Stocks and shares ISA comparison

A stocks and shares ISA can be a great way to grow your money instead of leaving it in a current or savings account. Compare the best stocks and shares ISAs in our table below.

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Hargreaves Lansdown

Open your stocks and shares ISA with Hargreaves Lansdown

  • Invest in a variety of stocks, shares and funds
  • Annual charge is never more than 0.45%
  • Start your ISA from £100 or £25 a month
  • Do it yourself or use ready-made portfolios

In a nutshell

A stocks and shares ISA is a product that lets you invest your money in the stock market.

They’re good for people with money to put aside each month to invest for the long-term.

Benefits:

  • Potential for higher returns.
  • No tax on interest, profits or dividends.

But watch out for:

  • Investments can go up and down.
  • Fees can take a chunk of your investment.

What is an ISA?

ISA stands for “individual savings account”. The difference between saving in an ISA compared with other savings accounts is that any interest you receive isn’t subject to any tax.

Mostly, ISAs are just “wrappers” for savings or investment accounts, kind of like an invisibility cloak that lets you, totally legally, hide your profits from the tax man.

Everyone has an annual limit to how much you can put into an ISA. This is your ISA allowance, and it differs year on year. The 2020/2021 ISA allowance is £20,000. For the savers under eighteen, the annual Junior ISA (JISA) allowance is £9,000.

What is a stocks and shares ISA?

A stocks and shares ISA is a type of ISA which lets you invest your savings in the stock market. As with all ISAs, you can invest up to £20,000 per year tax-free.

If you want to, you can split your allowance between different types of ISAs, such as cash ISAs or Lifetime ISAs (LISAs). You need to ensure that you stay within your allowance.

There are several different ways that you can invest with a stocks and shares ISA.

For example, you might do some research and open an account with a share trading provider and decide that you want to invest in companies that you know or use, like Greggs, Boohoo or Barclays. You can choose the shares yourself and manage the investments yourself.

Another option is to choose a managed account and let the experts look after the money for you. You might choose which sector you want to be invested in, or how ethical your investments are, but the experts will keep track on your investments and try to ensure that they perform in the way that you want them to.

You can also get a mix of the two.

With a stocks and shares ISA your money is at risk – but the potential reward is growth on your investments that is higher than your average savings accounts.

Should I open a stocks and shares ISA?

Before you ask this, ask yourself what your financial goals are and what your current situation looks like.

But;

  • If you have lots of debt, you should look into ways to clear debt first.
  • If you might need quick access to the money, you should look into a current account or easy access savings account.
  • If you want to build a pot of money and still earn interest, look into simple savings accounts.
  • Riskier than a savings account or cash ISA.

Before you open a stocks and shares ISA thinking you’re the next Warren Buffet, you need to weigh up whether you’re willing to take risk that comes with investing.

In the 2008 crash for instance, many people’s stocks and shares ISAs lost a lot of value. We’ve gone into just how badly it hit people’s stocks and shares below.

A simple rule of thumb is this: if your investments are going to keep you up at night, don’t do it.

Some providers, such as IG, Moneyfarm and Fidelity have risk assessment quizzes which give you an indication of how suitable you are for investing.

