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ISAs: the best DIY platforms

Compare costs and ratings for the UK's ISA providers
ISAs: the best DIY platforms
  • To make the most out of your ISA allowance you must first pick the correct provider
  • In this free guide, we reveal the Top Rated ISA providers in the UK, as voted for by IC and FT readers

 

Investment platforms have come a long way in recent years. Slick digital service and a large range of available products means investing is more accessible than ever. But choosing which platform to use can be difficult. 

As a starting point, it’s important to ensure that your investment platform allows you to hold your funds within a tax-efficient Individual Savings Account (ISA).

The ISA wrapper allows you to grow savings free of tax. Every adult in the UK has an annual ISA allowance of £20,000 and, to ensure maximum tax efficiency, savers should use their ISA allowance before setting up other types of investment account. To read more about setting up and using ISAs, you can read our handy guide here. 

When deciding which platform to choose for an ISA, investors need to weigh up several factors, including charges, customer service, the range of funds available and how easy the platform website is to use.

In the links below, we have compared the costs of many different investment platforms to help you pick the most cost effective. And we have collected feedback from IC and FT readers to rank platforms.

 

Picking a platform - the impact of costs

Costs have a direct impact on the returns of your investments so check these closely. But investment platforms present customers with a wide array of costs that can be hard to understand. To make things even more complicated, different platforms often use different names to describe the same type of fee.

Annual account fee: Generalist investment platforms will often charge a yearly fee for using their services, either as a percentage of the amount you have invested or as a fixed cash amount. Percentage-based fees are often tiered, so that the proportion of the amount invested spent on this charge falls as you invest more.

Trading charges: Commissions charged for buying or selling shares, including ETFs and Investment Trusts. The reinvestment of dividends can also be subject to fees. Trading charges can vary both in terms of price and how often they are incurred. Some platforms charge a fee per trade, while others will charge a set amount for up to a maximum number of trades (such as 10 a month). In some cases, investors will receive better rates if they trade more often.

Fund fee: Funds, including ETFs charge their own management fees, which are normally listed on provider websites and literature such as factsheets. 

Pick your platform to suit your needs

When you hold funds in your ISA you also incur the fees of the asset manager that runs the fund, on top of the platform charges. Typically, a fund's ongoing charge will be between 0.1 and 1.5 per cent.

Some platforms offer fund share classes with lower charges than the share classes offered by other platforms. So if you want to hold a particular fund in your ISA, it is a good idea to check the charges on different platforms to see if any are noticeably cheaper.

It’s also important to watch out for transfer fees, which are often charged per fund. 

 

Picking a platform - consider service 

While administration charges are important, you also need to think about service. Some of the most popular platforms charge higher fees, but remain well-liked by investors for reasons including good customer service and ease of use.

Our rolling survey tool collects feedback on many different platforms to help everyone make the right choice. In the table below you can read the rankings for the most popular platforms. 

ISA - Top Rated      
PlatformWebsite and app accessibilityValue for moneyCustomer serviceData and researchRange of investmentsAverage Overall
Freetrade4.74.94.63.74.24.4
iWeb4.254.13.23.64
AJ Bell Youinvest4.143.83.64.33.9
interactive investor44.23.53.44.23.8
Fidelity Personal Investing4.53.43.643.63.8
Hargreaves Lansdown4.433.73.54.33.8
Halifax Share Dealing4.44.23.92.73.73.8
IG4.74.52.63.33.83.8
Barclays Smart Investor3.83.63.63.33.73.6

Source: IC platform and broker survey