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Best Trading Platforms

By Clare West

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Discover which UK trading platforms live up to the hype, which offer best value for money, and which will put you one step ahead (if you’re already a seasoned trader), or get you started on the right foot (if you’re new to trading).

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

Best for copy-trading, high-performing ready-made portfolios, and zero commission on stocks.

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.

5.0
Interactive Brokers

Advanced trading features, highly sophisticated platforms and low trading costs.

Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 67.6% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with IBKR. You must consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing money.

4.5
Trading 212

Extremely cheap, 24/5 trading, accessible to beginners.

Capital at risk.

4.5
Saxo Markets

71,000 tradable assets, competitive spreads, superb research tools.

Capital at risk.

4.5
IG

Very popular with forex, CFD and spread betting traders, out-of-hours trading.

Spread bets & CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets & CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.


4.5

eToro

Best for copy-trading, high-performing ready-made portfolios, and zero commission on stocks.

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 and copy-trading community
  • Chart-topping returns on ready-made portfolios
  • 0% commission on stocks and ETFs
  • Intuitive interface
  • Fractional shares
  • Demo account
  • Offers crypto trading
  • Traders with £250k+ are exempt from FX fees
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Reasons to avoid

  • Trading is all in USD
  • High FX fees unless you have £250k+
  • Trading Central research and tools limited to high-tier eToro Club members
  • No interest paid on uninvested cash unless Gold tier customer or above
  • Customer service unreliable and admin processes are buggy

Clare says

eToro Review Reports

eToro boasts 30 million users globally and is the world’s largest social trading community.

When compared to the other providers in this list, it doesn’t offer the largest range of assets: you’ll find around 4,500+ stocks, CFDs, forex, ETFs and cryptocurrencies. eToro therefore might not appeal to seasoned, active traders, accustomed to the tens of thousands of tradable assets available on a platform like Saxo.

But it is, of course, possible to open accounts on more than one platform, and there are certainly good reasons to have an eToro account open. For starters, there’s the free copy-trading, where users can mirror the trades and success of other eToro traders, and the possibility to make good money by letting others copy your trades. The zero commission and no platform fees make it an accessible place to invest. And then there’s the ready-made portfolios, which our independent research shows have historically returned eye-watering levels of gains in some instances.

eToro has made the financial markets more accessible to more people, and although there are some high FX fees and withdrawal fees to watch out for, and customer service isn’t the best, it’s a solid choice for one of my top three trading platforms.

Use this if

  • You find the trading platforms on Saxo and IBKR too complex.
  • You want to invest in a general trading account. (eToro does offer an ISA but it’s managed by Moneyfarm which doesn’t historically have the best portfolio returns.)
  • You are new to trading and want access to high-quality educational materials
  • You want to copy-trade and learn from others’ success
  • You want a high-performing ready-made portfolio (always remember, however, that past performance does not guarantee future performance)
  • You want to trade some of the world’s most popular cryptocurrencies

Fees

  • 0% commission on stocks
  • No platform fees
  • No management fees on ready-made portfolios
  • No fee for copy-trading
  • $5 withdrawal fees
  • 1.5% FX fees
  • High inactivity fees after 12 months
    No account minimums

Investments

  • Ready-made portfolios
  • UK, US and rest of world stocks
  • Fractional shares
  • CFDs
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Commodities
  • Indices
  • ETFs
  • IPOs

Scores

Fees:

4.0

Trading platform:

3.5

Account opening:

3.5

Research:

3.5

Education:

4.0

Customer service:

3.5

5.0

Interactive Brokers

Advanced trading features, highly sophisticated platforms and low trading costs.

Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 67.6% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with IBKR. You must consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing money.

