I have always been slightly dubious about trading apps and their claims of ‘free’ trading. However, I decided to download a few and try them out. I was pleasantly surprised with them and can really see myself using them in the long term.
A stock trading app for beginners
The guide below is not an endorsement or recommendation for any particular app or any particular stock. It is for your information and specifically based on what the best app might be if you are a beginner and want to try out an investment app. I am not affiliated to any of the companies below and I will not earn a commission for any in-article links.
The investment apps covered in this guide are:
- Trading 212
- Plus 500
Trading 212 does a lot of advertising, and having seen their name a lot recently, and searching for an investment app on Google Play, I decided to take the plunge with them.
The app is reassuringly slick and the registration was quick and simple. It involves scanning your ID (you can use passport or driving licence), and taking a photograph of yourself. Both using the app.
First off the bat, the CFD trading came with a warning about the losses that some traders make using this platform, so I gave that a wide berth. I already have a Stocks and Shares ISA, so wouldn’t be able to open another this tax year, so I plumped for the Stocks Investing platform.
To get started, I loaded £25 and split it between 5 companies. 4 that I knew of and 1 wildcard.
The companies I chose were Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon, Alibaba and Beyond Meat (an American company specialising in vegan and vegetarian foods). Again the process was straightforward.
It’s easy to click through to a profile page for any company and check their share price, past performance and more. There’s also a potted history of the company. The whole experience is reassuringly slick and a lot of investment has gone into the app. If you’ll pardon the pun.
The general layout, graphics and diagrams are nicely laid out and pleasing to the eye. Most importantly, for the novice, they are all easy to understand and there’s very little jargon or industry terms to put a beginner off.
As with other trading apps there is a practice area within the app where you are generously given a virtual £50,000. In this virtual arena, I split my funds between four stocks. Tesla, Zoom, Microsoft and NIO who are a Chinese electronic vehicle components manufacturer.
In summary, Trading 212 is:
- Easy to get up and running with
- Is clearly laid out
- Feels secure with fingerprint sign-in enabled
- Great for the novice as you can start investing from £1
Plus500 is another prominent trading app. Similar to Trading 212, a warning message is displayed on the first startup of the app stating that 75% of people trading CFD accounts lose money. Again I gave it a wide berth.
At first glance, Plus500 isn’t as user friendly for the novice like myself. It does seem more suited to those already familiar with trading stocks in terms of the display and terminology used.
Although as part of the signup process, you are taken through a quick questionnaire to assess whether you are suitable for trading CFDs (I wasn’t).
The minimum deposit amount is £100.
Unlike Trading 212, ISAs are not given as an option so I was stuck with ETFs.
Signing in is a bit more straightforward, and you can use your Google or Facebook account for a quick signup. You also don’t have to supply a scan of your ID or take a selfie.
To be honest, I was a bit more comfortable with Trading 212’s bank style log-in with my fingerprint.
Above you can see screenshots from the Plus 500 app. To my eyes and with my limited trading experience, I found the terminology on display somewhat impenetrable.
There also seems to be a lot more going on on the screens. I dived in with my demo account, and bought some shares, again, Tesla were on the list.
500 Plus use jargon unfamiliar to me such as Instrument Categories, Open Positions, Closed Positions and more. I’m sure if I were to spend some time teaching myself about these terms I would be up and running, but to be fair, with the amount of choice currently on the market, I’m more likely to get stuck in to an app where I can hit the ground running.
eToro is another brand who have been advertising a lot on social media. Their ads have really trumpeted their free trading (which is also offered by the other apps mentioned here).
eToro falls somewhere between Plus 500 and Trading 212 in that the interface is less jargon based, and easier to understand at first glance.
Similar to Plus 500, it’s possible to use your Google or Facebook account to sign up.
Again the minimum deposit is higher for eToro at $200 (£153 at the time of writing).
There’s an even more extensive questionnaire at the start of the sign-up process to check your suitability for trading CFDs. Again I failed it and opted for the standard investment option.
Copy Portfolios & News Feeds
A key feature of eToro is when you are viewing a stocks information page, there is a tab to view a feed of fellow investors chatter on the stock. Who are these people? Do they have a vested interest in me buying the stocks? I don’t know.
Would I take their advice? Some seem sensible but I might just stick to Warren Buffets advice and invest in what I know.
There’s also an option to copy portfolios of other leading traders or investment strategies.
Cloud Computing strategy, for example, had made a loss since inception, but there’s an option to stop investing if the value of the portfolio drops below a certain level.
For all of these apps, you can try out their practice mode, investing with virtual funds before you dip your toe into the high octane world of actual investing real money.
From a trading novice’s point of view, I was very impressed with Trading 212. It felt intuitive and buying sotcks was simple. The whole things seems solid and I was very impressed with the ‘bank’ level security. I loaded funds and withdrew funds easily. If you are just starting out in trading and are looking for an invesmtent app, then this could be a good shout.
It won’t make you any more money, but speaking as a beginner in stock trading, it felt very comfortable to use. Plus you can start from only £1.
|Trading App||Minimum Deposit||Novice Rating|
|Trading 212||£1||Great for beginners|
|Plus 500||£100||Tricky for beginners|
|E-Toro||£153||Tricky for beginners|