AJ Bell review
- Price per trade
- Min. initial deposit
Overall, we think AJ Bell has plenty to offer. It’s one of the most well-respected investing brands in the UK, and has been providing brokerage services to retail investors since before it was cool. That being said, it is somewhat of a legacy provider and will likely appeal to serious investors who value stability over low fees and an intuitive interface.
Although AJ Bell does an excellent job of providing a well-rounded place to invest and hold a variety of accounts, there’s room for improvement. For example, there are more fees than you can shake a stick at. Also, the fee structure depends on the type of investments you hold, how often you invest, and your portfolio’s value.
Aside from this, we found that AJ Bell has a lot going for it, with something to pique the interest of most investors. It’s not cheap and cheerful, but it is reliable and robust.
Range of account types available
Plenty of investment choice
Interest paid on cash balances
Top-rated customer service
Complex fee structure
High share dealing commission
Clunky platform interface
Not a lot of learning tools and resources
How we rated AJ Bell's investment features
|AJ Bell can be cheap depending on your investments but it has high commissions for shares.
|It offers a wide range of assets with access to plenty of markets.
|Safety and security
|AJ Bell has plenty of safety features in place to protect investors.
|Account types and products
|You can invest using all the major tax-efficient accounts.
|Ease of use
|It’s not the most beginner-friendly but it’s a robust place to invest.
|Tools, resources and features
|AJ Bell offers plenty of tools and resources apart from social features.
AJ Bell is one of the largest investment platforms in the UK, with a huge range of assets to invest in. It also offers a range of account types, including tax-efficient options and even a cash savings hub.
It was one of the first retail investing platforms in the UK and also led the charge on bringing online self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs) to the masses. Find out more about what AJ Bell offers, how it works, and the fees you can expect to pay.
What is AJ Bell?
AJ Bell is an online brokerage and investing platform. It was formed in Manchester in 1995 by Andy Bell and Nicholas Littlefair.
AJ Bell launched its online investing service back in 2000, called “AJ Bell”. The name was simplified in 2022 to “AJ Bell”. Over the years, it has built a loyal following and now has over 480,000 customers with over £69 billion in assets under management (AUM).
AJ Bell fees
0.25% of the value of your investments per year (£42 max)
0.25% of value of your investments per year (£120 max)
0.25% of value of your investments per year (£30 max)
Funds (all account types)
0.25% £0 to £250,000
0.1% £250,000 to £500,000
Free Over £500,000
|£9.95 (£4.95 if you make 10+ trades in previous month)
|£9.95 (£4.95 if you make 10+ trades in previous month)
|£9.95 (£4.95 if you make 10+ trades in previous month)
|Foreign exchange (FX) fee
|0.75% up to £10,000
0.5% £10,000 to £20,000
0.25% over £20,000
|Yes (from £25/month and commission drops to £1.50)
Unfortunately, AJ Bell has a fee structure that will make your head spin. It’s definitely not the cheapest provider if you’re looking to buy or sell stocks and shares.
However, it can provide good value for certain types of investors. For example, it’s quite a cheap platform if you’re only buying funds or if you make use of its regular investing service.
AJ Bell’s fee structure may work out well for you depending on how you invest, but it’s definitely not a cheap all-rounder.
AJ Bell investment choice and stocks
|Investment choice score
|Number of investments
|Number of ETFs/funds
|£0 (at least one share)
AJ Bell has a huge selection of investments and markets available to you. There’s no chance you’ll run out of investing ideas.
We really like that AJ Bell gives you plenty of flexibility when it comes to investing options. The only downside is the fees that come with some investment types like individual stocks and shares.
However, AJ Bell provides loads of funds for investors to choose from and these can be cheap to purchase and hold in your account.
It’s also great that there’s no minimum deposit or investment amount, but because you can’t buy fractional shares you need to buy at least one full share of any investment.
Is AJ Bell safe?
|Safety and security score
AJ Bell is a sturdy and safe place for investors. As you’d expect, it’s regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The platform has over 490,000 customers and more than £76 billion in assets under administration, making it one of the largest online investment platforms in the UK.
Any cash is held in FCA-approved banks and is protected under the FCA rules. With AJ Bell, you are also covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which means up to £85,000 of your deposits can be returned if AJ Bell ever goes bust.
