Good Money Guide Home > Compare UK Stock Brokers

Stock brokers let you buy and sell stocks and shares on the markets and the best brokers will do so quickly, more cheaply than their competitors and while securely protecting your details. Compare stock brokers in the UK to choose the best online broker for investing in stocks. We only show FCA regulated brokers.

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Interactive Investor

General Account: Yes
SIPP: Yes
ISA: Yes
Derivatives: No
UK Shares: Yes
US Shares: Yes
Funds: Yes
ETFs: Yes
Account Fee: £9.99
Regular: £7.99
Discount: £3.99
US Shares: £4.99
See Offer

Hargreaves Lansdown

General Account: Yes
SIPP: Yes
ISA: Yes
Derivatives: No
UK Shares: Yes
US Shares: Yes
Funds: Yes
ETFs: Yes
Account Fee: £0
Regular: £11.95
Discount: £5.95
US Shares: £11.95
See Offer

Saxo Capital Markets

General Account: Yes
SIPP: Yes
ISA: Yes
Derivatives: Yes
UK Shares: Yes
US Shares: Yes
Funds: No
ETFs: Yes
Account Fee: £0
Regular: 0.10%
Discount: 0.05%
US Shares: 2c per share
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IG

General Account: Yes
SIPP: Yes
ISA: Yes
Derivatives: Yes
UK Shares: Yes
US Shares: Yes
Funds: No
ETFs: Yes
Account Fee: £0
Regular: £8
Discount: £3
US Shares: £0
See Offer
Your capital is at risk.

DEGIRO

General AccountShares
Funds
ETFs
Bonds
International Shares
Futures
Options
Account Fee: 0
Dealing charge: From £ 1.75 + 0.014% max £5
US Shares: € 0.50 + USD 0.004 per share
Exit Fees: £0
See Offer
Investing involves risk of loss

AJ Bell Youinvest

General Account: Yes
SIPP: Yes
ISA: Yes
Derivatives: No
UK Shares: Yes
US Shares: Yes
Funds: Yes
ETFs: Yes
Account Fee: 0.25% yearly
Dealing charge: From £1.50 per online deal
Discount: £4.95 for shares, where there were 10 or more online share deals in the previous month
US Shares: £9.95 plus FX charges
See Offer
What's in this guide to comparing stock brokers? show

How to Find a Good Stock Broker

A stock broker is a type of investment platform that executes share transactions on behalf of clients.

Stock broking has changed a lot over the last few decades due to advances in technology. Today, most stock brokers operate online. Yet the process of buying and selling shares is broadly the same as it was in the past – you place a trade with your broker and the broker then executes the transaction for you.

When choosing a stock broker, there are a number of things to consider. In this guide, we look at what you should consider when comparing brokers, and highlight some of the best UK stock brokers for different types of investors.

What is a stock broker?

A stock broker is a firm that buys and sells shares for clients and then holds the shares in investment accounts on behalf of the clients.

Shares are investments that represent ownership in companies. They are traded on stock exchanges such as the London Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. Stock brokers essentially act as an intermediary between investors and the world’s stock exchanges.

Without a stock broker, you have very limited options when it comes to buying and selling shares.

What does a stock broker do?

A stock broker’s basic role is to execute share transactions for clients. However, in some cases, stock brokers go beyond the standard trade execution role and offer extra services. For example, some brokers provide advice on which stocks to buy and sell and how to build an investment portfolio.

Broadly speaking, there are three main types of stock broker:

Execution only

  • Execution-only stock brokers only provide basic share dealing services and do not offer any investment advice.

Advisory

  • Advisory stock brokers provide share dealing services and also provide advice on what shares to buy and sell.

Discretionary

  • Discretionary stock brokers manage your money for you and make trades on your behalf.

Most stock brokers charge commissions for executing trades as well as annual custody fees for holding your money in an account.

Here is how to invest in stocks online.

How are stock brokers regulated?

