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Private pensions are a tax-efficient way to invest and save for your retirement and can give you greater control over where your money is invested as you (or with the help of an adviser) decide what different asset classes to invest in from stocks, bonds ETFs, investment trusts and funds. 

Best private pension providers compared and reviewed

You can use our comparison of private pension providers to compare account charges, the minimum deposits to get started, and if you have to make your own investment decisions or a fund manager does it for you. We have ranked, compared and reviewed some of the best SIPP providers and accounts in the UK that the FCA regulates. All investing carries risk.  

Nutmeg: Best private pension 2023

  • Investments: 4 managed funds
  • Minimum investment: £500
  • Pension charges: 0.75%

Nutmeg has created four pensionstyles (portfolios) which have been built by experts and use exchange-traded funds to diversify across stocks, bonds, industries, and countries. This also importantly keeps costs down.

Nutmeg pensions cost 0.75%, but account fees drop to 0.35% for balances over £100k. There is an addition charged by the investment fund managers of around 0.2% and the market spread on buying and selling portfolios is on average 0.07%


  • ✔️Low account fee of 0.75%*
  • ✔️Owned by JP Morgan
  • ✔️Simple pre-made portfolios


  • ❌£500 minimum investment
  • ❌No individual funds

Wealthify: Pension investing from just £50

  • Investments: Managed funds
  • Minimum investment: £50
  • Pension charges: 0.6%*

Capital at risk

Wealthify, part of the Aviva Group, lets you invest in either an original portfolio of investments from the UK and overseas or choose an ethical investment plan made from a blend of environmentally and socially responsible investments.

Wealthify charge a flat fee of 0.6% for their pension. *There are also investment costs of on average 0.16% for original plans and 0.7% for ethical plans. Capital at risk.


  • ✔️Managed pension
  • ✔️Low minimum deposit of £50
  • ✔️Low account fee of 0.6%*


  • ❌Cannot invest individual shares

Interactive Investor: Best for fixed-fee DIY pension investing

  • Investments: Shares, bonds, funds & ETFs
  • Minimum investment: £1
  • Pension charges: £12.99 a month

As Interactive Investor’s pension is a SIPP (self-invested personal pension) you can pick the individual investments you want to hold from UK and international shares, bonds, ETFs and funds.

Interactive Investors’ pension (SIPP) costs £12.99 a month. *Dealing commissions are a free trade every month, then UK Shares and Funds, US Shares charged £7.99 or upgrade to a £19.99 “Super Investor” account 2 free monthly trades and deal for £3.99. Regular investing is free.


  • ✔️SIPP so full control over investments
  • ✔️£1 minimum deposit
  • ✔️Fixed £12.99* per month account fee


  • ❌No pre-made portfolios
  • ❌Fixed fees not good for very small pensions

Hargreaves Lansdown: Best overall DIY pension account

  • Investments: Shares, funds, ETFs, bonds
  • Minimum investment: £1
  • Pension charges: 0.45%

With HL’s pension (SIPP) you can pick your own investments, select one of their ready-made portfolios, or pay a financial adviser to choose investments for you.

Hargreaves Lansdown charges 0.45% for a DIY pension, however, the charge for holding shares is capped at £200 per year. Funds help in your pension are charged at 0.45% for the first £250,000. There is no charge for buying funds, but shares are charged at £11.95 per deal or £5.95 if you do over 20 deals per month.


  • ✔️Huge range of investments
  • ✔️£1 minimum deposit
  • ✔️Low account fees for shares


  • ❌Limited pre-made portfolios
  • ❌Expensive for bonds

AJ Bell: Best for low-cost DIY pension investing

  • Investments: Shares, funds, bonds, ETFs
  • Minimum investment: £500
  • Pension charges: 0.25%

Capital at risk

AJ Bell primary pension offering is the AJ Bell SIPP. This is a pension product that enables you to manage and control your own savings. You choose how much to save – you can make monthly contributions or contribute lump sums and both you and your employer can make contributions.

