When trading CFDs it is important to choose the right CFD provider. Generally most people look for the best commission rates, reliable trading platform, and widest product range however there are many other aspects of a CFD provider which you should consider.
Firstly, you should create a checklist of the items to investigate prior to choosing your CFD provider:
1. What markets are CFDs offered on?
Some CFD providers only offer CFDs over ASX listed stocks others offer CFDs over stocks listed on many global exchanges. You need to work out what CFDs you intend to trade in your trading strategy and choose a provider that is able to offer the CFDs you plan to trade.
2. Can my CFD provider offer more than just CFDs?
Some Banks, Brokers and even CFD providers can offer CFDs but many simply ‘white label’ the offering of specialist CFD provider to offer CFDs as an additional product next to shares, futures and options. If you trade multiple products you should consider choosing a CFD provided that can service all of your needs at once, however, if you are only likely to trade CFDs, a specialized provider would better suit your needs.
3. What margins and fees do I pay?
All CFD providers have different margin requirements and fees. Generally CFD providers will charge you fees for the following:
• Holding a Position Overnight (financing)
• Exchange Data
• Transaction Fees (commission)
• Trading Platform
• Negative Account Balances
Many people look at commission charges alone without considering the financing cost that CFD providers charge when holding positions overnight. You should look at all charges holistically and take into account that most CFD providers will not pay you as much interest on your free cash as you would get from a bank.
4. What platform should I use?
Before choosing a provider you should trial a demonstration of the trading platform that they use. There are many types of trading platforms some are very simple and easy to use, whilst others are difficult and complicated. Each any every trader has their own preference and trading style some prefer platforms with advanced charting packages whilst others prefer simple and easy to use platforms. It is important to be aware that some CFD providers charge for their trading platform, in many cases these CFD providers have outsourced their technology and need to pay a third party. It is also very important to ensure that the platform that you use can offer the order types that your trading strategy requires, some platforms do not offer trailing stop-loss orders and others do not offer if-done orders. You should ensure that the platform you chose is suitable for your trading style and can offer you all of the features that you require.
5. What range of CFDs should my provider offer?
Aside from shares CFDs are offered over a variety of different instruments including foreign exchange contracts, commodities and indices. Some CFD providers do not offer CFDs on all of these instruments. You should determine whether these instruments form part of your overall trading strategy before choosing a CFD provider as this may be a determining factor.
6. What is a spread?
The spread is the difference between the bid and the ask price, typically spreads are only applied to index and foreign exchange CFDs. Crossing the spread is much the same as a paying commission, this is how CFD providers makes money from their clients trading activity. Spreads can vary from provider to provider, much like commission there is not one standard spread all providers charge.
7. What margins should I pay?
Each CFD provider offers CFDs on different margin rates, these can be as low as 1 percent or up to 100 percent. The margin you pay will vary depending on the liquidity of the underlying instrument over which the CFD is based. You should be aware that margin can work in your benefit or against you. Should you choose a CFD provider that offers low margin rates you should carefully evaluate as to whether you wish to use the full amount of leverage offered to you by you by the CFD provider. Low margins should not be the determining factor in choosing a CFD provider but rather you should consider the product range offered by the provider.
8. How long has the provider been operating for?
You should ensure that your provider is well established and can offer you the customer service that as a new trader you will require. You should call up a few providers and experience their service first hand or even visit their office to see their operations.
As a new CFD trader it is important to shop around and choose a provider that will best suit your trading style, remember not all providers are created equal. Ask the right questions and chose a provider that can allow you to focus on what is really important, that is your trading!
To learn more about CFDs you can download our free CFD Guide.