Recommended for long-term investors on the hunt for low fees and focusing on the UK and US markets
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES
Freetrade is a UK-based fintech startup providing commission-free stock trading, regulated by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The company was founded in 2016.
Freetrade is considered safe because it is regulated by a top-tier regulator, the FCA.
We selected Freetrade as Best broker for beginners for 2021, based on an in-depth analysis of 70+ online brokers that included testing their live accounts. Check out the complete list of winners.
Freetrade pros and cons
Freetrade provides free stock and ETF trading. Account opening is seamless, fully digital and really fast. The mobile trading platform is well-designed and user-friendly.
At Freetrade, you can only trade stocks and ETFs, and its products are limited to the US and UK markets. Research options cover only basic charting tools. Debit cards are available only for deposits, otherwise no credit/debit card withdrawal is available.
|• Free stock and ETF trading||• Basic product portfolio|
|• Easy and fast account opening||• Limited research tools|
|• Great mobile trading platform||• Debit card only for deposits|
|🗺️ Country of regulation||UK|
|💰 Trading fees class||Low|
|💰 Inactivity fee charged||No|
|💰 Withdrawal fee amount||$0|
|💰 Minimum deposit||$0|
|🕖 Time to open an account||1 day|
|💳 Deposit with bank card||Available|
|👛 Depositing with electronic wallet||Available|
|💱 Number of base currencies supported||1|
|🎮 Demo account provided||No|
|🛍️ Products offered||Stock, ETF|
TO BEST ALTERNATIVES
At Freetrade, you can trade stocks and ETFs free of charge. There are no account, inactivity or withdrawal fees.
|• Low trading fees||None|
|• Low non-trading fees|
|• Free stock and ETF trading|
|Assets||Fee level||Fee terms|
|US stock||Low||£0 for basic orders and for instant/market orders|
|Mutual fund||-||Not available|
|Inactivity fee||Low||No inactivity fee|
How we ranked fees
We ranked Freetrade's fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.
First, let's go over some basic terms related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees and non-trading fees.
- Trading fees occur when you trade. These can be commissions, spreads, financing rates and conversion fees.
- Non-trading fees include charges not directly related to trading, like withdrawal fees or inactivity fees.
In the sections below, you will find the most relevant fees of Freetrade for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing the most important fees are commissions.
We also compared Freetrade's fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, DEGIRO and Revolut. This selection is based on objective factors such as products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc. See a more detailed rundown of Freetrade alternatives.
To have a clear overview of Freetrade, let's start with the trading fees.
At Freetrade, you can trade stocks and ETFs for free. Initially only basic orders were free, but in February 2020, Freetrade cut commissions to zero on instant order execution as well. While a basic order is executed at the 3 p.m. GMT price and is available only when the market is closed, an instant (market) order is executed at the time when you place it, when the market is open.
Freetrade has the lowest fees for trading both US and UK stocks and ETFs.
Freetrade has low non-trading fees. It doesn't charge an inactivity fee.
At the time of the review, there was no account fee if you choose the basic account, but if you choose Freetrade Plus, which provides more stocks, limit options and priority customer service, there is a £9.99 monthly fee.
ISA services within Freetrade Basic still have a £3 monthly fee.
A withdrawal fee is charged only if you choose same-day withdrawal. In this case, there is a £5 fee.
Freetrade offers only GBP as a base currency, so a currency conversion fee is charged when you trade USD-denominated stocks or ETFs. The currency conversion fee is the FX spot rate +/- 0.45%.
Account opening at Freetrade is fast, fully digital and user-friendly, and there is no minimum deposit. You can choose from 4 different account types.
|• Fully digital|
|• No minimum deposit|
Can you open an account?
What is the minimum deposit at Freetrade?
The required Freetrade minimum deposit is $0.
