Barclays Review 2023

  • 8.6

Barclays review summary

Barclays is a UK-based bank. Barclays Smart Investor has low stock, fund and bond fees. The non-trading fees are low as well, no inactivity or withdrawal fees are charged. Barclays has a solid background as it has a long history, is listed on multiple stock exchanges, has a banking background, and is regulated by top-tier authorities. Finally, the fundamental research tools, such as analysis and news, are high-quality. It is a good choice for beginner investors. On the other hand, Barclays Smart Investor lacks products, like options or CFDs. Unless you have a current account with Barclays, you can’t manage your investments on the go as there is no mobile trading platform. The customer service is very poor and it lasts very long for solving a problem. BrokerChooser gave Barclays a 4.3/5 rating based on analyzing 500+ criteria and testing via opening a live account.

Barclays is a regulated broker, it is overseen by a top-tier financial regulator in the UK . Barclays is also covered by investor protection in selected jurisdictions. We at BrokerChooser always test brokers with real money, including the withdrawal process.

You can’t open an account at Barclays if you live in Pakistan. See the best alternative available in your country.

Barclays pros and cons

Pros Cons
Low fees Limited product portfolio
Solid company background Current bank account is needed for mobile platform
Great fundamental research Poor customer support

Barclays main highlights

🗺️ Country of regulationUK
💰 Trading fees classLow
💰 Inactivity fee chargedNo
💰 Withdrawal fee amount$0
💰 Minimum deposit$0
🕖 Time to open an account>3 days
💳 Deposit with bank cardAvailable
👛 Depositing with electronic walletAvailable
💱 Number of base currencies supported1
🎮 Demo account providedNo
🛍️ Products offeredStock, ETF, Fund, Bond
Our overall barclays-review rating
  • 8.6

  • Fees
    7.2
  • Account opening
    7
  • Deposit and withdrawal
    8
  • Web Trading platform
    7
  • Markets and products
    6.4
  • Research
    8
  • Customer service
    2
  • Education
    3
Barclays review

Fees

Barclays Smart Investor provides low trading fees for stocks, ETFs, bonds, and funds. It’s also great that no deposit, withdrawal, or inactivity fees are charged. On the other hand, there is a volume-based monthly customer fee for holding assets.

Pros Cons
Low stock, ETF, fund, and bond fees Volume-based monthly customer fee
No withdrawal fee
No inactivity fee
Barclays fees snapshot
Assets Fee level Fee terms
US stock Low £6 per trade
EURUSD Not available
Mutual fund Low Online transaction fee is £3, plus monthly service fee of 0.2% p.a. of assets held, with a monthly minimum of £4, and maximum of £125
Inactivity fee Low No inactivity fee

How we ranked fees

We ranked Barclays Smart Investor’s fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.

First, let’s go over some basic terms related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees and non-trading fees.

  • Trading fees occur when you trade. These can be commissions, spreads, financing rates and conversion fees.
  • Non-trading fees include charges not directly related to trading, like withdrawal fees or inactivity fees.

In the sections below, you will find the most relevant fees of Barclays Smart Investor for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing the most important fees are commissions.

We also compared Barclays’s fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Hargreaves Lansdown and Charles Stanley Direct. This selection is based on objective factors such as products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc. See a more detailed rundown of Barclays alternatives.

To have a clear overview of Barclays Smart Investor, let’s start with the trading fees.

Barclays Smart Investor trading fees

Barclays Smart Investor trading fees are low for all asset classes compared to its direct competitors.

It’s also great that the fee structure is transparent and easy to understand.

Stock and ETF trading fees

Barclays Smart Investor offers generally low stock and ETF commissions compared to other brokers we tested.

Barclays stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade
 BarclaysHargreaves LansdownCharles Stanley Direct
US stock $6.8 $13.5
UK stock $6.8 $13.5 $13.0
German stock $6.8 $13.5

Barclays charges a £6 per trade fee for each online transaction. You can also set automated regular investments, in which case the fee is just £1 per trade. It costs £25 to initiate a representative-assisted trade by phone.

