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How to find the best online broker and compare DIY investing platforms
Our tool compares costs for stocks and shares Isas and online brokers
We help you choose between DIY investing platforms services – and explain your options
Put in your details and compare the best online broker for how you invest
Published:22:04 BST, 8 February 2014Updated:12:10 BST, 19 March 2019
The best online brokers allow investors to choose from the wide range of funds, investment trusts and shares on offer – and manage their investments easily, including in a tax-friendly stocks and shares Isa.
Also known as a DIY investing platforms, these websites (and sometimes apps) act as a place to buy, sell and hold all your investments, monitor how they are doing, and do your research. They can also put a tax-efficient wrapper around them, such as a stocks and shares Isa or Sipp, as self-invested personal pensions are known.
Online brokers can give you a helping hand with best funds lists, tools to help you pick investments, and some offer ready-made balanced portfolios. Use our tool to compare online brokers and read our guide to how to pick below.
Update March 2019:This tool has been discontinued. Apologies.
Here are three questions to ask yourself when deciding where to invest, which should help you decide on the best online broker for you.
Many DIY investing platforms offer the chance to invest anyway you want in one place, be that through shares, funds, investment trusts, ETFs, or bonds. Others, however, restrict this choice and may only offer funds, or a limited selection of shares or investment trusts.
Many people are happy only investing in funds, but others prefer the structure of investment trusts or ETFs, or like to build a portfolio of individual company shares.
You need to think which of these products you would like to invest in and choose an online broker that allows you to access them.
With a good online broker you can easily and cheaply invest around the world from the comfort of your own home
Online brokers can range from a stripped back buying and selling service with only basic essential information, to a full investing centre that offers fund selection lists, ready-made portfolios, or tools to help you pick the right investments for you.
The extra features these investing platforms offer can make your life much easier, assist you in building a balanced and diversified portfolio, and point you away from costly mistakes.
You need to consider how important these features are to you and if the platform that offers them is more expensive, whether they are worth paying for.
The two main charges DIY investing platforms levy are a fee for holding your investments and fees for buying or selling. Different platforms do this in different ways.
They may charge a percentage of your investments held, for example, 0.4 per cent annually, or a flat fee, for example 20 every three months. They may offer fund dealing for free, but will almost certainly charge for buying and selling shares, investment trusts and ETFs.
You need to balance the admin charges for holding your investments against the cost of dealing. If you are starting small and only investing in funds, then a platform that combines a percentage annual fee with free fund dealing can keep costs very low.
In contrast, if you have large investments then you may benefit from a flat fee rather than percentage-based charging, but if you plan on buying and selling regularly then dealing charges, can add up substantially and outweigh any gain from a flat fee.
There may also be extra charges for withdrawing money, closing accounts, dealing by phone, holding overseas shares, or special lower fees for things such as dividend reinvestment, or regular monthly investing.
Check the charges carefully and think about how you will invest and whether any standout features make a platform worth paying more for.
Cheapest isnt always best, but costs compound over time and keeping them down can make a big difference in the long run to how your returns grow.
Read our best DIY investing platforms and online broker round-up with latest updates
1. Think about the total cost of investing: admin fees and dealing charges
2. Lower sum to invest? Pick a percentage charge.
3. Got more money, such as 100,000 and above? Consider a flat fee.
4. Frequent trader? Go for lower trading charges.
5. Cant make up your mind? Pick a platform without exit charges
6. Do you want free fund dealing? If you buy and sell often this can help
7. If you buy and sell shares, investment trusts or ETFs watch dealing charges, these add
8. Look out for trading charges (12.50 a deal is high if you buy and sell often, look for ones nearer 5)
9. Look for investor-friendly charges on reinvesting dividends and regular investing
10. Do the sums on extra fees for a Sipp and its withdrawal charges if retired
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