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Reasons to use

  • A tier-one trading platform with all the bells and whistles
  • 200+ research, market commentary and news apps
  • 100+ order types
  • Lowest FX fees on the market
  • Low trading fees
  • Demo account
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Reasons to avoid

  • Highly sophisticated platforms
  • Too complex for beginners
  • No option to trade with MetaTrader 4
  • No ready-made portfolios

Clare says:

InteractiveBrokers Review Trader Work Station

IBKR administers a colossal $430 bn of client assets, making it the largest trading platform in the UK market by far.

The traders who’ll get the best from IBKR are the ones who are not intimidated by the all-consuming interface, and enormous range of features and tools. That’s mostly going to be confident, seasoned traders. This is most certainly not the answer for anyone simply looking to dabble with investing in hopes of building up a rainy-day fund for the future. It’s an intense experience designed for those who take trading seriously.

If that’s you, you will be hard-pressed to find a better option. While researching IBKR, I made a few different cost comparisons, based on a range of different scenarios and investing in a range of asset classes, and IBKR has come out the cheapest, or joint cheapest, in each one. That’s not surprising when it boasts the lowest FX fees on the market and unbeatable spreads. For your low fees, you’ll be equipped with an unparalleled suite of research, order execution and risk management tools, and excellent educational materials from the IBKR Campus.

Use this if

  • You are an active, experienced trader.
  • You are looking for a stocks and shares ISA, self-invested personal pension (SIPP) or general trading account.
  • You understand and are comfortable using advanced trading and research tools.
  • You don’t want to be limited in what you can do, and what assets and instruments you have access to, on your trading platform.

Fees

  • Low commissions
  • Choice of fixed and tiered pricing
  • No platform fees
  • No account minimum
  • No inactivity fees until 24 months of inactivity

Investments

  • UK, US and rest of the world stocks
  • CFDs
  • Fractional shares
  • Bonds and gilts
  • ETFs
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Futures
  • Indices
  • Commodities
  • IPOs

Scores

Fees:

5.0

Trading platform:

4.5

Account opening:

3.5

Research:

5.0

Education:

5.0

Customer service:

3.0

For a detailed analysis of Interactive Brokers, check out our review for 2024

Read full review >
4.5

Trading 212

Extremely cheap, 24/5 trading, accessible to beginners.

Capital at risk.

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Reasons to use

  • 0% trading commission
  • No custody/platform fees
  • Highest interest rates paid on cash
  • Great UX
  • Uses same back end as IBKR
  • Minimum deposit: £1
  • No-fee ISA
  • Fractional shares
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Reasons to avoid

  • Portfolio transfers not currently available
  • Copy-trading function needs improving
  • No ready-made portfolios
  • CFD currency conversion fees are relatively high
  • No choice of other trading platforms such as MT4
  • No demo account

Clare says:

“T212

It’s the UK’s most downloaded trading app for a reason! The zero commission, low FX fees, and absence of any kind of platform or custody fees mean it’s about as low-cost as you’ll find on the UK market, with the possible exception of Interactive Brokers (IBKR). The question of whether to go with IBKR or T212 is easily resolved, as they cater to two different audiences: IBKR is a paradise for professionals; T212 will strike a chord with those who are less experienced and want a less complex proposition and more user-friendly interface.

You’ll still get the chance to sell both long and short, and trade a wide variety of assets and instruments – although there’s no crypto and no ready-made portfolios. But, it’s a scaled-down offering in terms of the number of stocks and exchanges you can access.

T212 has also just become the first UK broker to offer Monday to Friday, round-the-clock trading on US stocks, showing they are serious about attracting serious traders. There are copy-trading options for those who prefer not to make all the investing decisions themselves, and a social feed so you can grow your knowledge and gain insight from the sizable T212 community. Oh, and the 5.2% interest on uninvested cash isn’t to be sniffed at either.

Use this if

  • You want to be part of a popular and fast-growing social trading community so you can learn from other traders, and throw ideas around for feedback.
  • You want a user-experience that is enjoyable, and a platform that is easy to use.
  • You’re looking for the cheapest possible way to invest/trade.
  • You’re happy to pick your own investments and don’t need a ready-made solution.
  • You’re happy to use a separate platform for your crypto strategy (if you engage in crypto trading).
  • You like to keep some of your savings as cash, and want headline-grabbing interest rates.
  • You want to invest in a stocks and shares ISA, or a general trading account.

