As two of the largest ECN brokers both IC Markets and IG offer low spreads from 0.0 pips, customer support and leading platforms but IC Markets offer higher leverage of 500:1 compared to IG who only offer 200:1. IC Markets offer 28 fewer currency pairs with 63 vs 91 for IG.
When comparing the spreads of the brokers, it is important to understand the reason each account has different spreads. We will look at each account one by one the fundamentals differences between each trading account.
IG Markets (Standard)
IC Markets (Standard)
IG Markets (Forex Direct)
IC Markets (True ECN)
IC Markets Raw Spreads account
IC Markets Raw spreads account offers the narrowest spreads through ECN pricing. IC Markets uses ECN style execution to bring you the best spreads.
Electronic Data Communication (ECN) networks allow you to execute your orders directly with liquidity providers. Removing the ‘middleman’ or dealing desk between yourself (the trader) and providers mean spreads are a true reflection of the market price.
To keep the spreads ‘raw’, IC Markets (and other ECN brokers) charge a commission for each trade you execute when using an ECN account instead requoting the spread. IC Markets charge $7.00 (round trip) commission for every 100,000 units (standard lots) you trade.
Narrow spreads encourage the trader to trade higher volumes which mean IC Markets can earn more in commission, a wider spread means costs for traders are higher, which means lower volumes traded. With this in mind, brokers have little motivation for the broker to manipulate spreads. IC Markets are the issuer of their own products so they are not a 100% true ECN broker but as they have no dealing desk or requotes, prices can truly be said to be ECN in the spread.
Features of the RAW Spread Account:
Choice of trading platforms – MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5, cTrader
Commission USD$3.5 side-trip, USD$7.0 round trip per standard lot
Expert Advisors (EAs)
Australian Investment and Securities Commission Regulation (ASIC)
Note: an Islamic account that complies with sharia law is available for Muslims traders that comply. This account is the same as the account of the RAW spread but has no swap-fee (also called overnight rates or holding fees).
IC Markets Markets Standard account
You will notice the spreads of the on this account is 1 pip wider than the Raw Spread account. This is because the broker has widened the spread. This 1 pip in the spread replaces the commission you see in the Raw Spread account.
We recommend selecting the IC Markets Raw Spreads account over the Standard account. Commission costs of USD$7 round-turn are less than 1 pip which is $10.
IG offers 2 broad types of accounts. Leveraged trading account for trading CFD instruments and Non Leverage trading for trading Shares.
If you wish to trade any of the following Contracts for difference (CFDs):
then you will need a leveraged (CFD) account. Within the Leveraged CFD account, you can choose from two account types.
IG Limited Risk Account
This account is for clients that are new to forex trading. The account protects your investments by including a guarantees stop-loss with all your positions. This can help protect your investments until you become comfortable trading derivatives. As all trades include a small premium so they will have wider spreads than with the standard account. You will be able to upgrade to a standard account once you have completed 10 trades or you can request from your personal account manager for an upgrade.
IG Standard Account
The standard account has two types of trade execution. This is a market maker and DMA.
Standard Account – Market Maker
With this account, IG operates as a market maker. This means when you execute a trade, you are dealing directly with IG. When you open your position, IG will act as the seller. When you sell, IG will act as the buyer. In short, IG takes the other side of all your trades. As there is a dealing desk, spreads are wider than with an ECN pricing account.
Despite taking the opposite side of your trade, IG uses data sourced from liquidity providers to keep prices ‘real’. While the spreads are wider than the IC Markets Raw Spread account, there is no commission charge. This means the IG Standard account is competitive with IC Markets Raw Spread account.
Minimum spreads are as follows:
AUD / USD: Min 0.6 Avg 0.75 margin 0.5%
USD / JPY: Min 0.7 Avg 0.89 margin 0.5%
EUR / USD: Min 0.6 Avg 0.75 margin 0.5%
GBP / USD Min 0.9 Avd 1.34 margin 1%
IG Forex Direct trading
If you want lower spreads then you can consider the Forex Direct account which uses Direct Market Access (DMA) execution technology. This is similar to ECN but the broker has individual contracts with each liquidity provider in liquidity pool. This is different from ECN where the brokers have no contracts as you are connected to anonymous ECN networks. DMA pricing is similar to ECN.
