Best Online Trading Platform UK for 2020
Finding the best online trading platform is important for any UK based investor. Our analysis of the best trading platforms is based on a variety of factors. These include: fees, platform, regulation, safety, customer support to name a few. We analyzed variables by importance to find the best online broker.
We spent hours researching different online trading platforms in the UK to help you focus on making the best trading decisions.
Best Trading Platform UK
Here are the best trading platforms in the UK for 2020.
- Avatrade – Best Online Trading Platform Overall
- eToro – Best Social Trading Platform
- Plus500 – Best For Experienced Traders
- Swissquote – Best Specialized Services
- Interactive Brokers – Best for Advanced Traders
- Pepperstone – Low Trading and Non-Trading Fees
- XTB – Well Rounded Offering
- IG – Easy to Use Online Trading Platform
Best Trading Platform Overall
AvaTrade is a CFD and forex broker with more than 10 years in business offering its financial instruments for more than 200,000 active customers around the world.
The company is based in the British Virgin Islands. It is authorised and regulated by various tier-1 jurisdictions including the Central Bank of Ireland, the ASIC (Australia), and the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA).
Its portfolio of CFDs includes 20 stock indexes, 630 individual shares, and 5 ETFs.
Only $100 are required to open an account with this broker and the cost of trading with AvaTrade is a bit higher than the average for both CFDs and forex. However, all costs considered, their pricing is very competitive.
Best for Social Trading
eToro is a world leading social trading platform that offers zero-commission trades for stock and ETFs for clients in the UK, which makes it a great broker for UK residents seeking to invest in a wide range of companies around the world.
Best for Experienced Traders
Plus500 is a publicly-traded company listed in the LSE and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which makes it one of the safest brokers if you want to start online trading in the UK. This trading platform only allows traders to buy and sell shares via CFDs, which means you will not hold the underlying shares if you trade with this broker.
Best Specialized Services
Swissquote is an online trading platform headquartered in Switzerland and backed by a Swiss bank called Swissquote Bank, which is an important element that backs the credibility of this brokerage firm compared to others.
Best For Advanced Traders
Interactive Brokers is among the best online brokers for advanced day traders and it is among the biggest discount brokers in the industry. The company was founded more than 20 years ago and has gained a solid reputation in the investment community by providing a wide range of financial instruments for traders around the world.
Low Trading Fees
Pepperstone is a CFD-only trading platform that offers investors the possibility of trading with a limited selection of forex pairs, stocks, and cryptocurrencies at a lower cost compared to its peers.
Well Rounded Offering
XTB is one of the best UK CFD brokers and it is a publicly-traded company listed in the Warsaw Stock Exchange and regulated by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF). This CFD online broker is best known for charging low trading fees for stock index CFDs and for requiring a low initial deposit of $250.
Easy to Use Platform
IG is one of the biggest CFD brokers in the world and it is considered a safe broker due to a 50-year long history in the financial industry. IG is regulated by financial conduct authority – FCA (UK) along with other various top-tier regulators . Additionally, this company is a publicly-traded business listed in the LSE as IGG.
Why should you read this guide?
Picking the right stockbroker is an important step for any UK trader considering that all your trades will be conducted using their interface and services provided by this firm.
Additionally, if this will be your first time trading stocks you should probably understand what kind of services your brokerage firm will be providing and what you should expect after you sign up and deposit your money.
However, considering the large number of brokers available in the UK, the task of picking a online trading platform may seem overwhelming and that is why you should consider reading this entire guide so you can have a broader perspective of what each of these brokers has to offer and which of them appears to be the best suited for your needs.
What you should look for when picking a stock broker in the UK?
Picking the right share trading account is important for trading in the UK, no matter your experience.
Depending on which broker you choose, there are many variables that come into play. Look for the following when trying to find the best trading platforms:
- Available stocks – each broker has a specific list of stocks and shares that you are allowed to trade depending on their coverage and the degree of access they provide to global exchanges. Additionally, some brokers do not offer the possibility to buy shares directly, as you can only trade them via CFDs, which are financial contracts that do not entitle the holder to any kind of ownership of the underlying shares.
