Share dealing accounts let you invest by buying shares in companies listed on a stock exchange in the hope of making money when share prices go up. When you buy shares, you also become a part-owner of the underlying company and are entitled to a share of its profits and can also receive income from dividend payments. We have ranked, compared and reviewed some of the best share-dealing platforms and accounts in the UK that are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). All investing carries risk. This article contains affiliate links which may earn us some form of income if you go on to open a share dealing account. This does not affect our editorial bias, rankings or comparison.
The main things to compare when choosing a share dealing account are the costs of buying and selling shares (trading fees) and how much it will cost to keep those shares on your account. You should also compare account types so you have the option to deal shares in a tax-efficient ISA, SIPP or for your children.
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Our picks for the best share dealing platforms in the UK are based on:
- over 7,000 votes in our annual awards
- our own experiences testing the share dealing accounts with real money
- an in-depth comparison of the features that make them stand out compared to alternative share dealing platforms.
- interviews with the share dealing account CEOs and senior management
Hargreaves Lansdown offers access to the widest selection of stocks for share dealing accounts in the UK. The platform also has one of the best research portals for analysing stocks. It won the 2022 best stock broker awards and in 2021 won best full-service Stockbroker.
- No account fee for shares
- Wide range of shares to buy
- Excellent share research and data
- £11.95 dealing fee quite high
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- Low share dealing commission
- £1 minimum deposit
- One free share deal per month
- £9.99 fixed account fee
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AJ Bell Youinvest low-cost online investing platform and is the cheapest share dealing platform for buying and selling shares for the UK do-it-yourself (DIY) investor. They also offer plenty of investment ideas, including investment guides and equity research.
- Account fee capped at £3.50 per month
- Lots of account types
- Wide market access
- £500 minimum investment
- 0.25% account fee
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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.
- Advice and recommendations
- Low £4.95 share dealing fee
- No inactivity fee
- Uncapped 0.4% account fee for shares
- No international share dealing
- No app
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*0.2% account fee is for holding ready-made portfolios. above £500,000 it reduces to 0.1%. For other investments the account fee is 0.4% up to £250k. Dealing commissions £4.95 per online share trade, fund dealing is free.
With IG you can deal in over 13,000+ shares, funds and investment trusts with zero commission on US shares, and just £3 on UK shares1, with a foreign exchange fee of just 0.5%. You can also deal on a limited amount US shares while the market is closed
- Low £8 share dealing fee*
- UK & international shares
- Low account fee
- Derivatives products
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Saxo Markets: Best for experienced and professional investors
Saxo Markets’ platform has share dealing on more than 50 stock exchanges around the world with 22,000 shares available for investors. Making it one of the most diverse investment platforms for share dealing in the UK. Its forte is on the trading side for traders that need direct market access and are more price-sensitive to bid/offer spreads.
- Wide market access
- Excellent platform
- Low commissions of 0.10% or £8*
- High minimum deposit of £500
- More suited to high risk share dealing
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Interactive Brokers: Best for international investing
Interactive Brokers is an excellent account for sophisticated investors who want to manage their own portfolio with complex order types actively and need access to a wider range of investment products like derivatives, options, and futures. They also offer fractional share dealing if you only want to start trading a small amount.
- Excellent market coverage
- Advanced investment platform
- Low-cost share dealing of 0.05% or £1 minimum*
- No share dealing SIPP account
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Buying shares is essentially owning a piece of a company. When you buy a shares in a company, you buy a share and own part of that company, this is commonly known as investing in a company. That entitles you to receive a portion of a company’s profits through dividends and vote on how the company is run. Although in most cases, private investors buy shares as an investment in the hope that the price of the shares will rise so they can be sold for profit.
Shares are traded on stock exchanges such as the London Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. A stock exchange is essentially a market where buyers of shares connect with sellers. To place a trade, you need an account with an online share dealing platform (you can also use their mobile apps).
In the past, share dealing was quite expensive as the fees to place trades were high. However, over the last few decades, trading costs have fallen significantly due to advances in technology, and as a result, it’s now possible to buy and sell shares quite cheaply.
There are three main types of share dealing accounts, including:
- Execution only – these firms provide a platform to buy and sell shares for example:
- Advisory – these firms provide share dealing services along with investment advisory services like Bestinvest
- Discretionary – these firms manage your money and make trades on your behalf like a wealth manager.
