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Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 69% 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. 69% 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 choose the best UK trading platform for beginners

How to choose the best UK trading platform for beginners

New to investing or trading? Discover what makes a platform good – and what makes us the UK’s No.1 provider of the best beginner’s trading platform.1 We’ll unpack the features of what you’ll need in a platform as a beginner and talk you through what we offer.

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

What is a trading platform?

A trading platform is the online space or ‘marketplace’ where you’ll buy and sell financial products for taking a position – whether trading or investing.

When you shop, communicate with others or otherwise interact digitally, you’ll do so using a platform with software built for that activity (like, for example, a social media platform). The same is true of trading or investing – this is the technology that enables your taking a position on a market.

While the platform is the technology – the ‘what’ as well as the ‘where’ of trading – your broker is the ‘who’. This is the company that owns the platform and is your intermediary, the trading services provider buying and selling on your behalf within different markets.

Illustration of a man sitting behind a laptop with different thought clouds above his head showing various trading platforms and charts.

Just like all service providers, different brokers will offer different things. Some are strictly trading-focused, while others are only for investors, for example. We do both, having a platform that caters to share dealing for investors, plus spread betting and CFD trading for traders.

How to choose the right trading platform for beginners

Here are eight things you can consider when choosing a trading platform:

  1. Trading goals
  2. Ease of use and accessibility
  3. Products and markets
  4. Platform costs and exchange fees
  5. Tools
  6. Risk management
  7. Account management
  8. Customer service

1. Trading goals

As we’ve said above, not all platforms offer the same thing – so it’s vital to choose one that’s designed to specialise in what your particular goals are in order to get the right one for the job.

This’ll vary depending on what you hope to achieve. Like every other product, platforms are designed with a specific type of user in mind, with each one’s offerings differing depending on who they’re catering for.

For example, let’s say your aim is to become a forex day trader, skilled at speculating on currency pairs and making a certain amount of profit on them daily. You’ll need a platform that’s equipped for forex trading and offers a large amount of pairs, as well as educational tools on forex trading to help you on your way. You’ll also be on the platform multiple hours every day, requiring more support and services from us.

The best platform for you will look very different if you’re an investor whose goal is longer-term wealth creation. Here, you’d need a platform designed for investors, with perhaps a more impressive variety of shares and ETFs rather than trading products. However, because you’ll likely employ a ‘buy and hold’ strategy, you would probably check your positions less frequently throughout the day compared to a trader, and can likely get away with a less sophisticated support offering too.

2. Ease of use and accessibility

Another important aspect of choosing your trading platform is how intuitive and accessible this platform is. If you’re a beginner trader, you’ll want to focus on studying your chosen market, instead of spending valuable time learning how to navigate an overly complicated platform.

A platform with good user experience makes trading easier and less stressful – which is why we’ve put so much work into designing ours. We’re proud of our award-winning platform and have been crowned both ‘best platform for the active trader’ and ‘best multi platform provider’ in the industry.2

You’ll also want a platform that’s available whenever and wherever you want to trade. It should be available on your mobile phone, desktop, tablet and more. It may even be able to give you access to third party platforms, too.

We offer access to the following platforms:


3. Products and markets

Not all trading platforms will give you access to the same products and markets. So, if you have a specific asset in mind to trade or invest in, you’ll want a platform that has a good offering in that space. If you’re not sure yet what market you want to trade, you’ll want a platform that gives you exposure to as many different assets as possible.

Here are just some of the markets we offer on our platform:

  • Over 17,000+ international shares, including Tesla, Apple, Alibaba, Alphabet and much more
  • More than 80 of the world’s top indices, including the FTSE 100, Dow Jones, S&P 500, Germany 40 and more
  • Over 80 of the most popular forex pairs to trade, including major pairs like the GBP/USD and EUR/USD, minor pairs like the CAD/CHF, emerging currency pairs like the AUD/CNH and even exotic pairs like the EUR/CZK
  • All 27 major commodity markets, including gold, oil, gas and soft commodities like sugar and wheat
  • More than 5400 ETF markets covering indices, sectors, commodities and currencies
  • Numerous themes and basket trading that follow global market trends, including clean energy, robotics, electric vehicles and more
  • Trading on the future direction of interest rates in several of the world’s biggest markets
  • Bond ETFs and futures to speculate on changes in long-term interest rates

4. Platform costs and exchange fees

Another important factor to consider when choosing your platform is how much it’ll cost to trade with that provider. It’s important to know what these fees are, and what this entails.

For example, creating an account with us is completely free of charge – which is not the case with all platforms. You also don’t need to add funds to your account to make it ‘valid’, as with some brokers.

Then, there’s the fact that many brokers may charge a fee for when you deposit the funds with which you’ll trade or invest. With us, you can make bank transfers free of charge and there’s no minimum amount you’re required to deposit.

Instead, if you’re trading, the main charge you’ll need to consider is ‘the spread’. This is the difference between the buy and sell prices when you open a spread bet or CFD position. In most cases, we charge our own spread on top of the market spread, as our fee for the trade.

