How do we rate share-trading platforms?
Comparing brokers is complicated, so we've rated them. Here's our methodology for scoring the features that matter, plus details of our customer survey.
To help find you the best trading platforms in the UK, we’ve spent countless hours testing and analysing all the major share trading sites and apps, allowing you to cut through noise and discover your ideal match.
Our in-depth research looks at 35 data points spread across 6 key categories detailed below. This data combined with our hands-on expert assessment is what we use to create our overall Finder scores.
To develop our scores, we asked current and prospective investors what matters most to them. We combined this insight with what our experts believe are key aspects of platforms that users don’t always know about.
High-scoring platforms and those offering unique or best-in-class features are considered for our “best for” picks. To decide on the best options, we’ve used a combination of data and our expert assessment from trying out the apps and platforms.
What factors do we take into account?
We compare our platforms based on 9 key categories:
- Fees. Keeping fees low is a major priority for most investors. For this category we looked at platform fees (and costs based on various sized portfolios), investing commissions, foreign exchange (FX) fees, and any other discounts (or penalties).
- Investment choice. Markets are more accessible than ever and some platforms excel at opening up your investing horizons. We consider the type of assets available, the number of markets, investments and funds, along with whether you can buy fractional shares.
- Tools, resources & features. Whether you’re a beginner or more experienced, tools help with your analysis. We considered each platform’s analysis features, trading tools, social features, learning resources, and whether it offers any additional investing attributes.
- Account types & products. Every platform offers a general investment account (GIA), but not every provider offers tax-efficient accounts like a stocks and shares ISA, self-invested personal pension (SIPP), lifetime ISA (LISA), or saving for children with a junior ISA (JISA)/junior SIPP (JSIPP).
- Ease of use. This reflects users’ reviews from the app store as well how easy it is to reach the customer service team, and our expert opinion on the overall interface.
- Safety & security. This is a major concern for many investors. We evaluate the security features of each platform, how it’s regulated, whether it comes with FSCS protection, and whether it’s a publicly listed company (or part of one).
How we decide which features are most important
Using and comparing investment platforms then sharing our findings is what gets us up in the morning.
Each factor in our scoring is weighted. We took into account our user research when deciding this, to reflect the priorities that users told us about.
|Fees||Investment choice||Safety & Security||Account types & products||Ease of use||Tools, resources & features|
Our Finder scores give you a thorough overview of how each platform stacks up against the competition. But it’s also important to think about what matters to you, so in our reviews, we show much of the data that underpins the scores, too.
How we’ve rated fees
We take into account:
- Platform fees
- Investing commissions
- Foreign exchange (FX) fees
- Discounts for regular or frequent investing
- Costs for withdrawing or depositing funds
The most complex area is platform fees. Some providers are free, others charge flat monthly fees, and the remainder tend to charge a percentage of your portfolio (sometimes based on the type of investments you hold).
We’ve worked out what it costs to hold portfolios of various sizes, allowing for fairer comparisons.
For commission, we checked the costs of buying various investments and scored them based on the results.
Because investing is a global marketplace, involving multiple countries and currencies, most platforms charge an FX fee for currency conversions when you buy an investment outside your base currency. These FX fees can vary wildly. We’ve checked and gathered them.
There are platforms that charge higher fees, but offer discounts to frequent traders or those who set up a regular investing payment schedule. This may not be useful to everyone, but cheaper fees get some recognition.
The final area covers withdrawals and deposits. Most platforms don’t charge you anything to put money in or take it out, but a handful do. So, we’ve reflected that, too.
How we choose our “best” trading platforms
We consider all major platforms available in the UK, and use a combination of data and our expertise to pick the best for different categories. All “best” platforms must have a high overall score, plus additional factors that make them top in that category.
The best platform for beginners must be easy to use, offer learning resources and fractional shares, allow small investments, and include the option to use a stocks and shares ISA. It has to be a platform we consider accessible.
To take the top spot, a platform must offer a wide range of stocks, as well as trading with no commission.
The top platform must offer a low or zero platform fee, fractional shares, no withdrawal fee or minimum investment, and the option of a cheap stocks and shares ISA.
A platform needs to have one of the largest range of ETFs, offer low or no commission for trading ETFs, and come with additional ETF-specific platform features.
The top platform needs to have 0% commission for US stocks, an FX fee of 0.5% or lower, and the option to hold US stocks in a stocks and shares ISA.
A platform must score highly for the markets and exchanges available along with providing a decent range of assets. International investing should come without barriers. We want to recognise and commend the platforms breaking down global investing borders.
Social & community features
Any platform in contention needs to offer specific social features and ways for like-minded investors to brainstorm.
Ready-made and managed portfolios
The top platforms must offer ready-made portfolios with a management fee of less than 0.5%, rank highly for UI/UX, and offer a decent range of pre-made options to keep things simple for you.
The protection for our top platform must be like Fort Knox, with a perfect score for safety and security. It must also be well established and offer multiple ways for users to contact the support team.
The winner for this category goes to the highest-scoring platform in the yearly Finder Customer Satisfaction Awards.
“Customers say” star ratings
We carried out an independent survey of 805 customers in December 2022. We asked them how happy they were with a platform they had used within the previous 12 months.
We then turned their answers into a rating of between 1 and 5 stars.
And here’s how we did it…
Customer satisfaction ratings methodology
The survey asked respondents how satisfied they were with their share dealing provider on a scale from 1 to 5, and also whether they would recommend that company to a friend or not.
We turned the answers into an overall star rating that takes into account:
- How many people would recommend the company versus how many people wouldn’t. If you say you’d recommend your share dealing provider to a friend, it must mean it’s really good. So this forms 50% of our customer satisfaction star rating.
- The proportion of people who rated a provider five out of five. Wow, five out of five? This counts for 25% of our customer satisfaction star rating.
- The average rating each share dealing platform got. This tells us if a provider offers a solid service even though it doesn’t have loads of five out of five scores. This parameter forms the last 25% of our customer satisfaction star rating.
The final rating was then rounded to the nearest half star, to give the following one to five customer satisfaction range:
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