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Best UK Trading Platforms for Active Traders of 2024

Steven Hatzakis

Written by Steven Hatzakis
Fact-checked by Blain Reinkensmeyer
Edited by Carolyn Kimball

January 19, 2024

While active trading can mean different things to different people, the common goal all active traders have is to outperform the market. Choosing the best broker can be crucial to your success as an active trader, as the needs of active traders can be drastically different from those of passive investors.

Compared to a passive buy-and-hold strategy, active trading involves buying and selling not just to rebalance a portfolio's target allocations, but to continually identify trading opportunities to optimize performance based on your specific trading goals and strategy.

Active investing requires more effort not just from you but across nearly every category when it comes to what a broker can offer you in terms of their products and services.

For example, the platform and available tools must support your needs, and having access to real-time news headlines, research, and, competitive pricing can all make a significant difference on your potential setup for success or failure.

people Why listen to UK.StockBrokers.com?

Our team has been studying the U.K. and international markets since 2016 and comprises several decades' worth of experience in investment, industry analysis and journalism. Blain Reinkensmeyer, Elizabeth Anderson and Steven Hatzakis have personally conducted thousands of transactions throughout their respective careers, including the trading of shares, options, futures, cryptocurrencies and foreign exchange, and have fully tested each of the brokers' features first-hand on a variety of devices. Find out more about us and the way we examine brokerages.

Best UK Trading Platforms for Active Traders

Here are the best U.K. share dealing brokers for active traders in 2024, based on our analysis and review of 17 brokerages.

  • Interactive Brokers
    - Best overall for active traders
  • Saxo Markets - Robust platform suite
  • IG
    - Great for advanced charting
  • eToro - Best for copy and crypto trading
  • Trading 212 - Easy to use
  • XTB - Great research and education
Interactive Brokers
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best overall for active traders

Minimum Deposit£0.0
Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month£3
ISAYes
SIPPYes

Our top choice for active traders stands out for its global reach, sophisticated trading tools and numerous platforms. Combined with competitive pricing for high-volume trading, support for professional traders, and plentiful research materials, IBKR is hard to beat. Read full review

Pros
  • Low commission for stock trading
  • No mutual fund fees
  • Powerful tools for experienced investors
Cons
  • Educational content is U.S.-focused
  • Can seem overwhelming to new investors
  • Charges can be confusing
Visit Site

New client offer, special margin rates.

(Your capital is at risk)

Saxo Markets
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Robust platform suite

Minimum Deposit£0.0
Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month0.08% (£3 min)
ISAYes
SIPPYes

Along with a robust platform suite and excellent research content, Saxo Bank provides discounts for high-volume traders and perks in its VIP account offering. While custody fees can add up for holding positions overnight, these costs should be weighed against Saxo’s many benefits. Read full review

Pros
  • Excellent web and mobile trading app
  • Offers ISAs and SIPPs
  • Now offers mutual funds
Cons
  • High fees for share and bond transactions
  • Limited chart features on the mobile app
  • Steep learning curve for newer investors
IG
4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

Great for advanced charting

Minimum Deposit£0.0
Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month£3-£8
ISAYes
SIPPYes

IG provides an excellent share dealing platform for U.K. investors, with access to a large range of markets and advanced order entry for managing trades in real time, including trading from the chart and with integrated trading signals. Read full review

Pros
  • Can trade through an ISA or SIPP
  • Great mobile app and trading platform
  • Excellent learning resources
Cons
  • Expensive for investors making small, infrequent trades
  • No mutual funds or bonds
Visit Site

Low-cost US and UK shares.

(Your capital is at risk)

eToro
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best for copy and crypto trading

Minimum Deposit£50.0
Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month£0
ISANo
SIPPNo

Best known for copy trading and crypto, eToro has evolved into a multi-asset broker that may well suit active traders who are looking for a more simplified trading experience. Automated trading is not supported. Read full review

Pros
  • Very cheap
  • Virtual account allows you to practice
  • Great mobile app
Cons
  • No bonds, mutual funds or investment trusts
  • Some hidden fees
  • No ISA account or SIPP
Trading 212
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Easy to use

Minimum Deposit£1.0
Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month£0
ISAYes
SIPPNo

Known for its platform’s ease of use, Trading 212 can be a good choice for active traders thanks to a wide range of markets and low trading costs. While you can see your open positions on charts in advanced view mode, pending orders are not yet shown. Read full review

Pros
  • Offers ISAs
  • User-friendly mobile app
  • Commission-free stock and ETF dealing
  • Offers practice accounts
Cons
  • Does not offer a SIPP
  • Limited educational materials for research
  • No mutual funds or bonds
XTB
4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

