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Best Trading Platforms UK for 2020 Revealed – Guide to Online Trading Platforms

Looking for an online trading platform in the UK that suits your needs? There is a wide variety out there some are only appropriate for advanced traders, while others are accessible for beginners. See our selection of some of the best on the market for 2020.
Kane Pepi
Author: Kane Pepi

Last Updated: July 16, 2020
Trading Platforms
Trading Platforms

computer, laptop and phone displays shorwing different trading charts

Whether you’re looking to invest on a long-term basis or engage in day trading – you will need to find a trading platform that meets your individual needs.

There are now hundreds of trading platforms in the UK market, each of which comes with its own pros and cons.

For example, while some platforms are popular for its super-low fees, others stand out for listing thousands of financial instruments.

Either way, we would suggest reading our ultimate guide to Trading Platforms in the UK.

Within it, we list the top 7 platforms currently in the market, alongside an overview of what you need to look out for prior to joining a new broker. This includes platforms for beginners and more advanced traders.

Table of Contents

    Trade with eToro - 0% Commission

    Our Rating

    etoro logo
    • Supports social trading, copy trading and copy portfolio features
    • Trade on the go via the eToro mobile trader
    • Highly transparent fee structure
    • A wide range of advanced trading tools and analytics
    etoro logo
    75% of investors lose money when trading CFDs.
    Note: You should only use a trading platform that is regulated by a licensing body such as the FCA. This is a minimum requirement in the UK, so always tread with caution when using a new platform.

    What Criteria are Used to Rank the Best Trading Platforms?

    • The number of payment methods supported
    • How easy is the KYC process?
    • What trading fees will you need to pay?
    • How many financial instruments can you trade?
    • The reputation and regulatory standing of the platform

    Top 7  Online Trading Platforms UK

    Below we have listed the best 7 trading platforms currently operating in the UK market.

    This includes a platform for both trading newbies and seasoned investors. Before you read through our recommendations, be sure to check out the criteria that we look out for prior to listing a broker.

    1. eToro – Best Trading Platform for Beginners

    eToro is now one of the most popular trading platforms in the UK market, with a minimum deposit of just £100. You can deposit up to £2,000 before submitting any KYC documents. The platform can typically be split into two segments. If you're looking to invest in an asset that you own outright, eToro lists thousands of stocks and shares, as well as a number of cryptocurrencies.

    If you are instead looking to trade CFDs (contract for differences), the platform hosts commodities, bonds, energies, indices, and more. eToro also offers a fully-fledged forex department. The reason that eToro makes our list is that it is suited to newbie traders. It takes just minutes to set-up an account, and you can deposit funds with a debit/credit card, bank transfer, and even an e-wallet like PayPal. eToro does not charge any trading fees, so the only cost you'll need to take into account is that of the spread.

    Finally, eToro allows you to copy the trades of successful traders, which is perfect if you have virtually no experience in the investment arena.

    Our Rating

    • Supports multiple payment methods including e-wallets
    • Presents you with thousands of financial instruments to choose from
    • No trading fees other than the spread
    • Withdrawing process is relatively slow and expensive
    • Only supports one base currency
    CFDs are complex financial instruments and 75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs.

    2. Plus500 – Great Broker for CFDs and Spread Betting

    Plus500 is a UK-based forex, CFD, and spread betting broker. In addition to being licensed in Australia by the ASIC, and Cyprus by CySEC, Plus500 UK LTD is authorized and regulated by FCA. Its parent company is listed on the London Stock Exchange. This is good in the sense that your trading balances and the company's funds are maintained in segregated bank accounts.

    Plus500 has a highly advanced proprietary trading platform that allows you to buy and sell 2000+ CFD products using some of the most advanced trade and market analysis tools. What we really like about the broker is that you can choose from conventional CFDs, or spread betting. If opting for the latter, this means that your profits are exempt from UK tax.

    The CFD asset classes hosted on the platform include stocks, indices, ETFs, hard metals, energies, Forex, options, and cryptocurrencies. All trades at the platform are executed on a commission-free basis, so it's only the spread that you will pay. When trading most of these CFDs, you will also be exposed to attractive leverages of up to 1:300. The spreads and other trade-related fees are highly competitive and there are no deposit/withdrawal fees.