Almost all firms offering financial services in the UK must be registered with and authorised by the UK’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

When a stock broker is regulated by the FCA, it is bound by the regulator’s rules and regulations. This provides you with a certain level of protection. For example, FCA-regulated platforms are required to hold clients’ assets and investments separately from their own assets. Similarly, clients’ cash must be held in trust accounts with authorised UK banks. This can protect you if the stock broker goes bust.

If an FCA-regulated provider becomes insolvent, and you suffer a financial loss as a result, you will be protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000.

You should never use a UK stock broker that is not regulated by the FCA. If you trade with an unregulated broker, you are taking a major risk with your money. You can find out if a firm is authorised by the FCA on the FCA Register here.

At Good Money Guide, we only review stock brokers that are authorised and regulated by the FCA. This means that they are duty-bound to protect clients’ money and follow trading and investing regulations.

For more information on the importance of regulation read our guide to investment scams.

How to choose the best stock broker

The best stock broker for you will depend on your personal circumstances and requirements. For example, if you are new to investing, you may need a stock broker that offers basic educational resources and good customer support. However, if you are a more advanced investor, you may need a broker that offers access to many different markets as well as sophisticated investment and trading tools.

Some things to consider when comparing stock brokers include:

Market Access

  • The range of shares offered by each broker. This is particularly important if you plan to invest in international shares. Some brokers only offer access to a limited range of international markets.

Account Types

Research & Added Value

  • The investment tools and research provided by each stock broker. Some brokers offer a range of features that can help you make better investment decisions such as stock screeners, fundamental data sets, and charts. Others, however, just offer basic trading services.

Usability

  • The user-friendliness of each broker’s platform. Ideally, you want a platform that is well laid out, easy to use, and can be accessed via an app so that you can monitor your account and place trades on the go.

Customer Service & Reviews

  • The customer service and support offered by each stock broker. Some brokers are better than others when it comes to providing customer support. Service and support can be important, particularly if you are new to investing. You may need help placing a trade.

Reliability

  • The reliability of each broker’s platform. Some platforms are more reliable than others, particularly during periods of market volatility. This shouldn’t be overlooked as it can be very frustrating if you cannot access your investment account because the platform is down.

Costs & Fees

  • The fee structure of each broker. Every stock broker has a different fee structure. This needs to be considered carefully because fees and charges can have a big impact on your overall investment returns over time. Some fees and charges to consider include trading commissions, annual custody charges, entry fees, and exit fees. Some brokers offer fee calculators that allow you to compare fees. These can be useful when comparing platforms. The cheapest stock broker is not necessarily the best option for you.

Trustworthiness

  • The trustworthiness of each platform. It’s important to find a stock broker that you can trust. A good place to start is to check that the broker is regulated by the FCA.

It’s a good idea to check user reviews of a few different firms when comparing different stock brokers. You can find stock broker reviews on Good Money Guide and on other review sites such as Trustpilot. Customer reviews will give you a better idea of the broker’s customer service levels and reliability.

What is the best stock trading platform?

In the UK, there are a number of excellent trading platforms available today. The best trading platform for you will depend on a range of factors including the type of shares you wish to trade (UK vs international), how often you plan to trade, the size of your account, and the tools and research you require.

Three top trading platforms to consider include:

Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown is one of the most popular stock brokers in the UK. It won the 2021 Good Money Guide award for Best Full-Service Stock Broker.

Some of the advantages of using Hargreaves Lansdown for trading shares are:

  • You have access to shares in over 20 markets.
  • You can buy and sell shares in several different types of accounts including a Fund and Share Account (this is a general investment account), a Stocks & Shares ISA, and a Lifetime ISA.
  • The website and app are reliable and easy to use.
  • The platform provides access to plenty of investment tools and research.
  • Customer service is excellent.

On the downside, Hargreaves Lansdown’s fees are higher than those of some other providers.

With Hargreaves Lansdown, fees to place share trades are:

  • £11.95 per trade if you made 0 to 9 deals in the previous month
  • £8.95 per trade if you made 10 to 19 deals in the previous month
  • £5.95 per trade if you made 20+ deals in the previous month

Hargreaves Lansdown’s annual account charges for those who own shares are 0.45%. This is capped at £45 per year (£200 for SIPP accounts).

