The best Stocks and Shares ISA is Moneyfarm – it has the best investment performance, low fees and is super easy to use. Plus, there’s expert advisors on hand to help you. &me and Wealthify are great too. If you want to manage your own investments, the best are Trading 212 and InvestEngine – they’re very low cost and have a great range of investments to choose from.
Keen to invest your hard earned money in a Stocks and Shares ISA? Great idea. Your future self will really thank you. Using a Stocks and Shares ISA with a great investment strategy for long-term growth, can really be a game changer for your financial future.
We’ve carried out an in-depth Stocks and Shares ISA comparison to determine the current best Stocks and Shares ISAs. So, and without further ado, here they are:
Best Stocks and Shares ISAs - managed by experts
Best Stocks and Share ISA
Moneyfarm is the top performing ISA, has low fees, and is super easy to use.
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.
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.
Get a free share worth up to £100 when you use the promo code NUTS. Enjoy!
There’s lots of Stocks and Shares ISAs in the UK to choose from, here’s the criteria we used to find the best:
Ease of use
Performance of investments
The investment platforms (places to invest) above are all platforms we regularly recommend to our friends and family (and readers of course). And we use them ourselves here at Nuts About Money (either a General Investment Account, Stocks & Shares ISA, a Junior ISA or a pension – more on those types later).
They’re all great, and whichever one you choose, you can be confident your money is with a trustworthy and responsible provider, and if you’re with an expert-managed platform, excellent experts will be looking after your investments.
If you are still a bit unsure which of the best Stocks and Shares ISA to use, we recommend Moneyfarm¹ overall. It’s super easy to use and has a great track record of going money over time. Plus, the fees are lower and there’s experts on hand to help you.
What is a Stocks and Shares ISA?
A Stocks and Shares ISA (Individual Savings Account) is one of the best savings and investments accounts you can get in the UK. Everything you save into an ISA is completely tax-free, forever! That means that as your money grows, all the money you make is completely free of tax.
So, you won’t pay any Capital Gain Tax, Income Tax, or Dividend Tax at all. Ever! These are types of taxes that you’d sometimes have to pay on investments, especially once they build up to large amounts over time (which hopefully, your ISA will). We’ll cover all this just below.
There are limits however, you can only invest up to £20,000 per tax year into your ISA, and this is your annual ISA allowance. This actually applies to all of your ISAs combined. For instance, if you are also saving into a Cash ISA (just for saving cash), or a Lifetime ISA (saving for your first home).
And finally, you can only pay into one Stocks and Shares ISA per tax year (April 6th to April 5th the following year) – so picky wisely!
Note: these can also be called investment ISAs – it’s just another word for it.
More about taxes
Capital Gains Tax
Capital Gain Tax is one of the most common and this is where you’ll pay a tax on your profits within a tax year, if you make a profit of over £12,300 (when you sell investments).
The amount you’ll pay is 10% if you earn less than £50,270 per year as an income (e.g. your salary), or 20% if you earn over £50,270 per year.
Note: the tax rules are due to change in April 2023 to reduce your Capital Gains Tax allowance to £6,000.
Income Tax is what you’d pay if your investments generate interest payments, rather than increase in value. This is the same type of tax that you’ll pay on your salary now (if you work).
Dividend Tax is what you’d pay if you receive dividends from your investments, which are where companies pay out their profits to their shareholders (people who own shares). Although you have a dividend allowance each tax year, before you have to pay any tax, this is currently £2,000.
What’s the best Stocks & Shares ISA for beginners?
If you’re just getting started with investing, we recommend you go for an expert-managed Stocks and Shares ISA. This way, the experts simply manage your money and grow it using a sensible investment strategy over time. All you need to do is add your money and put your feet up!
Our top recommendation is Moneyfarm¹ – they’ve got a great investment record, easy to use and low cost. However, you will need to start with at least £500.
If you’d prefer to start with a lower amount, check out Wealthify¹, they’re great too, and you can start with a minimum investment of just £1.
Other types of investment accounts
Alongside a Stocks and Shares ISA, there’s also a range of different investment accounts, all suited for different goals.
General Investment Account (GIA)
A General Investment Account (GIA), or sometimes called a share dealing account, is a no-frills investment account with no tax-free benefits. However, there’s no limits on what you can invest, and you can have as many as you like on different investment platforms (also called stock brokers).
