Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

How to trade or invest in the S&P 500

The S&P 500 index, called the US 500 with us, tracks the 500 largest companies in the USA. Learn the different ways to trade or invest in the S&P 500 here.

Call 0800 195 3100 or email newaccounts.uk@ig.com to talk about opening a trading account.

Contact us 0800 195 3100

Get info fast via our instant help and support portal. Available for account queries, ProRealTime, product info and more.

Visit help and support for more information.

Get info fast via our instant help and support portal. Available for account queries, ProRealTime, product info and more.

Visit help and support for more information.

Call 0800 409 6789 or email helpdesk.uk@ig.com if you have any questions about trading or investing. We're available 24/7 between 8am Saturday and 10pm Friday.

Contact us 0800 409 6789

Call 0800 195 3100 or email newaccounts.uk@ig.com to talk about opening a trading account.

Contact us 0800 195 3100

Get info fast via our instant help and support portal. Available for account queries, ProRealTime, product info and more.

Visit help and support for more information.

Get info fast via our instant help and support portal. Available for account queries, ProRealTime, product info and more.

Visit help and support for more information.

Call 0800 409 6789 or email helpdesk.uk@ig.com if you have any questions about trading or investing. We're available 24/7 between 8am Saturday and 10pm Friday.

Contact us 0800 409 6789

If you want to trade or invest in the S&P 500, follow these three steps:

1. Choose whether to trade or invest

There are a few ways to get exposure to the S&P 500. These include trading or investing in ETFs and individual shares, or trading on the index’s value.

2. Formulate a trading plan

Before opening a position on the S&P 500, you'll decide whether you're a short-term or long-term trader and how you're going to manage your risk.

3. Open a live account

Create and fund any or all of the following accounts – spread betting, CFD trading and share dealing – start by filling in our application form.

To help you decide whether you want to trade or invest in the US 500, we explain each method in detail below.

How can you trade or invest in the S&P 500?

There are three main ways to invest or trade in the US 500 (the S&P 500) with us:

  1. Trade the S&P 500 or invest in the index directly
  2. Trade or invest in S&P 500 ETFs
  3. Trade or invest in S&P 500 shares

Trade the S&P 500 index directly

  • Get exposure to the largest corporations in America from a single trade
  • You will not be buying or selling the actual index cash price but instead speculating on it
  • Trade the index under the name ‘US 500’ on our platform
  • Access the index 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday
  • Get more liquidity than trading the S&P 500 in other ways
  • Trade on the index’s actual price (ie its level) using spread bets or CFDs without having to own any S&P 500 company shares
  • Instead, you’ll put down a deposit to open a larger position, with profits and losses calculated on the full position size – so profits and losses can substantially outweigh your initial margin
  • Go either ‘long’ (if you think the price will rise) or ‘short’ (if you think the price will fall)
  • Trade commission free with spread bets or CFDs as charges are included in the spread

Trade or invest in S&P 500 ETFs

  • Enjoy broad exposure to the 500 biggest companies in the US, all at once with ETFs
  • Gain exposure to the entire index for longer-term investing
  • Don’t trade on the current price of the S&P 500, but rather the ETF’s price, calculated on its net asset value (NAV)
  • Buy and sell S&P 500 ETFs listed in the UK from £3 per trade1 on our share dealing platform, and hold for as long as you like
  • Or you can use spread bets or CFDs to trade ETFs and go long or short – note this offers lower liquidity and higher spreads than trading the index directly
  • When you trade with leverage, profits or losses can significantly outweigh your margin amount, as both are based on the total position size

Trade or invest in S&P 500 shares

  • Invest in the actual stocks included in the S&P 500 on our share dealing platform, from zero commission1
  • Or take a position on S&P 500 stocks like Berkshire Hathaway, Alphabet, Apple and more – without taking ownership of actual shares, with spread bets or CFD share trading
  • Target specific stocks aligned with your strategy without gaining exposure to the entire index
  • Trade commission free with spread bets. Share CFDs attract a minimum commission of $15

Trading the S&P 500 directly

Trading or investing in a S&P 500 ETF

Trading or investing in S&P 500 shares

Account types

Spread betting or CFD trading account

Spread betting or CFD trading account to trade or a share dealing account to invest

Spread betting or CFD trading account to trade or a share dealing account to invest

Market hours

24 hours a day, Monday to Thursday and until 10pm Friday (UK time)

Trade or invest in UK-listed S&P 500 ETFs when the LSE is open - 8am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday

When the US stock market is open, from 2.30pm to 9pm Monday to Friday (UK time). Also, invest or trade out of hours on top US shares. See our after-hours times.

