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Compare Brokers for Trading the Global Markets


Use our comparison tables to compare brokers for trading the global markets. Compare key features like research, added value, market access, commissions and costs.

Compare CFD Brokers
Compare CFD brokers for trading contracts for difference. Make sure you understand the risks and potential rewards with our guide on how to trade CFDs
Compare Spread Betting Brokers

Compare financial spread betting brokers and find out why spread betting is tax-free with our guide to financial spread betting

Compare Forex Brokers
Trade the world's largest market through a UK based and FCA regulated broker in our forex comparison and get a better grasp of FX by reading our how to trade Forex guide.
Compare Social Trading Platforms
Automatically copy the positions and portfolios of other traders. Use our comparison tables to compare FCA regulated social trading brokers in the UK.
Compare Index Brokers
Understand how to trade indices on the underlying markets of the largest public companies in different countries and compare brokers for index trading in our comparison tables.
Compare Commodities Brokers
Speculate on gold, oil, frozen concentrated orange juice in our comparison table of commodities brokers and read our guide to the most popular traded commodities in the market.
Compare Futures Brokers
Trade futures directly on exchange with an FCA regulated futures broker. Compare the costs of trading futures in our futures broker comparison and read our guide to understanding futures trading.
Compare Options Brokers
View our comparison tables to compare the best UK based options brokers authorised and regulated by the FCA. See how puts and calls can be used in trading with our guide to options trading.
Compare Cryptocurrency Platforms
Speculate on the price of cryptocurrencies without running the risk own owning the underlying coin with our comparison of trading platforms that offer cryptocurrency CFD trading and spread betting.
Compare DMA Brokers
For larger more experience traders compare brokers that offer DMA (direct market access) for trading direct on the exchanges for better pricing, quicker execution and lower costs.
Compare Professional Trading Accounts
Compare brokers that offer professional trading accounts and see if you qualify for reduced fees and improved margin rates with our professional trading account comparison.
Compare MT4 Brokers
MT4 (Metatrader4) is one of the most popular trading platforms across the globe. Make sure you are using the right broker with our comparison of FCA regulated UK based MT4 brokers.

Best Brokers For Trading CFDs (Contracts For Difference)

Use our comparison tables to compare CFD brokers authorised and regulated by the FCA. Choose or switch to a CFD broker that offers the most markets, best pricing and client security.

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. Between 74-89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. 

Featured CFD BrokerWhat can you trade via CFDs?What are the CFD trading costs?CEO InterviewMore Info

IG

IG clients can trade a range of over 17,000 CFD markets Trade CFDs on interest rates, bonds, sectors, forex, indices, global shares, commodities and cryptocurrencies Opening an account is free, and charges are competitive. Trade spreads from 0.6 points on key FX pairs like EUR/USD, 1 point on major indices like the Germany 30 and FTSE 100, and 0.3 points on Spot Gold.

June Felix, IG CEO

Read June Felix CEO Interview

Visit IG

IG Reviews
Your capital is at risk. 76% of retail CFD accounts lose money

CMC Markets

Trade contracts for difference (CFDs) and access over 9,500 instruments with competitive spreads. Trade CFDs on forex, indices, cryptocurrencies, commodities, shares and treasuries. Trade CFDs on major forex pairs from 0.7 points and popular indices from 1 point. When trading UK shares a commission is charged from 0.1% or 2 cents per unit for US.

Read Peter Cruddas CEO Interview

Visit CMC

CMC Reviews

Pepperstone

150+ instruments across FX, indices, equities, cryptos, energy and commodities, and more, across three, free powerful platforms During liquid times, CFD spreads can go as low as 0 pips on the EURUSD on the Pepeprstone Razor account Tamas Szabo Pepperstone CEO Read Tamas Szabo CEO Interview Visit Pepperstone

Pepperstone Reviews
Fineco Trade Fineco CFDs on thousand of asset classes Equity, Indices, Commodities, bond and Interest Rates Share CFDs have no additional spreads, indices have spread as low as 0.4pips on S&P 500 and 0.6pip on Nasdaq 100 and FTSE 100. FX spreads on 50+ pairs from 0.8pips.

