Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. 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.
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. 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.

How to choose the best online broker for UK traders

Advancing technology has created an influx of online brokers over the years, and identifying one that suits your needs might not always be an easy task. Learn how traders in the UK choose the best online broker.

Call 0800 195 3100 or email newaccounts.uk@ig.com to talk about opening a trading account.

Contact us 0800 195 3100

Get info fast via our instant help and support portal. Available for account queries, ProRealTime, product info and more.

Visit help and support for more information.

Get info fast via our instant help and support portal. Available for account queries, ProRealTime, product info and more.

Visit help and support for more information.

Call 0800 409 6789 or email helpdesk.uk@ig.com if you have any questions about trading or investing. We're available 24/7 between 8am Saturday and 10pm Friday.

Contact us 0800 409 6789

Call 0800 195 3100 or email newaccounts.uk@ig.com to talk about opening a trading account.

Contact us 0800 195 3100

Get info fast via our instant help and support portal. Available for account queries, ProRealTime, product info and more.

Visit help and support for more information.

Get info fast via our instant help and support portal. Available for account queries, ProRealTime, product info and more.

Visit help and support for more information.

Call 0800 409 6789 or email helpdesk.uk@ig.com if you have any questions about trading or investing. We're available 24/7 between 8am Saturday and 10pm Friday.

Contact us 0800 409 6789

What’s an online broker?

An online broker is the ‘middleman’ between buyers and sellers of financial instruments. Brokerages charge traders and investors a fee or commission for facilitating the purchase and sale of assets using their platform. They often invest in high-performance technologies to enable their clients to get exposure to a wide range of markets and tools.

What’s an online brokerage account?

An online brokerage account is a trading or investing account that you open with a broker like us. You’ll use it to buy and sell financial securities.

This is also where your profits and losses will be recorded. You can fund your trading account with your broker and withdraw money if you have any available.

Having an account with an online broker in the UK means you can trade and invest in a variety of markets. Trading means speculating on asset prices without owning them, while investing means you’ll own the assets outright.

When trading with us, you’ll open a spread betting account or CFD trading account (or both). When investing, on the other hand, you’ll make use of a share dealing account.

How does a brokerage account work in the UK?


Deposit funds - Once you’ve opened a brokerage account, you can start depositing funds. You’ll use these funds to trade or invest. Some brokers expect you to deposit funds immediately, while others only require you to add money when you want to start opening positions.

You can often use a variety of methods to fund your account, such as direct deposit, credit card or PayPal. This could differ from broker to broker.

Pick a market to trade or invest in - Think of your online brokerage account as the doorway to the financial markets. Your broker will offer a selection of markets to trade or invest in – it’s up to you to decide which markets you’re interested in.

Consider your position size and cost - If you’ve opened an account, you’ve probably already decided whether trading or investing is right for you. So, once you know which markets you’re going to explore, it’s time to consider the size of your positions and how much capital you’re going to put towards them.

You can decide how big or small you want your positions to be, but sometimes certain minimums will apply. Remember, both your position size as well as the price of the instrument need to be factored into the cost. Plus, other fees and charges may apply.

Study market movements - Your broker is not in charge of your online account – you are. That’s why it’s important that you study market movements and keep a close eye on your open positions.

Everything you do on the online account carries risk, so make sure you understand the ins and outs of the account, the platform you’re using, as well as the market you’re trading.

If you want access to a brokerage account in the UK, you can open one with us and start trading or investing in over 17,000 markets. The account will enable you to buy and sell assets – by owning them outright or speculating on their price. We’re the world’s No.1 provider and we have over 313,000 clients worldwide.2

Know your trading style

It’s important to know your trading style when choosing a broker. It’ll often depend on your personal preference and appetite for risk. For instance, if you prefer to buy and own shares, investment trusts or ETFs outright (long-term investing), you might consider opening a share dealing account.

However, if you’d like to use leverage to trade a wider selection of markets, you might consider more complex products like spread bets and CFDs (short- and medium-term trading). It could be worth opening a demo account and use the £10,000 worth of virtual funds to familiarise yourself with how these products work.

Your trading style might impact the type of broker you choose, as not all online brokers offer the same products or markets. The four most popular trading styles are:

Trading style Timeframe Common holding period
Position trading Long term Months to years
Swing trading Short to medium term Days to weeks
Day trading Short term Intraday
Scalping Very short term Seconds to minutes

How to choose an online broker

There are several key factors to consider when choosing an online broker, such as account types, available markets, costs and fees, trading hours, and more.

Trading account types

The type of account you open will depend on your personal preferences when it comes to trading or investing. Consider whether you want to buy and hold the assets and earn an income from dividends, or if you prefer to have exposure to assets over the short term.

An investment account is more suited to someone who wants to buy and own financial assets, while a trading account (such as a spread betting account) would be suited to someone who wants to speculate on rising and falling prices.

