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Best Brokers for Free Stock Trading
Stocks started trending particularly with millennials in 2020 when the pandemic first hit, the biggest adopters of “Buy Now, Pay Later”.
By comparison, boomers are much more likely to play conservatively. For instance, a 2020 Financial Post report documenting the Wealthsimple online investment app registered a 54% increase in users aged 34 or under. Robinhood saw a 300X increase in daily trades.
Whatever age you are, we’ll go through some of the most popular free brokers for stock trading on the British market. Let’s get on with it.
- 1. 📟 eToro review
- 2. ⭐ Vanguard review
- 3. 📟 Capital.com review
- 4. 📟 Plus500 review
- 5. 📟 Hargreaves Lansdown review
- 6. 📟 Interactive Investor review
- 7. 📟 AvaTrade review
- Buying Guide
Our Fave Free Stock Broker App (UK) 🇬🇧
Dabbling in stocks? Before venturing into the markets, make sure To cover your savings bases. With the economy across the globe becoming more hostile, it pays to gain small wins and learned how to budget well. Keeping money is a habit that you form through consistent practice… Have a read of our budgeting tips.
Best Brokers for Free Stock Trading – Reviews 2023 📘
- eToro – Overall Top Broker for Free Stock Trading
- Vanguard – Trusted Best Broker for Free Stock Trading
- Capital.com – High-Risk or Professional Traders
- Plus500 – Popular Stock Trading App for CFDs
- Hargreaves Lansdown – Traditional Stock Trading Accounts
- Interactive Investor – Favourably-Reviewed Free Stock App
- AvaTrade – Professional “Day” Stop Trading Broker
1. eToro – Overall Top Broker for Free Stock Trading
This won’t be the first time you’ve heard of the mega-popular structuring app with its unique social trading features…
But were you aware that executing trades comes with a purported 0% commission?
Indeed, this was how it rose to fame — at its leading social trading structure designed for all levels of traders (in terms of being able to understand at the basic level what’s happening) — which is why we plopped this into the number one position as our best stock trading app.
eToro AUS Capital Ltd ACN 612 791 803 AFSL 491139. OTC Derivatives are speculative and leveraged. Capital is at risk. See PDS
Although the weird and wonderful world of financial derivatives is extra crazy these days with the way geopolitics is going, we usually put Vanguard as the most sensible way of investing in the stock markets. The reason is that some of the world’s leading experts recommend that mutual fund manager. Vanguard has a strong track record.
But we’re going to assume that if you’re reading this article, you have a particularly high-risk appetite. You don’t mind losing your investment if it gives you a chance of getting quick gains.
We don’t provide financial advice, our job is to provide research on what’s available out there. So why did we put it eToro in the number one spot? Well, it gives you direct access to the stock markets. The platform itself is highly regulated and secure from a technical standpoint. And you also get to leverage views, opinions, and even the positions of its users.
Investing Is ‘PVP’
However, it’s always good to remember that any kind of competitive game is ‘player versus player’ (PVP). So there is no such thing as a social trading platform where everybody “wins together”. You have to always gain some kind of a marginal advantage over your competition.
For instance, if you went to the gym, your level of success would depend on what you did each day. It’s not dependent on how well you do relative to somebody else. The stock market is all about timing, knowledge, and other advantages relative to your competition.
We saw this in 2020-22, when investors in crypto all saw huge gains across the board, almost regardless of the specific coin invested in. But after the invasion of Ukraine, the era of pump-and-dump gains came to an end. And we have seen all of the different cryptocurrencies stabilise at a much lower level than at the 2022 height.
Top eToro Features
CopyTrading is the unique selling point (USP) of eToro. Their social trading USP is far ahead of the rest in terms of usability. As long as you keep in mind that it is still PVP, then you can use it to educate yourself. You can also mirror the market moves of some of the past-time successful traders on the platform — go through their profile, through the track record, and compare it to your own investment strategy.
This kind of system can be thought of as a more aggressive, higher-risk version of using a mutual fund management service like Vanguard. The onus is on the individual user to choose which investors to mirror. They will also have to habitually check in on how their portfolio is growing over time. It’s feasible that — by choosing a sensible long-term investor who you trust, to mirror — that you could stabilise your capital in a diversified form on eToro (review) through CopyTrading.