Timeframe

Short to medium term

Short to medium term for trading and long term for investing

Short to medium term for trading and long term for investing

Liquidity and execution

0.0014 second execution speed and unique deep liquidity

Higher liquidity offered by trading the index directly

Higher liquidity offered by trading the index directly

Costs

Commission-free, spreads from just 1 point (for spread bets).

Trading the S&P 500 index on the spot (cash) incurs overnight fees, but index futures don’t incur these fees.

With share dealing, you can invest in UK-listed ETFs from £3 commission per trade.1

Commission-free for spread betting, with a commission charge of just 0.1% on each side of the trade for CFDs.

Spreads from just 0.1% for spread bets. Cash (spot) ETF trades incur overnight fees, but forwards don't.

With share dealing, you can invest in US shares from £0 commission per trade.1

Spreads from 1 point for spread betting, minimum £10 commission for share CFD trades.

Cash (spot) trading incurs overnight fees, but none for index forwards.

How to start trading or investing in the S&P 500

Create your S&P 500 trading or investing account

With us, you can open three different account types:

You can open and fund one, two or even all three types of accounts to begin trading or investing in the S&P 500.

Open your first S&P 500 position

How you’ll do this depends on the type of account you’ve decided to open:

Spread betting on the S&P 500

Spread betting on the S&P 500

With spread betting, you won’t own S&P 500 companies’ shares outright. Instead, you’ll speculate on the price of the index itself, a S&P 500 company share or an ETF.

You’ll predict if the index’s price will rise or fall and bet per point of the market’s movement, making a profit or loss based on whether your prediction is correct. So, if you go long and bet £10 per point that the S&P 500 index price will go up, you stand to gain £500 if the index price moves up by about 50 points (depending on the index’s current price – so here that’s £10 per point x 50 points) and lose £500 if the index price goes down 50 points instead.

Spread betting on the S&P 500: cash indices

One of the ways you can spread bet on the current price of the S&P 500 is with the cash (spot) price.

Many people choose to trade the index in this way with us as it has tight spreads, no commission charges and mirrors the real-time index price more closely than futures pricing.

It is best suited to short-term traders, as cash (spot) trading does incur overnight funding charges if you leave a position open after 10pm.

Our cash prices for the S&P 500 are based off of our future’s price with a fair value adjustment to get to a spot price as close to the real-time cash price of the index as possible. Spot trading is best done during the index’s normal market hours. The index’s hours are based on US stock exchanges’ regular hours, which work out to 2.30pm to 9pm, Monday to Friday (UK time).

However, we also offer out of hours trading – in fact, we offer more hours than any other trading platform in the UK. This means you can get 24/7 pricing on the S&P 500 – useful for United States’ Eastern Standard Time, which is so different to that of the UK.

Spread betting on the S&P 500: index futures

With S&P 500 futures, you’ll agree to trade the index at a specific price on a specific date in the future. While futures contracts have wider spreads, you won’t incur any overnight fees, so you can leave your position open until the contract’s expiry date. Your position will be closed once the contract expires, and you’ll take a profit or loss based on the outcome of the trade.

Spread betting on S&P 500 futures with us is commission-free, we charge just our spread for index futures.

Spread betting on S&P 500: options

You can also trade the S&P 500 index using options. These give you the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell the options contract before a predetermined expiry date.

When you trade options by spread betting with us, you’ll be speculating on the index’s price and if it will move beyond a certain price within the timeframe of before your expiry date is reached.

Bear in mind when spread betting options that, when buying options, you’ll only risk as much as the premium you pay when opening your trade. However, there is potentially unlimited risk when selling options, as there’s no limit to how much market prices can rise. For this reason, options trading is often only recommended for experienced traders.

Spread betting on the S&P 500: via ETFs

You can also spread bet on the index using Eexchange Ttraded Ffunds (ETFs), which are investment instruments that track the performance of a range of S&P 500 stocks. In this way, ETFs can be useful for getting broad exposure to the indexa basket of stocks in a single trade.

With us, spread betting on ETFs is commission-free, with spreads from as low as 0.1%. Spread betting ETFs on spot (cash) prices will incur an overnight funding fee, but trading ETFs on forwards markets has no overnight funding charges.