Fees

  • Zero commission
  • No custody/service fees
  • Zero-fee ISA
  • 5.2% interest on uninvested cash
  • FX fees 0.15% (0.50% for CFDs)
  • Low spreads

Investments

  • UK, US and rest of the world stocks
  • CFDs
  • ETFs
  • Commodities
  • Indices
  • Fractional shares
  • IPOs

Scores

Fees:

5.0

Trading platform:

4.0

Account opening:

4.0

Research:

4.0

Education:

2.0

Customer service:

2.5

4.5

Saxo Markets

71,000 tradable assets, competitive spreads, superb research tools.

Capital at risk.

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Reasons to use

  • 71,000+ tradable assets
  • Highly competitive commissions
  • Low currency conversion fees
  • Superb research and trading tools
  • Ready-made portfolio performance above industry average
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Reasons to avoid

  • Platform too complex for beginners
  • Percentage-based fees expensive for large portfolio holders
  • No fractional shares
  • Demo account only lasts 20 days

Clare says:

SaxoTraderWatchlistst

Saxo’s mammoth range of tradable assets, advanced trading features, and stellar research capabilities has landed them a place in tier 1 of trading platforms. Although it doesn’t offer crypto thanks to a ruling from Denmark’s financial regulator, it offers a rich selection of assets, including one of the best available collections of forex pairs and CFDs.

Traders come to Saxo to gain the competitive edge, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. You’ll need a high skill and experience level to master SaxoTraderGO. Those wanting access to even more advanced features on SaxoTraderPRO will need (as the name suggests) a professional level of expertise.

Saxo also offers a range of ready-made portfolios. These have historically performed better than the industry average, with the best-performing fund (Saxo’s NASDAQ DW Global Momentum fund) bringing in returns of 82.0% over the past five years.
Charges used to be on the high side at Saxo, but thanks to a recent overhaul of prices, you can now get five-star features for more competitive fees. Those with more than £200k+ invested will do best on costs with rates of commission that you’ll find hard to beat.

Use this if

  • You want near-unlimited possibilities when it comes to what you can trade.
  • You are a competent trader who has a high level of trading experience
  • You have a large portfolio
  • You want to invest in a stocks and shares ISA, self-invested personal pension (SIPP) or general trading account.

Fees

  • Annual custody fees: 0.12% – 0.08%
  • Ready-made funds an additional 0.4% / 0.2% / 0.1%
  • Very competitive commission on trades
  • No inactivity fee
  • 0.25% FX conversion fees
  • No minimum deposit

Investments

  • Ready-made portfolios
  • UK, US and rest of world stocks
  • CFDs
  • Forex
  • ETFs
  • Bonds and gilts
  • Commodities
  • Indices
  • Futures

Scores

Fees:

4.0

Trading platform:

4.5

Account opening:

4.0

Research:

5.0

Education:

5.0

Customer service:

3.5

For a detailed analysis of Saxo Markets, check out our review for 2024

Read full review >
4.5

IG

Very popular with forex, CFD and spread betting traders, out-of-hours trading.

Spread bets & CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets & CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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Reasons to use

  • UK’s most popular forex brokerage
  • World’s no.1 CFD and spread betting platform
  • Excellent traders’ academy
  • Well-priced managed ‘Smart Portfolios’
  • Free demo account
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Reasons to avoid

  • No social trading
  • Poor ready-made portfolio performance
  • No fractional shares
  • No interest paid on uninvested cash
  • Not the cheapest trading platform

Clare says:

IG is best known as a popular forex, CFD and spread betting platform, but you can also trade over 12,000 stocks, funds, investment trusts, and ETFs, meaning it’s a comprehensive offering.

