Compare the best stock brokers & trading platforms
What are the best stock trading platforms?
You can find all of the top trading platforms in the table below, with quick comparison information to help you find the best broker. If you’re ready to buy shares now, then simply follow one of the links and sign up, otherwise scroll down and keep reading.
What is a stock broker?
A stock broker (or stock trading platform) is a service that allows you to buy stocks and shares, either to hold for long periods of time or trade in the short term as the stock market fluctuates. There are a wide variety of online brokers available nowadays, with many platforms allowing you to trade other assets in addition to stocks, such as forex, cryptocurrencies, and commodities.
How do stock brokers work?
Brokers work by acting as middlemen for stock trades: matching up buyers and sellers to complete transactions. Individual traders cannot directly execute trades on the stock market, so the trading platform will connect with stock exchanges and buy and sell shares on their users’ behalf depending on the orders they place with the broker.
What’s the difference between a stock broker and a CFD trading platform?
It is common for online stock brokers to offer both share dealing and CFD trading services, and the difference lies in these two different approaches to trading stocks.
Share dealing works as described in the previous section: you instruct the broker to buy or sell shares for you, and they do so and record this in your account. Generally this approach is better suited to people looking to the longer term and wishing to buy and hold their shares for a long period of time.
CFD trading, on the other hand, is a method of trading stocks without having to buy them. A Contract for Difference (CFD) is a contract between two parties – a buyer and a seller – with the buyer agreeing to pay the seller the difference between the current value of an asset (in this case shares of a stock) and its when the contract expires. CFD trades can be made quickly, and they also allow for different techniques such as leveraged trading.
How do I use a stock broker?
Using a stock trading platform is a simple process. All you need to do is register with a broker, fund your account, and then navigate to the platform or app’s stock trading page. The exact process will vary a bit from broker to broker, but usually you’ll be able to type in your desired stock’s ticker symbol, see the current market rate, enter the number of shares you wish to buy, and click confirm.
The best stock trading platforms for beginners, traders, and long-term investors
One of the major factors when it comes to choosing a broker is the trading strategy you wish to pursue. If you’re a beginner looking to buy your first shares then your ideal platform will be different to an experienced trader using CFDs and leveraged trading. Here are the best UK stock brokers, broken down into different criteria.
The top broker for beginners
If you’re just starting to make stock market trades, then you’ll want to prioritise a broker that makes the process of buying shares as simple as possible, and also provides a selection of useful educational materials.
The top platform for day-traders
For experienced traders looking to open and close positions quickly as the market fluctuates, the perfect choice is a CFD trading platform that charges low commissions and offers access to a wide range of stocks and other markets.
The top app for long-term buyers
Traders looking to the long term will benefit from an established broker they can trust with their shares over time. If you’re building a portfolio to save for retirement or a large purchase, you want the foundations to be built with one of the most reliable names in the business.
What should I look for in a trading platform?
Here’s a quick run through of the most important areas to consider when trying to find the best trading platform for you.
Design and ease of use
Stock investing requires extensive research, patience, and skill. Given all of those challenges, the last thing you want is to waste time trying to figure out how your online broker’s website functions. Choose a broker with a well-designed website and/or mobile app that’s easy to use so you can spend more time focussing on your trades.
Especially if you’re a beginner when it comes to stock investing, look for a broker that offers a free demo account. These accounts allow you to trade in real time, but with fake money – allowing you to learn the ropes without risking any of your capital.
Making a profit when trading stocks is far from a given. You certainly don’t want to have to pay significant fees or commissions to make the task even more difficult. Look for an online broker that offers reasonably low fees and commissions for processing your trades.
If you’re making frequent trades, then it’s important to pay attention to the spreads applied by your chosen broker. The spread is the difference between the bid (buy) and the ask (sell) price. Many online trading platforms hide their true cost by charging small fees but applying large spreads.
You might have a preference for a specific payment method – for instance funding your stock trading account with PayPal. If this is the case, then be sure to check that the broker doesn’t apply any fees for deposits or withdrawals using PayPal.
Reputation and regulation
Make sure you’re using a reliable broker before funding your account and starting to trade stocks. You can get a feel for the platform’s reputation by looking at various online reviews, and also check which financial bodies regulate the trading app’s services. Trading with an unregulated broker is risky as you have no protection from fraud.
Shares available to trade
It seems obvious, but one of the most important things to check before signing up with a broker is that it allows you to buy and sell the stocks you’re looking to trade. Not all brokers offer shares in all companies – so if you’ve got your heart set on Tesla, Amazon, or Apple shares, check they’re available with your chosen broker.
In addition to looking for a variety of asset choices, many investors seek numerous different trading options for their asset of choice.
- Some investors may want to go short (betting that the price of an asset will go down), in addition to going long (betting that the price of an asset will go up).
- Other investors may favour hedging, which is when you make an investment designed to limit the potential downside of another investment you’ve already made.
- Another trading option popular with certain investors is scalping. This is a method of arbitrage in which you attempt to make money by taking advantage of small price gaps between the bid price and the ask price of a specific asset on different platforms.
Quick answers to key questions
Do brokers charge commissions or fees for trading stocks?
Yes, even the best online stock brokers in the UK charge fees for their services. Typical fees for executing a trade with a stock trading app will range anywhere from £1 to £15 depending on the size of the trade, and the exact nature of the fees charged will depend on your choice of broker or app.
Our comparisons will help you find out which broker offers the best fee structure for the trades you want to make.
