What is the cheapest stocks and shares ISA available? Answering this question used to involve a switcheroo only slightly less cunning than the Princess Bride’s Battle Of Wits.
But no more! Now the answer is easy.
The cheapest stocks and shares ISA is the DIY option from InvestEngine.
Currently that’s the lowest cost stocks and shares ISA on the market because it costs nothing.
Now that’s my kind of price range!
Cheapest stocks and shares ISA: good to knows
InvestEngine’s ISA costs zero for annual fees, dealing charges, FX fees, entry/exit levies and most of the other multi-headed investment costs that snap at our wallets like a financially-incentivised Hydra. (It’s little known that the Ancient Greek polycephalic snake-beast was on a bonus scheme. Fifty drachma per hero slain.)
The only costs you will pay are the usual Total Expense Ratio / Ongoing Charge management fees that must be borne when investing in any fund, plus trading spreads. So far, so standard.
The platform’s downside is that you can only invest in a restricted range of ETFs and you can only trade at fixed times per day.
Frankly though, I think that’s a reasonable trade-off. Especially because you can easily create a good portfolio from the ETFs available.
Read our full InvestEngine review. We like it. Just make sure you choose the DIY ISA, not the managed one.
Our only concern is how long can the service remain free?
We’ve previously investigated how zero commission brokers make their money. In InvestEngine’s case, it’s mostly hoping you’ll opt for its managed offering.
Cheap stocks and shares ISA hack
But what if InvestEngine’s prices creep up, or you don’t like their limited pool of ETFs, or want an alternative because you’re concerned about the FSCS investor compensation limit of £85,000?
In that event let’s recap our cheap stocks and shares ISA hack – it still delivers tax shelter satisfaction for an exceptionally low cost.
Here’s how the hack works:
- You begin by drip-feeding into your stocks and shares ISA with the best-value percentage-fee broker on the market.
- Once your ISA is full you transfer it to the cheapest flat-fee broker.
- You don’t trade at the flat-fee broker. You only deal for zero commission with your percentage-fee platform.
- In the new tax year, you open a fresh stocks and shares ISA with the percentage-fee broker.
- Rinse and repeat.
You now enjoy a best-of-both worlds deal that takes advantage of the brokerage industry’s niche marketing strategies.
Percentage-fee platforms offer the best terms to small investors. They tend to rake it in once your account swells beyond £25,000 to £50,000. They’re relying on your inertia.
Flat-fee brokers offer good rates to large investors. They hope to make it up in trading fees. They’re relying on high rollers who treat their portfolios like a night at the casino.
You can arbitrage these cost models, provided you’re active in transferring your ISA and then near-comatose once you’ve parked it at your long-stay platform.
Cheap stocks and shares ISA hack in action
Vanguard Investor offers the cheapest percentage fee stocks and shares ISA.
It charges 0.15% on the value of your assets and zero for trading fees.1
Were you to drip-feed your ISA allowance in evenly (£1,666 every month), you’d pay approximately £16 in platform fees for the year.
Leave your assets with Vanguard forever though and it’d keep charging 0.15% until you hit its £375 cap – the point where your account has accumulated £250,000.
But you’re not going to hang around.
Instead, you transfer your ISA to the most convenient flat-fee platform for long-term stashing. There’s a few choices but the cheapest is X-O.co.uk.
It charges a quite reasonable £0 for platform fees.
Dealing commission is a much less competitive £5.95 a throw. But we’re not trading there so we plan to pay pretty much zero pounds to X-O.
Total cost of your stocks and shares ISA per year = £16.
Just transfer your ISA from Vanguard when it’s full, or after you’ve paid in your last contribution during the current tax year.
Open a fresh stocks and shares ISA with Vanguard on new tax year day (6 April) while your old one is lodged with X-O, gratis.
Note that X-O doesn’t do funds. They do stock ETFs though, so make sure your Vanguard portfolio only contains ETFs tradable at X-O before you transfer.
You don’t want to have to sell out of the market and then buy your portfolio again when it arrives at X-O.
Cheapest stocks and shares ISA comparisons
What are the cheapest stocks and shares ISA alternatives to X-O?
Next comes iWeb Share Dealing. It charges a stiff, one-off £100 to open an account. But your ISA platform fees are zero after that.
Amortise those fees across three years and iWeb’s ISA costs £33.33 for three years and then nothing from year four on.
You’d expect to pay £36 a year for your investment ISA at Halifax Share Dealing.
Lloyds Share Dealing costs £40 for your ISA platform fee.
Fidelity caps its ISA platform fee at £45 per annum for ETFs only.
Trades cost extra at all these brokers but you do your buying and selling at Vanguard.
FreeTrade is £59.88 annually. You get as many zero commission trades as you like – so you could skip the Vanguard complexity – but must make the magic happen with a limited palette of ETFs.
Sitting on a £20,000 investment ISA at Vanguard costs you £30 a year alone. Plus another £16 on top as you build up your current tax year’s ISA.
Still, the bottom line is that InvestEngine is the cheapest stocks and shares ISA. The Vanguard-X-O combo places second in most scenarios if you make monthly trades.
The other downside with Vanguard is you’re restricted solely to its funds and ETFs. That’s okay though because it runs excellent, cost-competitive index trackers.
The other main compromise with X-O is its website is medieval (as is iWeb’s). Reviews on the likes of Trustpilot are distinctly average.
X-O and iWeb are bare bones offerings so don’t rock up expecting five star customer service.
I’ve personally dealt with iWeb for many years and found them to be perfectly acceptable.
