11 Best Spread Betting Platforms UK for 2023

Spread betting allows you to trade online without paying any capital gains tax on your profits. You’ll also be able to trade with leverage and even short-sell your preferred markets.

In this guide, we reveal the 11 best spread betting platforms in the UK for 2023. We rank the leading spread betting providers for supported assets, licensing, fees, payments, and much more.

The Top UK Spread Betting Platforms Ranked

Listed below are the 11 best spread betting platforms in the UK right now:

  1. AvaTrade: AvaTrade is a popular CFD and spread betting platform that was founded in 2006. It supports commission-free spread betting markets across shares, indices, forex, and commodities. Leverage and short-selling are on all supported markets. Spreads are competitive, with EUR/USD starting at 0.9 points. Large-cap shares like Apple and Amazon can be traded from 0.13% per slide.
  2. Trade Nation: This spread betting platform supports a wide range of markets, including forex, indices, shares, and bonds. You can spread bet from a minimum of $1 (about 80p) per point and no trading commissions are charged. Spreads vary depending on the market, with US-listed shares starting at $0.02 per slide. You can spread bet with leverage of up to 1:30 and both long and short positions are supported.
  3. Admirals – Access over 8,000 instruments and CFDs with this low-cost spread betting platform. Admirals supports fractional sharing from £1 and offers a demo account to practice trades.
  4. Pepperstone: Pepperstone supports more than a thousand spread betting markets, including shares from the UK and abroad. You can also spread bet commodities, forex, and indices. No commissions are charged at Pepperstone, and all supported markets can be traded with leverage. Most importantly, Pepperstone is regulated by the FCA.
  5. Capital.com: This spread betting supports over 2,800 UK and international shares. The latter includes shares from Asia, Europe, the US, and Australia. Capital.com also supports indices, forex, and commodities. No commissions are charged on any spread betting markets. If you fund your account with a debit/credit card or e-wallet, the minimum deposit is just £20.
  6. CMC Markets: CMC Markets is an FCA-regulated spread betting platform that’s also covered by the FSCS. It supports over 12,000 spread betting markets, including shares, ETFs, bonds, indices, commodities, and forex. Minimum spreads on forex are just 0.6 points and 0.5 points on the S&P 500 index. No minimum deposit requirements are in place.
  7. City Index: This spread betting broker has been regulated by the FCA since 1983. This established platform supports over 8,500 spread betting markets, covering shares, forex, indices, and commodities. No commissions are charged when spread betting and minimum spreads are tight. For instance, commodities can be traded from just 0.05 points per slide.
  8. IG: Another established spread betting platform in the market, IG, was founded in 1974. You’ll have over 17,000 spread betting markets to choose from. This includes UK and international shares, commodities, indices, and forex. Spreads are competitive, with major forex pairs starting at 0.6 pips. There is a minimum deposit requirement of £250.
  9. Spreadex: Spreadex offers spread betting markets across two key divisions. First, it offers financial spread betting across shares, indices, forex, and commodities. Second, you can also spread bet sportsbook markets, such as football, cricket, rugby, and snooker. Spreadex was founded in 1999 and is regulated by both the FCA and the Gambling Commission.
  10. Markets.com: This spread betting broker supports major markets like shares, ETFs, indices, and commodities. Interestingly, Markets.com also allows you to spread bet IPOs. This is based on the firm’s target IPO price, so you’ll be speculating whether it lists higher or lower.
  11. FXCM: FXCM will appeal to first-time spread bettors who want to trade with small amounts. At this broker, the minimum spread bet is just 7p per point. Moreover, the minimum deposit is just £50. FXCM supports many spread betting markets, including shares, indices, forex, and commodities.

Best Stock Betting Brokers Reviewed

To choose the best spread betting platform in the UK, you’ll need to assess many different metrics. Not only supported markets and fees, but minimum bet sizes, accepted payment types, and licensing.

Below, you’ll find comprehensive reviews of the 10 best spread betting platforms in the UK for 2023.

1. AvaTrade – 0% Commission Spread Betting Platform With Free Demo Accounts

AvaTrade is our top-rated spread betting platform for 2023. It was founded in 2006 and is licensed in nine different countries. Moreover, AvaTrade was voted the most reliable UK trading platform in 2023 by World Business Stars Magazine. We also like AvaTrade for its low pricing structure. All supported UK and international spread betting markets can be traded commission-free.

Moreover, you’ll find that spreads are very competitive. For example, if you’re looking to spread bet forex, EUR/USD spreads start from 0.9 points. Dozens of major, minor, and exotic forex pairs are supported. If you’re more interested in spread betting shares, you’ll have access to UK, US, and European markets. Spreads on large-cap US shares like Apple, Amazon, and Netflix start at 0.13% per slide.

AvaTrade review

AvaTrade is also popular for spread betting commodity spot markets. You can spread bet gold at $0.29 above the market rate, which is competitive. You can also trade silver, cotton, oil, wheat, natural gas, and cocoa. We also found that AvaTrade is a great option for spread betting indices. Popular markets include the FTSE 100, S&P 500, Dow Jones, and plenty of other international markets.

Other supported markets include options, ETFs, and bonds. If you like the sound of AvaTrade, you’ll need to deposit at least £100 to open an account. You can also opt for a free demo account – no deposit is needed. Payment types at AvaTrade include debit/credit cards, bank wires, and selected e-wallets.