Other fees include:

  • Stamp duty on the purchase of UK shares
  • Telephone share dealing costs
  • FX fees on the purchase of international shares

Interactive Investor

Interactive Investor is a low-cost investment provider that offers investors access to over 40,000 shares. It won the 2021 Good Money Guide award for Best Investment Account.

Some of the advantages of using Interactive Investor for share dealing are:

  • You have access to shares in over 20 markets.
  • You can buy and sell shares in several different types of accounts including a Trading Account and a Stocks & Shares ISA.
  • It offers an excellent app that allows you to trade shares and monitor your account on the go.
  • There’s a flat-fee structure. This means it can be cost-effective for those with larger balances.

On the downside, Interactive Investor doesn’t offer the same amount of tools and research as Hargreaves Lansdown.

In terms of fees and charges, Interactive Investor offers three different service plans. These are:

  • The monthly fee for this plan is £9.99
  • Funds Fan. The monthly fee for this plan is £13.99
  • Super Investor. The monthly fee for this plan is £19.99

Share dealing fees depend on which service plan you choose. For the Investor plan, trading costs are £7.99 for UK shares, ETFs, index funds, investment trusts, open-ended funds and US shares, and £19.99 for other international shares.

For the Funds Fan plan, fees are similar to the Investor plan but lower for fund and investment trust trades (£3.99).

For the Super Investor plan, trading costs are £3.99 for UK shares, ETFs, funds, and investment trusts, £4.99 for US shares, and £9.99 for other international shares.

Other fees include:

  • Stamp duty on the purchase of UK shares
  • Telephone share dealing costs
  • FX fees on the purchase of international shares

Freetrade

Freetrade is a relatively new company that now has over 700,000 customers. It offers a ‘freemium’ share dealing service meaning that basic share dealing services are free but you can pay for extra features. Freetrade won the 2021 Good Money Guide award for Best Commission-Free Stock Broker.

Some of the advantages of trading shares with Freetrade are:

  • You can trade UK and international shares commission-free (there are FX fees on international shares).
  • You have the option of trading shares within a General Investment Account or a Stocks & Shares ISA.
  • You can buy ‘fractional shares.’ A fractional share is a fraction of one share.
  • You can earn interest on your cash with a Freetrade Plus account.
  • The platform is easy to use.
  • It offers a sleek app that allows you trade shares and monitor your portfolio on the go.

On the downside, Freetrade doesn’t offer access to as many shares as other platforms such as Hargreaves Lansdown and Interactive Investor do. It also offers far less research and investment tools than other providers do.

With Freetrade, it’s free to trade shares. However, you do need to pay FX fees (spot rate + 0.45%) if you want to trade international shares.

There are no annual account fees for Freetrade General Investment Accounts. However, there are annual account fees for Freetrade Plus accounts and Stocks & Shares ISA accounts. These are £9.99 per month and £3 per month respectively.

What is the best stock trading app?

In recent years, stock trading apps have become very popular. These apps allow you to monitor your portfolio and make trades on the go via devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Stock trading apps can vary in quality. The best apps are:

  • Well laid out and easy to use
  • Able to provide access to most account features
  • Able to provide access to financial data so that you can make well-informed investment decisions
  • Highly secure with two-factor authentication and/or biometric login features
  • Reliable and free of bugs
  • Available on multiple devices

Three top UK stock trading apps include:

Hargreaves Lansdown (App Store rating: 4.7)

Hargreaves Lansdown offers a high-quality investing app that enables you to:

  • Buy and sell thousands of investments including domestic and international shares, bonds, ETFs and investment trusts, and over 3,000 funds
  • Manage your investments and view your transaction history
  • Top up and withdraw cash on the go
  • Login with fingerprint or Face ID
  • Access fund and share factsheets
  • Create watchlists
  • Track market movements
  • Access research from Hargreaves Lansdown’s investment experts
  • Set stop and limit orders

On the downside, Hargreaves Lansdown’s fees and charges are higher than those offered by some other providers.

