eToro vs Plus500

May 31, 2018 — 9:34 AM EDT

For traders looking to expand their universe of investable assets, contracts for difference (CFDs) are leveraged products that allow users to place bets on the movement of assets ranging from stocks and global stock indices to commodities and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ripple. (Note: most North American residents are restricted from trading on CFD platforms). There are several online CFD brokers, each with a different angle. Here, we will compare two quite different CFD brokers: eToro and Plus500. Both are regulated by a European financial regulator and have been around for at least ten years. Social trading is eToro's focus where a trader can see other users' activity and get ideas or follow their lead. Plus500 offers CFDs in more than 2,200 markets and has a streamlined interface for sophisticated day traders.

It's important to understand that CFD trading can be a risky investment. 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 understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

A Quick Look

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 Products & Fees

  • Stock trade fees: $0.005 per share
  • Account minimum: GBP 100
  • Stock trade fees: 0.09% per side of trade value
  • Account minimum: $200

 Fast Facts

  • No commissions on any trades
  • Up to 10 cryptocurrencies available to trade
  • 2,000 trading instruments 
  • Cryptocurrency trading
  • Leader in social trading space
  • 45 million users worldwide

 User Experience

  • Simple and easy to use
  • Customizable technical analysis charts
  • Mobile app has the same functionality as the desktop does
  • Ability to set price-based alerts
  • In-depth education center
  • Simple trading platforms
  • Easy to access cryptocurrency trading 
  • Mobile app is easy to navigate

 Education

  •  Plus500 provides no educational material
  • Platform walkthrough
  • Live webinars 
  • Several online classes

 Research & Insights

  • Trader's sentiment-shows what other clients are trading 
  • Economic Calendar-calendar from Dow Jones
  • Technical Analysis Chart-100+ technical indicators
  • Account Snapshot-summary view of current account
  • Basic equity research
  • Pension calculator
  • Momentum indicator
  • eToro blog

 Customer Support

  • Sub-par customer support that lacks phone support
  • Support is available via email and a twitter account
  • Limited support with only a twitter account and an online form that users can fill out with the hope of a detailed response

 

Products

eToro offers CFD markets in more than 1,000 products including global stocks, ETFs, stock indices, commodities, and currencies. eToro also has direct access to several popular cryptocurrency markets such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, and Ethereum. One advantage is that users are buying and selling cryptocurrencies directly to a digital wallet and not as a CFD. eToro is unique in this respect and is a draw for this increasingly popular asset class. In addition to trading single securities, eToro is a social trading platform where you can see what other users are betting on (or what professional traders and analysts are doing). Using their CopyFunds feature, you can replicate the portfolios of successful traders. Recently, eToro has been experimenting with a machine learning version of CopyFunds which analyzes users' social data and uses artificial intelligence algorithms to attempt to beat the market.

Plus500 boats more than 2,200 CFD markets, covering global stocks, ETFs, stock indices, commodities, currencies, and cryptocurrencies (via CFD not directly held). Plus500 also offers options CFDs on a few indexes such as the S&P 500 or German DAX, and on popular stocks such as Alphabet (Google), Facebook, and Apple. Nonetheless, plain vanilla CFDs are all you will find in Plus500's product portfolio.

Fees

Instead of charging a commission per trade, the fee structure for eToro is built into the price spread, and its spreads are some of the most competitive in the industry. For example, the spread on U.S. stocks is just 0.09% per side, the S&P 500 index spread is 75 pips, and Bitcoin is 1.5% per side.

Like eToro, Plus500 also builds its fees to into its market spread. While still competitive, Plus500's rates tend to be a bit higher. Depending on which products you are trading, Plus500 can be cheaper to use. Stock spreads range from 0.10 to 0.50%, the S&P 500 is just 50 pips, and Bitcoin is 0.85% per side. On average, an active trader should expect to pay about the same overall across products on either platform.

User Experience

Both platforms feature a well-designed, easy-to-use interface. Both pack a ton of information into a clean design without clutter or confusion. Both offer a mobile platform with an intuitive look and feel and full functionality. Each site is available in a variety of languages, including English, Chinese, Arabic, and most major European languages. Overall, the user experience for eToro and Plus500 is what you would expect from a top CFD broker in 2018, and the result is a tie.

Education and Training

You won't learn how to become a star trader from eToro's educational resources; there is a set of educational videos on markets and investing basics, but these are fairly low quality and offer only superficial information. eToro does offer a series of live webinars to get deeper insight into trading strategies and to learn to use their platform, as well as some e-Courses for intermediate and advanced strategies.

At the moment, Plus500 does not seem to offer any dedicated education section or platform tutorial.

Research

The eToro platform includes a host of third-party research and analysis tools from providers such as Tipranks as well as some basic fundamentals such as P/E ratio and Beta. You can also use the social trading features to see what other users and professional traders are doing, what their sentiment is, and what others have to say about certain markets. eToro also offers a daily analysis newsletter delivered by e-mail.

At the moment, Plus500 does not seem to have any dedicated research or analysis tools (aside from technical analysis and charting tools).

Customer Support and Help

The customer support for eToro has received several complaints over the years, with users citing delayed responses and technical issues with the platform, especially toward the end of 2017. While these complaints may be attributable to the flood of interest in cryptos at that time and a surge of new users to the platform, the site was apparently unable to scale. The company has pledged to fix these issues going forward. That said, you should be able to get support via phone, email, or live chat. There is also in-person help available from offices in the UK and Cyprus.

Plus500's customer support has been found to be helpful and reliable, with reasonable wait times. They offer help via live chat, email or phone. The site has not had the same scaling issues as eToro and so customer complaints have not been as severe.

Overall

Based on several head-to-head metrics, eToro comes out the winner, due to its social trading features, competitive pricing, and range of products, including direct access to crypto markets. Plus500 lacks any sort of educational or research tools and resources, and while it does surpass eToro in the customer service department, that advantage doesn't make up for its relative deficiencies elsewhere. Overall, eToro is a good choice for somebody interested in social trading and following what other people are doing with their trading. Plus500 is a good choice for experienced CFD traders looking for an easy-to-use platform and thousands of markets to choose from.