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CFDs are leveraged products and 73% of retail traders lose money when trading CFDs.Cryptocurrencies can widely fluctuate in prices and are not appropriate for all investors. Trading cryptocurrencies is not supervised by any EU regulatory framework. Rankings are influenced by affiliate commissions. All information collected on 1/11/2017.

The Ultimate Guide to

Choosing a Broker
For stocks

Not sure which broker is right for you?

Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered. In this guide, you’ll learn:

Ready?

Part 1

Why Choose
For stocks?

scored best in our review of the top brokers for stocks, which takes into account 120+ factors across eight categories. Here are some areas where scored highly in:

  • + years in business
  • Offers + instruments
  • A range of platform inc.
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Tight spreads from pips
  • Used by 0+ traders
  • Offers demo account
  • 0 languages

offers one way to trade. If you wanted to trade FTSE100

The two most important categories in our rating system are the cost of trading and the broker’s trust score. To calculate a broker’s trust score, we take into account a range of factors, including their regulation history, years in business, liquidity provider etc.

have a trust score, which is . This is largely down to them being regulated by , segregating client funds, being segregating client funds, being established for over

Trust Score comparsion

Trust Score
Year Established
Regulated by
Uses tier 1 banks
Company Type Private Private Private
Segregates client funds

The second thing we look for is the competitiveness of the spreads, and what fees they charge. We’ve compared these in detail in part three of this guide.

Part 2

Who is (& Isn’t)
Suitable For

As mentioned, allows you to trade in one way: .

Suitable for:

  • Spread Betting
  • CFD Trading
  • Forex Trading
  • Social Trading

Not Suitable for:

To trade with , you’ll need a minimum deposit of $. offers a range of different account types for different traders including a , .

Finally, isn’t available in the following countries: . They do not offer islamic accounts .

Part 3

A Comparison of vs. vs.


Want to see how stacks up against and ? We’ve compared their spreads, features, and key information below.



Spread & fee comparsion

The spreads below are illustrative. For more accurate pricing information, click on the names of the brokers at the top of the table to open their websites in a new tab.
Fixed Spreads
Variable Spreads
EUR/USD Spread
GBP/USD Spread
DAX Spread
FTSE 100 Spread
S&P500 Spread

Comparison of account & trading features

Platform
Services
Base currency options
Funding options
Micro account
ECN account

Part 4

What to Consider When Choosing an Online Stock Trading Broker

Trading online may seem daunting and intense, and in many ways it is. It can be fast-paced and making decisions on sudden market moves may not necessarily be something everyone is capable of. However, if you feel it is for you and wish to make a foray into this rather romanticised world, the first thing you will need to consider is what broker to use.

An online stock broker is your point of contact with the markets and the so-called middle-man through which you will action your trades. As such, choosing the right one is something you should pay careful attention to before putting your money on the line. Here are five key points to bear in mind.

Regulation

While it may seem obvious, it is imperative that a broker be regulated by an appropriate authority. There are certain commissions that cater for this, but if at all possible, it is always better to go with one that is regulated by a financial authority. Better yet, a broker that is regulated by a national central bank should be reputable in all its dealings.

Spread and Transaction Fees

Your brokerage, whichever one you chose, will charge you in some way or other. This is to be expected. After all, they are offering a service. Many people seek a broker that simply offers the lowest spread, but with money on the line, it is important to consider other factors. For example, while offering a low spread, is the broker then applying higher transaction fees or quarterly charges on your balance? Some brokerages will charge per trade, but will offer a flat monthly-fee for regular traders. Check all of this before signing up, so that you can find a fee-system that you feel will match your trading goals.

Charting Packages and Trade Processing

Most brokerages offer both free and fee-based charting packages. For those of you unfamiliar with charting packages, they graph price action and allow you to action trades. Meta-Trader 4 is among the most popular, as it is free, though other packages, such as Ninjatrader, offer free demo-accounts. The majority of other packages charge fees on live accounts, while some will even charge for their demo. MT4 is generally reliable and perfectly acceptable when starting out. It also allows you to programme trading software to action trades for you, based on certain market conditions being met. As you progress with your trading career, this feature may prove very useful.

Market Mover

A market mover holds both buy and sell options on an instrument. The instrument is held in inventory by the broker and when you elect to take a position on it, ie buy {go long on your position} or sell {short the position}, the market mover can action it almost immediately. The key is that the broker has direct access to the instrument in question, rather than needing to contact a third party provider. A brokers ability to action and close trades in a timely manner is important, and generally speaking, market-movers can achieve this. Ensure that the broker you choose is known for processing trades in this manner, so that you can enter your position as close to the desired point as possible.

Customer Service

It is important that you have a clear point of contact and a timely response in the event of any issue. As with all services delivered online, connection issues can arise and affect your trade. All good brokers have dedicated customer service teams and are contactable in the event you are uncertain of anything. To get an idea of a brokers reputation, it is a good idea to review posts on a few trading forums and look for any repeated issue.

