Nutty

Best CFD trading platforms (CFD brokers) in the UK

Christopher Dowling
Editor-in-Chief
Updated
May 19, 2024

In a nutshell

The best CFD trading platforms are XTB, eToro and Plus500. They’re easy to use, have low fees, and provide an excellent experience for both beginners and advanced traders. The range of investments are extensive too.

Keen to trade CFDs (Contract For Differences)? They’re super popular across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. There’s lots of money to be made with the right trading strategies, thanks to their low fees and ability to trade with borrowed money (leverage).

Picking the right platform to trade CFDs can set you up for success and increase your profit over time. So, without further ado, here’s the best UK CFD platforms.

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

Best CFD trading platform overall

New to CFD trading?

We recommend getting started with eToro, it’s easy to use and low cost.

Visit eToro¹Visit eToro¹

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading.

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Trading experience
XTB rated 5 stars

XTB

XTB is an awesome trading platform. The trading software (xStation 5) is one of the best out there – it's super easy to use, and has all the trading features you need – with a great charting system. And trading speeds are fast. Mobile trading is great too.

It's one of the largest in the world, and the go-to place for foreign exchange and CFD trading. With high leverage margin trading (borrowed money) and the ability to trade both price directions (so shorting too).

You'll also get up to 5.2% interest on cash in your account (GBP).

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It works great on mobile, as well as desktop and tablet. And the customer service is excellent, with your own personal account manager.

Platform experience: awesome
Device options: website, tablet and phone app
Support: 24/5
Stocks & Shares ISA: no
Pension (SIPP): no
Range of investments: large
Stocks: yes
ETFs: yes
Fractional shares: no
Crypto: yes (not UK)
CFDs: yes
Forex: yes
Account fee: free
Cost per trade: free
Spread fees: yes (low)
Currency conversion fee: 0.50%

Pros

• Low trading fees
• Awesome trading software
• Good range of investment options
• Offers CFD trading (alongside regular investing)
• Available on desktop, tablet and mobile
• Personal account manager and 24/5 support
• Demo account
• No minimum investment

Cons

• No stocks and shares ISA
• No pension
• Can be complicated to use (using the trading platform)

XTB is authorised & regulated by the FCA (#522157). 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with XTB Limited. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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Best overall
Plus500 rated 5 stars

Plus500

Plus500 is one of the top trading platforms in the world. It’s well established, secure, and super popular – there's over 24 million users across the world.

The platform is user friendly, packed with trading tools, and some great, unique features such as +Insights – where you get information (insights) based on other traders on the platform, such as what investments are trending, and which are most bought and sold etc – it's all very cool, and super useful.

It’s low cost too (commission-free), and the customer service is excellent. It's the go-to trading platform for most traders.

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Platform experience: awesome
Device options: website, tablet and phone app
Support: 24/7
Stocks & Shares ISA: no
Pension (SIPP): no
Range of investments: large
Stocks: yes
ETFs: yes
Fractional shares: no
Crypto: yes (not UK)
CFDs: yes
Forex: yes (CFDs)
Account fee: free
Cost per trade: free
Spread fees: yes (low)
Currency conversion fee: 0.70%

Pros

• Great trading experience
• Great mobile app
• Unique insights from all trades on the platform
• Low cost overall
• Good range of investment options
• Excellent customer service
• Free and unlimited demo account
• Trustworthy and reliable

Cons

• No 3rd party integrations
• Inactivity fee

Plus500UK Ltd authorised & regulated by the FCA (#509909). Note: 80% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

New to CFD trading?

We recommend getting started with eToro, it’s easy to use and low cost.

Visit eToro¹Visit eToro¹

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading.

Best CFD trading platform for beginners

New to CFD trading?

We recommend getting started with eToro, it’s easy to use and low cost.

Visit eToro¹Visit eToro¹

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading.

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Best overall
eToro rated 5 stars

eToro

eToro is great. It's an easy to use, low cost, trading platform, with a huge range of investment options. It's crazy popular, with a huge community you can get involved in, learn from and copy their trades!

It’s also got the largest range of assets to trade, including stocks, ETFs, crypto, CFDs, currencies and commodities (such as gold).

Highly recommended for beginners to get started, and there's great features for more experienced traders too (such as margin trading).

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Platform experience: great
Device options:
website & phone app
Support:
24/5
Stocks & Shares ISA:
no
Pension (SIPP):
no
Range of investments:
huge
Stocks:
yes
ETFs: yes
Fractional shares:
yes
Crypto:
yes
CFDs:
yes
Forex: yes
Spread fees: yes (low)
Currency conversion fee:
0.50% on non-USD deposits

Pros

• Very easy to use
• Low trading fees (commission-free stocks)
• Awesome trading software
• Good range of investment options
• Offers CFD trading (alongside regular investing)
• Available on desktop, tablet and mobile
• 24/5 support
• Demo account

Cons

• No 3rd party integrations

eToro is a multi-asset investment platform. The value of your investments may go up or down. Your capital is at risk.

