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Best social trading apps

By Clare West

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Social trading is a very popular way to freely gain access to knowledge, insights and ideas from other traders. It's mostly done through social feeds integrated into trading apps. Some apps also allow you to take it one step further and copy the trades of those traders you believe have a successful strategy.

Like the sound of social trading? Here's my take on the very best social trading app available to UK traders.

My quick list

*We don’t make any money from the platforms for recommending them on this list. These are my totally impartial views that I think represent the best value for money.

4.5
eToro

The world's leading social trading app. Copy-trading features are second to none. A one-stop shop for social trading and crypto trading.

Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 51% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with eToro. Consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

4.5
Trading 212

Trading 212 is the UK's most downloaded trading app. You'll find ultra-low-cost trading and a great user experience, as well as some nice social trading features.

Capital at risk.

4.0
Freetrade

Freetrade is the newest of the investing apps on my list. It runs a popular community forum, however it does not offer any in-app social feeds or copy-trading.

Capital at risk.

Social trading focuses on short-term trading strategies. Social investing takes more a long-term approach. Make sure you know which approach you want to take, so you can join the right discussion channels.


4.5

eToro

The world's leading social trading app. Copy-trading features are second to none. A one-stop shop for social trading and crypto trading.

Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 51% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with eToro. Consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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Reasons to use

  • World's largest social trading platform
  • Zero commission trading
  • Unbeatable, free copy-trading features
  • Comprehensive learning resources in the eToro Academy
  • Platform is accessible to beginners
  • Excellent historical performance on some Smart Portfolios
  • App and web platform
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Reasons to avoid

  • FX fees are high unless you hold more than £250k
  • All accounts are held in USD
  • Customer service is not great and some admin processes are unreliable

Clare says

“T212

eToro has made its name as the home of social trading. It's often imitated but, so far, no-one has better it, particularly where copy-trading is concerned.

The platform is known for its pioneering social features, and making the financial market more friendly and accessible to new and aspiring traders – which it definitely has done.

You don't have to be an experienced trader to get started with eToro. The brilliant eToro Academy has a wealth of learning materials and the user interface is very easy to get to grips with. In many ways, it is more like navigating a social media platform than a trading platform. There is a danger there, though. With its gamified features, it could be easy to forget that investing is risky. Trading CFDs is incredibly risky. 51% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this eToro. So tread carefully.

With eToro's free copy-trading feature, however, users can mirror the exact trades of more experienced investors and mimic their strategy within their own portfolio. Our research into the performance of eToro's Smart Portfolios shows that some accounts have historically provided excellent returns on investment. However, those accounts that have produced the highest rewards are also most often the accounts exposing copy-traders to the highest levels of risk. You must be comfortable with the level of risk you are being exposed to when trading or copy-trading.

Always remember that the insights and tips found on platform social feeds are not equivalent to advice from a qualified financial adviser. So while the wisdom of the crowd is a powerful tool, it shouldn't be entirely relied upon when making decisions. The value of your investments can go down as well as up, and past performance does not guarantee future performance.

Alternatively, if you a trader with a history of success, you can opt to allow copy-traders to piggy-back onto your strategy and receive payment and perks for doing so.

Joining the Popular Investor Programme you could earn you commission of up to $500 per month, or, for the ultra-successful ‘Elite Pros’, 1.5% of assets being copied, up to $30M per annum.

Fees

  • No-fee copy-trading
  • 0% commission on stocks
  • No management fees on ready-made portfolios
  • Very high 1.5% FX fees at top end
  • $5 withdrawal fee
  • Minimum deposit: $50 (Smart Portfolios min is $500, CopyTrader minimum is $200)
  • FX fees reduced with increasing size of portfolio
  • FX fees eradicated when you hold £250k+

Copy-trading-specific information

  • The minimum amount you can invest in an eToro trader is $200
  • The maximum amount of traders you can copy simultaneously is 100
  • The maximum amount you can invest in one trader is $2,000,000
  • The minimum amount for each copied position is $1

Use this platform if

  • Social trading is really important to you and want to join the biggest and most developed social trading platform
  • You want to copy the trades of more successful traders without having to pay commission
  • You are new to trading or relatively inexperienced
  • If you copy-trade, then you must be comfortable with the level of risk your trader is exposing you to

Scores

Fees:

4.0

Trading platform:

3.5

Account opening:

3.5

Research:

3.5

Education:

4.0

Customer service:

3.5

4.5

Trading 212

Trading 212 is the UK's most downloaded trading app. You'll find ultra-low-cost trading and a great user experience, as well as some nice social trading features.

