For a second topic in our “trading platforms” series, after Top stock trading apps, let’s look into CFD trading platforms. One of the types of online trading, contract for difference (CFD) is a contract that enables one of the parties, seller or buyer, to obtain profit from asset price fluctuation.
7 top CFD trading platforms
“Where do I start?” – is a frequent question from inquisitive minds. CFD trading platforms is the apt option to start, a computer software as a gateway to a trading service, where one can buy/sell financial assets. Such platform typically provides various trading types, including CFDs, for transactions between traders directly, or via intermediary/broker/agent, allowing to trade remotely from anywhere. CFD trading may involve stocks, currencies, commodities, shares, etc., and is always performed in pairs (USD to EUR, Shell to Exxon). We’ve selected 7 best CFD trading platforms based on usability, friendliness towards novices, reasonable commissions and other factors.
Account minimum: $1 | Max.leverage 1:50 | Avg.CFD margin: 10%
Founded in 1997, Oanda is one of the best CFD trading platforms both for advance and casual users. It offers trading tools for European, Asian and African countries, Canada and Australia. Oanda is available in web, desktop, mobile versions, as well as provides an API (for purposes of real-time trading, automation, etc.). Demo accounts without any limits, plus educational videos, webinars, Q&A sessions.
- 80 indicators
- Connectivity to MetaTrader4, NinjaTrader, MotiveWave, MultiCharts
- MT4 open order indicator – to analyze market trends
- Historical spreads – min/max/avg spread data for set periods
- Price signals – set price up/down limits, or as simple moving average
- Trading performance portal – visualizations of profits, losses, risk/reward ratio, etc.
- Algo Labs site – for users to create own apps
- FXTrade mobile trading platform (Android, iOS)
There are certain considerations about Oanda as well. Accounts do not have protection against negative balance/slippage, average spreads do not reflect fixed time periods, in the EU the platform operates in a “broker” mode. Average CFD margin is 10% (see margin rules for more).
- Ability to open an account for just $1
- Wide array of currency pairs, asset classes
- API, mobile trading and more sophisticated tools
- Might be difficult for beginners
- Accounts with no slippage protection
- No CFDs for cryptocurrencies
Account minimum: $250 | Max.leverage 1:200 | Avg.CFD margin: 5%
A proprietary, and primarily a web platform (with desktop and mobile applications too), supporting MT4, ProRealTime and L2 Dealer. The charts are quite advanced and flexible, e.g. with the option to set alerts on a specific indicator, and there are 22 indicators in total. Minimum deposit for live accounts is $250, while we can use a demo account first, requiring no amount at all. Sum up all these factors and we have IG as another contender for a best Fx and CFD trading platform.
- Access to thousands of 24-hour share CFD markets
- Split charts – view the same positions on multiple timeframes at the same time
- Operational in 16 countries
- Under FTSE 250 regulation
- Automated trading options and “smart settings” (save deals and values)
- Risk protection – to avoid negative equity, partial or full closing of positions
- Cryptocurrency trading – Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, Ripple
- Works on Chrome, Safari, Mozilla, Edge, IE (IG recommends Chrome)
On the web, IG is streaming news from Reuters and offers frequent research materials via Economic Calendar. Additionally, there is IG Community portal, where traders can discuss nuances among themselves or with IG staff. The platform allows social trading, a.k.a. mirror trading, however it isn’t an autonomous social trading platform.
- Simple account signup, fast verification
- Qualitative trading platforms and tools
- Helpful and reliable customer service
- Not supporting MT5
- Social trading only partial
- Inactivity fee
Account minimum: $0 | Max.leverage 1:500 | Avg.CFD margin: 4%
A global top-tier trading entity with 40+ years on market, IB Group now provides powerful trading software platform, TWS (Trader Workstation). It’s a place where investors can trade stocks, options, futures, bonds and funds on 125 markets within single account. Interactive Brokers is an online trading place with HQ in Connecticut, USA. Products include web portal (IBKR WebTrader), desktop app, mobile platform (IBKR Mobile for iOS and Android devices), IBot, API. There is “zero” minimum deposit policy to start off trading, although no account activity may lead to certain fee.
- Universal account – view/trade multiple assets, trade CFDs in one window
- Reports – including real-time trade alerts, margin information, cost analysis, etc.