Note, accounts held with Halifax / Bank Of Scotland, Lloyds Bank, and iWeb count as one for the purposes of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Low cost stocks and shares ISA: alternatives to Vanguard
You could replace the Vanguard leg of the hack with Dodl. That’s AJ Bell’s spin-off app-only brand.
Like Vanguard, Dodl charges 0.15% per annum in platform fees and nowt for trading.
However, your fees would be higher because Dodl charges a £12 minimum fee no matter how empty your account is.
It also features a restricted fund and ETF range, though it’s not Vanguard only.
Close Brothers is your next stop among the percentage-fee brokers. It charges a 0.25% platform fee and zero commission for funds. ETF trades are £9 a pop, with no mercy for regular investors.
If you hate the idea of filling in transfer forms then you can make the entire hack work at a slightly higher cost at Fidelity:
- Buy funds monthly for zero trading fees while racking up platform fees at 0.35% per annum.
- Once you hit the breakeven point, sell your funds and buy as few ETFs as possible to reconstitute your portfolio at £10 a trade.
- Fidelity caps ETF fees at £90 per year.
Using this scheme, there’s no need to worry about which year’s ISA you’re transferring. The entire dosey-doe happens within your Fidelity stocks and shares ISAs.
It works because Fidelity act as a percentage-fee/zero commission broker with funds, and a flat-fee broker with ETFs.
Check out our comparison of ETFs vs index funds.
Tidying up the loose ends
All the cheap stocks and shares ISA options laid out above handle ISA transfers free of charge. Though X-O levies an exit fee should you decide to leave.
You need to transfer your investments in specie (so they’re not sold to cash) to avoid paying dealing fees to your flat fee broker at the other end.
In Specie or re-registration transfers mean you don’t have to worry about being out of the market either.
Check your new broker offers the same funds and ETFs as your old one.
Invest in accumulation funds and ETFs from the beginning. This will save you paying to reinvest dividends at the flat-rate broker.
I’ve ignored rebalancing costs once you’re parked up at X-O. A small investor should be able to rebalance with new money. Anyone with an embarrassment of riches can set their rebalancing alarm to once every two or three years. That gives you just as good a chance of being up on the deal as any other rebalancing method.
Or you could invest everything in a Vanguard LifeStrategy fund. That takes care of rebalancing for you.
Either way, rest assured this manoeuvre does not contravene the stocks and shares ISA rules:
- You can have as many stocks and shares ISAs as you like, so long as you don’t put new money into more than one per tax year.
- Transferring old ISA money or assets does not use up your ISA allowance for the current tax year or break the one-type-of-ISA-a-tax-year rule.
- You can transfer any amount of your previous years’ ISA’s value. You can transfer the whole lot into one ISA, or transfer a portion of it into several ISAs, or any other combo you desire.
For more on stocks and shares ISA transfers.
To calculate your cheapest platform option.
Our broker comparison table tracks the UK’s best platforms.
If you truly want the cheapest stocks and shares ISA possible then you’ll need to factor in the cost of the low-cost index funds and ETFs available on any platform versus those available through Vanguard.
Paying slightly higher OCFs than necessary could overwhelm your platform fee / dealing fee savings. Be especially vigilant if you have a very large portfolio.
None of this takes into account the value of your time spent filling in forms. Although when you’re getting this anal then maybe that’s a net positive. (A person’s gotta have a hobby!)
Take it steady,
Note: Links to platforms may be affiliate ones, where we may get a paid a small fee if you sign-up. This doesn’t alter the price you pay.
- You pay zero for trading ETFs as long as you accept the fixed daily trading times. [↩]
Yup..did just this two years in a row. Easy-peasy.
I lost a large amount of money with a badly timed SIPP transfer this year (just before the madness really started). Far more than I’ll ever recoup in fees sadly. Lesson learned; don’t transfer except in specie.
If you decide you need >1 ISA broker/platform (say for FSCS protection, or similar) then you can use variations of this approach to – at least in principle – re-balance your overall Pot at your chosen frequency FoC (other than your time) with no new money.
Damn just in middle of transfer to Halifax Share Dealing. I’m a bit concerned as it didn’t mention anywhere the ‘in specie’ option and on chat they just said ‘if fund exists at halifax, then it’ll be in specie. If not, it’ll be cash’. The fund does exist at Halifax but I expected it to be a lot more clear and indication that it is actually going to be in-specie, as I wouldn’t want to transfer if it’s cash.
This is exactly what I do. Been doing it for a few years now. This year’s ISA money is going to HL, to be transferred to Iweb when this year’s done. I keep track of it with Trustnet.
I’ve also done this successfully to save costs, transferring ISA contributions from Vanguard to Halifax SD where I already pay a fixed annual ISA fee. All worked fine in-specie after some initial Vanguard confusion where they mistook the transfer “pull” request from Halifax as a transfer in rather than out!
However, I’ve made a bit of a mess of it this FY by attempting to transfer previous years contributions (only) from an ISA that was being actively subscribed to. All of the funds, including those bought this FY and my remaining 2020-21 ISA allowance now appears to be stuck in no-mans land between providers…
Anyone know approximately how long it takes for the in-specie transfer from Vanguard to iWeb / Halifax to complete? I’ll be kicking one off before the end of this tax year.
Have an ISA and dealing account with iweb holding lump sums from a property sale. I’m migrating the dealing funds to the ISA, selling the LS40 income units, transferring to the ISA and purchasing the equivalent LS40 acc units, £10 for 2 trades. Any income from the income units is covered by my dividend allowance, and any capital gains by similar. My main risk is market movements while out of the market during the bed and ISA process.
I’ve been doing this for years.
Better factor in the hassle of printing a form, an envelope and a stamp.
