Best Spread Betting Brokers

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Spread betting is a type of trading wrapper that tax residents of the UK and Ireland may use to avoid a legal requirement to pay tax on trading profits. This obviously can make profitable trading considerably more profitable and is offered by most of the major Forex brokers targeting clients in the UK and Ireland.

Read on to view my shortlist of the best spread betting brokers below, followed by an explanation of the criteria you should use to choose the best one for you.

1
The ratings shown on DailyForex.com are determined by hours of research from our editorial team into over 10 factors, including account fees, deposit/withdrawal options, regulatory status, tradable assets, and more.
Best all around broker
High floating leverage + fast execution
2
The ratings shown on DailyForex.com are determined by hours of research from our editorial team into over 10 factors, including account fees, deposit/withdrawal options, regulatory status, tradable assets, and more.
ECN-style trading
Daily market research and Autochartist access
3
The ratings shown on DailyForex.com are determined by hours of research from our editorial team into over 10 factors, including account fees, deposit/withdrawal options, regulatory status, tradable assets, and more.
High level regulation in multiple jurisdictions
Impressive range of tradeable assets including vanilla options and gold options
4
The ratings shown on DailyForex.com are determined by hours of research from our editorial team into over 10 factors, including account fees, deposit/withdrawal options, regulatory status, tradable assets, and more.
Solid broker for scalping and hedging
Institutional-style trading opportunities for retail traders
5
The ratings shown on DailyForex.com are determined by hours of research from our editorial team into over 10 factors, including account fees, deposit/withdrawal options, regulatory status, tradable assets, and more.
Trade 1,000+ financial instruments
Experience low, competitive spreads
Multiple funding and swift withdrawal options

  • FXTM, Best all-around broker with high floating leverage and fast execution.
  • FP Markets, ECN trading with leverage up to 1:500..
  • AvaTrade, Highly regulated, choice of fixed or floating spreads.
  • BlackBull Markets, Best ECN trading environment, with scalping and hedging.
  • Eightcap, Competitive pricing + excellent daily videos.

FXTM

5.0/5 in this category
In Summary
Best all-around broker with high floating leverage and fast execution

We have made FXTM one of our top-rated brokers because in addition to its lengthy track record, it enjoys a very high level of regulation and reputation, and it offers a highly competitive fee structure which tends to keep down the cost of trading.

Pros
  • Excellent commission-based Forex pricing environment and transparency

  • Upgraded MT4/MT5 trading platforms plus proprietary mobile trading app

  • Quality market research and educational content for beginner traders

  • Proprietary copy trading platform, low minimum deposit, and high leverage

Cons
  • Limited choice of cryptocurrencies and commodities

FP Markets

5.0/5 in this category
In Summary
ECN trading with leverage up to 1:500.

fpmarkets is an ASIC-regulated Australian brokerage which launched in 2005. For most traders, the unique selling point of this broker is in the extremely wide range of tradable assets offered, providing the opportunity to trade over ten thousand individual stocks and shares including publicly quoted Hong Kong and Australian companies. Ffpmarkets also offers 60 Forex pairs and crosses, 11 equity indices, the major commodities, and 5 cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin. fpmarkets offers an unusual hybrid ECN/STP execution model, meaning their clients can choose between ECN style of execution giving a very high level of speed, and a “straight through processing” execution style which allows for more “natural” spreads.

FP Markets Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Choice of trading platforms and auxiliary trading tools

  • Very competitive cost structure and excellent asset selection

  • Low minimum deposit requirement and leverage of up to 1:500

  • Well-regulated and trustworthy

Cons
  • Availability of Iress geographically restricted

AvaTrade

5.0/5 in this category
In Summary
Highly regulated, choice of fixed or floating spreads

AvaTrade presents spread bettors with a user-friendly trading platform, Ava Web Trading. The minimum deposit is $100 or a currency equivalent, lower than the equivalent at many competing spread betting brokers. The asset class selection for spread betting accounts consists of Forex, commodities, indices, and FX options, sufficient for entry-level cross-asset diversification. Three copy trading services cater to passive spread bettors.

The commission-free price structure features higher-end spreads and swaps, but overall trading costs remain within a reasonable range. The maximum leverage offered for retail spread betting is 1:30.

Beginner traders get one of the best educational platforms at AvaTrade via its spun-out SharpTrader business unit. More than 40 lessons and 200 videos create an in-depth introduction to trading. With seven regulators, AvaTrade is also one of the most highly regulated Forex brokers.