See the review links above, to learn more about eToro. In that review, we’ve gone through its level of security, controversies, regulatory licences, and more. One interesting thing is that it uses two-factor authentication, which you won’t find with all of the best free stock trading apps.
Keep in mind that, although it advertises itself as a “free” stock trading app, this doesn’t technically exist anywhere online. Really, what you are considering is where fees are frontloaded. The fee structure can affect how much you pay according to your trading style. A high-volume trader might do better was something like eToro, although professional investors tend to use other platforms that the professional industry relies on.
As a beginner, eToro gives you lots of useful features to get started in terms of the basics of carrying out trade. You can see the demo account to play around with virtual money to familiarise yourself with the process. Gain access to almost 3,000 stocks — everything from Tesla to [Name that Oil Company].
- Designed for beginners
- Offers news
- Industry-leading social features
- Mirror top traders
- Professional traders tend to use other platforms
2. Vanguard – Trusted Best Broker for Free Stock Trading
Now it’s time for the entry you expect to see on this site.
Vanguard is… as the name suggests, a vanguard in the industry. It’s gained this reputation over a period of almost 50 years since its formation in 1975. It’s currently handling more than £5 trillion in assets. A fair few quid…
The money management services focused on traditional stocks, pruned by its team. There’s a philosophy of having a fundamental mastery and understanding of how the markets operate. Indeed, one of its old CEOs, Ray Dalio, predicted the war between China and the US at least one year ahead of the current crisis that we are seeing.
When you work with the fundamentals, you have a broad-based understanding of how money moves across time. This tends to make you immune to acute crises as they occur. And you’re able to buy drawing times of fear and to hold out until markets readjust. Money tends to move in cycles, just like the seasons.
Why Use Vanguard
As mentioned earlier, becomes recommended by some of the world’s leading experts, such as Warren Buffett. Tony Robbins also recommends it as something that struggling families on a low income can use to grow modest sums over time. Or to simply hold the value of their money as the economic slowdown from global wars and broken supply chains worsens.
Once again, we are not in the business of offering financial advice. But it pays to do a little bit of research on what the likes of Buffett have to say about using Vanguard in a sensible way. (Buffett has personally come in the past, recommended Vanguard’s 500 Index Fund Admiral shares fund. That particular fund has seen an annualised compound return of around 7%.)
You get the benefit of a mutual fund without the premium costs. Vanguard advertises itself as having an expense ratio of 82% less than the industry average. It cost you less than £20 to open up a brokerage account (some of the reports put this at £500, depending on the type of account).
⭐ It may be unwise to put too much faith in the money markets. Growing strong communities, families, and daily habits do a lot to protect you from the fear and pandemonium common today.
- Traditional best free stock trading broker
- Strong track record annually, even comes recommended by Warren Buffett
- More than 75 funds
- Annualised fee of 0.15% depending on the account type
- £500 min. deposit (£100/mo)
3. Capital.com – High-Risk or Professional Traders
Let’s look at the more aggressively competitive free stock trading apps on the market, starting with… Capital.com.
Now the first thing to mention is that the service provider uses contracts for differences (CFDs). Although they are simple enough to execute even a mobile phone, they are a high-risk way of trading on the stock market. And they can easily be used to do gambling rather than actual investments.
What Are CFDs
Okay, this time we had a talk… If you’re a young millennial reading this under the age of 34, you’re probably reading on your mobile phone itching to make a big trade on a company or four who you think are going to have a good upstart in the next few weeks or months.
But if you know anything about contracts for differences, perhaps you looking to make a profit by betting against the company. Indeed, contractor differences let you bet profitably in either direction — whether a stock depreciates or depreciates in value.
How Does This Work?
The first thing to know is that, with contracts for differences, you aren’t actually directly bidding in the stock market. Nor are you actually buying underlying stocks or assets themselves. Instead, you’re bidding on their movement no different to betting on horses in the race:
- Which one will win?
- Which will lose?
