Plus500.com is a global financial technologies firm and online trading platform centered around the international buying and selling of contracts for difference (CFDs).
The company was founded in the United Kingdom in 2008. After a somewhat bumpy start, Plus500 achieved publicly traded status in the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange in 2013.
Since then, the Plus500 app has grown to encompass a user base of nearly 200,000 traders worldwide, thanks in no small part to the recent explosion in the popularity of alternative investments and fintech in general.
In this review, we’ll be sizing up Plus500s primary services and features and taking an in-depth look at the kind of trading experience it offers its users.
What Is CFD Trading?
CFDs, or contracts for difference, are a trade agreement that reflects the constantly fluctuating values of global financial markets. While CFDs have historically been the province of knowledgeable, high-level traders, they’ve become an area of special interest for casual and first-time investors in recent years.
CFD trades are based on changes in the projected prices of assets and not the assets themselves. They give traders a chance to benefit from the profitability of a particular asset without actually having to own it.
It all boils down to the difference in the asset’s opening and closing values.
If the price of an asset goes up, traders who have gained exposure to that asset make a proportionate profit; if the price goes down, they lose an equivalent amount. It’s a straightforward, easy-to-understand system that lets ordinary people pick up their devices and begin trading right away.
What’s more, CFDs are leveraged, meaning that they allow investors with less capital to buy in at a lower rate and claim returns many times greater than their original margin. A prospective trade with a leverage ratio of 1:10, for instance, would promise returns of ten times the amount you paid for it.
In any CFD trade, gains and losses are calculated using a simple mathematical formula.
Start with the total number of contracts issued on a certain position, also known as the “deal size,” and multiply it by the individual value of each contract. Then, multiply that number by the point difference in the asset’s opening and closing values to determine what the trade has earned or cost you.
It bears repeating that purchasing through Plus500 doesn’t give you ownership of the underlying asset you’re dealing in. What you’re trading is essentially a proxy representing the worth of a given instrument at the time of sale or purchase.
Legality & Availability
As of Q2 of 2021, Plus500 is off-limits to U.S. users, as trading contracts for difference in the United States is expressly forbidden by both the CFTC and SEC. This will likely remain the case unless there’s some unexpected and sweeping reform to American securities law in the not-too-distant future. If you’re interested in trying out the service for yourself, but live in the U.S., you’re sadly out of luck.
Standout Features of the Plus500 App
Like other trading platforms, Plus500 allows users to buy and sell various assets according to estimated values, market trends, and personal interests.
Currently, Plus500 users have the option to trade seven different categories of in-demand asset types (referred to as “instruments” in the Plus500 infrastructure): indices, foreign exchange (forex), commodities, cryptocurrency, shares, options, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
One of Plus500’s biggest draws is that it makes acquiring and discarding assets as simple as pressing a couple of buttons.
When you find an attractive option that you want to add to your portfolio, all you have to do is select it and enter an amount to set the size of your position. With an additional tap or two, you can add instruments to your “Favorites” list for more efficient tracking or create alerts to make sure you receive important notifications about price changes and other crucial developments.
The ability to place stop orders is another helpful feature that many users—especially more conservative ones—will undoubtedly get a lot of use.
Guaranteed stops automatically close your position or offload a particular instrument when it reaches a predetermined profit or loss percentage, giving you a greater degree of control over each trade and protecting you from catastrophic losses resulting from unstable market conditions.
The majority of Plus500’s trading features are straightforward and intuitive. The service appeals to novice traders who are still learning the ins and outs of digital investments. More experienced speculators may find themselves hemmed in by the app’s rather bare-bones functionality and lack of sophisticated tools and resources.
The Plus500 app is available for download on both iOS and Android devices. Web-based users can also keep tabs on their trades via the built-in browser hub on the company’s website.
Charges & Fees
Many of Plus500’s useful tools, features, and services are totally free. This includes opening and closing trades, accessing advanced diagnostics, receiving real-time quotes, and authorizing deposits and withdrawals.
How is it that Plus500 can afford to do this? They make their money by claiming a portion of the “spread” of each trade made through their app. In other words, the difference between the bid and ask prices of the trade in question.
It may sound dubious to those who are just getting their feet wet in the waters of fintech, but it’s a common, above-board practice that enables the company to turn a profit while also keeping costs down as much as possible for users.
However, some additional fees do apply. These fees uniformly affect all traders across the board and are spelled out quite clearly on the company’s website. For example, you can expect a slightly wider spread on functions like overnight funding, currency conversion, and guaranteed stop orders.
Plus500 is also one of the few companies that charge users for prolonged periods of inactivity. The logic behind this is if you’re asleep at the wheel, you’re occupying coveted positions that someone else could take advantage of.
After three months of uninterrupted absence from the app, you’ll get slapped with a recurring charge of 10 USD per month until you log back in and resume trading.
Newcomers to the app can avail themselves of a free demo account, which provides unlimited access to Plus500’s full range of trading tools at no cost.
The catch? None of the actions you perform through your demo account are backed by real money. Therefore, you won’t be enriched by successful trades. To actually start earning, you’ll need to provide your detailed financial information and put up the minimum buy-in capital of 100 USD.
Regulation & Licenses
Plus500 is fully regulated in three tier-1 jurisdictions and four tier-2 jurisdictions. In other words, it offers users a relatively low-risk online trading experience (“relatively” because there’s always some risk involved in investing).
The company also holds licenses in eight of the countries in which it operates, including the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Financial Markets Authority of New Zealand (FMA), the Israel Securities Authority (ISA), and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
Generally speaking, the more licenses a broker has, the more legitimate you can assume it to be. Plus500 enjoys a solid reputation as a trustworthy broker among both casual traders and major global financial authorities.
Over the past couple years, the company’s trading framework has won Best in Class awards across multiple categories, which further attests to its user-friendliness and reliability.
Plus500 offers round-the-clock online support in the form of an extensive Frequently Asked Questions section and a direct-contact mailform, both of which is accessed from the main page of the company’s website.
The many FAQ entries contain detailed answers for some of the most common queries related to the Plus500 app. Here, you’ll find helpful info on opening and verifying an account, linking your financial institution, choosing from among a diversity of instruments, and depositing and withdrawing money. There are also blurbs outlining the company’s regulation status and fee policies, which are good things to have out in the open.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the FAQ, you also have the option of sharing your questions or concerns using the included mailform. Plus500 pledges to assist users “in any matter,” and their reps appear to be pretty good about responding to messages within about 24 hours.
At present, there’s no way to contact Plus500’s customer service department via phone or live chat, but the aforementioned avenues should be sufficient for addressing most sorts of issues that are likely to pop up in the course of routine use.
If you’re new to the world of online trading, Plus500 can serve as an excellent crash course in the finer points of fintech and its many uses.
You may find the app’s unsophisticated format a bit stultifying as your investing acumen grows, but in the meantime, you’ll most likely appreciate the low barrier to entry and the opportunities it presents to increase your net worth with next to no effort.