- Price per trade
- UK: £1
US: 0.1% ($1 max)
- Min. initial deposit
There's a lot of competition among investing platforms available to UK investors. So, to challenge the current crop of apps and brokerages, you need to be pretty special. It's early days for Lightyear, but the app is off to a stellar start.
Along with low trading fees and minimal account fees, the Lightyear app is a joy to use - it comes with some excellent features for both beginner and more experienced investors. The high interest paid on idle cash (up to 4.5% as of August 2023) is a nice bonus, plus a better rate than you'd get from most banks.
The Lightyear app is free to download, you can set up an account in minutes, and there are no fees for holding a multi-currency investment account. You can start investing with just £1, so it's well worth trying Lightyear. There are some areas to improve, but the company regularly adds new features.
For a relatively new share dealing platform, Lightyear is likely to tick many boxes for plenty of investors.
0% commission for ETFs
Low commission for stocks
High interest paid on uninvested cash
Excellent app with loads of features
Competitive 0.35% FX fee
No FSCS protection
Limited to a GIA only
Stocks and ETFs only
How we rated Lightyear's investment features
|Lightyear offers decent value and is a low-cost investing option.
|It offers a solid range of investments.
|Safety and security
|Overall, Lightyear offers a secure place to invest but the only concern is lack of FSCS protection.
|Account types and products
|The platform is somewhat limited when it comes to account types.
|Ease of use
|Lightyear offers a solid investing experience that most customers seem happy with.
|Tools, resources and features
|Lightyear offers some resources and tools for investing analysis.
Lightyear is a relatively new investing platform. With lots of established competition already out there, it’s tough to stand out. But in our Lightyear investing desktop and mobile app review, we found it has plenty of features to entice new customers.
Extremely low fees, a free multi-currency account and high interest (up to 4.5% as of January 2024) on idle cash will attract both beginners and more experienced investors. But like anything, Lightyear isn’t without its flaws.
|0.1% (up to $1 maximum)
|Foreign exchange (FX) fee
|Yes (Repeat Orders feature)
|£0 (0.5% for fast deposit transfer with your card after your free allowance)
Lightyear burst onto the scene with 0% commission but has since introduced small trading commissions to make sure the business remains sustainable. Low fees are one of its main selling points and even though it’s not commission-free, the fees are still lower than most competitors. There are hardly any fees for holding an account or investing with its mobile or desktop app.
It only costs £1 to buy and sell UK shares. For international stocks, it’s 0.1% for US shares (min $0.1 to max $1) and for EU shares it’s a flat €1 fee. This also includes trading fractional shares. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) cost you nothing to buy or sell. You only need £1 to get started, so it’s incredibly affordable for anyone who wants to invest, even with a small budget.
There are no inactivity fees or withdrawal fees. It’s also free to make a deposit (unless you choose the speedy option). This means you can open an account and try out the app for yourself with nothing to lose regarding fees. The lack of cost for opening and holding an account means you’re free to explore the Lightyear investing app without fear of being stung with hidden costs or charges.
The fact that it’s so cheap to buy or sell investments is a huge selling point and makes this platform stand out from most of the competition. You only have to pay the 0.35% FX fee if you change currency to buy stocks. But, this fee is low compared to most other platforms. Also, Lightyear’s ability to let you open free multi-currency accounts (in pounds, dollars, and euros) means you can minimise the impact of currency fluctuations.
Lightyear trade fee calculator
Pick a stock, select a quantity and our calculator will give you a guide to the total cost of that trade on Lightyear. We regularly check fees, but bear in mind that stock prices, exchange rates and spreads fluctuate in real-time.
|Min. initial deposit
Read reviewCapital at risk
Lightyear investment choice and stocks
|Investment choice score
|Number of investments
|Number of ETFs/funds
Lightyear may not be for you if you want complete access to whole international markets. But, if you wish to access the most popular and largest stocks across exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Nasdaq or London Stock Exchange (LSE) – Lightyear will likely have investments to interest you.
Lightyear is a DIY investing platform. So, it’s different to a robo-advisor that picks and manages an investment portfolio for you. With Lightyear, you get complete control over the investments held in your portfolio. This means it’s up to you to research and create your own diversified portfolio.