Supported Spread Betting Markets Pricing System Fee to Spread Bet Amazon Stock Min. Deposit Top Features
  • Shares
  • ETFs
  • Forex
  • Indices
  • Commodities
  • Bonds
  • Options
  • 0% commission, spreads vary depending on the market
  • Commission-free, spreads start at 0.13% per slide
  • £100
 
  • Licensed in nine different countries
  • Offers a huge range of spread betting markets
  • Competitive spreads and 0% commission
  • Free demo accounts available to all traders

Pros pros

  • 0% commission on all spread betting and CFD markets
  • Native trading platform comes packed with analysis tools
  • One of the few spread betting platforms to support bonds
  • Competitive spreads – US-listed shares start at 0.13% per slide

Cons cons

  • Advertised spreads are often only available during busy market conditions

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

2. Trade Nation – Heavily Regulated Spread Betting Platform Supporting Multiple Asset Classes 

Trade Nation is also one of the best spread betting platforms in the UK. This provider is heavily regulated; Not only is it licensed by the FCA but also in South Africa, Bahamas, Seychelles, and Australia. Trade Nation offers plenty of spread betting markets across multiple asset classes. This includes popular indices found in the UK, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, the US, Germany, France, and Spain.

This is a great way to speculate on the rise and fall of entire economies. Moreover, Trade Nation supports individual shares. You can spread bet UK shares at a spread of 5 basis points per slide. European shares are slightly more expensive at 10 basis points per slide. US shares can be traded from $0.02 per slide. In addition, Trade Nation also allows you to spread bet commodities.

Trade Nation review

This includes precious metals like gold, silver, zinc, and lead. You can also trade Brent and US light crude oil. Both of these oil markets offer a spread of 3 basis points. No commissions are charged on any supported spread betting markets. This is also the case with CFDs. When spread betting at Trade Nation, you’ll be using its native platform – TN Trader.

This can be accessed via web browsers and an app for iOS and Android. You can start off with a free demo facility before making a deposit – no account is required. If you open a real money account, you can deposit funds with a debit/credit card, Skrill, or Bitcoin. No deposit or withdrawal fees are charged.

Supported Spread Betting Markets Pricing System Fee to Spread Bet Amazon Stock Min. Deposit Top Features
  • Shares
  • Forex
  • Indices
  • Commodities
  • Bonds
  • 0% commission, spreads vary depending on the market.
  • Commission-free, spreads start from $0.02 per slide

 

  • No minimum deposit
 
  • Regulated in multiple countries, including the UK and Australia
  • Low spread betting fees
  • Fee-free deposits and withdrawals
  • Free demo facility without needing to open an account

Pros pros

  • Spread betting markets include shares, indices, bonds, commodities, and forex
  • No commissions to pay when spread betting
  • US-listed share spreads start from $0.02 per slide
  • Get started without needing to meet a minimum deposit requirement
  • Heavily regulated spread betting platform

Cons cons

  • Limited research tools supported

‌Contract for differences are complex financial instruments that requires knowledge and understating as it involves a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

3. Admirals – Trade Over 8,000 Instruments with this Low-Cost Spread Betting Platform 

The next top spread betting platform to watch is Admirals. This platform offers a mix of spot trading and Contract for Differences (CFDs) assets. In total, users can access more than 8,000 assets on Admirals. 

Admirals supports over 80 forex pairs and is known for charging some of the lowest spreads. For instance, users can trade the popular GBP/USD FX pair for just 0.5 pips. Those looking to diversify their portfolios can access more than 40 index CFDs, treasury bonds, and commodities such as metal, agriculture, and energy. 

Admirals trades

To trade CFDs, users can access the Trade.MT5 account. This will give you access to hundreds of CFD trading options. More than 3,000 share CFDs can be accessed through this account. When trading the Amazon CFDs, users typically pay 0.65 pips and a fixed commission of $0.02 per side. However, this particular account type allows you to get 6 free commissions on trades every day. 

Beginner investors can take advantage of the Admirals demo account to practice new trading strategies risk-free. Investors trading on a lower budget can practice fractional investing. Through this feature, one can buy a portion of a share, starting at just £1. The minimum deposit amount is set at £25. 

Users can also access Admirals’ own wallet, where all assets are stored together. Users can also exchange currencies on the wallet and trade Gold. The platform supports debit/credit cards and bank transfers as payment methods. 

While one bank transfer withdrawal is free every month, the others result in a $10 charge per transaction. 

Supported Spread Betting Markets Pricing System Fee to Spread Bet Amazon Stock Min. Deposit Top Features
  • Shares
  • Forex
  • Indices
  • Commodities
  • ETFs
  • CFD trading offered for all the mentioned assets
  • Spreads + low commission on trades
  • 0.65 pips + $0.02 per side

 

  • £25
 
  • Offers a demo account
  • Fractional sharing is supported
  • CFD trading through the Trade.MT5 account
  • Offers its own Admirals wallet to hold and exchange assets

Pros pros

  • Over 8,000 instruments supported
  • Low spreads offered
  • Supports fractional sharing
  • Offers a demo account
  • CFD trading accounts are supported

Cons cons

  • Charges a fee for bank transfer withdrawals

74% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

4. Pepperstone – Access Four Spread Betting Asset Classes and High Leverage on Trades

Pepperstone is an established platform that is authorized and regulated by the FCA, so your money is safe. Moreover, Pepperstone is a UK-based platform with a local customer service team. This means UK traders can contact Pepperstone at any time via telephone or live chat.

In terms of spread betting markets, Pepperstone covers four asset classes. First, you’ll have access to shares from the UK and international markets. In the UK, popular shares to spread bet include Royal Mail, BP, HSBC, and British American Tobacco. Internationally, you can spread bet popular US shares like IBM, PayPal, Amazon, and Apple.