Share dealing accounts tend to have many different fees and charges. The main charges to look out for include:
- Trading commissions. These are the fees that brokers charge to buy and sell shares. Typically, they range from around £7 to £12 per trade. However, some brokers offer lower trading commissions for those who trade often. Some also offer commission-free trading.
- FX fees. These are usually due on international share deals. FX fees on platforms such as Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell Youinvest are around 1% of the trade’s value.
- Annual custody fees. Share are a type of investment where there are also annual account fees that can vary significantly among brokers. Hargreaves Lansdown, for example, charges 0.45% per year, capped at £45 per year (£200 for SIPPs). By contrast, Freetrade has no fees for its basic General Investing Account.
- Entry/exit fees. Most providers do not charge these but some providers do.
- Tax – when you buy UK shares you pay 0.5% stamp duty,
When buying and selling shares, there are a few taxes to be aware of.
One is Capital Gains Tax (CGT). This is a tax that you can be required to pay when you sell or dispose of an asset for a profit.
Everyone in the UK has an annual Capital Gains Tax allowance. For the 2021-22 tax year, this is £12,300. This means that any gains realised under this amount incur no Capital Gains Tax. CGT is due on gains above this amount, however.
One way to minimise CGT liabilities is to buy shares within a Stocks & Shares ISA. In this kind of investment account, all capital gains are tax-free.
Another tax to be aware of is Stamp Duty. This is payable on most UK shares (no Stamp Duty is payable on AIM shares). Stamp Duty is 0.5% of the transaction value. So, for example, if you buy £2,000 worth of Lloyds Bank shares, you’re looking at a Stamp Duty of £10.
The key difference between share dealing and share trading is a time frame. Trading involves much shorter timeframes, where as share dealing is typically for buying shares in the long run.
- Investing is putting a sum of capital in the hope that the value of the company will increase over time
- Trading is a short-term operation that looks to profit from price changes
Moreover, trading is often geared, meaning traders will use derivative products such as options and CFD to magnify their returns.
It may feel like the easiest option is to open a normal investment account and start buying shares, but all beginners should consider opening a stocks and shares ISA as their first account. Buying shares in a stocks and shares ISA means that you do not have to pay tax on a certain amount of the profits you make. If you are only planning on dealing shares once, you may be able to buy shares through your mobile banking app.
Here are three of the best stock share dealing accounts for beginners that offer stocks and shares ISAs:
Here are seven investing rules to remember when buying shares for the first time
- Start with small sums. Learn how the whole game works before committing more funds.
- Diversify. Hold a few shares in different sectors. Consider gold and bonds too.
- Use stop losses. Not all investments will turn out great. Some are losers. Best to cut them before they do great damage to your portfolio.
- Think long term. Invest in companies that are building great operations and wealth over time.
- Understand your own emotions. When others are panicking and selling, it is often a good time to pick up shares. But can you do it?
- Avoid risky investments such as derivatives in the beginning because they are volatile.
- Don’t overtrade. Jumping from one investment to another quickly seldom works out well over the long run.
Investing is a long-term process. You learn along the way. You adjust your style and what works for you. A simple trick for beginners: every time you buy a stock, write down why. This often clarifies your thinking. When you buy it, write down the stop loss too. When you fail to stick to your plan, understand why.
Despite all these risks, the reward for investing in shares is huge. Many investors have made a fortune over the years, in many parts of the world. The most famous investor of all time is Warren Buffett, whose personal fortune is worth more than $90 billion.
- You can make money when share prices go up
- They are the cheapest way to buy shares online compared to physical shares or buying shares through your bank
- You can hold multiple investments in one place, such as UK shares, bonds, funds and ETFs
- Some share dealing accounts like stocks and shares ISAs are tax efficient where you do not pay tax on profits or income from dividends.
Investing in shares carries risk. You can lose money if share prices go down as investing in shares carries risk
Some companies will not survive over the long term. Some industries shrivel over time, thus limiting the growth prospect of all the companies in that sector. Other risk factors include:
- Companies will experience good and bad times. This will affect share prices.
- Industries contract due to technological changes.
- Poor management of the company
- Fraud and mis-statement of accounts
There are many examples of stock fraud, such as Enron.
Another risk of stock market investment comes from a lack of understanding about how markets work. Investors who buy at the wrong time will most likely lose a bundle.
Yes. Historically, shares have delivered excellent returns for investors over the long term.