Capital at risk.

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Reasons to use

  • Zero commission trading
  • Low FX fees
  • User-friendly interface, ideal for beginners
  • 24/5 trading on US stocks
  • High interest paid on cash and cash ISA
  • No-fee ISA
  • In-app social feed and separate web-based community forum
  • App and web trading platform
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Reasons to avoid

  • Copy-trading function needs improvements
  • No ready-made portfolios
  • FX fees on CFDs rise to 0.50%

Clare says:

“T212

Trading 212's social trading features aren't as developed as eToro's just yet. However, there are some advantages to using T212 over eToro in other areas, so if social trading isn't the be-all-and-end-all to you, you can still combine some nice social trading features in T212 with a platform that generally offers lower cost trading than eToro.

T212 offers access to its very active community forum where you can ask your questions, gain inspiration and wisdom from the crowd, and make requests for new features or stocks to the T212 team.

The forum has been going for a few years, so there’s a wealth of resources and answers to pretty much any question you’re likely to have about the platform.

There’s also a social feed within the platform. You can customise your social feed to include content on the companies, asset types and sectors that interest you, and you can join specific communities. This is more like your average social network feed than a traditional forum.

Remember that tips, insights and ideas gained from a community forum do not constitute regulated, professional financial advice. You should consult an independent, qualified financial adviser if you are unsure what investment strategy could be right for your specific circumstances, goals and tolerance to risk.

There is also a version of copy-trading on T212. It’s nowhere near as comprehensive and developed as eToro's copy-trading function yet, however. ‘Community pies’ allows T212 traders to pick a portfolio and copy it. It’s only for Invest and ISA customers though – there’s no CFD copy-trading.

To help you make an informed decision about whether it’s right for your investing strategy, there’s data on the composition of the portfolio/pie, the number of copy-traders who are onboard, AAR data, and community chat. My criticism, however, is that this is nowhere near enough data for me to assess whether this is a pie I should be copying. For that reason, I'd be far more wary of hitching my wagons to a Community pie' than to one of eToro's copy-traders, where far more data is available on past performance, risk levels and trading records.

You also won’t be able to monetise people copying your pie in the same way that you can monetise your copy-trade account on eToro.

Fees

  • Zero commission
  • Zero custody fees
  • Zero-fee ISA
  • Highest rate of interest on uninvested cash – 5.2%
  • Low stock trading FX fees – 0.15%
  • Low spreads
  • Free copy-trading through Community Pies
  • No payment for being a copied trader (unlike eToro)
  • FX fees for trading CFDs are relatively high – 0.50%

Use this platform if

  • You want low-cost trading and you're a beginner or intermediate level trader
  • You like the feel of the T212 platform
  • If you copy-trade, you must be comfortable with the level of risk that the trader you are copying is exposing you to

Scores

Fees:

5.0

Trading platform:

4.0

Account opening:

4.0

Research:

4.0

Education:

2.0

Customer service:

2.5

4.0

Freetrade

Freetrade is the newest of the investing apps on my list. It runs a popular community forum, however it does not offer any in-app social feeds or copy-trading.

Capital at risk.

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Reasons to use

  • Commission-free trading
  • Brilliant app design – great UX
  • No minimum deposit
  • No inactivity or withdrawal fees
  • Popular community forum
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Reasons to avoid

  • No in-app social trading features
  • No copy-trading available
  • App-only: no web platform

Clare says:

“T212

Although not strictly speaking a social trading app as it doesn't include any in-app social feeds or copy-trading features, Freetrade does offer a popular community forum where traders can exchange ideas and connect with each other.

With 316k posts and more than 16k sign-ups, it's a good place to get answers to your questions, read tips and commentary from other traders, and make suggestions for new features and stock listings to the various members of Freetrade management who act as admins.