Freetrade has expanded its account selection and now offers four types of accounts:
- General Investment Account – standard account for stock and ETF trading
- Investment Savings Account – a tax-efficient savings account
- Freetrade Plus Account (NEW) – a tax-efficient solution with an expanded product portfolio and order types
- SIPP Account (waitlist) – flexible investments in pension savings
|General Investment Account (GIA)||ISA||Plus||SIPP|
|Products||Stock, shares||GIA + fractional shares||GIA + fractional shares||GIA + fractional shares|
|Order types||Basic/Instant||Basic||GIA + limit, stop loss|
At the time of the review, all account types were available only to UK citizens or UK residents, with plans in progress for European expansion. Potential clients from Ireland, the Netherlands, France, and Germany can request an invite to get the app first when Freetrade launches in their country. In November 2020, Freetrade secured its passporting rights from the UK regulator FCA, as well as other regulators in the EU, to offer its services across the continent. Clients from new markets were planned to be onboarded in late 2020 or in 2021 at the latest.
How to open your account
Freetrade's account opening is user-friendly and fast. It took around 10-15 minutes until our account was set up.
The 6 steps of opening an account at Freetrade:
- Download the app on your mobile phone.
- Provide your email address, where you'll receive a confirmation link.
- Give your personal details, like name, date of birth, NI (national insurance) number.
- Add your address and nationality.
- Select the account type.
- Let Freetrade check your identity automatically.
If your digital verification process failed, you will have to upload your documents to verify your ID and residency. Passport, driving license or national ID are all accepted as proof of identity. You can use a tax bill, utility bill, bank statement or HMRC/DWP correspondence as proof of address.
Deposit and withdrawal
Deposits and withdrawals are user-friendly and free. On the negative side, no credit cards are accepted and the only available base currency is GBP.
|• Free withdrawal||• Only one account base currency|
|• No deposit fee||• Debit card available only for deposits|
At Freetrade, only GBP is available as a base currency.
|Number of base currencies||1||9||1|
If you have a personal bank account in a currency other than GBP, then you will be charged a conversion fee.
A convenient way to save on currency conversion fees is by opening a multi-currency bank account at a digital bank. These usually offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. Opening an account takes only a few minutes on your phone.
Deposit fees and options
Freetrade charges no deposit fees. You can use bank transfer, Apple Pay and Google Pay as deposit and withdrawal options. But you need a UK bank account and go through verification through a bank transfer before you initiate a withdrawal. You can fund your account using a debit card, but credit cards are not accepted.
A bank transfer can take several business days. You can only deposit money from accounts that are in your name.
Withdrawal fees and options
Freetrade charges no withdrawal fees if you choose 'non-same-day' withdrawal. Same-day withdrawals have a £5 fee.
For withdrawals, you can only use bank transfers and electronic wallets.
How long does it take to withdraw money from Freetrade? We tested the bank transfer withdrawal and it took 2 business days.
You can only withdraw and transfer money to accounts that are in your name.
How do you withdraw money from Freetrade? Simply follow these steps:
- Log in to the mobile trading platform.
- Go to the 'Account' tab.
- Click on 'Withdraw'.
- Enter the amount you wish to withdraw.
- Initiate the withdrawal.
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Web trading platform
At Freetrade, you can only trade through a mobile platform, web and desktop platforms are not available. We missed the web platform, which the company said would be set by the end of 2020.
Mobile trading platform
Freetrade has a user-friendly and well-designed mobile trading platform, with an efficient search function. However, there are only two order types and you cannot set price alerts.
|• User-friendly||• Limited order types|
|• Two-step (safer) login||• No price alerts|
|• Good search function|
Freetrade offers an in-house developed mobile trading platform with a superb design.
The mobile trading platform is available in English on both iOS and Android. We tested the platform on Android.
Look and feel
Freetrade's mobile trading platform is user-friendly and well-designed. You'll be familiar with the platform within seconds.
Login and security
You can log in to Freetrade's platform by typing in a four-digit password or using biometric authentication, like TouchID. There is a two-step (or two-factor) authentication option.
The search functions are good. You can search by asset name or asset class, like stock ETFs or bond ETFs. We liked the categorization as well. You can browse assets by popularity, company type, industry or country (UK, US).
Freetrade offers only two order types on Freetrade Basic:
- Basic order – the orders placed at 3 p.m. GMT, no fee is charged
- Instant order – the orders placed immediately, no fee is charged
There are more order types if you choose Freetrade Plus:
- order types available for UK stocks:
- Basic order
- Instant or market order
- Limit order
- Stop loss
- order types available for US stocks:
- Basic order
- Instant or market order
- Limit order
- Triggered order
- Triggered stop loss
You can't use order time limits.
