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Best UK Trading Brokers

UK BrokersOnline trading with currency pairs, stocks, and other financial instruments is a stringently regulated activity in the United Kingdom. Legitimate online brokers looking to conduct business with traders from the local market must receive authorization from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Established in 2013, this entity oversees all financial services companies operating in the country. It observes for misconduct on their behalf, provides them with guidelines, and safeguards the interests of consumers.

Brokers regulated by the FCA must adhere to strict consumer protection and anti-fraud policies. All retail customers from the UK have their funds stored in segregated accounts and are entitled to negative balance protection. The financial watchdog requires licensed brokers to impose leverage caps on retail customers trading with contracts for difference (CFDs) and other derivatives. These leverage restrictions serve as guardrails that protect unversed retail clients. from sustaining massive losses and running up crippling debts when trading on margin with borrowed money.

On this page, we provide extensive information about the trading regulations in the UK and cover all aspects of the operations of FCA-licensed brokerages, including the payment methods and trading platforms they offer. The members of our team have tested dozens of trading sites to identify the brokers with the highest overall trust ratings in the UK. We look into the range of financial instruments they offer and the costs associated with trading on their platforms.
RegulatorsFinancial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Forex Trading Leverage30:1
Stocks Leverage5:1
CFD Leverage30:1

Best UK Brokers

The Best UK BrokersFinding an online broker that corresponds to your individual requirements, objectives, and trading style is an important but not necessarily easy task. To help Britons who wish to dip their toes in online trading, we compiled this list of the best brokerages that accept customers from the UK market. Our recommendations are based on a thorough research process that covers all aspects of the brokers’ operations, from trading costs and fees to market diversity and payments.

Trading Regulations in the UK

Trading Regulations in the UKThe Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the financial markets in the United Kingdom. At the time of publication, the regulatory entity oversees over 50,000 financial services companies and online brokerages. The body was created under the provisions of the Financial Services Act 2012 and regulates the financial industry alongside the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) and the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) of the Bank of England.

The FCA has several main objectives, including preserving the integrity of the local financial industry, promoting healthy competition among market participants, and ensuring high levels of consumer protection. Online brokers registered with the watchdog must adhere to strict guidelines that aim to safeguard local traders and their funds.

Forex Trading Regulations in the UK

Forex Trading Regulation in the UKThe provision of foreign exchange services requires relevant authorization from the Financial Conduct Authority. Three types of permits are available to forex brokers, starting with the dealer licenses granted to companies that have adopted the market-making model that involves taking the opposite side of customers’ positions.

Intermediary licenses are granted to forex brokerages that have adopted the straight-through processing (STP) model of order execution, which gives traders direct access to the foreign exchange markets. In this case, their trades are being hedged with same-value transactions with liquidity providers.

Finally, there are the so-called restricted or limited brokerage licenses. These are referral-type of permits, allowing companies to carry out marketing campaigns and sales without having the authorization to hold traders’ funds. All firms applying for forex licenses are expected to meet specific initial capital requirements but the minimum required amounts vary depending on the type of permit they apply for.

The bare minimum is set at £125,000. Full dealer licenses require an initial investment of £730,000, while the threshold for limited permits is set at £500,000. Firms based outside the country are eligible for permits on condition they have a physical presence in the country. The companies must set up offices in the UK and employ regional personnel for all key management and compliance positions. Their executive directors should also be locals and gain approval from the FCA to ensure they are suitable to hold their positions.

Licensed forex brokers must store the funds of their clients in segregated accounts separate from their operational capital. The requirement ensures all customers get their money back if a broker suddenly exits the local market due to license revocation or insolvency, for example. The FCA imposes levies on the brokers it regulates and a portion of the collected taxes goes toward the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Launched by the British government, the scheme safeguards clients of authorized financial services firms and compensates them with up to £85,000 per eligible person if their trading provider bankrupts.

