Despite only launching in 2018, I see more investors sign up to Freetrade from Investing Reviews than any other platform. This is in part due to the free share they offer to new customers who sign up through our referral link, and also due to their commission free trading fees, earning them my title of ‘Best Trading Platform for Low Cost Trading’.
Read my full Freetrade review to discover where Freetrade shines and where their weaknesses lie.
Today Freetrade have over 700,000 users, all looking to take advantage of commission free trading for as little as £1 using their intuitive app. However, we all know it takes more than a free share and zero commissions to make a truly great platform, which is why in my latest Freetrade review, I’ve gone into even more depth to discover what’s on offer at Freetrade and whether they compete against some of the more established brands available.
There is little doubt that Freetrade have successfully made trading both affordable and accessible, encouraging millennials to invest in the US and London Stock Exchange on a user-friendly app.
- Extremely quick and easy to open a Freetrade account
- Free trading on stocks and ETFs
- No minimum deposit
- Research is almost non existent
- Options for depositing and withdrawing are limited
Who is Freetrade?
Freetrade is a no-frills, Fintech start-up that was launched in 2018 to offer a commission free share dealing service. They are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and all accounts are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Who Owns Freetrade?
Freetrade is a privately owned company with almost 8,000 shareholders through crowdfunding. They were founded by CEO Adam Dodds, a former manager at KPMG and in 2019 they received a Series A investment from venture capital firm Draper Esprit.
Product Range Overview
Whilst Freetrade does offer commission free trading on stocks and Exchange Traded Funds in the US and UK stock markets, this is fairly limited and potentially increases risk by restricting the users ability to create a truly diversified portfolio. The lack of listed companies in Europe and emerging markets seems to really let them down as does the absence of more asset classes such as mutual funds, options, futures, buying and trading cryptocurrency or bonds.
In terms of what other trading apps are offering this is very limited, however, Freetrade have historically added more US and UK stocks and Exchange Traded Funds to their portfolio and have committed to continue to expand their offering so this is certainly something to watch out for.
That being said, trading is commission free on over 1000 stocks and Exchange Traded Funds from the London Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, and an added bonus is that there is the option for trading in fractional shares, giving traders the option to buy and sell part of a share which may otherwise not be affordable to them. As well as this, Freetrade offer basic orders which can be placed after the market has closed.
Freetrade users will also be seeing more and more investment trusts appearing in the app. This type of investment fund allows you to invest in multiple assets and offers a lower cost alternative to mutual funds. As with exchange traded funds, investment trusts are listed on a stock exchange and Freetrade has more than 30 investment trusts already available to buy and sell on the app.
Freetrade General Investment Account Review
The General Investment Account offering at Freetrade allows users to trade in their UK stocks, ETFs and index funds without any monthly costs and with commission free instant orders. Whilst you can’t take advantage of tax savings offered in the ISA, the General Investment Account is a free account that can be used once investors have used up their UK ISA allowance and is a very effective, easy to use investment account.
The Freetrade stocks and shares ISA account gives users the option to deposit up to £20,000 per year of their money, free of any UK tax, however, Freetrade do charge users £3 per month as a flat account fee for the use of the stocks and shares ISA, which is still a cost effective solution when compared to other stocks and shares ISAs on competing trading platforms, most of whom will charge between £5 and £12 for a single trade when using their stocks and shares ISA account.
Freetrade SIPP Review
Freetrade have recently launched their Self Invested Personal Pension, providing Freetrade account holders with an efficient and cost effective way to save for their retirement. . The SIPP will set you back £9.99 a month which is still a very low cost offering when compared to other providers and allows you to receive UK tax reliefs on contributions of up to £40,000 per tax year from your investment account.
The cost of the Freetrade SIPP is reduced to £7 a month for Freetrade Plus members and of course with the added advantage of commission-dealing on all trades, as well free transfers into the Freetrade SIPP and the option to trade in fractional shares, this is a great offering, from an already successful platform.
Also consider: The most important pros and cons of investing in SIPPs
Freetrade SIPP vs Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP
|Buying and Selling Shares||Free||£11.95|
|SIPP Account Fee||£9.99||0.45%|
|FX Rate||Spot rate +0.45%||Spot rate + 1%|
What is Freetrade Plus?
Freetrade Plus is the newest launch from the investment platform and has only just come to the market in autumn 2020. This premium platform was originally going to be named Freetrade Alpha, however the name has since been changed. Freetrade Plus acts like a hybrid between an investment account and a savings account, earning uninvested cash 3% interest, up to a max deposit of £4,000, paid monthly.
Freetrade Plus provides users with advanced investment tools that can’t be accessed on their other share dealing accounts. However, the main difference with Freetrade Plus is that it is a paid platform that comes with a monthly fee of £9.99 with the option to cancel your subscription after a 14 day trial period without incurring any charges.
With such a fast growing community, Freetrade Plus account holders may be relieved to know that they are given priority customer service when using the in app chat function, and to make this even better, they will also enjoy an expanded support window that operates from 6am to midnight Monday to Friday, so if you’re a late night trader this may be enough of an incentive alone.
