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Investing can be intimidating. Between complex platforms, high fees, and lack of guidance, getting started in the stock market is a challenge for many beginners.
This is where Lightyear aims to shake things up. This Estonian startup launched its intuitive investing app in 2020 to make buying, selling, and managing stocks and ETFs easy and affordable. And do not forget about their cool feature of additional interest on uninvested cash!
But does Lightyear actually make investing easy for newcomers?
After personally reviewing dozens of similar platforms, I analyze Lightyear’s key features, pros and cons, account options, pricing, and more for you. I will help you evaluate if Lightyear delivers on its promise to simplify investing for newcomers and if it fits your needs before starting the investing journey on your own.
Let’s start our review!
What is Lightyear?
|EFSA and FCA (as an appointed representative)
|Deposit and withdrawal fee
|Available deposit and withdrawal method
|Bank, card, electronic wallet
|USD, EUR, GBP, HUF
|Stocks, ETFs, MMFs
Lightyear is an Estonian and UK-based app launched in 2020 that allows you to buy and sell shares of companies worldwide with small fees. You can also invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Lightyear claims to offer over 3,500 stocks and ETFs from 15 different markets, including the US, UK, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
What sets Lightyear apart from the competition? Primarily, it offers attractive interest rates on uninvested cash held in your account. The yield goes up to 4.5% for funds held in GBP and USD and up to 3.25% for those held in EUR. It is hard to find a similar offering on the market (as of February 2024).
Pros and Cons of Lightyear
|Low fees for stock trading. Trading ETFs is entirely free.
|No Stocks & Shares ISA offered. You may pay capital gains tax on profits.
|Can earn interest on uninvested cash balances, with rates up to 4.5% depending on the currency.
|Limited educational resources and tools for beginners.
|Easy and quick account opening process. Fully digital.
|Customer support is only via email, no phone or live chat.
|Good mobile app that is user-friendly with a slick design. Has useful features like price alerts.
|Web trading platform has limited customizability and fewer features than the mobile app.
|Access to over 3,000 international stocks, including fractional US shares.
|Only stocks and ETFs offered. No access to other assets like funds, options, or crypto.
|Can hold multiple currencies to avoid FX fees. The conversion fee is only 0.35%.
|Not covered by the UK’s FSCS compensation scheme. But other protections exist.
Is Lightyear a Safe App?
Yes, Lightyear can be considered a secure app, as in the European Union, it is authorized by the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority (Lightyear Europe AS, license number 4.1-1/31). Thanks to the EU passporting laws, it can operate throughout the entire continent.
In addition, Lightyear is an appointed representative of RiskSave Technologies Ltd., licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), license number 775330.
You don’t need to worry about your savings safety! Nevertheless, remember that Lightyear is still a recent company, and thus, it has a short track record of resisting times of turbulence.
In addition, as a Lightyear customer, you will benefit from asset protection of up to €20,000, thanks to the Estonian Investor Protection Sectoral Fund. As for your US securities, they are safeguarded by the company’s associate, Alpaca, which FINRA regulates. This ensures that US securities are secured up to a value of $500,000 in the event of Alpaca’s failure.
Products Offered by Lightyear
In Lightyear’s offering, we can distinguish four basic elements: stocks, ETFs, interest on uninvested funds and money market funds. Limited selection of asset classes? Perhaps, but most individual investors usually don’t need much more. Simplicity often wins over overly complicated platforms.
- Stocks – Investors can access over 3,500 stocks from various global exchanges, including those in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia. The platform features popular US companies and even allows for the purchase of fractional shares. European stocks include those listed on Euronext and Deutsche Börse. For the UK market, you can access instruments traded on the London Stock Exchange. As for the United States, stocks from Nasdaq and NYSE are available.
- ETFs – The platform also boasts a selection of over 100 ETFs covering a wide array of sectors, markets, and investment strategies. These ETFs come from leading providers like Vanguard, iShares, and SPDR.
- Interest on uninvested cash – Lightyear provides an additional perk for its users: the ability to earn interest on uninvested cash balances. The interest rates are currency-dependent, ranging from 5.00% for HUF, 4.5% for USD and GBP, to a more modest 3.25% for EUR (As of february 2024). This feature allows investors to earn a return even when their money is not actively invested in the market.
- Money market funds (MMFs) – the instrument allows to invest in a larger basket of short-term bonds from governments and financial institutions. MMFs may not be accessible in every country where Lightyear has a presence, and the smallest sum required to initiate an order is $1.
As I mentioned earlier, Lightyear lacks some financial products such as cryptocurrencies, options, mutual funds, or bonds. Most beginners aren’t interested anyway.
However, If you’d still like to try out these instruments, I have a few alternatives for you. Interactive Brokers can become your investment powerhouse for practically all asset classes, while Freetrade is a good choice for beginners. Check eToro if you are a crypto bug.
|Stocks, ETFs, Cryptocurrencies, and CFDs on stocks, currencies, commodities, and indices
|Stocks, ETFs, Forex, Fund, Bond, Options, Futures, CFDs, Warrants, Structured Products
|Stocks, ETFs, ETCs, Investment trusts
|FCA, CySEC, ASIC
|FSA, FCA, MAS, FINMA, ACPR, AMF, DNB, FSMA, NBB, SFC, ASIC
How Much Does Lightyear Charge to Trade?
Many features on Lightyear are entirely free. The platform does not charge commissions for ETFs (if bought on the same base currency. Otherwise, an FX fee applies), multi-currency accounts, securities custody, bank deposits and withdrawals, or US tax forms.