Pros
  • High-quality educational offering via SharpTrader

  • Excellent choice of trading platforms catering to various trading needs

  • Broad asset selection and cross-asset diversification opportunities

  • Well-regulated and trusted broker with oversight from a central bank

Cons
  • Trading costs competitive but nothing special

BlackBull Markets

4.5/5 in this category
In Summary
Best ECN trading environment, with scalping and hedging

BlackBull Markets was founded in 2014 in New Zealand. Like many antipodean Forex brokers, BlackBull Markets is an ECN broker, offering raw spreads and commissions. They are regulated in New Zealand by the Financial Services Providers Register (FSPR) and offer a maximum leverage on some Forex currency pairs as high as 500 to 1. In addition to their global headquarters in New Zealand, BlackBull Markets also has presences in the form of branch offices in New York and Malaysia. BlackBull Markets offers a relatively tight range of tradable assets: 27 Forex currency pairs and crosses, gold, silver, crude oil, natural gas, and 6 major equity indices. That should be sufficient for those traders with more focused strategies not requiring wide diversification.

BlackBull Markets Pros & Cons

Pros
  • ECN/NDD execution model with deep liquidity

  • Institution-grade pricing for retail traders via proprietary price aggregation

  • ZuluTrade and Myfxbook for social trading

  • Leverage of up to 1:500

Cons
  •  Limited deposit options

Eightcap

4.5/5 in this category
In Summary
Competitive pricing + excellent daily videos

Eightcap Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Low minimum deposit and high leverage of up to 1:500

