By John Jagerson | January 10, 2018
Plus500 is a streamlined broker that focuses on trading in a wide range of financial markets with relatively low spreads and no commissions without offering many ancillary services. Plus500 received a score of 2.3 out of 5 from Investopedia.
Plus500 has been in the Forex and CFD business since 2008. They are registered in the UK and licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The company offers access to a comprehensive product line including Forex, stock indices, individual equities, commodities, cryptocurrencies, ETFs and options. Plus500 was the first broker to introduce a Bitcoin CFD (2013). The company does not charge commissions on any of its trades. All costs are contained within the spread for each of more than 2,000 trading instruments offered on Plus500's WebTrader platform. Plus500 Ltd. (PLUS.L) is a publicly traded company on the AIM section of the London Stock Exchange (since 2013) with a GBP 1.01 billion market capitalization and clients in more than 50 countries around the world.
Plus500 offers access to a comprehensive product line including forex, stock indices, individual equities, commodities, cryptocurrencies, ETFs and options. Plus500 was the first broker to introduce a Bitcoin CFD (2013). The company does not charge commissions on any of its trades. All costs are contained within the spread for each of more than 2,000 trading instruments offered on Plus500's WebTrader platform. Large volume traders do not get a trading discount at Plus500. The spread is the same whether you trade one lot or one thousand lots. There are no charges for normal withdrawals or terminating an account. Inactivity fees kick in after an account has been idle for three months. Beginning traders can open an account with as little as GBP 100.
Plus500 suffered in our "trust" ratings mostly because of the company's lack of compensation above and beyond what's required by regulators in the event of a default by Plus500. However, while Plus500 does not provide additional deposit insurance, the company is registered in the UK with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which provides good accountability and visibility. As a result, the company should take steps to ensure client funds are not comingled with corporate funds - ensuring that client money and assets are protected in the unlikely event that Plus500 becomes insolvent - by holding those funds in segregated accounts at regulated banks. Plus500 also offers Negative Balance Protection, ensuring that clients cannot lose more than they have put into their account.
Plus500UK Ltd (FRN 509909) is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and follows the strict regulatory requirements, known as the client money and client assets rules (found in the Client Assets Sourcebook - CASS) outlined by the FCA.
Plus500 doesn't offer any of the special features we typically look for from a broker. It doesn't allow for automated trading via Expert Advisors (EAs) or other trading algorithms, it doesn't provide backtesting functionality and it doesn't allow clients to manage third party funds via PAMM or MAM trading platforms. The company simply provides a streamlined WebTrader platform - along with similar mobile trading platforms for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Android and Windows devices - where clients can place and monitor trades.
Traders aren't given many options when it comes to executing their trades. They can place and monitor their trades manually on Plus500's web-based or mobile trading platform. The platform is clearly targeted to those who just need a mechanism for executing trades. Plus500 is best suited for customers who intend to perform most of their research and analysis elsewhere. Guaranteed stops are available on some markets, however, they come with an increased spread and cannot be added to previously opened trades.
Plus500's WebTrader platform is a streamlined trading experience that is stable and easy to access from any browser - Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer. WebTrader has a simple, easy to use interface where you can create watchlists, analyze charts and place and monitor trades. The technical analysis charts can be expanded to full screen and offer more than 100 technical indicators that you can apply to many different timeframes, from tick charts to weekly charts. Unlike many brokers, however, Plus500 does not offer a MetaTrader 4 platform trading alternative.
WebTrader is simple and easy to use and the layouts will feel familiar. Traders can choose from among more than 2,000 instruments, analyze their selection on a customizable technical analysis chart and place their trade in just a few clicks, all within the same window. Traders can also set price-based alerts on instruments they are following, and WebTrader will notify them via email or SMS text once the price objective has been reached.
WebTrader is a closed system. Advanced traders who rely on incorporating third-party analytical and automation tools in their trading process will be disappointed. None of these tools can be integrated directly with WebTrader.
The Plus500 mobile applications includes all of the functionality available in the desktop application. Traders can access Plus500's 2,000+ trading instruments, conditional orders, account details and charting (complete with 100+ technical indicators) from the Android, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Windows mobile apps. We would have preferred to have seen enhanced security measures. None of the mobile apps include fingerprint security to unlock the app with your fingerprint.
The mobile app includes all of the same functionality clients can use in the desktop version to analyze and research trading opportunities. Clients can use conditional orders, track their accounts and receive trading alerts. The dynamic charts can be expanded to full screen to provide better clarity during the technical analysis process. Clients can also deposit and withdraw money from within the mobile app.
None of the mobile apps include fingerprint security, and there is no added security beyond the login password. We prefer to see applications that include enhanced security measures, especially since these applications provide a direct line of access to your funded accounts. We would like to see, at the very least, the apps include some type of customizable, automatic sign-out.
Plus500's customer service options are limited. The company does not provide live chat, to either prospective or current clients, nor does it provide a customer service telephone number. Instead, prospective and current clients must submit inquiries through an email-based ticketing system that is available 24/7. While the customer service options were limited, we received responses to each of the emails we submitted within three minutes, which we felt was a prompt response time. However, we missed the ability to engage in a live back-and-forth conversation via live chat. No in-person support is available.
Customer service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but only via an email-based ticketing system. Traders do not have the option to chat live with or call a customer service representative. Even with these limitations, in our experience, customer service responses to our email submissions were prompt, knowledgeable and courteous. The FAQ section covers a wide variety of topics and has an excellent search engine.
Plus500 has very little to offer when it comes to research and analysis tools and commentary. The company does not provide any in-house research articles or videos, there are no earnings calendars and there are no news feeds. Clearly, Plus500 customers intend to find this information elsewhere. Plus500 does provide customizable charts where traders can conduct a technical analysis on any of the instruments they are interested in trading. It also provides a simple "Traders' Sentiment" indicator that shows traders what percentage of Plus500 clients are buying an instrument, like the EUR/USD currency pair, and what percentage are selling the instrument.
Plus500 provides what we think of as the bare minimum in a charting package: customizable technical analysis charts - with live, tick-by-tick data - with more than 100 technical indicators that traders can use to analyze the instruments they are watching and following. One nice addition: traders can also see whether other Plus500 clients are bullish or bearish on a trading instrument using the "Traders' Sentiment" indicator.
Plus500 provides no bespoke or third-party research or analysis. Clients will have to find their own news feeds, earnings calendars, and market commentary elsewhere.
Plus500 provides no educational material. Many brokers provide courses, videos, ebooks, quizzes and so on to help clients learn more about the markets in which they are investing; but Plus500 provides none of these services. The broker does at least provide one legally required "Key Information Document" (KID) that outlines the basics of what each available instrument is and the risks associated with trading it. The KID has information on commodities, cryptocurrencies, ETFs, Forex, Indices, options and shares. Clearly Plus500 expects its clients to know what they're doing or, at the very least, to seek out educational material elsewhere.
If clients want to learn more about what they can trade at Plus500 and how to effectively understand and analyze those trades, they will need to find that information elsewhere. Plus500 does not provide any educational material. We suspect this is by design and that they have chosen to focus exclusively on trade execution.