Great research and education

Minimum Deposit£0.0
Share Trading: 0-9 Deals/ Month£0
ISANo
SIPPNo

Though fairly new to the U.K. share dealing scene, XTB is a well-established broker globally and its platform performs well for active trading, although fees can add up for high-volume traders. Robust research sweetens the pot. Read full review

Pros
  • Low fees: commission-free stock and ETF trading
  • Easy-to-use mobile app
Cons
  • No mutual funds or bonds
  • Works out expensive if you trade more than £100,000 a month
  • No ISA or SIPP

Winner: Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers packs an extensive variety of trading tools and resources for active traders of all kinds, with more features on offer than nearly any other broker. You can opt for either the simpler web-based platforms or utilise advanced features in its flagship Trader Workstation desktop platform. Research and related news analysis tools for analyzing global markets are extensive, and Trading Central is integrated into the web platform. IBKR’s Pro account will appeal to professional and very active traders.

Runner-up: Saxo Markets

Saxo caters exceptionally well to professional and active traders in the U.K. with its flagship platform suite for mobile, web, and desktop, consisting of the SaxoTraderPRO platform for desktop and the SaxoTraderGO platform for web and mobile. Saxo stands out for its insightful research team and in-house content, in addition to providing global market news headlines and actionable trading signals from within its platforms. These features coupled with its trading volume discounts make it a great choice for active traders in 2024.

Podium finisher: IG

IG is another excellent choice for active share dealing in the U.K., thanks in part to its robust trading platform suite, which includes an array of innovative features and integrated trading tools for web and mobile. One of my favorite features on IG’s web platform is trading from the charts and being able to drag and drop to modify your existing orders, which can be crucial when trading actively on small time frames, such as day trading. IG also delivers powerful research and integrated content from TipRanks, along with integrated trading signals to help you find trading opportunities throughout the trading day. IG also has a strong community network and resources for traders, including on its DailyFX news portal.

Other trading platforms tested

In addition to our top picks, we tested and analysed 11 more brokers in the U.K. Here are our high-level takeaways for each.

AJ Bell - Charges are on the high side for those with large portfolios in mutual funds and those looking to execute one-off share deals; but AJ Bell’s new app, called Dodl, offers much lower fees and also offers a more slim-lined and user-friendly service. Educational and research materials are strong, too.

Barclays Smart Investor - Barclays Smart Investor offers a wide range of investments and accounts and is a good value for those with a midsize portolio who like flat fees. On the downside, it can be complicated to open an account as a non-Barclays bank customer, and you can’t buy or sell investments through the app if you don’t have a Barclays bank account.

Capital.com - Capital.com is a U.K. broker primarily known for CFDs (contracts for difference) and spread betting. While it previously offered the chance to buy and sell shares commission-free, you can no longer buy shares directly through Capital.com. Trading is limited to an unleveraged CFD account.

CMC Invest - CMC Invest offers commission-free trading of U.K.-listed shares and U.S. equities via a mobile app only. Though a newer entrant to the U.K. share dealing market and currently somewhat limited, it’s powered by global contender CMC Markets, making it likely that its offerings will expand.

Fidelity International - Fidelity offers thousands of investments to choose from and also offers financial advice for those wanting more direction. It's best suited to traditional investors who hold a range of accounts through the platform, enjoy the great research material available and who may also use Fidelity for financial advice. The platform can be expensive for those with portfolios of less than £20,000 and those with portfolios above £40,000.

Freetrade - Overall Freetrade is a great platform to help you get to grips with investing. Costs are low, and its user-friendly mobile app offers great investment inspiration. Sophisticated investors, however, may find that other platforms offer a wider range of investment options and tools.

Halifax - Charges at Halifax are in line with some other brokers, but more expensive than others. If you have a large investment portfolio you may benefit from the low annual management fee of £36. If you are new to Halifax, there may be a better platform for you that is cheaper and easier to open.

Hargreaves Lansdown - As the U.K.’s biggest investment platform for individual investors, Hargreaves Lansdown offers a wide range of investment choices for either beginners or seasoned investors. However, its fees are generally more expensive than rival brokers, which can become an issue for large investment pots.

Interactive Investor - The standout feature at Interactive Investor (ii) is its low flat-rate fees. Other investment platforms typically favour percentage fees for fund investing, although more brokers are now opting for flat fees. Our view is that Interactive Investor is a great platform for any investor, offering a wide range of investments for cheap prices on the whole.

Lloyds Bank - It's easy for current Lloyds Bank customers to open a Lloyds Bank Share Dealing investment account. But there are other platforms that are easier, more comprehensive and cheaper to use, including Halifax, which is also owned by Lloyds Banking Group.