Pepperstone review

You can also spread bet shares from Australia, Germany, and Hong Kong. The minimum spread on large-cap shares is 0.8 points plus the market spread. You can spread bet everything from gold and silver to wheat, natural gas, and oil. What’s more, you can also trade indices like the China A 50, Nikkei 225, NASDAQ 100, and FTSE 100.

In addition, Pepperstone also supports forex spread betting markets. It covers more than 60 currency pairs, including majors, minors, and exotics. You’ll find that the minimum spread on forex is 0.7 pips. All of the spread betting markets on Pepperstone can be traded commission-free. Pepperstone makes money from the market spread, which you indirectly pay when entering and exiting a position.

Pepperstone review

There is no minimum deposit requirement at Pepperstone and it takes seconds to register. If you’re new to spread betting, you can also open a free demo account. Another feature of Pepperstone is that it offers leverage. This enables you to boost your spread betting positions by up to 1:30 on forex, 1:20 on gold and major indices, and 1:5 on shares. These are the same leverage limits as all UK spread betting platforms, as per FCA guidelines.

Supported Spread Betting Markets Pricing System Fee to Spread Bet Amazon Stock Min. Deposit Top Features
  • Shares
  • Forex
  • Indices
  • Commodities
  • 0% commission on spread betting accounts
  •  0.8 point spread + market spread

 

  • No minimum deposit
 
  • FCA-regulated spread betting platform
  • Supports shares, indices, forex, and commodities
  • No spread betting commissions to pay
  • Spread bet via TradingView, MT4, MT5, or cTrader
  • No minimum deposit requirements

Pros pros

  • Spread bet more than 1,200 markets, including shares, indices, forex, and commodities
  • 0% commission on all spread betting markets
  • Spread bet with leverage of up to 1:30
  • Offers a risk-free demo account that mirrors live market conditions

Cons cons

  • You’re unable to view live market spreads without opening an account

81.7% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider.

5. Capital.com – Spread Bet Thousands of Commission-Free Shares from the UK and Abroad           

Capital.com is the best spread betting platform in the UK for shares. It supports thousands of shares from many different markets. In the UK, you can trade large-caps like British American Tobacco, Glencore, and AstraZeneca, as well as small-caps like ASOS and Boohoo. If you’re looking to spread bet international shares, you can find companies from the US, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, and many other markets.

All shares on Capital.com can be spread bet with leverage of up to 1:5. If you’re looking for higher leverage limits, check out Capital.com’s commodity department. You’ll be able to trade gold at leverage of 1:20 and 1:10 on all other supported commodities. This includes silver, copper, corn, platinum, oil, natural gas, and wheat. You can also speculate on orange juice and soybean prices.

Capital.com review

Capital.com is also one of the best spread betting platforms for forex – 125 currency pairs are supported. All spread betting markets on Capital.com can be traded commission-free. You can get started with just £20 when depositing funds with an e-wallet or debit/credit card. Capital.com is authorized and regulated by the FCA and it’s home to over 555,000 clients.

Supported Spread Betting Markets Pricing System Fee to Spread Bet Amazon Stock Min. Deposit Top Features
  • Shares
  • ETFs
  • Forex
  • Indices
  • Commodities
  • 0% commission, spreads vary depending on the market
  • Commission-free, spreads currently at $0.13 per slide
  • £20 (debit/credit cards and e-wallets(.
  • £250 (bank account transfers)
 
  • Spread bet thousands of UK and international shares
  • Competitive spreads on large-cap markets
  • Regulated by the FCA
  • 24/7 customer support

Pros pros

  • One of the best spread betting platforms in the UK for shares
  • Trade shares from the UK, Singapore, the US, Australia, and much more
  • 0% commission and competitive spreads on major markets
  • Live chat support 24 hours per day, 7 days per week

Cons cons

  • Wide spreads when spread betting low-cap shares

Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 74% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider.

6. CMC Markets – Spread Bet Over 12,000 Markets at 0% Commission           

If you’re looking to trade a wide range of markets from the same account, CMC Markets could be the best spread betting platform for you. In total, you’ll have access to more than 12,000 spread betting instruments. This covers the most popular asset classes in the market. For example, you can spread bet over 330 forex pairs, not to mention indices, ETFs, and commodities.

You can also spread bet hundreds of shares from the London Stock Exchange, and thousands more from the international markets. This includes US shares like JPMorgan Chase, McDonald’s, Netflix, and Amazon. CMC Markets also supports ‘share baskets’. These enable you to spread bet hand-picked index funds that track specific markets.

CMC Markets review

For example, automation and robotics, UK banks, renewable energy, and cybersecurity. All spread betting fees on CMC Markets are built into the spread and will vary depending on the asset. For instance, the S&P 500 can be traded from just 0.5 points. Forex spreads start from 0.6 points. You won’t need to meet a minimum deposit at this FCA-regulated spread betting platform.

Supported Spread Betting Markets Pricing System Fee to Spread Bet Amazon Stock Min. Deposit Top Features
  • Shares
  • Share baskets
  • ETFs
  • Forex
  • Indices
  • Commodities
  • Bonds
  • 0% commission, spreads vary depending on the market
  • Commission-free, minimum spread of 1 point ($0.01)
  • No minimum deposit
 
  • More than 12,000 spread betting markets
  • Regulated by the FCA and FSCS protected
  • No minimum deposit requirement to get started

Pros pros

  • Trade over 12,000 spread betting markets
  • Hand-picked share baskets support industry-specific trading
  • Spread bet the S&P 500 from just 0.5 points
  • Leverage of up to 1:30 when trading major forex pairs

Cons cons

  • Complicated spread system – unit measurement varies depending on the market

69% of retail investor accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs with this provider

7. City Index – Low-Cost Spread Betting Platform Regulated by the FCA Since 1983          

City Index is one of the most established UK trading platforms around – it’s been regulated by the FCA since 1983. We found that City Index is one of the best spread betting platforms for low and transparent fees. For example, you won’t pay any trading commissions at City Index. Moreover, you’ll benefit from some of the highest minimum spreads in the market.