Stocks and shares ISA comparison

Table: sorted by promoted deals first
Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Minimum deposit Maximum annual fee Price per trade Brand description
Hargreaves Lansdown stocks and shares ISA
£100
0.45%
£11.95
Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's biggest wealth manager. It's got everything you'll need, from beginners to experienced investors. Capital at risk.
Interactive Investor stocks and shares ISA
£100 or £25 a month
£119.88
£7.99
Interactive Investor offers everything most investors need. Its flat fees makes it pricey for small portfolios, but cheap for big ones. Capital at risk.
Saxo Markets stocks and shares ISA
No minimum deposit requirement
0.12%
£8.00
Saxo Markets offers a wide access to a range of stocks, ETFs and funds. Capital at risk.
AJ Bell stocks and shares ISA
£500
0.25%
£9.95
AJ Bell is a good all-rounder for people who to choose between shares, funds, ISAs and pensions. Capital at risk.
Fidelity stocks and shares ISA
£1000 or a regular savings plan from £50
0.35%
£10.00
Fidelity is another good all-rounder, offering a good package at a decent price. Not suited for trading shares. Capital at risk.
Nutmeg stocks and shares ISA
£100
0.75%
£0
Nutmeg offers three types of portfolios. Choose the one that goes with your investment style. Capital at risk.
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Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Minimum investment Choose from Annual fee Brand description
PensionBee Pension
No minimum
7 funds
0.5% - 0.95%
Pension Bee is a newbie in the pension market. It helps consolidate your pension plans into one place. Capital at risk.
Hargreaves Lansdown Pension
£100
2,500 funds
0-0.45%
Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's biggest wealth manager. It's got three different retirement options. Capital at risk.
Interactive Investor Pension
£25/month
Over 2,500 funds
£10/month
interactive investor is a flat-fee platform, which makes it cost effective for larger portfolios. Capital at risk.
Saxo Markets Pension
Saxo Markets Pension
£10
Over 11,000 funds
No annual fee
Saxo Markets gives flexibility and control over your investment strategy. Capital at risk.
AJ Bell Pension
£1,000
Over 2,000 funds
0.05-0.25%
AJ Bell has two different pension options, a self managed pension and one that is managed for you. Capital at risk.
Moneybox Pension
£1
3 funds
0.15% - 0.45% charged monthly
Manage your money with an easy-to-use Moneybox app. Capital at risk.
Moneyfarm Pension
Moneyfarm Pension
0.35%-0.75%
7 funds
£1,500 (initial investment)
Moneyfarm has pensions that are matched against your risk appetite, goals and planned retirement date. Capital at risk.
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Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Price per trade Frequent trader rate Platform fees Brand description
Fineco
£2.95
£2.95
Zero platform fee
Fineco Bank is good for share traders and investors looking for a complete platform and wide offer. Your first 50 trades are free with Fineco, until 30/09/2020. T&Cs apply. Capital at risk.
IG
0% commission on US shares, and £3 on UK shares
From £5
£0 - £24 per quarter
IG is good for experienced traders, and offers learning resources for beginners, all with wide access to shares, ETFs and funds. Capital at risk.
Hargreaves Lansdown Fund and Share Account
£11.95
£5.95
No fees
Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's number one platform for private investors, with the depth of features you'd expect from an established platform. Capital at risk.
eToro Free Stocks
0% commission, no markup, no ticket fee, no management fee
N/A
Withdrawal fee & GDP to USD deposit conversion
eToro is good for social trading - letting you mirror the portfolios of other traders. Capital at risk. 0% commission but other fees may apply.
Interactive Investor
From £7.99 on the Investor Service Plan
From £7.99 on the Investor Service Plan
No transfer fees or exit fees. £9.99 a month on the Investor Service Plan
Capital at risk.
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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. Capital is at risk.

Compare in more detail

Interactive Investor stocks and shares ISA

Nutmeg stocks and shares ISA

Saxo Markets stocks and shares ISA

Hargreaves Lansdown stocks and shares ISA

Product Name Interactive Investor stocks and shares ISA Nutmeg stocks and shares ISA Saxo Markets stocks and shares ISA Hargreaves Lansdown stocks and shares ISA
Minimum deposit £100 or £25 a month £100 No minimum deposit requirement £100
Maximum annual fee £119.88 0.75% 0.12% 0.45%
Price per trade £7.99 £0 £8.00 £11.95
Junior ISA
Lifetime ISA
Stocks
Funds
ETFs
Bonds

More info

More info

More info

More info

How much do stocks and shares make?

There are plenty of different ways to work out how much stocks and shares return over a period of time – you can look at performance of specific providers’ funds to see how they’ve performed over several years or at specific funds. The FTSE100 is a collection of the top 100 companies on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Since it started in 1984, the FTSE 100 has risen by 654% in price. This is an annualised return of 5.77%. At the moment, the most you can generally get in returns for a typical savings account is somewhere between 1% and 1.5%.
The returns you’ll receive could differ from these figures. Past performance isn’t indicative of future results. Your returns will depend on how much you invest, what you choose to invest in, and how long you invest for.

