IG review | Smart porfolios, ISAs and share dealing explained

IG review | Share dealing, ISAs and smart portfolios, explained

We take a look at IG share dealing and IG smart portfolios in our extensive review.


Fact checked
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
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Fees charged for inactivity

IG does it all. It’s a long running investment platform with ISAs, pensions, contracts for difference, research and a learning facility. Read all about IG’s features, costs and some pros and cons in our IG review.

IG Share Dealing

Buy and sell US shares with no commission with IG

Capital at risk, investments may fall

  • Invest in over 10,000 shares, funds and investment trusts
  • Low costs - Zero commission on US shares, £3 on UK shares
  • Support available 24 hours a day from Sunday to Friday
  • Open an account in a few minutes through website or app

What is IG?

IG has been around for a while – since 1974 to be exact and has almost 240,000 clients. It’s a CFD broker, an ISA provider and a pension provider all rolled into one. Despite what it says on the tin, IG is not really for novices. It’s got incredible depth in its web app and platform, which could be a bit overwhelming if you’re new to investing.

That being said, IG does offer hand-holding Smart Portfolios for those who would prefer to have their investments managed for them. IG has been listed as one of our best trading apps of 2021.

(Word to the wise – steer clear of the spread betting and CFD options IG is offering if you’re new to investing! This is risky territory. If you’re an experienced investor and came here to read about these, we’ve covered them below.)

IG offers three product choices:

  1. IG general investment account
  2. IG Smart Portfolio ISA
  3. IG Smart Portfolio SIPP

Once you’ve decided on the product, IG then offers two main ways to invest:

  • IG Share Dealing. You make your own investment decisions.
  • IG Smart Portfolios. Lets you pick a ready-made portfolio which is managed on your behalf.

IG Share Dealing

If you opt for IG Share Dealing you can buy and sell shares, funds and investment trusts, with over 10,000 to choose from.

The prices are pretty low. US shares have no commission, while UK shares can cost as little as £3 if you trade three or more times in the previous month (£8 usually). You can trade outside of the US stock market’s trading hours as well.

What can I invest in with IG Share Dealing?

  • Companies. There are thousands of different companies that you can buy shares in.
  • Exchange traded funds (ETFs). IG has 2,000 eligible ETFs that you can invest in to allow you to get exposure to the UK equity market from just 0.4%. IG has an ETF screener on its website, which lets you track sectors and find what you are looking for. If you’re not sure what an ETF is, we have a handy guide.
  • Investment trusts. IG has investment trusts to give you exposure to a wide range of markets.

IG share dealing review

IG’s share dealing platform is customisable and well designed. You can change the view based on how much detail you’re looking for. Once you get the layout you’re looking for you can save it for future use.

The search function is really neat, too. You can search through the different types of assets and get a snapshot view of some of the key information, such as the current price and change.

IG Smart Portfolios

If you’re not an experienced trader then you might want to choose an IG Smart Portfolio.

What is an IG Smart Portfolio?

With IG Smart Portfolios you can invest in a managed portfolio that matches your attitude to risk. You answer a set of questions about your knowledge and experience of investing and your investment goals. You are matched to a portfolio based on your answers to these questions.

Once you have taken the questionnaire, IG will ask about how much you intend to invest and how long you want to invest it for. It also asks how much money you have set aside as an emergency fund and won’t match you to a portfolio if you have less than three months worth.

IG Smart Portfolio review
IG’s Smart Portfolios are available if you don’t fancy managing your own portfolio, such as if you’re a beginner or not very in-the-know about investing. It gives some helpful insight into what you are invested in, sorted by asset class, sector and location, and lets you make decisions on your attitude to risk and your financial goals.

The mobile app can give you some information on your investments, but don’t tend to be as helpful as the browser view for those with a Smart Portfolio, as it appears to have been designed with share dealing in mind.

IG Smart Portfolios vs IG Share Dealing: Which should I go for?

If you’re new to investing, you might be wondering what the difference is between the two types of investment with IG.

It depends on what you want to do. People would usually choose IG Share Dealing if they wanted to buy and sell shares in companies and are happy to spend time making adjustments on their investments. You don’t have to be an experienced investor to go for this option, but you’re much more likely to be one.