I don’t think it’s likely platforms will put in a transfer in fee. A transfer out fee is the risk if this gets too popular. Also an in specie fee is not unheard-of.
Impressed by @TA’s clever wheeze. But I think I am right in saying, its value is for someone who wants to drip feed (pound cost average) their ISA for whatever reason. A single iWeb investment, assuming there were only 1-3 funds, would not be worse.
My wife and I, as investors wary of getting timing wrong in times like this year, have settled on spreading investments over 4 points in the year, 2 into my ISA and 2 into hers. Using LifeStrategy at preferred proportion, that means just £10 fees each a year.
Great idea which works for 4 years: Vanguard £20k x 4 becomes, say, £85k in iWeb and remains within the government protection limit. You have made me think about what I should do about an £150k SIPP (in far too many separate ETF holdings) and £90k ISA, both with AJ Bell. Do I really want to have two SIPP accounts? I can only contribute £3.6k/pa for two more years and do not expect to need to draw it/them down. Suggestions would be welcomed.
@TA : If you wanted to do your initial investment using a site that had a wider range of funds (i.e. somewhere other than Vanguard), could you add to the article where would be the next cheapest option for your initial accumulation year? (the article seems to suggest it’s iweb’s brother/sister Halifax Share Trading?) – sorry if i’ve misunderstood or am a bit slow! – thanks!
What a coincidence. I just worked the maths for this out on the weekend, been building my ISA up over the year and considered transferring to iWeb.
Has anyone completed an in specie transfer from Best Invest to iWeb? If so did you incur any transfer out charges? I started looking at this at earlier today as I have a World Index Tracker that’s the majority of portfolio which I’d like to move to iWeb to reduce costs.
Another great tip, thanks! I’ll be using this at the end of the next tax year I think, will make sure it’s the actual index funds I’m transferring across and not moving to cash as others have stated.
For situations where transferring in specie isn’t possible (moving to/from the UK, unsupported investment on new platform, etc.), I guess it’d be possible to cover time out of the market with a call option. Does anyone know any reading material on this subject? I.e. an option that would cover lost gains if the global stock market rises during a cash transfer lasting (say) a few weeks. Would this be a feasible thing for an average retail investor to attempt?
So in terms of making the transfer, if you meet your 20k part way through the year I.e now would you be able to make the transfer right away?
Would this close the vanguard USA and you’d have to make a new one next year?
As I’ve already met my allowance for the year I instead invest in a general account. If I were to amass 20k into the account by the new tax year could I do an in specie transfer of it to iWeb? With no buying fee?
Glad to see you’ve found a new hobby now those 14 current accounts aren’t paying their way any more 🙂
If you have an isa with the same provider as a sipp, can you have the charges levied entirely to the sipp (ie untaxed money?) Because if vanguard say they are % with a £375 cap, how do they determine what money in what account makes up that £375? – there must be some flexibility in how they allocate the cost
I’m using a trading account with freetrade: £0 trading costs.
Planning a once a year transfer to Trading 212 ISA which offers £0 ISA fees.
Total costs = £0
Am I missing something.
I could just use Trading 212 for everything but they don’t have all the stocks Im interested in.
Specie transfers: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose in terms of timing the market, no big deal.
@Richard – bid/spread margins? I imagine thar be what ye missing
@Matthew Would you not be better paying your costs with cash held outside of SIPP / ISA, save eating away at your protected gains?
@Dan The rules on transferring a current year ISA are complex. You have to transfer the entire this tax year ISA (so you couldn’t contribute more to that at the old provider) but not all providers accept the extra paperwork. I guess in specie that means everything you’ve bought in the ISA this year.
For previous years’ ISAs it is simpler – the extra paperwork for the current tax year is to ensure you don’t have two ISAs open in any one year (ie active and contributing to two providers, because that is verboten)
> could I do an in specie transfer of it to iWeb?
Depends if you want it in an iWeb ISA. From a general trading account ( ie non ISA) into an ISA, you usually have to bed-and-ISA those, which involves the spread and trading fees, though some firms (TD direct used to) waive the buying fee so you just get to eat the selling fee. And the spread.
So ask them first so you don’t get any surprises. Explicitly – I have 500 shares of xxx in provider XYZ general trading account. I wish to transfer these into an iWeb ISA (consuming the market value of the stocks at the time of entry into the ISA). Can I do this in specie, and how much will it cost?
Rough outline on theis MSE post
If however you are transferring in specie from a general investment account to iWeb’s general trading account then you can do that at no cost, other than the cost of opening your very first iweb account if you have none at the moment.
@Ryan – it would depend on tax situations, if someone is using their whole sipp allowance then that may make sense, but even if they are if you’re paying fees from your net money you have to expect that what is protected in the sipp will make back the tax paid on all those fees back in returns before you might annuitise/draw down
I’d also separate it from calculating capital gains in unsheltered assuming that that’s diffused separately although if you can deduct the fees (?) then it might change the calculation
Just started transferring my old style Scottish Widows pension to a Fidelity Sipp. In specie transfers are not possible as the fund is not available outside SW, so I transferred a small chunk first. Just wondered if there was likely to be any problems moving it over as multiple back to back small chunks to avoid being fully out of the market?
Also is there much risk to having it all in one place? I plan to move it all but I am now worrying as it is a reasonably large amount.
@Jon B. No problem. My wife did 8 back to back transfers from Scottish Widows, all fine, apart from them doing a full transfer of an active workplace pension on the final tranche instead of a partial transfer, as instructed. They set up the pension again swiftly but not without valuable time wasted on our part. Complaint still being processed.