- How much leverage?
That final point is one I want to focus on for a moment. Leverages is another name for “debt” or “a loan”. Many of the CFD platforms let you borrow money in order to place a bet on the direction of the stock. This is why see if these are especially dangerous and can lead to gambling addictions and swift, large losses.
Capital.com, for this reason, represents the opposite philosophy to the approach used by Vanguard, considering that Vanguard bases its investments on fundamentals rather than trying to time the market minute to minute, day to day.
That isn’t to say that professionals, including hedge fund managers, don’t use TFTs in order to fine-tune their portfolios. If you are using this as your primary investment tool then that is a different thing altogether.
What to Expect
Let’s assume that you want to use Capital.com in order to place acute beds and moments notice using more cash than you actually have saved in your account.
Using leveraged (taking out a loan) in order to place a stock market bet exposes you to intense potential losses rapidly. You do also gain the ability to make faster profits. But unless you have an inexhaustible source of money to replace losses with you should be very careful about put yourself into such a high-stakes position. All professionals employ very strict rules to limit downsides and they make profits on tight margins through consistency over time.
Because of the great risk of losing all of your capital very quickly, it’s good to make sure that stop losses are being used properly. Also, something called a ‘Negative Balance Protection’ mechanism. This feature protects consumers against losing more than they actually have saved their account. This system was introduced by regulators years ago to protect retail investors from spiralling into debt.
⭐ The investment world is competitive… In fact, it’s ultra-competitive. So try to remember, you are not only competing against the markets but even with Capital.com itself. Whenever you take out a loan to make an investment, be very realistic about your level of competency rather than being idealistic about the outcome.
- Almost 3,000 stocks
- Upfront commission-free
- Offers leverage
- CFDs present a large risk CFDs ⚠️
4. Plus500 – Popular Stock Trading App for CFDs
And we’re not done yet with the aggressive approaches to competitive stock trading apps. Plus500 does the same thing as Capital.com by letting you speculate indirectly on the market. It doesn’t actually matter what direction the market moves; as long as you speculated the right way.
A bit about the company. It’s a global thing tech firm offering online trading services based on contracts for differences. At the time of this writing, according to research, all trading needs to be based on the CFD model, meaning that you cannot directly do options, shares, or futures.
Problems With CFD Apps
When you’re using a CFD app, you are trusting that the service provider is virtuous. In the past, we have covered scandals that suggested certain providers were deliberately manipulating the timing of processing transactions, in order to disadvantage the user. For instance, a user might end the trade and only have a processed after a substantial delay — after which point their profits are eaten up by the market moving unfavourably in that time window.
CFDs are a leveraged product and can result in the loss of your entire balance. Trading CFDs may not be suitable for you. Please consider whether you fall within Plus500’s Target Market Determination available in their Terms and Agreements. Please ensure you fully understand the risks involved.
You also have to factor in the liquidity of your service provider. Certain markets like the forex (currency markets) are extremely liquid. But because you will not speculate indirectly on his markets, you are depending on the level of cash flow in your service provider. Many of the CFD providers have dubious levels of liquidity, affecting how quickly and reliably you can sell contracts (entering and exiting). So the level of flexibility and manoeuvrability is questionable.
Limiting Risk Exposure
Once again, if you decide to use this investment vehicle, one of the most valuable damage control is the ‘Negative Balance Protection’’ feature. As explained earlier, this capability blocks the maximum amount of money you can lose, so that you cannot actually go into debt. In this way, it works a bit like a guaranteed stop loss. This feature was introduced to retail investors in 2018, under the ESMA regulations.
Other than this, traders should always apply standard best practices, such as using stop losses sensibly, trading in the correct proportion to their total investment pool (for instance, many investors make sure that they never place a trade that represents more than 1% of their total investment pool). Together, this provides extra safeguards against sudden collapses.
⭐ While we are highly suspicious of the veracity of some of the most well-known user review websites, we will take this time to mention that Plus500 does have more than 10K user reviews, with most of these being apparently positive.