The platform has a solid reputation among seasoned traders, helped by its fast, reliable execution times, the availability of out-of-hours US share dealing, its 24-hour customer service help desk, and a wide choice of trading interfaces.

Those trading interfaces include popular third-party platforms MetaTrader 4, and L2 Dealer, as well as IG’s excellent proprietary web platform and mobile app.

Although IG is clearly designed to meet the needs of experienced traders, with superb research and trade execution features, it also hosts one of the best free trading academies available. Those new to trading and wanting to learn the craft, could do far worse than the IG Academy and clean, multiple-award-winning design of the IG trading platform. And with IG’s demo account (and MT4 demo account), you can practice with virtual money before committing real funds.

Watch out if you’re considering using IG’s ready-made Smart Portfolios, however, as our data shows disappointing performance over the past few years.

Use this if

  • You are an advanced or intermediate trader wanting a clear but comprehensive trading platform.
  • Reliable and fast trade execution is important to you
  • You want to learn how to trade
  • You want to use MetaTrader 4
  • You want to invest in a stocks and shares ISA, self-invested personal pension (SIPP) or general trading account

Fees

  • Custody fees: £24 per quarter – but reduced to £0 if you make 3+ trades per quarter OR invest £15k+ in a Smart Portfolio
  • Ready-made Smart Portfolios cost 0.50%
    Dealing fees: US stocks £10 per trade (£0 when trading 3+ times per month) UK stocks £8 per trade (£3 when trading 3+ times per month)
  • Inactivity fee: £12 p/month after 24 inactive months
  • 0.50% FX conversion fees
  • Minimum deposits: £1 for DIY investing; £500 for a Smart Portfolio

Investments

  • Ready-made portfolios
  • UK, US and rest of world stocks
  • CFDs
  • Spread betting
  • Forex
  • ETFs
  • Commodities
  • Indices
  • Futures

Scores

Fees:

4.0

Trading platform:

5.0

Account opening:

4.0

Research:

4.5

Education:

5.0

Customer service:

4.5

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

Read full review >

Your guide to choosing the best trading platform


How I scored the platforms on this list

All Investing Insiders reviews are conducted using a standardised scorecard. Using a standardised scoring system ensures that every review we undertake is comprehensive and rigorous, and fair – because providers are being judged against the same set of criteria.

Visit our How we review page if you’d like more information on exactly how we go about putting reviews together and how our values shape our editorial policy.

The difference between trading and investing

Although the terms ‘trading’ and ‘investing’ are used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. Trading involves buying and selling assets for short-term gains. Because of that, today’s price will be what matters. Investors, in contrast, think about long-term potential gains (usually a minimum of five years) and so aren’t so concerned about day-to-day price fluctuations.

If your intention is to trade rather than invest, and you understand the principles and potential pitfalls of trading, then you’ll need to choose a trading platform.

Trading platforms differ from investing platforms in a few important ways – they might not always be obvious at first glance, however. They will likely offer some of the same products (general investment/trading accounts, ISAs and SIPPs) but how you go about using the platforms to attempt to grow your money will be very different.

Traders will need a platform that offers wide-ranging and insightful research tools, a real-time news feed, many different order types, and possibly more complex instruments such as CFDs or options. A good trading platform will be attuned to the distinct needs of a trader.

How to choose the best trading platform for you

In truth, there is no such thing as ‘the best’ trading platform – only the best one for you.

So, how do you find your match?

When it comes to selecting the right trading platform, I suggest you consider the following questions:

  • What kind of account you want to open

Why are you trading? What kind of timeframe are you hoping you’ll see results within? Are your goals short, medium or long-term? Do you know the tax advantages of different kinds of accounts?

Answering these questions will determine what kind of product or account you need to open. And it will determine whether you are an investor, or a trader.

It will also determine which platforms are available to you since very few offer all the various different account types.