If you invest in international stocks/ETFs, there is a high FX conversion fee charged (up to 1%).

Besides, there is a so-called customer fee, which is based on the value of your assets held. The charge is 0.1% per year with a monthly minimum fee of £4 and a maximum of £125.

Fund fees

Barclays Smart Investor fund fees are low, however its closest competitors offer more favourable fees.

Barclays Smart Investor commission for a $2,000 fund purchase
 BarclaysHargreaves LansdownCharles Stanley Direct
Mutual fund $3.4 $0.0 $0.0

Barclays charges £3 per trade for each online fund transaction. The same conditions apply to regular investments and phone trades as above.

Similarly to stock and ETF fees, Barclays charges the customer fee. The charge is 0.2% per year with a monthly minimum fee of £4 and a maximum of £125.

Bond fees

Barclays has generally low bond fees.

Barclays commission of a $10,000 government bond trade
 BarclaysHargreaves LansdownCharles Stanley Direct
EU/UK government bond $6.8 $13.5

The same fee structure applies to bonds as to stock and ETFs.

Non-trading fees

Barclays Smart Investor has low non-trading fees. You will not be charged because of inactivity, and there are also no deposit or withdrawal fees. 

For most account types, there is no administration or account fee. If you open a SIPP account, there is a separate, £125 + VAT annual pension account administration charge. This comprises the third-party administration fee charged by AJ Bell, which is collected by Barclays and paid to AJ Bell. 

However, there is a high conversion fee if you invest in international stocks/ETFs. FX fees are volume-tiered (the more you convert, the lower fee would be)

  • 1.00% up to £5k
  • 0.75% above £5k and up to £10k
  • 0.50% above £10k and up to £25k
  • 0.25% above £25k and up to £250k
  • 0.10% above £250k
Barclays Smart Investor non-trading fees
 BarclaysHargreaves LansdownCharles Stanley Direct
Account fee No No No
Inactivity fee No No No
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0
Barclays review

Account opening

Barclays Smart Investor offers a fully digital account opening with no minimum deposit. On the negative side, the account verification took long and only UK residents can open an account with Barclays.

Pros Cons
Fully digital Slow
No minimum deposit Account opening only for UK residents

What is the minimum deposit at Barclays?

Barclays Smart Investor has no minimum deposit. It’s great if you would like to start using or testing Barclays Smart Investor service with a lower amount. 

Account types

Barclays Smart Investor provides different account types, including tax-advantaged accounts. 

Barclays Smart Investor account types
Account TypeShort Description
Investment Account
  • Standard investment account
Investment ISA
  • Investment account that has an annual ISA allowance up to £20,000, providing tax-free returns
Investment Saver
  • Technical interest-bearing account where your uninvested cash is held 
SIPP Account
  • Personal Retirement account that exempts you from capital gains tax and income tax
  • You only can access your funds after you reach the retirement of 55 years
  • £125 + VAT annual pension account administration charge

In this review, we tested the Investment Account.

How to open your account  

Barclays Smart Investor has a fully digital account opening process. The online registration took ~10-15 minutes for us. However, the account verification took more than a week for us.

The steps of Barclays account opening:

  1. Add personal information, like date of birth 
  2. Add further personal information, like nationality or address
  3. Link your bank account to your account
  4. If they manage to electronically verify your details you won’t even need to provide proof of ID or proof of address.

Barclays review – Account opening

Our best alternatives to Barclays are:

The highest ranking competitors are:

  1. Hargreaves Lansdown full review
  2. Charles Stanley Direct full review
  3. Interactive Investor full review
  4. AJ Bell Youinvest full review
Barclays review

Deposit and withdrawal

Depositing and withdrawal is free of charge with a debit card or bank transfer and is usually processed fast. On the other hand, you can’t use electronic wallets and we experienced some difficulties having different bank accounts accepted.