They’re a great idea for investing alongside an ISA, perhaps to make your own investments while the experts manage your ISA. Or, you could use them to trial an investment platform before you commit to an ISA (remember you can only open and pay into one of these per tax year).
You can open a GIA with all of the Best Stocks & Shares ISAs too (above), such as Moneyfarm¹.
Personal pensions are perfect for building up a nice big pension pot for retirement in addition to your workplace pension (a pension set up by your employer) if you have an employer.
You won’t pay any taxes as your money grows, and the government will add a massive 25% to your contributions, all automatically (we’re not joking!).
And if you’re a higher rate taxpayer (40%), or additional rate taxpayer (45%), you can claim some tax back at these rates too. You’ll do this on your Self Assessment tax return.
There’s two main types of personal pensions, a regular personal pension managed experts (such as the highly recommended PensionBee¹), or you can make your own investment within a self-invested personal pension (SIPP), and for this we recommend AJ Bell¹. You can view all the best options for both with the best pension providers.
Note: you can have as many personal pensions as you like, so you could have a personal pension managed by the experts, and one managed by yourself. However, it’s not often a good idea to have too many pensions, they can get lost and you might miss out on some great benefits (lower fees and higher growth). Learn more about how to consolidate pensions.
However, you can’t withdraw money until you’re at least 55 years old (57 from 2028), so make sure you can live without it for a while if you are younger.
We recommend keeping it invested for as long as you can, this will give it the best chance to grow into large amounts. When you do withdraw cash, the first 25% is completely tax-free, which you can take as a tax-free lump sum if you like. With the remaining 75%, you might have to pay Income Tax (it depends on your income when you retire).
Junior ISAs are great for saving for your kids (if you have them). You can save up to £9,000 per year, separate to your own ISA allowance, and it’s all in their name – and they’ll receive it when they turn 18.
One of the best Juniors ISAs is also Moneyfarm¹ – you’ll benefit from the same great performance as their Stocks & Shares ISA. Plus low fees and help from the experts.
A Lifetime ISA is a great savings account for saving for your first home. You’ll be able to save up to £4,000 per tax year (as part of your ISA allowance), and you’ll get a 25% bonus on your contributions (so up to £1,000 per tax year free).
If you don’t use this for your first home, you’ll have to wait until you’re at least 60 to withdraw the cash, unless you pay a fairly hefty fee of 25% (which is actually more money than the bonus you get in the first place).
You don’t have too many options with Lifetime ISAs, but one of the best is Nutmeg¹.
Innovative finance ISA
This is where you can lend your money to other people (via a platform / website) in return for interest payments (which are tax-free). This is called peer-to-peer lending.
How Stocks and Shares ISAs work
ISAs are one of the best saving and investing accounts you can get, but how do they actually work? Let’s run through the two main types, letting the experts handle things for you, or investing yourself.
Expert-managed Stocks and Shares ISAs
Letting the experts handle things for you is a great way to grow your money over time. Best of all, you don’t need to do a thing, just add your money and let the experts get to work. It’s a stress-free way of building your savings via long-term investing, as you’ll be in safe hands.
Here’s what the experts actually do:
The right investment strategy
First, they’ll need to figure out which is the best investment strategy for you. They’ll do that by asking you a few different questions about your investing goals, investing preferences and how much risk you’d like to take with your money (don’t let the word risk put you off).
What that means is that after you sign up on their mobile app or website, there'll just be a few questions to answer about you, such as if you’d like to invest in socially responsible investments (e.g. no fossil fuels), also called ESG (environmental, social, governance). And, how much risk you’d like to take with your money…
With a higher risk option, your money is likely to grow much more over the long-term, but there will be more ups-and-downs along the way. Whereas with a lower risk option, there will be less ups-and-downs but your money is likely to grow slower.
If you’re not looking to access your money any time soon (more than 5 years), it’s often better to go for higher risk options, although it’s completely up to you and your comfort levels.
The experts will then invest your money in a range of different investments, such as stocks and shares, investment funds, bonds and sometimes property (we’ll cover these in detail below), all suited to the risk option that you’ve chosen. And, suited to your investment style, for instance ESG and impact investing (positive impact on the world).
