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Comparing Spread Betting and CFD (Contracts for Differences)

Contracts for differences enable investors to trade the price flow of futures even though they are not futures contracts. CFDs do not come with an expiry date and comprise preset prices. However, they trade with sell and buy prices, as is the case with other securities.

Contracts for differences trade over the counter via a chain of brokers who plan the market supply and demand for CFDs and develop prices accordingly. This article covers the similarities and differences between spread betting and CFDs

How Spread Betting Works

When traders spread bets, they choose whether a financial instrument or product’s price is likely to rise or drop and determine the amount to bet. The products, in this case, can be stock index, share, commodity, or currency pair. For instance, suppose an investor is spread betting foreign exchange, and the currency pair’s price fluctuates in their favor.

To calculate their profit, they will need to multiply their initial share size by the total points the product has moved. If it moves against their preference, their loss will be calculated in a similar formula. It is worth mentioning that losses can surpass deposits.

Understanding the Similarities Between Spread Betting and CFD

Spread bets and CFDs are leveraged derivative instruments whose value comes from a fundamental asset. In these instruments, an investor does not own the underlying market assets.

When trading CFDs, investors speculate on whether the underlying asset value will fall or rise in the future. CFD providers bargain contracts with the option of short and long positions depending on the total asset prices.

Investors choose a long position hoping the underlying asset will rise. Short-selling occurs when investors believe the asset price will drop. In both cases, investors expect to acquire the difference between the opening value and the closing value.

A spread is a difference between the selling price and the buy price that a betting company quotes. The underlying asset flow is assessed in basis points with the alternative of purchasing short or long positions.

Margin and Reducing Risks


In both spread betting and CFD trading, initial margins are mandatory as an initial deposit. Usually, margin fluctuates from 0.5 to 10% of the value of an open position. Suppose the assets are more volatile, an investor can anticipate higher margin rates. Margin will be less for less volatile assets.

Investors in spread betting and CFD trading contribute a tiny percentage of the asset value. However, they are allowed the same losses or gains even if they paid 100% of the asset value. Still, in both strategies, spread betting institutions or CFD providers can recall the investor in the future for a follow-up margin payment.

Avoiding or reducing risk in investing is possible. However, the investor should strive to do everything it takes to avoid huge losses. The potential profits in spread betting and CFD trading can be 100% equal to the fundamental market, but the potential losses will be similar.

A stop-loss order in spread betting and CFDs can be set up before the contract begins. The stop loss is a prearranged price that closes a contract automatically once the price is achieved. Some spread betting and CFD institutions provide guaranteed stop-loss orders to make sure that providers complete contracts. Guaranteed stop-loss orders come at a premium price.

Key Differences

Apart from margins, CFD trading investors should pay transaction fees and commission charges to the provider. Spread betting institutions neither take commissions nor fees. Once the contract is completed, losses or profits are accomplished.

The investor either owes the trading institution money or is owed money by the provider. Suppose profits are earned, the CFD trader will gain the closing position profit, fees, and less opening position.

Spread betting profits are the shift in basis points accumulated by the amount of money discussed in the previous bet. Both spread bets and CFDs are liable to dividend payouts domineering a long contract position.

While the asset doesn’t have a direct owner, a spread betting company and CFD provider pays dividends if the fundamental asset performs well. When CFD trades generate profits, the investor is liable to a capital gains levy. Spread betting profits are levy-free.


Understanding the difference between spread betting and CFDs may not be easy especially for beginners in the industry. Remember, both strategies are subject to actual risks. An investor should strive to identify the best investment that will boost their returns in advance.