The process of buying shares in the UK rarely takes more than a few minutes from start to finish. After opening a stock broker account and depositing funds, it’s just a case of placing an order to invest.
Those that are completely new to online investing will appreciate this article on how to buy shares in the UK.
We explain how to invest in shares via a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)-regulated broker, and explore some popular trading platforms.
81% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
How to Buy Shares in the UK – Best Stock Trading Apps Reviewed
Below we outline some of the leading trading platforms on the market and look through their advantages and disadvantages.
Different customers will have different needs so we have outlined the best stock apps for beginners and for experts, as well look at the best mobile stock trading apps.
Most of the brokers we reviewed are regulated by the FCA and covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
They offer different financial instruments, including stocks and shares, commodities, forex, indices and cryptocurrency.
1. eToro – Overall Best App to Buy Shares in the UK with 0% Commisison
This social trading platform allows UK residents to open an account in a matter of minutes, and the minimum first-time deposit is just $10 (approx. £8) To fund an eToro account, users can select from a debit or credit card or bank transfer.
This popular day trading platform UK also supports e-wallets like Skrill and PayPal, as well as local bank transfers. After the eToro account has been funded, users can then choose from thousands of shares and other financial instruments. This includes shares listed on the London Stock Exchange and more than a dozen international markets.
This includes companies based in the US – such as Apple, Meta Platforms, and Amazon – and all over the globe. So if you’re interested in learning how to buy Alphabet shares in the UK, eToro has a lot to offer. Other markets include Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, and France.
Each and every share listed on eToro – both domestic and foreign, can be purchased without paying a single penny in trading commission.
Another stand-out feature of eToro is that it offers fractional shares. For those unaware, this means that users can invest in shares without needing to buy a full stock – for instance, rather than paying $2,000 (£1,650) for a single Google share, eToro investors can allocate just $10.
On top of shares, eToro also offers a large collection of ETFs – many of which are backed by iShares.
Other markets offered by this platform include commodities, indices, and forex. eToro is also a leading broker to use for those looking to buy cryptocurrency in the UK. Not only can users buy Bitcoin, but 70+ other digital tokens.
eToro is an excellent stock trading app for beginners as it offers a simple and easy user experience, excellent customer support and other features such as copy trading, where novice users can mirror the investments of expert and experienced traders. This requires a minimum investment of $200 – or about £165.
It is also possible to invest in a pre-made basket of stocks via the Smart Portfolio too. Each portfolio tracks a specific market, concept, and industry – and eToro will rebalance the basket of stocks regularly. UK residents might also consider downloading the eToro mobile app – which is available for iOS and Android devices.
First-time investors also start off with the eToro demo trading account to get used to trading on the platform. This mirrors live market conditions and comes pre-loaded with a demo balance of $100k.
Most importantly, eToro is one of the most respected and trusted brokers on the market and is fully authorized and regulated by the UK’s financial watchdog – the FCA. Customers are also covered by the all-important FSCS.
- Read through our full eToro review UK for a full breakdown.
|Shares Available||2,500+ shares across 17 UK and international markets|
|Fractional Shares?||Yes – $10 minimum|
|Pricing System||0% commission on all shares|
Your capital is at risk. 79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
2. Plus500 – Leading CFD Broker with 0% Commission
Plus500 has established a global presence and has attracted many UK investors to its platform, offering 2,800 financial instruments and popular shares in the US, UK, Germany, and several other markets.
This leading UK CFD broker is regulated by the FCA in the UK and numerous other financial authorities around the world – and even offers cannabis shares.
Before trading securities in live markets, investors can try Plus500’s demo account, while live trading enables investors to trade stock CFDs without incurring any commission and provides access to competitive spreads.
Positions can be magnified because Plus500 allows leverage 1:5 and investors can avoid slippage by using the guaranteed stop feature.
Opening an account is simple with investors needing to deposit at least £115 to start trading securities – the various payment options include bank transfer, credit cards, PayPal, Skill, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
Plus500 does not charge deposit fees and withdrawal fees are also free, although international transactions can incur costs.