This can be very complicated, and to build a well diversified investment portfolio (your total investments) takes a lot of knowledge and experience – that’s why we often recommend simply letting the experts like Moneyfarm¹ and &me¹ to handle things!
However, you always have the option to make your own investments within an investment ISA if you like, let’s run through that now.
Self-managed Stocks and Shares ISAs
If you’d like to manage your investments and make your own investment decisions within your investment ISA, you can easily do this – although we only recommend it for experienced investors!
Note: these types of ISAs are sometimes called self-select Stocks and Shares ISAs, or ‘Do it Yourself’ ISAs (DIY ISAs).
You could build your long-term investment portfolio (highly recommended), by using a mix of the right investments, or you’d buy and sell investments as and when you like, aiming to make a profit over the short-term. With all the benefits of tax-free investing!
Although if short-term trading (called day trading) is your plan, you could consider using a General Investment Account (GIA), or even a CFD trading platform (Contract For Differences) instead of an investment ISA. And then use your ISA benefits with an expert-managed investment platform, and benefit from both styles of investing!
Check out the investment platform eToro¹ if trading sounds like something that might interest you – an easy to use, highly recommended and commission-free trading platform.
Types of investments
Stocks and shares (equities)
Stocks and shares are where you buy and own part of the company, you buy a ‘share’ of the company. All the shares combined equal the total valuation of the company (it’s market capitalisation), and so each share can rise or fall in value, usually depending on how the business performs (e.g. increases sales).
A company can also pay out its profits to shareholders, and this is called dividends.
Shares are traded (bought and sold) on stock exchanges (often also called the stock market), and there’s typically at least one stock exchange in every country in the world. For instance, in the UK we have the London Stock Exchange (LSE), and in the USA, they have the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), plus others.
Investment funds, also known as mutual funds, are a collection of lots of different investments (for instance lots of individual shares) all pooled together into a single investment that you can buy. This is typically managed by experts, called fund managers.
There can be all sorts of different investment funds, for instance, a popular fund is the top 100 companies in the UK (called the FTSE 100), and there’s mutual funds that have all electric car companies, or all green energy companies – the possibilities are endless!
Lots of popular investment funds trade on stock exchanges, and these are called exchange-traded funds (ETFs). This makes buying and selling the funds super easy, and they are very popular.
There two main types of investment funds: passive funds and actively managed funds.
A passive fund tracks a group of companies of the stock market (called a stock index), for instance, one tracks the top 500 companies in the US (S&P 500). Often these are called tracker funds too (for obvious reasons). These typically have lower fees as there’s less involvement from real people (the experts).
Actively managed funds are where the experts manage the fund. They are called the fund manager, and they aim to achieve a goal, which could simply be long-term growth, or provide a regular income. And they’ll put together the right mix of investments, and continually manage and adjust the investments to achieve the goal.
A bond is where you effectively loan your money to a government or a large corporation (called corporate bonds) in return for interest payments. These are often seen as lower risk than stocks and shares (equities).
You can also invest in commercial property, such as shops and offices, which pay a rental income.
Stocks and Shares ISA comparison: investment performance
To grow your money as much as possible over the years, having a top performing ISA can make a real difference vs a lower performing ISA (in terms of investment growth).
The difference in performance can have a huge impact over the long term thanks to compound interest – which is where the money you make begins to make you money too, and this snowballs over and over – meaning small differences now, can result in big differences later down the line!
We’ve used the previous (last 5 years) investment performance of expert-managed Stocks & Shares ISAs to determine the best ISAs.
Note: previous investment performance should not be used as a measure of future performance, but it can be an indication that the experts managing the investments are pretty great and are using sound investment strategies - and therefore can be reassuring that your money could be in good hands going forward.
When investing with experts, there’s typically a range of investment options categorised into risk risk levels, which we’ll explain in more detail below. And we’ve used 4 common categories:
We looked at the most popular investment ISAs managed by experts; Nutmeg, Wealthify, Moneyfarm and the industry average (more on that below). And we looked at their performance over the last 5 years.
For the industry average, we looked at data from an expert investment firm called Asset Risk Consultants (ARC), this is a well recognised company that tracks the investment performance of lots of different investment funds (managed by experts).