Paolo Di Grazia, Fineco General Manager Paolo Di Grazia, Fineco GM

Visit Fineco

Fineco Reviews

Saxo Capital Markets

Access 9,000+ CFDs and trade CFDs on single stocks, indices, forex, commodities, options and bonds. Ultra-competitive pricing for trading UK stock CFDs from GBP 8, and US 30 Wall St. from 2 points. Andrew Edwards Saxo Capital Markets UK CEO Read Andrew Edwards CEO Interview Visit Saxo

Saxo Reviews

XTB XTB Brokers

Trade over 1500 global CFD markets including Forex, Cryptocurrencies, Indices, Commodities, Share CFDs and ETFs. Low forex spreads from 0.1 pips, stock CFD commission from 0.08%

Arnaout Omar Omar Arnaout

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XTB Reviews

Spreadex Financials

Spreadex

Trade one of the widest ranges of CFD markets including shares, indices, forex, commodities, bonds and interest rates. CFD spreads start from just 0.6 pts on EUR/USD, 1pt on UK 100 and 0.4 pts on Gold

Jonathan Hufford

Visit IG Website

Spreadex Reviews

eToro

Trade CFDs in USD on eToro on a wide range of stocks, forex, indices, commodities and copy other CFD traders Cost are based in USD and eToro CFD trading costs are built into the spread.

Yoni Assai Interview

Visit eToro

eToro Reviews

Plus 500

Trade CFDs on a wide range of Indices, Forex, Commodities, Crypto, Shares, Options and ETFs Plus 500 CFD spreads are variable, yet competitive for new traders. There is no commission. Overnight funding is charged on positions. Coming Soon Visit Plus 500

Plus 500 Reviews

City Index

CFD Trading with City Index gives you access to over 4000 global markets including Indices, Shares, FX, Commodities and Bonds. Fixed and variable CFD spreads from 0.5 points with benchmark UK financing is LIBOR +/-2.5% Coming Soon Visit City Index

City Index Reviews

ETX Capital

Trade CFDs on ETX on over 5,000 instruments in all major asset classes including FX, Indices, Shares and Commodities.. Trade CFDs low commissions through ETX's pooled liquidity from a range of sources to deliver the best prices and narrowest spreads. Phil Adler CEO Interview ETX Reviews

Best Brokers For Financial Spread Bet Trading

Use our comparison reviews to compare spread betting broker costs, spreads, offers and features. Only Spread Betting Brokers authorized and regulated by the FCA where client funds are protected under the FSCS are featured.

Spread betting carries a high level of risk and losses can exceed your deposits. Featured brokers appear first.

Featured Spread BettingBrokerWhat markets can you spread bet on?How much are the spread betting fees?CEO InterviewMore Info

IG

Go long or short and spread bet on more than 17,000 markets with IG, the world’s No.1 provider Spread bet from 0.6 points on key FX pairs like EUR/USD, 1 point on major indices like the Germany 30 and FTSE 100, and 0.3 points on Spot Gold.

June Felix, IG CEO

Read June Felix CEO Interview

Visit IG

IG Reviews
Your capital is at risk. 76% of retail CFD accounts lose money

CMC Markets

Spread bet on the price movements of thousands of financial instruments, including indices, currencies, cryptocurrencies, commodities, shares and treasuries. Competitive spreads on our spread betting instruments, including major FX pairs from 0.7 points, major indices from 1 point and crude oil from 3 points.

