Broker comparison: cheap investment platforms UK (2023)

Find the cheapest investment platforms in the UK and make broker comparison easier with our tables below. Investment costs are all-important, so we’ve placed the cheapest brokers at the top of each table.

Disclosure: Links to platforms may be affiliate links, where we may earn a small commission. It doesn’t affect the price you pay nor how we judge the brokers.

Broker and investment platform activity: ISA season is here

As happens every year, the platforms’ promotional activity is peaking ahead of the end of the tax year on 6 April. (It’s the so-called ‘ISA Season’).

For example:

  • Bestinvest, the very long-established broker, is offering cashback on transfers to all its accounts – not just SIPPs and ISAs, but general investing accounts too – and you can bag as much as £1,000 in cashback if your transfer is sufficiently chunky. As always, terms apply.
  • Open an account with InvestEngine viaour link and get £25 when you invest at least £100 – and an additional £100 if you invest at least £10,000 into an ISA before 2 May (T&Cs apply. Capital at risk).
  • Hargreaves Lansdown has also been touting a cashback offer for a while. Its promotion applies only if you’re transferring your pension to its SIPP. From £100 to £1,500 is up for grabs, dependent on the size of the pension you transfer. Again, terms apply.

Remember that investing is a long-term pursuit. Choose the best platform for your needs, and treat any cashback as simply the icing on the cake.

How to compare brokers using our table below

Use our three broker comparison tables like this:

  • Beginners – start with the percentage-fee brokers table.
  • If your portfolio is worth over £20,000 (or £66,000+ in a SIPP) – consider the flat-fee brokers table.
  • Active traders – compare brokers on the trading platforms table.
  • Type your favourite broker into the search field and the table collapses to just that broker. (Assuming you know which table it’s in.)
  • Mobile users: to see all the columns of our broker comparison table, please rotate your phone to landscape view.

Flat-fee investment platforms charge a fixed cost for their services. This pricing model is typically better for investors with large portfolios.

That’s because percentage fees can carve off huge chunks of cash from your wealth if your platform doesn’t cap them.

Percentage-fee platforms are best for people starting out with relatively little invested. That’s because you’re only losing a modest amount of actual cash when a percentage charge is skimmed from your small pot.

Conversely, flat fees take a disproportionately large bite out of a diminutive portfolio. That sets you back because you’ve got less wealth compounding.

We’ve previously explained how to calculate whether or not you should use a flat-fee or percentage-fee broker.

Trading fees are also typically charged at a fixed rate. Try to keep these costs under 1% of your monthly investment contributions. Look out for cheap regular investing plans and zero commission trading in funds or ETFs to staunch your percentage loss to dealing fees.

We define a trading platform as a stock broker that encourages its users to buy and sell frequently.

To this end, some trading platforms promote speculative instruments such as Contracts For Difference (CFDs), currencies, and crypto.

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They also provide a fast-moving, information-saturated environment that emphasises hyperactivity.

Platform fees are low-to-zero in this space. Revenue is instead generated by trading fees, spreads, and other methods.

Stick to the top two tables if your focus is on investing for the long-term in funds and ETFs.

Investment platforms comparison notes

Charges may actually be due per month, quarter, six-monthly, or annually. Our broker comparison tables simplify that into an annual cost of service, including VAT.

Other charges may be applicable that aren’t included.

Asterisked trading fees indicate that a frequent trader rate is available.

Zero commissionbrokers generally make money from spreads, foreign exchange fees, and cross-selling of other services. (You’re not getting something for nothing!)

Accounts held with Halifax / Bank Of Scotland, Lloyds Bank, and iWeb count as one for the purposes of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Like other price comparison websites, we may be paid a bonus if you sign-up via a link. This does not affect what you pay.

This table is edited by fallible human beings. Do your own research. We fix mistakes as soon as possible butwe cannot be held liable or accountable for any errors. Please add updates or erratas in the comments below.

Cheap investment platforms: Good for column

The Good for column indicates the cheapest investment platform for each account type (ISA, Trading and SIPP) depending on whether you invest in funds or ETFs.

The cheapest percentage-fee broker for funds is Vanguard. However, it only stocks Vanguard funds.