  • Competitive cost structure

  • Excellent technology infrastructure and seasoned management team

  • Daily research and quality educational content

Cons
  • Limited leverage in some areas

What to Look for When Evaluating a Spread Betting Broker

  1. Regulation and Security: Trading with a regulated broker is something all spread bettors should ensure. While it does not eliminate risks, it drastically decreases the risk of malpractice and fraud. Regulated spread betting brokers also have a reputation to maintain and are less likely to violate rules and regulations. Some exceptions to the regulatory environment exist, where trustworthy brokers operate out of business-friendly jurisdictions but supplement the absence of regulation or light regulation with security features on par with or superior to what regulated brokers offer.
  • Since the UK accounts for most spread betting activity, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) remains the most trusted and capable spread betting regulator. Ireland comes in second, where the Central Bank of Ireland regulates the financial sector.
  • UK and Irish traders may open a spread betting account with any international broker, widening the choice for traders. Many have a regulated office in the UK, which exposes traders to the UK regulatory environment and does not offer friendlier trading rules. Since the UK left the European Union, the FCA may revert to the competitive trading environment before the European Securities and Markets Authority introduced arguably uncompetitive changes. UK brokers launched massive campaigns to oppose the rule changes and are currently hoping for a return to the previous trading environment. There is no guarantee or timetable that the FCA will act, so this it remains an area spread betting brokers and bettors will monitor closely.
  1. Trading Costs: Spread betting is commission-free, but trading costs vary notably between spread betting brokers. Some beginner traders mistakenly dismiss minor differences in the spread, but it makes a notable difference over time. Trading with a low-cost spread betting broker lowers the break-even threshold and will increase overall profitability.
  • For example, a spread betting broker quoting the EUR/USD, the most liquid currency pair with the lowest spread, with a mark-up of 0.8 pips versus another one listing it at 1 pip, creates a $2.00 per 100,000 currency units or 1 standard lot difference. High-volume traders will experience higher cost savings and can save thousands in monthly trading costs.
  • Swap rates on leveraged overnight positions are another cost many spread bettors unwisely dismiss. Spread betting relies on leverage and spread betting brokers levy financing costs, known as swap rates, on leveraged overnight positions. The most common formula is LIBOR + a percentage mark-up at the discretion of the spread betting broker, usually between 2.00% and 4.00%. It is worth checking what is on offer carefully.
  1. Asset Selection: Choice of tradable assets differs between spread betting brokers. Some limit the available trading instruments for spread bettors versus CFD traders, while others offer their complete list to both.
  • Each trader has different asset selection requirements and must select a spread betting broker providing enough suitable instruments for their trading approach. There is no right amount, but the broader the choice, the greater the overall opportunity and diversification options.
  1. Account Types: At most brokers, spread betting is the account type, but some offer a multi-tier structure, either based on deposits, portfolio size, or monthly trading volume. Higher tiers will unlock improved trading conditions. Not all upgrades make sense, and some just serve marketing purposes. Spread bettors should carefully evaluate each tier, and the required conditions, as a reasonable structure can result in notable trading condition improvements, which will increase profitability.
  • Spread bettors should focus on improvements to trading costs via a reduction in the spread. Many spread betting brokers advertise additions like a personal account manager, which is pointless. Unless higher account tiers provide an actionable improvement to trading, spread bettors should avoid multi-tier account structures.
  1. Trading Platforms: The better spread betting brokers will usually offer a proprietary trading platform, with support for algorithmic trading via API for advanced solutions. This is a sign of the investment the broker committed into its trading environment.
  • A trading platform of choice should offer a user-friendly interface with swift navigation. A clutter-free workspace can improve trading efficiency.
  • A range of technical indicators and multi-chart toggling are two of the most-requested features, but few spread betting brokers offer them.
  • Fundamental tools, like an economic calendar, earnings, and dividend calendars, plus a streaming news service are essential short-term trading tools.
  • Support for algorithmic and copy trading should exist.
  • Spread betting brokers providing the MT4 or MT5 trading platforms should offer upgrades to the out-of-the-box versions.
  1. Unique Features: Spread bettors should not rely on potential unique features but view them as secondary considerations. Should two or more brokers provide an identical core trading environment, they can assist traders in making a final tie-breaking choice.
  • Many brokers offer unique features that carry little to no significance. Traders should look for ones that will improve their trading conditions. They can consist of free VPS hosting, API trading, or proprietary trading tools.
  1. Customer Support: The best spread betting brokers explain their products and services well, while their FAQ section answers the most common questions. It eliminates the need for active customer support unless an unlikely emergency materializes. Despite this, easily accessible customer support must exist.
  • Trustworthy spread betting brokers will provide a valid phone number, the best contact method for emergencies.
  • Traders can resolve non-urgent matters via live chat if it is available.
  • 24/7 multilingual support is ideal but not an option at most spread betting brokers. The availability of customer support during regular business hours is acceptable.
  • The finance department should have a dedicated phone support line, as most issues traders face will deal with financial transactions.
  1. Bonuses and Promotions: While bonuses and promotions can benefit spread bettors, they should not influence your broker decision-making process. As a tertiary product, they can complement a competitive core trading environment.
  • Before accepting bonuses and promotions, bettors should read and understand the terms and conditions that apply.
  • A volume-based rebate program will lower overall trading costs.
  • Traders will benefit from deposit bonuses for long-term portfolio growth if the terms and conditions remain reasonable.
  • Spread bettors should ignore non-withdrawable bonuses, as they deprive them of actual trading capital.
  1. Account Opening Process: A convenient and swift account opening process is a requirement. Ideally, traders can complete the initial step in less than fifteen seconds, free of unnecessary questionnaires.
  • Some brokers allow traders to sign-up by using social media profiles.
  • Trusted spread betting brokers comply with AML/KYC requirements, as mandated by regulators. The absence of account verification should raise a red flag. A copy of their ID and one proof of residency document no older than three months will satisfy AML/KYC rules for most traders, but brokers may ask for additional documents.
  1. Deposits & Withdrawals: Deposits at most spread betting brokers remain free of charge, but bettors should ensure the same applies to withdrawals. Third-party payment processor costs generally apply but are outside the control of brokers.
  • Traders should avoid brokers that levy internal withdrawal fees.
  • Keeping trading-related financial transactions separate from day-to-day banking operations will provide a clear overview. It also assists traders and their accountants during tax season.
  • Spread bettors must also consider the fees from their preferred payment processor to their bank unless a debit card is available.
  • A growing number of spread betting brokers offer cryptocurrencies, an attractive alternative for traders.

Spread Betting Explained

Spread betting is a form of derivatives trading where the “trader” bets on the outcome of a price movement of an underlying. For example, while a Forex trader might buy EUR/USD and hope to sell at a higher price and collect profit, a spread bettor might bet with a similar amount to the trader’s risk on the trade, that the price will rise, and collect a similar profit if he or she is successful.

Forex spread betting differs from spot trading in form, rather than outcome.

Spread betting can enjoy a beneficial tax treatment in the UK and Ireland. It is a well-established method of gaming and financial speculation in this region.

In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates both financial and Forex spread betting.

What are the similarities between spread betting and CFD trading?

  • Spread betting and CFD trading are both forms of derivative trading.
  • Both allow speculation on price action without direct ownership of the underlying asset.
  • Leverage can be used in both spread betting and CFD trading.
  • Many brokers pass corporate actions like dividends, splits, and mergers on to traders or bettors in both formats.
  • Traders/bettors can each make money when the market rises (long bet/long trade) and when the market falls (short bet/short trade).

