Finding the right self-invested personal pension (SIPP) provider for your retirement portfolio might feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are loads of great low-cost SIPPs available to choose from, and we’ll help you pick the right account.
Although SIPPs all provide a tax-efficient way to save for retirement, not all accounts are the same. There are SIPP providers out there providing more benefits, greater investment choices and lower fees. You probably don’t want to change and switch SIPPs regularly, so it’s worthwhile finding the right provider for your retirement plans.
In this article, we’ll showcase the best (and cheapest) SIPP accounts available from a variety of providers so that you can find the right one for your retirement portfolio.
#1 Vanguard: Best for low fees
Vanguard at a glance
Vanguard created the concept of cheap index funds back in the 1970s, so it’s no surprise it’s our best SIPP for low fees. In fact, there are not many places to invest in proper index funds throughout the UK, and often, you’ll need to use ETFs instead.
It doesn’t cost anything to open a Vanguard SIPP. There’s just a 0.15% ongoing platform fee (capped at £375/per year). Although Vanguard offers a slightly limited investment choice (around 80+ Vanguard funds), it more than makes up for this with its low fees.
Along with a low SIPP platform fee, there’s no cost to buy or sell funds in your account. Also, Vanguard’s market-leading products, like its ‘Target Retirement’ funds and blended ‘LifeStrategy’ funds, are excellent for a simple retirement portfolio.
The Target Retirement options allow you to select a desired retirement year, and you’ll automatically get moved into lower-risk investments as you approach retirement. The LifeStrategy options are more static but still useful. You simply pick the allocation you prefer, for example, 80% equities and 20% bonds, and voilà – Vanguard does the rest.
- Low 0.15% annual platform fee
- Target Retirement date and LifeStrategy funds
- Over 85 index funds & ETFs
- Market leader for index funds
- No charge to buy or sell funds
- Interest paid on cash balances
- ISA available for no extra fee
- Limited investment choice
- High £500 minimum deposit (or £100/month)
- No investing app
- Limited analysis and resources
- Can only buy Vanguard funds
#2 Freetrade: Best for 0% commission
Freetrade at a glance
Freetrade is a relatively new investing app, and it quickly gained popularity with over 1 million users because it’s also one of the cheapest UK trading platforms available. The name gives it away, but there’s no commission when you buy or sell investments on the app.
To access the Freetrade SIPP, you need to sign up for the ‘Plus’ account. The flat monthly fee of £11.99 (or £119.88 annually) is a little steep compared to some other SIPP providers if you have a smaller portfolio. If you have a large retirement portfolio, the flat fee could work in your favour.
Along with zero commission for making trades in your pension, the Freetrade SIPP account also comes with a competitive FX fee of 0.39%, access to its whole 6,000 stock universe, and the ability to earn 3% interest on uninvested cash (up to £4,000 max.) along a few other benefits that come with being a Plus subscriber.
The Freetrade SIPP platform fee isn’t the lowest, but if you want one of the cheapest SIPP accounts for buying and selling stocks, Freetrade is an excellent option. The SIPP is dead simple to set up, and the app is easy to use. Take a look at our Freetrade review and check the Freetrade website if you want to know more.
- 0% commission
- Over 6,000 assets on Plus
- £0 minimum deposit and invest from just £2
- Fractional shares
- Referral scheme
- Must be a Plus subscriber
- SIPP platform fee isn’t the cheapest
- Cash interest is only on balances up to £4,000
- Limited range of asset types
#3 interactive investor: Best for investment choice
interactive investor at a glance
interactive investor (ii) started in 1995 and is one of the oldest and most well-established investing platforms in the UK. Recently, it introduced a new SIPP ‘Pension Essentials’ plan to make its SIPP more affordable for those with smaller portfolios.
The flat monthly fee of £5.99 (for portfolios up to £50,000) is good value for mid-sized portfolios. And then the flat £12.99 a month fee afterwards is best for larger portfolios. Although itcharges a £3.99 commission for most investments, you can avoid this by setting up a regular monthly investment plan with your SIPP from £25 a month.