Using that data, they have developed an average to measure investment performance. These averages are called indexes, and the 4 indexes we’ve used are:
Lower risk: ARC Cautious Private Client Index
Medium risk: ARC Balanced Asset Private Client Index
Higher risk: ARC Steady Growth Private Client Index
Highest risk: Equity Risk Private Client Index
After analysing the investment performance of the 3 most popular ISAs and industry average, here’s the winners for each category:
Lower risk: Moneyfarm
Medium risk: Moneyfarm
Higher risk: Moneyfarm
Highest risk: Moneyfarm
The winner in every single category, and by quite a margin was Moneyfarm! They performed phenomenally well. Not only did they beat both Wealthify and Nutmeg (by a lot), but they also beat the industry average too – by quite a bit.
On the surface, beating the average might not seem a lot, but in investing it’s extremely difficult, and Moneyfarm have performed well above the average. It’s very impressive.
Here’s the actual results for each category:
Lower risk results
Investment performance over the last 5 years.
Medium risk results
Investment performance over the last 5 years.
Higher risk results
Investment performance over the last 5 years.
Highest risk results
Investment performance over the last 5 years.
Stocks and Shares ISA Comparison: fees
Just like investment returns (ISA performance), fees can have an impact on the long-term growth of your money. With higher fees, your money will grow a bit slower each year, and this can have a big impact over time.
However, we don’t recommend simply going for the lowest cost – it’s a balance between the performance, the investment options, ease of use and expert support, which will be different for each of us.
There's different fees for expert-managed Stocks and Shares ISAs and self-managed, so we’ll cover them separately.
Expert-managed ISA fees
With expert-managed ISAs, you’ll typically pay an annual management fee to the Stocks and Shares ISA provider, and then you’ll pay a management fee for the investments themselves, and sometimes a small trading fee when the experts buy and sell investments. These are all typically a percentage of the amount you have invested, and can range from anywhere from 0.25% to 1.5%+.
When comparing the best Stocks and Shares ISAs, we found the best value annual management fees were:
Wealthify: this is a fixed fee of 0.60% however much you have invested.
Nutmeg: this starts at 0.75% and only reduces to 0.35% if you have £100k saved.
Moneyfarm: this starts at 0.75% and gradually reduces once you have over £10,000 saved, all the way down to 0.35%.
&me: this is the same as Moneyfarm and starts at 0.75% and gradually reduces once you have over £10,000 saved, all the way to 0.35%.
Overall, they’re all fairly similar, but if you have a lower amount invested (less than £10,000), Wealthify is the cheapest, and as you save more, Moneyfarm and &me become the cheapest.
However, these fees are in addition to the investment fees. Let’s run through them.
As your money is invested into investment funds, these have fees too. And it depends on which ISA provider you use, as to what investment fund your money will be invested in. We’ve combined the investment fund fees with the trading fees into a single fee to make it easier to understand.
Putting that all together, for an average investment ISA of an example £20,000, here’s what you’d expect to pay:
That puts Wealthify as the cheapest for the classic plan (non-ethical investments), but the most expensive by far for the ethical plan.
Following that &me comes in second for the original plan (0.88%), closely followed by Moneyfarm (0.94%) and then finally Nutmeg (1.03%).
For the ethical plans, it’s Moneyfarm cheapest (0.95%), and then &me (1.07%), followed by Nutmeg (1.12%) and then Wealthify (1.30%).
We’re big fans of ethical investing here at Nuts About Money, and find Moneyfarm’s¹ fees very reasonable – but overall, there’s not too much in it, and we don’t recommend you make a decision based on fees alone – we’ve looked at everything, especially the investment performance (where Moneyfarm performed exceptionally well).
Self-managed ISA fees
With self-managed investment ISAs, the fees are a bit different, as it all depends on what you want to invest in.
Typically, you’d pay an account fee to hold your investments (sometimes called a custody fee or platform fee), and then a fee when you buy investments (called a share dealing fee). That’s the traditional stock broker pricing method anyway.
However, with the more modern investment platforms, they’ve done away with these fees – there’s almost no fees at all!
What you’ll normally pay is a currency conversion fee if you want to buy investments that aren’t from the UK (and so not in Pounds), for instance US stocks priced in Dollars – where you’ll need to convert your Pounds to Dollars to buy.
However this can be super low too – and with Trading 212¹, it’s just 0.15%.
