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How to Buy Shares UK : Top Platforms and Shares to Buy

Based in the UK and wish to buy shares online? Read our beginner's guide to find out how to get started.

If you’re based in the UK and you wish to get your hands on some stocks and shares, you’ll be pleased to know that there are a number of ways to do so, and hundreds of FCA-regulated brokers active in the online space where you can get your hands on shares with low commissions.

In this beginner’s guide, we explain how to buy shares in the UK in a few easy steps and reveal the best platforms to do so.

How to buy shares in the UK in 3 easy steps

Want to buy shares right now? Follow our steps below to buy shares with eToro, a top-tier FCA regulated UK stock broker offering access to 800 shares commission-free.

Step 1: Open an account at eToro : Simply visit the website, fill in the registration fund and your free account will be open
Step 2: Deposit funds : Deposit a minimum of £150 to get started
Step 3: Buy your first share : Search for the share you wish to invest in in the search box then decide whether you wish to buy the physical share or trade it as CFDs. If you wish to buy the physical share,  select 1x leverage( no leverage), enter the amount you wish to invest and click on Place Order. If trading share CFDs, select your leverage, Stop Loss and Take Orofit and click on Place Order.

Buying Shares in the UK: A beginner’s guide

There are many ways that you can invest in shares in the UK. The specific option that you go for will ultimately depend on your long-term investment goals.

  • Online Brokers : The easiest, cheapest and most convenient way to buy shares.
  • Traditional Stockbrokers: In a time not so long ago, using a traditional stockbroker was the only way to buy shares in the UK. You would need to pick up the telephone, explain what shares you sought to buy, and then the broker would purchase the stocks on your behalf. Traditional stockbrokers still exist in the UK market but are considerably more expensive.
  • Financial Advisers or Investment Managers: The provider will tell you what shares to invest in. The process can be very expensive as a commission will be charged on every trade and you will have to pay hefty monthly maintenance fees.
  • Through a Fund: An investment fund allows you to gain exposure to the stocks and shares space without needing any experience. If opting for a mutual fund, the provider will buy and sell shares on your behalf in return for a fee.
  • Fund ETFs: A more cost-effective and flexible option where the investor benefits from the expertise of an experienced fund manager, albeit, can exit your position at any given time. Fund ETFs are usually hosted by online brokers – which is a good avenue if you’re just starting out.

Below, we explain how to buy shares using an UK-regulated online stock broker.

Step 1: Choose a Share Broker

As noted above, the easiest and most-effective way of buying and selling shares is to use an online broker. With that being said, with hundreds of platforms now active in the market, knowing which broker to sign up with can be challenging. For example, while some brokers offer super-low fees, others excel by listing thousands of companies to invest in. Below, we list the best online stock brokers for 2020.

eToro - Best All-Round UK Share Broker

eToro is the safest, cheapest, and most cost-effective way of buying shares in the UK. The platform is regulated by the FCA, CySEC, and ASIC - so your funds are safe at all time. With hundreds of shares to choose from, eToro does not charge any trading commissions. You can get started with an account in minutes, and then deposit funds with a debit/credit card, bank account, or e-wallet.

Our Rating

  • Social trading leader
  • Best mobile trading site
  • Paypal accepted
  • Limited technical analysis tools
  • Not well-suited for the more advanced investor
75% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs with this provider

Step 2: Open a share trading account

Firstly, click here to open your eToro account. By using a newbie-friendly UK share dealing account provider like eToro, the process rarely takes more than a couple of minutes. In fact, you simply need to provide some basic personal information.

This includes:

  • Full Name
  • Home Address
  • Date of Birth
  • National Insurance Number
  • Email Address
  • Telephone Number

You will also need to choose a username and a strong passport – which you’ll later need to use every time you wish to sign in to your account.

Step 3: KYC & Account verification

FCA-regulated brokers are required to identify each and every client that uses its platform. This is to ensure the broker remains compliant with UK laws on anti-money laundering. As such, you’ll need to upload a copy of your passport or driver’s license.

The good news is that eToro is often able to validate your ID instantly. As such, there is no requirement to wait days on-end to have your documents manually checked.