- Ability to use leverage
- Apparently good user reviews
- Most investors who use CFDs ultimately make losses
- Not for beginners
5. Hargreaves Lansdown – Traditional Stock Trading Accounts
As our last mention, Hargreaves has been around since 1981 as a staple for retail investors.
This well-established investment firm offers a selection of direct stock investments, including portfolio managers, self-management, and retirement management professionals.
Hargreaves has a purported client base of more than 1 million, having managed more than £100 million in savings and investments in its time. In fact, it has such a strong track record of market capitalisation that it is listed in the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 (FTSE 100).
What to Expect
Overall, if you are looking for a highly established British financial services firm, then Hargreaves Lansdowne is one of the most reputable among them.
It’s wise to keep in mind that there is a profound amount of befuddlement in the financial world altogether. Whether you factor in some of the contradictory and questionable fiscal policies of the incumbent leadership in the UK, or the unavoidable recession that much of the collective West is facing — we are potentially seeing the collapse or shrinking of a lot of the old vanguards that were once trusted.
So it will be interesting to see how some of these old names, like Hargreaves Lansdowne, holed up in the next few years as radical changes occur. For instance, we are currently seeing a greater emphasis worldwide of value placed on hard resources like oil and gas — rather than the idea of the stock market itself.
⭐ Available shares through Hargreaves Lansdowne span across Europe, Canada, and the US.
- Around since 1981
- Good reputation
- Good rates
- Index funds
- General befuddlement and uncertainty in global markets
6. Interactive Investor – Favourably-Reviewed Free Stock App
Interactive Investor is a popular retail investment broker that has been operating since the middle of the 1990s.
As they offer commission-free trading, we’ve added them to this list. Interactive Investor has more than 300,000 users. This means they have been tested a lot…
Why is this important? Particularly in flux economic times such as today, people tend to want to use companies that have strong user basis, because this can potentially protect against sudden liquidity issues and bankruptcies.
Exit for free
According to our research, you don’t get charged an exit fee for moving cash from one account to another. They follow the same 0% commission model as Robinhood and eToro. However, there will be fees on the backend.
And you can expect a strong level of security and auditing. This is a very well-known industry player in this space for decades. In fact, they have been around longer than our number one entry, eToro. The company holds licenses to operate in Britain (FCA licences; the financial conduct authority is perhaps the U.K.’s largest financial regulatory body).
Bankruptcy protection and privacy
One of the benefits of using a free stock trading up that is highly regulated is that your data is handled according to stringent rules. Interactive Investor is obliged to hand you they are according to conditions set by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
The FSCS is also responsible for reimbursing investors if you’re broker goes bankrupt and needs to liquidate its cash. Keep in mind that there is a hierarchy of reimbursement in the case of a widespread collapse. But client funds are segmented from company funds which help to protect against losing all of your cash or most of it.
⭐ Interactive Investor clients have insurance up to limits as set by the FSCS.
- Competent stock trading
- Active since 1995
- No commission
- Regulated by both FSCS and FCA
- Backend fees, as with all stock trading platforms
- Arguably, fewer investment channels than eToro
7. AvaTrade – Professional “Day” Stop Trading Broker
AvaTrade is less well-designed for beginners and more professional traders who want an assortment of advanced integrations and toolsets to carry out sophisticated trades.
This will include a number of day traders. To begin with, you have a quite remarkable number of different interfaces to choose from good for instance, you can trade using the proprietary AvaTrade system. Or instead, opt for Meta Trader (MT4 or MT5). And these are compatible with both Windows and iOS.
No solution is needed if you use the web browser version. But there is also an app for smartphones. Once you register, you get access to copying and mirroring functions. These are not anywhere near as approachable as eToro. So you can expect a steeper learning curve with perhaps less intuitiveness.
From there, you get access to some of the most popular stocks, which they list on their website in real-time. At the time of this article, the number one traded instrument on their platform was Tesla stock would Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Goldman Sachs Group were next in line.
Most popular stocks
As for the most popular stocks on AvaTrade, at the time of this writing it’s Apple, with Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix behind it. (Tesla was in the sixth position). You can check out the real-time list of popular stocks here. These kinds of features are a very positive sign that the company is staying ahead of the market by catering to new users who want as much interactivity and simplicity as possible.