Spread betting on S&P 500: shares

Unlike owning the shares of that company outright, spread betting on S&P 500 shares enables you to go long or short, so you can adjust your strategy depending on what the market’s doing.

As spread betting is leveraged, you won’t own the shares outright but will instead speculate on the share price. Leveraged trading means you pay an upfront deposit to open your trade, which is fraction of the cost you would pay to buy a S&P 500 company’s shares outright. Bear in mind, though, that profits and losses will be calculated based on your total position size, not the margin amount.

You’ll never pay commission on share spread bets. You’ll also get low spreads with cash shares, but will incur an overnight funding fee on any positions left open after 10pm UK time. Spread betting share forwards, meanwhile, is completely free of all overnight funding and commission – the only charge is the spread (which is slightly wider than spot price spreads).

You can also invest in S&P 500 companies’ shares outright with share dealing. Read on for more details.

Trading CFDs on the S&P 500

With contracts for difference (CFDs), you’re entering into a contract to speculate on the price of the S&P 500 or the share price of a company listed on the index. You’re agreeing to exchange the difference between the price of the index or shares when you open your position versus when you close it, for either profit or loss.

Trading CFDs on the S&P 500: cash indices

One of the most direct ways to trade the S&P 500 using CFDs is on the spot (cash) price of the index itself.

Trading the spot price means you get closer to the real time S&P 500 pricing than you would with futures, as prices are based off our future’s price with a fair value adjustment to get as close to the real- time cash price as possible, plus low spreads and no commission on indices.

As spot trading does come with overnight funding fees if you leave a position open overnight, this form of trading is best suited to short- and medium-term strategies.

Trading CFDs on S&P 500: index futures

Trading index futures via CFDs means you’re agreeing to trade the S&P 500 at a specific price on a specific date in the future.

When you trade S&P 500 futures with us, you won’t pay additional overnight funding charges or commission, as the cost is built into the spread. This is why futures have wider spreads than spot positions.

Trading CFDs on S&P 500: options

CFD options give you the right, but not the obligation, to exercise the contract on or before its expiry date. When you trade options via CFDs, you’ll pay an initial deposit (called premium) to open a larger position. You’ll then speculate on the option’s premium for a profit or loss – but note that both can significantly outweigh your deposit amount.

This is because profits and losses are calculated on the full position size, not the premium amount, so ensure you manage your risk wisely.

Remember, buying options is limited risk as you’ll only risk as much as your margin paid, but selling options is technically unlimited risk, as there’s no restriction to how much a market’s price can rise.

Trading CFDs on S&P 500: ETFs

If you want to gain exposure to a basket of S&P 500 shares all in one place, you can trade ETFs. Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are investment instruments that track the performance of a range of S&P 500 stocks, to give you variety with lower commissions.

ETF commissions start from just 0.1% on each side of a CFD trade, with a minimum fee of £10 for online orders. Just bear in mind that you’ll be trading on the cash (spot) price with ETFs, so there are funding charges you could incur if you leave your position open overnight.

Trading CFDs on S&P 500: shares

With CFD share trading, you won’t own company shares outright. Unlike owning company shares, which means you can only make a profit if the share price goes up, you can go long or short when trading.

While owning shares means paying the full share price upfront, CFD trading is leveraged. This means you’ll pay only a small deposit amount (called margin) to open a larger position.

However, as profits and losses will be calculated based on your total position size, these can substantially outweigh your margin amount, so ensure you always trade within your means and manage your risk.

CFD share trading enjoys very low spreads, as we charge no spread on our side with you only having to pay the underlying spread price, and a minimum commission charge of $15.

Investing in the S&P 500 with share dealing

Share dealing is the outright purchasing of either the shares of a company listed on the S&P 500 or of an S&P 500 ETF.

When you invest in this way, you’ll pay the full value of the share price upfront, with no leverage. This means you’re not at risk of your losses or profits outweighing the amount you put in. Instead, you’ll only make a profit if the share price rises beyond your original buy price.

Buying with share dealing: S&P 500-tracking ETFs

When investing in ETFs with us, you’ll pay commission is as low as £0 per trade if you open three or more positions in the prior month.1

Because this is a form of investing, S&P 500 ETFs are best suited to long-term or medium-term positions or a ‘buy and hold’ strategy.

Buying S&P 500 with share dealing: shares

Do you dream of owning actual stocks of a company listed on the S&P 500? Want to be able to say things like ‘I’m a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder’? Then you can buy shares on our share dealing platform.