Pros Cons
Credit/Debit card available Missing electronic wallets
Free withdrawal
No deposit fee

Deposit fees and options

Barclays Smart Investor charges no deposit fees and you can transfer money via bank transfer or debit card.

Barclays deposit options
Barclays Hargreaves Lansdown Charles Stanley Direct
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card Yes Yes Yes
Electronic wallets Yes  No No

If you add funds with a debit card, the amount will be instantly visible in your account, while paying in via bank transfer can take up to two business days. Apple Pay can be used as an electronic wallet.

You can only deposit money from accounts that are in your name and you need to check which accounts Barclays Smart Investor accepts. 

Barclays Smart Investor withdrawal fees and options

Barclays Smart Investor charges no withdrawal fees. You can only withdraw funds to a nominated bank account. 

Barclays withdrawal fees and options
 BarclaysHargreaves LansdownCharles Stanley Direct
Bank transferYes  YesYes
Credit/debit cardNoNoNo
Electronic walletsNo  No No 
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

How long does it take to withdraw money from Barclays Smart Investor? We tested the bank transfer withdrawal and it took 2 business days.

You can only withdraw money to accounts in your name.

How do you withdraw money from Barclays Smart Investor?

  • Log in to your Account
  • Go to ‘My Hub’ and click on ‘Portfolio’ to get started 
  • Click on the Account (if you have more) from which you want to withdraw funds
  • Click on ‘Withdraw’ and follow the instructions
    • You need to select whether it is a one-time or regular withdrawal 
    • Set the account you want to withdraw funds from
    • Select the account where you want to transfer the funds
    • Set the GBP amount to be withdrawn and click ‘Review’
  • Confirm your withdrawal request
Barclays review

Web trading platform

Barclays Smart Investor has a user-friendly and well-designed web trading platform. It also offers good search functions and transparent order confirmation. However, the platform is not customizable and there is no two-step login option.

Pros Cons
User-friendly No two-step (safer) login
Clear fee report Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
Good search function
Barclays platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 3.5 stars Yes
Mobile No
Desktop No

Barclays Smart Investor provides its own-developed web trading platform. This platform is available in English.

Look and feel

The Barclays Smart Investor web trading platform is user-friendly and well-designed.

On the negative side, the web trading platform is not customizable at all.

Barclays review – Web trading platform

Login and security

Barclays Smart Investor does not provide secure two-factor authentication upon login. Instead, you need to give your surname, membership number, your passcode, and two random letters of your memorable word.

You need to be careful when entering these data, as too many failed logins may get you locked out of your account, resulting in a lengthy process to restore your credentials that may ultimately involve a trip in-person to a Barclays branch.

Search functions

One of the strengths of the Barclays Smart Investor web trading platform is its search capabilities. The filters are handy, allowing you to choose your asset class and define further specific search criteria. 

 

 

Barclays review – Web trading platform – Search

Placing orders

You can use the following order types:

  • Best – basically it’s a market order
  • Quote and Deal – similar to the market order, but you can see the Quote your order would be executed and you can accept or reject it
  • Limit
  • Stop
  • Trailing Stop
  • Regular investment.

To get a better understanding of these terms, read this overview of order types.

You can also use a Good till’ date order time limit.

Barclays review – Web trading platform – Order panel

Alerts and notifications

We couldn’t set price alerts and notifications. We found an ‘Investment alerts’ section under the ‘News and Research’, however, we couldn’t make the required registration.

It would be much easier if you could set the price alerts directly if you click on an asset.

Portfolio and fee reports

Barclays Smart Investor web platform offers transparent fee and portfolio reports. You can find these reports if you click on ‘Manage account’.

Barclays review

Mobile trading platform

There is no dedicated mobile trading platform for Barclays Smart Investor. The only way to manage your portfolio if you download Barclay’s mobile app. However, to use this app, you need a Barclays Current Account. Because of this additional requirement, we haven’t reviewed Barclay’s app.

Barclays review

Desktop trading platform

Barclays Smart Investor does not offer a desktop trading platform.