Ask yourself:

Is your goal to fund your retirement? If so, then you should be looking for a provider that offers a self-invested personal pension (SIPP). There are tax benefits attached to a SIPP that you won’t get by trading through a general trading account. The downside is that you can’t withdraw your money until you’re at least 55 (57 from 2028) unless in exceptional circumstances.

Perhaps you want to build up a nest egg? Are you seeking financial gains that will allow you to fulfil lifestyle goals such as travelling, adjusting your work-life balance, buying your dream home, relocating or starting a business? Perhaps you want to pay for your children’s education? In which case, you might be looking for an ISA. You can take money out of an ISA at any time you want without losing the tax benefits, although you can never invest more than £20k in total per tax year. ISAs will only save you tax, however, if you’re already maxing out your personal allowance – currently £12,570.

Are you saving for your first home? If you’re between the ages of 18 and 40, look at a stocks and shares Lifetime ISA. These ISAs are specifically designed to help you build savings for your first home or later life and, again, come with significant tax benefits.

Are you investing for your child? Junior ISAs allow you to put £9,000 away every year, tax-free, until your child reaches the age of 18 (when the account automatically turns into an ISA). There is a cash Junior ISA, which allows you to save without paying tax on the interest your cash earns, but assuming you’re here because you want to trade, you’ll be looking for a stocks and shares Junior ISA. With this account, yon’t don’t need to pay tax on any capital growth or dividends.

If you want to gift your child financial help far beyond their 16th or 18th birthday, then you may be looking for a Junior SIPP which is a tax-efficient way to build a pension for your child. You can invest up to £3,600 per tax year with a Junior SIPP account.

Are you looking to make quick returns on daily fluctuations in stock prices, or do you want to trade complex instruments such as CFDs or options? Then you will be looking for a general trading account. If you are a trader, rather than an investor, you’ll want a platform that caters to your needs and offers access to more sophisticated tools and advanced research capabilities that most investment platforms won’t offer.

You’ll also want to look at a general trading platform instead of an ISA if you’re not able to use your tax personal allowance.

This table gives a quick overview of which providers offer the different types of account:

As you can see, trading platforms generally have more limited product lines than investment platforms. Interactive Brokers offers a wider selection, however, but you need to be an experienced trader to feel comfortable on the IBKR platform.

  • Your feelings about risk

This is important. We’re all different, and your appetite for risk (how much risk you’re comfortable accepting), as well as your tolerance to risk (how much you can afford to lose), will be as individual as you.

The different asset types you invest in will expose you to different amounts of risk, so you should think carefully about how much risk you’re satisfied with. Equities (stocks and shares), for example, are considered higher risk than fixed-income assets such as bonds and gilts. CFDs and spread betting come with a very high level of risk. The vast majority of traders lose money trading with these instruments, so you should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Whatever level of risk you’re comfortable with, diversifying your portfolio (making sure you don’t have all your eggs in one basket) is sensible. You might have picked up a hot tip you’re convinced is going to result in a huge payout and is, therefore, worth the risk. But if you’ve invested everything in a stock that doesn’t live up to the hype, or wider economic conditions see the stock market suddenly nosedive, you could be left with nothing. Spreading the risk between different markets and different asset classes reduces the risk that your investment could be wiped out because not all asset classes and markets respond the same way to events.

Thinking long-term also helps to mitigate some element of risk. While past results are certainly no guarantee of future returns, historical data does suggest that, if you leave your money in long enough, you’re likely to see positive returns. Hence the old adage that ‘it’s time in the market, not timing the market’ that leads to good results. Remember, however, that all investing involves some risk, including the risk of the value of your original investment falling, not rising.

If you don’t like the thought of exposing your hard-earned money to any risk, then investing might not be for you, and a cash ISA might be a better match. A cash ISA will simply allow you to deposit cash and the interest is tax-free. As with other types of ISA, you’ll have a limit of £20k per year.

Although some platforms will help you figure out what kind of risk profile you have, you may need to seek independent, professional advice to identify the kind of risk level you should be looking for with your goals and needs.

