Home Business Insights & Advice Forex Trading: How to spot the difference between spread betting and CFDs

Forex Trading: How to spot the difference between spread betting and CFDs

by Sarah Dunsby
23rd Feb 23 11:00 am

Investing, especially in big financial markets, can prove successful if done rationally. Returns on any investment made often depend on the amount of initial money spent. The higher the spent, the more money. Understandably, returns on investments can also be zero if the markets do not agree with the positions taken—a situation common when operating CFDs or spread betting contracts in forex.

In the ton of investment options on offer, CFD and spread betting are something to consider for any new investor. Both are lucrative when the investors take their time to analyse the markets before taking their positions. Spread betting vs. CFD debates highlight the popularity of the two investments, though they can be confusing to understand. Here are some elements that distinguish the two when forex trading.

Spread betting

Spread betting offers interested investors the opportunity to speculate on the direction of the markets. However, with enough experience using trading indicators, knowing the direction the market will take might not be a lucky guess.

The word “spread” in the investment alludes to the number of instruments an investor can speculate on a single position. For most companies offering spread betting, the most common commodities include forex, fixed-income securities, and stocks.

The investor receives a considerable reward if their bull or bearish forex market speculation aligns with the reality on the ground. Otherwise, they lose the money or their bets. Noteworthy, the spread bettor has the freedom to choose the amount of risk they wish to take. Once the bet runs, the investor cannot transfer it to anyone else.

Speculative investments such as spread betting do not lock a person into a position like in fixed-odd betting, which is common in gambling. Once the market shifts in the direction of the position taken, the spread bettor can quickly cash out.


CFD is an over-the-counter investment, meaning it has little influence from external market forces on how it operates. Demand and supply forces set the price of CFDs, which depend on the future value of an asset.

While these investment instruments resemble future contracts, they have a unique distinction that sets them apart. A CFD cannot expire and does not have a future price point to become enforceable. It is a contract containing future asset value, which becomes profitable when the value shoots up.

However, the parties involved do not exchange the assets, as happens in other types of investment. The holder of the contract can sell it in the open market. The buyer of the contracts can also hold it and dispose of it in the future when it becomes profitable to sell.

Spotting the differences

One distinct factor between spread betting and contract of differences is the way the two exchange hands in the open markets. CFDs do not require a broker and can trade directly in the market, while spread betting requires a broker for it to work. Direct access to buyers and sellers makes CFD simpler to operate than spread betting.

Holders of CFDs also pay extra fees on top of the money used to buy the contracts. The providers of the contract require a commission, and any movement of the asset will attract a transaction fee. Spread betting operates free once received from the provider. Once the bet closes, the company will owe the spread bettor their winnings, minus agreed fees for participating in the activity.

On the taxation front, spread betting does not attract any. Winnings are the dollar amount multiplied by the basis points agreed upon at the start of the contract, which the bettor gets in full, minus the fees. CFDs have a capital gain tax obligation, which becomes apparent on the sale of a CFD at any point.

Differentiate the two

The two investments might seem similar to a newbie investor because of how they operate. A holder of the two might get a dividend payout if the investment performs well, and both are lucrative when the markets align with the positions taken in either of the contracts. However, issues like taxes and their journey in the open market, make them different.

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