CMC Markets and IC Markets are contrasting forex brokers. CMC is a Market Maker that offers 339 currency pairs for forex trading and 12 cryptocurrencies in its large range for trading cfds. IC is an ECN forex broker with tight spreads, choice of 3 trading platforms and choice of 4 account types.
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The two online brokers offer different pricing structures as CMC Markets is a market maker and allows customers to trade at fixed commission-free spreads, while IC Markets is a no dealing desk broker (NDD) that offers institutional-grade pricing similar to an ECN account type.
Data taken from broker website. Accurate as at 04/06/2021
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As a CMC Markets customer or an IC Markets standard account holder, traders gain access to fixed pricing where commission fees are included in the spread. When the broker’s pricing is compared, IC Markets average spreads are either tighter or on par with CMC Markets. For instance, the average spread for the EUR/USD currency pair is 1.20 pips at CMC Markets and 1.10 pips at IC Markets.
Unlike CMC Markets, IC Markets customers can gain access to ECN-like spreads when trading via a Raw Account. Instead of spreads being inclusive of commission fees as with standard accounts, IC customers can trade at narrow spreads as low as 0.1 pips, while paying a flat rate commission fee ($6 round-turn for cTrader, $7 round-turn MetaTrader ). For most major forex pairs, IC Markets average spreads are tighter than competitor NDD brokers. IC Markets spreads for the USD/SGD are extremely narrow, averaging 0.3 pips, while the EUR/USD forex pair averages 0.1 pips.
The reason why IC Markets can offer such narrow spreads is due to its top-tier liquidity providers. The broker’s liquidity sources allow it to offer the best available institutional-grade prices, along with ultra-fast, NDD execution. The ECN-style trading environment is ideal for high-volume traders, as well as scalpers, Expert Advisors and cBots.
Click here to learn more about IC Markets ECN-style spreads or view the raw vs standard account guide.
When IC Markets average spreads are compared to CMC Markets, IC is the overall winner. While CMC Markets offers a single pricing structure where commission fees are included in spreads, customers trading with IC Markets can choose between standard, all-inclusive spreads like CMC’s standard account or tight ECN-like spreads that carry a flat rate commission fee.
As well as more pricing and account options, IC Markets average spreads are much narrower than CMC Markets and other online brokers. EUR/USD average spreads are as low as 0.1 pips for Raw Account holders, and 1.1 pips for Standard Account holders trading with IC Markets.
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CMC Markets is a market maker broker that offers two account types. A CFD trading account is available in any country that CMC operates, while a spread betting account is only accessible to traders based in the UK or Ireland. Although brokers’ CFD trading account is suited to all levels of trading experience, the simplified pricing structure is ideal for those new to trading. Commission costs are included in the spread, with traders incurring no additional flat rate commission fee.
While novice traders may benefit from avoiding complex commission calculations, many high-volume traders prefer ECN-style pricing where traders gain access to ultra-tight spreads while paying flat-rate commission fees. Unfortunately, as CMC Markets is a market maker, they fail to provide customers with an ECN-like account option.
Like CMC, IC Markets also offers a commission-free standard account option where spreads are wider but inclusive of commission charges. In addition to IC’s standard account, the broker offers two raw account types with a pricing structure similar to an ECN account. Traders gain access to institutional grade spreads as low as 0.0 pips while paying a flat rate commission fee. While MetaTrader users pay a $7 round-turn commission fee per 100k traded, those using cTrader incur lower trading costs of $6.
While CMC Markets offers no Islamic account option, IC Markets a swap-free fee structure for those following Islamic finance principles. In accordance with Sharia law, Islamic accounts pay flat rate swap fees, rather than paying (or receiving) overnight financing fees in the form of interest.
IC Markets offers swap-free versions of both its Standard and Raw accounts. Swap-free, overnight financing fees range from $5-$30 depending on the forex pair being traded, with charges tripling on Fridays.
While CMC Markets offer clients one main CFD trading account type, IC Markets provides a selection of commission-free standard account or an ECN-like raw spread account. As those trading with IC Markets can choose from multiple account types and pricing structures, they are the winner in this round.
Both online brokers offer a selection of trading platforms to choose from depending on the traders’ needs. CMC Markets customers can choose from MetaTrader 4 (MT4) or the broker’s proprietary platform, Next Generation, while those trading with IC Markets gain access to the three most popular trading platforms available – MT4, MetaTrader 5 (MT5), and cTrader.
To access CMC Markets’ full product range of over 9,500 financial instruments, customers are required to use the broker’s proprietary platform. The Next Generation trading platform is user-friendly and intuitive, yet still provides various tools to assess trading conditions and conduct analysis.