A pension with AJ Bell costs 0.25%, however fees for holding shares are capped at £10 per month. There is no charge for holding funds above £500,00, and between £250,000 and £500,000 fund fees reduce to 0.1%.  Dealing costs are £1.50 for funds and £9.95 for shares but drop to £4.95 when there were 10 or more online share deals in the previous month


  • ✔️Choose your own investments
  • ✔️Low account fee of 0.25%
  • ✔️Established provider


Moneyfarm: Best digital pension for starting small

  • Investments: 7 managed funds
  • Minimum investment: £1
  • Pension charges: 0.75%

Moneyfarm lets you invest your pension in one of seven ready-made simple and diverse portfolios with different degrees of risk and reward. Users can transfer a pension or setup a new one and Moneyfarm will manage your portfolio based on your retirement target date by reducing the risk as the time approaches.

*Moneyfarm pension account fees are scaled between 0.75% for accounts between £500 and £50,000, then above £100k are 0.45% to 0.35%. Average investment fund fees are 0.2% and the average market spread when buying and selling is 0.10%


  • ✔️Simple investment options
  • ✔️Low account fee of 0.75%*
  • ✔️Easy to use


  • ❌£500 minimum investment
  • ❌Cannot invest in individual shares

Bestinvest: Good for pension investment advice and low costs

Bestinvest pension
  • Investments: Managed funds, shares, ETFs, funds
  • Minimum investment: £1
  • Pension charges: 0.2%*

Capital at risk

Bestinvest has combined low-cost online investing and share dealing with personalised expert advice to help clients choose the right investments for their portfolio. A good choice for large long-term investors.

Bestinvest pensions can cost as little as 0.2% for holding ready-made portfolios. above £500,000 it reduces to 0.1%. For other investments the pension account fee is 0.4% up to £250k. Dealing commissions £4.95 per online share trade, fund dealing is free. 


  • ✔️Invest in shares as well as funds
  • ✔️£1 minimum deposit
  • ✔️Very low account fee of 0.2%*


  • ❌No US shares

Penfold: Best low cost private pension provider with advice

  • Investments: Managed funds
  • Minimum investment: £1
  • Pension charges: 0.75%

Penfold won our award for best private pension in 2022 as they have combined the low-cost nature of digital pensions with expert human support and advice. The Penfold pension offers a flexible pension designed for private savers, self-employed savers, those who own limited companies, and businesses. They will help you create a bespoke private pension online with zero paperwork.

Penfold charges 0.75% for a pension and account fees include investment management fees. Pension fees reduce to 0.4% on any amount over £100,000. Transaction fees can be up to 0.06% a year.


  • ✔️Expert personal advice
  • ✔️Managed pension
  • ✔️£1 minimin investment
  • ✔️0.75%* low account fee


  • ❌Cannot invest in individual shares
  • ❌Relatively new provider

What is the best private pension in the UK?

Nutmeg won “best private pension” in our 2023 awards as they offer low fees and make it very simple to pick an appropriate portfolio. They also have a great selection of socially responsible funds and are good value for larger pension pots.

Methodology: We have chosen what we think are the best private pension accounts based on:

  • over 17,000 votes in our annual awards
  • our own experiences testing the private pension accounts with real money
  • an in-depth comparison of the features that make them stand out compared to alternative private pensions.
  • interviews with the private pension provider CEOs and senior management

How to choose a private pension provider

The main things to look for when deciding what private pension provider to use are:

  • FCA regulation: Always look for regulated providers that are part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which offers 100% protection should the pension company fail. In addition, if you’ve received bad advice in relation to your pension, you could be eligible to claim up to £85,000.
  • Cold calls: Watch out for providers – or advisers – that contact via cold calls (which are now illegal) or unsolicited marketing material. Always take the advice of a fully regulated independent financial adviser. Always check the list of regulated and approved list of providers on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website: https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register
  • Investment options: The amount of fund options available are important; look for providers offering options that meet your risk appetite.  If you are interested in a self-invested personal pension, which allows more freedom to invest in individual stocks, make sure the provider has the appropriate expertise and range suited to your preferred portfolio.
  • Contribution levels: Make sure you ask about minimum contribution levels and that you understand fees and charges.
  • Exit fees: Many firms will charge exit fees if you want to transfer to a new provide, which can often be expensive.

