Plus500 is a streamlined broker that focuses on trading in a wide range of financial markets with relatively low spreads and no commissions but without offering many extra services. Plus500 has been in the forex and CFD business since 2008. They are registered in the U.K. and licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The company offers access to a comprehensive product line including forex, stock indexes, equities, commodities, cryptocurrencies, ETFs and options. Plus500 is the first broker to introduce a bitcoin CFD in 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 £1.73 billion ($2.25 billion) market capitalization and clients in more than 50 countries around the world.
Plus500 offers access to more than 2,000 trading instruments
Some of the lowest spreads and commissions in the industry are at Plus500
Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies are available
Sparse library of educational materials available
While customers can trade more than 2,000 instruments, there are few tools to use to analyze those instruments
Plus500's WebTrader cannot be paired with other trading tools or platforms
While Plus500 does not provide additional deposit insurance, the company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), CySEC, ASIC, FSCA, FMA, MAS, and the ISA, which provides good accountability and visibility. The company is required to 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. If Plus500 defaults, any shortfall of funds of up to £50,000 may be compensated for under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). If the custodian bank holding client funds goes into liquidation, any shortfall of funds of up to £85,000 may be compensated for under the FSCS.
Plus500 also offers Negative Balance Protection, ensuring that clients cannot lose more than they have put into their account. Guaranteed stop losses can be used on some instruments depending on market conditions but they are subject to a wider spread.
Plus500's WebTrader platform is a streamlined trading experience that is stable and easy to access from any browser. WebTrader has a simple and easy-to-use interface that lets you create watchlists, analyze charts, 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 (MT4) platform trading alternative which would provide more functionality and customizability.
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. Unfortunately, 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 include 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, or iPad mobile apps. Plus500 offers security measures such as fingerprint unlock, among other things, to unlock the application.
The dynamic charts can be expanded to full screen to provide more clarity during the technical analysis process. Clients can also deposit and withdraw money from within the mobile app. However, some traders will be concerned about the lack of enhanced security measures, especially since these applications provide a direct line of access to funded accounts. It’s reasonable to have expected, at the very least, that the apps include some type of customizable, automatic sign-out. Clients are also unable to use the MT4 mobile application, which has greater functionality and may be a more familiar interface for experienced investors.
Plus500 has very little to offer when it comes to research, analysis, tools and commentary. The company provides little in-house research articles or videos and there are no news feeds. They do provide earnings calendars, which is a great feature. Plus500 customers intend to find this information elsewhere. Plus500 does provide customizable charts where traders can conduct technical analysis on any of the instruments under trading consideration. 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 it.
Many brokers provide courses, videos, e-books, quizzes and more to help clients learn about the markets in which they are investing. Plus500 provides none of these services. The broker does 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 summary information on commodities, cryptocurrencies, ETFs, forex, indexes, options, and equities. Plus500 expects its clients to know what they're doing or, at the very least, to seek out educational material elsewhere.
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 or other trading algorithms, it doesn't provide back-testing functionality, nor does it 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 apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices where clients can place and monitor trades.
The platform is clearly targeted to those who just need a mechanism for executing trades without a lot of advanced functionality. Guaranteed stops are available on some markets; however, they come with an increased spread and cannot be added to previously opened trades.
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 and the spread is the same whether you trade one lot or 1,000 lots. There are no charges for normal withdrawals or terminating an account. However, inactivity fees kick in after an account has been idle for three months. Beginning traders can open an account with as little as £100.
Traders can qualify for a “professional” account, which offers a higher level of maximum leverage, but the costs are the same. Investors with a professional account may increase their maximum leverage ten-fold, from 1:30 to 1:300. Plus500 also offers access to options trading on many markets. These are very similar to plain call and put options traded on exchanges, but they are not standardized which means that the option premium can be customized for your risk tolerance and strategy objectives.
Commissions and Fees
Spreads at Plus500 were some of the lowest I have seen in the market. The tradeoff for new investors will be limited research and analysis tools and an inflexible trading platform. Other account charges were similarly minimal.
Plus500's customer service options are limited; however, online chat and email support are available 24/7. A customer service telephone number is not available. Prospective and current clients must submit inquiries through live chat or an email ticketing system that is available 24/7. While the customer service options are limited, Investopedia received responses to each of the chats and emails submitted within a few minutes, which is a comparatively prompt response time. No in-person support is available.
The online chat is easy to use, but the initial responses to our requests felt like a chat-bot. This isn’t necessarily a problem because the software is good at detecting commonly asked questions and linking to a resource in the FAQ or providing a short answer. Getting through to a human agent is relatively quick when needed. Even with these limitations, customer service responses to our requests were prompt, knowledgeable, and courteous. The FAQ section covers a wide variety of topics and has an excellent search engine.
What You Need to Know
Plus500 is best for the cost-conscious trader. This broker has very competitive spreads, which keeps costs low. However, extra features like auto-trading, MT4, and Expert Advisors not available. Experienced investors who prefer to enter and exit their trades manually may find the functionality tradeoff worth the lower expenses.
Assuming you are trading with an account set up by the U.K. version of Plus500, the additional security of regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority is also a plus. Many investors are nervous about the lack of protection for accounts held with dealers in Cyprus or similar jurisdictions.
Additionally, Plus500 allows traders access to vanilla call and put options on many markets. These options work like the exchange-traded versions except that they are non-standardized. This means that the options from Plus500 can be customized and adjusted for your risk tolerance and strategy goals.
Plus500 is a perfect option for cost-conscious traders. See how they compare against other online brokers we reviewed.
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