Don’t know whether this answers your question but I have SIPPs and ISAs with HL
The charges applied are completely separate so I pay £16.66 pm for the SIPP and £3.75 pm for the ISA. These are the maximums so long as you avoid funds which I do religiously.
I am in drawdown for annual allowance reasons and the divi yield on my SIPP is just about enough to generate the cash for an annual ISA allowance which I am now doing with iWeb as I wanted som platform diversification
An interesting question has just occurred to me however. Will HL charge me separately for my remaining SIPP and SIPP income drawdown. I am currently assuming these will be continue to be viewed on a consolidated basis….
@merlot – I’m not overly familiar with HL to be honest, I wasn’t aware of / couldn’t see any sort of price caps. They may by default charge them individually but I wonder if you do have the option to choose where you pay it/ what constitutes it, especially if you had one overall price cap that covered all accounts like vanguard – I know that with the AJ Bell Lisa you can pay management fees (but not dealing charges) from outside of the wrapper if you want to – so to me that implies that it can be done to alter the tax treatment. Hl can tell you how they’ll charge your drawdown, I imagine it’d be charged at source.
Agree about platform diversification, even if they don’t go bust they may have an IT meltdown and either be unable to pay or unable to remember what you have (keep statements!)
What are peoples view on Trading 212? No platform fees. Reasonable selection of etfs for most passive investors. But not mentioned in this article…
With the Vanguard to iWeb example. How does this need to be timed regarding having 2 separate ISAs open, when you can only open 1 a year? Say I open a new iWeb ISA to transfer my current Vanguard ISA funds to, when am I then able to open another Vanguard ISA to start again?
As a trigger, each time I receive an IT dividend (always at least one in any one month) I print out and file the full details of all my current iWeb IT holdings. Better safe than sorry.
when doing the transfers, you need to pre-agree with both parties to keep the old ISA open and they won’t close it then. Make sure this is understood with both prior to starting the process and keep note of it in case they mess it up.
(previous comment meant at Matthew)
So you can keep both ISAs open when you transfer? Does this need to be timed with the change of tax year then somehow, or can be done anytime (once per year)?
Bob re: Trading 212,
I’ve being using them for just 2 years now as a trading account and no major issues. Sometimes I note they have a reduced share coverage but have a iweb account if the share is really required.
I was thinking of migrating my cavendish-online/fidelity ISA but that’s a much larger sum so I opened the trading account to see how it and they perform. The one fly in the ointment is they don’t do in specie transfers.
It is a bit silly to care about GBP50 per year where the right fund selection can make you GBP5000
@ David – Freetrade if they have the right ETFs for you, or next lowest percentage fee broker that best suits your needs. Due to broker confusion marketing it… depends:
@ Another David – that did make me chuckle. You’re spot on 🙂
@ Dan – yes, you can transfer when you like.
@ Matthew – see ISA transfer ins and outs here:
@ Richard – very nice. As long as you don’t make a stupendous capital gain or end up trading contracts for difference then you win.
@ Jon B – These posts may help:
Does this apply to Vanguard general account —> iWeb Share dealing account too?
The Vanguard to Fidelity Sipp hustle doesn’t look cheaper unless I am misinterpreting something here.
“Benefit from our low 0.35% service fee if you invest more than £7,500, or set up a regular savings plan.”
“If you hold less than £7,500 with Fidelity and do not have a regular savings plan, our service fee is £45 for the year.”
It doesn’t say it’s capped at £45 and has a service fee of 0.35% to Vanguard’s 0.15%.
The Sharedeal Active blag where funds are transferred is £90 with the first year fee knocked off. I can’t see £118.80 anywhere on the fees/sipp section of the site.
I have an LISA with AJ Bell, which unfortunately permits each in specie fund transfer for a fee of £25 (cash is free!)
I think I’ll have to work out how often to do your excellent iWeb transfer ploy from using some big maths, methinks.
I was just looking at the iweb account to find the best fixed fee account and noticed that the £25 one off opening fee is changing to £100 from 1st January 2021.
One thing to watch out for, when you sign up to iWeb, it asks you as part of the application what you want to do with dividends, reinvest, leave as cash, pay to nominated account.
Presumably if you choose reinvest it will hit you with the £5 fee each time, which if you have multiple funds possibly paying out at slightly different times could mount up considerably.
What are people thinking with this, I ticked the ‘leave as cash’ option and then plan to reinvest the lump sum once a year to only pay once, although that leaves the money out the market for the year or so duration, am I missing something here, presume everyone who wants to reinvest their dividends want them back in the market asap?!
I guess you would avoid this if you invest only in Accumulation Funds?
Superb tip, thanks TA. Would that still be beneficial if you have other accounts with Vanguards that you can’t move such as Junior ISA and a general account?
iWeb account opening fee increased to £100 from £25 at the begining of 2021
Oddly, iWeb do not offer the ESG Vanguard funds via their ISA wrapper, but they are available via their Sharedealing account. I was one button-click away from committing to the transfer from Vanguard when I thought to check this.
And now I’m really conflicted. Their set up seems senseless to me.
Thanks for this very useful guide (and associated links). A couple of questions or requests:
1) any reason why you haven’t mentioned the commission-free broker ‘eToro?’
2) Investors Chronicle have published a review of actual costs for using commission-free brokers but I was unable to view it as I am not a subscriber. Any chance of publishing a resume of their findings?
Just been looking into this again for the new financial year and note that iWeb now charge an opening fee of £100 for ISAS and share dealing accounts. Thought this might be useful info!
Firstly, a massive thank-you for enlightening me on this hack. It’s ingenious, and boy, do I love such loopholes (if you can call it one).