Barclays review

Markets and products

Barclays Smart Investor offers stocks, ETFs, bonds, and mutual funds. Unfortunately, the product portfolio covers only the UK market and the number of available products is far from robust.

Barclays Smart Investor asset classes
Barclays Hargreaves Lansdown Charles Stanley Direct
Stocks Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No No
Funds Yes Yes Yes
Bonds Yes  Yes Yes
Options No  No No
Futures No No No
CFDs No   No No
Crypto No No No
 

Barclays Smart Investor’s product offering is quite limited compared to its competitors; in fact, it only offers UK stocks, ETFs, funds, and bonds.

Stocks and ETFs

Barclays Smart Investor gives access to the UK, US, and European stocks.

Barclays stock and ETF selection
 BarclaysHargreaves LansdownCharles Stanley Direct
Stock markets (#) 11 21 1
ETFs (#) 1,000 2,500 1,700

You can invest into the following markets: 

  • LSE, NASDAQ, NYSE, Toronto, Toronto Ventures, Xetra, Euronext Amsterdam, Euronext Paris, Bolsa de Madrid, NASDAQ Stockholm, and SIX Swiss.

Funds

Barclays Smart Investor offers approximately 2,500 UK mutual funds. The number of available mutual funds is well below what its competitors offer. 

Barclays Smart Investor mutual fund selection
 BarclaysHargreaves LansdownCharles Stanley Direct
Fund providers (#) 160 180 280

Bonds

In comparison with similar brokers, the bond selection is average. Barclays Smart Investor provides UK corporate and government bonds.

Barclays Smart Investor bond selection
 BarclaysHargreaves LansdownCharles Stanley Direct
Bonds (#) 140 190 180
Barclays review

Research

Barclays Smart Investor provides good quantitative data, great analysis, and high-quality news. However, charting tools have poor quality.

Pros Cons
Trading ideas Limited interactive charting
Data on asset fundamentals
Quality news flow

Trading ideas

Barclays Smart Investor provides trading ideas for users in the form of ‘Investment ideas’ articles that can be found in the ‘Investment ideas and strategies’ section. These articles are written by Barclays’ own expert team and present their views on recent events and what it could mean for your investments.

Barclays review – Research – Recommendations

Fundamental data

Barclays Smart Investor offers a wide set of fundamental data on individual stocks, ETFs, and funds; and also has a Market Overview section where you can have a broader look at the daily performance of major stock and currency markets.

Barclays review – Research – Fundamental data

Besides the legacy platform (pictured above) you will find a new one, currently covering shares only, when you click on “News and research” then “Research centre”. 

Barclays review – Research – Share fundamentals

Charting

Barclays Smart Investor offers very limited charting tools, allowing you to use only their pre-defined charting settings. Technical Indicators can be added to the charts, but the interface is poorly designed, with little to no editing or customization options. 

Barclays review – Research – Charting

News feed

Barclays Smart Investor Market News is one of the strong points of the research section. You will receive an update on all London Stock Exchange corporate news and have access to plenty of insightful fast facts via Sharecast News.

Barclays review

Customer service

Barclays’s customer service is very poor and it lasts very long for solving a problem.

Pros Cons
None Very slow phone support
Live chat was not working
No response to email
No 24/7 support

You can contact Barclay’s Smart Investor via:

  • live chat
  • phone
  • e-mail

Barclays Smart Investor has a very poor customer service and it lasts very long for solving a problem. A simple location change last half an hour for the support and it wasn’t updated by the time we finished the call as they still need to fill a form. It was available only in working hours.

During this time live chat and email were not working.

We missed 24/7 availability. You can contact the customer support between Monday and Friday, from 07:30 to 19:00 (18:00 on Friday).

Barclays review – Customer Service

Barclays review

Education

Barclays Smart Investor has limited educational tools. You can read useful articles and watch general educational videos. However, there are no demo accounts, platform tutorial videos, or webinars.

