The vast majority of investors simply don’t have time to sit in front of a computer all day to track the stock, bond, and commodities markets. But, with the best mobile investing app, that doesn’t have to mean that you can’t invest your money successfully.
UK investing apps are designed to help you manage your money on the go, allowing you to buy and sell assets instantly from anywhere in the world. Better yet, many of the top apps offer tools to help you come up with new trade ideas, so you can use your commute or any other free time to improve your investing strategy.
In this guide, we’ll review our top three recommended investing apps in the UK for 2020. We’ll also explain what you should look for when choosing a trading app so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
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Best UK Investment Apps in 2020
There is an enormous number of investing apps you can use on your smartphone or tablet. Most major brokerages offer their own apps, and there are even more third-party investing tools that integrate with whatever broker you’re using to place trades.
From that pile of investing apps, we picked out three that we think are worth a closer look.
1. eToro - Best for Social Investing
eToro is an extremely popular online brokerage around the world, and it has a lot to offer UK investors on the go. To start, the range of asset classes that you can trade is extremely impressive. You can buy and sell stocks on most of the world’s major exchanges, including the London and New York Stock Exchanges, as well as trade popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Unlike many other online brokers, eToro lets you actually hold these assets rather than forcing you to trade contracts for differences (CFDs). If you do want to trade CFDs, eToro offers them for forex and commodities trading.
What really sets eToro apart, though, is its focus on social trading. You can follow other investors with public accounts on eToro, and even copy their portfolios in a single click. This allows you to not only see what stocks, currencies, and other assets that traders are excited about, but also to quickly try out a whole portfolio of trading strategies. eToro also hosts a discussion board for every asset, so you can see what sentiment is like before buying or selling a stock.
The eToro mobile app is extremely user friendly, with a layout and menu design that feels intuitive as soon as you log in. Just beware that the app doesn’t offer much in the way of charts, market news, or other tools. You’re essentially on your own for researching assets, so you’ll probably want to find a stock screener app or something similar to support your mobile investing.
- Assets: Stocks, ETFs, Cryptocurrencies, Forex CFDs, Commodities CFDs
- Demo Account: Yes
- Trade Commissions: No
- Minimum deposit: £150
- Wide Asset Variety: Trade stocks, cryptocurrencies, forex, and commodities
- Social Trading: Copy other traders’ portfolios in one click
- User-friendly App: Intuitive design with simple watchlists
- Few Research Tools: No technical charts or market news
- High Minimum Deposit: Must have at least £150 to invest
2. AvaTrade - Best for Technical Trading
AvaTrade stands out for offering some of the most rigorous technical trading tools of any mobile investing app. When you sign up for AvaTrade, you also get access to MetaTrader 4, a popular charting software with more than 100 included technical studies. You can access the mobile version of MetaTrader 4 through the AvaTrade app, meaning that you can create mobile trading alerts around custom-built trading strategies.
In terms of asset range, AvaTrade covers just about everything you could want to invest in. The platform enables stock, bond, futures, commodity, cryptocurrency, and forex trading, all through CFDs. That means that you can also trade with leverage, up to 20:1 for stocks, which is a plus for traders who want to take bigger positions without tying up more money. Just keep in mind that CFD trading means you won’t be eligible for dividends, and holding long-term stock positions can be more expensive.
fThe AvaTrade mobile app is well-designed. It gives you the ability to create multiple watchlists and portfolios and to access charts for individual assets with just a tap. You can zoom in on charts to look at detailed patterns as needed, and it’s easy to check your account balance and current holdings at a glance.
- Assets: Stocks, ETFs, Cryptocurrencies, Forex, Commodities (all as CFDs)
- Demo Account: Yes
- Trade Commissions: No
- Minimum deposit: £100
- Leverage: Trade stocks at up to 20:1 margin
- Technical Charting: Access to MetaTrader 4 and mobile charts
- Copy Trading: Copy other traders’ portfolios with a single tap
- CFDs Only: You cannot buy and sell stocks directly
- No Market News: Only technical charts included in research
3. Investous - Best for Leveraged Trading
Investous, like AvaTrade, offers all trading through CFDs. The big advantage to trading with Investous, then, is leverage. You can trade stocks on margins of up to 500:1, which allows for large positions with relatively little cash. In that sense, Investous is ideally suited for more risk-tolerant investors who can take advantage of high-leverage accounts.
Helpfully, Investous offers mobile traders a number of tools for success. You get access to a proprietary charting software optimised for mobile screens. It’s a little bit more difficult to run technical studies on these charts compared to MetaTrader 4, but you also get access to the separate MetaTrader mobile app when you open an Investous account. The Investous app also gives you ‘Trading Signals,’ which use market-wide data to offer insight into whether other traders are buying or selling an asset.
