How to Invest in Fractional Shares

Many newbie investors in the UK are put off by stocks and shares, as they are under the impression that they need heaps of cash to get a look in. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as a number of stock broker platforms active in the UK now allow you to invest in fractional shares. Put simply, this means that you no longer need to buy a ‘full’ share.

In this guide, we explain the ins and outs of how to invest in fractional shares in the UK. We also give you some handy information on how fractional shares actually work, and cover what you need to consider before making an investment.

What Are Fractional Shares?

Before we get into the specifics of how to make an investment, it is important that we first explain what fractional shares actually are. As the name suggests, the phenomenon allows you to buy a ‘fraction’ of a share, essentially meaning you can invest smaller amounts than you would have to otherwise.

This is highly beneficial for three key reasons, which we elaborate on below.

Invest in Shares With Small Amounts

Firstly, fractional shares are ideal for those of you that wish to enter the stock market for the first time, but you want to start off with really small amounts. Similarly, this is also the case even if you do have a larger cash balance, but you want to start small until you find your feet.

Interestingly, this particular advantage of fractional shares might not be as relevant in the UK stock markets. This is because companies listed on the London Stock Exchange are priced in ‘pence’ as opposed to ‘pounds’. In other words, FTSE 100 shares are cheap to buy, so low minimums are typically not an issue.

For example, check out some of the share prices of leading UK stocks as of July 2020:

As you can see from the above, some of the largest and most established companies in the UK have super-cheap share prices. However, for those of you that wish to gain exposure to popular shares in the US – things are much different.

For example, check out some of the share prices of leading US stocks as of July 2020:

Without a doubt, the stock that stands out for us is Berkshire Hathaway – the company owned by legendary investor Warren Buffet. Put simply, if you wanted to buy a single share in the NYSE-listed company, it would cost you in the region of £220,000!

Berkshire Hathaway fractional shares

Fortunately, we now have leading UK stock brokers that offer fractional shares. For example, by using eToro, you could invest from just $50 (about £40) into Berkshire Hathaway. Don’t worry – we explain the fundamentals of how this works in practice a bit further down.

Invest at an Amount ‘Exact’ to Your Budget

When using a traditional stock broker, you are forced to buy shares in ‘whole units’.

  • For example, let’s say that you are buying shares in a company that has a stock price of £46
  • You have £500 that you wish to invest in the said firm
  • You won’t be able to invest exactly £500, as the broker does not support fractional ownership
  • Instead, you will only be able to purchase 9 shares – which takes your investment to £414 (9 x £46)
  • As such, this leaves £86 of your investment funds sitting idle at the broker

The good news is that brokers supporting UK fractional shares allow you to invest an amount that mirrors your exact budget. In this example, this would leave you with 10.86 shares (£500/£46). Once again, we’ll explore how this works in greater detail further down.

Create a Diversified Portfolio With Ease

This particular benefit combines the previous two that we discussed. In a nutshell, creating a diversified portfolio can be difficult when using a traditional stock broker. As noted above, this is because you will need to buy whole shares.

  • For example, let’s suppose that you have £1,000 to invest.
  • In order to mitigate your risks as best as possible, you decide that you want to invest in 20 companies at £50 each.
  • However, this would be virtually impossible when using a traditional stock broker – as each company will have a different share price.
  • This is especially the case if investing in a basket of US shares, as stock prices are typically in the hundreds of dollars.

As such, you are going to be left with a highly uneven portfolio, which in turn, will negatively impact your ability to diversify.

Once again, these hindrances are not in play when buying fractional shares. This is because you are able to specify the exact amount that you wish to invest. As long as you meet the broker’s minimum investment amount, diversification has never been easier.

For example, let’s say that you have £400 to invest. Your portfolio could consist of:

  • £80 worth of shares in BP
  • £80 worth of shares in British American Tobacco
  • £80 worth of shares in RBS
  • £80 worth of shares in AstraZeneca
  • £80 worth of shares in GlaxoSmithKline

Irrespective of the stock price of each of the aforementioned companies, each investment would be worth exactly £80!

How Does a Fractional Shares Investment Work?

So now that we have discussed some of the reasons why buying fractional shares in the UK can be highly beneficial for your long-term investing goals, we now need to explain how the process actually works.

To help clear the mist, let’s look at a couple of examples.