The stock discovery page on the app is nicely laid out. You can search ETFs by country, sector, ESG compatibility, dividend-paying, or bond-focused. For individual stocks, you can search by region, popularity, or specific niches such as “female led”, “daily movers”, “big employers” and plenty of other categories.
Currently, the platform has over 3,500 stocks, shares, ETFs and money market funds (MMF). These investments are from the UK, the US, Europe and other countries (like China). The Lightyear stock list is continuously expanding, so don’t be surprised to see more investments available as time passes.
The minimum deposit for the Lightyear app is £1, and the minimum investment you can make is £1 with fractional shares.
Is Lightyear safe?
|Safety and security score
Lightyear is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as an appointed representative (AR) of RiskSave Technologies. One major downside with Lightyear is that it doesn’t come with Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protection.
It does offer additional insurance in place of FSCS protection. All customers have assets of up to €20,000 protected by the Estonian Investor Protection Sectoral Fund.
And for US investments, they are held with a partner, Alpaca, who is FINRA regulated and a registered member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). This means your US securities are protected up to the value of $500,000 should Alpaca fail.
Although as always when you invest, your capital is at risk.
Lightyear 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
As it stands, Lightyear only offers a general investment account (GIA) and a business account. However, the mobile app was only fully launched in September 2021 (and the desktop app came along in 2023).
So, if you want an investing platform with plenty of different accounts right now, you might want to go for a different option.
However, some positives in this area is that Lightyear does offer free multi-currency accounts for US dollars and Euros, it also pays competitive rates of interest on idle cash that move in line with central bank rate changes. Current rates offered by Lightyear (as of January 2024) are:
- 4.5% GBP
- 4.5% USD
- 3.25% EUR
Lightyear ease of use
|Ease of use score
|Apple iOS rating
|Google Play rating
|Ways to contact customer service
|Desktop or mobile app
Lightyear scored fairly well in our ease of use assessment. Most reviewers on the App Store and Google Play speak positively about the platform and you can invest using either the mobile or desktop app.
On the App Store, Lightyear scores 4.7 out of 5, and on Google Play it scores an equally impressive 4.6 out of 5 (as of January 2024).
Our only major criticism is that the only way to get hold of customer support is via email.
Lightyear customer reviews
Trustpilot reviewers gave Lightyear a high 4.7 out of 5 “excellent” rating (as of January 2024).
Lighyear tools, resources and features
|Tools, resources and features
|Tools for investing/trading
For such a new investing platform, Lightyear does a great job providing some decent research and trading tools while keeping everything sleek and simple for interacting. Relatively recent additions include the “insights” feature that shows you which sectors, companies and countries you’ve invested in, and a portfolio profit and loss explainer.
It’s straightforward to select a stock, and as you scroll down, you’ll see:
- Current metrics
- Analyst ratings and price targets
- Company financials
- Upcoming events (where you can also see previous dividend payments)
- Company news and basic info
- Similar stocks
Considering so much info is available, it’s presented in a highly digestible format that’s easy to understand.
Lightyear also introduced limit orders on the platform. But that’s the only trading order type currently available (other than market or repeat orders). This is part of the reason why it doesn’t come with advanced charting tools, it would be too much information for the actions you can take.
Although there’s no social or copy trading, there is a “popular” stock and ETF category on the discovery page to give you an idea about what other users have been buying on the platform.
How to sign up to Lightyear
It’s dead simple to sign up and open an account with Lightyear, just follow these steps:
- Sign up to Lightyear. You can download the mobile investing app on the App Store or Google Play Store. Or, get started with the desktop platform on the Lightyear website.
- Provide basic information. You’ll need to submit your mobile phone number (for a text verification) and your registered address.
- Answer some more questions. Lightyear will ask for your living and tax residency. You’ll need your national insurance (NI) number if you select the UK.
- Pass identification checks. Once you’ve provided your basic details, Lightyear will request to take a photo of a current ID (e.g driving licence or passport). The app will then prompt you to take a selfie to complete the verification process.
- Deposit into your account and start investing. You can kick things off by depositing just £1 into your account and then invest as you like.
In summary, you’ll likely need the following info to get set up:
- Date of birth
- NI number
- Citizenship declaration
- Phone number and email
- Current ID
Lightyear can verify and open your account almost instantly if you can provide all the required details.