Stock trading apps: how do they work and which should you use?


There are important factors you should consider before choosing a trading app. (Credits: Getty Images)

The GameStop stock saga was driven in no small part by the availability of new stock trading apps, which offer little or no fee for buying and selling financial products.

While trading app RobinHood drew the attention (and anger) of many for its central role in the story, it is just one of many new financial products that exist on the market.

In the past, you had to go to an established stock broker to invest in the stock market – substantial fees would be taken for the trouble, and the range of financial products available was limited.

However, many platforms now offer a plethora of options – stocks, bonds, options and even cryptocurrencies – for very little or no fee.

There’s a range of eBroker apps available, each with its own offering and complexity – but there are a few things to look out for if you’re on the hunt.

The most obvious, fees and charges, is the amount of money a platform will charge you for performing a trade – some charge flat fees while others will take a percentage of the trade, something worth checking if you’ll be trading large volume or value of stocks.

There are a huge range of apps available. (Credits: Getty Images)

Different platforms also provide different selections of financial products – some wide, some narrow – so be sure to check if they offer the kind of stock or product you want to trade before you buy.

Some platforms are easier to use than others. If you’re a beginner to the world of trading, it’s probably worth getting an app you can actually use first.

Where you do you research is also a factor: some apps offer in-built research tools and market research, while others are simply a trading platform.

If you just want to dip a toe into the stock market world, then some apps offer a ‘demo account’, where you can see how your stock market bets play out without putting any real money down.

There are too many stock trading apps to list here, but here are some of the most popular platforms around today.

As with all things financial, it’s very much worth doing your own research before putting your own money in, and consulting a range of sources.

Fidelity

Fidelity is not one of the newer eBrokers like Trading 212 or Freetrade, but it still offers a wide range of financial services – though not the low fees and newer financial products that some platforms do.

Also one of the UK’s largest money managers, it’s unlikely for the platform to go under any time soon.

Because of its size, it offers a huge range of financial products – much more than some smaller apps.

It also offers a good amount of market research tools and investment advice for beginners.

However, its size can also be a hindrance, as it can take a while to get signed up and approved on the app.

While relatively easy to use, it’s fees won’t be the lowest.

e*Toro

One of the most popular global platforms, e*Toro has one of the largest range of stocks available of any eBroker apps, as well as commission free trades for many stocks.

Like Trading 212, you can open a fee-free trading account too. Unlike some of the other established platforms, e*Toro is well known for its cryptocurrency offerings, like Bitcoin and Ethererum.

The app also has a reputation as one of the more innovative companies out there, offering some stocks before other apps do.

It offers both ‘demo accounts’ and in-app market research, so in terms of features it has one of the widest ranges.

However, the minimum deposit of £140 to get trading might put off some beginners.

Freetrade

Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (which means users have a certain level of financial protection, though not if your trades go wrong), Freetrade is reasonably user-friendly.

The app lacks the in-line market research tools and granular stock information details that other apps do, but the low account fees and lack of buying and selling fees make it attractive for beginners.

Freetrade offers more than 4,000 stocks, which is a reasonably wide range – but not as much as some of the biggest eBrokers.

It’s available on the Google Play Store on Androids and App Store on iOS.

Trading 212

One of the more popular apps, Trading 212 has one of the wider selection of financial products available to trade from, from simple stocks and shares to more risky products like ‘contracts for difference’.

The app also has a popular demo version for less risk-inclined investors, and the fee-free Individual Savings Account it offers is popular for beginner investors.

While the lack of commission appeals to many investors, it’s also a very hands-on investment app, where you’ll need to keep a close eye on your individual investments.

RobinHood

RobinHood, while at the centre of the GameStop storm, isn’t currently available for download in the UK and, according to their website, has been postponed indefinitely.


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