Benefits of spread betting

Spread betting is a derivative product that offers traders a range of benefits over traditional investing. These include leveraging positions to make your capital go further, going long or short on thousands of markets and tax-free trading.* Learn more about these advantages of spread betting and many more.

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Advantages of spread betting

Spread betting appeals to a range of traders, both beginner and professional alike, because it enables them to:

  1. Make capital go further with leverage
  2. Go short or long
  3. Profit without paying tax or stamp duty*
  4. Trade a huge range of markets
  5. Hedge a share portfolio
  6. Access out-of-hours trading
  7. Trade without paying commission

Make capital go further with leverage

As a leveraged product, spread betting can help your money go further. This is because leverage enables you to open a position that is much larger than your initial deposit.

When you open a spread betting position, you will only be required to deposit a percentage of your total trade size, known as the margin. So, let’s say that you want to place a bet equivalent to £1000 of Apple shares. If Apple’s margin rate is 20%, then you would only have to put down £200.

As profits are calculated using the full size of your position, not just the margin, leveraged trading could magnify your profits. However, losses are calculated in the same way, meaning your risk is also magnified. This is why it is important to use leverage wisely, never trading more than you can afford to lose, and taking care to manage your risk.

Spread bet Share deal
You deposit £200 £1000
Your Apple position rises to £1025 You make £25, or 12.5% You make £25, or 2.5%
Your Apple position falls to £975 You lose £25, or 12.5% You lose £25, or 2.5%

Go short or long

With spread betting, you can benefit from markets that are declining in price, as well as those that are increasing. This is because you are betting on the direction in which an asset’s price will move, rather than buying the asset itself.

So, if you believe a market is going to rise in price, you would open a ‘long’ position, and if you believe a market is going to fall in price, you would ‘go short’.

Discover the differences between spread betting and share dealing.

For example, if you wanted to open a short position on the FTSE 100, you would trade at the ‘sell’ price instead of the ‘buy’ price on your dealing platform. A short spread bet for £5 per point of movement would mean that for every point the FTSE moves downwards you’ll earn £5. But for every point that the FTSE moves up, you’ll lose £5.

Discover how to spread bet and see more examples.

Profit without paying tax or stamp duty

When you buy and sell shares, you have to pay capital gains tax on any profits that you make. But when you spread bet, any profits are yours to keep because they are exempt from capital gains tax. And since you never actually own the underlying asset, you won’t have to pay stamp duty either.*

Trade a huge range of markets

Spread betting gives you access to a huge range of markets. With IG, for example, you can trade over 17,000 markets including shares, forex, indices, commodities, cryptocurrencies and more – all via a single login.

Hedge a share portfolio

You can hedge your share portfolio using a spread bet by speculating on an asset that tends to move in a different direction to the shares that you own.

For example, if you owned shares in an oil producing company but rising oil prices were causing the company’s share price to suffer, you could open a long position on oil to hedge your risk. This would mean that any loss to one position would be offset by profit to the other. Hedging can be a great way to offset risk, or at least limit losses to a known amount.

Access out-of-hours trading

Trading hours will vary by market. For example, while shares and commodities trade when their underlying exchange is open, forex and cryptocurrencies can be traded 24 hours a day. When you spread bet, you can do so during regular trading hours, but some spread betting providers also allow you trade certain markets outside of hours.

With IG, for instance, you can trade key indices around the clock, and you can even spread bet on the FTSE 100, Wall Street and Germany 30 over the weekend – alongside all of our cryptocurrency markets. We also offer ‘all sessions’ trading on key shares, so that you can trade both pre and post-market sessions, as well as within normal trading hours.

It is important to keep in mind, though, that a market’s opening price may differ from its out-of-hours price.

Trade without paying commission

You don’t have to pay commission when spread betting, as the cost of opening your position is covered in the spread – the difference between the buy and sell prices you’ll see listed on your spread betting platform. However, there could be other charges to pay once your position is open, such as overnight funding charges.

With IG, you can access competitively low spreads across a wide range of markets. Discover our costs and charges.


How long can I hold a spread bet open for?

You can hold a spread bet open until the expiry date that you have chosen. All spread bets do have a fixed timescale but this can be from a day to several months, depending on your preference. You are free to close your position before the date of expiry.

How does IG make money from spread bets?

IG makes money from the spread – the two prices that we wrap around the underlying market price. The cost of any spread bet is factored into these two prices – called the offer and bid prices – so you will always buy slightly higher than the market price and sell slightly below it.

Find out more about how IG makes money.

How do bet sizes work when spread betting?

Bet sizes in spread betting are the amount of capital that you are putting up per unit of movement of the underlying market. You can choose your bet size, as long as it is above the minimum required for the market.

What software do I need to spread bet?

You don’t need any specialist software to start spread betting: once you open your spread betting account, you can trade via your web browser, mobile phone or tablet. All your open positions and watchlists will stay the same across all of IG’s platforms and apps, so you can take your trading with you anywhere.

And if you’re looking for more advanced technology, you can access tools like ProRealTime and MetaTrader 4 to give an extra edge to your trading.

Find out more about all our platforms and apps.

Develop your spread betting knowledge with IG

Find out more about spread betting and test yourself with IG Academy’s range of online courses.

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* Tax laws are subject to change and depend on individual circumstances. Tax law may differ in a jurisdiction other than the UK.

Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% 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.