There are two main ways of making money from shares. The first way is through increases in stock prices. If you buy a share and its price rises, you can sell it for a profit. For example, if you buy one Amazon share for $3,000 and Amazon’s share price rises to $3,500, you can sell it for a $500 profit (less trading commissions). This is known as generating a capital gain.
The second way you can make money from shares is through dividends. Dividends are cash payments that companies pay to their shareholders out of their profits. Not all companies pay dividends to investors but many well-established companies such as Unilever, Diageo, and GlaxoSmithKline do. Dividends can be a good way to generate passive income.
One of the easiest ways, however, is to simply invest in great companies for the long term. This is the approach that many top investors such as Warren Buffett and Terry Smith take.
The best shares to buy depend on one’s financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon.
Those who have a long-term investment horizon and are risk tolerant may wish to consider investing in growth stocks. Growth stocks are those whose underlying companies are growing faster than the market average. Examples of growth stocks include Amazon, Tesla, PayPal, and ASOS.
The advantage of investing in growth stocks is that they can generate very high returns. Tesla, for example, delivered a return of around 700% in 2020 alone. On the downside, growth stocks can be quite volatile at times. This means that there’s a higher chance of incurring losses in the short term.
Those looking for portfolio stability and/or passive income may wish to consider investing in dividend stocks. These are stocks that pay their shareholders’ regular dividends. Dividends are cash payments that are made to shareholders out of profits. Examples of dividend stocks include Unilever, Diageo, and Legal & General Group.
One advantage of investing in dividend stocks is that they offer two potential sources of return – capital gains and dividends. This means that it may still be possible to profit, even if share prices are falling. Another advantage is that they tend to be less volatile than growth stocks. The downside to investing in dividend stocks is that typically, they don’t generate high returns.
When building a share portfolio, it’s important to look outside the UK market and diversify internationally. While the UK stock market offers some excellent investment opportunities, it only represents around 4% of total global stock market investments, and many of the world’s most dominant companies such as Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon are listed overseas.
Further reading: What are the best UK shares to buy and trade in?
There is no difference between stocks and shares. They are the same thing. Although, shares are mainly and English term, whilst stocks is more American.
Yes. It is important to note that the price of shares can go up and down and there is no guarantee that just because a share has gone up in the past, it will continue to do so.
The most direct way to buy shares is via a share dealing platform, whose business is to transact share dealing efficiently for customers. If you don’t want to pick shares, it is best to buy an index fund with a wide basket of shares.
The main cost of buying shares is the shares themselves. However, there are three types of costs associated with buying shares:
- Account fee
- Stamp duty
A share dealing portfolio is the collection of stocks that you hold across your accounts. How you structure your portfolio will depend on your circumstances. For example:
- Cash flow – do you need cash out of the account every year?
- Budget – do you wish to invest regularly, say, adding a pot of money every six months? If the sum to invest is too small, watch out for fees that might eat up all your returns.
- Capital losses – what is your loss tolerance? If you dislike wild swings in your portfolio, sticking to more ‘boring’ sectors may be more appropriate.
- Knowledge – do you have a lot of knowledge in any particular area/sector that can be capitalised on? Sometimes, you can find great stocks while working in a niche area.
- Time to research – if you have no time to research companies, find someone else who knows.
The answers to these questions will set the broad perimeters of your stock investment operations.
If you do not want the hassle of picking shares or balancing your portfolios, you might be better off just buying a few ETFs that track the broad stock market, such as the FTSE 100 ETF (ISF) or S&P 500 ETF (SPY) or a managed portfolio through a robo-advisor.
With a share dealing account, you can:
- Place orders to buy and sell shares.
- Monitor your portfolio. You’ll be able to view all your holdings and your profit and loss figures.
- Access investment tools and research. Most platforms today offer some form of research, along with investment tools such as financial data and charts to help you make investment decisions. However, research and tools vary, depending on the provider.
Buying and selling shares through a share dealing account is typically quite straightforward. Every share dealing platform is slightly different, however.
To buy and sell shares, you will first need to fund your account. This can usually be done online through a card payment. Once your account is funded, you will have the ability to place trades.
Note that shares can only be bought and sold when the stock market is open. For UK shares, this is between 8:00am and 4:30pm. Overseas markets have different trading hours.