Read Peter Cruddas CEO Interview

Visit CMC

CMC Reviews

Pepperstone

Spread bet on 150+ instruments across FX, indices, equities, cryptos, energy and commodities, and more, across three, free powerful platforms Spreads on our MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 platforms are variable, with prices coming from many providers and sources to ensure you're getting the best price. Tamas Szabo Pepperstone CEO Read Tamas Szabo CEO Interview Visit Pepperstone

Pepperstone Reviews

Spreadex Financials

Spreadex

Trade one of the widest ranges of spread betting markets including large and small cap shares, indices, forex, commodities, bonds and interest rates. Spread betting spreads start from just 0.6 pts on EUR/USD, 1pt on UK 100 and 0.4 pts on Gold

Jonathan Hufford

Visit Spreadex

Spreadex Reviews

City Index

Spread Betting with City Index provides a tax-free* way to trade over 8000+ global markets. Fixed and variable spreads from 0.5 points with benchmark UK financing is LIBOR +/-2.5% Coming Soon Visit City Index

City Index Reviews

ETX Capital

Trade over 5,000 markets with Profits exempt from both Stamp Duty and Capital Gains tax within the UK. ETX offer competitive spread betting costs with major FX pairs from 0.6 pips and spreads on major Indices from 1 pt. Phil Adler CEO Interview ETX Reviews


Best Brokers For Trading Forex

All the forex brokers are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority where client funds are segregated and protected under FSCS. Note: If you want to convert one currency to another and send money abroad you need a currency broker.

Featured Forex BrokerWhat Forex pairs can you trade?How much does Forex trading cost?CEO InterviewMore Info

IG

With IG, you can choose to trade more than 80 currency pairs – from majors, such as GBP/USD to exotics such as HUF/EUR. You can trade these forex pairs via CFDs or spread bets. Get spreads from just 0.6 points on pairs like EUR/USD with the UK’s No.1 FX provider.

June Felix, IG CEO

Read June Felix CEO Interview

Visit IG

IG Reviews
Your capital is at risk. 76% of retail CFD accounts lose money

CMC Markets

Trade forex on over 300 forex pairs, including EUR/USD, GBP/USD and AUD/USD, plus our customised range of 12 forex indices​. Spreads on EUR/USD, AUD/USD and USD/JPY start from just 0.7 points. CMC USD Index​ spreads from 0.25.

Read Peter Cruddas CEO Interview

Visit CMC

CMC Reviews

Pepperstone

Trade 61+ currency pairs with deep liquidity with pricing from multiple sources. Get some of the lowest forex spreads on the market with raw spreads from 0.0 pips on Razor accounts Tamas Szabo Pepperstone CEO Read Tamas Szabo CEO Interview Visit Pepperstone

Pepperstone Reviews
Fineco Trade 50+ Global Forex pairs Forex pairs with Fineco Fineco Forex spread are as low as, GBP/USD 1, EUR/USD 0.8, EUR/GBP 1

Paolo Di Grazia, Fineco General Manager Paolo Di Grazia, Fineco GM

Visit Fineco

Fineco Reviews

Saxo Capital Markets

Access 182 FX pairs across majors, minors and exotics, plus spot metals, from only 0.4 pips Ultra-competitive FX spreads and trade major FX pairs from 0.4 pips. Competitive entry prices and even lower rates for active forex traders. Andrew Edwards Saxo Capital Markets UK CEO Read Andrew Edwards CEO Interview Visit Saxo

Saxo Reviews

XTB XTB Brokers

Trade 48 currency pairs, 24 hours, 5 days a week, micro-lot trading available Low forex spreads from 0.1 pips on EURUSD, 0.3 pips on GBPUSD and 0.02 on AUDUSD.

Arnaout Omar Omar Arnaout

Visit XTB

XTB Reviews

Spreadex Financials

Spreadex

Speculate on over 60 currency pairs with advanced technical analysis tools including Pattern Recognition, ProTrend Lines and advanced indicators plus drawing tools Low spreads from 0.6 pts on EUR/USD and 0.9 pts on GBP/USD with 24 hour trading on most FX markets

Jonathan Hufford

Visit Spreadex

Spreadex Reviews

Plus 500

Trade FX CFDs on 60+ Forex Pairs like EUR/USD, GBP/USD and EUR/GBP with up to 1:30 leverage Variable Forex spreads on currency markets. Plus500 does not charge additional Forex dealing commissions. Coming Soon Visit Plus 500

Plus 500 Reviews

City Index

Trade on 84 global FX pairs like EUR/USD, GBP/USD and USD/JPY at City Index with fast execution and tight spreads Trade forex CFDs, DFT or spread bets with tight spreads from 0.5pts on major FX pairs Coming Soon Visit City Index

City Index Reviews

eToro

Trade CFDs on 47 of the most popular currency pairs with trades based in USD with eToro Forex Forex spreads are variable and trading costs are built into the price. Daily finance is charged on overnight positions.