  • Your experience level

Some trading platforms are tailored to the needs of those just starting out, while others are no-go-zones for beginners. I’ve grouped the platforms into the appropriate categories here:

When we talk about platforms being geared towards less experienced investors vs highly experienced investors, we’re usually talking about how easy or complex the user interfaces are to navigate, the number of tools and advanced features available, the number of different trading platforms available, and the provider’s education offering.
This is just a guide, however. You may feel your skillset in other areas of your life equips you to tackle a more advanced platform from the start. Equally, I know of very experienced traders who use platforms aimed at less experienced traders because of cost. So, it’s horses for courses.

  • The assets and instruments you want to trade

As a rule of thumb, the more sophisticated the trading experience, the greater the number and range of assets and instruments available.

This comparison table gives some sense of the size of different platforms’ market offerings for retail traders. (Some instruments are available for professional traders only, in which case I haven’t included them here).

It might also be important to you that you have access to fractional shares. If so, your shortlist can immediately be narrowed down to the following platforms:

Interactive Brokers
Trading 212
eToro

  • Whether you want to manage your investments yourself or pay to have them managed for you

If you’re an active trader, or looking to become an active trader, then you’ll most likely want to pick and choose your own assets to trade. However, if you’re new to trading/investing, or you don’t feel you’ll have the time to research and keep on top of the management of your investments, then a product like a fully managed ISA could appeal. You’ll need to pay for the additional service (visit our Best stocks and shares ISA page to see cost comparisons if it’s an ISA you’re interested in), but it can free up your time and give you some reassurance that your investments are being managed by the professionals.

If you do choose the managed route, pay particular attention to the performance of each providers’ funds. While it’s important to remember that past performance does not guarantee future performance, you’ll see that there are big differences in the investment strategies used by different companies, which have resulted in very different returns for customers over the last few years. We’ve undertaken independent analysis on past performance data which you can view here.

Once you’ve asked yourself these five questions, you’re ready to choose a provider. And your thoughts are bound to turn to cost. So how do the platforms compare on fees?

Which trading platform offers the lowest fees?

Coming up with straightforward cost comparisons for trading platforms isn’t easy. While most platforms charge via some combination of platform fees, commission/spreads, and FX fees, costs can vary hugely depending on the size of your portfolio, the type of account you have, and the instrument or asset you’re trading.

So, to come to solid conclusions on which platforms offer the lower costs, I’ve compared fees for a few specific examples. As you can see, it shows a pattern around which are the most expensive, and which are the cheapest to trade with.

Scenario 1: I want to trade stocks within an ISA…

In this table, I’ve illustrated how we got to each calculation and provided the figure you’d end up paying for each provider. Although they’re strictly speaking investment platforms rather than trading platforms, I’ve included Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell and Freetrade to demonstrate how costs compare across the different types of platforms that offer stocks and shares ISAs.

As you can see, it’s the trading platforms that work out the cheapest. Within our featured trading platforms, IG works out as being the most expensive, then Saxo, Interactive Brokers and, cheapest of all in this scenario, Trading 212. (eToro isn’t included in this table as it doesn’t offer an ISA of its own – customers use Moneyfarm’s instead.)

Scenario 2: I want to trade GBP/USD forex…

For the next two scenarios, we’ve not included figures for the total you’d pay as figures are impossible without knowing the exact spread, and spreads change as the market moves. We’ve therefore given examples of the average added spreads/commission quoted by providers for the currency pair GBP/USD.

What’s interesting is that the same pattern forms in terms of which platforms’ fees are highest/lowest cost from our list:

Scenario 3: I want to trade CFDs…

Once again, fees are cheapest with Trading 212 and Interactive Brokers, with eToro and IG at the more expensive end of the spectrum.

It’s important to remember that low cost doesn’t equate to best platform. There are many more criteria which can play into a decision about what’s right for you, your risk profile, trading proficiency level and your trading strategy, than just keeping costs as low as possible.

