How to spread bet

Spread betting enables you to speculate on the future movement of market prices, whether the asset rises or falls in value. Here are some tips on how to get started spread betting – from opening an account to making your first trade.

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Financial spread betting

The principles of spread betting are the same wherever you go – you buy a market to go long, sell it to go short, and the difference between the buy and sell prices is called the spread.

But the way you do it can vary between providers. Here's a guide to getting started with IG, including the four steps you need to follow to make your first spread bet:

1. Open and fund your account

2. Find an opportunity

3. Open a position

4. Monitor and close your position

Opening a spread betting position

1. How to open and fund your spread betting account

Creating an IG spread betting account is a straightforward process and usually takes only a few minutes to complete.

Once we've verified your identity and opened your account, you'll need to deposit some funds before you can deal. You can do this using your credit or debit card, or via bank transfer.

If you'd rather take some time getting to know our platform and apps without risking any real money, you can open a demo account which gives you £10,000 virtual funds to practise with.

2. How to find your first spread betting opportunity

Once you're logged in to our platform or app, you can browse or search over 15,000 markets, including:

Of course, with so many markets to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. That's why we offer a range of tools and resources to help you analyse markets and identify opportunities:

  • Our free essential charts give you a variety of tools for analysing market movements, with advanced options available
  • ProRealTime charting provides over 100 technical indicators and automated dealing at no extra cost if you transact at least four times in a given month, otherwise there is a £30 per month fee. We reserve the right to charge you for the service if your qualifying trades are of an extremely low value
  • Our team of experts provide up-to-the minute analysis of what's happening in the markets, including four live video streams each day
  • Our range of alerts will help you keep in touch with what's going on in the markets
  • Our economic calendar provides a full schedule of macroeconomic events and company announcements, showing previous, estimated and actual data
  • With our market screener, you can narrow down our list of share markets according to company fundamentals, location, index and industry sector
  • Our signals highlight potential deals by alerting you to significant trends or patterns, as identified by Autochartist technology and PIA-First analysts
  • Our market data pages provide a huge range of insights, from the day's most traded markets and biggest movers to current client sentiment and recent activity

Take our free, interactive course

Learn about the advantages of spread betting and CFD trading – and see how you can get started – with IG Academy’s online course.

3. How to open a spread betting position

Once you’ve identified a market you think is going to move up or down, you're ready to place a deal. For instance if you think the Vodafone share price is about to go up, you can buy Vodafone; if you think it'll fall, you can sell.

When opening a position, there are few things to bear in mind:

  • Buy and sell prices

    The prices for buying and selling Vodafone will be different, and the difference in prices is called the spread. The spread is how you pay your spread betting provider to open the position on your behalf, instead of paying commission.

    The price to buy will always be higher than the current underlying value of the asset you are dealing, and the price to sell will always be lower.

  • Bet size

    Each of our markets has its own minimum bet size per point.

    Our minimum for Vodafone, for instance, is £1 per point. A bet of this size will see you make (or lose) £1 for every point of movement in the Vodafone share price. Here, one point equates to one penny of movement, so if the price of Vodafone increases by £1, you stand to make £100.

  • Expiry

    You can choose between a daily funded bet (DFB) that remains open in effect indefinitely, and a longer term bet that will expire on a specified date.*

    For more information on bet sizes and types of bet, see the components of a spread bet.

  • Stop-losses

    To help restrict your potential losses, you can use a stop. Stops close a position once the market reaches a specified level (unless slippage occurs). You can set that level when you open the bet, or attach a standard stop to an open position. 

    Guaranteed stops are also available – guaranteed stops are not susceptible to slippage, but must be placed before you open your position and will incur a fee if triggered.

4. How to monitor and close your positions

You can view all your bets in the ‘open positions’ section of the dealing platform. The profit/loss column will contain details of how much you are currently making, or losing on each bet.

When you're ready to take your profit or cut your losses, providing the market is open you can close your bet by clicking on the market name and placing a bet in the opposite direction to your original bet (selling if you bought, buying if you sold).

Your profit or loss is calculated by multiplying the amount your market moved by the size of your position in pounds per point. Here’s an illustrated example of how this works:

Example spread bet: going long

Example spread bet: going short

Open an account now

It's free to open an account, takes less than five minutes, and there's no obligation to fund or trade.

You might be interested in...

  • Spread betting

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  • What is spread betting?

    Learn about the principles of spread betting, and the reasons why traders spread bet

  • CFDs vs spread betting

    Compare spread betting and CFD trading; see the features and benefits of each

* DFBs have an arbitrary expiry in the future. DFBs offer our tightest spreads but are subject to a funding adjustment each night. The cost of holding a quarterly bet to expiry is built into the spread.

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Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 79% 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.