Yoni Assai Interview

Visit eToro

eToro Reviews

Best DMA Brokers For Trading With Direct Market Access

Compare brokers that offer Direct Market Access (DMA) who are authorised and regulated by the FCA.  Use DMA to get inside the price and reduce your trading costs by getting better prices.

DMA BrokerDMA AccessDMA ExecutionAccount TypesCEO InterviewMore Info

IG

Stocks:
FX:
Index:
Commodities:
Voice:
Online:
Strategy:
Prime:
DMA:
Futures:
CFD
Spreadbetting:

June Felix, IG CEO

Read June Felix CEO Interview

Visit IG

IG Reviews
CEO Interview
Your capital is at risk. 76% of retail CFD accounts lose money

Saxo Capital

Stocks:
FX:
Index:
Commodities:
Voice:
Online:
Strategy:
Prime:
DMA:
Futures:
CFD
Spreadbetting:
Andrew Edwards Saxo Capital Markets UK CEO Read Andrew Edwards CEO Interview Visit Saxo

Saxo Reviews
Fineco Stocks:
FX:
Index:
Commodities:
Voice:
Online:
Strategy:
Prime:
DMA:
Futures:
CFD
Spreadbetting:

Paolo Di Grazia, Fineco General Manager Paolo Di Grazia, Fineco GM

Visit Fineco

Fineco Reviews
Interactive Brokers Interactive Brokers Stocks:
FX:
Index:
Commodities:
Voice:
Online:
Strategy:
Prime:
DMA:
Futures:
CFD
Spreadbetting:

Thomas Peterffy

IBKR Services

Best MT4 Brokers For Trading With Metatrader 4

MT4 or MetaTrader 4 is currently offered by over 600 brokers worldwide. Compare the top MT4 brokers to ensure you get the best pricing, tools, analysis, welcome bonus and features.

Featured MT4 BrokerWhat can you trade on MT4?How much does MT4 trading cost?CEO InterviewMore Info

IG

IG’s MetaTrader 4 package delivers instant access to 18 free add-ons and indicators, giving you an edge in your trading. You’ll also have the option to download thousands more from inside the MetaTrader 4 platform. Take advantage of minimum spreads of 0.6 on a host of forex pairs with IG. The minimum lot size on MT4 is 0.01 lots, helping you manage the risks of high-volume trading.

June Felix, IG CEO

Read June Felix CEO Interview

Visit IG

IG Reviews
Your capital is at risk. 76% of retail CFD accounts lose money

CMC Markets

Trade CFDs on 30 currency pairs including EUR/USD, GBP/USD and USD/JPY, major indices like the UK 100 and US 30, plus popular commodities such as Gold, Silver and Crude Oil Trade Forex from 0.7 pips on MT4, indices from 1 point and Gold from 0.3.

Read Peter Cruddas CEO Interview

Visit CMC

CMC Reviews

Pepperstone

Trade 85 pre-installed MT4 indicators available on the desktop app for greater insight into market trends During liquid times, MT4 spreads can go as low as 0 pips on the EURUSD through the Razor account Tamas Szabo Pepperstone CEO Read Tamas Szabo CEO Interview Visit Pepperstone

Pepperstone Reviews

Saxo Capital Markets

With Saxo Capital Markets' MT4 you can trade DMA on over 25+ tier 1 liquidity providers with professional-grade execution and liquidity models. Saxo MT4 spreads range from 0.3 pips on EURUSD 0.1 on USDJPY with prices derived from a wide range of Tier 1 institutions or choose Saxo’s own highly competitive pricing. Andrew Edwards Saxo Capital Markets UK CEO Read Andrew Edwards CEO Interview Visit Saxo