Do I have to verify my identity with a stock broker?
Yes you do. Any of the best stock brokers will require some form of identity verification. This process could involve everything from the broker verifying your bank information to more elaborate verification procedures including asking for photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport.
The overarching term for this layer of security is “KYC”, which stands for “Know Your Customer.” Brokerages and other financial institutions use KYC guidelines to help prevent people from laundering money or conducting financial scams.
Can I buy multiple stocks with a broker?
Yes, online stock brokers allow users to buy any number of different stocks at the same time. As long as you have enough money to afford multiple shares, and you don’t exceed any deposit or daily trading limits set by the broker, then there is no restriction on the number of different stocks you can invest in.
Do I need any extra software to use a stock broker?
It depends on the trading platform you use. Many online stock brokers will require no additional software – allowing you to trade simply on the browser or through the platform’s app. However, some brokers might require integration with popular forms of trading software such as MetaTrader 4.
Should I use a broker to buy and sell stocks?
If you want to buy and sell stocks, then using a broker is the best way to do so. Signing up to an online trading platform allows you to trade stocks quickly and easily, with brokers typically only charging minimal fees for executing your trades.
If you’re still mulling over whether or not you want to invest in stocks using a broker, here are some pros and cons to help you make an informed choice – along with some additional things to consider.
- Brokers allow you to trade a variety of stocks online
- Some platforms allow you to trade with CFDs and with leverage
- Online brokers have easy-to-use trading interfaces
- Trading platforms typically charge low fees
- Stock trading apps often support other markets such as forex
- Nobody is guaranteed to make money trading stocks
- Not all brokers are regulated
- The verification process can sometimes be cumbersome
Should I buy stocks now?
This depends on your own financial goals and how you are looking to achieve them. If you’ve done your research and believe that the value of a particular stock is going to rise over time, then it’s a good time to buy some shares now and sit on them until that rise in value hopefully materialises.
If your aim is to become a day trader, then the fundamental strength and long term performance of specific stocks aren’t as much of a concern. What you want to do is master technical analysis so you can read price charts and anticipate fluctuations – timing your trades just right to profit as stock prices move up and down.
For either strategy, it’s best to keep on top of all the latest news and analysis about the stock market. You can find our recent coverage right here to help you determine if now is the right time to invest in stocks.
Is Bank of America a buy or sell in April?
Up or down? Toyota price prediction for April
Vonage Holdings shares are down 3.9% YTD. Should I invest?
Where can I learn more about stock market trading?
Right here on Invezz. We offer a range of beginner-friendly stock trading courses to help you understand how to craft a successful trading strategy. Take a few courses and then sign up to a top broker to put your knowledge to good use.
The main benefit of investing in the stock market is the ability to grow your wealth over time so you can reach your financial goals. Investing in the right stocks can see your capital grow much faster than it would if left in a regular savings account, and help you save up for big purchases or for a comfortable retirement.
Yes, you can register for multiple brokers at a time. In general, it’s more convenient to do all of your trades with one broker however – unless you’re trying to make money by scalping. This is when you try to profit by taking advantage of differences in the bid and ask prices of specific stocks on different brokers.
Not all stock brokers are regulated, no. We recommend you only trade with trading platforms that are regulated by a recognised financial body.
Yes online trading is legal in the UK and in most countries around the world. Always check the law in your home country before starting to trade stocks online, however.
Yes, in the UK you will have to pay capital gains tax on the profits you make from trading online. The exact rates of capital gains tax depend on the size of your profits and any other income, all information can be found on the gov.uk website.
Stock brokers are available 24/7, but stock markets are only open for set hours on weekdays. Depending on which stock exchange a stock is listed on, it will have different times in the day when it is able to be traded.
Not on all brokers, but the best online trading platforms will usually allow you to short sell stocks. Short selling is when you believe a stock’s price will fall, so you borrow some shares, sell them, and then buy them back when the price falls. It is a risky strategy but it enables traders to profit even if markets fall.
Not on all stock brokers, but there are plenty of platforms that allow you to trade with leverage, yes. Trading with leverage means you can place large trades while only having to stake a small fraction of the trade amount. For instance if a platform offers leverage of 20:1, you can buy £20 worth of shares with only £1 of your own money.
Leveraged trading comes with hugely increased risk and therefore we only recommend the practice for experienced traders.
Not on all brokers, no. Many of the best stock brokers accept a wide variety of payment options, however, including PayPal.
Yes, all you have to do close all your positions (sell all your shares), withdraw your money, open an account with a new broker, deposit your funds, and start trading.
Most online brokers will have a simple ‘forgotten password?’ option you can click on the login screen. A verification email will then be sent to your email address so you can reset your password.
Many stock brokers do have mobile trading apps, yes. While this is not the case for all brokers, the popularity of mobile trading in recent years means that most top trading platforms have developed user-friendly apps.
No, online trading is not anonymous. When you register with a broker you will have to provide evidence of your ID – sometimes including a photograph of a passport or driving license.
Yes, on your online broker account you will be able to see the history of all the trades you’ve ever made on the platform.
- 1. Compare the best stock brokers & trading platforms
- 2. What are the best stock trading platforms?
- 3. What is a stock broker?
- 4. The best stock trading platforms for beginners, traders, and long-term investors
- 5. What should I look for in a trading platform?
- 6. Quick answers to key questions
- 7. Should I use a broker to buy and sell stocks?
- 8. FAQs