Below are some useful definitions to help you understand what to look for in a stockbroker.

What is a stock CFD?

A stock Contract For Difference (CFD) is a contract between you and the broker in which you take a position on which way a stock’s price will move. If it moves in the direction you have forecast, you make money whether that movement is up or down.

There are two key differences between this and traditional stock trading. First, you never own the underlying stock. You simply take a view – that you back financially – on what will happen to the stock price. The second difference is that by margin trading, you can use leverage to boost the returns on the position you have taken – but you have to be aware that it will also increase losses to the same extent.

Although there are many advantages to trading with CFDs rather than stocks, there are some disadvantages as well. In this article, we look at both aspects, as well as examining in more detail how CFDs actually work and how you can trade them.

What is a CFD stock broker?

A CFD firm is a broker who will act as the other party in your CFD position. They usually offer CFDs for a wide range of stocks and other types of financial instruments, for example:

As with ordinary stock trading, CFDs are traded with a spread of prices. This means that if you want to buy a CFD, the price you pay to open (buy) your trade is not the same as the price you pay to close (sell) it.

Unlike traditional stockbrokers who charge a commission each time a client buys and sells a stock, the spread is the cost of dealing in CFDs and you need to take it into account when you are calculating a trade and the potential profit or loss for the trade. Until you have covered the spread, you haven’t made any money.

To trade CFDs, you’ll need to open an account with a CFD broker like Plus500.

CFD platforms for trading stocks

As mentioned earlier, CFD brokers usually offer traders a wide variety of instrument in all the world’s leading markets and many niche markets – the larger platforms like Plus500, offer access to thousands of markets. The brokers will often offer access to a range of trading platforms, usually asking the client to select one of the platforms when they open an account. The platform allows clients to access these markets while they are open, without having to interact with each market separately.

One of the most popular platforms for traders is the MT4 platform. Some brokers like AvaTrade will offer the choice between a fixed spread account or a floating spread account, with the floating spread account, the spreads are constantly updated for various financial instruments depending on the market activity. For traders, the size of the spread is a factors that should be considered when choosing a CFD broker.

For example, let’s say a trader believes Barclays shares are going to rise. The trader decides to “go long” Barclays by entering into a contract to buy the shares at a certain price. The trader first visits the website of a broker like Plus500 and checks the spread.

The traders see that with Plus500, clients can sell Barclays at 225.7 and buy at 226.1 That means that Plus500 is currently offering a spread of 0.4. Note that the price must change equal to the spread before the trade will become profitable with a CFD.

How do you trade stocks as a CFD

Suppose a trader believes that Barclays shares are going to fall and makes the decision to use a Barclays CFD to open a position and try to benefit from a fall in the share price.

The trader would first need to choose a CFD broker, such as AvaTrade. The trader will then need to provide the necessary documents and details before making a deposit to start trading.

Different brokers will have different margin requirement attached to the different CFD instruments and will vary from one stock to another. Traders can expect to get a margin of anywhere up to 20:1 for CFD stocks.

This means that for every pound a trader has deposited, they can take out a contract to buy or sell £20.00 of stock (20 times the amount of their deposit). This is one of the main reasons that CFDs are popular amongst traders – CFD brokers give traders the ability to trade more than their initial account size by using leverage.

However, be aware that if the stock price moves very strongly in the opposite direction to the one for which you have a contract, you can find yourself owing more to the broker than you have deposited in your account unless the broker offers negative balance protection.

So the cost of your trade will include the spread, and other fees if any like overnight financing, generally there will be no commission for a CFD broker.

Five Advantages of CFD brokers vs. traditional brokers

  • A broker such as AvaTrade allows you to trade on margin – so you need far less capital to take a substantial position on a stock.
  • Profits are amplified by using leverage – but note that losses are too
  • Traders can access global markets from one trading platform, with very fast execution
  • Commission and fees are not usually charged
  • Day traders have access to tools such as charting and graphing

Five disadvantages of CFD brokers vs. traditional brokers

  • Margin trading means that your deposit – and more – can be rapidly wiped out
  • It’s a case of buyer beware – be sure that you are using trusted broker that is regulated by or reputable organisation like
  • In both cases, traders pay every time you buy and sell
  • If there is little volatility in the market, you may not make much money
  • It can be tempting to overtrade

The difference between trading and investing

Investors tend to take a longer-term view of a share’s performance and are not particularly interested in short-term volatility. They hold the underlying stock, and are therefore interested in dividends as well as share price appreciation.

Traders seek to deploy strategies which will allow them to take advantage of market volatility and share trends. They don’t own the underlying assets and hold positions for a much shorter period.

In short, investors are looking for a payout in the future and traders are looking for a payout in a much shorter time frame, for example scalpers are looking to make a profit within minutes of placing a trade.

Popular CFD trading platforms

See the list of popular CFD platforms for trading stocks here.


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