Some of the other fees investors should note are overnight funding (an open position during particular times), a currency conversion fee, and an activity fee of $10 per month for investors who haven’t logged into their accounts for at least three months.
Investors who implement a guaranteed stop order to prevent slippage will also be charged a fee.
Besides technical indicators, Plus500 also enables traders to incorporate fundamental factors into their analysis by providing news and market insights.
It also offers price alerts, an economic calendar, and a risk management feature. Traders wanting to polish their skills can enrol in the Plus500 trading academy.
Plus500 doesn’t offer algorithm trading, but it offers free educational videos and a 24/7 support centre.
|Shares Available||2000+ shares across UK and international markets|
|Pricing System||0% commission on all shares|
79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing money. Plus500UK Ltd authorized & regulated by the FCA Plus500CY Ltd authorized & regulated by CySEC.
3. Axi – Trade 50 Stocks with up to 5:1 Leverage
Axi is an award-winning broker offering access to numerous financial markets. One of its specialities is catering to stock traders by offering 0% commission on share CFDs. Traders can select from 50 popular shares from the UK, US, and European markets.
Besides omitting commission fees, Axi ensures traders incur minimal costs by offering competitive prices on share CFDs. To enable traders to maximize their profits, Axi provides leverage of up to 5:1. Apart from profiting from favorable trades, traders can also earn direct dividend payouts from share CFD trades.
Axi offers an MT4 platform, suitable for pro traders to use advanced tools, yet simple enough for beginners to open trades. Trading on this platform is easier thanks to the PsyQuotation tool, an advanced analytics platform helping traders reduce mistakes by providing performance analytics. Axi also offers AutoChartist, assisting traders by scanning the market for opportunities based on customized trade setups.
Beginner traders lacking technical analysis skills or the time to analyze markets can copy trades from professionals. Traders can search for professionals on the platform and attempt to mimic their results by using the CopyTrades feature. Axi also provides free educational material on how to buy shares and use the platform. An advanced trading course is available via the academy.
Traders preferring to trade pooled shares can opt for indices trading on Axi. The platform offers more than 30 indices and 30:1 leverage with $0 commission.
|Shares Available||50+ stock CFDs|
|Fractional Shares?||Yes, via CFDs|
|Pricing System||0% commission on all markets|
81.6% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and/or CFDs with this provider.
4. IG – Leading Broker with more than 13,000 Shares and Funds
IG is an online broker that offers access to thousands of shares. When buying shares listed on the London Stock Exchange, UK investors will be required to pay a dealing fee of £8. This is required on both buy and sell orders. This fee is reduced to £3 when the user places more than three trades in a single month.
While this fee is competitive for large-scale investors, casual traders will find this expensive. After all, a share purchase of £100 at a commission of £3 would translate into a fee of 3%. US shares can also be purchased on the IG platform and the commission stands at £10 per trade.
This is reduced to £0 when three trades are placed in a single month. Another drawback of IG is that the platform requires a minimum deposit of £250.
|Shares Available||13,000+ shares and funds|
|Fractional Shares?||No, not supported|
|Pricing System||£8 per trade, or £3 when three trades are placed in a month|
5. AvaTrade – Top CFD Platform with MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5
The next platform on the list is AvaTrade. This is another CFD trading platform that allows residents of the UK to trade shares without paying any commission. AvaTrade is also popular for offering tight spreads, which is the difference between the buy and sell price of the share being traded.
AvaTrade can offer UK retail clients leverage of up to 1:5. There is also the opportunity to profit from rising and falling pricing, as AvaTrade supports buy and sell orders. Moreover, AvaTrade is also home to other markets – which include forex, commodities, and indices.
AvaTrade also supports third-party platforms like MT4/5. Additionally, AvaTrade is one of the most regulated platforms in this space – with no less than 8 licenses under its belt. The minimum deposit to get started at AvaTrade is just £100. Debit and credit cards are supported, as is a bank transfer.
|Shares Available||1,250+ markets|
|Fractional Shares?||Yes, via CFDs|
6. Alvexo – Leading Platform for Experienced Traders
Seasoned share traders might appreciate the Alvexo platform – which offers everything needed to outperform the markets in a sophisticated manner. The platform specializes in CFDs, which means that users will have access to short-selling facilities alongside leverage.