Stocks Trading Regulations in the UK

Stocks Trading Regulation in the UKThe Financial Conduct Authority regulates all securities markets in the UK under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, including the operations of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The watchdog enforces compliance and monitors the market disclosures of all participants in the market such as stock brokers and security issuers. The FCA is also responsible for setting out the listing requirements and eligibility criteria for companies looking to trade their shares publicly on the LSE.

Companies seeking to trade their securities on the Main Market must first apply for admission to the Official List of the watchdog. Their shares should be freely negotiable and transferable without any restrictions. The cumulative value of their shares should amount to £30 million or more.

Another requirement stipulates that at least 10% of the applying company’s shares should be in free float, meaning that they should belong to the public or be freely available for public trading. A couple of years ago, the minimum threshold for free float shares was higher at 25% but the financial regulator decided to reduce it for certain companies depending on the circumstances.

There are three types of stock brokerages operating on the UK market. Full-service brokerages are exactly what they sound like since they provide services that are fully tailored to their customers’ needs, including investment advice. Such brokers typically profit from the commissions they charge. Discount brokerages follow the instructions of their customers without providing investment or trading advice. Online brokers, on the other hand, facilitate remote trading with stocks, giving their clients access to a broad range of charting tools, stock analysis, and market sentiments. Regardless, all three types require approval from the FCA before they can start offering their services in the UK.

CFD Trading Regulations in the UK

CFDs Trading Regulation in the UKTrading with derivative instruments like contracts for difference (CFDs) is heavily regulated in the UK under a framework based on the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) issued in 2014. It applies to all financial services providers operating within the European Economic Area (EEA) and imposes restrictions on the maximum leverage retail clients can take advantage of when trading on margin. The idea behind these leverage caps is to prevent inexperienced and less knowledgeable traders from slipping into debt in the event of rapid market movements.

Using leverage enables derivative traders with limited capital to gain a larger exposure to the markets by using borrowed funds. The catch is leveraging your positions can greatly enhance both your potential profits and losses. To spare retail traders from slipping into debt, the FCA requires brokers to impose a maximum leverage cap of 30:1 for major forex pairs. Leverage restrictions are proportionate to the volatility of the financial instruments one trades with. The more volatile an instrument is, the lower the leverage those who trade with it can use.

Thus, the available retail leverage for gold, major indices, minor and exotic currency pairs is capped at 20:1. CFDs on other commodities and non-major indices come with a leverage ceiling of 10:1. Retail clients who trade individual shares can boost the value of their positions at a maximum ratio of 5:1. Cryptocurrencies are easily the most volatile financial instrument you can dabble in, so their leverage ratio is the lowest at 2:1 under the MiFIN framework. With that said, retail customers in the UK can no longer trade cryptocurrencies on margin as the FCA unveiled an outright ban on this practice in early 2021. Professional traders are not affected by the prohibition, however.

The financial watchdog requires licensed brokers to close out the positions of their retail clients once their balance drops to 50% of the margin necessary to maintain them open. CFD brokerages are prohibited from actively encouraging their customers to participate in leveraged trading. They must post standardized warnings in prominent places on their websites to inform customers about the risk associated with derivative trading.

Last but not least, they must provide negative balance protection to retail traders. This mechanism serves as a safety net, preventing retail clients from losing more money than they have available in their live balance. Professional investors are not covered by this policy.

UK Trading Regulations FAQ

1. How can I identify unreliable online brokers?

There are several red flags to keep your eyes peeled for, starting with the lack of authorization from a respected regulatory body. The first thing you should check before you open a live account with any trading platform is whether it is regulated by a reputable financial watchdog like the FCA. We recommend you consult with the FCA’s official warning list of unauthorized trading companies that are prohibited to operate on the British market.Needless to say, you should avoid using the services of brokerages featured on the list. Negative consumer feedback is also a major warning sign. Make sure you check what your fellow traders are saying and steer clear of brokers that have predominantly negative reviews on independent review platforms.

2. Do I have to pay taxes on the income I generate from online trading?

It depends on what type of trader you are and the type of financial instruments you invest in. Profits generated through spread betting are exempt from taxation. Spread betting is a form of price speculation that bears many similarities to gambling, which is not subject to capital gains taxes (CGT) in the UK. CGTs are imposed on profits generated from contracts for difference if they exceed your individual tax allowance. The losses CFD traders incur are deductible. Traders who buy stocks must pay a 0.5% stamp duty tax, which is deducted at the time of purchase.