When trading major forex pairs, you can open positions from just 0.2 points per slide. Major indices like S&P 500 start at 0.3 points and commodities at 0.05 points. UK shares can be traded from 10 basis points per slide. US shares can be traded from $0.015 on either side of the market spread. City Index is also worth considering if you want to perform technical analysis.

City Index review

Its native trading suite supports more than 80 indicators and 16 different chart types. It also offers trading ideas from its team of in-house analysts. Not to mention real-time market news and live commentary. These features can be accessed on the City Index website or via its iOS/Android app. Finally, there are no minimum deposit requirements at City Index.

Supported Spread Betting Markets Pricing System Fee to Spread Bet Amazon Stock Min. Deposit Top Features
  • Shares
  • Forex
  • Indices
  • Commodities
  • 0% commission, spreads vary depending on the market
  • Commission-free, minimum spread from $0.015 per slide
  • No minimum deposit
 
  • Established broker that’s been regulated by the FCA since 1983
  • Transparent and competitive  spreads on most markets

Pros pros

  • Has been offering brokerage services in the UK since 1983
  • Supports over 8,500 spread betting markets
  • US-listed shares can be traded from $0.015 per slide
  • High-level charting tools include over 80+ indicators

Cons cons

  • Minimum withdrawal of £100

71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

8. IG – More Than 17,000 Spread Betting Markets to Choose From         

IG is also an established UK brokerage, with the firm launching in 1974. While IG is best known for its share dealing accounts, it also supports over 17,000 spread betting markets. We like that most spread betting markets come with two options – daily or quarterly expiry dates. This means that IG is suitable for both day and swing trading strategies.

In terms of supported assets, you can trade thousands of UK and international shares. Indices, forex, and commodities are supported. You’ll be able to spread bet major forex pairs from just 0.6 points per slide. You can also trade the FTSE 100 and Australia 200 at just 1 point. Commodities are also competitive, with gold spot markets averaging at 0.3 points.

IG spread betting

When trading individual shares, you’ll pay a variable percentage spread. This starts at 0.1% on large-cap shares like Apple, Deutsche Bank, and Lloyds Banking Group. IG offers a free demo account if you want to practice trade with risk-free funds. If you want to trade with real money, you’ll need to deposit £250 or more.

Spread Betting Supported Markets Pricing System Fee to Spread Bet Amazon Stock Min. Deposit Top Features
  • Shares
  • Indices
  • Forex
  • Commodities
  • Spread betting is charged on a spread-only basis.
  • Shares have a percentage-based spread. Other assets are quoted in basis points
  • Minimum spread of 0.10%, calculated against your bet size

 

  • £250
 
  • Over 17,000 spread betting markets to choose from
  • Top-rated telephone support team

Pros pros

  • Spread bet over 17,000 UK and international markets
  • FCA-regulated and established in 1974
  • Free demo account with £10,000 in practice funds
  • Also one of the best stock brokers in the UK

Cons cons

  • Share spreads are quoted as a variable commission
  • £250 minimum deposit requirement

70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider.

9. Spreadex – Spread Bet Financial Markets and Sporting Events in a Regulated Environment         

Spreadex is an established spread betting platform that was founded in 1999. It’s one of the few spread betting platforms that covers traditional sporting events. For example, you can spread bet football, cricket, rugby, snooker, and plenty of other sports. Your profits or losses are determined by the number of points you were correct or incorrect by.

For example, suppose you placed a spread bet on Man City vs Arsenal. The spread on the ‘Total Goals’ market is 3. You place a £100 bet per point on the game having more than 3 goals. The game finishes 4-0, so you make £100 (1 goal above 3 at £100 per goal). In addition, Spreadex also covers traditional financial markets. You’ll have access to thousands of shares, indices, currencies, and commodities.

Spreadex review

In terms of fees, minimum spreads depend on the market. For example, you can trade the FTSE 100 and Germany 40 from 4 points. Gold spreads start from 0.5 points on markets with a 3-6 month expiry date. This increases to 0.8 points on shorter-term markets. We like that in most cases, you won’t pay any spreads when closing a position.

Spread Betting Supported Markets Pricing System Fee to Spread Bet Amazon Stock Min. Deposit Top Features
  • Shares
  • Indices
  • Forex
  • Commodities
  • Futures
  • Sporting events
  • Spread-only markets that vary depending on the instrument
  • Most markets do not attract a spread when closing a position
  • Starts from 0.15% on daily spread betting markets.

 

  • No minimum deposit
 
  • One of the few spread. betting platforms to support financial instruments and sporting events
  • Established in 1993

Pros pros

  • One of the best spread betting brokers in the UK for sports wagering
  • Also supports financial spread betting – including shares, indices, forex, and commodities
  • No minimum deposit requirements
  • Established in 1993

Cons cons

  • Does not offer a demo account
  • Financial spreads are higher than other providers

10. Markets.com – Simple Spread Betting Platform With TradingView Charts         

Markets.com is a CFD and spread betting platform aimed at beginners. Its native web trading platform comes with a simple and clean interface. Equally, it also offers chart tools that are provided by TradingView. This ensures that newbies still have access to real-time analysis features, enabling them to make smart trading decisions.