There are two trading platforms for skilled investors to choose from. First, there is MT4, which connects directly to the Alvexo platform via desktop software. Second, the Alvexo web trader can be accessed via a standard web browser. This comes with instant order execution, charting suites, technical indicators, and real-time asset prices.
We also like that Alvexo offers multiple account types. Those looking to deposit at least £10,000 will have access to spreads from 1.8 pips and use of Alvexo Plus for 180 days. The classic account, which requires a minimum account balance of £500, offers spreads from 2.9 pips. In addition to share CFDs, Alvexo also supports forex, commodities, and indices.
|Shares Available||450+ markets|
7. Hargreaves Lansdown – Highly Respected Broker established 40 Years Ago
Hargreaves Lansdown has a long-standing reputation in the UK investment space – especially with retail clients. This popular broker offers access to thousands of shares across both the London Stock Exchange and AIM. The platform is also home to funds and fixed-rate bonds.
Moreover, Hargreaves Lansdown is often the go-to place to open a stocks and shares ISA. However, the key drawback with Hargreaves Lansdown is that it charges high fees.
For instance, those looking to buy shares in the UK will pay a dealing fee of £11.95. In comparison, the same trade can be placed at eToro commission-free.
Furthermore, funds are charged at 0.45% annually – unless over £250,000 is invested. and even then the fee drops to just 0.25%.
|Shares Available||Not stated|
|Commissions||£11.95 per trade|
8. Fineco Bank – Leading Financial Institution with 0% Commission on CFDs
Fineco Bank is an Italian financial institution that has since launched a share dealing platform in the UK. As such, UK retail clients can use the platform to invest in thousands of shares. This includes markets in the UK, US, Europe, and more.
The platform is heavily regulated and it is now used by over 1.3 million clients. When it comes to fees, Fineco Bank charges £2.95 per order on UK shares. There is a charge of £3.95 and $2.95 on European and US shares, respectively.
Moreover, there are no monthly account fees charged by this broker. Those wishing to trade share CFDs are also catered for at Fineco Bank. UK, US, and European share CFDs can be traded at 0% commission. Finally, Fineco Bank also offers a handy stock screener.
|Shares Available||20,000 instruments across 26 global markets|
|Commissions||£2.95 on UK shares|
9. Trading 212 – Popular Trading Platform for Beginners
The final broker to research when learning where and how to buy shares in the UK is Trading 212. This platform offers UK residents access to more than 7,000 shares and ETFs.
This includes UK shares as well as those listed in the US, Germany, Spain, France, and the Netherlands.
The platform is authorized and regulated by the FCA, which ensures that traders can buy and sell shares in a licensed trading environment. Trading 212 does not charge any commissions to invest in shares, and the minimum trade requirement is just £1, making it a popular platform for beginners to use.
Supported payment methods here include Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Apple, and Google Pay, and local bank transfers.
|Shares Available||7,000 shares and ETFs|
The Basics of Buying Shares
To buy shares in the UK, it is a requirement to choose one of the best stock brokers in the UK and open an account. Next, investors will need to make a deposit – which can often be done instantly with a debit or credit card.
After that, it’s just a case of searching for the company of choice and placing a buy order. In doing so, the investor will own a small portion of the firm. For instance, if the firm has 100,000 shares in circulation and the investor purchases 1,000 – they will own 1% of the company.
Investment returns will ultimately depend on the performance of the company as well as the broader economy. Nonetheless, if the investor can sell the shares for more than they originally paid, a profit will be made.
This is known as capital gains. It is also possible to make a profit through quarterly dividends. This happens when the company distributes some of its retained profits to shareholders. The amount received will depend on the size of the distribution and the number of shares owned.
