How to choose the best online broker
Advancing technology has created an influx of online brokers over the years, and identifying one that suits your needs might not always be an easy task. Learn how you can choose the online broker that’s best for you.
What’s an online broker?
An online broker is the ‘middleman’ between buyers and sellers of financial instruments. Brokerages – who often invest in high-performance technologies to enable their clients to get exposure to a wide range of markets and tools – charge traders a fee or commission for facilitating the purchase and sale of assets using their platform.
What’s an online brokerage account?
An online brokerage account is a trading account that you open with a broker. When trading with us, you’ll open a CFD trading account. You’ll use it to trade financial securities.
This is also where your profits and losses will be recorded. You can fund your trading account with your broker and withdraw money if you have any available.
Having an account with an online broker means you can trade a variety of markets. Trading means taking a position on asset prices without owning them.
How does a brokerage account work?
Deposit funds - once you’ve opened a brokerage account, you can start depositing funds. You’ll use these funds to trade. Some brokers expect you to deposit funds immediately, while others only require you to add money when you want to start opening positions.
You can often use a variety of methods to fund your account, such as direct deposit, credit card or PayPal. This could differ from broker to broker.
Pick a market to trade in - think of your online brokerage account as the doorway to the financial markets. Your broker will offer a selection of markets to trade – it’s up to you to decide which markets you’re interested in.
Consider your position size and cost - once you know which markets you’re going to explore, it’s time to consider the size of your positions and how much capital you’re going to put towards them.
You can decide how big or small you want your positions to be, but sometimes certain minimums will apply. Remember, both your position size as well as the price of the instrument need to be factored into the cost. Plus, other fees and charges may apply.
Study market movements - your broker isn’t in charge of your online account – you are. That’s why it’s important that you study market movements and keep a close eye on your open positions.
Everything you do on your account carries risk, so make sure you understand the ins and outs of the account, the platform you’re using, as well as the market you’re trading.
If you want access to a brokerage account, you can open one with us and start trading over 13,000 CFD markets. The account will enable you to buy and sell assets – by making a prediction on the future direction of their price. We’re an award-winning provider with over 313,000 clients worldwide.1
Know your trading style
It’s important to know your trading style when choosing a broker. It’ll often depend on your personal preference and appetite for risk. Opening a demo account and using the $20,000 worth of virtual funds to trade in a risk-free environment could help you find trading styles that work best for you.
Your preferred trading style might impact the type of broker you choose, as not all online brokers offer the same products or markets. The four most popular trading styles are:
How to choose an online broker
There are several key factors to consider when choosing an online broker, such as account types, available markets, costs and fees as well as trading hours.
We offer access to over 13,000 CFD markets, including:
- Shares: buy and sell individual company stocks like Tesla, BHP Group or Alibaba
- Indices: get exposure to a group of stocks from an exchange such as the S&P 500 or the Germany 40
- Forex: trade the value of currency pairs, for example EUR/USD or GBP/CHF
- ETFs: open a position that’ll expose you to multiple assets from a single trade with ETFs, which are baskets of different stocks
- Commodities: buy and sell hard or soft commodities like oil, gold, wheat and orange juice
- Cryptocurrencies: trade cryptos like Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin and more
Regardless of your trading style, the market you choose or your risk appetite, it’s important to make use of our risk management tools.
In trading, a spread is the difference between the ask (offer) and bid (sell) prices of an asset. When trading, the bid-offer spread is crucial in determining the price of derivatives like CFDs.
As a trader, you can use the bid-offer spread to gauge an asset’s supply and demand in the market. A tight market can be identified through bid and offer prices that’re close to one another, meaning buyers and sellers have consensus, more or less, on the asset’s worth. On the other hand, a wider spread indicates a difference in opinion by buyers and sellers on the asset’s worth.
A spread will thus be used by most brokers when quoting asset prices. This means the asset’s buy price will always be slightly higher than the underlying market and the sell price slightly lower.
When trading with an online broker, there are costs you must be aware of. While creating an account is usually free, there are some charges involved when opening and closing positions. Some direct costs you can expect include the spread (as mentioned above), commissions or overnight funding charges.