Our criteria for the best UK CFD trading platforms

Trading CFDs in the UK has become super popular – mainly due to the lower costs compared to buying the assets directly (e.g. stocks and shares). In fact, it’s the default option for many day traders. There's also lots of other benefits for advanced traders (explained below).

Anyway, we’ve reviewed all the best CFD brokers for UK customers, using the following criteria:

  • CFD platform experience
  • Range of investment options
  • Fees
  • Customer reviews
Best CFD trading platforms

The CFD trading platforms above are all platforms we recommend to our friends and family (and our readers) – they’re trustworthy, offer a great experience overall, have low fees and a great range of investment options (amount of investments to trade). We use them ourselves here at Nuts About Money.

However, if you’re still not quite sure which one to go with, try eToro¹ first. They’re great for beginners, guiding you through how to get started and trade CFDs, and there’s lots of educational resources. Plus, you can copy advanced traders to find out the winning investment strategies.

What's a CFD trading platform?

A CFD trading platform is a website (or mobile app), where you can agree a Contract For Differences (CFD) with a broker (a company who buys and sells investments for you). We’ll cover what CFDs are in detail below, but as a quick summary, it’s where you trade the price of an asset (e.g. a stock), rather than buying it directly.

A CFD trading platform often offers a huge range of investment options (things you could buy) to trade, and additional features such as the ability to trade with borrowed money (called margin trading or leverage). Also, you can trade both price directions, so you can make a trade on the price of an asset going down too.

They often have a more advanced experience overall, with a chart view of real-time prices (instant updates) and trading volume. Plus, the ability to trade super quickly. They’re quite a bit different from your traditional stock broker (who are better suited to long-term investing).

What’s the best CFD broker for beginners?

If you’re keen to start trading, but not sure where to start, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Advanced trading platforms can be a bit overwhelming initially, so we recommend easing yourself into trading with eToro¹ – it’s super easy to use and get started, they’ll guide you through everything step-by-step, and there’s tonnes of educational resources.

Plus, you can copy the pro’s and discuss investments with other traders too – it’s all pretty cool (we’re geeking out now).

eToro CFDs

You can even start with a demo account without using real cash if you like.

What are CFDs and how do they work?

CFDs stands for ‘Contract For Differences’, and they sound complicated. They work a bit differently to buying and selling investments such as stocks and shares. Rather than buying the asset directly (and so owning the share), for instance buying a Nike share, you’ll instead enter into an agreement (a contract) with the CFD broker about the price of the asset in the future.

By entering into the agreement with the broker, you’ll agree to pay the difference in the price of the underlying asset from the time you bought the CFD to the time you sell – so it works almost exactly the same as buying the asset directly. And this is called settling the difference. Therefore, we get a ‘Contract For Differences’. Make sense?

One of the main benefits is that you can trade both price directions, so you can go ‘long’, which is buying a CFD predicting the price of the asset will rise (go up) in future, or you can go ‘short’, which is predicting the price will fall in future. And then you both settle the difference whenever you like.

CFD

You can also trade with leverage, also called margin trading. This is where you trade with more money than you actually have. Let’s use an example.

Let’s say you have £50, and you want to make a trade with 5x leverage (5:1). Your £50 can act as a deposit (or collateral or security), to trade with £250 instead.

If the price of the asset you want to trade increases by 10%, you’ll now have made £25 profit (10% of £250), rather than £5, if you had just used your £50. 

Leverage trade - Up

Not bad right? However, this always works the other way. If the stock price fell 10%, you’d have lost £25 (10% of £250), which would be 50% of your balance. So please be careful when using leverage.

Leverage trade - Down

Are CFDs the same as spread betting?

Spread betting and CFDs are very similar – they both trade the price of an asset. However, they’re not the same. With a spread bet, your ‘contract’ (bet) will have an expiry date, and this is when the contract will be settled. Whereas with a CFD, there’s often no set date, and you can close (end) the trade whenever you like.

If you’d prefer to trade spread bets, or want to learn more, check out IG¹ – they actually invented it.

What assets can you trade with CFDs?

CFDs offer a huge range of options to trade, as you’re not actually buying the underlying asset, so CFD brokers can effectively offer any asset they like, as long as it has a price.

By the way, on CFD platforms, the assets you can trade are often called instruments or markets.

The most common types of assets to trade are:

  • Stocks and shares
  • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
  • Indices
  • Commodities
  • Forex
  • Crypto

Let’s run through each.

Stocks and shares

Stocks and shares are where you own a part of the company, a ‘share’ of the company. They’re traded on stock exchanges all over the world (such as the London Stock Exchange (LSE)). And, they can go up or down in value, usually depending on the performance of the business and the stock market in general.

Stocks and shares

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, are groups of investments, such as stocks and shares, all pooled together into one single investment. This makes it much easier and cheaper to buy and sell.

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

They’re traded on stock exchanges too, just like shares, and they can represent lots of different things, for instance, electric car companies, or green energy companies. They’re super popular across the world.