    Our Rating

    • Fast order execution
    • No trade commissions
    • Competitively low variable spreads
    • Imposes overnight funding fees
    • Its educational resources are scarce
    80.5% of retail CFD accounts lose money.

    3. Capital.com – Best for feature-rich proprietary trading platform

    Capital.com may be a relatively new trading platform established barely four years ago, but it has carved its niche in the world of superior trading platforms. Its stands out with one of the most sophisticated, easy to use, and feature-rich AI-Powered trading platform where its clients can trade over 2000 CFD securities. These CFDs range from shares and stocks to Forex, Indices, Commodities, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies drawn from numerous international markets.

    Other features that endear it to the online trading community include its wide range of educational and training resources. Additionally, it boasts for having one of the widest range of technical indicators and risk management tools and is one of a handful of brokerage platforms that offer customer support over the phone.

    Our Rating

    • Maintains a highly sophisticated yet easy to use trading platform
    • Gives you access to real-time market data and speedy trade execution speeds
    • Trades are commission-free and you also benefit from attractively low spreads
    • One may consider their choice of trading accounts limited
    • All the securities tradable here are only available as CFDs

    4. FXCM – Highly transparent price structure

    FXCM, also known as Forex Capital Markets, has been around for over two decades making it one of the most reputable and trusted online trading platforms. One of the factors that have endeared it to the online trading community is the competitiveness and transparency of its trading fees and commissions.

    Its trading fees and spreads, though variable, is highly competitive and visible on the broker platform. You can view the trading fees associated with a trade beforehand. Not to mention that it supports a wide range of free deposit and withdrawal methods including credit and debit cards, online wallets like Skrill, and bank wire transfers.

    Other factors making FXCM one of the best trading platforms in the UK include the fact that it maintains a highly advanced trading platform, it’s accessible via desktop and mobile trading platforms, and its dedication to traders education via its educational and training resources as well the demo trader.

    Our Rating

    • Maintains highly competitive trading fees and 0 commission fees
    • Hosts a wide range of tradable CFD instruments
    • Dedicates a section of its website to CFD trader education and training
    • Charges inactivity fees
    • Will only support three base currencies for the trader accounts – USD/EUR/GBP

    5. Markets.com – Best for Advanced Traders

    Markets.com is a UK based trading platform that has an extensive list of assets. This includes a huge forex department, as well as commodities, stocks and shares, energies, and futures.

    In a similar nature to eToro, Markets.com does not charge any trading fees or commissions. Instead, Markets.com makes its money from the spread. The platform is best suited to those with advanced skills in trading, as you'll have access to more than 100 technical indicators.

    You will also have the option of trading with leverage, and the platform hosts a number of research tools that covers both fundamentals and technical analysis. Markets.com has an excellent regulatory standing, which includes a license from the FCA.

    Our rating

    • No fees or commissions other than the spread
    • Lists thousands of assets
    • Rigged with more than 100 technical indicators
    • One may consider their list of features quite limited
    • Has relatively high trading fees

    6. DEGIRO – Best for Longer-Term Trades

    If you prefer trading on a longer-term basis, then you might want to consider the merits of DEGIRO. The trading platform offers heaps of financial instruments across multiple markets.

    If you want to trade stocks and shares, you'll be able to invest in companies from dozens of national exchanges. This includes the US, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, and Singapore. DEGIRO also lists a number of markets in the futures, ETF, bonds, and indices departments. DEGIRO is also known for offering some of the most competitive fees in the UK trading space. You will pay a fixed fee on your trades, which will vary depending on the market you are looking to access.

    The trading platform is regulated by multiple licensing bodies, including that of the UK's FCA and the Dutch AFM/DNB. The only drawback to DEGIRO is that the platform does not support forex trading.

    • Its one of the few UK platforms to offer corporate bonds
    • Its simple to deposit funds via a UK bank account
    • Has a strong regulatory standing
    • No forex trading
    • Limited educational resources

    7. Libertex – Best for Low Minimum Deposits and Zero Spreads

    Launched in 1997, Libertex is an online broker that now boasts a customer base of well over 2 million traders. The trading platform is ideal if you are just starting out in the online investment space, as minimum deposits amount to just $10 (about £8). This gives you a great opportunity to get your head around online trading without risking too much.