If you are not familiar with the order types, read this overview.
Alerts and notifications
You can't set alerts and notifications on Freetrade's mobile platform, although it would be a great feature.
Desktop trading platform
Freetrade does not have a desktop trading platform.
Markets and products
Freetrade has a limited product portfolio that covers only stocks and ETFs. There are no other asset classes available, like mutual funds, bonds or options.
Freetrade is continuously expanding its selection of stocks and ETFs, but has no plans to add more asset classes to its offering.
Stock and ETF
At the time of the review, you can trade stocks and ETFs from the London Stock Exchange (LSE), the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and the NASDAQ.
|Stock markets (#)||3||30||2|
Freetrade is continuously adding new stocks and ETFs, often based on the preferences of its community, among other updates. At the time of the review, Freetrade had 3,536 different stocks to trade. In addition to regular trading, fractional trading is available too.
Freetrade's research tools are limited, with no analyst recommendations or fundamental data. Charting is also poor, showing only the most basic information.
|None||• Limited interactive charting|
|• No trading ideas|
|• No fundamental data available|
Trading ideas and fundamental data
Freetrade does not provide trading ideas or fundamental data.
Although there are some feature updates, like a graph scrubber or a one-day graph filler, Freetrade has poor charting tools. There are no major technical or charting tools, such as a trendline editor.
Freetrade has an efficient live chat in its mobile app and its website. Email support is great, but we missed phone support and 24/7 availability.
|• Live chat||• No phone support|
|• Fast response time||• No 24/7 support|
|• Relevant answers|
You can contact Freetrade via live chat or email.
The live chat works great, we received fast answers within minutes. They were useful and relevant but the service isn't available 24/7. You can also contact Freetrade via email, which they usually answer in a few minutes.
However, we missed the option to contact the broker via phone.
Freetrade has useful and quality educational articles and a great community on its own blog. On the other hand, there are no educational videos or webinars.
|• Invest HUB blog||• No educational videos|
|• Educational content in a newsletter||• No webinars|
Invest HUB, Newsletter, Blog & Community
Freetrade has an Invest HUB section on the site. When you click on the top menu bar, you can check the latest news, tips on how to get started or you can learn new expressions in the dictionary.
Beside the content on the site, you can also sign up for more educational materials, including a newsletter and weekend reads. The previous blog and the community is still active and really useful. The 'Which crowdfunding companies have you invested in?' chat, for instance, has some really good discussion topics. It is worth taking a look!
There is still room for improvement however, as there are no webinars or educational videos, but hopefully these will be added with time.
Freetrade is regulated by the UK's FCA, providing up to £85,000 of investor protection. On the negative side, it is not listed on a stock exchange and doesn't hold a banking license.
|• Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority||• No negative balance protection|
|• High level of investor protection||• Does not hold a banking license|
|• Not listed on stock exchange|
Is Freetrade regulated?
Yes, it is regulated by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Is Freetrade safe?
To be certain if a brokerage is safe, we highly advise that you check two facts:
- how you are protected if something goes wrong
- what the background of the broker is
How you are protected
At Freetrade, all customers are covered by the UK investor protection scheme, called FSCS.
|Country of clients||Protection amount||Regulator||Legal entity|
|All countries||£85,000||Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)||Freetrade Limited|
The FSCS protects against the loss of cash and securities in case a broker goes bust. The limit of FSCS protection is £85,000. This amount is substantially higher than the amount most national investor protection schemes provide.
Freetrade is a relatively young company, established in 2016. The longer the track record of a broker, the more proof we have that it has successfully survived previous financial crises.
Freetrade's annual report is audited by PwC, and it is also regulated by a top-tier authority that provides a high amount of investor protection. These are all great signs for Freetrade's safety.
Freetrade's fees are great. Stock and ETF trades are free and there is no inactivity fee. Account opening is easy, fully digital and fast. You can use an awesome and user-friendly mobile trading platform.
Freetrade has some drawbacks, though: there are only US and UK stocks and ETFs available for trading. There aren't many research tools and you can't use credit/debit cards for transfers.
If you are looking for stock and ETF trading from the main UK and US exchanges for free and you prefer an easy-to-use mobile trading platform, Freetrade is a good choice.