Barclays Smart Investor Review 2024

12 min Read Published: 03 Apr 2024

Barclays mortgage reviewIf you want to invest with one of the oldest banks in the UK, Barclays might be the way to go. It's been around since the 1690s but it has continued to innovate, launching the world's first cash machine back in 1967 followed by the UK's first debit card back in 1987. The bank's heritage and history of innovation may make it an attractive choice for some.

In this independent Barclays Smart Investor review, we'll take a look at Barclays' online investment service and its key features including the products on offer and the charges you might be expected to pay. We're also going to take a look at some alternatives including AJ Bell Dodl*, Hargreaves Lansdown* and Interactive Investor*.

What is Barclays Smart Investor?

Smart Investor is an investing service provided by Barclays, designed to help its customers achieve their financial goals. Barclays customers can view their investments as well as their other bank accounts all in one place. Smart Investor provides access to individual shares as well as ready-made funds so could work well for passive investors as well as advanced investors happy to create their own portfolio.

Features like Barclays 'Price Improver' gives the best price available when buying or selling assets meaning around 93% of qualifying deals in 2023 got a better price than the quoted price on the London Stock Exchange. The Barclays Research Centre provides a range of resources to with help investment decisions including real-time pricing, the latest market movements, past performance data, and in-depth information on various companies with advanced charting and virtual portfolios.

Barclays Smart Investor was named the Best Stocks & Shares ISA Provider at the 2022 Online Money Awards. It also won the Best SIPP at the 2022 Shares Awards.

What are Barclays Smart Investor's key features?

  • Barclays Price Improver - gives investors the best price available with selected partners when buying or selling certain assets
  • Barclays Research Centre - provides a range of resources to help track portfolios and make investment decisions
  • Barclays Funds List - shortlists the best funds to invest in across 13 different investment sectors
  • Barclays Ready-Made funds - five pre-made funds with a range of risk levels
  • 10 international exchanges - 0pportunity to invest in 10 international exchanges across the world
  • Offers a Stocks and Shares ISA, SIPP and a General Investment Account

What products and services does Barclays Smart Investor offer?

Smart Investor offers a range of services for investors including a Stocks and Shares ISA, Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPP) and a General Investment Account (GIA). Smart Investor charges an annual fee of 0.25% on investments up to £200,000 and 0.05% on investments above £200,000. This applies to all investments held across your Barclays Smart Investor account. There are also underlying funds charges depending on the types of funds you choose to invest in.

Barclays Smart Investor Stocks and Shares ISA

The Smart Investor Stocks and Shares ISA from Barclays allows you to invest up to £20,000 each tax year and provides access to a number of different types of investments including 5 risk-rated ready-made portfolios, funds, bonds, shares and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). You can access your Investment ISA within the Barclays App at any time and make trades on the go. You can either top up as and when you like or set up a Direct Debit which you can pause and change whenever you want. If you're holding uninvested cash within your Stocks and Shares ISA, you'll earn 1.65% AER/gross per year.

Barclays General Investment Account

There are no annual deposit limits with a Barclays' General Investment Account and you can make free withdrawals at any time. Minimum deposits start at £50 but you can start investing with a one-off payment if you wish. Alternatively, you can set up regular direct debits that can be changed or paused at any time.

A General Investment Account could work well if you've maxed out your ISA allowance for the year (currently £20,000). However, it doesn't pay any interest on uninvested cash, unlike the SIPP and ISA.

If you want to earn interest on your uninvested cash with this type of account, you'll be able to do so via the Investment Saver, an account available to customers with a GIA. You can opt to have uninvested cash in your GIA transferred to the Investment Saver at the end of each day to allow you to earn interest on it. You'll be able to trade without moving funds back, as cash is automatically moved between accounts to fund your trades as needed.

Barclays Self-Invested Personal Pension

Barclays offers a flexible Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) for people looking to build a retirement pot or consolidate their pensions in one place. The Barclays SIPP allows you to select from more than 8,000 investments, meaning you can build a portfolio that suits your investment needs. If you hold uninvested cash within your SIPP, you'll also earn 1.65% AER/gross per year.