3. Will I get in trouble for trading with a broker that is not registered with the FCA?

While you are unlikely to run into any legal trouble, trading with unauthorized brokers is associated with several risks. Unregulated trading platforms often do not uphold the same high standards for customer funds protection. Those who use them cannot take advantage of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the event of their broker filing for bankruptcy. Traders scammed by unregulated brokers lack legal recourse and cannot lodge complaints with their relevant financial watchdog. By contrast, authorized brokerages are subject to severe legal scrutiny and suffer heavy penalties for non-compliance with the rules of their regulators.

4. Can I use leverage when trading cryptocurrencies with FCA brokers?

The Financial Conduct Authority prohibits the sale of cryptocurrency derivatives to retail customers from the UK, citing their extreme volatility as the reason for the ban. The prohibition extends to cover all types of derivative instruments that typically involve leverage, including CFDs, futures, spread bets, and options. Cryptocurrency exchange-traded notes (ETNs) are forbidden as well. The financial watchdog estimates that the prohibition will prevent retail traders from losing approximately £53 million. With that in mind, purchasing and selling decentralized currencies like Bitcoin through crypto exchanges like Binance, Coinbase, and eToro is fully legal in the UK.

5. What is the maximum leverage UK traders can use?

The maximum leverage caps for retail customers are instrument-specific, so it all depends on the underlying assets you trade with and their volatility. Major currency pairs like EUR/USD and GBP/USD have a leverage limit of 30:1 at the time of opening the position but the ratio slumps down to 5:1 for individual stocks due to the higher volatility associated with trading them. Professional traders have access to significantly higher leverage ratios (up to 500:1 at most FCA-licensed brokers). Customers must satisfy several eligibility criteria to switch from retail to professional accounts, including having extensive work experience in the financial industry and a portfolio of significant size.

Funding and Withdrawing from UK Trading Accounts

Funding and Withdrawing from UK Trading AccountReliable UK-friendly brokers tend to prioritize speed, efficiency, and security when it comes to payments. They typically offer a broad selection of convenient banking solutions and take all the necessary measures to prevent any delays in the processing of their clients’ transactions. Continue reading as we explore the most common payment methods British traders can use to deposit and withdraw from their live trading accounts.

Depositing at UK Trading Account

DepositingBritish traders can fund the balance of their live accounts with a varied range of convenient payment methods, starting with everyone’s familiar debit and credit cards. Various card brands are accepted but the most popular options typically include Visa, Maestro, Diners Club, and Mastercard. Card deposits normally reflect in your live balance in real time without any delays provided that you have already verified your account. If not, the broker will prompt you to send verification documents to confirm your identity, address, and payment method. To this end, you must provide color copies of the front and back of the card you deposited with to prove you are the rightful owner.

Digital wallets are also broadly accepted at UK-friendly trading sites, giving you the flexibility to initiate real-time deposits without revealing any sensitive financial information in the process. PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, and WebMoney comprise the most common options from this category. Using these payment methods is not associated with additional fees on the broker’s behalf, which is another benefit of transacting with them.

Online banking is also a suitable option for UK traders who wish to replenish their live balance. You can initiate the deposit straight through your online banking account or use the services of third-party online banking processors like Trustly. Either way, you can anticipate no extra charges on your broker’s end.

Bank wire transfers pose another secure method of transferring money directly from your bank account to your online trading balance. This method is less time-efficient as it usually takes several business days for the transaction to come through. Traders can expedite the process by emailing the broker a copy of their bank’s SWIFT code and their trading account number. UK brokers usually apply no charges for depositing via wire transfers but you might incur some processing fees from your bank.