    Then, once you begin to get more comfortable, you might decide to start increasing your stakes. Libertex covers most asset classes - such as stocks, cryptocurrencies, metals, ETFs, and energies. A major selling point of the platform is that it does not charge any spreads. This means that you will get the price that you see, with no hidden extras between the bid and ask price. You will, however, need to pay a trading commission at Libertex.

    The specific rate will vary depending on the asset you are trading. Libertex offers leverage to all account holders. If you're a retail trader this follows ESMA limits, so you'll be capped at 30:1. Professional traders are offered leverage of upto 600:1, which is huge. In terms of getting started at Libertex, the platform accepts debit and credit cards, but no e-wallets.

    • Minimum deposit of just $10 (£8)
    • Deposit funds with a debit/credit card
    • Zero spreads on all assets
    • Number of financial instruments is somewhat limited
    • Limited educational resources

    What to Consider When Choosing a Best Trading Platform?

    As there are now hundreds of trading platforms competing for your business, knowing which broker to go with is no easy feat. You will first need to assess what it is that you are looking for from a platform. For example, are you looking for a platform that offers the lowest trading fees, or are you more concerned with the broker’s reputation? To help you along the way, we have outlined some of the main factors that you need to consider prior to joining a trading platform.

    • Regulatory Considerations – Is it FCA Regulated?

    You should only join a trading platform if the broker is in receipt of a license. In the UK, trading platforms are governed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This is a minimum requirement for trading platforms that wish to offer their services to the UK market.

    You can check if a platform is FCA regulated on the register here: https://register.fca.org.uk/

    screengrab of FCA home page
    The FCA website provides a simple way to check if a firm is regulated here.
    • Platform Fees and Charges

    Fees are one of the most important factors that you need to look out for when choosing a new trading platform. Some platforms will charge you a flat fee every time you buy and sell an asset. For example, you might pay £7 per trade, regardless of how big or small the trade is. This option is best if you’re trading larger amounts. Other platforms will instead charge a variable fee. For example, you might pay 1% of the trade size, so a £100 trade would cost £1. This is the better option if you typically trade smaller amounts.

    • Financial Instruments Coverage

    There is nothing worse than joining a new broker, only to realize that the number of tradable assets is thin on the ground. Instead, you should go with a broker that covers thousands of instruments across dozens of asset classes. Alternatively, if you’re looking to trade a specific asset like cryptocurrencies, find a platform that supports multiple coins.

    example of different tradeable securities

    • Payment Methods

    You will first need to evaluate what payment methods the trading platform supports. Most brokers will allow you to deposit funds with a traditional debit or credit card, and bank transfers are usually an option too. Some platforms even allow you to deposit funds with an e-wallet like PayPal or Skrill. Just make sure that you understand what deposit and withdrawal fees you will be required to pay.

    • Customer Support

    While a trading platform might offer lots of payment methods, low fees, and thousands of financial instruments, you still need to assess what customer support is like. We prefer trading platforms that offer 24/7 support across a number of different channels. This should include live chat, phone, and email support.

    • User-Friendliness

    If you are just starting out in the world of online trading, you will want to choose a platform that is suited for beginners. This should start at the very offset with the deposit and verification process. The platform should also make it easy to buy and sell assets to those without any prior experience in the space.

    • Technical Indicators

    If you are a seasoned online trader with lots of experience under your belt, then you should have a firm grasp of how technical analysis works. This is a fundamental part of trading, as you will be basing your decisions on historical data. As such, you’ll want to choose a trading platform that offers a good number of technical indicators. This includes the likes of Fibonacci levels, Parabolic Stop and Reverse, Exponential Averages, and Bollinger Bands.

    Example of trading chart showing diferent indicators

    • Scalping

    Scalping is the process of ‘scalping’ profits from small price movements. It can be utilized in virtually any asset class, as long as there are sufficient levels of liquidity. Scalping is especially useful when an asset is going through a period of consolidation.