Barclays' SIPP is managed and administered by AJ Bell and it was voted the Best SIPP Provider at the 2022 Shares Awards. Charges include an administration fee of £125 +VAT each year plus the Smart Investor customer fee, which amounts to 0.25% for investments up to £200,000 and 0.05% for investments above £200,000.

What can you invest in with Barclays Smart Investor?

The Barclays Smart Investor allows you to invest in more than 8,000 investments, including ready-made funds, Barclays Funds (selected by Barclays' investment specialists), bonds, shares and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Barclays Funds List

Barclays' investment experts have selected a range of funds with solid reputations in several different investment sectors. The Barclays Funds list contains active funds which are run by third-party managers, as well as tracker funds and multi-manager funds run by world-leading fund managers. Barclays has 13 different fund sectors and there is a selection of funds within each sector to choose from. These include:

  • Asia ex-Japan
  • Emerging Markets
  • ESG
  • Europe
  • Global Bonds
  • Global Equity
  • Japan
  • North America
  • Specialist
  • Sterling Bonds
  • Targeted Absolute Return
  • UK Equity - Growth
  • UK Equity - Income

The table below is an overview of some of the active, tracker, and multi-manager funds available via Barclays, including their fees and KIID risk score (a KIID score of 1 is considered low-risk, while a KIID score of 7 is considered high-risk). You'll notice that tracker funds tend to be the cheapest as they are designed to simply mirror the performance of certain indices and therefore require less active management.

Full lists of all available funds are available via the Barclays Smart Investor website.

Fund name Fund type  Ongoing cost  KIID risk score  Fund sector 
Fidelity Asia Fund Active 0.94% 6 Asia (ex-Japan)
Fidelity Index Emerging Markets Fund Tracker 0.20% 6 Emerging Markets
Barclays Multi-Asset Sustainable Fund Multi-manager 1.39% 4 ESG
BlackRock Continental European Income Fund Active 0.92% 6 Europe
Vanguard Global Bond Index Fund Tracker 0.15% 3 Global Bonds
Janus Henderson Global Equity Income Fund Multi-manager 0.86% 5 Global Equity
iShares Japan Equity Index Fund Tracker 0.08% 6 Japan
Polar Capital Global Technology Fund Active 1.12% 6 Specialist
iShares Corporate Bond Index Fund Tracker 0.11% 4 Sterling Bonds
Barclays GA US Equity Fund Multi-manager 0.85% 5 North America
Aviva Investors Multi-Strategy Target Return Fund Active 0.85% 4 Targeted Absolute Return
iShares UK Equity Index Fund Tracker 0.05% 6 UK Equity - Growth
Barclays UK Equity Income Fund Multi-manager 1.10% 6 UK Equity - Income

Barclays Ready-Made Funds

Barclays offers five ready-made funds for investors who want a more passive approach, good for those who are happy to let someone else manage their investments. Here is an overview of the five funds and what they contain. Bear in mind that the exact breakdown of each type of investment might change over time, as Barclays experts tweak the funds to make the most of investment opportunities in the short term.

  • Defensive - Barclays' lowest risk ready-made fund comprising of 66% cash and short-term bonds with only around 18% in equities.
  • Cautious - A low-risk ready-made fund comprising 33% cash and short-term bonds, 29% bonds, and 38% in equities
  • Balanced - A medium-risk ready-made fund comprising 2% cash and short-term bonds, 42% bonds, and 56% in equities
  • Growth - A high-risk ready-made fund comprising 2% cash and short-term bonds, 25% bonds, and 73% in equities
  • Adventurous - Barclays' highest risk ready-made fund comprising 2% cash and short-term bonds, 9% bonds and 89% in equities

Barclays Ready-Made Funds Performance

The table below provides the annual performance for each of Barclays' 5 ready-made portfolios over the last 5 years. It's worth keeping in mind that past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

Barclays Ready Made Fund  2019 - 2020  2020 - 2021  2021 - 2022  2022 - 2023  2023 - 2024 






























International Investments

You can invest in shares in individual companies on stock exchanges outside the UK with the Smart Investor feature. Buying and selling on international markets through Smart Investor costs £6 per deal. There may also be additional costs depending on the market and there are likely to be foreign exchange fees added to each transaction as well.

