Head To Head Forex Broker Comparison Of IC Markets vs Plus500
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.
By Justin Grossbard / Updated: Tuesday, February 18th, 2020
In January 2020 we compared the spreads for IC Markets vs Plus500 forex brokers and found IC Markets offers tighter spreads.
Spreads on 02/10/2018
IC Markets (Avg)
Plus500 on 10/01/2020
To keep our comparison as fair as possible, we have applied the account that offers the best spreads for each broker,
Raw ECN account with IC Markets
The main features of this account are:
Raw (ECN broker style) spreads from 0.0 pips for EUR/USD
Lot size of 0.01 to 100 lots
USD$3.5 commission for each 100k traded round-trip.
Deposit minimum requirement of $200
Leverage up to 500:1 available
64 Pairs of currency available for trade
Hedging and scalping
Expert advisors (or EAs for short)
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.
Pro account with Plus500
Only 1 account type is available with Plus500. This account offers the following features:
Minimum deposit $100
Spreads from 0.06 pips
Over 60 Currency pairs
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 This means spreads quoted by us may become outdated.
Additional fees with Plus500
Plus500 premium (Overnight fee) Fee – A fee is charged if traders hold their position overnight or when the market is down. This fee is to cover the risks the broker takes for keeping a trade open overnight.
Plus500 inactivity fee – There is a fee of $10USD if an account is inactive for 3 months.
Guaranteed stop-order – We discuss this optional feature in risk management. If selected spreads will be wider
Trading spreads and fees conclusion
The two main features that should be considered when deciding for each broker are:
Spread size – You will need to obtain the spread/pips and the volume or lot size you will trade and perform your own calculations when deciding between a commission or spread based account. Generally trading larger lots with low pips will result in a greater saving. Low volume traders may prefer no commission accounts.
Features – if any of the following are required hedging, scalping and Expert Advisors. If any of these advanced featured are required then Plus500 can be ruled out.
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.
Each broker offers trading platforms that contain features that are significantly different.
IC Markets platforms for trading
IC Markets offers clients a choice MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 and cTrader trading platform.
MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5).
MT4 is the worlds 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:
Intuitive interface that is simple and straightforward to use
large MT4 community and marketplace
No reason to upgrade from an excellent product
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:
You want to trade shares CFD
You want more details charts, analytical and graphical tools
You want depth of market
You want to perform more extensive backtesting
You need more order types
You want to create Expert Advisors with MQL5 language
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.
IC Markets MetaTrader T4 advanced tools
Advanced Trading Tools has 20 advanced features that can lead to more successful trading:
Alarm Manager – Provides notification about events on your account and in the general market. You can automate actions when specific events occur such as to send automatic updates on twitter your followers.
Connect – All the latest news and analysis to help you make the best investments
Correlation Matrix – shows in grid form the connections between pairs over a period of time.
Correlation Trader – identify strong or weak correlations to highlight differences in variables being analysed.
Excel RTD – with this tool you can build your trading dashboard. This allows you to receive real-time data in 3 different excel spreadsheet. These spreadsheets can contain information such as account equity and balance, instrument prices and open positions.
Mini Terminal – A compact window called the mini terminal allows you to do the most important trading tasks such as placing positions, changing stop-loss and take-profit parameters super easily.
Market Manager – Provides information about your accounts such as equity, balance and margin usage.
Sentiment Trader – help you to see the sentiments of other traders when crafting a trading strategy.
Stealth Orders – Used to place orders and set your position to enter the market and exit the market while also remaining hidden from the market.
Trade Simulator – used reliable strategies proven successful in the past to show potential profit/ loss results.
Session Map – shows your local time concerning trading sessions around the world.
Trade Terminal – So you can monitor and place orders on many instruments at one time.
Smart Lines – this utilises charts to show take profit and stop-loss positions.
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:
Depth of market (available on MT5 but not MT4) – great for scalpers
Advanced take-profit and take-loss levels
More details charts
Cloud storing of passwords, profiles and templates
cAlgo which uses C# programming language (alternative to MetaTrader Expert Advisors
The Plus500 forex trading platform
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:
No scalping is allowed
No compatibility with EAs
No social trading features
Forex trading platforms conclusion
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.
Execution Speed and Risk Management – IC Markets and Plus500
We found IC Markets place a high priority on execution speed, while Plus500 place more emphasis on their suite of risk management tools.
These features are important cause they are different approaches to managing ‘slippage’ risks.
IC Markets Execution Technology
We found IC Markets website provide 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:
Dedicated Fibre Optic Cable – means lower congestion as fewer resources are using the fibre optic cables to obtain needed information. Fibre Optic technology provides the fastest means for transmitting orders.
