Forex broker IC Markets offers ECN pricing with MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 and cTrader trading platforms while Plus500 is a market maker with a custom platform. We found IC Markets offer lower spreads for EUR/USD while Plus500 offers 2000+ CFDs products, including 10 cryptocurrencies.
In April 2021 we compared the spreads for IC Markets vs Plus500 forex brokers, IC Markets offer consistently tighter spreads, which means lower trading costs.
To keep our comparison as fair as possible, we have applied the account that offers the best spreads for each broker.
The main features of this account are:
IC Markets spreads are tighter because they use ‘Electronic Communication Network’ (ECN) pricing. IC Markets do not use a ‘dealing desk’ but rather aggregate spreads directly with global liquidity pools. The broker does not tamper with the raw spread prices set by the market, instead, they charge a commission. They also offer standard account, but this has higher fees as shown in the raw vs standard account comparison.
Please note: IC Markets offer an Islamic Account option for retail investor accounts following Sharia Law. Islamic Accounts do not pay or receive swap rates derived from interest rates, as required by Islamic finance practises. The online broker may request proof of faith.
Only 1 account type is available with Plus500. This account offers the following features:
Plus500 is a market maker which means they are your counterparty to all your trades’. As a dealing desk is involved, spreads are wider than with an ECN broker. Plus500 does not charge commission fees.
The Plus500 website does not the average spreads they offer. Therefore, our spreads table is using a sample of spreads at a point in time. This means spreads quoted by us may become outdated.
The two main features that should be considered when deciding for each broker are:
IC Markets and other ECN style brokers such as Pepperstone offer better value due to its lower spreads and extra features. These reasons are why we consider IC Markets the preferred forex broker when it comes to spreads and fees.
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Each broker offers trading platforms that contain features that are significantly different.
IC Markets offer clients a choice MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 and cTrader trading platform. Each platform is available as a desktop platform, webtrader platform and mobile apps for Android and Mac devices.
MT4 is the world’s most popular trading platform. Despite being superseded by a superior overall product in MT5 and Metaquotes ending development and support of the product, it continues to be very popular for the following reasons:
MT5 is Metaquotes attempt to improve on MT4. MT5 offers all the same features as MT4 and more. Not only this, it allows you to trade more CFDs that MT4 such as shares CFD.
You are likely to prefer trading with MT5 for the following reasons:
Most traders will find MT4 sufficient for their needs. It only advanced trader looking for that extra edge will benefit from MT5.
Below is our comparison of the features for each product.
IC Markets also offer an add-on to the MetaTrader platform called advanced tools, which you will find useful.
Advanced Trading Tools has 20 advanced features that can lead to more successful trading:
If MetaTrader is not for you, another widely available trading platform is available for free. This is cTrader. This platform is a specialised platform for forex traders so is not ideal if you wish to trade other instruments like commodities.
Features that differentiate cTrader from MetaTrader include:
There is only one platform available with Plus500. This is the brokers `Plus500 forex trading platform` proprietary trading platform. We found this platform to be one of the most user-friendly and intuitive platforms among all CFDs providers.
Available for iPhone/iPad, Android and Windows mobile, Windows 10 and Web Trader, the platform is not rich in the graphic features but it has a well-designed interface that makes users feel they have all the tools and features at their disposal to take full advantage 2000+ instruments Plus500 offer of the at all times without feeling overwhelmed with information overload.
While the platform is very user friendly, there are a few disadvantages of the platform:
MetaTrader 5 provides an excellent range of features for a wide range of users. Mt4 is the platform that is most used by both brokers and traders, therefore we would recommend users choose IC Markets as they offer the Mt4 platform.
We found IC Markets place a high priority on execution speed, while Plus500 place more emphasis on their suite of risk management tools. As CFDs are complex instruments that come with a high risk of losing money, it’s important to be aware of online brokers’ different risk management features before you start trading CFDs.
These features are important cause they are different approaches to managing ‘slippage’ risks.
We found IC Markets website provides a reasonable level of information about the technology infrastructure they use and order execution speeds.
IC Markets claim an average execution speed of 40ms from their servers to liquidity pools. The following methods are used to achieve these exceptional speeds:
Risks associated with ‘gapping’ can cost a surprising amount. IC Markets offers fast order execution speeds which can reduce the lag time in the order execution process. This should ensure your trades are predictable. Despite this, slippage can still occur and IC Markets do not provide a guarantee against losses.
Plus500 doesn’t provide much information on their website about execution speed however speed might not be so as important from a trader’s perspective. Below we list the risk management features on offer by Plus500 and note if also available with IC Markets.
Note: IC Markets also offer pending orders and a margin call system to protect your funds. The key difference is IC Markets have no guarantee to repay your losses in the event slippage occurs. This means you will need to pay any money owing if your account funds are in negative.