Community forums allow you to gain insight into market sentiment – that is, the mood of financial market participants, and a picture of what is being traded and when.

IG similarly offers a well-liked community forum, but IG is better suited to more experienced traders wanting access to more sophisticated research and trading tools, and a wider variety of assets.

It should be noted that you don't need to be a Freetrade customer to use the Freetrade community forum, but some topics focus on features of the platform itself.

Fees

  • Freetrade operates a Freemium business model so although there's a free basic account which offers free access to a general trading account, you must pay for extra features and access ISAs or SIPPs
  • Commission free trading
  • Account minimum: £1
  • FX fees high for Basic account users – 0.99%
  • FX fees reduce for paid account users, dropping to 0.39% with a Plus account

Use this platform if

  • You're a beginner and want a really great looking, entry-level app for trading stocks and ETFs
  • You're prepared to accept slightly higher costs than Trading 212 and possibly eToro for the first-class design and simplicity of the app
  • You're not interested in trading more complex instruments such as CFDs – only stocks and ETFs
  • You're not bothered about copy-trading (Freetrade does not offer this feature

Scores

Fees:

3.5

Trading platform:

3.5

Account opening:

5.0

Research:

2.5

Education:

2.0

Customer service:

3.5

For a detailed analysis of Freetrade services, check out our review for 2024

Read full review >

What is social trading?


Social trading features are designed to help traders connect with one another, exchange ideas, and better understand trader sentiment and successful trading strategies. This can be done be through social messaging feeds, similar to those you'll find on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter), which are integrated into the app itself, or community forums hosted by the provider, which usually sit on their own dedicated websites and are generally open to the public.

Some platforms, such as eToro, have gone a step further, offering ‘copy trading’ which allows traders to replicate the portfolios of some of the platform's most successful traders.

Social trading has many benefits including:

  • Making trading more accessible
  • Demystifying the markets by allowing traders to gain from the knowledge, insights and experiences of others
  • Enabling sharing of information on the positions and strategies of successful traders.

Are there risks to social trading?


There are some potential risks to social trading, including:

  • Advice being unsuitable for all traders. You must always consider whether the strategy or tip being touted is appropriate for your personal circumstances, goals, appetite for risk and your ability to absorb potential losses.
  • Over-trading and misunderstanding the purpose and appropriateness of different strategies. If your goal is to build wealth over a long period of time to fund your retirement, for example, you do not want to find yourself caught up in strategies that see your funds moving around on the back of short-term market volatility.
  • Traders dispensing advice on forums or social feeds do not have to face any regulatory body and are not accountable to anyone.
  • Those giving advice may be inexperienced and/or unqualified to give investment/trading advice, and their advice could result in the value of your investments falling, or being lost altogether. There is no guarantee that the person you are listening to has done the appropriate amount of analysis.
  • The risk of ‘pumping and dumping', which is when traders deliberately promote the shares they hold by spreading misleading or exaggerated claims, to artificially inflate the share's price. These traders will then sell their shares at high prices before the share price returns to levels more in tune with their intrinsic value.

Social trading was at the heart of the ‘meme stock’ phenomenon, where investors attempted to make quick profits by buying unloved shares, and then coordinating social media campaigns to drive up their prices. This retailer, GameStop, was famously targeted in this way in 2021, when users of the subreddit r/wallstreetbets, caused the GameStop stock price to rise by 10,000% over a nine-month period.

For this reason and others, you should not solely rely on the advice and information gained in social trading forums or feeds, but combine it with your own research.

Investors should always review the risk warnings displayed on each platform before engaging in social trading or copy-trading. If you are in any doubt as to the suitability of the advice you receive, or the strategy you are considering, please take professional financial advice.

What is copy-trading?


Copy-trading enables people to replicate the trades of other, usually more experienced and successful, traders in real time. The best outcome is that you find a trader with a proven track record, jump onto their strategy, and reap the same rewards they are gaining.

Why copy-trading is popular

Copy-trading is a quick way to start trading, and makes the markets accessible to those who have no prior experience or knowledge of how to research assets. Even more experienced traders may find there are benefits to copying the trades of other, more successful traders.