Secondly, a question – I have an ISA with HL now, and I wish to transfer the wrapper over to iWeb to save on platform charges. Once I have transferred it, and my HL account is empty, can I carry on investing in the same HL account, but from April 21 tax year? Or do I have to close the account down, and open another with HL to do so?
Thanks in advance.
I am not entitled to SIPP or ISA because I’m not UK tax resident. My investments are in GBP.
Which sites/trading hacks could I use to either drip feed amounts or deposit yearly lump sums, and after a year leave these for ten years?
Firstly a massive thank-you for removing my earlier post that asked similar advice to those that had gone before me. Do I smell?
@sokat1 – Your comment wasn’t deleted. As you’re a brand new poster it goes into moderation, because the site is spammed literally thousands of times a day. Most of these are caught by software but some are left for me to read and approve. Within the couple of hours between your two posts I hadn’t had a chance to check the comment approvals, hence why I’m seeing them both now. Cheers.
Thank-you for letting me know.
I thought that because the link gave me a 404, that the post had been pulled.
Thank-you for approving my post.
@sokat1 — No worries. However it’s hard for us to say anything intelligent about your situation because being offshore your circumstances will be different depending on your tax regime and so on.
In your situation I’d probably set up an account in the country where I’m taxed. I expect it’d save me a lot of hassle in the long-term. But please note this is definitely not personal advice to you. You could talk to a qualified financial advisor to find out what works best in your scenario. Good luck!
I’m paid in GBP into the UK.
I am tax resident in the EU where my earnings are declared. I am loathed to change all my sterling into EUR only to pay exorbitant management fees from the limited brokers available.
Also, I did not ask tax advise. I wish to know the funds/etf broker with the cheapest fees. I have had my funds held in a standard Funds & Shares acc with HL for decades. I still pay in monthly GBP in a direct debit. It just wish to reduce their fees.
So with regard the ‘cheapest sipp hack’, if I sell my Vanguard funds and buy their etfs, then transfer in specie to a new Fidelity sipp their platform charge will be only £45/Yr? Sounds to good to be true.
Hi, I am really confused by this, forgive the maybe stupid questions! Could you please expand a bit on the £16 charge with a 0.15% fee of an ISA yearly allowance? According to my possibly wrong maths 0.15% of £20000 would be £30 of fees a year.
Also while it is recommended to drip-feed this amount, I would also think that this gets invested into one of the Vanguard funds each month or so which would add up on the cost rght? these dont just sit there right?
Finally, when transferring out to IWeb, there is a cost to invest this money with them, wouldnt this be the case? Why would you suggest to transfer this sizeable pot to another account without wanting to re-invest this and gain a % ?
Hi Confused – £16 came from drip-feeding your allowance in monthly e.g. £1666 per month. Your figure assumes you have £20,000 in on day one of the new tax year.
Yes, you pay a management fee for being invested in any given fund. Most of which is captured by the fund’s OCF. But you’ll pay that fund management fee regardless of where your Vanguard fund is held, so it nets out.
I don’t understand what you mean in your final paragraph.
I’ve outlined the fees you’ll pay for investing with iweb in the article, so I’m not sure what your query is.
But, iweb have increased their account opening fee from £25 to £100 since I first wrote this piece so that changes the calculation somewhat.
Hey, thanks for getting back and explaining this its really helpful!
Ah I see, I think this comes to my understanding of how the % interest gets worked out. I assumed it would be charged at the end of the year looking at the overall figure invested, which I think may not be the case.
Yeah okay, I thought I was getting lost somewhere else but that explains the OCF Costs I was seeing in their website.
My last paragraph is referencing the entry “we are not trading” with iWeb and hence not paying the £5 trading charge they have. Wouldn’t we want to indeed re-invest this money once out of Vanguard (trade it) so we can get interest on this?
I think I got it now though, so this would imply that we do transfer the money to iWeb by transferring to the same funds (or buying the same funds) as in Vanguard to avoid paying them the trading charge, as an in-specie transfer right?
@ The Accumulator: I don’t understand your answer to Richard “As long as you don’t make a stupendous capital gain”.
I think he refers to the Trading 212 Stock & Shares ISA. Therefore tax-wrapped?
Thanks for the hack trick!!
What are the buy/sell spreads on the different platforms?
I use Trading 212 and I’ve calculated a spread of 0,15% of the share’s value. Not sure if they can change it as they please?
Of course for a buy and hold investor it’s just a one off!
@shadowlove, you can open a new stocks and shares isa every tax year. It can be with any provider therefore to answer your question , Yes you can.
How does this work with the whole ‘you can only pay into one ISA per year’? E.g. Say I trade all year actively on Vanguard, and at the end of the year or through the year transfer to iWeb, where I do no trades. Can I just keep continually doing this without breaking any ISA rules? Could this article touch on this somewhere? Thanks!
Clara, you can CONTRIBUTE TO ONLY ONE shares ISAin any one tax year. But you can open a second shares isa with another provider in the same tax year and ask the second provider to transfer in your isa from the first provider. And you can ask for any number of isa’s to be transferred in from previous tax years.
@ Confused – you’re right, you’d transfer in specie at no charge. You’d choose accumulation funds too, so that any dividends would be automatically reinvested – no fees.
@ Clara – Yes you’ll be fine, this doesn’t break any of the ISA rules. You might find these pieces helpful:
@ Fidel Sippity #39, yes you are missing something, specifically that Fidelity cap their annual platform charges for ETFs at £45, quoting from their “SIPP charges
& fees” page:
“The same service fee is charged across all of your investments. So, if you hold £300,000 – the fee would be 0.20% across the full amount. For exchange-traded instruments, this portion of the fee is capped at £45 and there is no service fee for these investments when held in the Fidelity Investment Account. There’s also no fee for investments held in a Junior ISA or Junior SIPP.”