Vanguard UK Investor - Vanguard U.K. Investor, part of one of the world's largest fund managers, is cheap and easy to use and will appeal to investors looking for inexpensive index funds for long-term investing. Its platform, however, reveals many shortcomings compared to leading brokers, particularly relating to the narrow investment selection and lack of mobile app.

Trading vs. investing: what’s the difference?

Short answer: Trading is more short-term and market-timing oriented, while investing focuses on the long term. Both trading and investing involve the purchase (buying and selling) of financial securities such as stocks, bonds, commodities, derivatives, forex, funds, or other financial instruments that represent major asset classes. Here’s some more detail:

  • Investing mentality: You are building and holding assets through all the potential ups and downs of the market, with the goal of long-term capital appreciation. You’re committing to a long-term strategy, rather than focusing on what your holdings did yesterday, last quarter, and so on. This type of investing, often referred to as passive investing, can follow simple rules-based approaches, such as putting a certain amount of money into an index fund.
  • Trading mentality: An active trader may be more focused on maximizing returns utilising a trading strategy, scanning the markets for opportunities within various asset classes and thinking of getting in and out relatively quickly. Trading can be much more challenging to master than passive investing, with the key differences being your anticipated time horizon, risk tolerance, and market expectations. In reality, few investors outperform the market.

How do you choose a share dealing platform?

Below are six basic steps that every investor should verify when choosing a share dealing platform and associated broker.

  1. Regulation: It’s always appropriate to first verify that the broker is properly regulated to reduce your risk of potential scam brokers. All the brokers we review on UK.StockBrokers.com are properly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA.
  2. Investment choices: Compare the broker’s offering of investments (the shares available to trade) and the list of supported trading platforms for share dealing.
  3. Platforms: Make note of the available trading tools within the platform that you can use, which is partcularly important for an active trader.
  4. Trading costs: It can be prudent to check the broker’s fee structure for share dealing, even if your strategy is not cost-sensitive, as trading fees can add up quickly compared to longer-term investing.
  5. Research and education: Look at the quality and variety of market research and analysis tools for identifying trading opportunities, along with the quality and scope of educational content that can aid in your development as you refine your trading strategy.
  6. Account opening: Once you have found a share dealing platform that meets your needs, setting up an account is typically a 5-10 minute process and can be done online via your broker’s official website.

What is the best free trading platform in the UK?

Among the top brokers in 2024, Interactive Brokers is my top pick for a free trading platform suite for active traders. It offers several options for web and mobile, along with the broker’s flagship Trader Workstation Desktop platform, which comes fully loaded.

What UK stockbroker offers the lowest fees?

From among the top brokers that we reviewed for 2024 in the U.K., here are the top five share dealing brokers with the lowest fees, with Trading212 leading the category:

What is the best platform for day trading in the UK?

Interactive Brokers is my top choice for active day traders in the U.K. in 2024. With a plethora of trading tools, platforms and research, and more access to global markets, IBKR should have you covered as an active day trader. That said, it’s worth adding that Saxo Markets and IG are also excellent choices.

What are the best UK stock trading apps?

Our picks for the best U.K. stock trading apps for 2022:

  • Saxo Markets - Best overall stock app
  • Interactive Brokers - Best stock app for usability
  • AJ Bell - Best for range of accounts
  • Hargreaves Lansdown - Best app for everyday investors
  • eToro - Best for simplicity
  • IG - Best app for traders

How can I trade forex in the UK?

The first step in trading forex in the U.K. is to choose a broker that is regulated and authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA, and open a trading account. Note that it's important to read the full terms and conditions of your account agreement, which governs the relationship you have with your broker.

Next, to execute trades, you must fund your account with a small amount of capital that you can afford to risk. Here are three steps to take after opening an account:

Learn the platform. Before trading, learn how your broker's trading software works. Some brokers offer virtual, or "paper," trading, which allows you to practice without risking real money. Explore any free educational content that's available about the platform.

Develop a strategy. Once you feel fluent with your broker's trading platforms, outline a basic strategy for yourself that includes risk management. The next step will be to identify entry points and exits (the price you plan to enter and exit the market) for a given currency pair.

Trade your plan. Once you identify a price and direction you would like to enter, a market order or limit order can help you establish an open position; you can also attach a stop-loss order and take-profit limit order to manage the risk/reward of your investment.

How do I choose a forex broker in the UK?

The broker you choose should be regulated and authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and highly trusted, meaning the broker has many years in operation and holds numerous regulatory licenses.

Ideally, the broker will rank highly in all the categories that are important to you. For example, you should choose an FCA-regulated broker that can give you access to the markets you want to trade, from within excellent online trading platforms (web-based or desktop-based software) and mobile trading apps. The best forex brokers in the U.K. also offer comprehensive educational content and a rich offering of research tools in various media formats, such as articles, news headlines, videos and webinars.