Meanwhile, IG Smart Portfolios offer some help in your investments by matching you up to a pre-made portfolio. There’s a risk questionnaire that you can fill out to find out more about your risk appetite and to help IG understand what you want to get out of your investments. IG forms your portfolio on your behalf with this information.


IG stocks and shares ISA are available via a share dealing account or a ready-made IG Smart Portfolio.

As with all ISAs, you have an allowance for the tax year which you can use to invest tax-free. The allowance for the 2020/2021 tax year is £20,000. This means that you can invest up to £20,000 tax-free.

Features of the IG stocks and shares ISA include:

  • Flexibility. You can withdraw funds without reducing your ISA allowance.
  • Free to open. There aren’t any transfer or exit fees either.
  • Wide choice of investments. Choose from over 12,000 global stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs).
  • No custody fee. Buy or sell trades three or more times in a quarter and IG will waive the custody fee (usually £24).

IG ISA review
On the whole, IG’s ISA is a strong competitor. It offers exactly what most people are looking for in an ISA, but only if you plan to make several trades each quarter. Its main drawback is the custody fee, which is only waived if you make more than three trades in a quarter. It could set you back £96 per year, which is considered to be pretty pricey compared with other ISAs.

    IG SIPPs

    IG’s SIPP allows you to invest in your future with tax benefits. Your pension is locked until you turn 55.
    Features of IG’s Share Dealing SIPP include:

    • Invest up to £40,000 in the 2019/2020 tax year with at least 20% tax relief on your contributions and no capital gains or income tax to pay.
    • Invest in domestic and international shares and ETFs.
    • Transfer one or more pensions from other pension providers.
    • IG’s technology helps you find lower prices when buying shares.

    If you want to invest for your future but don’t want to play around with share dealing, IG offers a Smart Portfolio SIPP.

    Features of the IG Smart Portfolio SIPP include:

    • Invest up to £40,000 with at least 20% tax relief on your contributions.
    • Get diversified global exposure.
    • Benefit from regular adjustments made by BlackRock.
    • Administered by James Hay.
    • Portfolio is matched to your risk profile.

    IG General Investment

    You can open a General Investment account with IG that allows you to make taxable investments outside of your ISA allowance. People usually go for this option if they’ve used up their annual ISA allowance as they may need to pay capital gains tax on their profits.

    IG CFDs

    You can trade contracts for difference (CFDs) with IG. A fair warning, in case you didn’t see it earlier: CFDs are complicated and risky, so aren’t really suitable for beginners. We won’t be offended if you skip this section, honestly.
    Now we’ve got that out of the way. The CFD section of IG’s site is a bit overwhelming with all the blue and red flashing as the buy/sell prices change, but it’s really just a sign of how comprehensive it is in this area. It’s got loads of live data and newsfeeds to keep you up to date on what’s going on in the market to help you make better decisions.
    You can trade on indices, foreign exchange (forex), shares and commodities with IG and never have to own the underlying asset. Main benefits include:

    • Negative balance protection. This ensures that your account balance doesn’t stay below zero. It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t available for professional traders.
    • Competitive spreads.
    • Expert support. 24 hours a day from 8am Saturday to 10pm Friday.
    • Web-based platform and mobile apps available.
    • Educational resources. These are through IG Academy, which is detailed below.

    IG CFD charges and fees

    The only direct charge you really need to worry about is the spread (a commission in the case of share CFDs). IG charges its own spread on top of the market spread as its fee for the trade.
    Ultimately, this depends on market conditions. You can see the spread, as it’s the difference between the bid and ask prices.
    Overnight funding
    This is the charge for keeping your CFD positions past 10pm UK time. This charge is added to your account as an interest adjustment. You don’t pay overnight funding for futures or forwards as it’s built into the spread.
    Guaranteed stop premiums
    You can attach guaranteed stops to your position to help protect your investments. IG charges a fee if it is triggered. This is called the premium.
    IG extra services
    There are some extra services that IG charges you for if you use it. These are listed below and you can find details on the website.

    • Direct Market Access (DMA)
    • Live price data fees
    • ProRealTime Charts
    • Inactivity fee
    • Account documentation fee
    • Currency conversion charge
    • Third-party charges (such as fees for credit and non-UK debit card payments)

    Does IG have an app?