    This is where an asset moves sideways between two key points of support and resistance. In order to be successful in scalping, you will need to install strict entry and exit points. In a similar nature to day trading, scalping requires you to be sat at your screen for the duration of your trades, as you’ll rarely hold on to an order for more than an hour.

    If you’re looking to be a scalp trader, you need to sign up with a trading platform that allows this type of trading. Many platforms prohibit scalpers because of the difficulty in liquidity and balancing quick traders in their order books.

    Am I Eligible to Join a Trading Platform?

    Most trading platforms will cater their services to both retail and institutional investors. You can join a trading platform as long as you are 18 years of age, a UK resident, and in possession of a UK bank account. If you are a tax resident outside of the UK, you will also need to supply your tax identification number. As per anti-money laundering laws, platforms will need to identify each and every user that joins its platform.

    sample Proof of identity requirements

    This is known as KYC (Know Your Customer). You will need to upload a copy of your government-issued ID (passport or driver’s license), as well as a proof of address. This can include a bank statement, utility bill, or tax statement. Once you have passed the KYC process you will have your trading limitations removed.

    What Financial Instruments can you Trade?

    Trading platforms typically offer thousands of financial instruments that can be traded across heaps of asset classes.

    While the extensiveness of the trading arena will vary from platform-to-platform, we have listed the most commonly supported asset types below.

    • Trading platforms for stocks

    Most trading platforms will support stocks and shares from multiple markets. This includes well-known stock exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Nasdaq, London Stock Exchange (LSE) and Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE). Some platforms will also host stocks from less liquid exchanges. This includes markets from Spain, South Africa, Canada, Australia, and Hong Kong.

    Learn more about buying stocks and shares here.

    • Commodities Trading

    If you’re looking to trade commodities, most trading platforms in the UK will support precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum. You’ll also have the option of trading energies like oil and natural gas. The commodity scene is especially useful if you’re looking for a highly liquid marketplace that operates on a  24/7 basis.

    • Indexes

    A stock market index allows you to invest in the wider economy, as opposed to trading a single stock. For example, if you wanted to gain exposure to the LSE, you could invest in the FTSE100. This consists of the 100 largest companies that make up the LSE. Other popular indexes include the NASDAQ 100, S&P 500, and Dow Jones.

    • Futures and Options

    If you’re an advanced trader that seeks sophisticated investment products, then you might want to consider futures and options. These allow you to speculate on the future price of an asset without actually owning it. Most contracts come with a maturity of 3 months.

    • ETFs

    An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is a financial product that seeks to track an asset, or group of assets. For example, if you wanted to invest in the global marijuana industry, but you don’t want to trade individual stocks, you could purchase an ETF that tracks the largest companies operating in the space. ETFs are available on virtually every asset class, and they even allow you to go short.

    • Trading platforms for bitcoin and cryptocurrency

    If you’ve got a slightly higher appetite for risk, you might consider trading cryptocurrencies. Trading platforms typically offer pairs against the USD, and supported coins will include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Ripple. Take caution when trading cryptocurrencies, as the market is extremely volatile.

    Learn more about cryptocurrency trading here.

    Summary – Choosing a UK Trading Platform

    In summary, there are now hundreds of trading platforms to choose from in the UK.

    While some are best for super-low fees and commissions, others excel in the technical indicator department. This is why you should spend some time assessing what it is you are looking for in a platform.

    By following the tips we have outlined in our guide, you should be able to locate a broker that meets your individual needs.

    Just make sure that the platform has a good regulatory standing, which should include an FCA license at the absolute minimum.

    Trade with eToro - 0% Commission

    Our Rating

    etoro logo
    • Supports social trading, copy trading and copy portfolio features
    • Trade on the go via the eToro mobile trader
    • Highly transparent fee structure
    • A wide range of advanced trading tools and analytics
    etoro logo
    75% of investors lose money when trading CFDs.

