Whether you’re an experienced trader or a beginner, you’ll want a share dealing account that gives you access to the markets you’re considering, and offers the best value for money. Fees, tools, charts and safeguards differ, so we set out what you get and the costs.
The table shows the price per trade, the frequent trader rate, which is the rate that you’ll get if you trade often, and any platform fees. When you’ve chosen, hit “Go to site” to get started.
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.
A share trading account (also known as a brokerage account and a share dealing account) lets you buy and sell company shares. They sometimes also give you access to exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other fund types. Accounts differ in the range of shares you can trade on them, so if you’re keen on owning a bit of Apple, for example, you’ll need a broker that lets you trade US shares. You can find out which accounts offer which types of shares in the provider details in our table, above, and also in provider reviews. It’s worth considering opening a stocks and shares individual savings account (ISA) to “hold” your investments because you can invest up to £20,000 a year in ISAs and you won’t have to pay tax on the profits. But you might have to pay a fee for the ISA, depending on the platform you use.
There are several types – each with pros and cons.
After you’ve set up an account, you’ll be able to browse shares to buy. You can select shares based on quantity, or based on value. Once you’ve bought your shares, they will appear in your portfolio.
Share dealing platforms make money through various fees and charges when you buy shares. Here’s a list of typical ones:
Trading fees can quickly add up and eat into profits. So it’s important to know upfront what you’re likely to be charged for so you can maximise any returns. Here are two examples of charges, based on real platforms, for someone who makes 12 trades a month.
First month. 12 trades x £10 a trade = £120
After first month. 12 trades x £5 a trade = £60 a month
Total for year: £780
Likely to suit the frequent trader
First month. 12 trades x £7 a trade = £84
After the first month. 12 trades x £7 a trade = £84 a month
Total for year: £1,004
Likely to suit the infrequent trader
Finder’s investment expert Zoe Stabler answers
A platform which boasts zero commission might seem like a free lunch, but of course these platforms make money in other ways.
While adding money to your trading account is typically free, withdrawing it can cost $5 (about £3.60) on some platforms. Trading in another currency, such as for foreign shares, can incur a currency conversion fee of anything from 0.1% to 1.5% of the amount you convert for each trade.
You might also encounter “inactivity fees” – which can sting the most. These are where a provider charges you for having money in your account when you haven’t traded for a while (anything from a few months to two years). Inactivity fees can work on a rolling month-by-month basis at around £10 each month, or can be a set fee of up to £100.
Many of the providers we’ve reviewed have a “freemium” model – you get basic access and a certain number of trades for free, but there’s a charge for upgrading to more features, like access to research and better charting tools, and more trades each month.
Typically platforms that offer zero commission also offer riskier investment options, so are not always the best choice for a beginner.
Investing comes with risk. The value of the shares you buy could go down for many reasons, such as some negative press, the company releasing less than expected earnings or, as in the case in 2020, a pandemic. You need to ensure that you’re not investing money that you can’t afford to lose and that you take risks that you are comfortable with.
Stocks and shares are a riskier investment to government bonds or cash savings. Do your research into a company. If you’re starting out, consider avoiding newy floated stocks if there’s not enough information on them to make a decision and avoid over-the-counter (OTC) stocks that aren’t on a major stock exchange.
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