This account is not available to all traders. To qualify you must meet the following conditions:
Traders in the UK and Europe (with IG UK)
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) only allows professional traders to trade DMA.
To qualify as a professional trader you must meet one of 2 of 3 conditions
Have 500,000 euro in your cash portfolio
Average 10 trades per quarter over the last 12 months
Be a finance professional
Traders outside the UK and Europe
You will need a CFD account Standard account)
As spreads are not widened, DMA trader will pay a commission. The commission is as follows:
AVG DMA Spreads
Conclusion – IC Markets vs IG
We recommend IC Markets ‘Raw Spread’ account. The ECN style account can consistently offer the narrowest spreads as prices are set by the market. While the IG Standard account is competitive, we can’t be sure prices will also match ECN prices.
When trading, we always prefer brokers that offer higher leverage limits. Leverage means you don’t need high levels of your capital to achieve large returns on your fx trading. While we always recommend being aware of the risks when trading with leverage, often you need leverage to achieve significant returns. This is because currency movements most of the time are only incremental. It is only in extreme events such as a political crisis that current movements can be drastic.
IC Markets offer leverage of 500:1 to all clients regardless of where in the world the client is based.
IG Markets leverage varies depending on the regulation that applied to the territory their client is based on.
200:1 for IG AU clients regulated by ASIC, FMA and FSCA. IG AU manage Australia, South Africa, New Zealand
Retails traders: 30:1, Professional traders 250:1 for IG UK clients who are regulated by FCA and CySEC. IG UK manage the UK and Europe
20:1 for IG SG clients regulated by MAS. IG regulate Singapore.
Execution Speed and Risk Management – IC Markets vs IG
IC Markets Execution Speed and Risk Management
Some of the fastest execution speed in the forex online broker industry is available with IC Markets. IC Markets place their fibre optic cable technology at Equinox data centres near major forex trading centres. This placement means they can achieve order execution completion of under 40ms. Fast execution is imperative for IC Markets as they only offer the basic risk management tools all forex brokers offer. Without the fast execution speed and low latency that IC Markets achieve your trades could be at risk of ‘slippage’ which can impact your ability to trade confidently.
IG Execution Speed and Risk Management
Slippage performance with IG
The infrastructure behind IG trading infrastructure is not spoken about on their website. However, IG does provide statistics about their slippage performance which is a good indication of their trading speeds.
Looks at the table what needs to be understood is that the ‘stop’ slippage should be low (i.e. closer to 100%) and the ‘limit’ slippage should be higher (i.e. close to %0). IG uses algorithms that use ‘asymmetric’ logic when executing trades which helps them achieve ideal execution levels.
Rejection rates – IG
IG also publish their rejection levels. Rapid price changes and varying levels of liquidity can determine if your trade will be successful. Remember that IG is a market maker which means they only hold so much liquidity of each currency at one time. This may mean if you are trading high volumes of a currency pair, IG may not have necessary volumes of liquidity to execute your trade.
IG allows you to mage rejection risks through the following
Points through current: If you purchase insurance against an unfavourable price change, IG will guarantee your trade at your order price.
Partial fills: If IG cannot provide the entire volume you wish to trade, then they can do a partial fill.
While the above are all tools IG when it comes to execution speed, IG also has some risk management tools that IC Markets do not offer. The main tools are guaranteed stop-loss order. This tool allows you to set your sell price for a small fee and IG can guarantee this price when you go short.
The other feature IG off is a ‘limit risk account. This is a setting on your account that when enabled, will require you to purchase a guaranteed stop-loss order for every trade you do.
Risk management comments
It is worth noting that neither broker offer guaranteed negative balance protection. Instead, both brokers offer a margin call system or minimum balance protection. This system is a series of warnings that your account funds are below specified margin limits. The idea of the notifications is to allow you to add more funds to your account or sell some of your positions.
Execution speed vs risk management Conclusion
It is important to understand why each broker have such different approaches when it comes to speed and execution. Speed is very important to IC Markets because they offer an environment similar to an ECN broker. Foreign exchange prices are constantly changing and any lags during trade execution may mean the price you buy or sell might not match the advertised price. This can result in slippage.
IG, unlike IC Markets, is more about managing risk with risk management features to protect your investments.