With most platforms, you simply search for the company that you would like to buy shares in (e.g. Lloyds Bank, BP, Amazon, Apple, etc.) and click through to its page. Here, you’ll receive a quote for the stock.
Then, it’s a matter of entering the trade details, such as the number of shares you want to buy, and confirming the trade. Once the deal is completed, you’ll receive a contract note with all the details of the trade.
For example, let’s say you want to buy Lloyds Bank shares through Hargreaves Lansdown. The first step is to search for Lloyds Bank and then click through to its page.
Then, you hit ‘deal’ and enter the trade details.
Once you have entered the trade details, you click on ‘Place a deal’.
The easiest way to sell shares is through an online broker. Through this type of broker, you can sell shares in minutes. The costs associated with selling shares through an online broker are generally very low.
There are a number of reasons people sell shares. You may want to consider selling a stock if:
- You have made a significant gain from it and you would like to bank the profit.
- The stock’s valuation has risen to an excessive level.
- Your investment thesis has changed and the outlook for the stock is no longer as attractive as it was in the past.
- You need to rebalance your portfolio.
- You need the money from the investment or will need it in the near future.
It’s important to remember that shares are a long-term investment. Most financial experts recommend that you hold shares for at least five years. Generally speaking, the longer you hold your shares for, the better the chance of generating good returns.
In simple terms, it goes to the person who sells it to you. However, the process is more complicated as the stock exchanges provide an anonymous matching service known as the order book, where buyers and sellers can buy and sell shares anonymously. When you buy shares, you pay your money to your stock broker, who pays it to the exchange, who pays it to the stockbrokers of the sale of the shares, who pays it to the seller.
Through a share dealing platform, you can buy shares from companies in almost any country in the world. However, the majority of shares that UK investors will buy are listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Most banks will provide a stock brokerage service. However, you will not be automatically signed up to it and will have to open a stockbroking account like with any other providers. There are some circumstances where buying and selling shares through your bank may be useful. For example, probate issues, or selling an old certificated share.
Share dealing involves buying and selling shares. Shares are investments that represent ownership in a company. When you buy a share, you become a part-owner of the underlying company and are entitled to a share of its profits.
CFD trading, by contrast, involves betting on the movements of share prices via Contracts for Difference (CFDs). CFDs are financial instruments that enable traders to profit from a stock’s price movements without actually owning the underlying stock. With CFDs, you can trade in both directions and also use leverage to increase your exposure.
CFD trading is much riskier than share dealing, particularly if high levels of leverage are involved. With leveraged CFD trading, even small price movements to the downside can lead to large losses.
Different types of shares exist for you to invest in. The two most common ones are:
- Ordinary shares – part-owner of the company with a vote in company matters, like compensation, merger and acquisition.
- Preference shares – owners receive dividends ahead of ordinary shareholders. Typically, preference shares carry no voting rights.
Normally, you would buy ordinary (common) shares.
Yes, you can buy commodity ETFs, which track the price of a commodity like gold.
You need a stockbroker to buy shares online.
The stock markets are most liquid around the opening and closing bells. This is when the most deals are done, which means there is more liquidity, which reduces the bid-offer spread, giving better prices.
With investing, it is generally considered a good approach to start as soon as you can. The longer you are invested in the market by buying shares, the greater your chances of increasing your gains over the long term are.
In theory, yes, but the price you pay for that share may well be less than the commission and costs of buying it.
The fastest way to buy shares is through a stockbroker that provides direct market access (DMA).
No, individuals cannot buy shares directly on the stock exchanges without a broker.
We have written a guide based on the best stocks for UK trading.
If you want to buy shares in a specific company, you first need to check that the company in question is listed on a stock exchange. The main stock exchange in the UK is the London Stock Exchange and consists of over 1,000 stocks from 100 countries. There are small exchanges such as the AIM Market, which has around 850 companies worth over £104 billion.
Once you have chosen a company listed on the London Stock Exchange to buy shares in, you need an account with a stock broker to help with the purchase.
Yes, we provide a list of trading signals that may indicate that a UK share is worth buying, including:
- Shares that have recently had a daily breakout
- Shares that have recently climaxed (either at the top or bottom of a range)
- Shares that have recently displayed a “hi-lo” pole
- Shares with an overextended point and figure spike or tail
- Shares that have a short or medium-term reversal signal
- Shares with a recent moving average crossover
- Shares that are trading at 52-week highs
- Shares that a trading a 52-week lows