Perhaps the most challenging part of learning how to buy stocks and shares in the UK is knowing which companies to invest in. While some UK investors will focus on shares listed on the London Stock Exchange, others will turn to markets in the US.
How do I Find Popular Shares to Watch?
As noted above, the tricky part when exploring how to buy stocks in the UK is knowing which companies to pick. Thousands of UK-listed shares can be bought online.
And, when factoring in the US and other international markets, this makes the decision-making process even more complex. Nonetheless, even beginners are advised to make their own investment decisions as opposed to buying shares based on third-party advice.
Look for Trending Markets
Some investors first analyze which markets are trending right now. For example, with the UK suffering from a cost of living crisis, investors will often turn to staple companies that sell products and services that are always in demand.
This might include a company like Tesco or GlaxoSmithKline. After all, demand for food and medicine will always remain solid irrespective of how the economy is performing.
Amid COVID, one of the hottest investment trends was in stay-at-home stocks. This refers to companies that benefited from global lockdown measures – such as Amazon and Facebook (now Meta Platforms).
Ultimately, to find popular shares to watch, the first thing that investors should focus on is companies that operate in trending markets.
Every three months, public companies are required to release an earnings report. This details the fundamentals of the company – such as how much cash it holds and what revenues it generated in the period. The key idea here is to compare the earnings report to two different metrics.
Although not a minimum requirement, it is always useful when companies pay dividends. By being a shareholder in a dividend-paying company, investors will be entitled to a share of the distribution – which is typically every three months.
- Dividend shares can be invaluable during a bearish market, as the income can help counter some of the losses made from a share price decline.
- Those seeking consistent dividends might turn to UK-listed AstraZeneca.
- In the US, the likes of Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson have increased the size of their dividend for 60 consecutive years.
On the flip side, companies like Amazon and Google have never paid a dividend.
Popular Stocks to Watch Now in the UK
While we suggest that investors should pick their shares on a DIY basis, this might be challenging for first-timers.
Therefore, in the sections below, we discuss what shares to buy today – based on our market research and analysis.
We mentioned earlier that one of the effective ways to find popular shares to watch is to explore what markets are trending. And right now, the oil industry is one of the popular markets to consider. After all, oil continues to trade at over $100 per barrel, so it makes sense that companies operating in this space are doing well.
Over the prior 12 months, Shell shares have increased by over 31%. This is especially notable considering that over the same period, the FTSE 100 has moved by less than a percentage point.
Furthermore, fellow UK oil counterpart BP, over the same 12-month period, has increased in value by just 11%. If that wasn’t enough, Shell is a dividend payer. Based on prices as of writing, Shell investors have access to a running dividend yield of over 3.5%. Just remember that Shell operates in a cyclical industry.
This means that if and when the global price of oil begins to decline, this will have a major impact on its share price.
Your capital is at risk. 79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
2. Standard Chartered
Standard Chartered is a major British financial institution that operates in over 70 countries around the globe. UK banking shares have struggled since the 2008 financial crisis.
As per its most recent earnings report, revenues at the bank were up 4.41% year-over-year to £4.09 billion. This translates into an increase of 7.69% in net income, up to £1.18 billion for the quarter. These notable quarterly results have had an impact on the Standard Chartered share price, with gains of 25% generated in the prior 12 months.
Just like Shell, Standard Chartered is a dividend-paying company. As of writing, a modest yield of just under 1.5% is available to shareholders.
Your capital is at risk. 79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
The next company from our list of popular FTSE 100 shares to watch now is Vodafone. This telecommunications company operates globally, albeit, its share price has struggled in recent years. For instance, over the prior 12 months, Vodafone shares are down 16%.
The outlook appears even worse considering that the telecommunications firm has seen its share price drop by 46% over five years. On the flip side, Vodafone is expected to have a major say in the future of 5G technology – at least in the domestic marketplace.
Those looking for international diversification could turn to the US – as this marketplace has outperformed the London Stock Exchange for many decades. One of the popular shares to watch in the US is Apple. This powerhouse is now one of the largest companies globally, thanks to its loyal customer base. Its trusted brand covers smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even streaming services. But why are so many investors interested in learning how to buy Apple shares in the UK?