Indices

Indices, or more commonly known as a market index, is a group of shares that represent a set measurement of a part of the market, or a whole stock market. For instance, in the UK, we have the FTSE 100, which is an index of the top 100 companies in the UK.

There’s an index that represents every stock market around the world, and a great way to trade the economy of a country if you want to.

Commodities

Commodities are real, physical things, such as gold and silver. And even things like oil and grain.

Foreign exchange (forex)

Trading foreign currencies (forex) is super popular in the UK and across the world, and CFDs are a great way to trade them. It’s essentially swapping one currency for another, as simple as that – and it’s a market that's always moving, 24/7, 5 days per week (Monday-Friday), and they normally react to news events across the world.

Foreign exchange (forex)

If you’re interested in just forex, we’ve got a guide to the best forex trading platforms (UK).

Crypto

Although you can trade CFDs on cryptocurrencies across the world, unfortunately you can’t trade crypto CFDs in the UK. They’re currently banned by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

However, you can still buy and sell crypto, you’ll just have to buy them directly. Check out the best crypto exchanges to find the best exchange for you.

CFD trading fees

CFDs get a lot of attention as the fees are typically very low – there’s normally no account fees, no commission, or any other fees except from spread fees…

Spread fees are where the CFD broker adds a small markup to the trade every time you buy or sell. It’s the difference between the actual price of the asset you’re trading at that moment in time, and the price you are quoted to buy the asset, by the platform.

CFD trading fees

They vary across all the different assets, and vary depending on how much trading volume (liquidity) there is too. They’re typically shown as ‘points’, which are the smallest digit of a number before the decimal point. For instance, if you are trading an asset that’s £100.00, and the fee is 1 point, the fee is £1.

With forex, you’ll often pay fees in ‘pips’, as the asset prices are much lower. And this is the smallest digit in the whole number, including after the decimal point, for instance, if a currency is priced as £1.1275, a pip would be 0.0001.

It can be a bit confusing, but don’t worry too much, the CFD platform will show you the fees every time you make a CFD trade. And the recommended brokers we’ve listed above are all some of the cheapest brokers out there – they’re popular for a reason!

Note: if you’re buying CFDs outside of your local currency, you might also pay a currency-conversion fee.

Can I trade CFDs within a Stocks & Shares ISA?

Unfortunately, you can’t trade CFDs within a Stocks and Shares ISA. You’ll only be able to open a regular trading account with no tax-free benefits.

A Stocks & Shares ISA is intended for buying assets directly (i.e. stocks and shares), and normally holding them for a long period of time (long-term investing), to build up your savings over time.

They’re really great for it too – you won’t pay any Capital Gains Tax, Income Tax, or Dividend Tax on any of your investments, ever!

Stocks & Shares ISA – No tax

Here’s where to learn more and find the best Stocks and Shares ISA for you.

Can I trade CFDs within a personal pension (SIPP)?

The same goes with personal pensions (self-invested personal pensions) that it does with Stocks and Shares ISAs – you can’t trade CFDs within them. Pensions are suited to long-term investing and buying assets directly, normally investment funds (groups of investments).

Personal pension (SIPP)

If you’re keen to invest within a pension (highly recommended), check out the best SIPPs.

Is CFD trading legal?

Yes, it’s all fine and legal to trade CFDs in the UK, and it’s very popular with professional traders (and amateurs too). 

All you’ll need to do is verify your identity when you sign up to a CFD platform, so the platform can verify you’re from the UK, as some countries don’t allow you to trade CFDs (for instance the US). 

However, you can’t trade crypto CFDs in the UK at the moment.

Are CFDs regulated?

Yep. CFD brokers need to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). They’re the guys who review and approve financial firms, to make sure they’re treating their customers properly and looking after their money correctly.

Are CFDs regulated?

You can check if a broker is authorised by the FCA by checking the FCA register.

Also, your money is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for most trading services. This is where you’ll be entitled to up to £85,000 back if something happens to the broker, such as going out of business.

Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)

Note: this normally only applies to your deposits and not trading profits. And this won’t apply if you are a professional client (it’s only for ‘retail’ investor accounts).

As added security, the top CFD brokers will store customers' funds with a separate large bank, which can only be returned to you.

All our recommendations are authorised by FCA and have measures in place to safeguard your money.

Let’s recap

And that’s it for UK CFD brokers. We hope it’s not as complicated as you initially thought.

CFDs are a great way to trade regularly, they’re low cost and the trading platforms themselves are awesome to use. Trading itself can have huge payoffs over time, as long as you use the right trading strategies and proper risk management.

If you’re just getting started, we recommend trying out eToro¹, it’s easy to use, low cost, and you can copy the pros!

Thanks for reading, we hope you found this useful. Good luck trading!

New to CFD trading?

We recommend getting started with eToro, it’s easy to use and low cost.

Visit eToro¹Visit eToro¹

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading.

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New to CFD trading?

We recommend getting started with eToro, it’s easy to use and low cost.

Visit eToro¹Visit eToro¹

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading.

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