AJ Bell account types and products
|Account types and products score
|General investment account (GIA)
|Stock and shares ISA
|Self-invested personal pension (SIPP)
|Lifetime ISA (LISA)
|Junior ISA (JISA)/Junior SIPP (JSIPP)
|Interest on cash balances
Whether you’re saving for your future or your children’s, AJ Bell has a range of products designed to suit your goals. You can also invest in a general investment account if you’re unable to use your ISA allowance.
The range of products available include:
Individual savings accounts
- Stocks and shares ISA
- Lifetime ISA (LISA)
- Junior ISA (JISA)
- Junior SIPP
- Junior share dealing account
- Self-invested personal pension (SIPP)
- Platinum SIPP
AJ Bell also offers interest on cash balances. The exact rate depends on the amount of cash you’re holding and the type of account you’re using.
AJ Bell general investment account
This is referred to on the platform as AJ Bell’s “dealing account” but operates in the same way you’d expect from a general investment account (GIA). It gives you access to all the same investments as the other accounts, but without the tax-efficiency. This means there aren’t limits to how much you can invest, and you can withdraw whenever you want, but you may have to pay tax on your gains.
If you’re new to investing, AJ Bell does offer some investment ideas to help you start your portfolio. You can choose a managed fund, a pre-built portfolio that you manage, or build a DIY portfolio using hand-picked funds.
Features of AJ Bell’s dealing account include:
- A wide choice of investments, including shares, funds, investment trusts, and managed funds
- Overseas share trading in 24 international markets
- UK-based customer support teams you can contact via web chat, email, telephone, or even mail
- Low-cost online share and fund trading from just £1.50
- Regular investing from £25 per month
With this account, you’d have to pay capital gains tax on any profits over £6,000 in each tax year. Also, you may have to pay dividend tax on anything over £1,000.
AJ Bell ISAs
AJ Bell offers several types of ISAs: a stocks and shares ISA, lifetime ISA (LISA), and a junior ISA (JISA).
AJ Bell stocks and shares ISA
The stocks and shares ISA is a tax wrapper that lets you invest up to your £20,000 yearly allowance and means you pay no tax on most profits.
- Invest up to the annual ISA allowance. You can invest £20,000 in the 2023/2024 tax year without paying tax on most gains you make.
- Invest in a wide range of assets. You’re able to invest in shares, unit trusts, investment trusts, funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
- Regular investing. Invest from £25 per month.
- Transfer your old ISA. You can transfer an existing ISA using AJ Bell’s transfer service.
How to set up an ISA with AJ Bell
You can set up an AJ Bell stocks and shares ISA online. It may require some additional documents. If you want to transfer an existing ISA, then you can do that too. You’ll need:
- To be 18 or over at the time of application
- To be a resident of the United Kingdom for tax purposes
- Your National Insurance number
- Your bank details
What can you invest in with the AJ Bell ISA?
All of AJ Bell’s ISAs let you invest in a range of investments, including stocks, shares, funds, investment trusts and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)).
You can choose between investing a lump sum (from £500) or investing regular monthly sums of £25 or more. If you want, you can do a combination of both.
AJ Bell LISA
Lifetime ISAs can help you save up for your first home or retirement. You can only use £4,000 of your yearly ISA allowance (currently £20,000) towards a LISA.
With a LISA, you get a 25% top-up on what you put in, meaning that for every £4,000 paid in, the government adds another £1,000. You only get the government top-up on up to £4,000 of what you pay in each year.
Lifetime ISAs aren’t accessible in the way that the stocks and shares ISA are. This means that you can’t withdraw willy-nilly. If you choose to withdraw for anything other than the purchase of your first home or retirement, you’ll pay a withdrawal charge of 25%, so you could end up with less than you put in.
You can only sign up for a lifetime ISA if you’re between 18 and 39. You can transfer a LISA to AJ Bell from another provider.
AJ Bell SIPPs
AJ Bell has a couple of pension products. They’re self-invested, which means you choose what you want to invest your savings into. This gives you some freedom, but it means they’re really only suitable if you have investing experience and know what you’re doing.
AJ Bell SIPP
AJ Bell’s self-invested personal pension (SIPP) lets you choose your own investments. It has fewer investment options than the Platinum SIPP but is still a wide choice. Some features of this SIPP and the Platinum SIPP include:
- Invest up to £60,000 per year
- Invest a lump sum or start with £25 per month
- Transfer your existing SIPP
- 0.25% annual custody charge
- Free investment magazine
- 24/7 access using the mobile app
What can I invest in with an AJ Bell SIPP?