For more insight, see our top picks among U.K. forex brokers on sister site ForexBrokers.com.

Who is the best forex broker in the UK?

IG holds the title of best forex broker in the U.K. in 2024. U.K. residents can access spread betting, share trading, ETFs, and investment trusts, as well as forex and CFDs. See a full review of IG's forex offerings on our sister site, ForexBrokers.com. See a full review of IG's forex offerings on our sister site, ForexBrokers.com.

What is the best crypto trading platform UK?

EToro wins the best cryptocurrency ribband in our extensive review. In addition to offering share trading and other asset classes, eToro offers a plethora of cryptocurrencies and coins to trade, including familiar names such as bitcoin and ether, but also all the less well-known cryptocurrencies and altcoins.

In addition, eToro allows you to invest in cryptocurrency portfolios and use its cryptocurrency copy trading feature, as well as the ability to hold cryptocurrency in the eToro wallet.

Which trading platform is best for beginners in the UK?

The best trading platform for beginners in the U.K. should emphasise education, ease of use and low cost. Based on our thorough analysis of these factors across 17 brokers, the best trading platforms for beginners in the U.K. are:

What is options trading?

Options trading is a form of active trading using options contracts as part of a trading strategy or portfolio. Options are a type of financial instrument classified as a derivative that conveys the right to buy or sell a specific underlying security, such as a stock, at a designated price at a designated date in the future.

What are swaptions?

When you trade options on a swap, they can be referred to as a swaption. A swap is an agreement between a buyer and seller, similar to a futures contract, where there is an agreed-upon exchange of assets and obligations (such as forex or interest rates) at a future date. These are primarily traded over-the-counter (OTC) or off-exchange. Swaptions are typically thought of as an institutional product, and not usually available to retail traders, unless on a cash-settled basis.

What are fractional shares?

As the name suggests, fractional shares allow you to buy or sell fractions of a whole stock or ETF security. Fractional shares allow investors of nearly any budget to invest as little as a few dollars in a security. For example, if a stock is trading at £200 per share — and your broker offers fractional shares — you could put £20 into that stock and purchase 10% of it, or 0.1 shares.

Fractional share investing isn’t just for the lower budget investors; it can also be used for constructing custom portfolios or baskets of stock with the precision you would usually find in an ETF or fund. For instance, you might want to create a trading strategy that maintains a 1% allocation to BP but due to the size of your target trade setup, a full share of BP would push you above that 1% threshold. Thus, you can use fractional shares of BP to stay within the target allocation.

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Methodology

For the UK.StockBrokers.com Annual Review, we assessed, rated, and ranked 17 U.K. share dealing platforms over a 10-week time period. Each broker’s platforms and features were exhaustively tested by hand and graded on 53 different variables. In total, over 25,000 words of research were produced.

We thoroughly tested and compared features of prime interest to everyday investors, including but not limited to:

  • Investment choices, such as whether the broker offers trading of shares, ETFs, funds, bonds, and CFDs; and offers SIPP and ISA accounts.
  • The broker’s charges and fees for investing.
  • Functionality and design of mobile apps and website platform, and a fluid experience moving between app and web.
  • Usability of tools such as charting and watch lists.
  • Market research, such as screening, news and analysis.
  • Educational resources including tutorials, online courses, videos, webinars and articles.

Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors with quality data they can trust. Our lead researcher and writer, Elizabeth Anderson, has more than a decade’s experience as a financial journalist and market researcher. Elizabeth’s expertise is backed by a team of veteran fellow traders, data auditors, editors and project managers who work to ensure that UK.StockBrokers.com reviews and guides are the most unbiased and complete in the industry. Read more about our team.

About the Editorial Team

Steven Hatzakis
Steven Hatzakis

Steven Hatzakis is the Global Director of Research for ForexBrokers.com. Steven previously served as an Editor for Finance Magnates, where he authored over 1,000 published articles about the online finance industry. Steven is an active fintech and crypto industry researcher and advises blockchain companies at the board level. Over the past 20 years, Steven has held numerous positions within the international forex markets, from writing to consulting to serving as a registered commodity futures representative.

Blain Reinkensmeyer
Blain Reinkensmeyer

Blain Reinkensmeyer has 20 years of trading experience with over 2,500 trades placed during that time. He heads research for all U.S.-based brokerages on StockBrokers.com and is respected by executives as the leading expert covering the online broker industry. Blain’s insights have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among other media outlets.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is managing editor for Reink Media and the lead editor for the StockBrokers.com Annual Review. Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.

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