The following trading platforms are available with IC Markets. MetaTrader 4 (MT4), MetaTrader 5 (MT5) and cTrader. IG also offer MT4 (along with their proprietary platforms).
This trading software or platform has long been the most popular trading platform for both traders and brokers. Continual upgrades mean the platform become one of the most ‘complete’ trading platforms available making it popular with fx brokers. MT4 makes trading easy for those new to trading but also offers sophisticated features for traders requiring more in-depth information. While it is true many other products nowadays offer similar features, MT4 continues to be the best as they consistently offer new features.
Key features of note on MT4 include charts and indicators, expert advisers (i.e. trading automation) and ability to customise your trading screens.
This platform is an upgrade on MetaTrader 4. While it is true MetaTrader 4 continues to be far more popular than MetaTrader 5, slowly but surely MetaTrader 5 is catching up. MetaTrader 5 uptake has been slow because when MetaTrader was released in 2010, it was built to be compliant with USA trading regulations. USA trade regulation doesn’t allow hedging or F.I.F.O style trading. MetaQuest made the mistaken assumption that the rest of the world would follow the USA with these regulatory requirements. This error has since been rectified and MetaTrader 5 now allow netting (F.I.F.O) and hedging systems meaning the meets USA and international regulatory requirements. So although MT4 remains the chosen platform, there is now little reason to choose MT4 over MT5.
MetaTrader 5 is an improvement over MT4 as it allows better trading through central exchanges. This makes the platform a better choice as now better built to allow for trading of all types of asset classes including shares, commodities and indices. Other benefits include faster processing (which can help reduce slippage) as it is a 64-bit multi-threaded platform which can handle up to 4GB (an upgrade on MT4 which uses 32-but, mono threading with 2GB limit, more charts and indicators). Lastly, MT5 is better built for backtesting as it is using MQL5 which should assist with easier creation of expert advisors.
Programming Language (for expert advisors)
Number of orders executable
Number of pending orders available
Number of indicators
Number of Analytical tools
Yes (since 2016)
32bit / 2GB
64 Bit / 4Gb
Speed / Stability
Fast / Stable
Faster / More Stable
All (Decentralised and trading exchanges)
Additional MetaTrader features
If you use MetaTrader with IC Markets you will also get access to their MT4 Advanced Trader tools. This is a series of 20 additional trade execution and management tools that will make your trading experience even better.
cTrader trading platform
This platform is another very popular readily accessible free platform available for traders, choosing cTrader over MetaTrader is simply a case of personal preference. All platforms offer many of the same key features however some many prefer the cTrader interface. Some of the main features of cTrader are Level II pricing, Detachable charts, a dedicated platform for trading automation and 26 timeframes. cTrader however, is only for forex trading, not CFD or cryptocurrency trading.
IG trading platforms
There are different trading tools available with IG. It is important to understand each platform serves a different purpose and therefore will serve the needs of different traders.
The first table shows with ‘Web-based’, ‘mobile app’ and ‘Tablet apps’ are IG proprietary platform. This platform is IG award-winning platforms and contains all the standard tools traders will want access too. It is worth noting that the Tablet is only built for iPad and that you can only trade directly from charts if using the web platform.
Below are some of the custom platforms that IG offer:
L2 dealer is only for DMA traders which means you will need a Forex Direct account. This means you would need to meet IG requirements to qualify as a ‘Professional Trader’.
ProRealTime is a platform in its own right and their its key feature is the high availability of charts and indicators you might not find elsewhere. There is however a $40 cost per month and it is only available for web browsers.
MetaTrader 4 is the same as MetaTrader 4 that IC Markets offer however it is only available as a download. To access this platform you need to be using the IG web-based platform.
Conclusion – IC Markets vs IG
IG gives you an extensive range of platform choices to choose from. We, however, don’t find these platforms interesting enough to choose over the MetaTrader options available with IC Markets. If you choose MetaTrader with IC Markets you can access the platform on your phone, tablet or the web. MetaTrader 4 is a great option as many brokers offer this platform however we are recommending MetaTrader 5. While not as many brokers offer this as MetaTrader 4, it is still relatively common and offers all the MT4 features and more.
Contracts for Difference (CFDs) – IC Markets vs IG
IC Markets CFDs
This broker offers a solid collection of different asset classes for trade. While IG offers a far more extensive range of trading options, IC Markets off most of the standard CFDs most people will look to trade with.