If you’d prefer a broker that also offers non-Vanguard funds, then look out for the Unrestricted fund portfolios label in the Good for column.

The portfolio value (e.g. £18k) indicates the approximate threshold at which an investment platform is cheaper than its rivals. In each scenario:

  • The flat fee broker is cheaper than its percentage fee competitor above the given value (e.g. £18k).
  • The percentage fee platform is more cost effective below the given value.

This broker comparison is offered for ISAs, SIPPs, and trading accounts. We also show the breakpoint vs Vanguard’s cheaper rate.

Our calculations assume one purchase per month and four sales per year. And also that you take advantage of lower-priced regular investment schemes when available.

The investing platform comparison threshold shifts, depending on how much you trade.

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Cheapest broker FX fees

Foreign exchange charges are paid for trading in securities that are listed in currencies other than sterling (GBP). Typically those securities are international shares and some ETFs.

FX fees are also due when a broker converts overseas dividends and interest into GBP.

  • These costs are levied as a percentage of each transaction.
  • Assume they’re layered on top of the FOREX spot price.
  • If we list an FX fee of £0, you’ll still pay the spot price where FX fees are applicable.

Please see our tips for avoiding FX fees. If your fund’s base currency is GBP then this cost won’t apply at the broker level.

Variable FX fees means you’ll have to contact the broker for its in-house rate before every trade if you want to know exactly how much you’ll pay in advance.

Not mentioned in the table means the platform does not disclose FX fees prominently on its website. It has also not responded to our enquiries about its rates.

FX fees aren’t an issue if a broker only stocks funds with a GBP base currency. This should be noted on a fund’s factsheet.

Some brokers use a tiered FX fee rate card. In other words, the percentage rate decreases on the amount of a transaction that falls into higher tiers. Please refer to your broker’s website for its full schedule where our table indicates it operates tiered pricing.

What matters when comparing brokers

Investment platforms, stock brokers, and share dealing services are interchangeable names for websites or apps that enable you to trade and manage your portfolio of shares, funds, ETFs, and other investments online.

When you compare brokers, bear in mind that there isn’t a best investment platform out there that suits everybody. The stock broker market is competitive. Players try to standout by offering different pricing models and market niches.

The total price you pay for brokerage services is critical. That’s because controlling costs is a crucial factor in determining your long-term investment performance.

As investing luminary John Bogle said:

The two greatest enemies of the equity fund investor are expenses and emotions.

Our UK stockbrokers list can’t take the emotion out of investing but it can help you find the cheapest investment platform.

Thebest UK brokerfor you is likely to provide:

  • Low fees for the services you use most.
  • The shares, funds, ETFs, and other investments you want. Platforms do not all carry the same range of products.
  • The right level of customer service for your needs – don’t expect the lowest-cost platform to respond like lightning when you want it to handle complicated arrangements over the phone.
  • The right user experience – if you want a flashy website and app then you’ll be able to tell who provides that from its home page. A broker with a clunky website anddirt-cheap fees is unlikely to prioritise investing in cutting-edge tech.

Check your investment platform is authorised by the FCA

If your investment platform is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) then you may be entitled to compensation using theFinancial Services Compensation Scheme(FSCS). Check a broker’s status using theFCA register.

Some platforms are owned by the same financial group. You do not diversify your risk by splitting assets across brands owned by the same group. Our investor compensation scheme guide (linked to above) explains how you can identify these brands.

Some brokers are based abroad – especially those listed in the Trading platforms table. Double-check they’re eligible for the FSCS compensation scheme.

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Broker comparison: costs and fees

Theannual fee category is intended to capture the various types of service fee typically levied by investment platforms. For example custody fees, platform charges, administration fees, inactivity fees and so on, until the end of time / your tether.

Fee notes includes extra charges, options, inclusions, and exclusions that make a material difference to the price you pay.

A tiered fee means you’ll pay different amounts depending on the total value of your account(s).

For example:

  • 0.25% <£250,000 (tier 1)
  • 0.1% £250,000 – £500,000 (tier 2)

If your account was worth £250,500 then you’d only benefit from the lower charge on the £500 that fell into tier 2. The remaining £250,000 would still be charged at the tier 1 rate of 0.25%.

Some brokers add up the total value of all your accounts with them when applying their tiers.