Pros Cons
Educational videos No demo account
Quality educational articles No trading platform tutorial videos
No webinars

At Barclays Smart Investor you can learn in the following ways:

  • General how-to educational videos
  • Quality educational articles

Barclays Smart Investor’s educational materials mainly focus on beginners, with categories such as ‘New to investing’, ‘Accounts explained’, or ‘Investments Explained’. The articles are easy to read and understand, though sometimes they can be hard to find on the site as it is not structured well. Video tutorials cover ‘How to’ themes like managing your investment settings, opening an account, funding your account, or using the ‘Research Center’.

Unfortunately, Smart Investor does not provide demo trading.

Barclays review – Education

Barclays review

Safety

Barclays is regulated by the top-tier FCA and is a listed company with a banking background, providing a high level of safety for clients.

Pros Cons
High level of investor protection None
Banking background
All clients belong to a top-tier financial authority

Is Barclays Smart Investor regulated?

Yes, it is regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

Is Barclays Smart Investor safe?

To be certain if a brokerage is safe, we highly advise that you check two facts:

  • how you are protected if something goes wrong
  • the background and ownership structure of the broker 

How you are protected

As a Smart Investor client, you are covered by Barclays Investment Solutions Limited, which is regulated by the FCA. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) investor protection protects against the loss of cash and securities in case the broker goes bust. The limit of FSCS protection is £85,000.

Barclays Smart Investor investor protection
Country of clientsProtection amountRegulatorLegal entity
All clients£85,000Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)Barclays Investment Solutions Limited

Background

Barclays Smart Investor was established in 1992 and is the investment subsidiary of Barclays Bank UK Plc, a member of the Barclays banking group that can trace its origins back to the 17th century. The longer track record a broker has, the more proof we have that it has successfully survived previous financial crises.

The fact that the parent company has a banking license means that Barclays Smart Investor is also subject to tougher regulations than brokers. Moreover, Barclays is listed on multiple stock exchanges, which is a big plus for safety as it releases financial statements regularly and transparently.

Overall, having a parent company with a banking background, being listed on a stock exchange, and regulated by top-tier authority are all great signs for Barclays Smart Investor’s safety.

Barclays review

Bottom line

All in all, Barclays Smart Investor is a transparent and secure brokerage held by a financially stable global UK bank and is regulated by the top-tier FCA. 

We rated Smart Investors favorably because of its low fees, the safety it provides for account holders and great fundamental research.

Some of its drawbacks include a limited product offering and missing mobile trading platform, as well as poor customer support.

If you are looking for a solid, safe online broker, you can go ahead and give Barclays Smart Investor a try, as the trading and non-trading fees are generally low, the security of your funds are protected to a high level, and the account opening is fully online. 

Barclays review

FAQ

We recommend Barclays for long-term investors looking for a broker with low fees and solid background.

Below you can find links to all aspects of Barclays in this comprehensive collection.

Lower fees, lower costs?

We detailed this in our Barclays fees article.

What about the minimum deposit?

Our ultimate guide to the Barclays minimum deposit is updated regularly.

How to start your Barclays account?

Look no further than our evaluation of the Barclays account opening.

Is the quality of customer service satisfactory?

All you need to know about the Barclays customer service.

Legit or scam?

Is Barclays legit features all the key aspects you need to look at to see if a broker is safe and legit.

Free or premium? Or both?

A glance at actual costs and whether Barclays is really free.

Is this broker good for beginners?

We checked it in Is Barclays good for beginners.

Should you buy your silver bullets on Barclays?

Research for silver bugs in the Silver buy on Barclays guide

I want to trade options, are they available at Barclays?

We explored the topic in Can you trade options on Barclays?

What is the minimum account balance at Barclays?

Check out the current account balance requirements at Barclays in our What is the minimum account balance at Barclays article.

Looking for commission and fees data for Barclays?

We collected them in Barclays commission and fees.

How do you withdraw money from Barclays?

We tested it and collected the options and costs in How to withdraw money on Barclays.

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