You’ll pay a small commission when trading on share CFDs, as well as when you’re investing. However, if you’re an investor who places three or more trades in the previous calendar month, you’ll be charged no commission on US shares and just £3 per trade on UK shares.3

5. Tools

As a beginner trader, you’ll want access to as many tools as possible to maximise your chances of success and also explore what will work best for you. Some of the features we offer are:

  • Charts – a huge variety of ways to view your preferred market, from candlestick trading charts to Heikin-Ashi, HLOC, line charts and much more – plus 19 drawing tools within those charts
  • Trading signals – actionable ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ suggestions for you from our platform, based on analysis of the chart patterns of your chosen market
  • Alerts – automatic and customisable notifications which alert you to specific market parameters, that you choose, free of charge
  • Indicators – helpful formulas you can view on any market’s price chart to help you with your trading strategy – we offer 32 different indicators
  • Trading analytics – computational analysis from our platform of your positions, based on your trading data, to help you evaluate and improve your performance

Another powerful tool you use if you’re a beginner trader is our demo account, which enables you to finetune your strategy, as well as familiarise yourself with our platform, before using your own money. You’ll get £10,000 in virtual funds to practise with, which you can use before opening a live account and starting to open real positions.

6. Risk management

As a beginner trader, it’s important to understand the risks you’re going to face and make sure that the trading platforms has adequate risk management functionality.

One of your risks as a trader is losing more than you’ve deposited to open a position. This is because spread bets and CFDs are leveraged, so you only need to put up a fraction of your trade’s value to open it, but your profit or loss could be much more than your initial deposit.

If you experience substantial losses, for example from a sudden and extreme movement on a volatile market, you could even lose more than the money in your account.

If you’re using a reliable platform, there should be features in place that’ll help mitigate these kinds of risks. For example, with us you can set an automatic stop loss or limit order, as well as a guaranteed stop for more security, on your trades. These execute a trade automatically, taking profit for you or closing a trade without any action needed on your part, as soon as the parameters you’ve set are met. This reduces your potential for loss.

Another thing that protects you on our platform is negative balance protection, which is mandated by UK regulation.4 With it, you’ll never lose more than the money in your account, and we bring negative accounts back to zero at no cost to you.

7. Account management

When you’re getting started in trading, you don’t want to devote too much precious time to admin. So, choosing a platform with efficient account management is important. This is why we try to make account setup and management seamless and easy for our clients.

You can sign up with us to start live trading in three steps, which may take as short as a few minutes to complete:

  1. Complete a short form: you’ll be asked about your trading knowledge to ensure you get the best experience
  2. Get verified: we can usually do this in a matter of minutes
  3. Fund your account and start trading: deposit funds into your account when you’re ready to start your trading journey. However, you don’t need to fund your account to make it ‘valid’ and there's no minimum required deposit amount

We also try to make withdrawing and depositing funds as easy as possible. You can withdraw your money whenever you like, for free. Plus, you can make deposits via PayPal or with a bank transfer or with your bank card.

Successful bank card and PayPal payments are deposited immediately, while bank transfers my at times take up to three working days maximum. In the meantime, you can upload a proof of payment to trade with the funds right away.

8. Customer service

You’ll also want the very best support possible, so that you can count on your provider when you need them most. We’re ranked as the No.1 platform in the UK2 for a reason – our customer support is there to help your chances of success in trading or investing, right from the moment you become a client.

You can contact us by phone, online chat, email or Twitter – 24 hours a day from 8am Saturday to 10pm Friday (UK time).

When you’re a beginner trader, we can be especially hands-on if you need. Our experienced team and site provides services that guide you to the right tools for your needs – from setting up automated price change alerts on your desired markets to getting you started with free online courses.

These include self-learning opportunities with IG Academy, plus hundreds of articles with trading strategy tips and expert market analysis.

Beginners’ trading platform comparison

Here’s an additional breakdown of all our platforms compared to one another, so you can choose the best one for your needs and skill level:

Online Mobile Progressive app ProRealTime MT4 L2 Dealer
Trading goals Suitable for all traders and investors Suitable for all traders and investors Suitable for all traders and investors ProRealTime is more suitable for advanced traders, familiar with technical charts MetaTrader4 is more suitable for advanced forex traders L2 Dealer is direct market access more suitable for advanced stock traders
Ease of use and accessibility Easy enough for beginners, accessible via a browser Easy enough for beginners, accessible via app downloaded to your mobile Easy enough for beginners, accessible via a browser, with a mobile shortcut, too Not designed for beginners, accessible via download on your computer Not designed for beginners, accessible via download. Also accessible on your phone via the app Not designed for beginners, accessible via download
Products and markets Trade 17,000+ markets via spread bets, CFDs and invest with share dealing Trade 17,000+ markets via spread bets, CFDs and invest with share dealing Trading varies depending on account type, but includes all our standard products Trade 17,000+ markets via spread bets and CFDs. Trade 17,000+ markets via spread bets and CFDs Invest in 13,000+ stocks, funds and investment trusts. Trade 17,000+ markets via share CFDs, plus FX at pro level
Platform costs and exchange fees Free of charge, with monthly exchange fees for some exchanges and L2 shares data Free of charge, with monthly exchange fees for some exchanges and L2 shares data Free of charge, with monthly exchange fees for some exchanges and L2 shares data Free of charge, provided you trade 4 or more times in a month. Platform cost is £30 per month for 3 or less transactions per month Free of charge Free of charge, but minimum of £1000 account balance is required
Tools Use signals, alerts, market orders, watchlists and price alerts. Plus, access in-platform newsfeeds, economic calendars and more Use signals, alerts, market orders, watchlists and price alerts. Plus, access in-platform newsfeeds, economic calendars and more Use stops, limits, guarantee stops and other orders, plus watchlists Use watchlists, signals, price alerts and orders, as well as Autochartist. Plus, access in-platform newsfeeds, economic calendars and more Use watchlists, price alerts and orders Use watchlists and orders
Risk management Limit orders, stops, guaranteed stops, trailing stops and negative balance protection Limit orders, stops, guaranteed stops, trailing stops and negative balance protection Limit orders, stops, guaranteed stops, trailing stops and more. Plus negative balance protection as per UK law Limit orders, stops, market orders, trailing stops and more. No negative balance protection Limit orders, stops, market orders, take profit and more A wide variety of order types includes limits, stops, market orders, algo trades, execute and eliminate, date, day, good for auction, good till canceled, at the auction and more
Account management Withdraw money, make deposits, register cards and more via My IG Withdraw money, make deposits and register cards via My IG. Plus, make bank or PayPal transfers Make deposits and manage settings via My IG Withdraw money, make deposits, register cards, manage settings and more Make deposits and other account management through the web-based MT4 platform Withdraw money, make deposits, register cards, manage settings and more
Customer service Phone support 24/7, as well as via Twitter and email Phone support 24/7, as well as via Twitter and email

The best beginners’ trading platform for you

Ultimately, what will determine the best beginners’ trading platform for you are your goals, trading style and the markets, tools and data you require access to.

We offer a number of platforms, which means that you can trade with us wherever you are – whether or the move via mobile or tablet, or at home on your computer – and you can continue with us and our award-winning platforms long after earning the ropes.2

These include our classic online and mobile platforms for beginners, but also more advanced offerings like Level 2 data, ProRealTime for professional traders and external platforms like MetaTrader 4.

If you want to pivot from trading to investing, or from one type of trading to another, we offer it all – in one place – via our share dealing, spread betting and CFD platforms.

In addition to this, we offer:

More out of hours trading and weekend hours than any broker in the UK

A market-leading service – we’re the No.1 platform in the UK,1 plus the world’s No.1 CFD and spread betting provider5

24-hour help from our trained support staff, who’re knowledgeable on financial markets

Industry-leading execution times for your trades – over 99% of our deals are completed within a tenth of a second

Access to thousands of online self-improvement and educational resources including analysts’ articles, IG Academy, trading strategy articles and more to help maximise your chance of success

How to start trading with us

  1. Fill in a short form. We’ll ask about your trading knowledge to ensure you get the best experience
  2. Get verification – this usually takes just a few seconds
  3. Create an account for free – you don’t need to fund it in order to ‘validate’
  4. Deposit money into your account, for free, to start trading. You can also withdraw your money whenever you like, at no extra cost to you

FAQ's

Do I need a broker to trade?

Yes. You need a platform in order to trade. Whenever you take a position on a market, it’s done via a platform, which has got to be provided by someone. A broker – for example us – is the owner and provider of that platform.

How can I start trading?

First, learn about trading using our numerous resources available, including IG Academy, strategy tips and analysts’ articles. Then, open an account by filling in a short form, get verification, fund your account and open and monitor your first position on our platform.

You can also start trading with our demo account, which enables you to practise with £10,000 in virtual funds before opening a live account and starting to open real positions.

How can I start investing?

First, discover more about what it means to invest with our glossary and news and ideas section and other platform resources. Then, create a share dealing account in minutes by filling in a short form to sign up with us for free. You can also link your ISA or SIPP to this account for added convenience.

Try these next

Discover CFDs, including what CFD trading is and how to open a position

Find out all you need to know to get started with trading

Create a live account to begin your investing or trading journey

1 Based on revenue excluding FX (published financial statements, October 2021)
2 Best trading platform as awarded at the ADVFN International Financial Awards 2021 and Professional Trader Awards 2021.
3 Please note that rates are valid up to £25,000 trade consideration. Rates above this trade size are agreed by negotiation. Please call 0207 663 0336.
4 Negative balance protection is a regulatory requirement of all providers in the UK, which ensures you can never lose more than is in your account. Negative balance protection applies to retail traders and trading-related debt only, and is not available to professional traders.
5 Based on revenue excluding FX (published financial statements, October 2021)