If you are a UK investor, it is hard not to hear the name “Hargreaves Lansdown”, since they are one of the oldest (founded in 1981) and largest UK investment platforms. Their reputation is further amplified by having over 1.7 million clients with over £130 billion in Assets Under Management (AUM) and also being a part of the biggest UK stock index – FTSE 100.
These facts, along with being regulated by the FCA, make Hargreaves Lansdown a well-renowned and secure broker. Their offer of financial products is very wide, and the tax-advantaged ISA (Stocks and shares, Cash, Lifetime, Junior) and SIPP (regular and Junior) accounts are available as well.
However, the platform has its disadvantages as well (as any other). The most commonly cited con of using Hargreaves Lansdown is the platform’s fees, which are higher than on many other platforms. These include high fees on stocks and ETFs, as well as high currency conversion fees. The latter does drop with higher invested amounts though.
- Extensive educational resources: guides, videos, webinars
- Easy-to-use platform interface
- Reliable customer support
- Very good customer reviews
- Advanced research and analysis tools
- Expert managed investing feature (HL Ready Made Investment Service)
- Only one base currency (GBP)
- Limited offer of international financial products
- Limited offer (only 50) of commission-free funds
- No automated investing feature
- The lack of a demo account
- Potential conflict of interest (HL generates revenue from its funds)
If the cons of the platform outweigh the pros for you, maybe it’s time to consider other platforms that can meet your investing needs in a better way. These are our top picks for Hargreaves Lansdown alternatives:
Best Hargreaves Lansdown Alternatives in 2023
Interactive Brokers | Best global broker overall
Founded in 1978, it is one of the world’s most trustworthy brokers. It offers a wide selection of financial products (stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, currencies, options, and futures) from more than 150 global markets at reasonable commissions and low currency exchange fees. Stocks and Shares ISA and SIPP accounts are also available.
Trading 212 | Best for commission-free stocks and ETFs
A simple and intuitive platform, commission-free stocks & ETFs trading, and fractional shares make Trading 212 ideal for beginner investors. Stocks and Shares ISA account is also available for UK residents.
Interactive Investor | Best for beginner investors
It is the 2nd biggest UK broker, most famously known for commission-free trading (albeit with a flat monthly fee). Having a simple interface, quick and easy account opening and deposit process, and offering simple funds, make Interactive Investor a common choice for beginner investors. You can also choose between trading, ISA, and SIPP account types.
Freetrade | Best for REITs and SPACs
Offering commission-free trading has earned Freetrade the nickname “Robinhood of the UK”. Other features that set it apart from the competition are access to REITs and SPACs and no hidden fees. They also offer GIA, ISA, and SIPP account types.
AJ Bell | Best for investment funds
Being more of a traditional broker, AJ Bell offers an excellent quality of service from start to finish, including the trading platform and customer service. You can also choose between a wide offering of ISA, SIPP, and regular accounts. However, all of this comes at the cost of having higher fees than most of its competitors.
IG | Best for CFD and forex trading
Being primarily CFD and forex broker, IG enables trading in shares, indices, commodities, futures, and ETF CFDs. A long track record (IG group established in 1974), being listed on the London Stock Exchange (index FTSE 250), and is regulated by multiple regulators make IG a well-renowned broker. ISA and SIPP accounts are also available for UK residents.
|Broker||Minimum deposit||Supported Products||Currency conversion fee||Trading fees (US stocks)|
|Interactive Brokers||£0||Stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, currencies, options, and futures||0.08-0.20 basis points x Trade Value per order ($1-$2)minimum per order)||From $0.0005 (Tiered) to $0.005 (Fixed); Free to US investors|
|Trading 212||£1 (£10 for bank transfers)||Stocks, ETFs (Trading 212 Invest), CFDs (Trading 212 CFD)||0.15% (Invest account), 0.50% (CFD account)||Commission-free (other fees may apply)|
|Interactive Investor||£0||Stocks, ETFs, funds, bonds||1.5% (drops for rising amounts)||Commission-free (for some account types; monthly fee applies)|
|Freetrade||£0||Stocks, ETFs, REITs, SPACs, investment trusts||0.39-0.99% (depending on the account level)||Commision-free (other fees may apply)|
|AJ Bell||£0 (could be higher for different account types)||Stocks, ETFs, funds||0.75% (drops for rising amounts)||From £4.95 to £9.95 + account fee (0.25%)|
|IG||£0 (for bank transfers)||CFDs, forex, stocks, ETFs||0.5%||Commission-free (other fees may apply)|
#1 Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers at a glance
Having been around since 1978 and publicly listed on the NASDAQ exchange, the Interactive Brokers’ major advantage is its reputation.