Step 4: Deposit funds

As soon as your eToro account has been verified, you will then need to deposit some funds. The platform offers a range of payment methods to choose from, which includes:

  • Debit Cards
  • Credit Cards
  • Paypal
  • Skrill
  • Neteller
  • UK Bank Account

Unless you are using a bank account, all deposit at eToro are credited instantly. There are no fees to deposit funds, although a £5 withdrawal charge does apply.

Step 5: Buy your first share or trade share CFDs

So now that you have opened an account with eToro, verified your identity, and deposited funds – you are now ready to buy some shares! Take note, eToro lists more than 800 stocks on its platform, so you might want to spend some time thinking about the company you wish to invest in.

Search for your chosen share

In our example below, we are buying shares in British American Tobacco (BAT). To go straight to the trading page, we enter the name of the company.

Click on trade

To go straight to the trading page, you’ll need to click on the ‘Trade’ button.

Place order

You will now need to place a ‘buy’ order. Before you do, you need to enter the amount that you wish to invest. Take note, eToro denominates everything in US dollars, so enter the amount of shares you want to buy in USD. As you can see from our example, you don’t need to buy whole shares at eToro.

Even though Facebook shares are priced at £117.03 per stock, we are investing just £50.

Buy shares or trade share CFDs

Brokers like eToro also give you the option of trading stock CFDs. This would only be suitable if you want to short-sell the stock (meaning you think its price will go down), or you want to apply leverage (where you trade with more than you have in your account). If you wish to trade stock CFDs, be sure to elect a stop loss, leverage and take profit amount before you click on place order.

Which type of shares can I invest in as a UK resident?

Wondering the types of shares that you can buy in the UK? There are hundreds of companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, and then many hundreds more on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM). As such, your best bet is to create a diversified portfolio of companies from multiple sectors.

This might include:

Tech shares

Financial shares

Energy shares

Oil and gas shares

Legal marijuana shares

Insurance shares

Top stock picks for 2020

It is important to reiterate that you will be responsible for choosing your own investments when you join an online stock broker. This can be an intimidating process if you have little to no experience in the trading scene. As noted earlier, the best way to overcome this is to create a diversified portfolio of shares that contains companies from a range of different sectors.

Nevertheless, to help you along the way, below you will find our top 10 share picks of 2020. Just make sure you perform your own research prior to making an investment, and never invest purely on the back of somebody else’s advice.

Marks & Spencers

For those of you looking to invest in a British hallmark firm at a discount, it might be worth considering Marks & Spencer’s. Priced at 539p per share in 2015, the very same stocks can now be bought at just 95p.

Standard Life

Standard Life is a UK-based global investment firm with a number of subsidiaries under its belt. Much like Marks & Spencers, you can obtain its shares at a huge discount. Priced at 527p in 2015, they are now priced at 207p.


The telecommunication company has grown from strength to strength in recent years, with Vodaphone now with operations in dozens of countries. Launched in 1982, the company now has a market capitalization of £28 billion.


Aviva is a UK based insurance and pension firm with operations in multiple jurisdictions. This includes everything from pet insurance, home insurance, car insurance, and life insurance. The company has been struggling in recent years, which is reflected in its share price. However, this also presents an excellent buying opportunity.


If you’re looking to gain exposure to the pharmaceutical space, it might be worth exploring Astrazeneca. The company has a huge market capitalization of £101 billion, making it one of the largest firms on the LSE.


Although the supermarket chain has experienced a turbulent time on the stock markets in recent years, it still retains its lion share of the industry.


With a 16% market share of the UK grocery space, Sainsbury’s is an additional supermarket chain to consider adding to your portfolio of stocks.


Fancy gaining exposure to the ever-growing craft beer space? If so, it might be worth buying shares in BrewDog. Not only has the British brewery company attracted a major consumer base in the domestic arena, but its since expanded to international markets, too.


Tesla shares have sky-rocketted in recent years. It isn’t too late to jump on board – especially when you consider that Tesla is only just about getting cars out to the consumer marketplace.