As with the ISA, AJ Bell’s SIPP gives you access to a range of over 2,000 investments, including:
- Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
- Exchange-traded commodities (ETCs)
- And more
AJ Bell Platinum SIPP
AJ Bell offers a Platinum SIPP service for those who want their SIPP managed for them. The main difference between this and the SIPP is that you can appoint any UK-authorised investment manager to run the SIPP for you. Features of the AJ Bell Platinum SIPP include:
- Choose any UK-authorised investment manager to run your SIPP
- Each Platinum SIPP has a dedicated administration team and comes with access to AJ Bell’s consultants
- Invest in UK commercial property, which you can lease out to your own business for commercial rent or to a third party
AJ Bell junior accountsYou can start saving for your children’s futures nice and early with AJ Bell’s Junior ISA (JISA) or Junior SIPP.
AJ Bell junior ISA (JISA)The junior ISA lets you save for your child’s future. Once they become a legal adult (18 years old), they can access the money.
The junior ISA also has an allowance, which is £9,000 for the 2023/2024 tax year.
Only a parent or guardian can set up the ISA, but anyone can pay in, which is great for enthusiastic grandparents and aunties.
AJ Bell junior SIPPThe AJ Bell junior SIPP allows you to invest up to £2,880 per year. The government adds 20%.
You can invest £25 each month. If you want, you can also pay in a lump sum.
The money can’t be accessed until the child retires.
AJ Bell ease of use
|Ease of use score
|Apple iOS rating
|Google Play rating
|Ways to contact customer service
|Phone, email, web chat and post
|Desktop or mobile app
AJ Bell scores quite well in our ease of use assessment, but to be perfectly honest, it’s not going to blow your socks off.
We think it’s great that there are plenty of ways to contact the customer service team and you can invest using a desktop computer or mobile phone. However, the overall interface with AJ Bell isn’t the slickest and the app has pretty average reviews.
On the App Store, AJ Bell scores 4.7 out of 5, and on Google Play it has a lower 3.2 out of 5 (as of November 2023).
But if you want a more straightforward and intuitive mobile experience, you should check out AJ Bell’s app-only investment account Dodl.
AJ Bell customer reviews
|Finder user reviews
AJ Bell did well in our 2024 customer satisfaction survey, with 95% of its customers saying they’d recommend the platform to a friend.
Feedback included praise for its reliable customer service, and many customers described AJ Bell as “superb”.
One customer commented: “The team are easy to contact and have always been willing to help me muddle through buying or selling stocks.”
Not all comments were totally positive. Another customer felt that “the fees are too high”.
On Trustpilot, AJ Bell has a 4.8 out of 5 score – classed as “excellent” – from over 5,000 reviews (last updated: January 2024).
AJ Bell tools, resources and features
|Tools, resources and features
|Tools for investing/trading
AJ Bell has a decent amount of tools and resources on offer for investors. The only area where it’s particularly lacking is the social investing aspect with no community forum or way for investors to connect and share ideas.
With AJ Bell, examples of some of the resources you can access include:
- Articles and guides
- Dividend dashboard
- Model portfolios
- Stock screeners
It also has a jargon buster, learning materials for new investors and its “Shares” magazine.
Aside from this, there’s also investment specific resources, particularly around funds…
AJ Bell funds
AJ Bell has some excellent resources for investing in funds. It has a “favourite funds” feature with a filter tool lets you find a fund that suits you. You can filter by your investment goal, the type of fund and the sector.
When deciding on its list, AJ Bell considers loads of different factors, including:
- The fund manager and the wider organisation
- The investment philosophy
- The objective of the fund
- The construction of the fund portfolio
- The diversification of the portfolio
- The performance of the fund
- The cost of the fund
- The fund manager
- The investment approach
- The cost of the fund or ETF
- The size of the fund and whether it can ensure liquidity
AJ Bell also offer 3 types of managed funds that cost nothing to buy (but you still have to pay the ongoing custody fee with the platform):
- Growth. Those looking for growth funds can select from a choice of 6 based on risk and pay a 0.31% ongoing annual charge.
- Responsible growth. Those looking for growth with sustainable companies funds can select this option and pay a 0.45% ongoing annual charge.
- Income. If you want to receive an income from your fund you can choose between 2 options and pay a 0.65% ongoing annual charge.