Private Pension FAQs:

As a rule, adviser  of your current income when you retire. Furthermore, they suggest that you need 20 – 25 times your retirement expenses. So, if you spend £30,000 per year, you’ll need £600,000 – £750,000 in pensions, investments and savings.

It is worth deciding how your lifestyle will likely change when you retire and the expectations you have from life after work. For example, will you spend more on travel and holidays but less on commuting? Will you stay in your current house or downsize? What about the cost of healthcare as you age?

A financial adviser should help you devise a timeline that can help manage your expenses, which in turn helps you to decide when to take lump sums, how much to drawdown, and when or if you want to buy an annuity.

Private pension companies like Penfold, Profile Pensions and Pensionbee can help you track down old pensions.

Also, the Government has a pension tracing service, which can help you track down any lost pensions by post and online https://www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details

You can also use the Government’s Unclaimed Assets register, which can also locate misplaced savings and investments. It costs £25, and more information can be found here: https://www.uar.co.uk/

When you invest in a private pension, an administrator is responsible for any payments into your pension. They will also reclaim basic rate tax relief and process any income withdrawals that you make.

SIPP providers such as Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell and PensionBee administer pensions as part of the service. Other providers use third party administrators to manage this function on their behalf, for example Barclays SIPP uses AJ Bell.

Third-party administrators also usually take care of workplace pensions on behalf of employers.

All third-party administrators (and the administration of SIPP providers if done in-house) are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority which expects firms to clearly establish roles and responsibilities and have procedures to ensure all employees are properly trained and competent.

If you have concerns or complaints about the way your pension is administered, you need to contact the Pensions Ombudsman.

Should the administrator fail completely your pension will be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Further reading: Can I change SIPP administrators?

Yes. If you feel that you are paying too much in fees to your current private pension provider, or they do not offer the flexibility and fund choices you need, it might be worth transferring. However, not all schemes accept transfers.

While employers are obliged to offer all employees a workplace pension, the self-employed need to set a private pension up themselves. There are a growing number of providers offering products aimed at the self-employed market, which offer the flexibility individuals need when they work for themselves.

The rules allow you to contribute your entire annual income up to £40,000 per year, and this will be matched by tax relief of 25%.

Basic private pensions offer limited investment choice, so it may be worth considering a SIPP, which offer far more options if you are self-employed. However, SIPPs require a level of commitment and expertise, and this must be considered before taking out a plan.

You can usually transfer a defined benefit pension to a new pension scheme at any time up to one year before the date of when you’re expected to start taking your pension. Some schemes will let you transfer only a part of your benefits. You’ll need to check with your provider to see if they offer this option.

If you are considering leaving your DB scheme, before you can start the advice process, you need to get a transfer value from your scheme. The transfer value is set for three months, so line up an adviser ahead of time to avoid having to make rushed decisions. If you don’t complete the transfer process within the three-month period for which the transfer value is guaranteed, you might have to apply for another value, which will likely incur a cost.

When you’ve transferred to a new scheme, you’ll usually have given up all benefits under the old scheme, and when you start taking your pension, you can’t usually move your pension elsewhere.

If you take regulated financial advice, the IFA bears the risk of any poor decisions rather than you.

Defined benefit scheme members must seek regulated independent financial advice before taking a transfer out if their pot is worth more than £30,000. Thousands of DB members have received bad advice, resulting in them losing their valuable DB pensions. The FCA says good advisers will ask you about current financial circumstances and aims; priorities and spending plans in retirement; other pensions, assets and debts; and your health and your family’s health.

As with DB members, if your DC scheme has ‘safeguarded benefits’ such as a guaranteed annuity rate, and the value of these benefits is more than £30,000, you’ll have to get regulated financial advice before you can transfer.