So to get the £45 annual platform fee, the investment must be in ETFs only (e.g. for a Vanguard transfer VEVE or VWRL). The Vanguard 0.15% annual fee on a £30k SIPP is £45, so above that you should be saving money with Fidelity, all else being equal. (Though the Vanguard platform fee is inclusive of trading charges, this is not a big deal unless you trade a lot – the Fidelity regular investment fee is only £1.50/month).
I’d be curious to know if anyone has actually done an in-specie SIPP transfer from Vanguard to Fidelity?
Just to make sure I’m understand this correctly. I have started a transfer from Vanguard (Old ISA) to Halifax (New ISA) which means my Vanguard will be empty within a few weeks. As it’s from previous tax years moving from Vanguard to Halifax and I’m not adding new money in to Halifax, is it possible for me to fill up my Vanguard before the end of the tax year and then transfer this across at the start of the next tax year? Then rinse and repeat.
My understanding is that I can open as many S&S ISAs as I like, but can only contribute to one per year, and with this method I’d have to leave the transfer until the start of next tax year. Is this correct?
I currently have more than £30k invested in a Vanguard LifeStrategy fund in a Vanguard SIPP. If I transferred this SIPP to Fidelity, would this count as an “exchange traded instrument”? If so, and if I’ve understood correctly, I think I could pay a flat £45 per annum platform charge instead of Vanguard’s 0.15% platform charge (which would be more than £45pa). Is that right or am I missing something? Many thanks – I’m new to all this!
The LifeStrategy fund is not an Exchange Traded Product. It’s a fund rather than a ETF. If you wanted to take advantage of Fidelity’s ETF cost structure then you’d need to sell the LifeStrategy and invest in equivalent ETFs – one for global equities and one or two for bonds.
With the Vanguard/iWeb ISA hack, what is the sequence of events in order to drip-feed into vanguard and transfer into iWeb?
when starding, do you start with opening a Vanguard account?
My concern is we can open only one SS ISA per fiscal year
If you’re starting from scratch:
April 6 year 1 – open ISA with Vanguard, fill ISA.
This piece explains how to calculate when it’s profitable to transfer your ISA to the cheapest flat-fee alternative:
Once you hit £20,000 then it costs you £30 to hold this with Vanguard.
April 6 in future years – Open this year’s ISA with Vanguard. Fill it.
Once it’s profitable to transfer previous year’s ISAs to the cheapest flat-fee platform then do so.
Keep filling this year’s ISA at Vanguard.
You can have as many stocks and shares ISAs as you like, so long as you don’t put new money into more than one per tax year.
Transferring old ISA money or assets does not:
– Use up your ISA allowance for the current tax year
– Break the one-type-of-ISA-a-tax-year rule
You can transfer any amount of your previous years’ ISA’s value. You can transfer the whole lot into one ISA, or transfer a portion of it into several ISAs, or any other combo you desire.
These pieces will help:
about to open my first s&s isa, was going to use iWeb as there is no ongoing platform fee..
I understand its free to put money into the iWeb isa so i’m confused why this is cheaper to do via Vanguard?
Why is this hack necessary?
Why can’t you just pay it straight into iWeb account, then invest in a fund for £5?
I’m sure i’ve missed something really obvious, sorry
@ C – Vanguard typically costs less for small-ish portfolios because many people make monthly trades.
Those trades cost zero with Vanguard vs £5 a pop at iWeb.
Vanguards 0.15% account fee is generally a lower cost to pay (on small account balances) than monthly trades at iWeb.
But when your portfolio grows large enough – the 0.15% fee is more expensive than trading at iWeb.
The hack enables you to get the best of both worlds – cheap dealing fees at Vanguard and zero platform fee at iWeb.
It depends on how often you trade. If you just invest one large lump sum at iweb and only trade once (for example) then the hack doesn’t work.
Since this piece was written, iWeb now levy a one-off account opening charge of £100.
That’s quite a hurdle to overcome. It may be better to use other brokers in place of iWeb these days.
Thanks, makes perfect sense now. I want to
transfer my cash isa into a stocks and share one somewhere but struggling to chose which.
Iweb may still work out cheaper after a few years as I don’t plan to do that many trades, just a few funds and leave them long term: like lifestrategy60 and a mymap.
Still got a lot more research to do but I’m getting nothing in the cash isa.
Anyone know at what point this hack should be done now that iWeb have a 100 opening fee? Currently with Vanguard but not sure how much I’d need before making this a worthwhile switch/hack.
@ Damian – piece now updated. Sorry it took so long!
Interesting. But if I DCA every month, then is it not actual trading every month. And this then would incure £5 fee for every monthly contribution with iWeb?
@ Peter – Your monthly contributions go into your ISA with Vanguard. When the ISA is full, you transfer it to iWeb for storage. You don’t buy and sell there. Except the occasional rebalance if needed, every few years.
Thanks TA. The Dodl trick with HSBC FTSE All World into iWeb looks like a good trick. Will save a few quid in trading fees. Something for next April.
Attention with Dodl, it’s only available to UK residents AND citizens.
Has anyone found a way to rebalance a DIY InvestEngine with new money?
Worth mentioning as I haven’t seen it highlighted; while not as cheap as the above with Charles Stanley Direct if you make one chargeable trade per month (£11.50 per month) they waive all platform charges across all your accounts.
I do this and simply use the vanguard etf world tracker and pay in my isa contribution every month. You can find it under their rates and charges section on the website
The low cost online brokers put deals through once or twice a day at specific times only. The bigger brokers you can do a deal instantly when the stock market it open.
