Best private pension in the UK

Choosing the best private pension can give you a nice little boost of income in your retirement. Find out how to find the best one.

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Best for

Combining pensions

Nutmeg Pension image

There are several different types of personal pension available to save up for your future with, each suited to different types of savers. For example, robo-advisors, like Penfold and Nutmeg, let you choose a portfolio; while DIY platforms, like Hargreaves Lansdown and Freetrade, allow you to choose the individual investments in your portfolio. We’ve found the best pension providers in several different categories to help you choose the best one for you.

Summary: Best pension providers in the UK 2023, by category

Best pension for investment types

interactive investor has a wide array of investment types available to invest in, including shares, ETFs and funds. When it comes to ready made portfolios, it has ethical investment options, as well as portfolios that automatically adjust as you approach retirement.

interactive investor is another flat-free provider – you can choose between having just a SIPP and paying £12.99 for it each month, or you can have all of interactive’s other accounts as well as the SIPP and you’ll pay £10 per month on top of the service fee. This might be good if you also want an individual savings account (ISA) or general investment account. You can access your investments in its mobile app and on desktop, and the charting tools are great.

Investments that can be held in a SIPP

Finder’s pick: interactive investor

Interactive Investor SIPP
Finder rating
★★★★★
We chose interactive investor as our top pick because:
  • It offers a great range of investment types.
  • It has ethical portfolios.
  • It has a range of portfolios that rebalance as you get closer to retirement.

Need to know: The SIPP fee is £10 per month on top of the service fee.

Read our review of interactive investor.

Best for combining pensions

Nutmeg is another app-only investment provider that’s recently started to offer pensions. Unlike Freetrade or interactive investor, you can only choose from ready made portfolios. This is great for those who want to save into a pension but don’t have the confidence (or time) to create their own investment portfolio. Nutmeg has plenty of portfolios to choose between, including fully managed and ethical portfolios.

One great thing about Nutmeg is that you can combine your existing pensions into one portfolio. This is great if you’ve had several jobs, each with workplace pensions with different providers.

How to combine pensions

Finder’s pick: Nutmeg

Nutmeg Pension
Finder rating
★★★★★
We chose Nutmeg as our top pick because:
  • You can combine existing pensions.
  • It offers ethical investments.
  • It’s easy to use.

Need to know: You can’t invest in individual shares with Nutmeg.

Read our review of Nutmeg.

Best SIPP

If you’re a confident investor, you might be more interested in choosing individual investments — Hargreaves Lansdown’s SIPP gives you more freedom to choose what your pension is invested in. You can invest in shares, ETFs, funds and ready made portfolios with the Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP — the most investment choices of all the pensions we compared.

Hargreaves Lansdown has everything you need to start investing, but it can be quite complicated for new investors. Its charting tools are excellent and very detailed, as well as its research.

SIPPs vs personal pensions

Finder’s pick: Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP
Finder rating
★★★★★
We chose Hargreaves Lansdown as our top pick because:
  • Plenty of investment types available.
  • Excellent charting tools.
  • Great research tools.

Need to know: Beginner investors may feel a little overwhelmed by Hargreaves Lansdown.

Read our review of Hargreaves Lansdown.

Best pension for the most established platform

If you’re not interested in saving into a pension with any of the newer investment providers and apps, you could consider the longest established that we’ve reviewed: Legal and General. It was founded in 1836 and now supports more than 629,000 people with their pensions.

You can only invest in a range of ready made portfolios with Legal and General, with 5 available to choose between. You can choose portfolios that automatically adapt as you approach retirement, so you won’t need to rebalance your own portfolio.

Types of pension

Finder’s pick: Legal & General

We chose Legal & General as our top pick because:
  • It’s the longest established of the pensions we have reviewed.
  • It has portfolios that automatically rebalance as you reach retirement.
  • It’s easy to use.

Need to know: There’s no mobile app, so you need to access your investments on desktop with Legal and General.

Read our review of Legal & General.

Best pension for cheaper rates

The Freetrade pension is a paid add-on for its trading app. You pay a monthly fee of £9.99 to place your investments into a tax wrapper. If you want to add Freetrade Plus to your account, it only costs an additional £7 (usually £10).

The Freetrade pension is a self-invested personal pension, which means you have the freedom to build your pension portfolio yourself, this might suit you if you’re a confident investor. As with all personal pensions, the government will top up your pension pot by 25% of what you put in as tax relief.

Trades are commission free with Freetrade — there are a few additional fees, such as foreign exchange fees. Other than those, the monthly cost is all you need to consider.

Pension fees

Finder’s pick: Freetrade

Freetrade SIPP
Finder rating
★★★★★
We chose Freetrade as our top pick because:
  • It offers commission-free trading.
  • It’s easy to use.
  • You can transfer in and consolidate pensions

Need to know: If you want to use Freetrade Plus as well, the SIPP fee is £7.

Read our review of Freetrade.

Best pension for the self-employed

Setting up your own business is a lot of work, so Penfold has made at least one part of your admin a little easier: your pension. Penfold came out as best for self-employed savers, as there’s no minimum deposit, you can choose from ready-made and fully-managed portfolios and you can transfer in all of your old pensions from when you were employed.

Self employed pensions

Finder’s pick: Penfold

Penfold SIPP
Finder rating
★★★★★
We chose Penfold as our top pick for self-employed pensions because:
  • No minimum deposit required.
  • Ready made portfolios to choose from including ones that automatically rebalance and ethical choices.
  • No charge to transfer or consolidate your pension.

Need to know: Penfold pension does not allow you to choose each individual investment for your pension.

Read our review of Penfold.

How did we rate pension companies?

Zoe Stabler

Finder expert Zoe Stabler answers

To find the best pension providers, we’ve compared a range of different features and fees for all of the pension providers reviewed on our site. This includes the types of investments you can hold in your pension, the minimum deposit, the fees involved, how many ready made options there are, the learning resources available and features on the mobile and desktop platforms, among others.

We’ve used this data to compare the providers and identify stand out categories for each one.

How to find the best pension for you

This really depends on what you want, how much time you’ve got and how much control you want over your pension — here’s how to figure out what exactly you need from a pension and how to find it:

  1. Decide if you want to choose investments. Do you want to choose the individual things your pension is invested in? Or would you prefer to let a professional take over? If it’s the former, you’re probably looking for a SIPP, if it’s the latter, you’re looking for a personal pension, potentially with a robo-advisor.
  2. Compare the fees of the provider type you’re looking at. SIPPs may have a pound-cost per individual trade and a platform fee that’s calculated as a percentage of your investments. Ready-made options tend to have a platform fee, but it’ll be a little higher than the fee for DIY platforms.
  3. Compare the investments you can make. If you want a SIPP, look at the types of investments you can buy and compare it with your list of the sorts of things you want to invest in. If you’d prefer a ready-made option, check out the portfolios on offer – there’s often ethical choices.

Bottom line

There is no “best pension provider”, necessarily. There’s only a best pension provider for you. Take some time to work out what it is you are looking for from a pension provider. You might only want to put a little bit away, which is where a low cost provider with a low minimum deposit might help. You might be interested in building your own portfolio, which is where a SIPP might be suited to you. Take a look at the categories above to find one that might be suited to you.

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