Let’s say, for example, you invested £10,000 in the FTSE 100 over a time period of 10 years (this is sometimes called an “investment horizon”).

This graph shows the rough difference between investing your money in the FTSE 100 and putting it in your average savings account. You can toggle to the table to see the numbers in a bit more detail.

Investing in FTSE 100 vs average savings over 10 years

YearFTSE 100 return rate (%)Yearly return (GBP)Average savings interest rate (%)Yearly savings return (GBP)
201012.6%£11,2602.8%£10,280
2011-2.2%£11,0122.75%£10,563
201210%£12,1142.8%£10,858
201318.7%£14,3791.77%£11,051
20140.7%£14,4791.48%£11,214
2015-1.3%£14,2911.4%£11,371
201619.1%£17,0211.23%£11,511
201711.9%£19,0461%£11,626
2018-8.7%£17,3891.18%£11,763
201917.3%£20,3981.39%£11,927

You can see the FTSE 100 had some good years and some bad years in that time.

2018 stands out as a poor year. Brexit and uncertainty around the US-China trade war put investors off, harming returns.

Then there were some good years. Yay!

The index returned 18.7%, 19.1% and 17.3% in 2013, 2016 and 2019 respectively.

Overall, for the entire 10 year period, the FTSE 100 generated a total return of 103%.

So if you’d invested £10,000 at the start of 2010, you’d have about £20,398 by the end of 2019.

If you had a stocks and shares ISA and had invested in the FTSE 100 index between 2010 and 2019, you’d have made roughly 7.4% a year. Compare that with average interest rates for savings over that time (around 1.5-2%) and you can see why lots of people turn to investing.

You can check out the performance tables for ISA providers on their websites.

Stocks and shares ISA offers

Hargreaves Lansdown Hargreaves Lansdown

Choose between DIY or ready made portfolios

Interactive Investor Interactive Investor

Invest with flat fees from £9.99 per month

Legal and General Legal and General

Pick your own funds from a range of options

AJ Bell AJ Bell

Deal from £1.50 and choose your own investments

The risks of stocks and shares ISAs

It’s not always plain sailing with stocks and shares, sometimes the waters can be choppy, for example, the financial crash in 2008.

The FTSE 100 had a terrible year in 2008, returning -28.3%.

If you’d invested £10,000 in 2008, it would have been worth just £7,170 by the end of the year.

If you’d started investing in 2008 and held your investment until the end of 2017, your annualised return for that 10 year period would be 5.7% – due to the heavy losses of the financial crash.

This is why investment returns become more stable and reliable over a longer time horizon. There’s more time to even out the peaks and troughs.

We’re not trying to spook you, just illustrating the impact of losses and the risks that come with investing.

Cash ISA or stocks and shares ISA?

Cash ISAs and stocks and shares ISAs are designed for different purposes.
Cash ISAs are a better place to put your money if you’re likely to need the money in the shorter term. These are suitable if you want to take minimum risk.

Meanwhile, stocks and shares ISAs are the opposite. They allow you the chance to get higher returns over a longer period, as long as you can stomach the risks.

What can you invest in with a stocks and shares ISA?

With a stocks and shares ISA you can invest in a whole load of things. Here are a few examples:

  • Corporate bonds. Lend your money to a company in return for interest.
  • Government bonds. Same as above, but you’re lending to the government.
  • Shares. Invest in individual companies. Having a share is like having one fraction of the company. If the company’s value goes up the share’s value goes up, if not it goes down.
  • Funds. These are the most common type of investment. Funds can include shares, bonds, cash, in different combinations.

How do I choose the best stocks and shares ISA?

There isn’t necessarily a “best” ISA to go with as it depends on what you’re looking for and how you’ll use it. Many of the trading apps that we’ve named as the 6 best trading apps have ISA options, so it’s worth checking them out.

What else do I need to know?

  • To open an ISA you have to be 18 or older.
  • You must be a UK tax resident.
  • You can only open one stocks and shares ISA per tax year.
  • You can transfer-in to most new ISAs for free.

Frequently asked questions

Start stocks and shares ISAs comparison

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. Capital is at risk.

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