The platform will be your key spread betting tool, so it's important to use one that you feel comfortable with
You can set up and manage the majority of your positions yourself, through an online platform or with software and apps. You might have to phone your provider occasionally, say if you’re betting a large amount of money or speculating on an unusual market, but otherwise you should rarely need to contact them.
This means your spread betting platform will be a key tool for you, so you need to feel comfortable that it will be straightforward and convenient to use day-to-day.
Different spread betting providers offer various types of platform, so here are some pointers to help you find the one that’s best placed to support your personal spread betting goals.
Platform format and accessibility
Spread betting platforms are available to use with various devices, so it’s worth considering when, where and how you will be doing most of your dealing.
Desktop spread betting
For dealing on your PC or Mac, the most flexible option is a web-based platform that you can access via your browser wherever you have an internet connection.
Some providers offer downloadable platform software. You’ll need to install this on any computers you want to use.
Spread betting on the move
The markets don’t stop moving when you leave your desk, so it’s a good idea to install apps on your mobile devices that will enable you to monitor, open, close and manage positions wherever you go.
Most spread betting providers offer a range of apps, and ideally you want one that’s designed specifically for your phone or tablet’s operating system.
All spread betting firms provide charts showing market movements. These may come in the form of a simple, straightforward view that gives you a snapshot of how an asset’s value is changing, or alternatively a more sophisticated package that you can use for technical analysis.
Even if you don’t intend to carry out detailed chart analysis, you should ensure your provider’s charts are clear, accessible and easy to understand. Ideally, there should be the facility to place a spread bet directly from the chart when you spot a dealing opportunity.
Dealing tools and alerts
With the right tools, there should be no need to watch your screen all day to monitor the markets. Look for the following platform features:
News feeds and analysis
If your platform has an integrated feed of live, streaming news articles, it’s easier for you to keep track of market-moving events while you’re spread betting.
In addition, your provider may offer a regular market commentary service from its own analysts to help you make sense of data releases and events as they happen.
Some platforms also offer analysis services from third-party providers, sending you alerts and recommendations when potential dealing opportunities arise.
The facility to customise the platform to your own preferences is very useful. For example, you may be able to adjust the layout so you can focus on the tools and features you use regularly.
You should also be able to create your own watchlists of the markets that interest you, so you can view them all in one place at a glance.
Once you’ve built up some skill and experience in spread betting, you may want to take advantage of some of the advanced platform features available. For example, you can set up dealing signals or use more sophisticated dealing options and charting tools.
You can also build automated dealing strategies, using specialised software to monitor the markets and create positions on your behalf.
You may not be ready to try these features when you first begin spread betting, but it’s worth choosing a platform that will have suitable facilities once the time is right.
The best way to find out if a platform does what you want is to ‘test-drive’ it using a demo account.
This is a dummy version of a real account that mirrors the platform features and functions. You bet using virtual funds, so you can open positions on live markets and try out the tools available, without any risk to your capital.
As well as enabling you to experience using the platform, this is also a useful way to practise your spread betting techniques and test your strategies in a safe environment, helping you feel more confident when you come to place real bets on the live platform.
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