The thing about Apple shares is that they can now be purchased at an entry price. The reason for this is that – as per the broader market downturn, Apple shares are down 25% in the first half of 2022. On the flip side, Apple shares are up 280% over the prior five years. During the same period, the FTSE 100 has gone down in value by over 4%.
As per its most recent earnings report, Apple shares increased revenue by 8.59% year-over-year to $97.28 billion. Net income was up 5.84% to $25.01 billion. Apple also has a significant amount of cash on its book – with the amount still hovering around the $200 billion figure. Finally, Apple shares pay a very small dividend, which, as of writing, offers a running yield of just 0.68%.
5. Berkshire Hathaway
Berkshire Hathaway is a US-based holding company controlled by investor legend Warren Buffett. NYSE, Berkshire Hathaway holds an investment portfolio that covers dozens of companies from a wide variety of industries and sectors. Interestingly, a single share in Berkshire Hathaway will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
However, by investing via the FCA-regulated broker eToro, it is possible to allocate just $10 (about £8) to this company. Nonetheless, some of the companies that Berkshire Hathaway investors have exposure to include Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, American Express, and Amazon.
In terms of its performance, Berkshire Hathaway shares are down just under 2% over the prior year. However, across five years, the shares are up 63%. Although Berkshire Hathaway owns shares in companies that pay dividends, the firm reinvests the funds to buy new stocks.
Ryanair is the largest airline in Europe, with its fleet of 470 carriers flying to over 200 destinations in 40 countries. Naturally, Ryanair, like all airlines, suffered from global travel restrictions as per COVID.
After all, before COVID being declared a pandemic, Ryanair shares were in a strong upward trend. Nonetheless, over the prior 12 months, Ryanair shares are down 36%.
While Ryanair opted to delist from the London Stock Exchange – citing Brexit as the key motivator, the shares are also listed on the NASDAQ.
7. Meta Platforms
Meta Platforms is the parent company of some of the largest social media platforms globally. This is inclusive of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The firm also owns dozens of other subsidiaries, which include the virtual reality brand Oculus. Although Meta Platforms reported strong quarterly revenues, its shares continue to decline in value.
In fact, over the prior 12 months, Meta Platforms shares are down nearly 50%. However, considering that several billion people use at least one of the firm’s social media platforms every day, Meta Platforms is home to a significant customer base – especially when it comes to advertising revenues.
Like most tech companies, Amazon is yet another stock that has seen its share price decline in recent months. In fact, over one year, Amazon shares have declined by nearly 37%. Considering how dominant this powerhouse is in many of the markets it operates in.
After all, not only is Amazon a major leader in the e-commerce and retail spaces, but also cloud computing and streaming services. The firm is also working hard on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and drone deliveries. Wondering how to buy Amazon shares in the UK? Read our in-depth guide on how to invest in AMZN stock today.
Your capital is at risk. 68% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
9. Rio Tinto
This firm is a major mining company that is involved in a wide variety of commodities. This includes uranium, iron ore, copper, diamonds, raw materials, and more.
Over the prior five years of trading, Rio Tinto shares are up 80%. Once again, this smashes through the FTSE 100 average for the same period. We also like the huge running dividend yield of over 10% that Rio Tinto is offering as of writing. Another reason that we like Rio Tinto is that it is currently carrying a P/E ratio of just over 5 times.
Chevron is the second oil company to make our list of popular shares to watch today. This firm, just like Shell, has benefited tremendously from rising oil prices over the prior 12 months, with its shares increasing by nearly 50%. In addition to this, Chevron is offering a running dividend yield of over 3.4%.
This is especially the case considering that as per its most recent earnings report, revenues were up 68% year-over-year to $52.31 billion. Free cash flow levels were up massively too, with a year-over-year increase of 74% to $6.47 billion.
How to Buy Penny Stocks in the UK
In theory, all UK shares are penny stocks. The reason for this is that UK shares are traded in pennies as opposed to pounds. With that said, the consensus is that penny stocks carry a share price of less than £1 – or 100p.