What are the differences between spread betting and CFD trading?

  • Spread betting profits are generally not subject to income or capital gains tax in the UK and Ireland, while profits from CFD trading are.
  • CFD brokers often charge commission as well as spread, whereas spread bettors are usually charged only spread and no commission.
  • The UK is the primary market for spread betting, whereas CFDs are popular all over the world.
  • Most spread betting brokers or accounts offer a narrower range of assets than CFD brokers or accounts, although spread betting brokers with a relatively wide asset offer can be found.

How is spread betting different from share dealing?

  • Spread betting involves no direct ownership of the underlying asset while share dealing does.
  • Share dealing brokers generally offer no leverage or very low leverage, and therefore require notably more capital as margin than spread betting brokers.
  • Spread betting is usually free of commission charges, while share dealing almost always incurs commission.
  • Trader must pay capital gains tax on share dealing profits while spread betting profits are not subject to capital gains tax (in the UK and Ireland).
  • Spread betting allows bettors to profit from price movement in either direction (long or short), but share dealing is usually buy/long only.

Comparative examples of a spread bet vs a CFD trade vs a share deal:

I use UK telecommunication giant Vodafone PLC (VOD) as an example, trading with a bid (buy price) of 110 pence and an ask (sell price) of 111 pence, and a transaction volume of 10,000 shares, opened and closed during the trading session.

Share deal:

  • Buy 10,000 share of VOD @ 110 pence (10,000 shares x 110 pence = 1,100,000 pence or £11,000 capital requirement).
  • Spread cost of £100 (10,000 shares x 0.01 spread or the difference between bid/ask price).
  • 0.10% commission or £11.00 (£11,000 x 0.10%).
  • Price moves 20 pence higher to 130/131 (bid/ask).
  • Profit equals £2,000 (10,000 shares x 20 pence = 200,000 pence or £2,000).
  • 0.10% commission or £13.00.
  • 20.00% capital gains tax or £200 (£2,000 gross profit x 20.00%).
  • Gross profit of £2,000.
  • Trading costs of £324 (spread cost of £100, capital gains tax of £200, and commissions of £24).
  • Net profit of £1,676 (gross profit of £2,000 - trading costs of £324).

Note:

  • When opening this share deal, before any move in price happens, the trader faces an immediate floating loss of £100, due to the spread.

CFD Trade:

  • Buy 10,000 CFDs of VOD @ 110 pence with leverage of 1:20 (10,000 CFDs x 110 pence = 1,100,000 pence or £11,000 trade value / 20 leverage for a capital requirement of £550).
  • Spread cost of £100 (10,000 CFDs x 0.01 spread or the difference between bid/ask price).
  • 0.10% commission or £11.00 (£11,000 x 0.10%).
  • Price moves 20 pence higher to 130/131 (bid/ask).
  • Profit equals £2,000 (10,000 CFDs x 20 pence = 200,000 pence or £2,000).
  • 0.10% commission or £13.00.
  • 20.00% capital gains tax or £200 (£2,000 gross profit x 20.00%).
  • Gross profit of £2,000.
  • Trading costs of £324 (spread cost of £100, capital gains tax of £200, and commissions of £24).
  • Net profit of £1,676 (gross profit of £2,000 - trading costs of £324).

Please Note:

  • When opening this share deal, without a move in price action, the trader faces an automatic loss of £100, the spread cost, which traders must cover to break even.
  • Capital requirements decreased from £11,000 for share dealing to £550 for CFD trading due to 1:20 leverage.
  • Trading costs of a share deal and a CFD trade remained the same.

Spread Bet:

  • Bet £10 per spread point of VOD @ 110 pence (equivalent to buying 10,000 shares) with leverage of 1:20 (10,000 shares x 110 pence = 1,100,000 pence or £11,000 trade value / 20 leverage for a capital requirement of £550).
  • Spread cost of £100 (10,000 shares x 0.01 spread or the difference between the bid/ask price).
  • Price moves 20 pence higher to 130/131 (bid/ask).
  • Profit equals £2,000 (£10 per spread point x 200 points = £2,000).
  • Trading costs of £100 (spread cost of £100).
  • Net profit of £1,900 (gross profit of £2,000 - trading costs of £100).

Please Note:

  • When opening this share deal, without a move in price action, the trader faces an automatic loss of £100, the spread cost, which traders must cover to break even.
  • Capital requirements for a spread bet and a CFD trade are the same due to 1:20 leverage – lower than the capital requirement for an unleveraged share deal of the same size.
  • Trading costs in a share deal and a CFD trade remain the same but are notably lower for a spread bet amid the absence of trading commissions (and assuming profit will not be liable to capital gains tax).