The Markets.com web platform is also known for its fast execution speeds. This is also the case with the Markets.com app. You’ll have access to a modest range of assets at Markets.com. This includes 293 shares from the US and UK markets. You can also trade 56 currency pairs, plus a selection of commodities, indices, ETFs, and bonds.

Markets.com spread betting

Markets.com has a spread-only pricing model, meaning you won’t pay traditional trading commissions. Spreads are variable and depend on the market being traded. That said, we found that in most cases, spreads are much higher than other spread betting brokers. For example, Amazon shares currently have a spread of $0.83 per slide. In contrast, Trade Nation has a minimum spread of $0.02 per slide.

Spread Betting Supported Markets Pricing System Fee to Spread Bet Amazon Stock Min. Deposit Top Features
  • Shares
  • Indices
  • ETFs
  • Forex
  • Commodities
  • Bonds
  • IPOs
  • Spread-only markets. Spreads are variable and vary depending on the asset
  • Current spreads of $0.83 per slide

 

  • £100
 
  • Simple yet intuitive trading platform that’s suitable for beginners
  • Allows you to spread bet estimated IPO prices

Pros pros

  • Simple spread betting dashboard available via web browsers
  • Also offers an iOS and Android app
  • Spread-only pricing model – so no trading commissions
  • Authorized and regulated by the FCA

Cons cons

  • Minimum deposit of £100
  • Spreads are not competitive

11. FXCM – Spread Bet 4 Asset Classes From Just 7p per Point   

FXCM is one of the best spread betting platforms in the UK if you’re on a budget. This is because the minimum trade size is just 7p per point. This allows you to try spread betting without risking too much money. FXCM also offers a spread betting demo account, so you can practice risk-free.

If you want to trade with real money, there’s a minimum deposit requirement of £50. FXCM supports four asset classes – shares, indices, commodities, and forex. There are no trading commissions to pay, so you’ll simply need to cover the spread. Like many platforms, spreads will vary depending on the financial instrument and the time of day.

FXCM spread betting

Moreover, spreads aren’t clearly displayed on FXCM, so you’ll need to calculate them yourself via the bid and ask prices. Nonetheless, if you want to spread bet on FXCM, you’ll need to use the Trading Station platform. You can choose from its desktop software or mobile app, but not the web trading dashboard.

Spread Betting Supported Markets Pricing System Fee to Spread Bet Amazon Stock Min. Deposit Top Features
  • Shares
  • Indices
  • Forex
  • Commodities
  • No commissions, spread bet on a spread-only basis
  • Current spreads of $0.13 per slide

 

  • £50
 
  • Spread bets require a minimum trade of 7p per point
  • Fully-fledged desktop software supporting spread betting markets

Pros pros

  • Spread bet four major asset classes from just 7p per point
  • Free demo account that supports spread betting
  • No commissions are charged on any spread betting markets
  • Spread bet via its native desktop software or mobile app

Cons cons

  • Its web trading dashboard doesn’t support spread betting

How Does Spread Betting Work?

If you’re new to spread betting, this marketplace comes with many benefits. This includes the ability to short-sell, trade with leverage, and access thousands of financial instruments across multiple asset classes.

However, spread betting is a lot different from traditional investing, so you’ll need to understand how things work before proceeding.

In this section, we explain everything there is to know about the spread betting process.

Go Long or Short on Financial Instruments 

The basics of spread betting are as follows; you will predict whether the value of a financial instrument will rise or fall.

  • For example, suppose you’re interested in trading Amazon shares.
  • Let’s say that Amazon shares are currently trading at $138.50.

You’ll need to enter a suitable position, depending on your prediction:

  • If you believe Amazon’s share price will rise, you’ll place a long (buy) order
  • If you believe Amazon’s share price will decline, you’ll place a short (sell) order

If you speculate correctly, you will make a profit. If not, you’ll make a loss. As we explain next, your profits and losses are determined by the number of ‘points’ the market moves by.

You’re Speculating on Point Movements   

Once you’ve figured out how long and short orders work, it’s important to understand how point movements function.

This will vary depending on the market you are trading, but let’s start with a simple example:

  • Sticking with Amazon, the current share price is $138.50
  • Let’s say that for each $0.01 that the share price moves, this represents one point
  • So, if Amazon shares increase to $138.60, that’s a rise of 10 points
  • Or, if Amazon shares decrease to $138.30, that’s a decline of 30 points

Do note that point movements will also vary depending on the broker. For instance, you might find that one spread betting broker classes a point movement for each $0.10. While another might have it at $1.

If you’re trading UK shares, then price movements will likely be quoted in pennies. For example, suppose you’re spread betting HSBC shares, currently trading at 588p. If the shares increase to 590p, that’s an increase of 2 points.

Ultimately, your chosen spread betting platform should clearly display how each point movement is determined.

Points x Bet Size = Profit or Loss  

After you’ve decided whether you believe the asset will rise or fall, you then need to choose a bet size. In a nutshell, this is the amount of money you want to risk for each point movement.

Let’s look at an example to clear the mist:

  • Let’s say that you’re spread betting Tesla shares
  • The current price of Tesla shares is $248.50
  • You decide to stake £1 per point. Each point movement is worth $0.01
  • You’re going long, meaning you believe Tesla shares will rise
  • A few hours have passed and Tesla shares are now worth $250
  • That’s a price increase of 150 points ($250-$248.50 / $0.01)
  • You staked £1 per point, so you’ve made a profit of £150

Of course, if Tesla shares had declined by 150 points, you would have lost £150. As such, you should have a clear exit strategy in place when spread betting.