If it’s important, you know in advance the maximum possible loss you could experience in a position, then you may prefer Plus500. Guaranteed stop-loss is the only risk management tool they offer not offered by IC Markets. Most experienced traders are therefore likely to prefer to the tighter spreads and exceptional execution speeds offered by IC Markets.
IC Markets is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) and the Seychelles Financial Services Authority (FSA).
As ASIC and CySEC restrict leverage to 30:1 for forex, IC Markets allow all clients to trade with this amount. If you want IC Markets 500:1 leverage, you’ll need to sign up to the broker’s FSA (Seychelles) regulated branch.
Plus500 operates in Australia (ASIC), the UK (FCA), Cyprus (CySEC), NZ (FMA), Singapore (MAS) and South Africa (FSCA) where the broker provides a maximum leverage of 30:1 for major fx pairs and 20:1 for minors.
Under FSA regulation in the Seychelles, Plus500 traders can utilise a higher maximum leverage of 300:1.
If you have a portfolio of at least €500,000 and you have made at least 10 trades per quarter over the past 12 months, then you may qualify as a professional trader and gain access to higher leverage. With higher leverage and high-volume trading, you would only want to be a professional trader if you can afford the high risk of losing your money.
Leverage can be advantageous if you are looking to make quick profits however it can also amplify the risk that you may go into significant debt or loss. A margin call system or negative balance protection can only do so much to protect your funds if currency movements are unfavourable in a volatile market and you will lose money when trading.
You will need to decide how much leverage you are comfortable working with. If you decide to trade with IC Markets, you can easily reduce your leverage to lower levels if you wish.
Plus500 have one of the most extensive collections of instruments available for CFDs trading among all brokers. Of the 2000+ Instruments available for trade, the following are available:
IC Markets collection of instruments for CFD trading is also relatively extensive, but not as large as Plus500. IC Markets FSA and ASIC regulated branches offer the following:
Please note: the above CFDs are available to trade, yet the maximum leverage is capped. For example, you can trade major currency pairs with a maximum leverage of 30:1 under ASIC, FCA and CySEC regulation.
Among all brokers, Plus500 offers one of the largest range of instruments to retail investor accounts for trading CFDs. Their platform has been designed to make trading with many instruments simple and easy to manage. Therefore, when it comes to trading with CFDs, Plus500 is an excellent option.
Each broker has customer support available by email and live chat at all times throughout the week. While IC Markets offer 24/7 phone support, Plus500 has no phone support.
For instant support, each broker offers a live chat feature available directly within their platform and via their website. We tested the live chat feature and found IC Market could handle all out inquiries regardless of how complex they may have been however Plus500 did not seem to be able to handle the more technical questions.
When it comes to email IC Markets provide the email contact of specific departments, you may wish to address your queries. Plus500 email sending integrated directly into their Web Portal.
IC Markets, unlike Plus500, also have a range of educational tools available including glossary terms, webinars, video tutorials and tips for starting in trading. Plus500 would benefit greatly by introducing such a feature.
Lastly, it is worth noting that both brokers have a demo account available that is free for use. While some brokers limit the features available or the time the account can be used, both IC Markets and Plus500 provide no restrictions with the demo accounts.
You have access to a more extensive range of customer service tools with IC Markets along with a useful education library which can help you grow your trading skills. For this reason, we recommend IC Markets if excellent customer service is important to you.
Only Plus500 have a joining bonus program. Plus500 offer a first deposit bonus program. The larger your first deposit is, the larger the bonus reward will be. You will need to earn a set amount of trader points to claim the deposit bonus.
As only Plus500 offer a joining bonus, we recommend Plus500.
Our review of IC Markets and Plus500 found that Plus500 offer a far more extensive suite of financial issuers when it comes to deposits and withdrawals. Some of these providers, however, are based in Europe, so are not likely to be of interest to Australian traders.
Deposits with IC Markets are generally instant and do not incur a fee. The broker keeps funds with NAB and Westpac to satisfy Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as they are authorised and regulated by this board for trading Forex.
When setting up your trading account, you can choose from 10 different base currencies – the AUD, USD, SGD, GBP, EUR, JPY, NZD, CHF, HKD and the CAD.
IC Markets offer 15 different funding methods with no deposits and withdrawal fees, being:
Domestic bank transfers and e-wallet withdrawals offer free of charge same-day processing. International withdrawals can take up to 3-5 business days and cost $25 AUD. IC Minimum deposit requirement is $200.
Deposit and Withdrawal do not result in fees by Plus500 if they are made by:
Fees may be levied by your payment issuer. Fees will occur in the following instances:
The withdrawal process time is 3-7 days depending on the payment method. This is noticeably slower than IC Markets.
You will need to determine what your preferred method for trading is and investigate if the broker offers this method for funding. If you require fast deposit and withdrawal, you may prefer IC Markets. Plus500 however do offer a wider range of payment merchants. If you want to learn more about the advantages of Plus500, you can check our comparison with other forex brokers including IG Markets.
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.