Instead of Next Generation, customers of CMC Markets can choose to trade using MetaTrader 4. The trading platform is well known for its advanced trading tools including:
A downfall of MT4 is that CMC customers are only able to trade to commodities, indices and forex, with other asset classes such as Cryptos and Shares restricted. Although the narrower product range is available on MT4, traders can access the platform’s Expert Advisor features to develop automated trading strategies, a feature not available on Next Generation.
As with CMC Markets, MT4 is available to IC Markets customers, although stock trading is restricted. Along with the platforms extensive inbuilt charting tools and technical indicators, users can download IC Markets Advanced Trading Tools to enhance the MT4 trading experience.
IC Markets Raw account holders can trade multiple asset classes using MetaTrader 5. As well as the ability to trade Shares, MT5 has many improvements over MT4, including enhanced platform features and charting tools such as:
Rather than MT4 or MT5, IC Markets Raw Account holders can trade forex and CFDs using the cTrader trading platform. Similarly to MetaQuotes Expert Advisors, cTrader Automate allows users to automate trading by creating cBots using the C# programming language. Additional cTrader features include:
Users can easily stay up to date with markets and trade on the go using iOS and Android apps, with Next Generation, MT4, MT5 and cTrader trading platforms all available as mobile trading apps on iPhone, iPad and other tablet and mobile devices.
Although clients trading with CMC Markets can choose between the online brokers’ proprietary platform, Next Generation, or MT4, IC Markets offers the three best trading platforms for retail investor accounts. At CompareForexBrokers, we recommend using MetaTrader 5 with IC Markets, as traders gain access to Expert Advisor features, advanced charting tools and IC Markets full product range.
In addition to the 348 different forex pairs offered by CMC Markets, the online broker offers some of the best market access available to retail investor accounts, with thousands of CFD products to choose from. While IC Markets market access is not as extensive as CMC Markets, IC provides access to plenty of asset classes and instruments to build diversified trading strategies.
When trading CFDs with IC Markets, customers using MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 or cTrader can choose from 17 Indices, 10 Cryptocurrencies, 19+ Commodities, 6+ Bonds, and 4 Futures, with MT5 users also gaining access to over 120 Stocks. On the other hand, CMC Markets offers a staggering 9,500 financial instruments consisting of:
For those wanting to focus on Cryptocurrency CFD trading, IC Markets and CMC Markets offer two of the best Crypto product ranges, with both online brokers providing customers access to a comprehensive selection of emerging and major Crypto CFDs.
As well as individual Cryptos, those trading with CMC Markets gain access to the broker’s unique range of Cryptocurrency Indices.
Note: 2021 changes in policies by the FCA of the UK, means CMC Markets Plc UK, can no longer offer cryptocurrency trading to clients.
IC Markets provides its customers with strong market access to hundreds of products available across seven asset classes. Yet, when compared to CMC Markets 9,500 financial instruments available, it is clear which online broker is the winner of this round. CMC Markets offers one of the best product range available for retail investor accounts, with thousands of CFDs plus unique products such as Crypto Indices.
Open a demo account >>Visit CMC Markets >>
Social-copy trading is rising in popularity as it allows traders to save time while learning from experienced investors. While CMC Markets does not offer any social trading tools, IC Markets customers can integrate their trading accounts with third-party providers such as Myfxbook and ZuluTrade.
Myfxbook AutoTrade is a third-party account mirroring service where IC Markets clients can copy the trades of over 90,000 different systems. Myfxbook AutoTrade is available on MetaTrader 4 and is easily integrated into the trading platform without the need for any complicated software installations.
ZuluTrade enables IC Markets customers to automate trading through its online social platform. Users can copy the trades of proven investors and top traders known as signal providers. A signal provider allows other traders to copy them, with the compensation they receive derived from the success of their trading strategies. Although ZuluTrade is geared towards forex markets, traders can follow signal providers’ cryptocurrencies trading strategies as well.
IC Markets is the winner when it comes to social trading, as CMC Markets does not provide any account mirroring services. IC Markets customers wanting to automate trading through social-copy features can easily integrate services such as ZuluTrade and Myfxbook AutoTrade into their trading accounts, allowing them to copy experienced investors’ trading strategies and portfolios.
The multiple order types offered by CMC Markets and IC Markets allow traders to manage the high risk of forex trading. As well as using order types as a risk management technique, traders should note that different jurisdictions enforce different regulation and investor protection, therefore Sydney based traders are exposed to different risks to investors in London.