The global financial powerhouse has a presence in every corner of the world, with more £2 trillion worth of assets under management. At a current share price of405p, HSBC is still worth just a fraction of its all-time high in 2000.

Important terminology to know

The stocks and shares space can be an intimidating battleground if you’ve got little to no experience in trading. As such, check out the key terms listed below that you are all-but-certain to come across when investing online.

  • Dividends: If you invest in a company that pays dividends, this means that it distributes some of its profits to shareholders. If it does, you’ll like receive your share every three months. In terms of the amounts, this averages 2-5% per share. In other words, if you have £2,000 invested with the company, and the firm pays 5% in dividends, you will receive £100.
  • Capital Gains: Capital gains refer to the profits you make when the value of your shares goes up. For example, let’s say that you bought 100 stocks at 400p each – taking your total investment to £400. If you sold the stocks when they were priced at 500p each – this would amount to a profit of 100p per share. As such, your capital gains are £100 (100p x 100 shares).
  • Stock Split: Stock splits are super-common in the UK stock exchange space. In a nutshell, when the value of a company’s stock increases too much, it can make it unaffordable for retail traders. As a result, the company might engage in a stock split. For example, instead of pricing 1 share at 4,000p each, the company might split this to 2 shares at 2,000p each.
  • Leverage: If you decide to use an online broker that gives you access to CFD stocks, you will be able to apply leverage. This means that you can trade with more money than you have in your account. In the UK, regulations permit leverage of up to 5:1 on stock CFDs. So, a £500 account balance would allow you to trade with £2,500.
  • Short-Selling: Have you ever looked at a company and thought “I’d love to be able to profit on the firm going down in value”. Well, this is entirely possible in the form of stock CFDs. Known as ‘short-selling’, brokers allow you to speculate on the value of the shares going down.
  • Diversification: Potentially the most important term to get to grips with, diversification allows you to mitigate the risks of your stocks and shares investment. Essentially, it refers to the process of creating a portfolio of shares from a range of sectors, industries, and risk-levels. In doing so, you won’t feel the brunt anywhere near as much if a particular investment goes against you.

When is the best time to buy shares?

If you’re wondering when the best time to buy shares is, there really is no time like the present. By this, we mean that stocks and shares should be viewed as a long-time investment. This is for two key reasons. Firstly, the stock markets will always go through ups and downs.

As such, by holding onto your stocks over a long period of time, you stand the best chance possible of riding out these volatile waves. Secondly, it is wise to consider re-investing your share profits so that you benefit from the fruits of compound interest. This is where you earn ‘interest on your interest’.

How much money should I invest in stocks and shares?

There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as it really depends on how much you can afford to lock away. In terms of getting started, you have a couple of options at your disposal. For example, some traders prefer to invest a single lump sum, and then sit on the investment for a number of years. Alternatively, others prefer to invest a bit at the end of each month. If you have the means, we would actually suggest doing both.

Firstly, by investing a bit at the end of each month, you will continue to grow your money over the course of time. In other words, what might seem like an insignificant sum of money right now might grow into a considerable amount in 20 years times. Secondly, by also investing a lump sum when you first get started, this will allow your money to grow faster. Once again, this is linked to the impact of compound interest.

Tips for Investing in Shares

Never purchased a single share in your life? Don’t worry, the process is super-easy. With that said, we would suggest reviewing the tips outlined below before starting your stocks and shares journey!

Tip 1: Dollar-Cost Averaging

You’ll likely be wanting to start off with small amounts at first, which is fine. In fact, this is actually a good strategy to employ to benefit from dollar-cost averaging. The overarching concept is that by investing small amounts on a frequent basis (say monthly), so stand the best chance possible of riding out volatile waves.

For example, if the price of IBM stocks is £100 in month 1, £80 in month 2, and £120 in month 3 – this means that you have paid an average price of £100!

Tip 2: Don’t be Afraid to Sell

Some commentators involved in the investment space will tell you to hold onto your shares for at least five years. In doing so, you stand a good chance of riding out market waves. Although this is often the case, it’s not a sure-fire rule. As such, never be afraid to sell an investment at a slight loss if it appears tough times are ahead for the company in question.