Other significant advantages of using Interactive Brokers are its wide selection of financial products from over 150 markets, solid trade execution (IB SmartRouting), and supporting 24 currencies in its account. There are also 100+ currency pairs available for exchange.
Some downsides of using Interactive Brokers are:
- The complex fee structure;
- Lengthier than average registration and fund deposit processes;
- Limited commission-free trading (only available for US investors).
However, the last point is largely mitigated by using narrower spreads and lower FX fees than most of its competitors.
Speaking of the fee structure, there are two distinct plans to choose from – Tiered and Fixed, with the former fees depending on the trade volume. The fees also vary across different markets. You can see the full fee structure here.
There are 3 apps to choose from when accessing your account: Interactive Brokers Trader Workstation (TWS) desktop app, IBKR GlobalTrader mobile app, and Client Portal web-based app.
The IBKR GlobalTrader mobile app is a common choice for beginner investors, offering stocks, ETFs, and options trading in a user-friendly format. Other app features include automatic currency conversions and fractional shares (only for certain US stocks).
The Interactive Brokers Trader Workstation (TWS) app offers many basic and advanced features, but the downside is that the platform’s learning curve can be steep for beginners.
There is also a web-based application named Client Portal, which is halfway between TWS and Global Trader in terms of both the simplicity of the user experience and available features.
Interactive Brokers also offers tax-favorable Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP), Stocks and Shares ISA, and Junior ISA accounts for UK residents.
Overall, Interactive Brokers is a good choice for beginners and advanced investors looking for a secure broker and access to a wide choice of financial products. If you need more info about it, feel free to check out our more detailed review of Interactive Brokers.
- Reputable, publicly listed, and well-regulated broker
- Wide choice of financial products and global markets
- Low commissions, currency exchange fees, and trading spreads
- Higher learning curve than some other platforms (partially fixed with IBKR GlobalTrader)
- More complicated account opening and fund depositing process than average
- Complicated fee structure
#2 Trading 212
Investing involves risk of loss.
Trading 212 at a glance
Founded in 2004, Trading 212 claims the title of the first-ever commission-free broker in both the U.K. and Europe. As of 2023, it has over 2 million users with over €3.5 billion in assets under management (AUM).
It offers two distinct account types: Trading 212 Invest, which offers commission-free stocks and ETFs trading, and Trading 212 CFD, which offers CFD trading only.
The Trading 212 Invest account has been rapidly gaining popularity with beginner investors especially, and with good reasons:
- The minimum deposit is just £1 (£10 for bank transfers);
- Commission-free stocks and ETFs trading is available (along with fractional shares);
- The platform is very simple to use (for both account opening and trading).
The account opening and fund depositing process is one of the simplest ones on the market. Trading is also easy and intuitive when using the platform, both on mobile and web-based apps.
It is important to note that a big part of the reason why Trading 212 can offer commission-free trading is due to its share lending program, which is mandatory for Trading 212 users. You can read more about it here.
However, that doesn’t mean there are no other fees on Trading 212. Some of the fees that Trading 212 charges are;
- 0.7% for deposit methods other than bank transfers (free up to the first €2,000);
- Currency exchange fees of 0.15% (Trading 212 Invest) or 0.50% (Trading 212 CFD);
- Overnight fees on CFDs.
You can see the fee structure in more detail here for Trading 212 Invest and here for Trading 212 CFD. Other cons of the platform include a limited offer of financial products, supporting only 3 base currencies (USD, EUR, and GBP), and high spreads on Forex CFDs.
Stocks and Shares ISA account is also available for UK residents at no extra fee.
For those of you who are thinking about joining Trading 212, you can even claim a free share when you sign up by following this link. After you verify your identity and fund the account, be sure to include promo code “IITW” to claim one free share worth up to €100.