Common Deposit Methods Offered by UK Brokers
Type of MethodUsual Limits per TransactionProcessing TimeframesProcessing Fees
Debit and credit cards£100 min.InstantFree
Digital wallets£10 min.InstantFree
Wire transfers£100 min.3 to 7 days in some casesFree
Online banking£10 min.InstantFree

Withdrawing from UK Trading Account

WithdrawingThe best online brokers on the UK market strive to make the withdrawal process as seamless and hassle-free as possible. They achieve this goal by working with a varied selection of flexible and convenient payment solutions, including the above-mentioned credit and debit cards, digital wallets, and conventional wire transfers. It is essential to mention that clients are generally expected to withdraw via the same payment solution they have used when funding their accounts.

So if you have used a debit card, for example, you must request your withdrawal to the same card. In many cases, customers must withdraw the original deposit back to the method they have used to process it before they can switch to another supported withdrawal solution. By means of example, let’s suppose you have deposited £1,000 via credit card and generated £2,000 in net profits. The broker will return the first £1,000 to your credit card and only then can you request to withdraw the remaining £2,000 via another method like awire transfer.

Speaking of which, credit and debit cards are commonly preferred for withdrawals due to their short processing timeframe which rarely exceeds three business days. The same goes for online banking and digital wallets like PayPal – they also facilitate smooth and speedy withdrawals from verified accounts. Wire transfer withdrawals are slower by rule of thumb, requiring between five and seven days to process on average. Traders should bear in mind that the vast majority of UK-licensed brokers handle withdrawals on business days only. If you request a payment during weekends or on public holidays, you are likely to experience additional clearance delays.

Common Withdrawal Methods Offered by UK Brokers
Type of MethodUsual Limits per TransactionProcessing TimeframesProcessing Fees
Debit and credit cards£100 – £100,0001 to 3 business daysFree
Digital wallets£100 – £20,0001 to 3 business daysFree
Wire Transfers£100 (no maximum limit in many cases)5 to 7 business daysFree
Online Banking£1001 to 3 business daysFree

UK Trading Platforms

UK Trading PlatformsCommitted to satisfying the needs of all types of traders, the best UK brokers offer a versatile selection of platforms for manual and automated trading. Some platforms facilitate trading in specific financial instruments like options or spread betting, while others are better suited for performing in-depth fundamental and technical analysis. Most platforms are cross-compatible and work seamlessly on all devices, including desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Third-party platforms like MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5) by MetaQuotes are broadly available at most UK-friendly brokers. Traders normally have the option to download and install MT4 or MT5 on compatible desktop computers but using the browser-based version WebTrader is also an alternative. Let’s dive deeper into these platforms and their specifications.

MetaTrader 4

MetaTrader 4MT4 is widely preferred by British traders due to its navigable interface and simple design. The platform is supported by most FCA-regulated online brokers and is predominantly suitable for foreign exchange trading, although other asset classes like shares, commodities, and indices are also available for trading via contracts for difference. Due to its user-friendliness, the platform poses as a great solution for retail traders looking to dip their toes in the markets.

Many advanced traders also stick to MetaTrader 4 due to the proliferation of tools for fundamental and technical analysis it offers. The platform allows for hedging and is packed with great features, including 30 technical indicators, 9 timeframes, and 31 graphical objects. There are four types of pending orders – buy limit, sell limit, sell stop, and buy stop.

Algorithmic trading is one of the biggest strengths of MetaTrader 4. MT4 users will benefit from a wide range of robots for automated trading known as Expert Advisors (EAs). These robots require very little human input and can be programmed to alert traders whenever they identify potential profit opportunities based on specific predetermined parameters. Creating personalized advisor robots is an option for users who are familiar with the MQL4 programming language.

MetaTrader 5

MetaTrader 5Released in early June 2010, MT5 is the more advanced successor of MT4. The platform supports a greater number of tradable instruments, including forex, stocks, commodities, bonds, options, and futures. It uses a different programming language (MQL5) and enables more efficient back-testing compared to its predecessor. Being the more advanced version, MT5 has superior functionalities and capabilities, which render it suitable for more experienced traders. They have access to a depth-of-market feature that enables them to figure out where the prices of specific assets might be heading.