You will find that the main pages are very well designed and AvaTrade seems to gather pretty strong favourable reviews across different sites. Of course, be wary of the veracity of these sources.
A final word on the Education portal.
AvaTrade has gone to quite impressive lengths in order to provide educational material to its users. On the main education page, you will see videos covering a broad suave of topics — from how to use the platform itself to particular types of training, and specific additional services offered (such as how to use AvaOptions — which is used for training options: What is options trading?)
This is particularly impressive because the service does have a steep learning curve according to the level of seriousness that you want to apply yourself. So for any users who are interested in seriously studying how money works, you are given a lifeline in terms of adopting and extending what services you explore. Everything from how to use the particular tool to gaining a grasp of how the rudimentary aspects work.
⭐ Although there are very useful and cool introductory educational guides, true professional investment takes thousands of hours of seriously dedicated study. So these kinds of resources are not a substitute for taking a professional, accredited course of study. In general, trading without a network is not something you do part-time. The financial markets are player versus player, so you need some kind of sure advantage to have a profitable margin.
- Improving its beginner-friendliness
- Lots of sophisticated tools
- Education portal
- Apparently strong user reviews
- £100 Minimum Account Deposit
- Social trading less slick then eToro
7 Best Free Brokers for Stock Trading 📊 – Buying Guide
The term “free stock trading apps” can be a bit of a marketing gimmick. Although the way that fees are structured certainly has an impact over time on what you will pay depends on your trading style. E.g. high-volume forex day trading.
You will absolutely at some point be charged fees to use whatever platform you choose to trade stocks. Before you do, the following section is here in order to help you better understand terms and surrounding concepts to do with stock trading apps.
Using Stock Trading Apps
Since the 2020 pandemic, many more people have started trading online. A large number of these use their mobile phones, particularly younger online traders. Although this is convenient, it’s an inarticulate and inefficient way of approaching stocks unless you have professional networks who are supplying you with accurate information in real-time.
Professional investors spend hours analysing markets and charts using advanced systems and tools that they have won after hard battles over years of experience. So, whatever your situation, make sure you have a realistic perception of it.
Let’s go over some of the advantages and disadvantages of using smartphone apps to go about stock trading…
Making Trades Using Smartphones
For the majority of services, you can simply download the app from the Google Play or iOS apps store. Quickly install your stock trading platform. Your chosen service should have an active FCA licence in order to be able to operate in Britain.
You’ll go through a registration process where you submit key details such as your address, identity, username, email address, and so so forth. After this, you need to fund your account according to the payment methods allowed — different services have different minimum deposit requirements.
What You Can Trade
Most of the free stock trading apps give access to UK and global markets. So your choice of firm will depend on what exchanges you are able to assess the particular offering of your service. For example, eToro offers almost 3,000 stocks existing on more than 15 stock exchanges.
The currency market is the most voluminous or liquid. This platform will show you options as tradable currency spares, for instance, GBP/USD. Each time you buy one currency, you are automatically swapping it for another. The average price that investors are willing to swap one currency for another dictates the real-time value of a currency.
Each trade involves one currency being for at the same time that another assault. A good example of this is swapping money at the airport or post office. This is a foreign exchange market. It is possible to use a CFD to speculate on movements without actually handling currency pairs. This, however, will be a lot less liquid than the actual forex market.
Commodities are things like coffee, oil, silver, gold, etc. Across the agricultural sector, is normal for manufacturers and firms to use futures contracts in order to hedge against seasonal fluctuations in certain produce. These futures contracts are fixed arrangements between two parties to swap a product at a set price and volume, and even a specific future date.
Exchange-traded funds follow the market performance for particular commodities, sectors, or indices. So if you own an ETF that tracks the NYSE, for example, this means that you have invested your funds according to the value of the index. The index’s performance has a direct impact on how well your investment does — this is obviously linked to the value of the New York Stock Exchange and the companies listed on it as a whole.
What about the advantages and drawbacks of trading with smartphones?
Pros and Cons of Smartphone Trading
To begin with, alerts. Alerts give all kinds of signals to traders who are using various devices to continuously keep in step with their holdings.