However others assess each account separately.

In this scenario (still using our tiered example rate above), you’d pay the tier 1 rate of 0.25% on your entire balance if you had £200,000 in an ISA and £200,000 in a SIPP.

Assume brokers count joint accounts separately from your individual account balances.

SIPP charges on the table don’t include all the various additional fees levied for services once you’re in drawdown.

The drawdown figure we do include is the annual charge you’ll pay forflexi-access drawdown. We’ll also include the fee for taking 25% tax-free uncrystallised funds pension lump sum(UFPLS) payments, if available.

Platforms levy various additional costs for extras such as telephone trading.

Check their fullrates and charges schedulebefore committing.

Brokers also run temporary offers and discounts from time-to-time. Don’t let these sway your decision.

(Obviously they’re a lovely “How Do You Do?” if you were going to choose that brokerage anyway.)

Investment fees for funds, ETFs, and other products

Stockbroker charges come on top of theinvestment feesyou pay to fund providers for the management of their funds, ETFs, and investment trusts.

To ensure you’re paying competitive management fees compare:

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  • Low cost index funds and ETFs
  • Best global tracker funds
  • Best bond funds and ETFs
  • Best multi-asset funds
  • Vanguard LifeStrategy funds

Certain big name brokers sometimes negotiate small discounts on fund charges. If you’re tempted by those ‘bargain’ offers then make sure that your total cost of investment isn’t more expensive once you load on the investment platform’s fees.

This post shows you how to calculate a total portfolio cost for all the products you own.

Understanding account names

Accounts names vary across the online broker universe. However they typically conform to the following types:

  • Trading – a taxable account often known as a General Investment Account (GIA) or brokerage account. Your investments are not tax-sheltered as they would be in a stocks and shares ISA or a SIPP. You will incur dividend income tax and capital gains tax on your investments if you exceed your allowances.
  • Shares ISA / Flexible Shares ISA – a stocks and shares ISA. Tax-sheltered. Sometimes known as a Self-select ISA. A Lifetime ISA (LISA) is a special variant of a stocks and shares ISA.
  • SIPP – Self-Invested Personal Pension. Tax-sheltered.

Switching investment platform

Once you’ve decided to move, it’s fair to say that switching investment platforms isn’t as simple as it is with bank accounts.

For starters, beware of entry and exit fees when transferring your investments. These charges are shown in our broker comparison tables.

Entry fees may be charged by your new platform and exit fees may be charged by your old one.

You can expect a transfer to take several weeks and involve some form filling.

  • Always tick the box that requests your investments are transferred ‘in specie’ rather than sold down to cash as part of the switch.
  • Make a record of everything you own in your portfolio, including how many shares / units you have.
  • Finally, double-check your instructions have been carried out to the letter. Mistakes are surprisingly common.

Take a look at our specialised guides before you make a move:

  • Stocks and shares ISA transfers
  • Pension transfers

Why are there only links to some brokers?

Links to brokers and investment platforms are affiliate links, where we may be paid a fee if you go on to open an account with them.

However we do not choose to include platforms in our table based on whether such affiliate fees are on offer, nor does the existence of such an arrangement change the fees you pay. It is a marketing payment made by the companies as an incentive for websites to drive traffic to their site.

We’d like more brokers to pay us when we introduce new customers. It helps us pay our way on Monevator!

Including all brokers – but only linking where an affiliate agreement is in place – is the best compromise we could come up with.

What this UK stockbrokers list won’t tell you

For in-depth customer feedback on individual platforms, ask away in our comments or atMoney Saving Expert’sSavings & Investments board, the ex-Motley Foolers on theLemon Foolboard, orredditfor a broader opinion.

Where is my missing trading platform?

We haven’t included every last option in our broker comparison table but we have included the most competitive players in the market.

We filter out any broker that:

  • Is too expensive
  • Excludes index funds and London Stock Exchange ETFs
  • Provides an extremely narrow investment range to the point that diversification is hampered

We also don’t currently include platforms that exclusively provide managed investment services such as ‘robo-advisors’.

That’s because we believe most people are better off managing their own investments at a lower cost using a DIY passive investing strategy.

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Do let us know if you think we’ve missed anyone or anything important.


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