Which platform is best for day trading?

Day trading is a short-term trading strategy that, as the name suggests, involves frequent buying and selling of securities during the day. Instead of waiting for the price of assets to rise over a long period of time, and benefiting from compound interest, the goal for day traders is to beat the market and generate immediate profits. Day traders attempt to do this by anticipating price changes that could happen within the trading day. Ideally, day traders want to have exited all their trades by the end of the day so they aren’t holding securities overnight (something which usually incurs an ‘overnight charge’).

This might sound like an exhilarating way to make a living – and for some people it certainly is – but day trading comes with high potential risks. For that reason, it takes someone with the appropriate appetite for risk as well as sufficient tolerance for risk, to make it work. It’s also a strategy that requires considerable experience and skill to master.

In the past, if you weren’t a professional trader you’d need to put a call into the dealing desk of your chosen brokerage to make a trade. Now, online trading platforms, and all the data we can consume at our fingertips, makes it possible for retail traders to execute trades themselves from the comfort of their own homes.

Interactive Brokers, Saxo Markets, IG, Trading 212 and eToro all offer excellent day trading experiences at reasonable prices. However, the platform you choose should be largely dictated by your experience level: less experienced traders will find eToro and Trading 212 offer a more gentle introduction with a great deal of support in the form of social trading features, copy trading options and a more user-friendly interface. The trade-off (excuse the pun) is that you’ll not have access to quite the scope of assets, tools and advanced trading features you’ll find on those platforms designed with the advanced and professional trader in mind, namely Saxo and Interactive Brokers. These two offer a serious trader greater possibilities and advantages, within platforms that may be too overwhelming for those still learning their craft.

IG is rare in that it offers something for both groups. It has an exceptional educational offering in the IG Academy and an emphasis on helping traders to grow their skills, but also world-class research and trading tools that mean you’ll never feel like you’re languishing on the nursery slopes.

Trading safely

At Investing Insiders, we make every effort to only recommend providers which have met stringent criteria set out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to keep consumers safe. That means we only recommend providers that are authorised and regulated by the FCA.

The FCA is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring trading and investment platforms adhere to specific marketing and advertising rules about financial promotions, and that they conduct their business in accordance with regulatory standards.

It's important to note that while being regulated by the FCA can ensure you are protected against bad practices, there is no protection available for poorly performing investments. Therefore, it is always possible to lose some or all of
your money when trading.

You should also be aware that some trading instruments come with exceptional, added risk. CFDs, for example, and spread betting, are particularly risky as you will be trading with leverage, which increases the amount of capital you can lose. All FCA-authorised trading platforms must advertise the percentage of customers who lose money when trading risky instruments with them. It’s not uncommon to see figures in the high 70-percent range.

What is trading with leverage?

Leverage is using borrowed money to gain exposure to larger trading positions. You’ll sometimes hear it referred to as ‘margin trading’. By trading with leverage you don’t need to pay the entire trade value upfront but can potentially make larger sums back on a trade. This is what makes it attractive. However, what makes it far more risky than trading without leverage is that, while gains can be magnified with leverage, so can losses.

Leverage is usually offered with certain derivative products such as CFDs, spread bets and rolling spot foreign exchange (FX), and can be used across a variety of different financial markets including forex, indices, stocks, commodities, and ETFs.

You’ll find that leverage is calculated as a ratio. The maximum ratio UK providers are permitted to offer retail traders is 30:1. That’s a limit, though; you can also choose to trade with lower ratios of leverage if you wish to lower your risk level.

FAQs

eToro, Trading 212 and IG all offer something for less experienced traders. IG has an excellent trading academy offering free educational materials. eToro and Trading 212 boast easy-to-use interfaces and copy-trading features that allow you to mirror others’ successful strategies.

Trading 212 and Interactive Brokers are the lowest cost trading platforms. It can depend on what instrument or asset you’re trading, but overall these are the two platforms that generally come out the cheapest.