I’ve just reached my £85,000 protected limit with Vanguard life strategy within iWeb.
If I want to add more, what’s the risk of is there a seconds best ‘safe home’ for my next (hopefully) 85k to start building in?
Get a Vanguard ISA with Vanguard themselves (at £30 a year)?
Howdy, just wondering, if you already have a large SIPP balance with Vanguard such that you’re already hitting the £375 cap, isn’t the platform cost of incremental ISA amounts then nil (because of the cap)? In other words, if you’re already at cap, surely Vanguard will be cheapest because it’s effectively free?
Holding a SIPP & ISA with Freetrade only £9.99 pm with no dealing charges and able to invest in etf, investment trusts and shares.
Since iWeb raised its account opening fee to £100, X-O is cheaper at £60 plus possibly an account closing fee, IIRC. Could you please say a few words as to why “our number one pick is iWeb”?
@ Al Cam – You’re right X-O is cheaper than iWeb. Nice one. I’ll update the article with X-O as the best alternative to InvestEngine. Cheers!
Whilst X-O is cheaper, I am not completely sure if everything you can buy in a Vanguard ISA is also available at X-O, which is, I believe, the case for iWeb.
Yes, it’s hard to tell because X-O’s website is so bare bones and I’ve not personally used them whereas I do have direct personal experience of iWeb.
Have you used X-O?
Given that X-O majors on share dealing I’d guess that you can access most ETFs trading on the LSE.
Article updated now. Thanks again for spotting the X-O opportunity!
Anyone have recommendations re stocks and shares ISA providers that allow buying/selling in companies listed on foreign (non-USA) exchanges eg Canada, Australia etc. The only one I can find is Interactive Investor. What are the other options that allow such trades?
Many thanks to all those who respond.
Think I prefer an ISA provider that …..
has been around for more than a few months, the price of an app developer, some good marketing spiel, and/or seems to be operating out of a broom cupboard.
No, not as yet – but may do eventually as they still seem to offer excellent value for money, albeit with some notable constraints (e.g. no funds).
I too have seen the reviews you refer to, but others in the ‘community’ use X-O and find it acceptable, see e.g. chatter at: https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2022/04/05/seeking-a-new-isa-platform/.
7 circles also appear to rate X-O’s ISA.
FWIW, I too use iWeb and have also “found them to be perfectly acceptable”, so maybe the X-O reviews are a bit of a red herring.
Thanks Al Cam. Good insights. I think the key with any low price service is to not expect too much from them. I don’t require iweb to do anything other than hold assets and allow me to periodically buy an index tracker.
Apart from the £5 a trade, 95p less than X-O, I love the iWeb ability to set Tradeplans 90 days at a time. If, for example, I only want to take profits above RPI, I just set a sell price and value and it reliably sells at the set price. Within an ISA there’s no extra cost above the £5 trade fee, so when the monthly RPI number comes in, one can simply move the price – usually upwards atm. I prefer this to setting a regular withdrawal rate. Once our daily spending fund is topped up the Tradeplan can be left to lapse or simply cancelled.
I find iWeb dead easy to use – and much easier to navigate than our Vanguard account.
@ Onedrew – I’ve heard others speak highly of iWeb tradeplans too. I’ve not used them myself but I agree the website is straightforward to use. Lots of people recoil from its internet 1.0 vibe but you soon adapt!
@ Phil – I don’t trade on foreign exchanges so this isn’t a recommendation but I’ve noticed that AJ Bell have plenty of international investing options.
Interactive Brokers and Degiro too. Freetrade offer European and US. Not sure about Canada and Australia.
@Phil @TA — I have bought Canadian, Swedish, and Dutch shares at II recently and all sorts over the years even with Halifax.
Watch for FX fees with all these platforms though. If you’re the naughty active type who likes to churn your portfolio you might do best to get your overseas exposure via ETFs / funds / investment trusts and restrict your trading antics to UK shares. (Or avoid over-trading but you know that… 😉 )
From memory FX fees are near-larcenous at II, something like 1%. Fine if you’re buying and holding for a few years or more but not if that money is turned over two or three times a year (paying 1% in and out each time!)
Freetrade is a bit cheaper, at least for US stocks (not sure they offer any other foreign-listed shares anyway) but really it’s better to go for something like Interactive Brokers in that case, if you must and if they’ll have you.
Just a thought
The integrity of your platform should be the major consideration especially as we head into harder times
How you assess that risk is a bit beyond my pay grade
What I did was make that assessment first as best I could and then after that consider the cost benefits
Sticking to the middle of the road ie larger institutions even if they cost a bit more has worked for me-so far (aged 76-18 yrs retd)
Presumably and hopefully to big to fail and will be rescued?
Relying on the marketplace and competition to keep providers in line
@xd009 that is a solid point. You wouldn’t want your life savings in free trade for example based on the way they are grubbing around for money at the moment.
I gave InvestEngine a try and while I can’t fault their charges I found that when selling some ETF’s, there was a sometimes a long delay in the order being placed & the EFT being sold, sometimes well over a week. This seemed the especially happen to HSBC ETFs. InvestEngine gave the reason as liquidity issues, however we were not talking of large amounts, as I was trialing the platform at the time. For this reason I’m no longer using the platform.
+1 for iweb Tradeplans, effectively gives you a 90 day limit trade. While I haven’t done much this year due to the bear market, I have managed to allocate to VWRP at sub-£80 levels. Yes, it’s (somewhat) timing the market, but with such uncertainty any discounts are welcome. They also have a range trade function for more active shenanigans.