InvestEngine¹ also has no account fees or dealing fees – although you can only buy exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
One of the lowest cost traditional stock brokers is AJ Bell – they’ll charge an annual fee to hold your investments (0.25% of the amount invested, and capped at £3.50 per month for shares), and a fee to buy each investment from £1.50 to £9.95). Learn more with our AJ Bell review.
For larger balances (over £30,000), there’s also Interactive Investor, who charge a flat fee (£4.99 to £19.99) per month, as an account fee, rather than a percentage of your investments. And £5.99 fee to buy investments (per investment). Learn more with our Interactive Investor review.
Stocks & Shares ISA vs Cash ISA
Not quite sure if a Stocks and Shares ISA is a good option for you? Perhaps you’re not sure if you should go with a Cash ISA instead. Let’s do a quick run through.
Both types of Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs), have tax-free benefits (i.e. no tax to pay) – however your money will likely grow far more over time within a Stock and Shares ISA, providing you use a sensible investment strategy (ideally managed by experts).
With a Cash ISA, you’ll simply earn interest on your money, and that interest is tax-free (so you won’t pay Income Tax). However, they’re not very popular these days, as you actually get a tax-free savings allowance separate to an ISA, which is called your Personal Savings Allowance, and saving into a Cash ISA uses up your £20,000 annual ISA allowance.
Your Personal Savings Allowance lets you earn up to £1,000 in interest per tax year, tax-free. Here’s the exact allowances:
Income per year
Income Tax band
Personal Savings Allowance
£12,571 to £50,270
£50,270 to £150,000
If you earn under £12,570, then any income you make isn’t taxed as this is your Personal Allowance (tax-free income allowance).
To earn £1,000 in interest per year, you’ll need around £33,000 in savings at a 3% interest rate. So, depending on your individual circumstances, you might not need to save within a Cash ISA until you build up a nice big savings pot, and can simply use a regular savings account instead.
However, as a rule of thumb, investing your money sensibly could return around 7% per year on average.
Investments such as in the FTSE 100 (the top 100 companies in the UK), have made an average of 7.8% per year (LSE). So, you could be missing out on quite a bit of cash over time! (This is just an approximate figure as the value of the FTSE 100 continually changes.) Here’s how to invest in the FTSE 100.
Typically we recommend cash savings if you’re going to need to cash in the short-term (1-5 years), and invest within a Stocks & Shares ISA (or pension), for long-term savings (5 years+). The difference you could make over time can be seriously big!
Yep! It’s perfectly safe to save and invest into a Stocks and Shares ISA.
Every Stocks and Shares ISA is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), these are the people who make sure companies are looking after your money and treating you fairly. This means your ISA provider has been reviewed in-depth and approved, and is continually reviewed.
You can check if a financial firm is authorised by the FCA by checking the FCA register.
This also means you are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This is where you’re protected for up to £85,000 in compensation should anything happen to the ISA provider such as going out of business. Although this is very unlikely.
Making it even safer, your investments are actually held with a large bank, separate from your ISA provider, and held all in your name, and they can only be returned to you.
However, this doesn’t mean your investments can’t go down in value and lose money. It’s always best to use a sensible investment strategy for long-term investing. And we typically recommend letting the experts handle things for you.
Let’s recap our ISA comparison
There we have it. The best Stocks and Shares ISAs. We hope that made comparing ISAs more manageable, and you’ve learnt a lot about investment ISAs in general – a great tax-free savings account.
A Stocks and Shares ISA is typically much better for saving over the long-term than a traditional savings account (with cash savings) – your money is likely to grow more if it’s invested using safe and sensible investment strategies for long-term growth (plus you won’t have to pay tax!). And for that, we highly recommend letting the experts handle things.
Recap: the best Stocks and Shares ISA providers
As recap on the best expert-managed Stocks and Shares ISAs are:
And the best self-managed Stocks and Shares ISAs are:
Thanks, for reading – and all the best with investing for the future!
If you’d like a bit more personal advice, you could speak to an independent financial advisor. They’ll be able to help you with the right savings and investment for your personal circumstances. You can find great financial advisors with Unbiased¹.
Best Stocks and Share ISA
Moneyfarm is the top performing ISA, has low fees, and is super easy to use.
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