There's 2 types of investment apps in the UK: expert-managed, where experts handle everything for you, and self-managed, where you have full control. We've reviewed the best of both.
Ready to start investing? Great! It’s the best way to build your wealth over time, and you can get started with very little. The important bit is getting started.
Investing is for everyone. So, whether you know your Apples from your Blackberrys, or think FTSE is something to do with your feet, we’re here for all of you.
We’ve reviewed the best apps for beginners all the way to experienced investors. Let's get started...
Investment apps fall into 2 categories, there’s expert-managed investment apps and self-managed investment apps:
Expert-managed investment apps are perfect for beginners and those looking to be more hands-off. Experts who know how to make money will handle everything for you and grow your money over time. Just add money, sit back and relax.
Self-managed investment apps are great for those a bit more familiar with investing, or wanting to have more control over their investments. The range of investments is far greater, and you get to decide which investments you’d like to make.
By the way, you can have as many investment apps as you like, so you could have one of each type. You could let the experts do their thing with your Stocks & Share ISA, and use a self-managed investment app to invest in your favourite investments yourself.
And with no more time to waste, here’s our recommendations for the best investment apps.
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Moneyfarm is one of the best options out there for saving and investing. It's super easy to use – the experts simply take care of everything. And, they're on hand to help you with guidance and any questions too.
They have one of the top performing investment records, and great socially responsible investing options.
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The best self-managed investment apps
Trading 212 is a platform built for everyone in mind – there's over 2,000,000 customers! It’s great for beginners to get started, and perfect for experienced investors too with a huge range of investment options.
It’s also the cheapest platform out there, completely commission free, and the lowest fees when buying foreign stocks.
Not investment advice. Investments can rise and fall, and your capital is at risk.
Best app experience
Lightyear is a great, low cost investing and stock trading platform. There’s a good range of investment options (over 3,000 stocks and ETFs), you can store multiple currencies, and the app itself is modern and super slick.
ETFs are completely free, and stocks are £1/$1/€1 per order.
There's also very low currency conversion fees of 0.35%, or you can hold the currency itself, and avoid this fee.
eToro is a hugely popular investing and trading platform. Not just because of it’s awesome trading features and being low cost, but because you can join a community of traders from all over the world, to trade, chat and learn together.
It’s also got the largest range of assets to trade and invest in – including stocks, ETFs, crypto, CFDs, currencies and commodities (such as gold).
To determine the best investment apps, we’ve looked at 5 key criteria, which are:
Range of investments
Investment track record
The app experience
Although there’s a fair few investment apps out there, we’re only showing you the best. Ones that we’re happy to recommend, and use ourselves here at Nuts About Money. You can be confident in whichever one of the above you choose.
What actually is investing?
Investing is a broad topic, but ultimately it can be summed up as making money, from well, your money. Or in other words, growing your money.
The most common form of investing is buying stocks and shares, which are small ownership stakes of companies that trade on a stock exchange – which is a fancy word for a place where you can buy and sell these shares (traditionally buying and selling shares was done in person, in exchanges, but it’s all done online now).
Investing could also be buying funds, property, cryptocurrencies (if you want to trade crypto, check out the best crypto exchanges - UK), or investing in new businesses just starting out, in fact the possibilities are quite endless!
That may sound really complicated, but most investing is done for you by experts, especially when using an investment app on your phone. You can think of it like a savings account, except your money is invested in stocks and shares rather than sitting in a bank collecting dust and earning you very little interest. You simply add your money within the app, leave it to the experts, and watch your money grow over time.
Although people tend to think investing as ‘risky’, in the long run, you’ll often make a lot more money investing your savings than keeping it in a savings account. Particularly if you invest using a Stocks & Shares ISA as you won’t be paying any tax either. It’s a win-win!
The main types of investments
Stocks and shares
Stocks and shares are small ownership stakes of individual businesses, meaning you own part of the company! These shares combined together make up the total value of a company, and they are bought and sold (traded) on stock exchanges across the world (all on an investment app on your phone). The value of a share is linked to the value of the company, so if the company does well, the value of the company increases and so do the shares.
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
A fund, or better known as an exchange-traded fund (ETF) is most commonly a group of shares from different companies, all bundled together, so you can buy a share of the fund, rather than all the individual shares themselves. For instance, the top 100 companies in the UK, or you could have a group of companies in the electric vehicle industry.
It's a great way to invest as your money is invested across a range of companies, making them safer than individual company shares (which has a higher risk of the price dropping).
ETFs are becoming incredibly popular. They’re traded on stock exchanges too, just like shares – you can buy them on an investment app on your phone.