Essential Facts About Spread Betting

  • Spread betting is focused on the UK and Ireland as these are the jurisdictions that give it tax advantages.
  • Bettors receive all corporate actions like dividends, splits, and mergers, with long positions getting such value added to the balance and short positions having it deducted.
  • Spread betting, like CFD trading, is ideal for short-term trading due to the use of leverage, which incurs daily financing fees known as swap rates, usually LIBOR + a percentage mark-up at the discretion of the spread betting broker.
  • The longer a trader maintains a spread bet, the more expensive it gets due to daily swap rates on leveraged overnight positions. The situation is the same in CFD trading.
  • Spread betting is available for Forex, but most of the total betting volume is in equity, index, and commodity trades.
  • Spread betting is commission-free but spread betting brokers usually make up for this by increasing the spread (the difference between the bid and the ask price) to compensate.
  • Assets with relatively high liquidity have lower spreads, and vice versa.

The advantages and disadvantages of spread betting

Spread betting comes with unique advantages, but it is not suitable for all traders. Before deciding if spread betting is appropriate for you, please consider the following advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of spread betting are:

  • Spread betting can be tax-free for residents of the UK and Ireland.
  • Spread betting brokers offer commission-free spread betting.
  • Relatively low capital requirements due to the use of leverage.

The disadvantages of spread betting are:

  • Swap rates on leveraged overnight positions can make longer-term trading expensive.
  • Higher spreads due to the absence of commissions.
  • Narrower asset selection compared CFD trading and share dealing, varying by broker.

Are There Differences Between Financial Spread Betting and Spread Betting in Forex?

Most of the core elements between financial spread betting and Forex spread betting are identical but some differences exist.

The similarities between financial spread betting and Forex spread betting are:

  • Tax-free trading.
  • Commission-free trading with wider spreads on assets.
  • Leveraged trading accounts and swap rates on leveraged overnight positions.
  • Speculation on price action without taking ownership of the underlying asset.
  • Availability restricted to the UK and Ireland.

The differences between financial spread betting and Forex spread betting are:

  • Financial spread betting offers access to a broad range of markets, while Forex spread betting deals with exchange rate fluctuations between two currencies.
  • Corporate actions like dividends, splits, and mergers impact financial spread betting but do not influence Forex spread betting.

Note:

While the term "spread betting" includes the word "betting," the UK financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), regulates this sector, and not the UK Gambling Commission, which is the regulator for spread betting on sports.

Final Thoughts

There are excellent reasons to choose spread betting, instead of CFD or spot Forex trading, as a method for speculating on Forex, equities, or commodities, if you pay tax in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. This is because profits can be entirely free of tax if they are not your main income, which can effectively boost the performance of a profitable trader by approximately one-third.

There are no substantial differences between spread betting and CFD trading except many spread betting brokers tend to offer a narrower choice of assets. In terms of asset selection, indices, individual equities, and Forex tend to be well-represented as asset classes at major spread betting brokers, so traders interested primarily in these asset classes should face little difficulty in finding a suitable broker for their spread betting needs.

It is worth noting that UK and Irish regulation prevents brokers from offering leverage higher than 1:30 on Forex currency pairs, so it will be very hard to find a spread betting broker offering higher leverage than that for a bettor resident in the UK or Ireland.

FAQs

Who regulates spread betting?

Spread betting remains regulated as a financial derivative. Since the UK accounts for the bulk of spread betting, the primary regulator is the FCA.

Is spread betting profitable?

The profitability of spread betting depends entirely on the trader. Spread betting has one distinct advantage over CFD trading, as it can produce tax-free profits.

Huzefa Hamid

I’m a trader and manage my own capital. I trade the major Forex pairs, some Futures contracts, and I rely entirely on Technical Analysis to place my trades. Today, I am also a Senior Analyst for DailyForex.com. I began trading the markets in the early 1990s, at the age of sixteen. I had a few hundred British pounds saved up (I grew up in England), with which I was able to open a small account with some help from my Dad. I started my trading journey by buying UK equities that I had read about in the business sections of newspapers. The 1990s were a bull market, so naturally, I made money. I was fortunate enough in my early twenties to have a friend that recommended a Technical Analysis course run by a British trader who emphasized raw chart analysis without indicators. Having this first-principles approach to charts influences how I trade to this day.