Saxo Reviews

XTB XTB Brokers

Trade over 1,500 markets through MT4. Test and optimise your trading strategies with the MT4 Strategy Tester Low forex spreads from 0.1 pips, stock CFD commission from 0.08%

Arnaout Omar Omar Arnaout

Visit XTB

XTB Reviews

ETX Capital

Trade over 60 FX pairs including majors, minors and a range of exotics currency pairs with ETX. ETX offer low FX trading costs on spread betting and CFDs with spreads on EURUSD from only 0.6 pips, and GBPUSD from 0.9 pips. Phil Adler CEO Interview ETX Reviews

City Index

With City Index’s MetaTrader4 platform, you can trade over 80 Forex pairs, including majors, minors and exotics. Ultra-tight spreads, fast trade executions and unique trading tools. Coming Soon Visit City Index

City Index Reviews

Best Brokers For Trading Options

Use our comparison tables to compare the best UK based options brokers authorised and regulated by the FCA. Choose or switch to an option broker that offers the most markets, best pricing and client security.

Featured BrokerFutures & OptionsServicesAccount TypesCEO InterviewMore Info

Saxo Capital

Stocks:
FX:
Index:
Commodities:
Voice:
Online:
Strategy:
Prime:
DMA:
Futures:
Options:
CFD
Spreadbetting
Andrew Edwards Saxo Capital Markets UK CEO Read Andrew Edwards CEO Interview Visit Saxo

Saxo Reviews

IG

Stocks:DMA
FX:
Index:CFD
Commodities:CFDs
Voice:
Online:
Strategy:
Prime:
DMA:
Futures:
Options:
CFD
Spreadbetting

June Felix, IG CEO

Read June Felix CEO Interview

Visit IG

IG Reviews
Fineco Stocks:DMA
FX:
Index:CFD
Commodities:CFDs
Voice:
Online:
Strategy:
Prime:
DMA:
Futures:
Options:
CFD
Spreadbetting

Paolo Di Grazia, Fineco General Manager Paolo Di Grazia, Fineco GM

Visit Fineco

Fineco Reviews

Linear Investments

Stocks:
FX:
Index:
Commodities:
Voice:
Online:
Strategy:
Prime:
DMA:
Futures:
Options:
CFD
Spreadbetting

Jerry Lees

Linear Services
Interactive Brokers Interactive Brokers Stocks:
FX:
Index:
Commodities:
Voice:
Online:
Strategy:
Prime:
DMA:
Futures:
Options:
CFD
Spreadbetting

Thomas Peterffy

IBKR Services

Compare Prime Brokers

Use our comparison service to get the best access, rates, execution and service for your hedge fund from the most appropriate prime brokers based in the UK.

View specific types of trading accounts: CFDs - FOREX - MT4 - Spread Betting - Options Brokers - DMA - Social Trading - Prime Brokers

How to choose an online trading platform - ten things you need to consider

When choosing an online trading platform, it’s worth considering more than just the fees and charges.

Here's a ten-step guide to the major points you should consider to help find a good trading broker.

Does the broker offer all the markets you want to trade?

When choosing an online broker you first need to think about “what” you want to trade and “how” you want to trade it.

If you only want to trade the most popular forex pairs, you will have a larger choice of brokers than if you want to trade stocks as well.

You’ll also need to consider if you may want to trade other things in the future like international markets.

When looking for a broker for online trading there is not really a single solution or one broker that is better than all of the others. Certain brokers are better at and offer different features than the others, meaning the best broker can depend upon what you want to trade.

The main markets for online trading are:

  • Forex
  • Indices
  • Commodities
  • Treasuries
  • Stocks
  • Cryptocurrencies

Some brokers will only offer access to the top ten traded instruments in each market, whilst others will offer thousands of instruments in each asset class. However, the brokers that have a smaller market coverage will be cheaper for those markets compared to brokers that offer a wider selection.

You will have to weigh up whether you will stick to a small universe of the most popular traded assets on discounted rates, or if you are happy to pay a little bit more in trading costs to have the flexibility to trade everything from one platform.

