It’s a little over a year now since I first started experimenting with fee-free investing apps. I started out with Trading 212 last spring before dabbling with FreeTrade and Orca. Today, it’s time to explore another stock market app – Stake. In this Stake app review, I’ll talk you through how easy it was to sign up, how much it costs to use, and compare it to its competitors.
This post includes affiliate links. This means that if you sign up to Stake using one of the links in this post, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Stake app review
What is Stake?
Stake is an Australia based commission-free brokerage providing investors with access to the US stock market without having to worry about costly fees and trading charges. The investing app currently serves 330,000 customers across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Brazil.
Is Stake legit?
Yes! When investing money in the stock market and sharing details with a financial services company, there are two key criteria you want it to meet.
A. Is it regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority?
B. Is it part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)?
Stake ticks both these boxes so you can be sure the FCA will hold it to certain standards and your money will be protected by the FSCS up to the value of £85,000.
What are Stake’s key features?
In a nutshell, Stake offers the following:
- Commission-free access to over 6,000 US stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
- No fees on any trades
- Advanced order types
- Fractional trading
- Analyst traings
- Price targets
- Full company financials
Get a free stock worth up to $170
Like many investment apps, Stake has a free stock offer for new customers.
You’ll get a free stock worth up to $170 when you sign up and fund your account within 24 hours with at least £50.
I wish I could tell you I hit the jackpot and won big when I first signed up but unfortunately, I wound up with a Trivago worth just £3, but hopefully you’ll do better!
How easy is it to sign up and fund your account?
Signing up to Stake and funding my account was a really quick and easy process. I managed to download the app, fill in all my details and fund my account in less than 10 minutes.
Stake uses Open Banking technology, meaning you can deposit money into your account with a few clicks.
How much does Stake cost?
There are two account options available through the Stake app – a free account and a ‘Black’ account which costs $9 a month.
Free Stake account
Buying and selling stocks on Stake is completely free, making it ideal for both frequent traders and new investors alike. If you’re a newbie looking to take your first steps into the stock market but you don’t want to pay expensive fees every time you buy or sell, this could be perfect for you.
With Stake, trades are completely free. You will get charged a 0.5% FX fee on transfers, though. You’ll notice this when you deposit or withdraw money from the platform. There’s an express funding option for those who want to ensure the money arrives in their account by the time the US market next opens. If you choose this option, you’ll be charged an additional 0.5% fee.
Here’s how Stake’s fees compare to fees from Interactive Investor, Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell, Trading 212 and Freetrade. This table was provided to me by Stake’s team.
While other brokers are ‘commission-free’, some will charge an FX fee every time as US stock is traded by a UK investor. This fee will be taken when money is converted to USD or from USD to your own currency. At the time of writing, Freetrade charges a 0.45% FX fee on all US trades and Trading 212 charges 0.15% FX on all US trades.
Stake’s premium account Stake Black costs $9 a month and is designed for more experienced investors who’ll make use of additional features and in depth information about the US stock market. Investors will still have access to unlimited commission free trading on US stocks, fractional shares, and ETFs.
One feature in particular that I think experienced traders will love is the ability to trade instantly using unsettled funds. This feature was implemented after existing customers asked the platform to provide more flexibility to those making regular trades. Stake’s willingness to make the change is promising and suggests they’re open to feedback.
As I’m not a frequent trader myself, I haven’t upgraded to Stake Black and therefore can only review the Stake app, rather than its premium offering. Before making the upgrade from the free account to Black, it’s worth considering whether the $9 a month will affect your profits. For some traders, the cost will be worth the benefits the premium account offers. For others, it may be worth sticking to the free version.
How does Stake differ from other investing platforms?
In the UK, investors typically have two main types of investment platform to choose from.
The first involves traditional investment brokers such as Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell. While more traditional brokers have spent decades building investors’ trust, I’d argue that many have failed to modernise their services to cater for a young, tech-focused audience.
Stake argues that while trading and investing apps have provided users with a more seamless user-experience, they “lack the sophistication that many investors are looking for to maximise the market.”
In a document sent to me by Stake, they argued: “At Stake, investors don’t need to settle for one or the other- we deliver a sophisticated and seamless experience. We use the best of technology to provide the seamless user-experience investors should expect, whilst also delivering the more sophisticated features that allow investors to better understand and seize opportunities in the market.”
How is Stake better than its competitors?
Trading 212 and FreeTrade are arguably Stake’s biggest competitors. So how does it measure up? In the previous section, I shared a quote from Stake which argued their platform delivers more sophisticated features that allow investors to better understand the market. Let’s delve into that a little deeper…
Stake has a greater number of US stocks available than both Trading 212 and Freetrade, meaning those who want a broader choice and as few limitations as possible might prefer this platform over the others.
While some investors choose to buy stocks from companies they know and love, others like to delve a little deeper. Sophisticated investors who understand the importance of exploring and company financials are unlikely to be disappointed by Stake’s data offering.
Stake blesses traders with analyst ratings and price targets sourced from different research houses. Live market data and company fundamentals are also easy to access on the app.
Users also have the ability to filter down US stocks by sector and then click into popular searches.
If this Stake app review inspires you to download the app, I’d recommend checking out ‘The Wrap’, its weekly breakdown of the US stock market. Whether you’re an experienced investor or a newbie exploring this world for the first time, there’s plenty to learn.
Stake customer service review
If you’re in need of customer service support, there’s a Contact Us feature on the app. I haven’t had a reason to get in touch with Stake’s customer service team myself, so can’t say how speedy or effective this service is. I would like to see Stake introduce a live chat function and phone number so customers have that little bit more flexibility. Stake has already shown a willingness to make changes based on customer feedback and online reviews so perhaps this is something that’ll be introduced at a later date!
Stake app review summary
One of the best things about Stake’s free account is the cost. Although it charges 0.05% for deposits and withdrawals, offering completely free trades could make this a cost-effective platform for regular traders.
At first, I didn’t find the app as easy to navigate as some of the other investing apps I’ve tried, but I soon got the hang of it. Moving around the different functions became more intuitive with practise.
After trying a few different investing apps myself and speaking to friends and followers about their favourite apps, it’s been interesting to see how varied everyone’s preferences are. I find Trading 212 much easier than Freetrade, for example, but many people I’ve spoken to say they find Trading 212 confusing but Freetrade is straightforward and easy to understand.
As Stake continues to grow, it’ll be interesting to see which of these trading apps people flock to.