Why are stocks and shares so special?
When you buy shares, you’re actually buying a small ownership stake in a company. So instead of earning a fixed amount in interest each year (and interest rates are currently very low), like you would with a regular savings account, or a Cash ISA, your investment is linked to the value of the whole company. So as the company grows in value, so do your shares.
Now, the special bit, because there’s no set interest rate, if your investments are doing really well, you can earn a lot more! In fact there's no limit to how much your shares could be worth in the future if the company you own is growing rapidly, you could earn many, many times your original investment.
For example, if you had bought Facebook shares in 2012, you would have made around 800% by 2022. Not bad.
Now we’re not saying you should go out and start investing in everything, we’re saying that in general, stocks and shares have the potential to earn far more than a savings account over time – and by quite a lot! Plus, you can let the experts make all the decisions too. Easy.
How to invest your money with an investment app
With technology improving rapidly, it’s now super simple to invest your money. Investment apps on your phone leading the way.
There’s 2 main ways to invest your money with an investment app, you can either invest with an expert-managed investment app or a self-managed investment app. Let’s take a look at both.
Expert-managed investment apps
These are the super easy option, and very much the best option for beginners who don’t want to be hands-on with their investments. With these, you simply add your money and then sit back and relax. The experts will handle everything for you – that’s picking the right investments and using an investment strategy to grow your money safely over time.
Expert-managed investment apps are often called ‘robo advisors’ because they have an app or a website that their customers use. The customers believe all the investments are done by a computer too. But actually, there’s experts managing the investments. You’re in safe hands.
Note: however, there are some investment options where the computers do make the decisions of what to buy and sell – and they can actually perform better than most experts!
Self-managed investment apps
With self-managed investment apps, you’ll be the one picking investments and buying and selling shares and funds (ETFs) yourself. The power is all yours!
There’s thousands of shares and funds out there, with many opportunities to choose from, and that’s why self-managed investment apps are hugely popular (particularly Trading 212).
You're not fixed to what the experts decide, which are often safe investments that grow slowly over time (we’re not saying that’s a bad thing!).
You could buy shares of a business that you really like with great potential, that could pay off big time in the future, and invest any amount you’d like to. Or, you could play it safer with a choice of ETFs that you think are solid buys and have great potential. Best of all, you can do both! The investment strategy is entirely yours.
How much should a beginner invest?
The good thing about investment apps is that there’s often no minimum amount, or it’s quite low, such as £1. Which means beginners can start with an amount they feel comfortable with.
It really all depends on your budget, if you’re not comfortable (yet), start as low as you feel comfortable with. However, do bear in mind fees to buy and sell shares if you are using a traditional broker – it’s best to use a free trading app, investment platform or trading platform for smaller amounts (such as Trading 212¹).
It’s also a great strategy to invest small amounts regularly to build up your savings over time, and you’ll be reducing risk by smoothing out the ups and downs of the stock market. Learn more about pound cost averaging guide.
What's the best investment app for beginners?
Good question! The best type of investment app you should start with is an expert-managed investment app, such as Moneyfarm¹.
This way, the experts do all the work for you, you just sit back, relax and watch your money grow. All you need to do is add money whenever you want to, and it will automatically be invested for you.
You’re not locked into any app either, you can use multiple investment apps. The only rule is you can only add money to one Stocks & Shares ISA per year, but not all accounts need to be ISAs. You could also check out the best online stock brokers.
What is ethical investing?
Ethical investing is almost exactly the same as ‘normal’ investing – buying stocks and shares, and funds (ETFs), except you're making conscious choices on which companies to invest in.
You’ll only be buying shares in companies or funds (ETFs), that have a positive impact on the environment and society (for instance no oil companies, or tobacco, mining etc). To help investors make the right decisions, they use an ‘ESG framework’, which stands for:
Environmental: combating pollution, climate change, water usage, and deforestation.
Social: great treatment of employees, good health and safety, diversity, and helping local communities.
Governance: corruption, inequality and bribery – and steps that are taken to avoid this.
It’s easy to invest ethically too, in fact just like regular investing, you don’t have to do anything! The experts will handle it all for you – you’d often just select the ethical, or often called socially responsible option, and that’s it! Learn more about ethical Stocks & Shares ISAs.
Is it really that easy to invest?
Yep! Thanks to awesome technology, gone are the days where you’d have to get an old person in a dusty suit round to your house to decide your best options, and charge you huge fees.
Investing apps are one of the best and cheapest ways to invest – just add your money and let the experts do all the work for you.
Or, if you’re confident, use a self-managed investment app for more control over your investments.
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