Forex

Forex trading is one of the most popular forms of online trading with EURUSD, USDJPY and GBPUSD being the most commonly traded currency pairs. The currency markets are the largest in the world by traded volume but are also one of the riskiest and hardest to understand.

Understanding how to trade forex before you begin is very important to your success and knowing the potential risks and rewards of currency trading in advance, can help you to plan your strategy effectively.

Choosing a forex broker is an important step and using our forex broker comparison can help you understand the different features each currency broker offers and how to choose the one that is right for you.

Indices

If you want to speculate on the price of global stock markets index trading combines stocks and indices so you can effectively trade multiple stocks at once with a broker that offers indices trading, our comparison can help you find the best broker to trade indicies.

The most common indices for trading are the FTSE 100, DAX 30 and S&P 500 find out how to trade indicies and why the FTSE 100, DAX 30 and S&P 500 are so popular.

Commodities

Whilst commodities were the original markets for farmers to lock in prices for their upcoming harvests, commodities trading is now accessible to many online traders.

Trading commodities has its own pros and cons and understanding the best commodities to trade and how to do so effectively can help your trading.

Commodities brokers vary in what they offer for private clients and professional traders, getting a broker that offers what you need is important.

Our comparison shows you clearly what features each commodities broker offers and can help you decide which is the best broker for your needs.

Treasuries

There is a big difference between investing in fixed income investment bonds and speculating on interest rates. Treasuries can be traded through futures, options, CFDs mainly by professional speculators based on economic events.

Understanding this difference and knowing the pros and cons of bond investing upfront can be important to your success. How to invest in bonds explains more.

Choosing a broker is another important step. Use our bond broker comparison tables to choose from a list of UK regulated brokers.

Stocks

Stock trading is probably the easiest for of online trading as the companies that form part of the major indices are well known with an almost constant newsflow and regular market updates and results announcements.

To understand the key elements of stock trading read how to invest in stocks  and use our table to compare stock brokers.

Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency trading is increasing in popularity, despite major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin still being largely unregulated and opaque.

However, as they are hugely popular amongst millennial traders we have put together a guide on how to trade Bitcoin that covers the main risks of cryptocurrency as well as a comparison of UK regulated brokers that offer cryptocurrency trading.

Will a broker offer the right way for you to trade?

Once you have decided what you want to trade you will also need to think about how you want to trade it. There are many different ways to speculate on the market and all come with different features and benefits.

The main ways to speculate through online trading are:

  • Physical investing
  • Financial spread betting
  • CFDs
  • Futures
  • Options

Again some brokers will only offer one of these types of trading with discounted rates, while others may offer all of them but be slightly more expensive.

Each different type of trading has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example one disadvantage of financial spread betting is that is is not available to clients outside of the UK and an advantage of profits earned through currency trading are that they are free of capital gains tax.

The disadvantage however is unlike DMA CFD trading and physical investing you cannot work orders inside the bid or offer so strategies such as scalping are not as effective and net costs can seem a little higher.

Physical investing

Physical investing simply means buying shares outright, usually for the purposes of long term capital growth or investing for income from dividends. Compared to trading on margin, physical investing is considered lower risk than spread betting or CFD trading. However, it important to note that all investing comes with risk, no matter how safe it may seem.

Different types of investing platforms offer different features, fees and their own advantages compare investment platforms to choose an investment broker that is right for your needs.

Financial spread betting

Financial spread betting is a type of financial trading that is technically structured as a bet and therefore not eligible for capital gains tax. This means any profits you make through financial spread betting are tax-free. However, where there are potential tax advantages, there are also high chances of losses, which can exceed your initial deposit.

Find out more about how to spread bet and find a spread betting platform that is best for you from our comparison.

CFDs

CFDs or Contracts for difference are similar to financial spread betting but offer some advantages such as direct market access. CFDs do not have the tax benefits of spread betting and are a global trading product. Understanding how to trade CFDs successfully before you begin can help you to avoid making costly errors.