AJ Bell Youinvest (App Store rating: 4.7)

AJ Bell Youinvest offers a well-designed, easy-to-use app that allows you to:

  • Trade shares on the go
  • Access shares in 24 markets including the US, Canada, and most European markets
  • View and check the value of your portfolio
  • View all your current active trades
  • Track market movements
  • Read and send secure messages

On the downside, AJ Bell Youinvest doesn’t offer as many investment options as Hargreaves Lansdown.

Freetrade (App Store rating: 4.5)

Freetrade app offers a sleek, easy-to-use app that allows you to buy and sell shares commission-free. With this app, you can:

  • Access almost 3,000 shares and funds (Freetrade Plus offers access to more securities)
  • Invest in UK stocks, US stocks, ETFs and investment trusts
  • Manage your investments on the go
  • Top up and withdraw cash
  • Create watchlists
  • See your account activity
  • Open a Stocks and Shares ISA
  • Buy fractional shares
  • Create limit and stop-loss orders (with a Freetrade Plus account)

On the downside, this platform is quite basic. It may not contain all the tools and options that experienced traders require.

What is the best stock broker for beginners?

Some stock brokers are better suited to beginner investors than others. Generally speaking, those that are new to investing need a broker that offers basic educational resources, good customer support, and low fees.

In the UK, there are a number of stock brokers that are well suited to beginners. These include:

Freetrade

Freetrade offers a ‘freemium’ share dealing service meaning that basic share dealing services are free but you can pay for extra features. The company won the 2021 Good Money Guide award for Best Commission-Free Stock Broker.

Some reasons that Freetrade is well suited to beginners are:

  • You can trade UK and international shares commission-free (there are FX fees on international shares).
  • You can buy ‘fractional shares.’ A fractional share is a fraction of one share.
  • The platform is easy to use.
  • It offers a good app that allows you trade shares and monitor your portfolio on the go.

On the downside, Freetrade doesn’t offer access to as many shares as some other platforms do. It also offers far less research and investment tools than other providers do.

Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown is the most popular online stock broker in the UK. It won the 2021 Good Money Guide award for Best Full-Service Stock Broker.

Some reasons that Hargreaves Lansdown is well suited to beginners are:

  • Buying and selling shares through its platform is straightforward.
  • The platform provides access to plenty of educational resources.
  • Customer service is excellent.
  • The website and app are reliable and easy to use.

On the downside, Hargreaves Lansdown’s fees are higher than those of some other providers.

What is the best stock broker for low-value investments?

If you are only investing a small amount of money, it’s important to find a stock broker that has low fees and charges.

One of the best low-cost UK stock brokers is Freetrade. With Freetrade, you can buy shares commission-free (there are FX fees on international shares). You can also buy ‘fractional’ shares. Freetrade won the 2021 Good Money Guide award for Best Commission-Free Stock Broker.

On the downside, Freetrade’s range of investments is quite limited compared to other brokers. It also offers far less research and investment tools than other providers do.

Which brokers offer MT4 and MT5 stocks?

MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT 5) are electronic trading platforms that are widely used by traders. With these platforms, you can analyse financial markets, perform technical analysis, set up trading signals, and automate your trading with algorithms.

In the UK, a number of brokers offer access to MT4 and MT5 including IG, CMC Markets, and FxPro. It’s worth pointing out, however, that CMC and FxPro specialise in Contracts for Difference (CFD) trading or financial spread betting. You cannot buy shares directly through these platforms.

Where can you find stock broker reviews?

When comparing stock brokers to find the best one for you, it’s a good idea to check user reviews of a few different brokers. Customer reviews will give you a better idea of the broker’s customer service levels and reliability.

You can find stock broker reviews on Good Money Guide and on other review sites such as Trustpilot.

How to switch to a different stock broker

Switching to a different stock broker is usually quite a straightforward process.