- Smart Routing technology to calculate a CFD reference price (the exchange-quote price for a specific share)
- Transparent quotes – IB charges an honest commission on spreads and price movement, without requotes
- FX Trader – with streaming quotes, indicators, volumes, pending trades, etc.
- IBot – a personal helper for quick information on stocks, account balance, etc.
- Portfolio Analyst – reporting and management tool with 200+ benchmarks
- Offline installer of TWS software
Over 60 order types are accessible in TWS, from basic to complex algorithms for CFD trading. Commissions are lower than other platforms offer – depending on the index, starting rates are within 0.005% – 0.01% range. The platform also has risk management and monitoring tools for assets, and offers coherent real-time data for active traders to be able to react quickly.
- Powerful and all-round trading software
- Excellent for market and portfolio analysis
- Low fees, transparent commissions
- TWS will be difficult and time-consuming to start with
- Small or inactive accounts may get maintenance fee
- Regional restrictions in CFD trading
Account minimum: $250 | Max.leverage 1:10 | Avg.CFD margin: 3.33%
A leading European trading company, X-Trade Brokers, or just XTB, established in Poland in 2002. Beside CFD, FX, ETF, and own xStation 5 platform, it also has access to conventional MT4, and it is available as a web service, mobile app and desktop app. With $250 initial account deposit customers get access to 1,500 global markets. Nice bright design, fast speeds, excellent 24/7 support service, API and all the rest defines XTB as the cutting-edge service for professional traders and brokers.
- XStation 5 for desktop, tablet, mobile (Android) and smartwatch
- Trading calculator feature – to preview potential profits and losses
- Stop loss guarantee / negative balance protection
- Free market comments from brokers in audio format
- Equity screening to discover trading opportunities
- Advanced technical indicators, e.g. Fibonacci Retracement
- Stock CFDs (1,500 equities) and ETF CFDs (60 units)
- Leverage on CFDs up to 1:10
- Live performance stats
- Free mobile alerts
With vast number of investment products, indices, commodities, etc. available to trade or invest in, they seem to have it all, however XTB seems to be lacking in spread betting. Demo or live account, immediately after signing up, you will get a phone call to help and guide along the way.
Lots of functions are simple drag-and-drop, there’s a lot of analytical tools, screeners, heatmaps and indicators. Also, constant news feed and daily technical analysis and expert op-eds. Popular EUR/USD spread as of Q2 2019 was 0.00007 pips. There’s also a round turn commission of 0.16%.
- Free educational materials online
- Multiple interface languages
- Customer support via email, chat, phone
- XTB was fined in 2018 for asymmetric price slippage
- Unavailable in many countries
- Basic order types only
Account minimum: $200 | Max.leverage 1:30 | Avg.CFD margin: 30%
#1 social trading platform by eToro Group Limited, founded in 2007 in Cyprus (with offices in England and Israel). Positioned as innovative web platform for trading, eToro stands out from other CFD trading platforms due to social trading possibilities, a.k.a. mirror trading or copy trading – meaning that users may simply follow the actions of trusted brokers and do the same investments. This made it quite popular in 140 countries, having reached over 3 million accounts.
- Social trading + investment platform, 2 in 1
- CopyTrader feature – copy trades and deals
- CopyFunds feature – copy markets (asset groups following trading strategies) and copy top trader funds
- Ability to view transactions of any member for the whole period
- Stop loss – set a minimum amount of money on account
- 24/7 market hours
- eToro Economic Calendar – to see events that may impact trades
- Trading Academy – page with webinars, courses, blog
Note, that you can withdraw as little as $50, though a minimum withdrawal fee is $25. There is also a $10 inactivity fee, if you have not logged into account for 12 months. eToro complies with multiple regulations and bodies, takes the issue of cybersecurity seriously and is helpful to customers 24/5. In terms of contracts for difference, check out how CFDs on eToro work. Also, be aware of $25 withdrawal fee on every deal.
- Quick account opening
- Reasonable fees and commissions
- User-friendly interface, multiple languages
- High non-trading commissions
- Less trading assets in comparison to other platforms
- Inactivity fee
Account minimum: $100 | Max.leverage 1:300 | Avg.CFD margin: 3.33%
Plus500UK Ltd, represented in and oriented on UK, European, Asia-Pacific, South African markets, and accordingly regulated by British, Australian, Cyprian authorities. Although not available in Canada and the USA, Plus500 is a highly popular trading platform (over 5M downloads from the Play Store). Account deposit is at $100 minimum for debit/credit cards, $500 for bank transfers. CFDs for trading include stocks, forex, indices, commodities, and even cryptocurrencies. S&P500, Euro/Pound, Euro/Dollar, gold, oil… you got it.