Although the fees for interactive investor’s SIPP aren’t the cheapest, it makes up for this with a huge selection of over 40,000 investments to choose from. This includes a wide variety of assets so you can build yourself a well-diversified retirement portfolio. Also, if you want to use it for other investments, you can add a stocks and shares ISA and a general investment account (GIA) for £4 a month.
Overall, interactive investor offers one of the best SIPP accounts available with its new, cheaper price for smaller portfolios. The downside is that the commission fees could go up if you don’t make the most of the free regular investing service.
- Flat monthly SIPP fee
- Over 40,000 investments
- Wide variety of assets
- Lots of tools and learning resources
- No commission for regular investing
- Flexible retirement options
- Commissions are quite expensive
- SIPP platform fee isn’t the cheapest
- SIPP fee goes up to £12.99 when your portfolio is over £50,000
- £0.99 for dividend reinvestment
- Extra fee for more accounts
#4 AJ Bell: Best for small portfolios
AJ Bell at a glance
AJ Bell is a well-respected UK investing brokerage and it was the first company to introduce an online SIPP account way back in 2000. The platform isn’t the slickest to use, but it’s very functional.
The best things about the AJ Bell SIPP are that it doesn’t cost anything to open a pension, and the fees for holding investments are very low. However, its fee structure is a little confusing because it depends on what investments you hold.
If you simply want to invest in funds, AJ Bell is great value. The ongoing custody fee of 0.25% (or lower) is competitive, and the £1.50 commission to buy or sell funds is attractive. Sadly, the commission for buying other investments is quite high at £9.95 (although this does reduce to £4.95 if you make 10+ trades each month, that means almost £100 spent in commissions to qualify). You can sign up for regular monthly investing to lower the commissions to £1.50 if you want to schedule investments into your retirement portfolio.
The AJ Bell SIPP offers over 2,000 investments from a range of asset types and overall, this is a well-rounded SIPP provider. Some charges are high, but this can be a cheap SIPP if used correctly.
- Cheap for small portfolios
- Over 2,000 investments
- Well-established brokerage
- Lots of tools, learning resources, and free investing magazine
- Lower commissions of £4.95 for frequent trading
- £1.50 commission for regular investing
- No SIPP platform fee (based on investments)
- £9.95 investment commission is expensive
- Complex fee structure
- Not the most user-friendly SIPP platform
#5 Dodl: Best for beginners
Dodl at a glance
Dodl is an investing app launched by established provider AJ Bell in 2022. One of the best things about Dodl is that it allows you to hold a general investment account, a stocks and shares ISA, a self-invested personal pension (SIPP), and a lifetime ISA (LISA) – all for no extra cost.
We think this is the best SIPP for beginners because that’s who it’s designed for. The app uses a range of monsters to help you learn about basic investing concepts. Also, there are a few different asset types available (stocks, ETFs, and blended funds), but only a small selection of each type so that it’s not overwhelming if you’re just starting to build a retirement portfolio.
Experienced investors might find the Dodl SIPP limiting, but that’s not who it’s designed for, and we think it’s a useful, cheap choice for beginners.
- Low 0.15% annual platform fee (£1/month minimum)
- No added fee for an ISA, LISA, or GIA
- 3 asset types
- Easy-to-use app
- No charge to buy or sell investments
- Small number of investments
- £100 minimum deposit (or £25/month)
- No desktop platform
- Limited analysis and resources
- 0.75% FX fee
The bottom line
To summarise, here’s the list of the ‘best SIPP providers and accounts’:
Finding the best SIPP provider is the easiest way to start preparing for retirement. It’s important to find the right SIPP account for your investing style and remember to think about whether you simply want the cheapest SIPP or if you want extra features like a wide investment choice to suit your strategy.
Understanding what type of investor you are will help you decide on the best SIPP provider and account to use for creating and building your retirement portfolio. We hope this article has provided some insights into the SIPP options available in the UK. Let us know in the comments if there are any SIPP accounts or providers you like to use.