Markets and assets to trade

There are thousands of markets to trade across the globe.

  • Shares: buy and sell individual company stocks like Tesla, BHP Group or Alibaba
  • Indices: get exposure to a group of stocks from an exchange such as the FTSE 100 or the Germany 40
  • Forex: trade the value of currency pairs, for example EUR/USD or GBP/CHF
  • ETFs: open a position that’ll expose you to multiple assets from a single trade with ETFs, which are baskets of different stocks
  • Bonds: trade on future changes in long-term interest rates, while mitigating risk by hedging against existing government bonds
  • Commodities: buy and sell hard or soft commodities like oil, gold, wheat, orange juice and more
  • Interest rates: take a position on the future direction of global interest rates
  • Initial public offerings (IPOs): trade on companies making their debut on exchanges all over the world
  • Themes: get exposure to themes that follow upcoming global trends such as clean energy, electric vehicles and robotics

We offer access to over 17,000 markets, including shares, forex, indices, commodities and ETFs. It’s important to make use of our risk management tools, regardless of your trading style, the market you choose and your risk appetite.

The spread

In trading, a spread is the difference between the ask (offer) and bid (sell) prices of an asset. When trading, the bid-offer spread is crucial in determining the price of derivatives like spread bets and CFDs.

As a trader, you can use the bid-offer spread to gauge an asset’s supply and demand in the market. A tight market can be identified through bid and offer prices that’re close to one another, meaning buyers and sellers have consensus on the asset’s worth. On the other hand, a wider spread indicates a difference in opinion by buyers and sellers on the asset’s worth.

A spread will thus be used by most brokers when quoting asset prices. This means the asset’s buy price will always be slightly higher than the underlying market and the sell price slightly lower.

Trading costs

When trading with an online broker, there are costs you must be aware of. While creating an account is usually free, there are some charges involved when opening and closing positions. Some direct costs you can expect include the spread (as mentioned above), commissions or overnight funding charges.

The charges you pay depend on the type of trader that you are – for example, day traders won’t pay overnight funding if they open and close their positions in a single trading day.

Factors that may impact the cost of your trade are the margin, slippage and, if you’re a professional client, volume-based rebates.

Commission rates

When it comes to share dealing, you’ll pay commission. We offer commission rates as low as £0 on US stocks.2

In the case of share CFDs, there’s often a commission payable, which is a direct charge you’ll have to pay. Commission rates will influence the costs when trading leveraged products. On the other hand, spread betting is always commission free, but you do pay a spread, which means the prices on our platform will always be slightly different to the underlying market.

Trading hours

When you can trade or invest will have quite an impact on which online broker you choose. Some brokers offer extended trading hours, giving you longer access to the markets.

We offer a number of 24/7 and 24/5 markets, including shares, forex and indices. You can trade out of hours on more markets with us than any other trading provider.

We’re open 24 hours a day, from 11pm on Sunday (9pm for forex) until 10pm on Friday (UK time). However, note that shares don’t trade for 24 hours. You’ll be able to access our weekend markets from 8am (UK time) on Saturday up until 10.40pm on Sunday (8.40pm for Weekend FX).

Trading platforms

A trading platform is the tool you’ll use to place your trade. All brokers offer some sort of platform, whether it’s their own or a third party system like MT4. We have the UK’s best trading platform and an award-winning app.1 The platform has a simple and clean design, offering you seamless access to markets you want to trade.

You’ll have access to interactive features, such as charts, news and analysis, IG Live, alerts and signals – all housed on one platform.

All our clients in the UK can make use of ProRealTime and our DMA platform L2 Dealer. Plus, we also offer MT4 – a well-known third-party platform. However, the best trading platform for beginners is almost always a demo account, where you can practise risk-free trading.

The demo account will help you to build your confidence as a trader with £10,000 in virtual funds to help you hone your skills in a risk-free environment. Once you’re satisfied with your progress and you’re ready to trade in the real world, you can open a live account.

Educational material

Finding an online broker that offer plenty of training materials and learning resources can definitely help you on your trading journey. Learning as much as you can is crucial before opening any positions.

You can improve your trading knowledge and skills with IG Academy. This tool that offers courses for you to learn at your own pace – for free. You can then put your new skills to the test by opening a free demo trading account.

Customer service

Not only do you want to choose an online trading broker that’s got a good platform, you also want them to help you when you have questions. What if you’re based in the UK and the broker is in a different country? Will they be able to field your queries when you need them? Always consider lines of communication and immediate availability when choosing your broker.

If you’re a learner trader, you can make use of our client services team for a one-on-one walk through of our platform while setting up your account. We’ve also got a 24-hour live support where you can ask our trading experts for assistance. You can reach us via phone call, email or Twitter from 8am on Saturdays to 10pm on Fridays (UK time).

Best online broker for you

You’ll get access to more markets and longer trading hours on our platform. Here are some of the reasons why more than 313,000 people choose to trade with us.