The only downside to Investous is that it’s more expensive than many other mobile brokers. The spreads can be high, especially for stock CFD trading, and it takes a minimum of £200 to open an account. You can bring spreads down by upgrading your account, but the only way to do this is to deposit more money; a Gold account requires a balance of £20,000, while a Platinum account requires £80,000.
- Assets: Stocks, ETFs, Cryptocurrencies, Forex, Commodities (all as CFDs)
- Demo Account: Yes
- Trade Commissions: No
- Minimum deposit: £200
- High Leverage: Trade on margins up to 500:1
- Charting Software: Includes proprietary charts and MetaTrader 4
- Trading Signals: See what other investors think about an asset
- High Account Minimum: You need at least £200 to invest
- High Spreads: Relatively costly for trading stock CFDs
4. Wealthify – Great For Ethical Investment Funds
Wealthify is classified as a robo-investor integrated with a digital investment app, although the platform not fully automated. The company launch in 2016 and is headquartered in Cardiff. Wealthify are backed by Aviva, which are the largest shareholders.
The software is accessible both through a mobile and desktop interface. Customer services are available through the platform and over the phone.
The investment app places your money into a selection of diversified portfolios depending on your preferences. All portfolios spread the risk of the fund across a range of industries and countries. A typical portfolio will include low-cost and passive investments, such EFTs, mutual and other index tracking funds.
Costs associated with Welathify start with a flat rate of 0.6% on your investment, plus fees, which vary based upon the funds invested in, which generally start at around 0.22% with higher fees associated with specialist funds such as ethical investing at 0.66%.
Benefits of the platform
- Standard Buying and selling of investments
- Ongoing management of your plan
- Live chat, phone and email support
- News and insights on the blog and with a monthly market update
- Invest from just £1.
- No withdrawal charges
- Ability to select ethical investments
- Less control over investments – its managed for you
- An expensive option for large portfolios
5. Nutmeg – Good Selection of Investment Products
Nutmeg is a UK based investment platform offering users both a mobile app and desktop system. The platform is a robo advisor and suggested to be the UK’s largest provider wit over £1.7 billion worth of funds invested for in excess of 70,000 customers.
A Robo Advisor invests on your behalf based upon your preferences. The basic investments you can choose with Nutmeg are a range of three EFTs (Exchange Traded Funds) – Socially Responsible, Fully Managed and Fixed Allocation. These can also be invested in by UK customers in a Stocks & Shares ISA wrapper, which is a tax-free investment initiative that incentivises individuals to save for the future.
Nutmeg charge an annual fee of 0.17% for fixed allocation investing, 0.19% for the fully managed portfolio, and 0.33% for the socially responsible package.
The app is clean and simple use as would be expected from a sizeable regulated player in the investment space.
Nutmeg offers 5 products:
- Stocks and shares ISA
- General investment account
- Lifetime ISA
- Personal Pension
- Junior ISA
- Simple, clear and easy to understand
- Useful app and detailed browser options
- Good for passive investors
- The social responsible is expensive
- You can’t pick and choose individual stocks and share
6. Robinhood – Comprehensive Free Trading App
Robinhood is known as a free trading app, similar to eToro where their fees are made through the spread. The company built the new trading system from scratch in 2015 and is considered to be one of the bigger layers in the market. While the platform does originate in the US it is set for launch in the UK market in 2020 – Early access is now available.
Robinhood is essentially a stockbroker platform where you can invest in a wide range of individual stocks and share from as little as £1. Robinhood is also heavily regulated in the UK, with a license from the Financial Conduct Authority.
For US customers, you benefit from the protections offered by the SIPC. This is a US-based insurance scheme that covers up to $500,000 in security holdings, and $250,000 in cash balances.
- Zero-free stock trading
- 5,000+ stocks listed
- Access to ETFs and bonds
- Spreads are often higher than traditional brokers
- No mutual funds or bonds.
What to Look for in an Investment App
The investing app you choose will have a big impact on your success as an investor. There’s nothing more important than getting the right tools at your disposal at a cost that won’t compromise the margins on your trades.
So, let’s take a closer look at some of the aspects you should consider when choosing an investing app.
The first thing to look at when choosing a mobile trading platform is what types of assets are available for trading. While many traditional brokers have mobile apps, they largely limit you to trading stocks, ETFs, and bonds.
There are numerous other markets out there to trade. All three of the investing apps we recommended offer stocks, ETFs, and bonds, as well as cryptocurrency, commodity, and forex trading. Even if you aren’t interested in trading currencies or commodities right now, these assets can offer a chance to diversify your portfolio in the future.