Here is a list of the international exchanges you can invest with through Smart Investor:

  • Canada - Toronto, Toronto Ventures
  • Netherlands - Euronext Amsterdam
  • France - Euronext Paris
  • Germany - Xetra
  • Spain - Bolsa de Madrid
  • Sweden - NASDAQ Stockholm
  • Switzerland - SIX Swiss

Investors use international exchanges to invest in a range of different companies. In February 2024, the most popular international share purchases via Smart Investor included NVIDIA Corp, Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon, and Super Micro Computer, for example.

What are Barclays Smart Investor's charges?

The table below sums up the main charges you can expect to pay if you decide to open an account with Barclays Smart Investor.

Type of fee Charge
Annual customer account fee 0.25% for investments up to £200,000

0.05% for investments above £200,000

AJ Bell Administration fee (for SIPP) £125 + VAT per annum
Buying or selling shares £6 per deal
Buying or selling funds Free
Dividend reinvestment Free
Regular investments Free
Ready-made funds ongoing charge 0.45% per year
FX charge on trade value Between 0.1% to 1% depending on how much you trade.

1% for the first £5,000

0.1% for anything over £250,000

There are also underlying fund charges, as well as an international brokerage fee of 0.03% for trades on international exchanges.

Does Barclays Smart Investor pay interest on cash held in its accounts?

Barclays Smart Investor does pay interest on cash held in most of its accounts. The table below sums up the interest you can expect to receive depending on the type of product you've selected.

Account type  Interest payable 
Stocks and Shares ISA 1.65% AER/gross per year on balances up to £10,000

1.15% AER/gross per year on additional balances above £10,000.01+

General Investment Account 0%
Investment Saver 1.65% AER/gross per year on balances up to £10,000

1.15% AER/gross per year on additional balances above £10,000.01+

SIPP 1.65% AER/gross per year on balances up to £10,000

1.15% AER/gross per year on additional balances above £10,000.01+

How to open a Barclays Smart Investor account

If you already have a current account with Barclays, you can open a Smart Investor account through the Barclays Mobile Banking app. If not, you can open it via the Barclays website. Head to the 'Account and services' menu and select the type of account you want to open with Smart Investor.

As part of your application, you'll need to:

  • Confirm you're a UK tax resident
  • Provide some of your details, such as your nationality and contact details
  • Provide bank account details that you'll use to fund your account
  • Read the terms and conditions, as well as documentation such as the FSCS info sheet
  • Submit your application and get confirmation that you've successfully opened your account

Once you've opened your account, you'll receive further details from Barclays, as well as instructions on how to fund your account. Investors can access help via a UK-based help centre from 7:30am to 7pm, Monday to Thursday and 7:30am to 6pm on Fridays.

What are the pros and cons of Barclays Smart Investor?

Here are some of the pros and cons you can expect if you decide to use Barclays Smart Investor.


  • Barclays Price Improver can help to save money on each deal (compared to the London Stock Exchange)
  • Opportunity to buy individual shares on 10 different international exchanges
  • Five ready-made funds for passive investors
  • Pays up to 1.65% interest on uninvested cash


  • Low Trustpilot review score
  • Cheaper, 'no-frills' alternatives are available elsewhere
  • The conversion fees for international trades are on the high-end

Barclays Smart Investor customer reviews

Barclays doesn't have separate reviews for its Smart Investor service. However, Barclays is currently ranked 1.4 out of 5.0 on Trustpilot based on approximately 10,000 reviews. While 8% of reviewers gave the high street bank an "Excellent" score, 86% gave it a one-star "Poor" score. These reviews reflect customer opinions about Barclays as a whole rather than the Smart Investor service.