Damn those socialists talking down the new era of British growth:
Red: “There’s a real risk that international investors lose confidence in the UK government and that leads to a run on sterling,” said Mark Dowding, chief investment officer at BlueBay Asset Management. “The market is asking ‘how are you going to pay for this?’ . . . There’s almost a sense in which that question hasn’t been given a jot of consideration.”
Woke (I mean, Quentin?): “Quentin Fitzsimmons, a portfolio manager at T Rowe Price, added “The true cost of this massive borrow-to-spend binge is likely be high. Possibly very high,” he warned. “As the old saying goes, ‘it takes forever to gain credibility, which can also be lost in an instant’ . . . Sterling and the gilt market have very long memories.”
Foreign: “Put simply, it is American and European pensioners that will need to purchase the extra issuance of gilts,” said George Saravelos, global head of FX research at Deutsche Bank.”
I for one think people just need to stop talking GREAT Britain down.
Quite right, Neverland. As the great General Melchett said: “If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through.”
Note for anyone who would like to rebalance their InvestEngine DIY portfolio with new money:
– 1) Calculate roughly how much £ you want to add to each fund to rebalance
– 2) Make the sum, assign a percentage of that sum to each fund based the calculation in 1)
– 3) Edit your portfolio percentages to (Options/Edit Portfolio) to match the percentage from 2) rounded to an integer. Note that it won’t trigger any automatic rebalance.
– 4) Fund the total amount from 1) to your InvestEngine account
– 5) Invest the £, they will be split accordingly to the new percentages you’ve set in 3)
– 6) Once the transaction is through, edit the portfolio percentages again to restore as they were
Hi, not sure if anyone will see this in time, but just in case, I see that iWeb are currently offering £100 cashback for opening a new Share/ISA account in Dec 22 and funding with £5k or more (incl transfers in from non Lloyds group accts) in the first 6 months.
If it works, this will effectively cover the fee to open the account.
Might be useful to someone.
Thanks ‘AlwaysLearnin’ 🙂
So, decisions between iWeb and ‘Invest Engine’ for the best free ISA account…
Do you think I can sign up now, keep drip feeding with vanguard and within the 6 months do the transfer to iWeb?
The iWeb cashback T&C states the cashback is given if 5k are transferred/funded within 6 months but I’m not clear if we need to fund something upon opening of the ISA ?
I don’t know the answer for certain, however the current terms imply a minimum balance of £250, but from a quick search I didn’t see any mention of that in the new terms from Jan 23… They also indicate that they would contact you before closing an account.
You can also transfer just the non current tax year contributions if you choose, therefore if you have any 21/22 (or earlier) tax year amounts in Vanguard then you could transfer those straight away. If you’ve just got 22/23 amounts, in reality you’d ‘only’ need to wait 3-4 months – ie open an iWeb acct later Dec, then request a transfer of previous years subscription amounts after Apr 6th (perhaps ensuring there’s an amount in Vanguard for the 23/24 year before transferring, to ensure Vanguard keep your account open?). Given iWeb quote up to 8 weeks for stock transfers themselves, I’m not sure 3 months is too much of a stretch…(?)
Agree with xxdo9 @post#98, that your money is only as safe as your platform provider, so saving a few quid in fees a year may not be worthwhile if the platform goes down the swanee. Although any platform could go that way, there are obviously some less well established/less assets that would be more likely and although I don’t know much about its past, Invest Engine seems more like a new kid on the block rather than an established (safer) old hand to me.
Think it’s the same with ETF’s which although can often be cheaper than funds, as majority not UK domiciled they have little, if any, real protection (and even Vanguard are vague on this subject with theirs). I know it’s rare for it to happen but not impossible and many things have happened in the past, like pension scandals as well as during banking crisis when a savings bank of mine went kapput. (Luckily did not have more than 85K so got money back.) So got to assess your risk in that are the small amounts you are shaving in fees, worth maybe losing a large portion of your portfolio that you will never get back – no matter how many fees you work tirelessly to shave down in the future.
InvestEngine is covered by the same legal protections as other UK brokers – client assets are ring-fenced and held by a separate nominee, and FSCS compensation would cover brokerage failure up to the £85k limit. The legal structure for ETFs vs funds is similar – ETF client assets are also ring-fenced and held by a nominee. The main difference is that most ETFs are domiciled in the Republic of Ireland, which limits compensation to €20k in the event of a collapse, versus the £85k limit you’d be eligible for if a UK domiciled unit trust fund collapsed. Vanguard globally holds over $280 billion of assets in ETFs, and the Vanguard “FTSE All-World” ETF alone holds shares worth over £13 billion, so ETFs are not a small scale operation, and the professional view would be that a collapse is extremely unlikely.
Having said that, the full UK FSCS legal protection covering both brokerage and fund failure is a nice thing to have, and iWeb (which has no annual percentage fee) is a good choice. If you are with another provider (or have a SIPP), and paying a larger annual fee just for the FSCS protection, then it’s worth thinking about how much this costs you – e.g. if you pay £150/year more for an extra £67k of protection (£85k-€20k), then you’re actually paying 0.22% a year for that insurance. If you think it’s worth it, that’s ok, but if you judge the risk of collapse so unlikely that you’d rather forego the insurance and keep the money for yourself, that’s also ok.
@C – I have investigated InvestEngine and the protection they offer fully and they do not have much FSCS protection, aside from for money transfers only.
There is no such FSCS brokerage failure protection if IE go bust or if an ETF fund manager goes bust. I have posted all the information I gathered which includes the actual pertinent emails between IE and myself on the Monevator article by TA “Investor Compensation Schemes are you covered?”