The first step is to contact the broker you wish to switch to and apply to transfer your investments. This usually involves completing a form. The new stock broker will then contact your old provider and begin the transfer.

The transfer time will depend on a few variables including the providers you are using and the nature of your investments. Some providers are more efficient than others when it comes to handling transfers.

Can you move stocks from one broker to another?

Often, you can transfer your shares and investments directly from one broker to another. Transferring an investment directly is known as an ‘in-specie’ transfer. Not all providers allow you to do this, however. For example, Freetrade does not currently support in-specie transfers out although it does support in-specie transfers in.

How do you start trading stocks?

The first step is to open an account with a reputable stock broker. This is usually a relatively straightforward process. You will need to provide the broker with your personal details including your name, address, and phone number. You will most likely have to provide some identification and proof of address.

You will also need to choose what kind of investment account you wish to trade shares in. In the UK, you can trade stocks within a number of different types of investment accounts including a:

General Investing Account

  • A general investing account is a standard dealing account. With this type of account, you can contribute as much money as you want and access your money whenever you want. The downside to this type of account is that it will offer no protection from Capital Gains Tax or Income Tax.

Stocks & Shares ISA

  • A stocks & shares ISA is a tax-efficient product that shelters capital gains and income from HMRC. You can invest up to £20,000 per year in this type of account.

Lifetime ISA

  • A Lifetime ISA is a tax-efficient product designed to help people save for retirement or to purchase their first home. It is open to those aged 18-39. Contributions into this type of account come with a 25% bonus while you’re under the age of 50. The annual allowance is £4,000.

Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP)

  • Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). This is a government-approved personal pension account. With this type of account, capital gains and income are sheltered from HMRC. However, you cannot touch the money until you turn 55 and it is subject to income tax upon withdrawal.

Once your account is set up, the next step is to fund it. Again, this should be a relatively simple process. Usually, you can fund your account via your debit card in a matter of minutes. Once the transaction has been authorised, your funds will show up in your account. Once your account is set up and funded, you can then set about trading stocks.

While every platform is different, most operate in a similar way. To buy shares, for example, you simply search the platform for the company you’re interested in and then click through to the company’s page. Here, you’ll receive a quote for the security. You then enter the trade details (i.e. how much money you want to invest) and confirm the transaction.

Different types of investing with a stock broker

Before you start trading stocks, it’s a good idea to think about your financial goals and risk tolerance and develop an appropriate investment strategy. Some of the main investment strategies that are commonly pursued by stock market investors include:

Growth Investing

  • Growth investing involves investing in companies that are expected to grow faster than the market average. Growth stocks can offer high potential returns, however, they can also be quite volatile, which means that they can be riskier.

Value Investing

  • Value investing involves investing in companies that are trading at a discount to their true value. The idea is that if a stock is trading below its true value, it’s undervalued, and, therefore, may rise over time.

Sustainable Investing

  • Sustainable investing: this involves investing in companies that meet environment, social and governance (ESG) criteria. Sustainable investors often avoid stocks in sectors such as oil, tobacco, and defence.

Dividend & Income Investing

  • Dividend (income) investing involves investing in companies that pay regular dividends. Dividend investing is popular among retirees and those looking to generate passive income.

Small-cap investing

  • Small-cap investing: this involves investing in small companies. Smaller companies often produce higher returns than larger companies over time, however, their stocks are generally more volatile than those of larger companies.

These investment strategies are not mutually exclusive. It’s possible to combine a number of different strategies. Which strategy is best for you will depend on a number of factors including your financial goals and risk tolerance.

What is the best company to invest in?

The best companies to invest in will depend on your financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon.

If your goal is to generate growth over the long term from shares, it can pay to invest in high-quality companies in the same way that top investors like Warren Buffett and Terry Smith do.

High-quality companies come in different shapes and sizes, however, they tend to have a few things in common including:

  • An excellent product or service
  • A competitive advantage that prevents competitors from stealing market share
  • Strong long-term growth prospects
  • A high level of profitability
  • A strong balance sheet
  • Good management

When investing in shares, it’s important to take a diversified approach. By spreading your money over many different companies, you can reduce your overall portfolio risk significantly.

