Paper spread betting and demos

With a spread betting demo account, you can get to grips with how it all works, build your confidence and try out new strategies, all without having to risk any real money.

When you open a spread betting demo – also known as a practice account – you’ll be given immediate access to a (sometimes limited) version of your provider’s platform, along with a pre-set balance of ‘virtual funds’ to practise with, eg £10,000.

A demo account allows you to explore a spread betting platform with confidence

The idea is to recreate the experience of spread betting as closely as possible, so that you can get a real feel for how the platform works, as well as the different markets you can deal on and the kind of strategies and techniques you can employ.

The main difference is you won’t be using real money, so you can explore and experiment with confidence.

But demos aren’t just for newcomers. Experienced spread bettors often like to use demo accounts to try out new tools or ideas, safe in the knowledge that they won’t result in any real-world losses.

What can you do on a demo account?

Like their platforms, every provider’s demo is different. But most will allow you to:

  • Explore the markets – View the range of financial markets available to you and get used to how they behave
  • Practise opening and closing positions – Familiarise yourself with how the deal ticket works, including how to apply stops and limits, view margin requirements, and track profit and loss
  • Create watchlists – Select markets you want to keep an eye on 
  • Get used to using charts – Learn how to read and analyse a chart, try out different technical indicators and find your preferred configuration
  • View past activity – Take a look at the details of all your previous demo bets, analysing what did/didn’t work and why 
  • Access news feeds and market data – Your provider may provide up-to-date market news and data, helping you to plan your strategy

What’s different?

While they are designed to be as close to the reality of spread betting as possible, most demos will lack some features, functionality and psychology of the real thing.

  • Deal rejection – In reality, it is not always possible to execute your bet when and how you’d like; for instance, if the price changes in the split second between you submitting your bet and it actually being executed. This can result in your bet being rejected. In a demo environment, however, it is normally the case that your bet will go through as requested, regardless of factors that might otherwise lead to rejection.
  • Advanced features – Your demo may not include access to certain premium functionality – such as advanced charts or live data feeds (including prices) – or it may limit their availability to a fixed period of time.
  • Your mindset – It’s important to bear in mind that while demo and live accounts are technically very similar, your state of mind when using each is liable to be significantly different. After all, when it’s real money on the line the decision to open a new position will seem a lot more daunting, and the decision to close a lot more difficult. And you should guard against the false sense of security that the risk-free demo environment provides.

How do you get a demo account?

Many spread betting providers offer demo accounts and they’re usually very easy to set up. Invariably you’ll just have to complete a simple form, often with your email address, username and password, and shouldn’t have to go through any complex verification processes before you can get started. 

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