Equinix Servers near New York and London Financial Centres – By placing servers new liquidity centres data lower latency can be achieved as data does not need to travel far for executed orders.
Sponsored Virtual Private Servers – IC Markets will sponsor VPS if the trader makes a minimum volume of 15 round turn lots a calendar month. Latency speeds between VPS and IC Markets servers can be as low as 0.5ms.
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 and Risk Management
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.
Pending Order (Profit Limit and Stop Loss) – Price Level can be set when opening a new position. This order allows you to set a specific rate your position will close. This helps protect profits and minimise losses. A pending order does not mean slippage’ won’t occur.
Guaranteed Stop/Loss – For protection from slippage, you can place a limit on your position that will limit your potential loss. If price moves unfavourably, your position will automatically close at a price limit. You must purchase the Guaranteed Stop Order at the time you open your position. Purchase of guarantee doesn’t have a direct cost but rather results in slightly wider spreads. This covers the cover the risk the broker is taking on your behalf.
Trailing Stop – A trailing stop helps assure you will maintain a set percentage of profit when you open a position. Your buy/sell trading position will be open as long as price movement is favourable but if it drops by a specified amount of pips, your position close. You can however still experience ‘slippage’ as a trailing stop has no guarantee with either IC Markets or Plus500.
Negative Balance Protection – A margin call system is in place that aims to protect your account funds from going into debt. what this means is you will receive a request from your broker to top up your funds if there is it available funding falls below a certain level. While this provides some debt protection, you may still experience debt if the market is volatile.
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.
IC Markets vs Plus500 Execution Conclusion
If it 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 vs Plus500 – Regulation and Leverage
IC Markets Regulation and leverage
IC Markets is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). While ASIC oversite only applied within Australia, IC Markets will provide all their clients with ASIC level protection.
As ASIC restrict leverage to 500:1 for forex, IC Markets allow all client to trade with this amount.
Plus500 Regulation and Leverage
Unlike IC Markets, Plus500 has several regulators.
If you are a client joining from Europe or the UK, then you will fall under either the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the UK or Cyprus Securities Exchange Commission (CySEC) for mainland Europe.
In this region, retail traders will find leverage is restricted to 30:1 for major currency pairs and 20:1 for minors currency pairs.
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. If accepted you will be able to trade with leverage of 300:1. 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.
Clients joining Plus500 from Singapore will have Monetary Authority Singapore regulation (MAS). This means you can trade with a maximum leverage of 20:1.
Clients joining Plus500 outside the UK, Europe and Singapore will have ASIC regulation. Plus500 Australia also has regulation from the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) for New Zealand and Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) for South Africa. In all cases, clients will be able to trade with leverage of 300:1.
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.
IC Markets vs Plus500 Leverage Conclusion
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. So the main advantage Plus500 have with their lower limit is that you will not be tempted to trade with higher leverage.
10 Cryptocurrencies (Inc. Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and Dash) and leverage of 5:1
6 Bonds with leverage of 200:1. No commissions
4 Global futures with 200:1 leverage
120+ Shares CFD (ASX, NASDAQ, NYSE) – ASX cost 0.10% per side, NYSE cost USD$0.02c per share each side
IC Markets vs Plus500 CFDs Conclusion
Among all brokers, Plus500 offers one of the largest range of instruments for trade. Their platform has been designed to make trading with many different instruments simple and easy to manage. Therefore when it comes to trading with CFDs, Plus500 is an excellent option.
IC Markets vs Plus500 Customer Service
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, 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.
IC Markets vs Plus500 Customer Service Conclusion
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.
IC Markets vs Plus500 Joining Bonus
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.
IC Markets vs Plus500 Conclusion – Joining Bonus
As only Plus500 offer a joining bonus, we recommend Plus500.
IC Markets vs Plus500 Deposits and Withdrawals
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 be of interest to Australian traders.
Deposits with IC Markets are generally instant and do not incur a fee. They are kept with NAB and Westpac to satisfy Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) as they are authorised and regulated by this board for trading Forex.
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.
Deposit and Withdrawal do not result in fees by Plus500. Fees may be levied by your payment issuer. Fees will occur in the following instances:
International credit cards – Apply when transaction go through foreign acquirers
Bank transfer – When transferring money from your bank account to Plus500 or Plus500 to your bank account.
Forex Conversions – when depositing a currency not supported by the selected payment method.
The withdrawal process time is 3-7 days depending on the payment method. This is noticeably slower than IC Markets.
IC Markets vs Plus500 – Conclusion for Deposits and Withdrawals Conclusion
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.