The charges you pay depend on the type of trader that you are – for example, day traders won’t pay overnight funding if they open and close their positions in a single trading day.
Trading commission rates often differ from one broker to the next, so it’s one of the aspects to consider when choosing an online broker.
Commission rates will influence the costs when trading leveraged products. There’s often a commission payable in the case of share CFDs, which is a direct charge you’ll have to pay. CFD trades on other markets, however, have no commission – instead, a spread is wrapped around the market price of an instrument.
We offer a number of 24/7 and 24/5 markets, including shares, forex and indices. You can trade out of hours on more markets with us than any other trading provider.
We’re here 24 hours a day, except from 6am to 4pm on Saturday (UTC+8). However, note that shares don’t trade for 24 hours. You’ll be able to access our weekend markets from 3pm Saturday to 5.40am Monday (UTC+8) for indices, 3pm Saturday to 3:40am Monday (UTC+8) for weekend GBP/USD, EUR/USD, USD/JPY and 3pm Saturday until 5am Saturday (UTC+8) for cryptocurrencies and Crypto10 index.
A trading platform is the tool you’ll use to place your trade. All brokers offer some sort of platform, whether it’s their own or a third party system like MT4.
Our award-winning platform has a simple and clean design, offering you seamless access to markets you want to trade.1 You’ll have access to interactive features, such as charts, news and analysis, IG Live, alerts and signals – all housed in one platform. We also offer MT4 – a well-known third-party platform.
The best trading platform for beginners is almost always a demo account, where you can practise trading risk-free. The demo account will help you to build your confidence as a trader with $20,000 in virtual funds to help you hone your skills in a risk-free environment. Once you’re satisfied with your progress and you’re ready to trade using real funds, you can open a live account.
Finding an online broker that offers plenty of training materials and learning resources can definitely help you on your trading journey. Understanding how trading works before opening any positions is crucial.
You can improve your trading knowledge and skills with IG Academy. This tool that offers courses for you to learn at your own pace – for free. You can then put your new skills to the test by opening a free demo trading account.
Other educational resources we provide to empower you include:
- Strategy and planning articles
- News and trade ideas
- Glossary of trading terms
- IG Trading the Markets (podcast)
- IG Webinars
Not only do you want to choose an online trading broker with a good platform, you also want them to help you timeously when you have questions. So, taking lines of communication and immediate availability into account is essential when choosing your broker.
If you’re a learner trader, you can make use of our client services team for a one-on-one walk through of our platform while setting up your account. We’ve also got a 24-hour live support where you can ask our trading experts for assistance. You can reach us via phone call, email or Twitter except from 6am to 4pm on Saturday (UTC+8).
Best online broker for you
Here are some of the reasons why more than 313,000 people choose to trade with us.
We’re a top online trading provider
- Deal on our award-winning platform and mobile app1
- Get exposure to over 13,000 CFD markets, including forex, shares, indices and commodities
- Access deep liquidity and enjoy fast execution on our platform, no matter which device you use
- Gain access to the markets for longer by trading out-of-hours and on weekends (not available on all markets)
- Benefit from advanced dealing options such as points through current and partial fills that you can turn on or off on our platform
We offer trade, analytics and education tools
- Receive 24/5 telephonic support from our service desk and a one-on-one walk through when opening an account with us
- Set up trading signals through Signal Centre and Autochartist to get actionable buy and sell signals
- Receive your price and indicator alerts using email or push notifications
- Share your experience and ask questions in our community forum, which has over 64,000 members
- Get the latest market news and analysis from our industry experts with IG Live
- Learn valuable skills for free using guides and training materials available on IG Academy
How to start trading with us
- Fill in a form. You’ll be asked about your trading knowledge. This’ll ensure you get the best experience on our platform
- Get verification. We’ll usually be able to verify your identity almost immediately
- Fund your account and start trading. Deposit money into your account when you’re ready and start trading. You can also withdraw your money for free, whenever you like
1 Awarded the Best Online Trading Platform by Influential Brands in 2019 and 2022.