Choosing the right CFD broker can also make a big difference to your CFD trading success.

Futures & Options

Futures and options are more for professional traders and investors as the minimum lot size of a future can often be in the ten of thousands of pounds.

Options can also result in unlimited losses as well as profits so the criteria for being allowed a professional trading accounts are quite stringent.

There are differences to consider so checking how to trade futures and following that up with how to trade options can explain the nuances of the trading types and the approaches.

Compare options trading platforms through our comparison or check and compare futures brokers.

Is the broker right for your level of trading experience?

The different ways to trade tend to revolve around how much experience you have and it’s vital that you choose a broker that offers the right type of trading and markets for how experienced you are. If you are a beginner you will be better off investing in physical stocks rather than trading futures and options on leverage.

Whenever you open a trading account to trade derivatives products like CFDs (Contracts for difference) of financial spread betting you will be asked by your broker to take an “appropriateness test” during the account application process. This is to make sure you understand the risks of trading on margin before you can have an account. It is required by the regulator and designed to stop clients without enough experience speculating with too much risk.

When private clients trade online they are split into two different categories, Retail and Professional.

Retail clients are normal people who want to speculate on the markets and have a good understanding of the risks involved and how leveraged trading works. The regulators ensure normal people have their margin capped (so they cannot inadvertently get too much exposure to the market) and also have negative balance protection in place, which means you cannot lose more than the money in your account.

For clients that are more experienced some brokers offer the option to apply for a “professional account”. Professional trading accounts offer greater leverage (so you can trade more with less) and in some cases discounted fees. However, there are disadvantages to them as some do not come with negative balance protection. To qualify to trade with professional trading accounts you will have to prove that you can answer yes to two of these questions:

  1. Has your trading averaged 10 significantly sized leverage transactions per quarter over the last 4 quarters?
  2. Do you have a financial instrument portfolio, including cash deposits, exceeding €500,000?
  3. Have you worked in the financial sector in a professional position, requiring knowledge of derivatives trading, for at least a year?

Is the broker appropriately regulated for your type of trading?

One of the most important things about choosing a broker for online trading is ensuring that they are properly regulated for the type of trading you want to do.

All trading platforms in the UK must be regulated by the FCA. You can look up whether a broker is regulated by searching the FCA register. The FCA register keeps a record of all regulated persons and firms in the UK as well as what financial services and products they are allowed to offer.

Regulated trading platforms must display the fact they are regulated and also appropriate risk warnings that display the risk of the products that they offer.

Is your money safe with an online broker?

As with trading how and what you trade, all brokers are not regulated for the same things. Some are only regulated for professional clients and others are only regulated private clients. Whilst some are only able to deal with other institutions and not individual traders at all.

When comparing brokers for online trading, always make sure that the broker you are considering is regulated by the FCA as some of your funds will be covered by the FSCS deposit protection scheme should your broker go bust. Beware that even the biggest brokers in the world can fold, so it’s imperative you understand how FSCS protection works and if you fall into the type of trader that is covered.

Does the broker explain the costs of online trading fully?

Comparing the costs and fees of brokers for online trading is not as easy as you’d think. Neither is it simply about just about finding the cheapest broker. Brokers charge in different ways so it makes direct cost comparison difficult.

Even if cost comparison were simple, choosing the cheapest broker may mean you don’t get the best broker for your needs. For instance, one CFD broker may charge commission by widening the spread around market prices, whereas another may give you the underlying price, but charge a commission on top.

Minimum deposit levels and account inactivity fees are all costs you may have to face too, so finding these out in advance can help you realise which brokers offer the cheapest trading for you over time. The actual rate you are charged can be hard to calculate if the the spread is being widened, but it makes calculating your P&L easier. However, with DMA CFD brokers, you can trade at better prices, but will have to include commission costs as a separate line on your trading P&L.

The most common types of fees that online trading platforms charge are:

  • Widening the bid/offer spread
  • Commission charged post trade
  • Financing on overnight positions

You also need to be aware that if you are trading a OTC (over the counter) product like CFDs, FOREX, or spread betting brokers may not hedge your trades in the underlying market. This basically means that they think your trades will be losers, so they just accept your trade more like a bookie than a broker.