Example 1: Fractional Facebook Shares

  • At the time of writing, one Facebook share is going to cost you $239. This amounts to just over £190.
  • You don’t want to invest £190 into Facebook shares, so you decide to use a broker that supports fractional ownership
  • As such, you invest just £40 into Facebook
  • To figure out how much you actually own, you need to divide £40 into the share price of £190
  • This works out at 0.21, meaning you own 21% of one Facebook share

Example 2: Fractional Amazon Shares

  • At the time of writing, one Amazon share is going to cost you $3,104. This amounts to just over £2,480.
  • You don’t want to invest a whopping £2,480 into Amazon shares, so you decide to engage with fractional ownership
  • As such, you invest just £100 into Amazon
  • Once again, we need to divide £100 into the share price of £2,480
  • This works out at 0.04, meaning you own 4% of one Amazon share

As you can see from the above, as long as you meet the broker’s minimum deposit policy, you can invest as little or as much as you please.

Capital Gains on Fractional Shares

Fractional sharesThe process of making money from your fractional share investment works in exactly the same way as a traditional stock purchase. Put simply, if you sell the shares at a higher price than you initially paid, then you will make a profit. The key difference is that when calculating our profits, we need to take into account the fractional share.

This can be highly confusing, so we would suggest you based everything on percentages as opposed to stock prices.

For example, when you buy shares in the traditional sense, you would:

  • Take the share price at the time of the sale
  • Minus the share price that you originally paid
  • Multiple the difference against the number of shares you hold

But, in the case of investing in fractional shares, we should do it like the following:

  • You invest £1,000 into IBM shares
  • When you bought the shares, IBM had a stock price of $120
  • When you sell the shares, IBM is priced at $132
  • This means that the shares have increased by 10%
  • On an investment of £1,000, this means that you made a profit of £100

As such, the exact number of shares you own is irrelevant, as you are basing your profits on the percentage increase, and the amount you invested in total.

Dividends on Fractional Shares

If you buy fractional shares in a company that pays dividends, then you will still be entitled to your share of any payments. Once again, you just need to be aware of how this works, as you need to factor in the fractional share that you own.

Here’s how it works with respect to dividend stocks:

  • Let’s say that you have £1,000 worth of shares in Apple
  • Based on a GBP-equivalent share price of £304, this means that you own 3.4 Apple shares
  • To keep things simple, let’s say that Apple pays a dividend yield of £15 per share
  • As you own 3.4 shares, this means that you will be entitled to £51 in dividends (£15 x 3.4 shares)

The good news for you is that regardless of whether its capital gains or dividends, your chosen fractional share broker will perform all of the calculations for you. As such, this makes the investment process highly conducive for beginners!

How to Invest in Fractional Shares

So now that you know the ins and outs of how fractional shares in the UK work, we are now going to run you through the process of making an investment.

Step 1: Choose a Stock Broker That Offers Fractional Shares

Your first port of call will be to choose a stock broker that offers fractional shares. As the UK investment space is still dominated by established players, the number of platforms supporting fractional ownership is still growing. Moreover, you should never choose a broker just because it offers fractional shares.

On the contrary, you also need to look at metrics such as the types of shares it offers, the minimum you can invest, fees and commissions, and supported payment methods.

Taking all of this into account, below you will find a list of pre-vetted brokers that not only offer fractional shares, but competitive fees, a comprehensive offering of stocks, and heaps of additional tools and features.

1. eToro – Buy Fractional Shares Commission-Free

eToro is the go-to broker for newbie UK investors. This is because the platform was designed specifically to cater to all skill-sets. In other words, whether you’re a first-timer or seasoned investor, buying shares at eToro comes with a number of benefits.

At the forefront of this is its support from fractional shares. In fact, you can buy shares in a company from just $50 – which is about £40. Its stocks and shares library contains over 800 companies from 17 different markets. This includes many of the best shares, with major stocks listed in the US, Germany, France, Hong Kong, and more, as well as the UK.

But, it gets even better worth eToro, not least because you can buy shares without paying a single penny in commissions. As well as buying shares, you can also trade share CFDs on eToro, so you can trade with up to 1:5 leverage. The CFD spreads are also competitive.