When not at their desktop, can be useful to get alerts from the phone letting them know to take a look at some kind of significant move (for instance, an opportunity to close a trade at profit). Smartphones, in this sense, have a particular advantage in that you are always one swipe away from checking in on things but as long as you keep on you.
What about flexibility? Once again, the main advantage of a smartphone forcing into the care of your convenience. As long as you have an Internet connection, you are mostly location independent, rather than having to be at the office.
Once again, the biggest leverage of using a phone for trading is if you genuinely have a powerful network that has accurate insights into moment-to-moment opportunities. In this case, your only task is to input s signals into your application, which is easy enough once you develop a process. You don’t need to worry about charts, technical indicators, or any analytics. You are simply using the phone as a means of placing a trade — which these days is efficient enough across a range of devices for retail investors.
With a smartphone, you are restricted to a much smaller screen size.
This is the first disadvantage. Professional traders doing lots of volume transactions will rely on navigating advanced charts and other technical indicators in order to understand market pounds on their progress, before making an order. Small screens simply do not accommodate all of this data efficiently or in full.
Mistakes could be more likely with slower ways of inputting data.
Not only is inputting more cumbersome but you do not have the indicators to power your insights. For instance, one such powerful indicator is the moving average which helps you to look into trends in share prices. Unless you are using a network as your outsourced investigative team, it can be very time-consuming to navigate all of these information points on your phone. So you automatically have less information compared to using a desktop PC or laptop.
Phones will struggle in terms of CPU power.
Lags common, higher latency, and so on according to our bow for your phonies. This can impact how well trades are timed against the market process. People who use their phones to trade can also tend to treat it like a game. This is a dangerous habit because trading requires intense discipline and a professional attitude. Treating it like a game causes people to take unnecessary risks, or even trade in order to relieve boredom. This can also spiral into a gambling addiction, where they obsessively try to regain lost money.
⭐ Professional traders: Know how to walk away from a bad deal and accept losses. In fact, there have been some studies about CopyTrading directly influencing the temperament of investors — the more aggressive the trader you are mirroring is, the more likely you may be to absorb that mentality. It’s rather true that “you are the sum of whom you spend the most time with”.
Is a Smartphone Recommended?
Winners win and losers lose. Winning is a specific mentality that happens when a combination of things comes together. For one, having a realistic outlook on the “chessboard” that you are facing. Two, having a strong sense of self-belief without adding an unrealistic way to real-time information you are seeing.
Winning also involves intense practice and having a good strong network of information to draw upon. A team of highly competent investment professionals working together probably stand a far greater chance of succeeding than a single trader relying on their own faculties. Even the likes of Warren Buffett have had high-level mentors in their life — they have drawn wisdom from these councillors.
Using a phone as part of your trading process isn’t the problem. Mastery, realism, and an understanding of the winning advantage are much more important. Relying on a smartphone in order to gain advantage pales in comparison to the above… So your device should only be treated as a tool with a much bigger surrounding context around it.
Even a professional trader with a further computer setup could have a far weaker outcome than somebody treading on the phone who has access to an accurate and highly competent team analysing opportunities in real-time and forwarding this to them.
What top free stock trading Features should I look out for?
☑️ Reputation — You should make sure that your chosen stock trading app is well-known and trusted. For the UK, most of the big names have FCA licences, which gives them permission to operate. From there, you want to look at their track record; something like Vanguard is well known for its steady management of capital, whereas eToro is all about access for anybody regardless of your understanding of the markets.
☑️ Educational resources — This also includes how quickly the app tells you how to use it. Some providers will feature extensive educational resources to help you to get a basic understanding of the markets. Knowing how to use your stock trading becomes more important if you are using riskier investment vehicles like CFDs. You should know exactly how much you are risking for each trade.
☑️ Negative Account Balances — We have mentioned this feature more than once in this guide. It pertains to using the CFD product. When you activate this feature, you ensure that your losses cannot go beyond what you have stored in your account balance. Without this, do potentially go into debt or even serious debt. So make sure that this is enabled if you intend to use that risky vehicle.
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