Moreover, when researching where to buy penny stocks in the UK, consider the following:
- Penny stocks are typically traded on OTC (Over-the-Counter) markets, which means that UK retail clients will need to find a specialist broker that has access to the respective marker.
- Furthermore, penny stocks often carry a very small market capitalization. This means that the share price will be a lot more volatile.
- And of course, penny stocks trading on the OTC markets do not have to release as much public information as those listed on the London Stock Exchange.
- Therefore, this opens the doors to manipulation and inside trading.
Are Shares Taxed in the UK?
UK tax on shares can appear confusing at first glance.
The main takeaway is that:
- When selling shares for a higher price than originally paid, the proceeds will be liable for capital gains tax.
- However, UK residents get an annual capital gains tax allowance of £12,300
- This means that any capital gains made in 2022/23 below £12,300 will not be liable for tax
- Share dividends are taxed too. UK residents get an annual allowance of £2,000.
- After the dividends allowance is used, those on a basic and higher rate will pay 8.75% and 33.75 respectively. Additional rate bands will pay 39.35%.
In addition to the above, buying shares on the London Stock Exchange will attract a stamp duty tax of 0.5%. At eToro, this stamp duty tax is waivered.
Be sure to consult with a qualified advisor for guidance on tax.
How to Buy Shares in the UK – Step-by-Step Guide
This step-by-step guide below will show you, in detail, how to buy shares in the UK using our top pick for the best app to buy shares, eToro.
Step 1 – Sign Up to eToro
eToro is a free-to-use platform that can be downloaded as a mobile app or from their website on a desktop.
Whichever method you choose, you will have to create an account with a username, email address and password and then supply personal information and verify it.
Step 2 – Get Verified
If an investor already has an account with another UK stock app, eToro may be able to electronically verify their ID without any further steps required from the new user.
However, beginners and those new to investing will need to provide a proof of ID and proof of address – this can be done electronically with eToro and usually requires a driver’s license or passport.
If the user does not immediately have the documentation to hand, it can be completed later, although that means the first deposit must be less than $2,000 (£1,650).
Then, to further comply with Know-Your-Customer regulations, the broker will need to check that the investor is not out of their depth, meaning a series of questions about investing will need to be answered.
Step 3 – Deposit Funds
Once the account has been verified, the investor can deposit funds into it.
eToro allows for users to deposit in a number of ways, including with credit or debit card, bank transfer, PayPal, or an e-wallet.
Note that all eToro transactions are carried out in US Dollars on the platform, with a minimum deposit of $10 (approx. £8) needed to get started.
Bank transfers will also take between four and seven days to process.
Step 4 – Find the Share and Execute a Trade
Once funds are deposited, the user may begin trading – they can find shares simply by searching in the search bar, while eToro also has a ‘Discover’ feature that shows trending shares that may interest investors.
eToro makes it easy for those wondering how to buy Amazon or Apple shares, like in the image below.
Find the relevant share, press the ‘Trade’ button and then select either ‘Buy’ or ‘Sell’ – depending on whether the investor wants to go long or short.
Enter the purchase amount and then complete the transaction, with shares then appearing in the ‘Portfolio’ section of the app.
Step 5 – How to Sell on eToro
To sell a share on eToro, navigate to the ‘Portfolio’ and then select the relevant share you wish to sell from your list of assets.
After confirming the sell order, eToro will execute the trade instantly if the relevant market.
If it is not, the sale will be executed immediately after the market reopens – either way, upon selling on eToro, the cash will be added to the user’s account balance.
In summary, this beginner’s guide has explained the nuts and bolts of how to buy and sell shares in the UK. We have also covered popular shares to watch right now and what factors need to be considered before an investment is made.
We have outlined a number of the best places to buy shares in the UK but we rank eToro as our overall top pick.
eToro is fully regulated by the FCA and has one of the best apps to buy shares as it is user-friendly and excellent for beginners and experienced investors – the platform also offers 0% commission on trades.