How to Reduce the Risks in Spread Betting?

  • Spread betting is a high-risk trading market. You can make or lose money in a very short period of time.
  • The best risk-management strategy is to always deploy a stop-loss order. This will close your spread betting position if it declines by a certain number of points.
  • For example, suppose you’re risking £1 per point on Apple shares. You don’t want to lose more than £20 on this trade.
  • In this instance, your stop-loss order should be set to 20 points.
  • So, if Apple shares decline by 20 points, the spread betting platform will automatically close your position. And thus – you’ll never lose more than £20 if things don’t go to plan.

Market Duration   

So far, we’ve explained that you can go long or short when spread betting. We’ve also explained how point movements and bet sizes determine your profit or loss.

Next, let’s dive into spread betting market durations. Unlike traditional investments, spread betting markets always come with an expiry date. In most cases, you can choose from daily or quarterly markets.

  • Daily markets expire at the close of the trading day. The specific time will depend on the market. If you’re trading UK shares on the London Stock Exchange, the market closes at 4:30 p.m.
  • Quarterly markets remain in place for three months from the time you place your order.

So what happens when your spread betting market expires? Put simply, the spread betting platform will automatically close your position. So, your profit or loss will be determined by the price of the asset when the market closes.

If you’re a newbie, it’s best to opt for quarterly spread betting markets. You’ll have a lot more time to assess the market and make trading decisions accordingly.

Pepperstone demo account

In contrast, daily markets are aimed at experienced day traders. This is because trading decisions are usually made from technical analysis. This means analyzing price charts and deploying technical indicators.

Nevertheless, if your spread betting market expires but you want to keep the trade open, you can simply create a new order. You’ll likely pay a small fee via the spread.

Be Aware of What Spreads You Are Paying    

Spread betting is a short-term trading strategy. As such, you’ll likely be working towards smaller profit margins. This is why the spread is so important, as this will have an impact on your return on investment.

For those unaware, the spread is the difference between the buy (bid) and sell (ask) prices of the asset being traded.

For example:

  • Suppose you’re trading British American Tobacco (BAT) shares
  • The current buy price is 2,626p
  • The current sell price is 2,630p
  • The difference between the two prices is the spread – so that’s 4p

Now let’s say that on BAT shares, a 1p movement is 1 point.

  • This means regardless of whether you go long or short, you’re instantly 4 points down when opening a position
  • So, if you go long, you need BAT shares to increase by 4 points just to break even
  • This is how spread betting platforms ensure they always make a profit

Importantly, the spread is usually charged when opening and closing a position. This means you need to factor the spread in when calculating your trading profits or losses.

Real-World Spread Betting Example

Now that we’ve explained how spread betting works, let’s look at a real-world example.

  • You want to spread bet Vodafone shares – currently priced at 73p
  • The spread is 1p per share
  • 1 point amounts to a share price movement of 1p
  • You stake £20 per point

You believe Vodafone shares are overpriced, so you place a long order.

  • A few days later, Vodafone shares are priced at 65p
  • This is a price decline of 8p, or 8 points
  • You close the trade, so you’ve made £160 (£20 per point x 8 point movement)

However, you also paid a 1-point spread to enter and exit the market. So, you’ve made a clear profit of 6 points x £20, which is £120.

Moreover, as we discuss shortly, you also need to consider overnight finance fees when spread betting. This is because spread betting instruments are leveraged assets – so you’re effectively borrowing funds from the broker.

Spread Betting vs Regular Trading

Spread betting is different from regular trading in many different ways.

  • First and foremost, when you invest in traditional assets like shares – you own the underlying asset. However, if you spread bet shares, you don’t own anything. Instead, you’re simply speculating on the asset’s future value. This means that you can profit from share price movements without becoming a shareholder.
  • What’s more, spread betting gives you access to a lot more markets. This includes everything from precious metals and oil to forex and indices.
  • Additionally, regular trading doesn’t come with a timeframe. You can hold onto your shares or funds for as long as you wish – whether that’s weeks, months, or years. However, spread betting markets always have an expiry date. As noted earlier, this is usually by the end of the trading day or three months from when the position was opened.
  • Another difference is that spread betting allows you to go long or short on your chosen market. This simply requires a buy or sell order, respectively. Traditional assets only allow you to go long – meaning you can only make a profit if it increases in value. Spread betting also invites leverage – so you can trade with more than you have in your brokerage account. In the UK, margin trading isn’t available when using a traditional broker.
  • In terms of taxation, this is where spread betting really stands out. After all, you won’t need to pay capital gains or stamp duty tax when spread betting. In contrast, these taxes will need to be paid when investing in traditional assets, such as UK shares and bonds.

Ultimately, spread betting offers a lot more flexibility when compared to regular trading. However, it’s only suitable for short-term positions.

As such, if you’re looking to buy and hold shares over many years, you’ll want to use a traditional broker.

How to Pick the Right Spread Betting App for You

Now that you have a firm grasp of how spread betting works, you’ll need to think about choosing a suitable platform.

In this section, we explain what to look for when picking the best spread betting platform for beginners.

Regulation and FSCS Coverage 

You should only consider joining a spread betting platform if it’s reputable. This means being authorized and regulated by the UK’s watchdog – the FCA. The FCA regulates spread betting platforms just like traditional brokers.

As such, client funds must be held in segregated bank accounts. FCA-regulated spread betting platforms must also offer fair and transparent trading conditions. The FCA audits its licensees on a regular basis to ensure its guidelines are met.