These CFDs include 17 different indices, 19 different commodities plus spot and futures CFDs, 120+ stocks from the ASX, Nasdaq and NYSE (provided you are using MT5). 6 different Bonds, 4 Global futures and 10 of the most popular cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ripple, Dash, Ethereum and BitCoin Cash.
IC Markets do not charge a commission when trading bonds and indices. Leverage is available and this is between 1:200 and 1:500.
If your looking for a broker that offers an all-in-one CFDs trading portfolio then IG might be the right broker for you. IG range of derivatives covers just about any assets you might want to consider for trading. Trading options include over 8,500 shares from the Australian and international stock markets, over 31 global indices, 26 different commodities and all the major Cryptocurrencies.
IG also offer other assets not commonly on offer with other brokers, these include options, interest rates, bonds, exchange-traded products (ETP), exchange-traded funds (ETF) and initial public offerings (IPOs).
If purchasing shares then IG allows you to purchase shares with lower commissions for the first weeks of trading while you build your confidence. After this period it is 0.08% commission per side with a minimum charge of $7. To purchase shares you will need a non-leveraged trading account.
If you are an IG client in the UK, you can also do spread betting. This is very similar to CFD trading but you don’t own the underlying product but instead bet on the direction the instrument will move. It is popular with traders in the UK as there can be tax savings on your profits.
Conclusion – IC Markets vs IG
IG offers great portfolio derivatives that cover all the CFDs you may wish to consider for investment.
Bonus Offers – IC Markets vs IG
IC Markets do not have any sign on or deposit bonus. Nor do they have a refer a friend program. This could be looked at favourably in some aspects. IC Markets focuses on offering the lowest spreads through their ECN broker. This means they are operating on very low commission margins. If they had a sign-on bonus, this could be passed onto consumers through other costs.
IG (who are a market maker, not ECN broker) on the other hand have a refer a friend program. With this program, IG will give you up to US$1000 in credit and your friend US$100 for each friend you introduce to IG. The program does have certain conditions whereby the friend must meet minimum deposit and trade requirements.
Conclusion – IC Markets vs IG
Given IC Markets don’t have a bonus program then consider IG as an option if you desire a bonus.
Customer Service – IC Markets vs IG
IC Markets customer support
You can contact the IC Markets support team 24/7 through live chat, email or call back. They also provide FAQ in their help centre where you can find possible answers to your questions.
IC Markets Customer service
IC Markets offer an extensive range of educational resources that will provide you with all of the trading information you may need. This includes information on the advantages of Forex and CFD trading, video tutorials on how to use MetaTrader 4 and Web TV which is recorded daily from the New York Stock Exchange discussing trade ideas in short video format. They also have a devoted web-page which provides an educational overview. When you choose this page you are taken to a page they call an ‘Information Hub for the Serious Trader”. This site includes information on different types of analysis and trading data and a range of other topics such as risk management. You can also find links to all the past webinar they have hosted about different trading topics here.
IG customer support
You can reach out to IG for support via Email, Live chat, phone and twitter. The customer support is available 7 days a week however the hours are more limited on Saturdays.
IG customer service
The broker has a decent collection of tools that can assist you when trading for any issues or information you may need. These include glossaries, forums, users guides and FAQ. the most notable feature their ‘IG Academy”. This education series is made of 9 different trading courses covering forex and CFD trading. Here you will find booklets, webinars and mobile apps as different means to relay trade information.
Conclusion – IC Markets vs IG
While both brokers provide good customer support and service we like IG range of education tools as they are more comprehensive.
Deposits and Withdrawals – IC Markets vs IG
IC Markets have no fees when it comes to making a deposit or making a withdrawal with any of their funding methods. The range of methods you can use for funding is quite broad. Funding methods include Credit cards and Debit Cards (Visa and MasterCard), Skrill, Neteller, PayPal, BPAY, POLi, UnionPay and FasaPay.
IG on the hand have charges for various funding methods. You will find they have a 1% fee when using Visa and 0.5% when using MasterCard. PayPal also has a 1% fee. All these methods have a minimum of $500 when making a deposit. BPAY and Bank Transfer are free and have no minimum deposit.
Conclusions – IC Markets vs IG
IC Markets not only offer more funding options when we compare with IG but don’t have fees.