For forex traders, the range of risk management tools and order types available differs between trading platforms. For IC Markets and CMC Markets using MetaTrader 4, 6 different order types are available. In addition to a Market Order where the instrument is bought or sold at the current market price, MT4 provides additional pending different order types that include:
When trading with CMC Markets via Next Generation, the following order types are available:
To gain 100% certainty that a stop-loss order will be executed at the price a trader wants, a Guaranteed Stop Loss Order (GSLO) can be placed at a premium. If the GSLO is not executed at the exact price the trader set, the GSLO premium is refunded to the trader.
IC Markets customers using MT5 have access to the same order types as MT4 users, with the addition of a Buy Stop Limit Order and Sell Stop Limit Order. cTrader provides IC Markets customers with a similar range of risk management tools to MetaQuotes platforms, with the following order types available:
As trading forex and CFDs is considered a high-risk investment activity, financial authorities around the world impose strict regulations that brokers must follow. Although both online brokers are overseen by top-tier regulators and considered trustworthy, investor protection varies depending on the subsidiary a trader is registered with.
IC Markets is a Sydney based broker regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), as well as the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) and Financial Services Authority of Seychelles (FSA). While those trading with the European IC Markets subsidiary receive negative balance protection as required by CySEC, this is not a form of investor protection that ASIC enforces in Australia.
On the other hand, CMC Markets is overseen by the following financial authorities:
In addition to being regulated by multiple top-tier financial authorities, CMC Markets offers the added transparency of being listed on the London Stock Exchange. As with IC Markets, investor protection varies between jurisdictions. Most regulators require client funds to be held in segregated accounts, yet it is mainly European locations (i.e. CySEC, FCA) that require brokers to provide traders with negative balance protection.
Both online brokers provide a range of order types to assist traders in managing risk. While available order types vary with the trading platform being used, those trading on CMC’s Next Generation platform can place Guaranteed Stop Loss Orders for a premium, a feature IC Markets does not offer, making CMC Markets the winner when it comes to risk management. In regards to regulation, both CMC and IC Markets are considered trustworthy as they are overseen by various top-tier financial authorities around the globe, yet CMC offers the additional transparency of being listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Both online brokers provide customer support via phone, email, and live chat. While customers can only contact CMC Markets 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday, IC Markets customers can access support 24/7.
As well as representatives to answer trading and account queries, CMC and IC Markets offer a range of educational resources that cover topics from risk management to market analysis. Both new and experienced investors can learn about forex trading using the following resources:
With 24/7 customer support, IC Markets is the winner. Although IC Markets win, customers of both brokers gain access to top-quality customer service with phone, email and live chat available. Additionally, an extensive range of educational resources such as webinars is available to traders wanting to learn more about forex and CFDs.
Most deposit and withdrawal methods are free of charge when trading forex with CMC or IC Markets. Both online brokers offer a good range of funding methods with credit card, debit card, e-wallet and internet banking options available. Customers of IC Markets can deposit and withdraw funds in the following ways:
Although most funding methods are fee-free, IC Markets clients withdrawing funds via international bank transfer are charged a fee of AUD $20. At CMC Markets, customers can deposit funds free of charge into trading accounts via electronic wallets, debit/credit card and bank transfers. Except for same-day withdrawals and international bank transfers that carry a £15 fee, withdrawals are also free of charge.
To start trading, IC Markets requires an initial minimum deposit of $200, while CMC Markets requires no initial minimum deposit. When opening a trading account, a customer must select a base currency. Both online brokers allow clients to establish accounts in one of 10 currencies:
There are clear differences between IC Markets and CMC Markets when it comes to forex spreads, account options, product range and platform features. Although CMC Markets provides access to a staggering 9,500+ markets, the online broker struggles to compete with IC Markets institutional-grade trading environment and its ECN-like tight spreads. As well as access to average spreads as low as 0.1 pips on major forex pairs, those trading with IC Markets have a choice of the worlds most popular retail trading platforms (MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 or cTrader), as well as social trading tools for automated trading and order types for managing the high risk of trading forex and CFDs.
Justin Grossbard has been investing for the past 20 years and writing for the past 10. He co-founded Compare Forex Brokers in 2014 after working with the foreign exchange trading industry for several years. He also founded a number of FinTech and digital startups including Innovate Online and SMS Comparison. Justin holds a Masters Degree and an Honours in Commerce from Monash University. He and his wife Paula live in Melbourne, Australia with his son and Siberian cat. In his spare time, he watches Australian Rules Football and invests on global markets.