- Negative balance protection (guaranteed stop loss)
- 2-step authentication
- Price and real-time market alerts
- Cryptocurrency CFDs – IOTA, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum
- Free demo account without limitations
- Economic calendar with relevant and real-time events
- Risk management settings – e.g. limits to close at certain profit/loss, trailing stop
- 24/7 online support
What makes Plus500 one of the most attractive CFD trading platforms is a zero fee (yes, zero) for multiple actions, i.e. deposits, forex quotes, open/close trades, live CFD prices. What users pay is a spread for opening a position (bid). Additional fees may incur for overnight trading, stop order, account inactivity. Also, note that when logging into account on two devices, one of those will be disconnected.
- Keeping customer costs in real bank account
- Simple workflow, quick sign up online
- Multiple languages, round-the-clock support
- No MT4 connectivity
- Inactivity $10 fee after 3 months
- Numerous customer complaints about scams
Account minimum: $5,000 | Max.leverage 1:100 | Avg.CFD margin: 1%
A Swiss online bank, Dukascopy Bank, provides web and mobile trading services, including CFD, foreign exchange, etc., banking services, technological solutions. It is under the regulation of Swiss supervisory body FINMA. Desktop trading platform, titled JForex 3, contains hundreds of indicators, news feed, historical testing. Through it or MT4 traders can implement automated and algorithmic strategies. Both demo and live accounts, although CFD trading is available only for regular live accounts. The minimum deposit for account is probably the highest among all CFD trading platforms – $5,000.
- Markets: oil, gas, copper, 5 soft commodities, 18 indices, 2 bonds, liquid stock CFDs
- 24 trading hours for most instruments
- Equal prices and trading rights for all clients (marketplace model)
- Funding by credit card, deposits in 23 currencies
- Deposit protection by a bank up to 100,000 CHF
- MetaTrader 4 accounts support, 1:100 default leverage
- Swiss Forex marketplace – SWFX – a proprietary service by Dukascopy
- Fix API – to integrate, get real-time data and notifications, submit orders, etc.
- Help – wiki, tutorials, webinars, seminars
CFD prices are in correlation with SWFX marketplace price technology, and every client may impact a price by own bids and offers. Commissions are clearly defined, yet to calculate average spreads, one has to study daily/monthly/quarterly SWFX performance data. There are also additional account management fees, volume commissions, outgoing transfers fees, withdrawal fees, etc.
- JForex proprietary platform by a real Swiss bank
- Extensive research and analytic materials
- Good customer support 24/6
- Large initial deposit
- High commissions for low deposit traders
|Demo account||Min.deposit||Min.fee||Total pairs||Max.leverage||Mobile app||API|
As a bottom line, we are compelled to say that the choice of CFD platform depends on factors, such as broker expertise level, personal or business investment requirements, user interface preferences, markets and commission rates. That’s why there are more trading platforms beyond our list above, that are popular too. For instance, Poems by Phillip Capital is in demand in Asia-Pacific region, Muslim countries seem to prefer Orex by ADSS Securities. eToro fits well for beginners, while City Index and LCG Trader are favored by skillful investors.
Financial pundits predict further increase of CFD transactions in 2019-2020. CFD has its pros (access to global markets, lower margin rates, reasonable commissions and fees) and cons (high leverage, big risks of losing money), and therefore require a great deal of knowledge, trading experience and persistence.
What is CFD
CFD is an intricate financial instrument, which is quite popular in countries like the UK, Austria, Switzerland, France, Germany, Russia, Singapore, Norway, etc., although not allowed in the USA, India. Its has compelling benefits, e.g. being a derivative tool – so no ownership of assets is required; huge leverage rates – allowing to operate with costs much higher than initial deposit; less strict limitations for trading. Overall, there’s a lot to learn if you want to start trading differences. Herein, we’d like to talk about CFD trading platforms – as great entry points for beginners and tools to minimize risks.
P.S. Honorable mentions: City Index, AMarkets, LCG Trader, Orex, Poems, SaxoTrader, FxPro.