- Margin accounts and leverage – a margin account allows you to take on debt to trade UK shares online and the level of leverage offered by each broker may be different, so you should make sure the brokerage firm you chose offers you leverage ratios you are looking for.
- Customer support – customer support is something you don’t think you need until you run into an issue. For that reason, the best trading platforms offer top-notch customer service to address any issue investors may face during their journey.
- Types of orders – having various types of trade orders available is a positive feature, as it allows you to prevent losses and lock in profits by using certain price points at which you can exit a given position.
- Security – your money and your personal information should be safe from unauthorised accesses and you should make sure your broker has a positive track record in this particular topic.
- Research tools – you may not wake up with the best trading idea every single day and that’s when research tools become an advantage. Your broker should offer at least certain tools for you to understand what’s going on in the markets and how you can profit from the situation.
- Education & training materials – the availability of educational material from your online brokerage firm can be a great asset to help you in improving your skills and ultimately the profitability of your trades.
- Costs – each brokerage firm has its own platform fees and commission structure and you should understand how much you will be paying every time you buy shares and stocks.
- Interface and ease of use – you will spend a lot of time in front of your computer screen analyzing charts and looking at different kinds of information before and after you make your trades. For that reason, a user-friendly interface is an important feature your broker should be able to offer to trade stocks online.
- Mobile app – smartphones have revolutionized the world and the online trading industry as well. Any broker that earns a fee should be able to provide a decent mobile app for traders to be able to buy and sell shares online on the go.
- Extra features – each online stock broker has its own way to present itself to traders as the ‘best’. They often do this by introducing some convenient features their competitors do not offer.
#1 - AvaTrade - Best Overall
AVA Trade EU Ltd was founded in 2006 and provides CFD and forex trading services. AvaTrade offers a wide variety of asset classes including:
- Stock Indexes
The firm is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and their holding company is registered at the British Virgin Islands. They are ranked as the best trading platform and are serving more than 200,000 active investors and executing approximately 2 million trade orders per month.
AvaTrade features a straightforward account opening process and the possibility to use third-party online trading platforms such as Meta Trader. There are no deposit or withdrawal fees. It is possible to open a demo account and test the platform.
What can you trade?
There are a variety of financial assets available through CFDs.
The portfolio of CFDs available on AvaTrade include:
- 630 individual stock CFDs.
- 20 stock index CFDs.
- 2 Bonds CFDs.
- 5 ETF CFDs.
- 17 Commodity CFDs.
Avatrade also offers 56 currency pairs along with 17 cryptocurrencies.
Avatrade lowered their fees in November 2019, making it one of the most competitive online trading platforms. The inactivity fee is charged if the user doesn’t log into the trading account for 3 months ($50 per quarter).
- Authorised and Regulated by many top-tier authorities
- Great charting and trading tools
- Great fees when considering all costs
- AVA Trade EU Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland (No.C53877)
- AVA Trade Ltd is regulated by the B.V.I Financial Services Commission (No. SIBA/L/13/1049)
- Serving over 200,000 clients across the globe
- Social trading available
- Five Currencies Available
- No minimum withdrawal amount
- One of the Best Trading Mobile App (AvaTradeGO)
- No 24/7 support available
- Limited customization for the web-based platform
#2 - eToro - Best Social Trading Platform
eToro is a world leading social trading broker that offers zero-commission trades for stock and ETFs for clients in the UK, which makes it a great broker for UK residents seeking to invest in a wide range of markets.
Additionally, this online broker has a very user-friendly trading interface, which makes it especially attractive for beginners who may not be used to more complex trading environments such as those featured by Meta Trader or other advanced trading platforms.
The social-media like environment provided by eToro’s interface allows traders within the platform to connect with each other to exchange ideas, experiences, and even copy their portfolios by using a tool known as Copy Trader.
What can you trade?
eToro allows traders to buy shares and sell shares of thousands of companies around the world listed in 17 different exchanges including the New York Exchange, the London Exchange, and the Frankfurt Exchange.
Additionally, eToro offers:
- 173 exchange-traded funds
eToro charges no stock fees or commissions for trading shares and ETFs. However, other fees may apply including inactivity fees and overnight fees.