Freetrade Plus also has expanded the number of stocks and ETFs available for trading in their premium product as well as access to specially curated collections such as ‘Fighting Climate Change’ and ‘Fighting COVID-19’ which gives millennials the opportunity to invest their money in a socially responsible way.
In terms of order types, Freetrade plus also offers users limit orders which are a handy little feature that allows the user to set stock prices to automatically buy and sell shares at a price that is predetermined by the user. Buy limits will also automatically buy stocks when the price falls below a certain limit and sell limits will automatically sell your stock when the price reaches a certain amount.
Stop losses are also available to Freetrade Plus account holders, and serve to automatically initiate a sale should your stock reach a certain price, providing a nice little safety net should the stock you hold be plummeting fast.
Perhaps one of the most enticing features of the Freetrade Plus platform is that it includes the Freetrade ISA as part of the monthly price. This can save you the £3 per month that you would otherwise spend on your Freetrade ISA.
The newest addition to the Freetrade Plus offering, is the 30% discount this affords members saving into the Freetrade SIPP product. This effectively reduces the SIPP fee from £9.99 per month to £7 per month, adding to the overall value of the Freetrade Plus feature.
Freetrade also have their innovative referral program called Free Share. This works by rewarding investors in a free share that is worth between £3 and £200 for every friend they refer through the Freetrade app. Unfortunately you can’t choose the free share you get and it is a case of luck of the draw as to how valuable your share might be, however, your friend will also be rewarded with a free share so it’s a fairly nice offering nonetheless. Once you get a free share, you will be sent another link which you can use to refer more friends in order to get a free share again.
Freetrade Platform Review
The Freetrade trading platform has proven to be very popular with investors and currently has more than 600,000 users, however, there is no web or desktop trading platform to perform trades in US and UK stocks, shares and ETFs as Freetrade have taken the decision to offer all this trading through the Freetrade app alone unlike alternative DIY investment platforms.
Freetrade have consistently received excellent reviews on the back of its innovative and well designed mobile app. When it comes to being user friendly, they really have ironed out all the kinks and designed a streamlined interface that is available on both IOS and Android. Everything about the app is designed to make investing as easy as possible, and you can be up and running in moments.
It’s worth noting that whilst Freetrade has a website, you can only trade stocks and access your SIPP via the Freetrade app and not on your desktop PC or tablet, so it might not appeal to everyone.
We found the security to be first class with both a digital password and biometric authentication (face and touchID), and once inside the app, investing is fast and slick as you would expect from such an innovative offering. However, beyond that there is not much to report as one of the most alluring features lies in its simplicity.
On the App Store, Freetrade has scored 4.7 out of 5 stars from over 5,000 reviews and they have a similar rating on Google Play, which speaks volumes about how user friendly the app is for investing. When held up against all the trading apps on the market today, the Freetrade app is certainly a good place from where to complete your trades.
Research Service and Tools Review
In terms of research you would be hard pressed to find a more meagre offering than what is currently available at Freetrade. There are no real analytics tools available which makes finding and picking investments a bit of a guess. There is some basic information with graphs that illustrate the company’s historical share performance but without more further information this is fairly unhelpful when it comes to investing.
There are some charts and graphs to help track the performance of your investor portfolio, however, the charts aren’t actually labelled and the amount of data available won’t actually give you much of an idea of how your stocks and ETFs are performing. That being said, Freetrade seems to be aware of this failing and are constantly rolling out new updates so it wouldn’t come as a surprise if this issue was rectified in the long term.
There is a really vibrant community forum on Freetrade where discussions, comments and education are readily available as well as really helpful articles outlining upcoming updates and trading insights. And for completely novice investors there is Investing Deep Dives, which provides information on investing such as what ETFs are and what a share is.
Fees and Charges Review
As already mentioned in this Freetrade review, the fees at Freetrade are exceptionally low. In fact, they charge zero commission on all stocks, shares and ETF trades. Of course there are other trading platforms where this is available; Revolut will also offer zero commission per trade, however, when compared to other similar platforms this is still an excellent offering. As an example, Hargreaves Lansdown charges £11.95 per trade on US stock when you trade between 0 to 9 trades per month. Of course Hargreaves Lansdown have notoriously high trading fees, however, this still serves to illustrate what excellent value Freetrade is offering.
When it comes to non trading fees, Freetrade is still coming out on top, with no inactivity fee, no withdrawal or deposit fees and no share dealing account fee for the GIA (General Investment Account). Whilst their basic Freetrade account is free of any charges, as mentioned above, you can expect to pay a monthly fee for the ISA which is low at just £3.00 and their Freetrade Plus account which is £9.99 a month, which still seems to represent good value and includes the ISA as part of the price, as well as a 30% discount on the Freetrade SIPP, which effectively reduces the SIPP cost from a monthly fee of £9.99, to £7 per month.
Conversely, Hargreaves Lansdown charge 0.45% of the trade value on their ISA with an annual cap of £45, still considerably more than what Freetrade are offering and Interactive Investor and AJ Bell charge a monthly account fee ranging from £9.99 to £19.99 depending on what plan you choose.