If you have small pension pots worth less than £10,000, consider keeping them where they are. This is because if you’re considering taking a small pot lump sum at some point before you retire, by withdrawing the whole amount, this will not affect any future pension contributions.

It is almost always better to remain in your occupational or workplace pension because you enjoy contributions from your employer. However, if you are in a defined benefit pension and approaching retirement, you will not be able to take the same flexibilities as those offered to DC members. You must seek financial advice before switching out of DB, and remember that you will be giving up protection of an income for life. Even if your employer is vulnerable to insolvency, your DB pension is protected by the Pension Protection Fund; something not extended to DC funds.

If you are a member of several workplace DC pensions, it might make sense to consolidate these in one place, since your scheme is not transferred automatically when you change jobs.

It may also make sense to transfer your pension to a specialist provider if you are moving overseas. Not all schemes can take contributions from abroad, so you need to fund a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme.

Private pensions are flexible on death, which means you can nominate a recipient to receive your retirement income.

If you die before your 75th birthday and haven’t started drawing your pension, it can be passed to your beneficiaries tax-free. The beneficiaries will be able to choose how they draw the income (lump sum, drawdown or annuity).

If you die before your 75th birthday, and are already receiving your pension, it will impact how beneficiaries can access the pot. If you took a lump sum and you have remaining cash in your bank account outside of your pension, this will be counted as part of your estate. If you are using drawdown, your beneficiaries can access whatever’s left in your pension entirely tax-free.

If you die after your 75th birthday, your beneficiaries will pay income tax on any pensions you leave behind, at their marginal rate.

If you are not confinement that you fully understand private pensions then yes, you should talk to an independent financial advisor. The market for private pensions is huge, and with so much choice, finding the right plan can be confusing. It is worth considering taking independent advice to find the most appropriate pension for you.

However, there are plenty of well-known companies offering good value private pensions . These include Nutmeg, Wealthify and moneyfarm. Some will offer access to a wide range of ways to invest, while others will keep it more basic. Typically, these firms charge around 0.5% of your pot to run the plan. They offer access to tracker funds which deliver returns in line with how the main indexes are performing your contributions are spread across bonds, stocks, commodities and property. They will also diversify across geographies providing access to global markets.

You can also invest into a self-invested personal pension (SIPP), which allows you to choose exactly how your money is invested.

Yes, you can invest in a private pension and a Lifetime ISA (LISA) simultaneously.

Individuals aged over 18 and under 40 can consider opening a LISA, which is a savings account designed solely to buy a first home or to provide a retirement income.

LISAs are tax-advantaged, so you won’t pay tax, capital gains, or dividend tax on money you take out, but contributions are made after income tax, and they are subject to inheritance tax.

LISAs are also restricted to a maximum £4,000 a year contribution limit, which goes towards the £20,000 ISA contribution cap. You can only withdraw once you reach 60 or if the money is to purchase a first property. Unauthorised withdrawals are subject to a 20% charge.

Further reading: Compare the best lifetime ISAs here

The State pension is paid by the Government to all those with at least 10 years of National Insurance Contributions. A private pension is entirely separate from the State pension and consists of contributions you have made.

To receive the maximum State pension amount – currently £179.60 per week (2021/22) or £9,339.20 per year, you need to have 35 ‘qualifying’ years.

Couples entitled to the full state pension receive a maximum of £359.20 per week or £18,678.40 per year as of 2021/22.

Given the relatively low level of income from the State pension, those who also save into a private pension will most likely be far better off. In addition, you can draw from your private pension from age 55, but the State pension is only available from age 66 (rising to 67 from 2028). There is also a lot of flexibility available with private pensions, giving you the chance to grow your money (however, investments can fall as well as rise).

Yes, you can open a Junior SIPP if your children are under 18 and invest a maximum of £2,880 per year (£3,600 after tax-reflief). When they turn 18 it turns into a normal SIPP.

Further reading: Compare the best Junior SIPP accounts here

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