Stocks and shares can be traded directly or they can also be traded via CFDs. eToro’s fees for CFDs are relatively low compared to other online trading platforms.
- eToro is regulated by various tier-1 jurisdictions including the United Kingdom (Financial Conduct Authority) and Australia (Australian Securities and Investments Commission).
- You can open an share dealing account with eToro in a few minutes by registering online.
- No stock trading or ETF fees apply.
- The minimum amount required to open an eToro trading account is $200.
- The social trading feature is an asset for inexperienced traders who can copy the portfolio of other traders while they start learning how to make trades on their own.
- eToro has 13 years of positive track record.
- eToro’s trading platform is one of the most user-friendly in the industry and it features more than 70 charting tools.
- eToro does not charge deposit fees.
- Research tools provided by this broker are fairly limited.
- Educational materials provided by eToro are limited to platform tutorials and a FAQ section.
- A $5 platform fee applies to each withdrawal and there’s a minimum amount of $30 per withdrawal.
#3 - Plus500 - Best For Experienced Traders
Plus500 is a publicly-traded company listed in the London Stock Exchange and regulated by the FCA, which makes it one of the best brokers if you want to start trading in the UK.
This trading platform only allows traders to buy shares and sell shares via CFDs, which means you will not hold the underlying shares if you trade with this broker.
One of the advantages of trading by using CFDs is that you can leverage your positions to boost your returns, even though that carries significant risk.
In this regard, Plus500 allows traders in the UK to apply for a Pro Account if they want to access higher levels of leverage, which are otherwise inaccessible for retail accounts.
What can you trade?
Plus500 offers CFDs on over 2000 financial instruments including:
Plus500 doesn’t charge commissions or fees as they benefit from the spread in the price of the underlying asset. This spread varies from one instrument to the other, which makes it difficult to calculate the actual cost of online trading with this trading platform.
The average spread for the S&P500 is 0.45 while the spread for the Europe 50 index is 1.
Additionally, overnight fees apply if the stock or ETF CFD is held for longer than a day.
- Plus500 is a publicly-listed company regulated by various important tier-1 jurisdictions.
- Offers a wide variety of stock, ETF, and stock index CFDs.
- The minimum deposit required to open an account with Plus500 is $100.
- This broker charges no fees for depositing or withdrawing money.
- Pro account allows higher leverage ratios.
- Offers great customer support experience according to traders who have reviewed their service.
- This trading platform offers stock trading via CFDs.
- CFDs are risky and usually more expensive to trade.
- Research tools provided by this platform are very limited.
#4 - Swissquote - Best Specialized Services
This platform provides a wide range of services aside from stock trading and it is mostly targeted to asset managers and high net-worth clients in the UK.
Swissquote considers itself a “global trading platform” as it serves countries in all continents of the world and it is one of the best choices for sophisticated investors who are willing to pay above-market fees to buy shares online in order to enjoy the VIP service offered by this platform.
What can you trade?
Swissquote offers stocks from 60 exchanges around the world, which puts it at the top of the list in terms of portfolio variety.
Additionally, Swissquote offers 1,500 different ETFs from different countries and exchanges and it even allows investors to trade penny stocks listed in the US stock market.
Trading stocks with Swissquote is significantly more expensive compared to other platforms available in the UK and the reason for that is that this trading platform caters to sophisticated investors who are seeking high-quality service rather than saving money on transaction costs.
The volume of each trade affects the ultimate amount paid in fees which makes it difficult to determine a referential fee per trade. However, the range goes from $9 for trades valued at $500 or less to $190 for trades valued at $50,000 or less for major markets.
For minor markets or less liquid markets, Swissquote charges a commission fee per trade starting at 0.50%.
- Incredible portfolio covering more than 60 stock exchanges around the world.
- No inactivity platform fee.
- This platform is backed by a bank and it is regulated by various tier-1 jurisdictions.
- No minimum deposit required.
- No deposit fees are charged.
- Many base currency accounts available.
- Decent research tools with room for improvement.
- Wide range of available educational videos.
- Great user-friendly web-based trading platform and mobile app.
- High stock trading and ETF trading fees.
- Credit/debit card withdrawal is not available.
- Charges a $10 fee per withdrawal.