A quick search for 'Smart Investor' among the reviews revealed that some customers are happy with the short waiting times and competent customer service staff members. Others, however, felt the fees for the service were too high.

Barclays Smart Investor alternatives

There are lots of alternatives to Barclays Smart Investor out there. Some popular choices include AJ Bell Dodl, Interactive Investor and Hargreaves Lansdown. Let's take each in turn to see how they compare to Barclays Smart Investor.

AJ Bell Dodl

AJ Bell Dodl* is an app-only investment platform designed by AJ Bell. Its low fees are its unique selling point. AJ Bell Dodl boasts an annual fee of just 0.15% per account plus no fees for buying or selling funds or shares. By contrast, Barclays charges £6 per deal when you buy or sell shares. AJ Bell Dodl also offers a range of investment options, including:

  • Stocks and Shares ISAs
  • Lifetime ISA
  • Pensions
  • General Investment Accounts

You can invest in 36 different funds with AJ Bell Dodl and it is currently ranked 4.5 out of 5.0 on TrustPilot based on around 150 reviews. This is considered an "Excellent" score by the review site. Approximately 72% of reviewers gave Dodl a 5-star rating while 10% gave it a 1-star rating.

AJ Bell Dodl is a good option if you're looking for a low-cost, no-frills investment platform but don't expect all the same features you'd get with Barclays Smart Investor.

If this has piqued your interest, you can read our independent AJ Bell Dodl review to find out if it's the right choice for you.

Interactive Investor

With Interactive Investor*, you can invest in a range of different ready-made funds as well as create your own custom portfolio. Interactive Investor is an award-winning platform that works particularly well for people who prefer a flat structure. The Investor Essentials plan for customers with portfolios under £50,000 costs £4.99 per month, but this goes up to £11.99 for portfolios above £50,000. UK and US share trades cost £3.99 which is cheaper than Barclays Smart Investor, but other international trades cost £9.99.

Interactive Investor's flat-fee structure could work well for large portfolios where percentage-based charges can result in high fees. It's currently ranked 4.7 out of 5.0 on Trustpilot based on approximately 24,000 reviews. This is considered to be an "Excellent" score by the review site. 81% of reviewers gave Interactive Investor a 5-star rating while 7% gave it a 1-star rating.

If you think this could be an option for you, you can read our independent Interactive Investor review to find out if it's right for you.

Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown* has been around since 1981, so it's a well-established investment platform. The company has won several awards including the Best Online Stockbroker at the 2022/2023 Personal Finance Awards, as well as the Investing & Pensions Gold Award at the 2022 Times Money Mentor awards.

With Hargreaves Lansdown, you can choose between a range of accounts, including a Stocks and Shares ISA, Cash ISAs or Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs). You can also select from a range of ready-made portfolios or you can build your own portfolio as you wish. Fees vary depending on the product you choose, however, ISAs and SIPPs that total less than £250,000 attract a 0.45% annual charge. Dealing fees can cost up to £11.95 if you make less than 9 deals per month, making it a potentially expensive option for some. But, if you make more than 20 deals a month, the fee goes down to £5.95 which is slightly cheaper than Barclays Smart Investor.

Hargreaves Lansdown is currently rated 4.1 out of 5.0 on Trustpilot based on more than 9,000 reviews. This is considered a "Great" score on the review website. Approximately 59% of reviewers gave HL a 5-star rating while 15% gave it a 1-star rating.

If you think this could be the investment platform for you, you can read our independent Hargreaves Lansdown review to decide whether it's right for you.

Barclays Smart Investor Summary: Should you use it?

Barclays Smart Investor offers a good range of ready-made and custom investments and the 'Price Improver' feature can help to bring down the cost of selected deals. There are cheaper options available, with alternatives such as AJ Bell Dodl offering a simplified app which may suit certain types of investors. Barclays could work well for you if you're looking for a well-established brand with additional features, however, if cost is an important factor, make sure you check out our article 'Cheapest Stocks and Shares ISAs in 2024'.



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