This is called the B-Book, there is a big debate about whether brokers hedging positions or not via with B-Book is a good or bad thing. In some cases, it is good because it reduces the need for brokers to widen the bid/offer spread meaning that clients get better prices. Some argue it is bad because there is a clear conflict of interests as these brokers make money when clients lose.

Ultimately, whether clients make money or lose money trading the market has little do do with how different brokers hedge their book, but rather more to do with the decisions that traders themselves make.

Do you want your broker to give you advice and trading ideas?

If you are looking for a broker to help with trading ideas you need to be very careful. Whether or not you use the suggestions made by your broker. A broker's recommendations should depend significantly on how much of an experienced trader you are.

Online platforms that offer trading to retail customers are not allowed to provide trading ideas, advice or anything that can be considered implied advice.  We’ve covered in detail why you shouldn’t use advisory CFD brokers and why most trading educational courses are a waste of time.

You should not rely on others to help you make decisions in high-risk trading products like futures, options, CFDs and spread betting. Advice from wealth managers structuring your investments in a tax-effective manner through SIPPs and ISAs is one thing, but if a broker is phoning you up trying to get you involved in cryptocurrency (for instance) you should report them to the FCA.

Professional and institutional clients are allowed to discuss the markets and get advice from their brokers. This is because they have been appropriately classified as traders that fully understand the risks involved in the markets and leveraged products. Caveat emptor is a phrase that still applies to this, as trading is really a self-directed form of speculation.

Can you try a broker before you open an account with a demo account?

One of the easiest ways to compare trading platforms is to open a demo account before you apply for a full account. Most demo accounts will give you a good idea of the look and feel of a brokers trading platform and usually come with some virtual funds to trade with so you can test order tickets, layouts and the trading tools that are available on the real platform.

Comparing demo accounts for trading is quick and easy to do as most provide almost instant access after confirming your details via email. Be aware that brokers use demo accounts as a lead generation tool to convert prospects into real traders. Reading reviews and ratings of your shortlist of brokers can also help you identify brokers who will suit you.

However, most salespeople at respectable brokers are very knowledgeable about the technology on their platform and are more than willing to talk to prospective clients on the phone, via email or in-person about the features on offer. One point to note though is that if a salesman is too pushy that should be a warning signal that they are best avoided.

Choosing a broker that offers telephone trading as well as an online platform.

Whilst most traders will choose a broker based on their ability to trade online, having an experienced dealer who can execute trades for you whilst you are not in front of a computer can be very important.

Some traders still prefer to trade over the phone and those that do may form very close relationships with their dealers. Some traders talk to their brokers more than anyone else so make sure that any broker you choose has a good desk of experienced dealers is vital.

Dealing over the phone is also handy if things go wrong and an error needs sorting out or if you have a particularly complicated strategy to execute that requires cross margin calculations that cannot be done online.

Voice brokerage is usually more common for professional and institutional traders, where the funds want to reduce the risk or trading errors by getting their traders to give orders over the phone or messaging systems rather than do it themselves. If you ask a dealer to execute a trade for you and they do it wrong, they will have to make good on what you asked for. Whereas if you are tapping away on a dealing platform and press buy instead of sell, you only have yourself to blame.

Which online broker is best?

Deciding which online broker is best for you depends on so many factors it is difficult to give a generalised answer to which broker is best. However, by considering your needs, features and services like trading assistants and tools that are important to you and your strategy, as well as considering the points discussed here like regulation and market types you are more likely to choose the best broker for you.

Our comparison tables can help you find out what other traders like about the brokers you are considering, what popular features they offer and which brokers offer award-winning customer service or trading platforms.

If you are a beginner, you should be very careful choosing a broker because trading online is very risky. Before you choose a broker make sure you have read all of our reviews which include client satisfaction surveys and reviews by real traders. You can read reviews of brokers by clicking through in the comparison tables.

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