#5 - Interactive Brokers - Best for Advanced Traders
Interactive Brokers Trading fees charged for shares and ETFs are lower than average and this online brokerage firm offers a neat web-based and mobile app for its users.
Additionally, this broker doesn’t require a minimum deposit to open an IB account, even though a minimum of $2,000 is required to trade on margin.
Another great thing about IB is that it is at the top when it comes to educational materials, offering investors the opportunity to learn from a wide range of tools including webinars, an in-house academy, and a series of short videos that cover various topics about online trading.
Finally, no deposit fees are charged by IB and the first withdrawal of each month is entirely free.
What can you trade?
Interactive Brokers provides investors with access to 140 exchanges around the world, making it the biggest one-stop-shop for stocks in the investment community.
Interactive Brokers covers no less than 78 stock exchanges and offers 13,000 different ETFs and even allow retail investors to pour their money into the stock market through fractional shares, which entitles the investor to a portion of a stock in a business that has a high share price.
IB’s trading fees for share trading is fairly low compared to its competitors as this brokerage firm charges $0.005 per US-listed share with a $1 minimum and a maximum platform fee of 1% of the value of the trade.
On the other hand, IB offers two types of plans for stock traders. The fixed-rate plan charges a flat fee on each share traded while the tiered plan adjusts the fees depending on the monthly volume of trades. A high volume usually entitles the trader to a lower fee.
It is important to note that the cost of trading shares in other markets around the world is also lower compared to other online brokers, but higher than IB’s fees for US-listed stocks. In general, it ranges from 0.1% to 0.2% for trading shares in a minor stock market.
- Incredible portfolio covering basically all financial instruments and a wide range of financial markets.
- IB is regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the FCA (UK).
- Great research tools available.
- $0 required to open an IB account.
- No deposit fees are charged and the first withdrawal of the month is free.
- Decent web-based and mobile app.
- Great educational materials available for those seeking to learn more about online trading.
- Opening an account with IB takes longer compared to other platforms.
#6 - Pepperstone - Low Trading and Non-Trading Fees
Pepperstone was launched in 2010 and it is overseen by both the UK and Australia’s financial regulators.
What can you trade?
Investors can only trade shares with Pepperstone via CFDs, which is a bit inconvenient if you are looking to own the shares directly to earn a fixed income through dividend payments.
This online brokerage firm only offers 60 stock CFDs and 14 stock index CFDs.
Pepperstone stock trading fees are harder to estimate as CFDs generate different types of commissions per trade such as overnight trading fees and spreads.
However, fees charged by Pepperstone are on the lower end compared to the industry average as the trading fee for a $2,000 long position on the S&P 500 index held by a week may generate a $2 platform fee while the same position for the Europe 50 index may generate a $1.6 fee.
This is for sure the most important competitive advantage for Pepperstone and the fees may be even lower for high-volume day traders who sign up for their Razor account.
- Pepperstone is regulated by two tier-1 agencies – the FCA (UK) and the ASIC (Australia).
- Low trading fees.
- No withdrawal and no deposit fees.
- No minimum deposit is required.
- Outstanding customer service.
- Easy account opening process.
- Great mobile app.
- Shares can only be traded via CFDs.
- This broker offers a limited number of stocks and shares to trade.
- No ETFs are available.
- Limited research tool.
- The web-based platform is a bit outdated and it is hard to navigate for beginners.
#7 - XTB - Well Rounded Offering
XTB is one of the best UK CFD brokers and it is a publicly-traded company listed in the Warsaw Stock Exchange and regulated by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF).
This CFD online broker is best known for charging low online trading fees for stock index CFDs and for requiring a low initial deposit of $250.
Unfortunately, even though this broker allows certain European clients to trade real stocks and ETFs, UK residents are not among those permitted.
However, the wide selection of stock CFDs provided by XTB should make up for such a disadvantage.
What can you trade?
XTB offers 1,700 different stock CFDs that cover a wide range of international markets. Additionally, XTB also offers a portfolio comprised of 103 ETF CFDs and 42 stock index CFDs.
Moreover, for countries that are allowed to, this brokerage firm offers access to 17 different stock markets and 170 real ETFs.