However, I checked, and some fees will be applied:
- Commission for US stocks: 0.1% up to $1 per order
- Commission for EU stocks: €1 per order
- Commission for UK stocks: £1 per order
- Currency conversion: Conversion occurs at the Interbank exchange rate, with a 0.35% commission
- Fast deposit: 0.5% per transaction
- Money market funds: 0.09-0.30% annually, deducted from monthly distributions.
Let’s say you’re buying 3 Apple shares. One currently costs $178.73, so you’ll pay a total of $536.19. The commission for purchasing American stocks is 0.1%, so Lightyear will collect $0.54.
Lightyear offers two types of accounts:
- a Personal one for individual investors;
- and a Business account for companies.
You may register a Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) in the Business account for €45 + VAT. Unlike the Personal, the Business account also offers the added benefit of treasury management for SMEs (limited to Estonia; in the UK, the offering is only for freelancers and sole director companies).
In your case, I would definitely recommend a personal account.
|Personal accounts are for individual investors to invest their own money.
|Business accounts allow companies to invest their business funds.
|Fees and Minimums
|No minimum deposit and low trading fees.
|No minimum deposit and the same low trading fees as personal accounts.
|Subject to capital gains tax on profits.
|Investing is tax-free as a company. Profits are taxed when withdrawn.
|Offers features like multi-currency support.
|Offers the same features as personal accounts, plus high interest on uninvested cash.
|Can be opened instantly online.
|Requires more documentation, such as proof of business registration.
Lightyear Promo Code: Earn 10 Free Trades
|Lightyear Promo Code
|10 trades for free
|Fund your account with £50
T&Cs apply. Capital at risk.
To participate in Lightyear’s Promo Code and get 10 trades for free, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Sign up to Lightyear using the code MONEYGROWER.
- Upon successful registration, deposit a minimum of £50 via the Lightyear app within 30 days.
- Get 10 trades for free.
Lightyear Mobile vs. Web App
Lightyear offers access to two platforms, in the form of a mobile app and a web application. However, when setting up an account, users are immediately directed to the app for smartphones and tablets. Only after creating an account can you log in to the browser-based version of the platform.
I’ve tested both of them and must admit that the mobile app is definitely a better fit for beginners. In the beginning, using its features will be more than sufficient.
What can you find inside it? Let’s check:
- A user-friendly and well-designed interface
- A good search function to find stocks and ETFs
- Available price alerts
- Easy account opening
- Quick deposits and withdrawals
The web application offers several features, such as:
- Analyst ratings: price targets from a different set of analysts, including buy/hold/sell recommendations
- Financial metrics & earnings data: dig into company performance on a quarterly or annual level
- All available cash deposit options: you can choose the most suitable option for you
- News and lightning updates: stay on top of what causes stock price movements
- Limit and stop loss orders: automate your trading from the comfort of your computer screen
I checked if it was sufficient and contacted support directly. Although the response was satisfactory, the waiting time was slow. Moreover, the support is definitely not available 24/7.
If you want to get an answer faster, check out the help section on the official website. Personally, it has helped me solve a few unknowns.
On Trustpilot, Lightyear has received high praise, boasting a 4.8 out of 5 stars based on over 540 reviews. An impressive 98% of these reviews are four or five-star ones.
What were the dissatisfied customers complaining about? Among other things, they mentioned the limited form of contact with customer service and the quality of the help itself. However, my experiences have been mostly positive.
To Sum Up
Lightyear is still a relatively new app that offers a simple and cheap way to invest in the stock market. It is suited for investors who want to buy and sell shares and ETFs worldwide without paying any fees.
If you’re just starting out, you should totally give this app a shot, especially because it pays interest on the money you’re not using at the moment. But if you’re a seasoned trader, there are cooler options out there with more tools and trading instruments to play with.
How much does Lightyear charge to trade?
Lightyear provides an execution-only brokerage service through its mobile app. As stated in their Terms of Service, Lightyear does not charge execution commission on ETFs, but will charge some fees on stock trading.
How do I transfer shares in Lightyear?
You can transfer your stocks purchased with another broker to a Lightyear account. It is available for all European and UK stocks on the platform. Remember that your current broker may charge a transfer fee.
What is the interest on Lightyear cash?
Lightyear offers you a yearly yield for uninvested cash, depending on the base currency. For HUF, it reaches 5.00%, for GBP and USD 4.5% and for EUR 3.25% (As of february 2024).
Is Lightyear a good broker?
Lightyear provides an easy-to-use mobile app for basic investing focused on share and fractional share purchases. As an execution-only brokerage, they do not provide investment advice. Lightyear seems suited for beginner investors looking for a simple experience. More advanced traders may prefer a full-service broker.
Is the Lightyear app free?
Yes, the Lightyear app is free to download and use. You will pay some fees on your stock transactions and on currency transfers.
Is Lightyear a private company?
Yes, Lightyear is a private company not publicly traded on a stock exchange.
How many customers does Lightyear have?
Lightyear has not publicly disclosed its number of customers or user base. As a private startup company, this information is not readily available.
Who owns the Lightyear app?
Lightyear is owned by Lightyear Europe AS which is authorised and regulated as an investment firm by the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority (Finantsinspektsioon) under activity licence number 4.1-1/31. Lightyear Europe is a company registered in Estonia with company number 16235024 and registered office at Volta 1, Tallinn 10412, Estonia.
Lightyear Financial Ltd is an appointed representative of RiskSave Technologies Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 775330). Lightyear Financial Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 12925823. Registered office 256-260 Old Street, London EC1V 9DD, United Kingdom. Lightyear Financial Ltd can be found in Financial Conduct Authority Financial Services register under FRN 955739.
Is Lightyear profitable?
As a private company, the profitability of Lightyear is not public information. However, as a startup that has raised significant venture capital, it can be assumed Lightyear is currently focused on growth over profitability.