It's not risk free

While this sounds like a win-win kind of situation, particularly if it's free to do, it is not a guaranteed way to make money. There are some significant risks to copy-trading, which it's important to be aware of before enthusiastically jumping onboard.

  • Past performance is not an indicator of future performance: just because your copied trader has been successful in the past, does not mean they're immune from experiencing future losses.
  • The trader you decide to copy may be inexperienced and/or unqualified. They may have simply been lucky in the past!
  • Your trader may suddenly decide to change their strategy to one that doesn’t suit your goals.
  • Your attitude towards risk, and your financial tolerance to risk, may be very different from your copied traders'. That means, that while they may be able to comfortably handle certain losses, you may not.
  • The copied trader have zero accountability and, unlike a professional financial adviser, no duty of care towards you either. There are no professional bodies policing the actions of copied traders.
  • The information you're relying on to weigh up the pros/cons of a trader, may be incomplete, inaccurate or unreliable.
  • The trader you are copying may be making money from other sources, such as commission for being a copied account. This can cushion them from losses that could wipe you out.

If you are at all unsure on the suitability of a strategy to your personal circumstances and goals, consult a qualified financial adviser.

How does copy-trading work?


eToro's CopyTrader™ system

eToro introduced CopyTrader™ in 2010 and was at the forefront of the introduction of this new social trading feature.

It works as follows:

  • Find the investor you wish to copy through the ‘Copy Discover' page where you can search for the kind of investor you’re looking for.
  • Select an investor and press ‘COPY'.
  • Choose how much you want to allocate
  • You do not need to invest the same dollar amount as the investor you are copying
  • Instead, you invest the same proportional amount to each position. For example, if the investor was to invest 5% of their capital in one asset, you'd invest 5% of your capital in the same asset.

Community pies

Trading 212's Community Pies work slightly differently.

To add a pie to your portfolio, you simply tap on the ‘Copy Pie' button when in the ‘Pies' section of your app.

You'll then go through the same steps as if you were creating a pie from scratch, except that T212 will pre-fill the slices for you, although you can add/remove/adjust them if you wish. You get to remain in control of your pie in this way throughout your time invested in it.

Even if you make amendments to your pie, however, it remains linked to the original pie. When the owner makes changes to their pie, you will receive a notification to let you know. It's up to you, then, to preview the changes made by the owner, and decide if you want to apply these changes to your pie, along with any additional modifications you may desire. Alternatively, you can simply ignore the update if you it's not something you want to follow.

This is different from eToro where your copy-trading portfolio will entirely follow in the footsteps of the copied trade and replicate their every move.

What is mirror trading?


Mirror trading is similar to copy-trading but it has been around much longer and was traditionally offered by professional traders/investment managers within financial institutions. There are typically management fees and commissions to pay for this service.

What is coattail investing?


Coattail investing is similar to copy-trading, as it centres around the idea of copying success by copying the investment decisions of successful investors. It is sometimes known as copycat investing.

It has never been easier for everyday investors to see what moves the world’s leading investors make. One example often used to illustrate coattail investing, is Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway. The company’s investment returns have frequently beaten the S&P 500 index over more than two decades. Berkshire Hathaway is required, by regulatory bodies, to report some of its investment positions every three months. Coattail investors can create a strategy by looking at these reports and putting in place a similar strategy.

FAQs

Social trading allows traders to connect and gain insights from each other. Trading differs from investing as it is more concerned with day-to-day market movements, whereas investing is more concerned with longer-term gains. Therefore, social investing is sharing ideas and insights to help boost longer-term investment strategies.

Social trading generally means either a community forum, and/or in-app social networking features, but it can include copy-trading. The term ‘copy-trading' is specific to the act of replicating the exact trades of another trader.

Social trading has many benefits and has allowed more people to enter the markets by gaining from the knowledge of others. However, it does pose some risks, including the risk that advice won't be suitable for your circumstances, and is delivered by someone who is unqualified or inexperienced. In some situations, those dispensing advice could be posting deliberately misleading information. All trading involves risk.