Additionally, MT5 features 44 graphical objects as opposed to 31 in MT4. Traders can take advantage of 21 timeframes and 38 technical indicators. The platform comes with several advanced order types, including Return, Immediate or Cancel, and Fill or Kill. MT5 makes it possible for users to transfer funds between accounts and supports hedging, exchange trading, and netting. The built-in economic calendar provides valuable real-time information and enables them to keep track of all key financial announcements that may impact price movements.

Many UK brokers that work with MT4 and MT5 allow their customers to trade with the browser-based version known as WebTrader. The latter is associated with greater flexibility as it does not require downloading and setting up any additional software. Both MT4 and MT5 are compatible with portable devices, with mobile users having the option to download dedicated apps for Android and iOS.


DupliTradeMany of the UK brokers recommended on this page offer the third-party platform DupliTrade. Launched in 2017, the platform is broadly considered an ideal solution for those who wish to dabble in copy trading. It comes with an uncluttered, easy-to-use interface and enables users to automatically replicate the actions and strategies of seasoned traders directly into their own trading accounts. DupliTrade offers a rich selection of tried-and-tested strategy providers to accommodate all copy traders, regardless of their risk tolerance. All strategy providers contributing to the pool undergo rigorous audits and only the most successful traders are singled out.

The platform is mostly suitable for copy trading with currency pairs, commodities, and shares. Users can remain on top of their game as DupliTrade alerts them via email each time a copied trading activity occurs in their accounts. It is available at all major brokers that accept clients from the UK, including AvaTrade, Pepperstone, and Fusion Markets.

Getting started with DupliTrade is a breeze. To begin with, you must set up an account with the platform and then register with an online brokerage that supports it. Once you link your trading account to your DupliTrade account, you must pick strategy providers to follow, adjust your level of risk exposure, and you are good to go.

UK Trading FAQ

1. Will I incur any conversion fees when transacting with UK brokers?

You are highly unlikely to incur currency conversion fees as all online brokers registered with the FCA support the GBP as a base account currency. British traders are not charged additionally when depositing or withdrawing in their national currency. Most brokers operating on the British market do not allow customers to change their base currency after they have created accounts. Also, keep in mind that some trading sites impose conversion fees on all positions that involve instruments denominated in currencies that differ from your base account currency.

2. Are UK traders eligible for professional accounts at your recommended brokerages?

Yes, many of the brokers shortlisted on this page offer professional accounts but UK traders are expected to meet specific eligibility criteria to qualify for them. Typically, applicants must have made at least a dozen transactions of significant size and prove they have extensive work experience in the financial services sector. A trading portfolio valued at half a million pounds or more is also necessary in most cases. Registered traders who believe they qualify can send their applications via their accounts’ dashboard.

3. Is swap-free trading an option at UK-friendly brokers?

Most UK-friendly brokers give Muslim customers the option to register Islamic accounts that operate according to the principles of the Sharia law, which prohibits paying and receiving interest. Traders normally must pay rollover fees to maintain their open positions after a trading day has ended. This is not the case with Islamic accounts that incur no swap fees, which are treated as a form of interest under the Sharia law. Other than the absence of rollover fees, Islamic accounts are quite similar to standard ones. Muslim traders usually must contact a support representative to request a swap-free account.

4. Can retail traders based in the UK receive bonuses?

Regulatory restrictions prevent UK retail customers from receiving cashbacks, rebates, registration bonuses, or other promotional offers. After an extensive consultation process in 2018, the Financial Conduct Authority reached the conclusion such promotional incentives could prove harmful to retail clients because they encourage them to trade more.

5. Are UK clients trading on margin entitled to negative balance protection?

Yes, traders from the UK are entitled to negative balance protection under the regulatory requirements set out by the Financial Conduct Authority. Customers who leverage their positions run the risk of losing more money than they have available in their accounts in the event of abrupt market gaps. FCA-regulated brokers are obliged to offer negative balance protection to prevent unversed clients from suffering losses that exceed their deposits and profits. However, only retail customers are covered by this policy.