    You can use the IG app or the website to manage everything – check stock performance, set alerts and find out about significant events when they happen. IG has made it customisable to suit your preferences and has integrated a live news and Twitter feed to keep you up to date with the stock market.

    IG fees and charges

    The fees you are charged to use IG depend on whether you choose to use IG Smart Portfolios or IG Share Dealing. The additional fees, such as fund costs, transaction costs and foreign exchange costs are explained in more detail below.

    IG Smart Portfolio fees

    Investment amountIG Management FeeAverage fund costsTransaction costsTotal (annual)
    Up to £50,0000.50%0.15%0.07%0.72%
    Over £50,000Free0.15%0.07%0.22%

    IG trading fees

    Cost of shares

    Type of shareStandard3+ trades per month
    US shares£10Free
    UK shares£8Free

      Explanation of what each fee is for

    Other fees

    Fee descriptionFee
    Quarterly account fee£24
    Foreign exchange conversion fee0.5%
    Commission on trades placed over the phone£40

    IG App Demo Account

    IG demo account

    Demo accounts allow you to get an idea of share trading before you start investing real money. This is often popular with beginner investors who are hesitant while they don’t know exactly how it works.

    Annoyingly, IG’s demo account is only available for its spread betting and CFD trading services, which is pretty complicated territory. You can try it out with £10,000 in virtual funds to see how it works and get an idea of what the platform allows you to do. We liked that the platform is customisable. It allows you to choose your layout and watch markets that you’re interested in.

    The charts are helpful, as they give detailed information on the movements. That is, if you know how to read them. This is where IG Academy can come in handy, as it gives you the opportunity to learn how they work. We briefly cover IG Academy below.

    If you’re planning to stay away from spread betting and CFDs (a wise choice if you’re a beginner!) then IGs demo account won’t be of any use to you. A nice alternative is Trading 212‘s demo account, which lets you try out share trading with £50,000 in virtual money. There’s no requirement to use Trading 212 for the real thing, so you’re more than welcome to come back and use IG when trading in real life, if you wanted to.

    IG Academy app

    IG Academy

    IG Academy is IG’s educational offering. It has online trading courses, webinars and seminars to give you a little leg-up in investments. This is handy, as investing can be complicated, especially when you have as many options available as IG offers.

    The online trading courses have videos and interactive quizzes and exercises. There are frequent live sessions, which are webinars where IG’s experts share their knowledge and insight. This gives you the chance to ask questions about share trading.

    IG Academy has its own app, which means that you can learn about share trading and investing on the go. It’s pretty simple to use and gives you info on how long each section will take.

    Is IG safe?

    IG is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and your investments are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), so if IG were to go bust, you are covered up to £85,000. IG is a trusted provider and is an established FTSE250
    company that’s been running for 45 years.

    Customer reviews and complaints

    IG has mostly positive reviews online, particularly for its app.

    The wealth of information and ease of use received praise from customers, whereas the app’s interface and the customer support levels left some unimpressed.

    Here are the company’s scores across a number of review platforms (updated 28 May 2020):

    Trustpilot Google Play Apple App Store


    3.5 out of 5
    Based on 2,500 reviews


    4 out of 5
    Based on 7,000 reviews


    4.6 out of 5
    Based on 4,000 reviews

    Pros and cons of IG


    • Suits beginner and experienced investors
    • Low fees
    • Mobile app lets you manage your investments on the go


    • Opening your account is a slow process
    • Fees charged for inactivity

    IG review: our verdict

    IG has a simple structure and caters for experienced investors and those with less experience that want a bit of help in managing their portfolios. The fees are relatively low, depending on what you plan to do. For share dealing, you pay a set amount when you buy and sell and with the portfolios, you pay a percentage based on how much you are investing.

    Don’t think IG is for you? Take a look at similar platforms to IG below or you can check out some IG alternatives.