Another thing to think about is whether your broker allows you to directly own assets you invest in or whether you can only buy and sell CFDs. This is an important difference. When you directly own stocks, you’re eligible for dividends and there are no fees associated with rolling over contracts from month to month if you want to hold a position for the long term. But, CFDs allow you to trade with leverage, so you can open larger short-term positions without tying up nearly as much cash as you’d need to with direct ownership.
Additionally, if you’re trading cryptocurrencies, commodities, or forex, taking direct ownership of an asset can be much more difficult for regulatory or logistical reasons. CFDs make it much easier to trade these assets since you are only speculating on the future price.
Among the best things that investing apps can offer aside from a variety of assets are research tools. These could be market news feeds or, more commonly, technical charting tools. Some mobile apps, like AvaTrade, integrate directly with the popular MetaTrader 4 mobile app to provide in-depth charts and pre-built technical studies. Other investing apps, like Investous, have their own custom charting software optimised for small smartphone screens.
In any case, make sure that the research tools available fit your investing style. If you trade primarily based on fundamental financial data, having advanced charts probably won’t help you nearly as much as having access to recent corporate filings. On the other hand, traders who prefer to open and close positions quickly around market news will want access to an up-to-date news feed and the ability to create custom trading alerts.
A number of investing apps, like those of eToro and AvaTrade, offer some form of social trading. These two apps allow you to follow successful traders’ public profiles on the apps and to see how their portfolios are distributed at any time. More than that, you can instantly designate a set amount of money from your account to copy that traders’ positions.
This is extremely helpful because it allows you to follow a strategy that’s already working. Better yet, you can hedge your bets by copying multiple traders and trying out several different strategies at once. For beginner traders and investors who don’t have a lot of time to spend on developing custom strategies, this style of social trading is a major plus.
Another aspect of social trading that’s worth looking for is discussion boards, similar to the ones that eToro offers for every stock, commodity, and currency. These can be a great resource for following news developments or rumours around a company or other asset, as well as for gauging investor sentiment.
Low Commissions and Fees
Of course, your choice of broker also needs to take into account what kinds of fees you’ll be charged for using the investing app. Fees can be broken down into three categories: commissions, spreads, and other fees.
Trade commissions were once everywhere, but in recent years they’ve largely disappeared from mobile investing apps. That’s generally a good thing, since it means you’re not paying money simply to open and close a position. It also means that you don’t have to worry about trading with small amounts of money, since you’re not paying flat fees regardless of the size of your trade. None of the three investing apps that we recommended charge trading commissions.
That said, brokers do still make money off your trading through the spread. This is the difference between the price you buy an asset for and the price it’s sold for. Usually, the spread isn’t more than one to two per cent of the value of any trade, but be on the lookout for investing apps that charge higher spreads. The lower the spread, the better, since you start off every trade with a slight loss as a result of spreads.
Finally, it’s important to look at account minimums and any other fees your investing app charges. None of the apps we recommended charge a monthly subscription fee, but some brokers do. On top of that, some brokers charge fees when you withdraw money from your account or if you don’t trade (and spend money on the spread) at least once every three months. These fees can add up quickly, so be sure to check what your investing app will be charging.
Investing on the go is one of the best ways to make money during your commute or travel and to monitor your positions when you’re away from your computer. With the best UK investment apps, you can trade much more than just stocks to diversify your portfolio. You can also take advantage of rich social trading and research tools to discover new investing opportunities and develop a successful strategy. Thanks to our review of the top three investment apps for 2020, you’re ready to get started trading from anywhere.
Is there a monthly subscription fee to use an investing app?
Some investing apps charge monthly subscription or management fees, although this isn’t true for any of the apps that we recommended. Just watch out for inactivity fees, which may be assessed if you don’t place a trade with your app for a period of three months or longer.
Do I need to be connected to WiFi to trade from anywhere?
You do need to be connected to the Internet to place trades with any investing app. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need a WiFi connection. You can trade using mobile data in many places that don’t have WiFi available.
When trading stocks, should I trade CFDs or buy and sell stocks directly?
For stock trading, both direct ownership and CFDs have advantages. Direct ownership is typically better for long-term positions since you are eligible to collect dividends and don’t have to worry about contract rollover fees. CFDs are better for short-term positions when you want to trade with leverage.
Can I access my mobile trading account from a desktop?
Most brokers that offer mobile investing apps also have a desktop or browser-based platforms where you can access your account and make trades. However, some brokers are mobile-only, in which case you’ll have to use the app to access your account.