An additional feature that is hugely popular with first-time investors or those strapped for time is the CopyTrader tool. As the name implies, this allows you to pick an experience share investor and then copy their trades like-for-like. So if you’re a newbie who’s still learning how to invest in stocks, you can use the CopyTrader to invest without doing any of the work!

The minimum deposit threshold also stands at $200, or about £160. You can get money into and out of eToro with your debit/credit card, bank account or e-wallet, such as PayPal. The broker is regulated by the FCA (as well as ASIC and CySEC), meaning that your funds are safe. To top it offer, eToro also offers one of the best investment apps on the market.

Pros:

  • Over 800 global shares
  • Invest in shares from £40
  • 0% commission
  • Social and copy trading
  • Accepts PayPal
  • Mobile investment app
  • FCA regulated

Cons:

  • Not suitable for advanced traders that like to perform technical analysis

75% of retail investors lose money trading CFDs at this site

 

2. Plus500 – Trade Fractional Shares with Tight Spreads

Plus500 is an online trading platform that offers CFD instruments and is widely considered to be one of the best CFD brokers. This means that you will be ‘trading’ as opposed to ‘investing’ in shares. The platform offers over 2,000 stock CFDs and thousands of other instruments. This includes heaps of UK and international markets, so you can diversify with ease.

if you want to invest smaller amounts, Plus500 allows you to trade fractional stock CFDs. As such, you will be speculating on the short-term price movement of the CFD in question. You will have the option of going long (buy position) and short (short position). You can also apply leverage to your positions, meaning that you are trading with more than you have in your account.

At Plus500, this stands at 1:30 for UK retail traders, albeit, this is reduced to 1:5 if trading stock CFDs. Put simply, this means that a £150 account balance would allow you to enter a CFD position worth £750. Professional traders, however, will be offered significantly higher limits. If you do like the sound of this particular platform, you can open an account in minutes.

Trading on Plus500 takes place on the broker’s own proprietary platform, which is user-friendly and comes with handy tools like price alerts and basic charting. Plus500 also offers an excellent mobile app, which is regarded as one of the top stock trading apps available in the UK.

The minimum deposit amount at Plus500 is low at just £100. It allows you to facilitate this with a debit/credit card, bank account, or Paypal. There are no fees to deposit funds, nor will you be charged to make a withdrawal. When it comes to safety, Plus500UK Ltd is authorized & regulated by the FCA (#509909). The platform’s parent company is listed on the London Stock Exchange, too.

Pros:

  • Commission-free CFD platform
  • Highly competitive spreads
  • Thousands of financial instruments across heaps of markets
  • Retail clients can trade stock CFDs with leverage of up to 1:5
  • £100 minimum deposit
  • FCA regulated broker

Cons:

  • CFDs only

80.5% of retail investors lose money trading CFDs at this site

3. Trading 212 – Fractional Shares From as Little as $1

Trading 212 is a highly popular broker known for its low fees and excellent learning resources. It’s also a great choice if you’re looking to invest in fractional shares, as you can buy Trading 212 fractional shares from just $1, making this a particularly useful platform if you’re working with a smaller budget.

There are over 3000 global shares and ETFs to invest in, so there’s plenty of choice. Best of all, there’s no commission to pay and no fees, so Trading 212 is one of the most affordable platforms around. Like eToro, this broker offers you the chance to both buy shares and trade share CFDs.

Trading 212 has a number of interesting features, such as its AutoInvest tool. This allows you to create an investment plan that matches your budget, choose the shares you want to make up your portfolio, and then deposit funds, invest and reinvest dividends automatically. Trading 212 also has a fantastic selection of educational resources, so it’s a good choice for beginner traders.

You can get started on this trading platform with a minimum deposit of just $1, whereas moth other platforms require at least $100. Trading 212 is licensed by the FCA, so you needn’t have any safety concerns, and it’s also got one of the most impressive investment apps we’ve seen.

Pros:

  • Fractional shares from $1
  • 0% commission
  • Over 3000 shares and ETFs
  • AutoInvest tool and learning resources
  • Mobile investment app
  • $1 minimum deposit

Cons:

  • Lacks advanced trading tools

There is no guarantee you will make money with this provider.

