £20,000 per year – all of which will be exempt from capital gains tax.
If you don’t utilize your ISA allowance, you will need to pay tax on any gains that you make when you sell a stock. If you already have an ISA elsewhere, some UK share dealing platforms allow you to transfer your stocks over without paying a fee.
If you’re just getting started in the world of online investments, you might be wondering whether or not your money is safe. In a nutshell, all UK brokers must be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means that platforms must comply with a range of regulations that have been installed to keep your money safe.
For example, UK stock brokers must keep client funds in segregated bank accounts, meaning that they can’t use the money for their working capital. As your money is ringfenced, it should be safe even if the broker collapsed. An even more stringent safeguard is that of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Most UK brokers are covered by the scheme, meaning that the first £85,000 is protected in the event the broker ceased to exist. With that being said, the FSCS protection won’t cover unsuccessful trades. Instead, it is there to protect client money from a broker collapse.
Best UK Trading Platform – Conclusion
Never before has it been so easy to buy and sell shares in the UK, with hundreds of FCA brokers that in operation. This means that you simply need to open an account, deposit funds, and then choose which companies you wish to invest in. The result of an oversaturated market is that UK share dealing platforms are getting more and more competitive in the fee section. For example, our top-rated stock broker eToro allows you to buy and sell shares on a commission-free basis. Best of all, you can easily deposit funds with a debit/credit or e-wallet, so you could be buying your first share in a matter of minutes.
eToro – Best UK Stock Broker with 0% Commission
67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
How do share dealing platforms work?
Share dealing platforms essentially sit between you and the shares that you wish to buy. In return for facilitating your investment, the platform will charge you a fee. You can then sell your shares at any given time directly with your chosen platform.
Are UK stock brokers safe?
As long as your chosen UK stock broker is regulated by the FCA, you should have no concerns over safety. This is because the broker is required to keep client funds in separate bank accounts from its own.
Are stock brokers covered by the FSCS?
In the vast majority of cases, stock brokers offer the same FSCS protection that you get with a high street bank. This means that was the broker to collapse, your funds should be protected up to the first £85,000. You should, however, check this with the broker prior to depositing funds.
Do UK share dealing sites give you access to international markets?
Most, but not all, UK stock brokers give you access to international companies - especially those listed in the US. This means that you can easily purchase shares in well-known firms like Twitter, Ford Motors, Nike, and Disney.
What is the minimum investment required at UK stock broker sites?
Minimum investments will vary from platform-to-platform. On average, this is typically around £100-£200.