To sum it all up, Trading 212 is a good choice for beginner investors who want a simple, effective, and cheap way to buy stocks and ETFs.
If you need more info, feel free to check out our more detailed review of Trading 212.
- Commission-free stocks and ETFs trading
- Intuitive and simple platform
- Free stock upon signup
- Limited offer of financial products
- Share lending
- Credit/debit card fee (after the first deposited €2,000)
#3 Interactive Investor
Interactive Investor at a glance
Interactive Investor is a UK flat-fee investment service with more than 400,000 users and over £55 billion in assets under management (2nd biggest in the UK). They offer various account types, such as trading, SIPP, and ISA accounts, for which they charge a flat monthly fee (starting at £4.99 a month).
Interactive Investor’s parent company is publicly-listed and is a part of the FTSE 100 index as well. The platform also has excellent customer reviews (4.7 stars on +20,000 reviews on Trustpilot).
The trading platforms (web and mobile are available, but not desktop) are user-friendly and well-designed. There are 40,000+ UK and global stocks to choose from, as well as ETFs, funds, and bonds. However, some other financial products are missing, such as CFDs, forex, options, etc.
If you don’t know where to begin, you can choose from their lists of recommended funds, such as:
- Quick-start Funds (6 low-cost funds for beginners);
- ii Super 60 (60 funds selected by experts);
- ii Ace 40 (a list of 40 ethical funds);
- Model portfolios (5 ready-made portfolios).
Account opening and making deposits/withdrawals are all fast and easy. The biggest drawback of using Interactive Investor is the monthly account fee. This can be partially offset for a certain time period by using one of their frequent promotions. You can see their fees in more detail here.
Overall, Interactive Investor is a good choice for beginner investors. The platform makes it easy for anyone to open an account and start investing in traditional assets like stocks, ETFs, funds, and bonds.
- Reputable and well-regulated broker
- User-friendly platform
- Excellent customer reviews
- Monthly account fees
- No live chat or 24/7 support
- Limited offer of financial products
Freetrade at a glance
Often called the “Robinhood of the UK”, Freetrade is a UK-based broker which offers trading with very low fees. Apart from stocks, the platform also offers ETFs, REITs, SPACs, and investment trust trading, all being commission-free (but other fees may apply).
Some of the other features of the platform include:
- The option of ISA, SIPP, or GIA account types;
- Fractional shares;
- Return on uninvested cash;
- Very active community (forum)
- Access to some advanced tools (automated order types, advanced stock fundamentals)
However, keep in mind that not all of these features are available to all users. There are 3 distinct subscription plans to choose from (Basic, Standard, and Plus), each offering commission-free stock and ETF trading, but differing in other features and FX fees. You can see the comparison between the plans in more detail here.
There is no inactivity or deposit/withdrawal fee and the app is user-friendly. Return on uninvested cash is a nice plus, being 1% for Standard and 3% for Plus accounts, but capped at £2,000 and £4,000 respectively. There is also a free share program when inviting someone to join the platform.
Some of the limitations of using Freetrade include the absence of certain financial products, the lack of some advanced tools, no web or desktop apps (desktop app Beta is available to Plus accounts), and no phone or 24/7 support.
Overall, Freetrade does what it was designed to do very well – it offers a way to start investing commission-free with a simple and intuitive platform. If you need more information, you can check out our detailed Freetrade review.
- Commission-free stock and ETF trading
- User-friendly platform from start to finish
- No hidden fees (inactivity, withdrawal, account…)
- Limited offer of financial products
- Limited advanced tools (research, charts, portfolio tracking)
- No phone or 24/7 support
#5 AJ Bell
AJ Bell at a glance
Founded in 1995, AJ Bell is a public UK investment platform listed on the London Stock Exchange (part of the FTSE 250 index). AJ Bell Youinvest’s account opening is quick and easy, requiring no initial deposit. The platform is user-friendly but lacks some of the more advanced features. There are stocks, ETFs, and funds to choose from, but the platform lacks forex, options, futures, and CFDs. If you are new to investing, you can choose from some of their ready-made portfolios.
There is a wide range of account types to choose from, including Stocks and shares ISA, Lifetime ISA, Junior ISA, SIPP, Cash savings, and a regular Dealing account.
