Check out stocks and shares ISAs to find the right account for your trading needs.
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Open a stock trading account
A share dealing account is what allows you to buy and sell shares.
Add money to it
This is the money you want to use to invest in shares.
Buy the shares you want
Find and purchase the shares you want.
Sell shares if you chose to
When the stock price of your shares rises, you can sell them to make a profit.
Your investments are not guaranteed: shares can fall in value as well as rise, and you may not get back the full amount you put in.
Sometimes called "share dealing" or "share trading", online stock trading involves buying and selling shares in PLC companies that are listed on the stock exchange.
Interest in stock trading in the UK has increased in recent years, with about 13.5% of UK shares being owned by UK residents¹.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, investment in shares soared thanks to the launch of more commission-free stock trading apps and the rise of "meme stocks", such as GameStop, which made headlines in early 2021.
A share or stock is a unit of ownership in a given company. Stock trading involves buying and selling shares. One simple form of trading that traders use is to purchase shares in publicly listed companies – such as Google, Tesla, or Amazon – and then sell them for a profit if the price of the stock rises.
The price of a single share of a company is calculated by dividing the total market value of the company by the number of shares.
This price rises and falls due to various factors, such as the company's performance or the implementation of new government regulations. Global events can also play a part: the pandemic and war in Ukraine are prime examples of this. Such factors affect the popularity and availability of a company's stock. If there are more buyers than people willing to sell, the price will likely rise. If there are more sellers in the market than buyers, the stock's price tends to drop.
You can trade stock using desktop software, web-based platforms or smartphone apps. When looking for the best trading platform, it pays to think about the following factors:
All online market trading platforms, charge a fee for each transaction. This is the case whether you want to buy or sell shares.
Ease of use
Often you need to respond quickly to market changes, so a share dealing platform that is easy to use and lets you make fast, accurate, hassle-free trades is a must.
Access to data and research
The best trading platforms offer real-time market updates along with analysis from brokers about different stocks. This intel can help inform your trading decisions.
Look at what options are available for you to buy or sell shares. Can you automate transactions to happen when a stock reaches a set price? Do you have the option to create stop-loss orders? These types of features are worth looking for because they help manage your risk.
Some people borrow money to help build their investment portfolio. If you want to do this, check to see if your share-dealing platform or online broker offers margin loans.
How secure is the platform? Security is vital to make sure your funds are safe. The best trading platforms have robust security features to protect your money.
There is no definitive answer to this as it will depend on your needs. When weighing up the merits of stock-trading trading apps you should consider:
design and ease of use
shares that are available
The best stock-trading app should offer a wide selection of shares; if the stock you want to buy isn't on the app, you could miss out on an important money-making opportunity.
Some well-known and reputed stock trading platforms include:
|Trading Platfrom||Platform Fee||Share dealing charge||Investment Options|
|Degiro||£0||£2.03||Shares, ETFs, Options, Futures|
|IG||£8||£8||Shares, ETFs, Funds|
|Interactive Investor||£9.99||£7.99||International shares, Funds, Investment trusts, ETFs|
|Hargreaves Lansdown||£0||£11.95||Shares, ETFs, Funds|
|Saxo Markets||£0||£8||Shares, ETFs, Funds|
Only invest what you can afford to lose
Stock trading is risky as the value of stocks can rise and fall because of external economic factors. This means that you might get back less money than you originally invested.
Start with small investments
This'll give you time to get used to the process of buying and selling shares on trading platform that you've chosen. This is especially important if you're new to online stock trading.
Do your research
Research each company you want to buy and sell shares from. Visit their website and search for economic news stories about them as well as look at how they're performing and have performed historically.
Online stock trading is about risk and reward, but there are ways to minimise your risk by doing the research, picking a platform to suits your financial circumstances and being patient if the market takes a dip.”Salman Haqqi, Personal Finance Editor
Although everyone has their own particular investment needs and goals, the end goal is essentially the same - make as much of a return on your investment as you can.
Here are some tips based on conventional wisdom that investors can keep in mind:
Think long term. Unless you're an expert trader with knowledge of the day-to-day intricacies of the stock market, trying to make short-term gains is probably not a good idea. Instead, if you're thinking of investing in stocks, be prepared to tie your money up for at least five years. That covers any market fluctuations from affecting your eventual return on investment.
Diversify your portfolio. Investing in a variety of different industries, maximises returns by investing in different areas that would react differently to the same economic developments.
Don't panic. Many investors often panic when the market has a momentary dip and follow other people into selling. Highs and lows are part of investing in the stock market, and it can be more profitable to be patient and ride it out.
To start online stock trading you'll need to open an online stock trading account. Once you've opened a trading account you can transfer the amount of money you want to use to trade into the account. You can then use that money to buy and sell shares.
No, only companies that are listed on stock exchanges, like the London Stock Exchange (LSE) or the Alternative Investment Market (AIM).
Many people think you need a lot of money to start stock trading, but that's not necessarily true.
You can start with just a few hundred pounds, and increase how much you invest gradually as you get a better sense of the market and also have more money to invest.
Yes, but only if the company offers one. You still need to open an account online and add money before you can make any trades on the app.
When you instruct a broker to carry out a trade, the broker goes to the post where the stock is being traded. If this broker has a buy order of say 100 shares and another broker has a sell order for the same share, the brokers negotiate and settle the deal.
Otherwise the broker must go to specialist who deals with the kind of shares you want to buy.
By owning shares in a company you become eligible to receive dividend payments up to four times a year. However, you will only be paid if the company has:
Made a profit (after-tax)
Agreed to pay out dividends (through an AGM vote)
If you are paid dividends from your shares, you will likely get the choice to use the money to buy more shares or to be paid in cash.
A stop-loss order is an order placed with a broker to buy or sell once the stock reaches a certain price. The purpose of a stop-loss order is to limit losses.
For example, if the stop loss order is set to 5% below the price you bought the shares, the broker will sell the shares if the price of the stock falls by 5%.
If your shares are held in an ISA, you will not need to pay tax on your profit or purchases.
If they are not in an ISA, you may need to pay stamp duty and capital gains tax.
Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT) will be 0.5% of the trade's value if you buy UK shares that are settled through CREST (the UK electronic settlement system).
The amount of capital gains tax you pay when you sell your shares will depend on your income tax bracket and how much money you make from the sale. In the 2021/22 tax year, capital gains tax is 10% for basic rate taxpayers and 20% for higher and additional rate taxpayers.
There is a capital gains tax-free allowance of £12,300 for the 2021/22 tax year. This means your gains would need to exceed £12,300 in order for you to be required to pay capital gains tax.
Using a regulated stock trading platform ensures that your trading is safe and secure. But that doesn't take away from the fact that stock trading is an inherently risky activity. This is why you should trade with more money than you are willing to use. At the same, educate yourself about trading by reading books and news articles to increase your knowledge.
Our comparison tables include providers we have commercial arrangements with. The number of listings in our tables can vary depending on the terms of those arrangements, as well as other market developments. They are all from lenders regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
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Making investments during financial uncertainty can be particularly unnerving. The personal finance at money.co.uk have pulled together some tips to guide you during these times.Read More
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