Stake is a global digital brokerage and was the first online trading platform to offer commission-free US share trading for those living outside the US. It has now launched in the UK.
It claims to offer “unrivalled” access to the US stock market, with an easy-to-use app and a simple fee structure.
Check out our video interview with the Stake co-founders Matt and Bryan.
Video interview with Stake co-founders Matt and Bryan
How does it work?
Stake lets you trade over 3,500 US stocks and ETFs without having to open a US trading account. It offers three tiers of account targeted at investors of all experience levels, from beginners to serious traders. There are no lock-in contracts or commitments, and you’re free to switch between brokerage packs as you like.
You can apply for an account in a couple of minutes, and can then get instant approval via digital verification. Once your account is set up, you can add funds via credit card and direct debit. Your money is converted into US dollars when you make a deposit, and your trading is then handled entirely in US dollars. This means you won’t pay FX fees on individual trades.
You’ll get access to real-time market data and the ability to make commission-free trades. You can manage your account via your computer or by using the Stake app.
As Stake offers US stocks, it operates on US market hours, which are 9:30am-4pm ET. You can set buy and sell orders outside of these hours, but the trades will not be executed until the market next pens. Stake will also automatically complete your US tax form.
Stake brokerage packs
Stake currently offers the following brokerage packs:
Unlimited and Black packs are free until July 2020, though you’ll need to have an account balance of at least $30,000 to access the Black pack.
After July 2020, you will need to pay $9 per month for an Unlimited account and $19 per month for a Black account.
Advanced order types
Day trade on unsettled funds
How much does it cost?
With the Starter account, you’ll avoid all commission and account fees. If you want an Unlimited or Black account, you’ll need to pay a monthly account fee, but will also get more advanced trading features.
Stake also has a number of additional fees and charges, but these will differ based on the type of account you have and how you use your account.
Stake fees and charges
Currency exchange fee. You’ll pay a 0.5% FX fee whenever you move money in or out of your account from GBP to USD, or vice versa. Unlike other brokers or trading platforms, you are not charged an FX fee on trades.
Funding fee. There’s a 0.5% express funding fee to deposit money quickly.
Withdrawal fee. You’ll pay $2 per withdrawal to cover the banking fee. This is to avoid a $25 wire fee.
US trading fees. There are also a number of small US trading and administrative fees that you may need to pay, such as SEC fees.
The Stake app
The Stake app lets you track and manage your portfolio, as well as deposit and withdraw funds.
You can search for specific stocks using real-time market data, set up a watchlist and check the status of your account, including current equity, buying power and any unsettled funds.
You can also earn rewards by referring friends to the app, including Stake merchandise and free shares.
How do I apply?
You can apply for a Stake account by downloading the Stake app via the App Store or Google Play. You can then register for an account within minutes by providing basic details about your identity and employment.
You’ll then need to verify your account via email and can then immediately deposit funds into your account via Open Banking.
Is Stake safe?
Stake is the trading name of Hellostake Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. Your use of Stake is also protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (UK).
It is also partnered with members of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which means securities in your account are protected up to $500,000.
As with any type of investment, your capital is at risk when you use Stake. There is no guarantee of returns, and you may end up with less than you started.
Stake has made a name for itself by helping open up the US stock market to international retail investors. With its tiered account system and simple, transparent fee structure, it’s a good choice for investors of all stripes wanting to try their luck with thousands of US stocks.
While there are probably cheaper options for those just looking to get started or those making limited trades, the paid Stake accounts offer share-trading bells and whistles at a reasonable price.
Investors looking to diversify will need another brokerage or platform to access global stocks, but if you’re looking to expand your portfolio options, or only interested in US stocks, Stake is hard to beat.
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.
Tom Stelzer is a writer for Finder specialising in personal finance, including personal loans and car loans, as well as small business and business loans. He has previously worked as a freelance writer covering entertainment, culture and football. He has a Master of Media Arts and Production and Bachelor of Communications in Journalism from the University of Technology Sydney.
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