 

Step 2: Open an Account and Verify Identity

Once you decided which platform you wish to use to buy or trade fractional shares, you will then need to open an account. The process remains constant regardless of which broker you opt for, insofar that you will need to provide some personal information. This typically includes your:

  • Full name
  • Nationality
  • Home address
  • Date of birth
  • National insurance number
  • Contact details

As you will be using an FCA-regulated broker to buy fractional shares, you will be required to have your identity verified. If using a new-age platform like eToro or Plus500, the process can actually be completed within minutes. All you need to do is upload a copy of:

  • Passport or driver’s license
  • Recently-issued utility bill or bank account statement

The aforementioned brokers will typically verify the document straight away – on the proviso that they are clear copies.

Step 3: Deposit Funds

Once you have gone through the verification process, you will then be asked to deposit some funds into your brokerage account. Minimums will vary from broker-to-broker, albeit, eToro and Plus500 required $200 (£160) and £100, respectively.

In terms of supported payment methods, the aforementioned brokers support:

  • Debit cards
  • Credit cards
  • E-wallets
  • Bank account transfer

Both brokers have a 0.5% currency conversion fee in place.

Step 4: Buy Fractional Shares

So now that you have funded your trading account, we are going to guide you through the order process of buying fractional shares in the UK using eToro.

First and foremost, you need to decide which stock you wish to purchase. In our example, we are looking to buy fractional shares in Amazon. As such, we enter ‘Amazon’ into the search box at the top of the page.

Search for fractional shares on eToro

Then, click on the blue ‘Trade’ button.

Trade fractional shares on eToro

You should now be able to see an order box (like below). As you can see from our example, Amazon shares are priced at $3105.00. As we only want to invest the minimum, we enter $50 into the ‘Amount’ box. To clarify, this means that we are buying 1.6% worth of a share in Amazon.

Buy fractional shares on eToro

Finally, complete the order to make your fractional share purchase!

How to Sell Fractional Shares

Selling fractional shares is just as easy as buying them when you use a top broker like eToro or Plus500. To sell fractional shares on eToro, simply go to your portfolio and click on the red ‘X’ next to the chosen share. A popup will then appear showing you the position’s state at closing and your total loss or profit. If you’re selling fractional share CFDs on a broker like Plus500, the process is similar.

The Verdict

In summary, fractional ownership of stocks has completely revolutionized the online share dealing space. Not only does this allow you to buy shares that would otherwise be out of financial reach, but you can also diversify with ease. This is especially the case when you consider just how costly the likes of Amazon, Google, Facebook, and heaps of other popular US stocks are.

If you’re ready to buy some fractional shares today, our recommended broker eToro allows you to invest in over 800 shares without paying a single penny in commissions, and you can invest from just $50 (£40) per share! Simply click the link below to get started with an eToro account today.

eToro – Buy Fractional Shares with No Commission

FAQs

Which brokers offer fractional shares?

If you are looking to invest in fractional shares, then very few online brokers support this. The good news is that eToro has a library of over 800 stocks - all of which you can fractionally own on a commission-free basis.

What fractional shares can you buy online?

This will depend on your broker of choice. eToro offers over 800 fractional shares from 17 different markets. If you are looking to trade fractional shares, Plus500 has a library of over 2,000 stock CFDs.

Do you still get dividends with fractional shares?

You certainly do. The size of your dividend payment will be dependent on the total amount you invest. There is no need to calculate it yourself as the payment will be reflected in your online brokerage account!

What is the minimum amount of fractional shares I can buy?

This will vary from platform to platform. eToro has a minimum investment policy of $50 per stock - which is about £40.

Can you short fractional shares?

You can, but you will need to use a CFD trading platform. In essence, you are simply placing a sell order, which means that you are speculating on the value of the shares going down.

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Kane Pepi

About Kane Pepi

Kane Pepi is a British researcher and writer that specializes in finance, financial crime, and blockchain technology. Now based in Malta, Kane writes for a number of platforms in the online domain. In particular, Kane is skilled at explaining complex financial subjects in a user-friendly manner. Academically, Kane holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, a Master’s Degree in Financial Crime, and he is currently engaged in a Doctorate Degree researching the money laundering threats of the blockchain economy. Kane is also behind peer-reviewed publications - which includes an in-depth study into the relationship between money laundering and UK bookmakers. You will also find Kane’s material at websites such as MoneyCheck, the Motley Fool, InsideBitcoins, Blockonomi, Learnbonds, and the Malta Association of Compliance Officers.