    Glossary of trading platforms

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Platform Fee

    The trading platform fee refers to the amount a trader pays to use the platform and access its integrated platform features and tools. It can be a one –time fee paid for the acquisition of the trading platform, a subscription fee paid monthly or annually. Others will charge on a per-trade basis with a specific fee per trade.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Cost per trade

    Cost per trade is also referred to as the base trade fee and refers to the fee that a broker or trading platform charges you every time you place a trade. Some brokers offer volume discounts and charge a lower cost per trade for voluminous trades.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Margin

    Margin is the money needed in your account to maintain a trade with leverage.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Social trading

    Social trading is a form of trading that allows for the interaction and exchange of trade ideas, signals and trade settings between the different classes of traders.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Copy Trading

    Copy trading, also known as mirror trading is a form of online trading that lets traders copy trade settings from one another. In most cases, it is the newbies and part-time traders that copy the positions of pro traders. The copiers -in most cases - are then required to surrender a share of the profits made from copied trades – averaging 20% - with the pro traders.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Financial instruments

    A Financial instrument ideally refers to the proof of ownership of financial commodities of monetary contracts between two parties. In the money markets, financial instruments refer to such elements as shares, stocks, bonds, Forex and crypto CFDs and other contractual obligations between different parties.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Index

    An index is an indicator that tracks and measures the performance of a security such as a stock or bond.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Commodities

    Commodities refer to raw materials used in the production and manufacturing of other products or agricultural products. Some of the most popular commodities traded on the exchange markets include energy and gases like oil, agricultural products like corn and coffee, and precious metals like gold and silver.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

    An ETF is a fund that can be traded on an exchange. The fund is a basket containing multiple securities such as stocks, bonds or even commodities. ETFs allow you to trade the basket without having to buy each security individually.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Contract for difference (CFD)

    CFDs are a form of contractual trading that involves speculating on the performance of a particular trade in the market. CFD’s will basically allow you to speculate on the future value of securities such as stocks, currencies and commodities without owning the underlying securities.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Minimum investment

    The minimum investment simply refers to the lowest amount of capital injection you can deposit into a brokerage or a trading platform. Different brokers demand varied minimum investment amounts from their clients either when registering or opening trade positions.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Daily trading limit

    A daily trading limit is the lowest and highest amount that a security is allowed to fluctuate, in one trading session, at the exchange where it’s traded. Once a limit is reached, trading for that particular security is suspended until the next trading session. Daily trading limits are imposed by exchanges to protect investors from extreme price volatilities.

    Trading Platforms Glossary
    Day traders

    A day trader is a term used to describe a trader who is constantly opening trades and closing them within a day. It is a common term used to refer to forex traders who open trade and only hold onto it for a few minutes or hours before disposing and having to leave no open trades at the time the trading day closes.

    FAQs

    What trading platform is best for beginners?

    There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as there are heaps of platforms that cater to newbies. We have suggested eToro as a notable user-friendly trading platform, although many others exist.

    How are trading fees calculated?

    This depends on the trading platform in question. Some platforms charge on a fixed-fee basis, while others will charge you a percentage of the trade size. Others charge no trading fees at all, other than the spread.

    What does it mean when trading platforms only charge via the spread?

    The spread is the difference between the buy and sell price. This means that you will be buying or selling the asset at a price slightly less favourable than the market is offering. For example, if the spread amounts to 1%, this is what you will need to make just to break even.

    Will I need to provide ID when I join a trading platform?

    All trading platforms are required to identify you when you first register an account. The process is simple, and merely requires you to upload a copy of your passport or driver's license, and a proof of address.

    What is the minimum deposit amount at a trading platform?

    Minimum deposits will vary from platform-to-platform. Some allow you to get started with just £10, while others will ask for much more.

    How do I withdraw funds from a trading platform?

    As per anti-money laundering laws, you will need to withdraw your funds back to the same payment method that you used to deposit.

    How do I short assets at a trading platform?

    If you are looking to short assets, you will need to use a platform that specialises in CFDs. The process works largely the same as longing an asset, albeit, in reverse.

    UK Brokers A-Z directory

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    All trading carries risk. Views expressed are those of the writers only. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The opinions expressed in this Site do not constitute investment advice and independent financial advice should be sought where appropriate. This website is free for you to use but we may receive commission from the companies we feature on this site.
    Kane Pepi

    Kane holds academic qualifications in the finance and financial investigation fields. With a passion for all-things finance, he currently writes for a number of online publications.

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