How do I get a stock broker to sell my shares?

Selling your shares through a stock broker is typically a straightforward process. All you need to do is place an order detailing the stock you wish to sell and the number of shares you wish to sell. The shares will then be sold.

Most stock brokers allow you to set up ‘limit orders’ when selling stocks. With a limit order, you can state the minimum price you wish to sell at.

What are the different types of stock trading available?

There are two main ways of trading stocks.

Physical share dealing

The first way is to buy and sell individual shares through a stock broker such as Hargreaves Lansdown, Interactive Investor, or Freetrade.

Derivaitives trading

The second way is to trade stock price movements via Contracts for Difference (CFDs). CFDs are financial instruments that enable you to profit from a security’s price movements without actually owning the underlying security. With CFDs, you can trade in both directions and also use leverage to increase your exposure. Brokers that offer CFD trading include IG, CMC Markets, and Saxo Markets.

How much do stock brokers charge?

Fees and charges vary from broker to broker. The main charges to look out for include:

Trading commission

  • Trading commissions 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, such as Freetrade, also offer commission-free trading.

Foreign exchange fees

  • 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.

Custody charges

  • Annual custody fees are annual account fees and they 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 entry or exit fees these day but some providers do. Exit fees are charged when you move your shares or funds from one stock broker to another.

There are many cheap stock brokers today, however, the cheapest provider is not always the best option. Those that have higher fees tend to offer more reliable platforms, more investment options, better customer service, and more tools and research.

How does a stock broker make money?

Stock brokers make money in several ways including:

  • Trading fees. Most brokers charge commissions to buy and sell shares.
  • Trading spreads. A spread is the difference between the price to buy the stock and the price to sell the stock.
  • Annual or monthly account fees.
  • Interest on clients’ cash savings.
  • Payment for order flow.

Stock broker FAQs

Can you invest in the stock market without a broker?

It is sometimes possible to invest in the stock market without a broker. For example, if you participate in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) or dividend reinvestment plan, you may not need a broker to buy shares.

How do stock brokers execute trades?

Stock brokers in the UK typically execute trades through the Retail Service Provider (RSP) network. The RSP network facilitates the interaction of retail brokers and market makers / liquidity providers.

When you place a trade through a broker, the broker sends an electronic request for a price quote to a pool of market makers. These market makers then return quotes to the broker who selects the best price. You then have a period of up to 30 seconds to decide whether to accept the quote.

How to sell stock certificates without a broker

You can sell stock certificates without a broker by using a certified share dealing service. A number of companies offer this, including Shareview.

Where to sell stock certificates without a broker

You can sell stock certificates through Equiniti's Shareview service. Equiniti is a British outsourcing business that is focused on financial and administration services. Its Shareview feature offers one-off trading for share certificates without setting up an account. Shareview Dealing allows you to sell share certificates for a one-off fee in all companies where Equiniti is the registrar.

What is a stock broker conviction buy?

A ‘conviction buy’ stock is a stock that a stock broker believes will produce good returns for investors. Stock brokers put conviction buy ratings on stocks that they believe will outperform the market.

What happens when a stock broker closes?

When you invest with a regulated stock broker, your assets are kept separate from the broker’s own assets. This means that if the broker goes bankrupt, your assets will be protected (although there may be a delay in getting them back).

If a stock broker is taken over by another company, your shares will usually be transferred onto the new company’s platform.

Where can you find a private stock broker?

While most stock brokers today are based online, you can still find private client stock brokers that offer more traditional services. You can find private client brokers by searching online.

How are stock investment gains taxed?

Stock investment gains are subject to 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.

Do stock brokers contact HMRC about share payments?

Generally speaking, stock brokers do not contact HMRC about share payments. It is up to you to declare these payments to HMRC.

About The Author

Investing Guides


Our expert guides on investing are designed to provide an overview and in-depth look at the various different ways to invest and who they are most appropriate for.