CFD Trading

what is cfd trading

What are CFDs

CFD stands for Contract For Difference. This type of financial instrument allows you to trade an underlying index, share or commodity contract without actually having to own it. The CFD price is the price of the underlying asset. So if the price of the underlying asset, eg. Gold or Facebook Stock goes up, so will the price of the CFD. Similarly, if the price of the underlying asset goes down, so will the price of the CFD. It is important to emphasize that you don’t actually own the asset you trade.

AvaTrade is a pioneering broker – we were one of the first online brokers to offer CFD trading, giving individual traders access to a large range of markets which were not accessible to them before.

Why Trade with AvaTrade?

  • Trade with confidence
    AvaTrade is an internationally regulated broker with dedicated trading websites. We have 7 regulations, across 6 continents.
  • Large variety of CFD instruments
    Trade commodities, indices, ETFs, stocks, bonds and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum CFDs.
  • Powerful Platforms
    Manage your trades manually via MT4/MT5 and WebTrader, or use our automated trading platforms.
  • Leveraged Trading
    Use leverage on various CFDs to amplify your exposure to the markets.
  • Master your trading skills
    Expand your horizons by making the most of our educational materials & daily updates.
  • Best in class customer service
    Multilingual live support with a dedicated account manager.

What is CFD Trading?

CFD trading is quite similar to forex trading. When trading on the platform, you select the instrument you wish to trade and enter your order. If you think the price of a certain instrument, e.g. crude oil, will increase, you’ll want to BUY the crude oil CFD. The same goes the other way – if you predict the value will go down, you short sell the CFD.

Naturally, as with any type of trade or investment, wrong predictions can lead to the loss of money, and one should be aware of the risks involved in CFD trading before starting out. There is plenty more to learn about CFD trading, and you can browse through our education section, to watch video tutorials, read articles, get news updates, and more. You can find more information on CFDs and their advantages here.

How to Trade CFDs with AvaTrade

Trading Platforms

AvaTrade offers a variety of trading platforms, for both manual as well as automated trading. We supply a range of useful tools like the exclusive AvaProtect feature, which can help elevate your trading. We have a variety of platforms made for desktop, web and mobile too. We also offer you the option of opening a demo-account, so you can practice trading before you start trading with your own money.

Leveraged Trading

Leverage is a facility offered by some brokers which enables traders to hold trading positions that are larger than what one’s own capital would otherwise allow. It is important to remember that the profits and losses are determined by the position size, and as leverage trading can magnify profits, it can also heighten losses.

How Much Will it Cost to Trade CFDs?

AvaTrade does not charge any exchange fees or commission and offers tight spreads on open positions. The spread is the difference between the BUY and SELL prices of a certain instrument. When calculating the cost for a position, you need to multiply the spread by the size of the position. For example, if the spread for crude oil trading is $0.03 USD, the cost for opening a 10 barrel-position is $0.03 X 10 barrels = $0.3 USD. Most of the CFD instruments are traded on market spreads, which means that the spreads are affected by the liquidity of the market. The more liquidity, the narrower the spread will get. You can review the levels of leverage and spreads for all CFD instruments on our Trading Conditions & Charges page.

CFD Contract Rollover

Each index and commodity CFD is based on a contract defining its rates, charges, etc. Each of these specific CFD contracts has an expiry date, which is the date that the contract expires and automatically replaced by a new contract, just like the real market. In order not to disturb traders during market hours, the contract rollover takes place over the weekend.

For more information, you are welcome to visit our CFD Rollover page.

Hedging with CFDs

Hedging is a risk management strategy that involves opening opposite or offsetting trades designed to practically mute the risk exposure of an open trade in the market. CFDs represent an ideal type of derivative to implement a hedging strategy effectively. To start with, they are low-cost and liquid. But they can also be customised (in terms of size and amount) to meet the specific hedging objectives any investor desires.

As an example, if you hold $10,000 worth of shares of Tesla in your portfolio, you could hedge the position by selling an equivalent or part amount of Tesla stock CFDs. In that way, if Tesla prices fall, the loss in value in your physical shares portfolio will be offset or cancelled by the profits gained by the CFD trade. You can then close out the CFD trade when the downward retracement comes to an end so as to lock in your profits and to give the value of your physical Tesla shares the chance to rise again.

CFD hedges are ideal when a market is moving against you (either due to sentiment or overall fundamental reasons) or when the market has moved so much in your favour that any extra gains are likely to be fractional. On the other hand, CFD hedges can be particularly riskier because of leverage; they are therefore not ideal when the underlying market is very volatile or when a retracement has been overextended.

Disadvantages of CFDs

Ironically, leverage is one of the biggest disadvantages of CFDs, just as much as it is one of its major appeals. Leverage boosts your profit potential, but when prices go against you, it can leave a devastating puncture in your trading capital. This is because losses are based on the leverage amount and not on your actual trading capital.

CFD trading also comes with associated costs. When you open a CFD trade, you have to pay a spread fee which is the difference between the bid and ask prices of an asset. There are also additional costs in the form of rollover fees or swaps for positions held overnight. This is the cost applied for holding a leveraged position (which is essentially borrowed money) for an extended period of time.

Market volatility is another source of risk in CFD trading. Prices of financial assets are prone to random fluctuations and sometimes even choppy price action. There can also be price gaps that can occur during high-impact news releases or market openings after the weekends. This volatility can mean that you may miss your desired prices when entering trade positions, or your losses can be amplified when prices go against you.

A final drawback for CFDs is that you do not own the underlying asset you are trading; you are simply speculating on its price changes. If you are trading a stock CFD, it means that you have no real shares, you do not hold any voting rights, and are not entitled to any dividends.

CFD Taxation

CFDs are considered tax-efficient for many investors in different jurisdictions. They do not attract Stamp Duty because they are technically not assets. But CFD profits can be subject to Capital Gains tax in certain jurisdictions. While limited tax liability is rarely a major incentive to trade CFDs, it is important to consider the relevant laws that apply in your specific jurisdiction before you trade.

Main CFD FAQ for Expert Traders

  • How long can I hold a CFD?

    CFDs do not have an actual expiry date and can remain open as long as possible. However, keeping the position open after the market close can incur fees known as a rollover in CFDs or swaps in Forex currency pairs. Therefore, it would be in your best interest to calculate possible swaps in advance and project it onto your expected return.

  • Is CFD trading taxable?

    CFD trading, in general, is a taxable income and subject to capital gains tax within EEA. However, UK residents can take advantage of Spread Betting, which is exempt from both stamp duty and taxation.

  • Does CFD expire?

    CFDs are not traded in a regular stock exchange, and therefore don’t have expiration dates that would require buying or selling the underlying asset at a certain price.

Start Trading CFDs with AvaTrade

If you think you know which way the markets will go and you want to start trading – it’s time to join AvaTrade and enjoy the best CFD trading experience! Still not sure? Take a look at the Avatrade Reviews by our clients!

Register for a trading account now to enter the markets,
or try our risk-free demo account.