Platform fees are above average, consisting mainly of:
- Account fee of 0.25%, but only up to a maximum of £3.50 a month
- Share dealing fee (both buying and selling) from £4.95 to £9.95
- Investment fund fees starting at 0.25% + fund management fee
Their customer service is usually responsive, even having the option of a live phone call. There is also e-mail and live chat available. This is probably a big part of the reason why they have excellent customer reviews (4.7 stars on nearly 4,000 reviews at Trustpilot).
Apart from the fees and the absence of some financial products, another con of using AJ Bell is limited advanced tools (research, charts, order types, etc.)
Overall, AJ Bell is somewhat of a traditional broker in the sense that they offer good quality service from start to finish, including customer service. However, this comes at a price of slightly higher fees than some of its competitors.
- User-friendly platform
- Low investment fund fees
- No inactivity or deposit/withdrawal fees
- High stocks fees
- Limited offer of financial products
- Limited advanced tools (research, charts, order types)
75% of retail CFD accounts lose money.
IG at a glance
IG is a well-renowned broker, offering a wide choice and low commissions in primarily CFDs and forex trading. The IG Group (established in 1974) is one of the most valuable UK public companies (included in the FTSE 250 index), has over 300,000 clients worldwide, and covers 18,000+ markets in total.
The user-friendly platform is available internationally (with some exceptions) and offers 6 base currencies: USD, GBP, AUD, EUR, SGD, and HKD. If you are a resident of the UK (or its territories), you can also open a share dealing account which offers access to real shares, ETFs, and automated ETF portfolios (IG Smart Portfolio). You can find more info about it here.
However, most traders will be drawn to IG because of its CFD and Forex trading capabilities. Some of the features of the platform include:
- Extensive educational materials;
- 24-hour-a-day support;
- Weekend trading and extended hours trading;
- Fast execution times;
- Access to Meta Trader 4 (a leading forex trading application);
- Advanced tools: customizable screener, recommended news based on your account…
They offer commission-free trading for most CFDs but charge their own spread on top of the market spread. The exception is share CFDs, which are offered at the real market price without added spread, but there is a commission when both opening and closing a position.
Other fees include:
- FX conversion fee of 0.5%;
- Overnight fees (depending on the product);
- Inactivity fee ($18 monthly after 2 years of inactivity);
- Custody fee for less than 3 quarterly trades on the share dealing account (£24).
You can learn more about their fees at this link.
Tax-favorable ISA and SIPP accounts are also available for UK residents. The SIPP account is offered in partnership with UK Options, with a £210 yearly fee charged for the service. The ISA account can be opened for both the share dealing and Smart Portfolio accounts, with a custody fee of £24 charged per calendar quarter (if you have less than 3 trades per quarter).
In a nutshell, IG is a broker that primarily offers CFD and Forex trading in a user-friendly interface and with competitive fees. It is tailored to both beginner and advanced traders due to a mix of educational materials and advanced trading tools.
- User-friendly trading platform
- Competitive fees and spreads
- Additional features: 24 hours a day support, educational materials, extended trading hours, etc.
- High inactivity and share CFD fees
- Share dealing account available only to UK residents
- High fees for ISA and SIPP accounts
The bottom line
To summarize, here’s our list of Hargreaves Lansdown Alternatives:
|#1||Interactive Brokers||Best global broker overall|
|#2||Trading 212||Best for commission-free stocks and ETFs|
|#3||Interactive Investor||Best for beginner investors|
|#4||Freetrade||Best for REITs and SPACs|
|#5||AJ Bell||Best for investment funds|
|#6||IG||Best for CFD and forex trading|
Choosing a broker among numerous options can be a daunting task. The key is to choose a broker that best suits your investing needs because there is no such thing as one broker tailored to all customers.
All of them have certain pros and cons which may be more or less important to you. Examples include the offering of different account types (ISA, SIPP, or GIA) or different financial products (Stocks, ETFs, funds, bonds, CFDs, etc.). Fees also play a big role, or as we like to say: “The only thing that’s 100% certain in investing are the fees”.
Hopefully, we made it easier for you to choose an alternative to Hargreaves Lansdown with this article. Let us know what you think about the article and if you have any suggestions in the comments below!