    Similar platforms

    Table: sorted by promoted deals first
    Data updated regularly
    Name Product Price per trade Frequent trader rate Platform fees Brand description
    UK: £2.95
    US: $3.95
    EU: €3.95
    Your first 100 trades are free with Fineco (T&Cs apply)
    Fineco Bank is good for share traders and investors looking for a complete platform and wide offer. The minimum deposit with Fineco is £0. Capital at risk.
    eToro Free Stocks
    Capital at risk. 0% commission but other fees may apply. The minimum deposit with eToro is $200.
    Hargreaves Lansdown Fund and Share Account
    Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's number one platform for private investors, with the depth of features you'd expect from an established platform. The minimum deposit with HL is £1. Capital at risk.
    Degiro Share Dealing
    UK: £1.75 + 0.014% (max £5)
    US: €0.50 + $0.004 per share
    Degiro is widely seen as one of the best low-cost share brokers, for people who are looking to trade regularly. The minimum deposit with Degiro is £0. Capital at risk.
    interactive investor Trading Account
    £7.99 (with one free trade per month)
    £9.99 per month
    Interactive Investor offers everything most investors need. Its flat fees makes it pricey for small portfolios, but cheap for big ones. The minimum deposit with ii is £0. Capital at risk.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Data updated regularly
    Name Product Minimum deposit Maximum annual fee Price per trade Brand description
    interactive investor Stocks and Shares ISA
    Any lump sum or £25 a month
    Interactive Investor offers everything most investors need. Its flat fees makes it pricey for small portfolios, but cheap for big ones. Capital at risk.
    Moneyfarm stocks and shares ISA
    Moneyfarm helps you meet your investment goals with fully-managed portfolios designed around you. Capital at risk.
    Hargreaves Lansdown Stocks and Shares ISA
    Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's biggest wealth manager. It's got everything you'll need, from beginners to experienced investors. Capital at risk.
    Nutmeg stocks and shares ISA
    Nutmeg offers three types of portfolios. Choose the one that goes with your investment style. Capital at risk.
    Saxo Markets Stocks and Shares ISA
    No minimum deposit requirement
    Saxo Markets offers a wide access to a range of stocks, ETFs and funds. Capital at risk.
    AJ Bell Stocks and Shares ISA
    AJ Bell is a good all-rounder for people who to choose between shares, funds, ISAs and pensions. Capital at risk.
    Fidelity Stocks and Shares ISA
    £1000 or a regular savings plan from £50
    Fidelity is another good all-rounder, offering a good package at a decent price. Not suited for trading shares. Capital at risk.
    Legal & General stocks and shares ISA
    Legal & General stocks and shares ISA
    £100 or £20 a month
    Legal & General is a big financial services company which offers insurance, lifetime mortgage, pensions and stocks and shares ISAs. Capital at risk.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Data updated regularly
    Name Product Minimum investment Choose from Annual fee Brand description
    Interactive Investor Pension
    Any lump sum or £25 a month
    Over 3,000 funds
    interactive investor is a flat-fee platform, which makes it cost effective for larger portfolios. Capital at risk.
    Moneyfarm Pension
    £1,500 (initial investment)
    7 funds
    Moneyfarm has pensions that are matched against your risk appetite, goals and planned retirement date. Capital at risk.
    AJ Bell Pension
    Over 2,000 funds
    AJ Bell has two different pension options, a self managed pension and one that is managed for you. Capital at risk.
    PensionBee Pension
    No minimum
    7 funds
    0.5% - 0.95%
    Pension Bee is a newbie in the pension market. It helps consolidate your pension plans into one place. Capital at risk.
    Hargreaves Lansdown Pension
    £100 or £25 a month
    2,500 funds
    Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's biggest wealth manager. It's got three different retirement options. Capital at risk.
    Saxo Markets Pension
    Saxo Markets Pension
    Over 11,000 funds
    No annual fee
    Saxo Markets gives flexibility and control over your investment strategy. Capital at risk.
    No minimum
    4 portfolios
    Moneybox Pension
    3 funds
    0.15% - 0.45% charged monthly
    Manage your money with an easy-to-use Moneybox app. Capital at risk.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    All investing should be regarded as longer term. The value of your investments can go up and down, and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. If you’re not sure which investments are right for you, please seek out a financial adviser. Capital at risk.

    Frequently asked questions

    Share dealing platform ratings

    ★★★★★ — Excellent
    ★★★★★ — Good
    ★★★★★ — Average

    Our customer satisfaction scores ("Customers say") are based on a survey of 752 customers carried out in December 2020.

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