Since UK residents can only trade shares via CFDs with this provider, the fees are estimated as the average spread cost associated with each CFD transaction.
In this context, XTB is on the low end compared to the industry average when it comes to costs, charging an average spread of 0.6 for S&P500 CFDs and 2.2 for Europe 50 CFDs.
Additionally, XTB offers two types of accounts – Standard and Pro – designed with different cost structures.
- XTB offers a wide range of stock, stock index, and ETF CFDs.
- Only $250 are required to open an XTB account.
- There are two types of accounts that offer different fee structures.
- Opening an account is very easy and can be done online.
- Withdrawals are free and no deposit fees are charged.
- User-friendly and easy to use web-based and mobile interfaces.
- Research tools offered by the xStation 5 platform are decent and include a great news flow, trading ideas, and 35 technical indicators.
- Real shares cannot be traded with this brokerage firm if you live in the UK.
#8 - IG - Easy to Use Platform
UK residents have the possibility of trading real shares online with IG, along with many other of its products including CFDs, Forex pairs, and options.
Additionally, IG’s interface is very easy to use for amateur traders and it features a decent amount of research tools and educational materials including platform tutorial videos, webinars, and educational videos.
Finally, only $300 are required to open an IG account if the deposit is made via credit, debit card, or PayPal, while a $0 minimum is required if the payment method is a bank transfer.
What can you trade?
IG’s portfolio of CFDs is comprised of 68 stock indexes, 10,500 stocks, and 1,900 ETFs, while UK residents can buy shares and sell shares from 8 different stock markets and nearly 2,000 ETFs.
Fees for stock CFDs with IG are higher than average, but stock index CFDs can be traded at a relatively low cost.
On the other hand, the minimum fee per share trade varies depending on the volume of trades per month and they start at £8 per trade if the trader only did 2 trades the previous month and £3 if more than 3 trades were made.
Additionally, for US-listed shares, the cost of trading is $0.02 per share with manual currency conversion and free if the trader did more than three trades the month before with instant currency conversion.
For shares listed in other stock exchanges around the world, the cost per trade is usually 0.10% of the value of the trade.
For ETFs, the cost varies from 0.17% to 0.19% of the value of the trade.
- One of the UK best trading platform.
- No withdrawal fees and no deposit fees charged.
- Incredible web-based and mobile trading app.
- Low fees to trade real shares and ETFs.
- A wide selection of stock CFDs and real stocks to trade.
- Decent customer service.
- Research tools include trading ideas and high-quality news flow.
- An account can be opened with $0 if the payment method is a bank transfer.
- Phone support is reportedly lacking in quality.
- No fundamental data is available for individual shares.
How do you know if a stock broker in the UK is safe?
There are various ways to evaluate the safeness of online brokers in the UK.
First of all, you should make sure the stock trading broker is regulated by a tier-1 financial jurisdiction such as the United States, Singapore, Australia, or the United Kingdom. We also list the best online brokers in Australia and best online brokers in Singapore.
Additionally, it would be a plus if the broker is registered and licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is the UK’s financial regulatory body.
You can also review an online broker’s credibility by checking how other traders have reviewed their services.
Finally, certain online stock brokers in the UK are publicly-traded companies, which adds more credibility to them as listed companies have to go through more intense regulatory scrutiny.
However, you should understand that by stock trading your capital is at risk as you can lose your entire balance as a result of unfavorable outcomes from your trades. Losing money by trading stocks is not something your broker can or is obligated to prevent.
Understanding the Risks of Trading with CFDs
Many of the brokers listed in the following review offer the possibility to trade shares via Contracts for Difference (CFD). This means you will not hold the actual share. Instead you will benefit or lose from the price movements of the underlying stock.
CFDs are highly risky financial instruments that are primarily designed for active traders – i.e. day traders – due to the costs associated with holding them for longer than a single day.
Additionally, CFDs do not entitle the holder to receive dividends from the underlying shares, which is a disadvantage of these instruments if you are expecting to buy shares to earn a fixed income from them.
Most of the stock brokers in this list also state that a large percentage of investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs and you should be aware of this before you start online trading by using these risky financial instruments.