What’s more, although spread betting markets are backed by financial derivatives, FCA-regulated platforms are covered by the FSCS. This means that if the platform ceases to exist, the FSCS covers account balances up to £85,000.

Look no further than Pepperstone when searching for an FCA-regulated and FSCS-covered spread betting platform. You can verify Pepperstone’s regulated status through its registration number (684312).

Spread Betting Markets

Spread betting markets are very simple for online brokers to create. After all, they simply mirror the real-time price of the asset. As such, the best spread betting platforms in the UK offer thousands of markets.

Pepperstone markets

For example, at Pepperstone and Trade Nation, you can spread bet shares from the UK and intentional markets. You can also trade forex, indices, and commodities like gold and silver.

Some spread betting platforms also support bonds. This usually covers government bonds issued by the Bank of England (gilts), the US Federal Reserve (treasuries), or the European Central Bank.

Fees

There are many fees to explore when choosing a spread betting platform.

This includes:

  • Payment Fees: First, you’ll need to check whether any deposit or withdrawal fees are charged. The best spread betting platforms in the UK offer fee-free payments, but this isn’t always the case.
  • Commissions: In most cases, spread betting commissions are built into the spread. Once again, this won’t always be the case, as we came across several platforms that do charge commissions.
  • Spreads: The most important trading fee to look for is the spread. This is the difference between the buy and sell prices of the asset. The ‘wider’ the spread, the more you need to make just to break even. Spread betting platforms usually quote spreads in ‘points’. However, some also use ‘pips’ when quoting forex and pennies/cents on shares.
  • Overnight Funding: Spread betting instruments are leveraged products. So, you’ll usually need to pay a fee for each day you keep the spread betting trade open. You can avoid this fee by trading spread betting markets with a daily expiry. If you opt for a quarterly market, make sure you build the overnight finance fee into your trading costs.

We found that Pepperstone is the most cost-effective spread betting platform in the UK. It doesn’t charge deposit or withdrawal fees, let alone trading commissions. Moreover, spreads are very competitive.

Tools and Analysis 

Spread betting markets are aimed at short-term strategies. That said, the tools you need access to will depend on whether you’re trading daily or quarterly markets.

  • If you’re trading daily spread betting markets, you’ll want to choose a platform that offers charting tools. This should include drawing tools and technical indicators. These tools allow you to spot trends, which could impact the short-term value of the asset.
  • If you’re trading quarterly markets, then fundamental analysis is also important. For example, you’ll want to read company earnings reports when spread betting shares. Or if you’re trading government bonds, GDP reports, and interest rate meetings will be more suitable.

Either way, the best spread betting platforms in the UK offer technical and fundamental analysis tools. This means that you have everything you need to make informed trading decisions.

Minimum Deposit  

Minimum deposits also need to be considered when choosing a spread betting platform.

  • If you opt for Pepperstone, Trade Nation, or CMC Markets, then no minimum deposit requirements are in place.
  • At Capital.com, you only need £20 if you deposit funds with an e-wallet or debit/credit card. However, this increases to £250 if you deposit via bank transfer.
  • A £250 account minimum is also required at IG.

If you’re just starting out with spread betting, consider a platform that has a low minimum deposit. Most importantly, never deposit more than you can afford to lose.

Demo Account 

It’s best to start off with a demo account when spread betting for the first time. You can open a free demo account with Pepperstone in under 30 seconds. You simply need to provide your name, email address, and mobile number. You can then choose which spread betting platform you want to try, from MT4, MT5, cTrader, or TradingView.

Pepperstone free demo account

You can create multiple demo accounts and even choose how. much it should be preloaded with. This will be in ‘virtual’ trading funds. Most importantly, demo accounts mirror live market prices. This will give you a solid overview of how spread betting works, but in a risk-free way.

Crucially, if your chosen spread betting broker doesn’t offer a demo account, you won’t know whether its trading platform is suitable.

Mobile App 

We only consider spread betting platforms that offer desktop and mobile trading. By having access to a mobile app, you can enter and exit trades at any time. After all, the markets can rise or fall rapidly if an important news development is announced.

  • For example, suppose you’re long on HSBC shares.
  • The company releases its quarterly earnings report, which produces sub-par revenues and net income.
  • In this instance, you could instantly exit your HSBC position if you’re away from your desktop device.
  • You simply need to open the spread betting app and place a sell order.

You can read our guide on the 10 best investment apps in the UK here.

Payment Methods  

Most spread betting platforms support debit/credit cards and bank transfers. But it’s worth checking before opening an account.

You can often deposit funds with an e-wallet too. For example, Pepperstone accepts PayPal deposits, which are processed instantly.

Customer Service 

You should also assess what customer support channels are available and the times they operate.

Pepperstone covers all bases for UK traders. It offers live chat, telephone support, and email. Its support team is available 24 hours during the week and 18 hours over the weekend.

Benefits of Spread Betting

In this section, we discuss the benefits of spread betting:

Avoid Stamp Duty and Capital Gains Tax

HMRC defines spread betting as gambling. This means that you won’t pay any taxes on your spread betting profits. This is a major advantage, as traditional assets attract capital gains tax.

In addition, spread betting markets also allow you to avoid stamp duty tax. Ordinarily, when you invest in UK-listed assets, a 0.5% stamp duty tax applies.

As such, you can keep all of your trading gains when opting for a spread betting platform.

Profit From Rising and Falling Asset Prices

Spread betting markets simply track the value of real-world assets. This means that you can easily go long or short on your chosen market.

For example, if you believe that GBP/USD is likely to rise, you can place a long order. If you believe the exchange rate will decline in value, you can place a sell order.