Buying company shares means you won’t get exposure to the entire S&P 500 index, but does mean that you can choose the stocks most closely aligned to your individual trading strategy.

You’ll purchase those shares for the full current share price upfront and then buy and hold. With this method, you can make a profit off of dividends or selling the shares for a higher price at a later date.

Learn what moves the S&P 500’s price

The key to making a profit trading or investing on the S&P 500 is to have a good understanding of the index – including what drives the index’s price up or down. These include:

  • Individual S&P 500 companies’ share prices – particularly the larger ones
  • Earnings reports of those companies
  • The strength of the US dollar
  • Economic events
  • News releases

Ultimately, if the above cause rises in S&P 500-listed companies share prices – particularly larger companies like Alphabet, Amazon, Tesla or Apple – the index’s price will climb. If the companies’ share prices by and large fall, so will the S&P 500.

Finetune your trading strategies

Once you have enough knowledge of the S&P 500, have created your trading or investing account and are ready to open positions, it’s time to perfect your strategy.

Here are six things you can do to up your chances of success trading with the S&P 500:

  • Find the best trading style for you: do you want to buy and hold over the long term? Or rather trade specific market events in the space of hours and minutes, not days? Understanding whether you are a short-term, medium-term or long-term trader will determine your best trading strategy. Trading styles include scalping, day trading, swing trading and position trading
  • Use technical analysis and indicators: trading or investing to cash in on market sentiment and trends is the key to profits. Trading indicators and technical analysis are vital, as they can help to identify tell-tale signals and trends within the market, so you can strategise accordingly
  • Look for trading signals: another thing that can help you determine current trends are trading signals with momentum indicators such as the stochastic oscillator or relative strength index (RSI)
  • Study charts and price action: studying price charts and price action, both recent and older, can help you recognise patterns to determine current market sentiment and help you spot lucrative trends to trade when they appear
  • Set trading alerts: of course, no one can watch the market all the time, which is why we give our clients access to trading alerts. Input your chosen alerts when opening a position and you’ll be notified once your alerts are triggered by email, SMS or push notification
  • Follow industry news: significant macroeconomic news will affect the S&P 500’s price, as will company and sector news that affects share prices of big stocks on the index. So, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on breaking news. To help you, we have a current news feed on the trading platform that is updated in real time, as well as our news and trade ideas

Discover what else you need to know about the S&P 500

There are still many things to learn about an index as complex and as popular as the S&P 500. Here are just a few more answers to common questions:

What are the S&P 500 index’s trading hours?

The normal market hours for the S&P 500 are the same as other US indices. These are 9.30am to 4pm EST (Eastern Standard Time), which is 2.30pm to 9pm UK time. However, with us you can trade 24/5, to best take advantage of significant market events that may not keep office hours, like earnings season.

How is the S&P 500 price calculated?

The S&P 500’s price is calculated mainly by its constituent companies’ latest share prices. It’s a market capitalisation-weighted index, which means that the larger a company is by market capitalisation, the more ‘weighting’ it will have compared to smaller companies and the more materially it will affect the S&P 500 price.

The market capitalisation is determined by the number of publicly traded shares each company has. To determine the index price, all these public S&P 500 stocks are divided by a proprietary index divisor.

FAQs

What are the ways you can trade or invest in the S&P 500?

There are a few ways you can trade or invest in the S&P 500 with us. You can open a spread betting account or a CFD trading account to trade the S&P 500 index and trade or invest in S&P 500 stocks or an S&P 500-tracking ETF. You can also trade the index via options and trade on the cash (spot) price or futures.

What are the stocks on the S&P 500?

The S&P 500 is comprised of the 500 biggest corporations on any exchange in the United States. These include household names like Google’s Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Tesla.

The S&P 500 stocks are not chosen automatically, but are instead chosen by an index committee within the S&P 500. The committee sometimes elects new stocks or nixes other ones. This can happen once every few years or even several times in a year or two – although the latter is very uncommon.

How do companies join the S&P 500?

Companies join the S&P 500 by being agreed on by the S&P’s index committee. Companies cannot ‘lobby’ to join the S&P 500 but must instead be chosen.

However, there are also a few characteristics companies need to have to be eligible for inclusion in the S&P 500. They need to be a US company with the majority of their shares public, be of a certain size (a market cap of at least $11.8 billion) and have a sizable public float.

1 Trade in your share dealing account three or more times in the previous month to qualify for our best commission rates. Please note published rates are valid up to £25,000 notional value.