Guide to opening an account at Freetrade
Freetrade had one of the fastest and easiest account opening processes we’ve experienced to date. Once you have downloaded the app you simply need to to add the following:
- Your email address where your confirmation link will be sent
- Personal details such as name, date of birth and national insurance number
- Address and nationality
Once you have done this you simply need to select the account type you wish to open between GIA, ISA, SIPP or Freetrade Plus and Freetrade will automatically verify your identity. Quick and easy and you can be investing in moments.
Should Freetrade encounter difficulty verifying your identity you may be asked to furnish them with additional documents, such as your passport or driving licence as well as a utility bill or bank statement as proof of address.
Deposit and Withdrawal Review
The only base currency available to deposit money at Freetrade is GBP which is no issue if you’re in the United Kingdom, however, rival platforms like Degiro have nine base currencies and as Freetrade do offer their service in several European countries we felt it was a shame that they didn’t have more currencies available in order for overseas investors to avoid losing money on the exchange rate.
In terms of fees, Freetrade doesn’t charge any deposit fees or withdrawal fees unless you require your withdrawal to be rushed through the same day, in which case you can expect to pay £5 in withdrawal fees.
Whilst Freetrade doesn’t accept credit or debit cards, it does accept bank transfer from your bank accounts, and Apple Pay and Google Pay as deposit options, which given that the platform is aimed at millennials, seems quite sufficient. However, withdrawals can only be done using bank transfer from your bank account and without the express service, can take around 2 business days. This seems reasonably quick to us.
Customer Service Review
There have been some misgivings about Freetrade’s lack of phone or email customer support, however, they have a great live chat facility which is often preferred by millennials, and whilst conducting this Freetrade review I found response times to be good with knowledgeable, helpful answers to my questions. You can clearly see who you are talking to and I liked the personal approach to customer service. That being said, we did have to reduce the score to reflect the lack of email and phone support.
Whilst there was no 24/7 service, Freetrade plus customers can get help between 6am and Midnight, Monday to Friday which is a pretty good offering in addition to the priority customer service.
Who is Freetrade Suitable For?
Freetrade is a great platform for the millennial investor who may not have much experience of investing but would like to dip their toes in the London Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange markets with a really easy to use app. Their stocks and shares ISA offers a great UK tax saving tool and once you have linked your bank account, you will be investing, depositing and withdrawing at the click of a button.
Whilst Freetrade is an easy way for a novice investor to start buying shares and ETFs, it’s important to note that they don’t offer investment advice and any research is very limited and therefore it is up to the investor to research independently or seek independent advice. Experienced investors may find the trades available a bit limiting compared to other investment platforms.
Important and useful information about Freetrade for UK investors.
How to contact Freetrade
All contact with Freetrade is done using the Live Chat function from within the Freetrade app.
Can you withdraw money from Freetrade?
Withdrawals are all done via bank transfer and can be requested through the Account tab within the mobile app. Simply select ‘Withdraw’ and insert the amount that you wish to withdraw. You will need to ensure you have linked your bank account before the withdrawal can be initiated. It is prudent to remember that any gains will be subject to UK capital gains tax and should therefore be declared by the investor.
You should take the time to sell shares and ETFs before commencing with a withdrawal.
How to close an account at Freetrade
Closing your account is quick and easy at Freetrade, however, you should ensure you sell shares and ETFs you still have, and withdraw all your money back to your bank account via bank transfer beforehand. After this simply contact customer service through the live chat within the Freetrade App and request that they close your account.
Is Freetrade Legitimate?
Freetrade is a completely legitimate trading platform, regulated by a top-tier regulator and with all the appropriate safety measures in order to protect your capital.
Is Freetrade Really Free?
Whilst there are charges for their premium product and ISA and SIPP accounts, all trading on Freetrade is commission free and their General Investment Account is also free of charges.
Which is better, Trading 212 or Freetrade?
The major consideration when comparing these two platforms is that at the time of writing this review, Trading 212 were still not accepting new accounts from UK residents.
That being said, Trading 212 offer a greater number of shares including ones from Europe which is an areas Freetrade are falling short on. The other consideration is that the Trading 212 ISA is free, whereas Freetrade are charging £3 for their ISA.
Is Freetrade any good?
Whilst conducting this Freetrade review, I found Freetrade to be a great investment app for a novice investor who wants to take advantage of their free investment account and commission free trading as well as low cost stocks and shares ISA and competitive non trading fees. On the flip side of the coin, they only offer US and UK stocks. As mentioned previously, their limited offering on trades may put more experienced investors off. It is also worth noting that Freetrade offer nothing in the way of investment advice and is therefore all activity is at the users own risk.
Is Freetrade safe?
It was my opinion that Freetrade had taken all the necessary steps to keep your money safe. Freetrade is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and all client money is kept in segregated bank accounts, which means they are unable to use your money in any way. As well as this they are part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in the UK which means that in the event of Freetrade becoming insolvent, as an investor with Freetrade, your money is protected up to the value of £85,000. This is part of the reason you are asked to supply your national insurance number when you open an account with Freetrade.