GBP/USD on Pepperstone

You won’t be able to short-sell assets in the UK when using a traditional broker. As such, spread betting allows you to profit from rising and falling asset prices.

Trade With Leverage

Spread betting instruments are financial derivatives. Just like CFDs, this means you can trade with leverage.

Leverage allows you to enter a spread betting trade without needing to put up the full position size.

Limits are determined by the FCA, which permits the following:

  • Shares and ETFs: 1:5
  • Minor indices and non-gold commodities: 1:10
  • Minor indices, minor/exotic currency pairs, and gold: 1:20
  • Major currency pairs: 1:30

For example, let’s say that you want to trade GBP/USD – which is A major currency pair. If you wanted to enter a position worth
£30,000 and you apply leverage of 1:30, you only need to put up £1,000. In other words, you’re multiplying your spread betting position by 30 times. If you’re eligible for a professional-client account, your leverage limits could be increased to 1:200.

What are the Risks of Spread Betting With Leverage?

  • When you use leverage on a spread betting position, your profits will be amplified. For instance, if you make £100 with leverage of 1:5, your profits are boosted to £500.
  • However, leverage will also amplify your losses.
  • Furthermore, you run the risk of being ‘liquidated’ when spread betting with leverage. This means the spread betting platform will automatically close your position if it declines by a certain percentage.
  • For example, if you’re trading with leverage of 1:10 and your position declines by 10%, you will be liquidated.
  • You can avoid liquidation by setting a stop-loss order or adding more funds to your margin account.

Access a Large Range of Financial Markets

Spread betting platforms give you access to a huge range of markets. There are no limitations, considering that spread betting instruments simply track the underlying assets’ price.

Pepperstone, for example, supports over 1,200 spread betting markets. Not only shares and indices, but also precious metals, energies, and agricultural products. These markets wouldn’t be available to you when using a traditional broker.

Potential Cons of Spread Betting

Now let’s examine the drawbacks of spread betting in the UK:

Markets Always Expire  

Spread betting markets always have an expiry date, so they’re not suitable for long-term investments.

This means that if you’re planning to buy and hold assets for months or years, you should choose a traditional online broker.

Overnight Financing  

Another reason why spread betting isn’t suitable for long-term investors is that overnight financing fees apply.

These fees are charged for each day that your spread betting position is open. You’re essentially paying interest on your position, which can make the spread betting trade unviable.

Margin Calls  

Leverage allows you to spread bet with more money than you have in your account. However, if your spread betting position declines by too much, you might receive a margin call.

This is a notification from your broker that you’re close to being liquidated. The margin call gives you the opportunity to add more capital to your position to avoid liquidation.

Capital.com spread betting

If you do add more money but the trade continues to go against you, you’ll be in the same position. And if you don’t add more money and you’re liquidated, you’ll lose your entire stake.

No Entitlement to Income

There is no asset ownership when spread betting. So, if you trade shares that pay a dividend, you won’t be entitled to a payment. Similarly, if you trade an ETF that makes a distribution, you also won’t be eligible for anything. This means that you’re missing out on regular income payments.

That said, some spread betting platforms make account adjustments when dividends are paid. For example, if you’re long on an asset and it pays a dividend, it will be reflected in your spread betting account. The payment is covered by short-sellers, who lose out when dividends are made.

Is Spread Betting Legal in the UK?

The UK is one of the few countries where spread betting is heavily regulated. In fact, although HMRC defines spread betting as gambling, the Gambling Commission has no jurisdiction over this market.

On the contrary, spread betting is regulated by the FCA, just like traditional brokers and CFD platforms.

This means that FCA-regulated spread betting platforms are safe and legal. You’ll be protected by client-fund segregation, KYC processes, and other legal requirements. Moreover, many FCA-regulated platforms offer FSCS protections. This covers you up to £85,000 if the spread betting platform goes bust.

How is Spread Betting Taxed in the UK?

Spread betting is taxed the same way as gambling winnings. In other words, you won’t need to pay any tax on spread betting profits. In contrast, profits on traditional investments can attract capital gains tax.

  • For example, suppose you buy Tesla shares from a traditional share broker.
  • You sell them five years later, making a profit of £15,000.
  • Capital gains tax will be due on the £15,000 profit – after you’ve used your annual allowance (currently £6,000).
  • If you made £15,000 by spread betting Tesla shares, no taxes would be due. As such, you can save your annual capital gains allowance for other investments.

Additionally, there is no stamp duty tax when spread betting in the UK. If you invest in traditional assets listed on the London Stock Exchange, a stamp duty tax of 0.5% applies. This is charged on the total purchase amount.

On the flip side, you can’t use spread betting losses to offset capital gains tax liabilities. You can, however, do this with traditional investments.

Conclusion

In summary, spread betting brokers offer access to thousands of markets, the ability to short-sell, and leverage of up to 1:30. Best of all, you won’t need to pay stamp duty or capital gains tax when spread betting.

Overall, we rank AvaTrade as the best spread betting broker in the UK. You can trade shares, indices, commodities, and forex. No commissions are charged by AvaTrade and you can also access low spreads on trades.

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

References 

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Kane Pepi

Kane Pepi is an accomplished financial and cryptocurrency writer who has an extensive portfolio of over 2,000 articles, guides, and market insights. With his expertise in specialized subjects such as asset valuation and analysis, portfolio management, and financial crime prevention, Kane has built a reputation for providing clear explanations of complex financial topics. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Finance and a Master's Degree in Financial Crime, and is currently pursuing his Doctorate degree, which focuses on investigating the complexities of money laundering in the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology sectors. Kane's wealth of knowledge and experience in the field make…