We’re a top online trading provider

  • Trade with the best online brokerage provider in the UK1
  • Deal on our award-winning platform and mobile app1
  • Get exposure to over 17,000 markets, including forex, shares, indices, commodities and more. No other online broker offers more markets than us
  • Access deep liquidity and enjoy fast execution on our platform, no matter which device you use
  • Gain access to the markets for longer by trading out-of-hours and on weekends (not available on all markets). We have the longest trading hours available
  • Benefit from advanced dealing options such as points through current and partial fills that you can turn on or off on our platform

We have many different account types and platforms

  • Get direct market access (DMA) through L2 Dealer
  • Open diversified investment accounts like Smart Portfolios, and receive tax breaks through an Individual Savings Account (ISA)
  • Get access to automated trading though ProRealTime, MT4 and L2 Dealer
  • Enhance your trading experience by using advanced charting platform options in ProRealTime, TradingView and MT4

We offer trade, analytics and education tools

  • Receive 24/7 telephonic support from our service desk in the UK and a one-on-one walk through when opening an account with us
  • Set up trading signals through Signal Centre and Autochartist to get actionable buy and sell signals
  • Receive your price and indicator alerts using email or push notifications
  • Share your experience and ask questions in our community forum, which has over 64,000 members
  • Get the latest market news and analysis from our industry experts with IG Live
  • Learn valuable skills for free using guides and training materials available on IG Academy

UK online broker comparison

This is how we compare to our competitors:

IG eToro Trading 212 CMC Markets Plus500
Accounts

Spread betting, CFD trading, share dealing, Smart Portfolios

One account for CFD trading and share dealing CFD trading, share dealing Spread betting, CFD trading CFD trading only
Trading and investing Both Both Both Trading only Trading only
Markets to trade Over 17,000 markets including shares, ETFs, IPOs, indices, forex, commodities, bonds and more Over 2000 markets Over 10,000 markets Over 11,000 markets Over 2000 markets
Trading hours 24/7 trading on certain major indices and forex pairs, plus after hours trading on stocks No 24/7 trading or after hours trading on stocks No 24/7 trading, but after hours stock trading is available No 24/7 trading or after hours trading on stocks No 24/7 trading or after hours trading on stocks
Trading platforms Web, app, L2 Dealer, MT4, ProRealTime Web and app only Web and app only Web, app, MT4 Web and app only
Education focused IG Academy, news and strategies from in-house analysts and Reuters, community forum, free trading signals and more Academy and news from in-house analysts Community forum, help centre News from in-house analysts News from in-house analysts
HQ UK Israel Estonia UK Israel
Customer service 24/7 telephone support in the UK, plus 24/7 email and Twitter support Live chat or email support, Monday to Friday. No telephone support 24/7 live chat or email. No telephone support Telephone or email support, Monday to Friday 24/7 email, live chat and WhatsApp. No telephone support

How to start trading with us

  1. Fill in a form. You’ll be asked about your trading knowledge. This’ll ensure you get the best experience on our platform
  2. Get verification. We’ll usually be able to verify you immediately
  3. Fund your account and start trading. Deposit money into your account and start trading. You can also withdraw your money for free, whenever you like

FAQs

How much money do I need to open an online brokerage account?

Opening an online brokerage account is normally free. You’ll only have to deposit money when you want to open a position, ie start trading. However, some brokerages may require a deposit before your account will be activated. With us, you only have to fund your account when you’re ready to trade.

Is my money safe with an online broker?

If you choose a trusted and regulated provider, your money will be safe. We’re an FCA regulated online broker. This regulatory body, which is independent of the government, ensures that we meet the highest financial regulation standards in the UK.

How much do online brokers cost?

Online brokers’ costs will vary; we strive to offer competitive rates. For instance, you can access spreads from 0.6 points on key FX pairs like EUR/USD, 0.8 points on major indices like the Germany 40 and FTSE 100, and 0.1 points on Spot Gold.

When trading leveraged products, you’ll need to consider a direct charge – the spread, or a commission in the case of share CFDs. Also, keep in mind other potential factors that could influence how much your trading costs, like overnight funding charges.You can make money from forex trading by correctly predicting a currency pair’s price movements and opening a position that stands to profit. For example, if you think that a pair will decline in value, you could go short and profit from a market falling.

Alternatively, if you think a pair will increase in value, you can go long and profit from an increasing market.

Try these next

Open an account with us and start trading over 17,000 marketsLearn how to trade online in the UK, and access markets such as shares, indices, forex and commodities

Develop your trading skills in a risk-free environment

Discover the UK’s best online trading platform1

1 Best trading platform as awarded at the ADVFN International Financial Awards 2021 and Professional Trader Awards 2021.
2 Trade in your share dealing account three or more times in the previous month to qualify for our best commission rates. Please note published rates are valid up to £25,000 notional value. See our full list of share dealing charges and fees.