Tip 3: Avoid Leverage as a Newbie

Although leverage is a sophisticated tool used by seasoned traders, it might be worth avoiding it until you become more comfortable. Crucially, while leverage can amplify your profits, it can do the same thing for your losses.

How can I sell my shares?

When it comes to selling your shares, the process is just as straight forward as making an investment. All you need to do is head over to the online broker that you bought the shares from, and elect to exit your trade. As long as you do this during standard market hours, the trade should be executed immediately, and the funds returned to your account balance as cash. You then use the cash to invest in other shares, or simply withdraw it back to your bank account.

How do I hold shares?

When you use a regulated online broker like eToro, everything is facilitated in-house. By this, we mean that as soon as you buy shares, the investment is represented in your brokerage account. The shares will remain there until you decide to sell them. This is the case regardless of which broker you use. Long gone are the days of receiving paper shares in the mail!

How to invest in a stocks and shares ISA

If what you’re interested in is investing in a stocks and share ISA, consider talking to a financial advisor. For those unaware, ISAs allow you to earn a certain amount of interest each year without paying any tax. In the case of stocks, this relates to capital gains.

For example, if you buy £5,000 worth of shares, and then sell the same shares at £7,000, your capital gains amount to £2,000. Ordinarily, this £2,000 would be liable for tax. However, if you open a stocks and shares ISA – you can shield the first £20,000 from tax.

Be aware that in order to invest in a stocks and shares ISA in the UK, you will need a larger capital to begin with, such as £5,000 or more. The typical commissions charged by financial advisors is around 3%, which would be £150 if you’re starting with a capital of £5,000.

Alternatively, you can invest in stocks and shares ISAs by going through a do-it-yourself online platforms, such as The Moneyfarm.

Top 5 UK Stocks and Shares ISAs

  1. The Share Centre Ready-made ISA: Get started without needing to meet a minimum investment amount. All UK funds at the platform are eligible.
  2. The Moneyfarm ISA: £1,500 minimum investment as a lump sum. Up to 3 funds available to choose from.
  3. AJ Bell Youinvest Stocks and Shares ISA: Open an account with £500 or more, monthly investment if £25. More than 2,000 funds available.
  4. IWeb Stocks & Shares ISA:  Super-basic stock platform with some of the lowest fees in the UK investment space.
  5. Foresters Friendly Society ISA: Just 1 fund available, but get started with a monthly investment of £50.


In a nutshell, consider your personal circumstances and be sure to select the right platform when buying shares. We recommend eToro which ticks most boxes and where you can buy and trade shares commission free.

Finally, keep in mind that, while the share dealing space can be a great way to grow your money over time, there are underlying risks. Only risk what you can afford to lose.

eToro - Top UK Stock Broker

Our Rating

eToro exchange
  • 1000+ shares to Buy or Trade as CFDs
  • Social and Copy Trading Offered
  • Accepts Paypal
  • Friendly platform for beginners
  • CySEC, FCA and ASIC regulated
eToro exchange
81% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.


What is the easiest way to buy shares in the UK?

The easiest way to buy (and sell) shares in the UK is to use an online broker. You simply need to open an account, deposit funds, and choose which companies you want to invest in.

What payment methods can I use to buy UK shares?

The best UK share brokers allow you to deposit funds with a range of everyday methods. At a minimum, we prefer brokers that support debit/credit cards, e-wallets, and bank accounts.

What fees do I need to pay when buying shares?

Some brokers charge a monthly/annual maintenance fee, and then a commission every time you buy or sell shares. This can either be a flat fee or a percentage against the amount you trade. Some platforms - such as eToro, do not charge any maintenance fees or commissions, so it's just the spread you like to look out for.

What is the minimum amount I have to invest to buy shares?

This depends on the platform in question. You normally need to meet a minimum deposit amount, and a minimum trade size. For example, eToro has a £200 minimum deposit, and a £25 minimum trade amount. Check with your chosen broker before signing up.

Can I buy shares with leverage?

You certainly can. In the UK, you can trade stock CFDs with leverage of up to 5:1. This means that a £100 account balance would permit a maximum trade of £500.

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