How did I first hear about Plus500?
A contact of mine traded with Plus500 which was their first Forex broker experience so I was curious to see what this broker can offer, and if they are ideal for beginner traders as well as experienced traders.
What was my first impression of them as a broker?
Since Plus500 have been around for approximately 10 years, they have had a consistent presence on social media and many online Forex forums, where I have seen few negative comments and reviews among the positive ones. I heard they had a good customer support so that definitely caught my interest as I feel it is rare to find brokers with a top-quality customer service.
How easy is it to navigate their website?
I did not particularly like the feel of the website as it felt very bare and outdated but most of what you need to know and what should be available, is readily available for clients, but is just not necessarily that easy to locate. However, there is a handy search bar at the top of the FAQ page, making navigation easier for pinpointing specific details on that page.
Do they offer a good variety of tradable assets?
Plus500 have been quite progressive with the instruments they offer, and a substantial variety at that (over 2000 in total) : Forex, Shares, Commodities, Indices, Options, ETFs and Cryptocurrencies. This is a solid range of tradable assets to offer, and being a well-established broker who have been offering Options trading for a long time, seemingly without any negative press, adds weight to the element of trust this broker has built with its clients over the years.
Do they offer different account types and what are the benefits?
Plus500 Keep it simple with one account type for retail traders, however you do have the option to hold a ‘professional’ account, meaning you would be able to trade with a maximum leverage of 1:300, but for this account, you would need to meet 2 out of 3 specific requirements. Aside from providing photo ID and proof of address documentation, you also would need to provide the following: document proof that you have sufficient work experienced in the financial sector so a work contract would be suitable, for example, and a financial portfolio (bank statements) to prove you hold substantial wealth of over 500,000 Euro. With restrictions respected, I still feel this is rather intrusive, however they are very vague about these requirements and live chat advised me only 2 out of 3 requirements must be met to qualify, which led me to believe that this broker is quite lenient on this, allowing many traders to hold a ‘professional’ account. This way, with higher leverage, it is riskier for traders who can easier lose greater sums of money, than on the standard retail account with heavily capped leverage.
How competitive are their spreads?
For some instruments, the spreads are fixed, while the others are variable. It was not totally clear exactly- from the website and from a live chat agent- which instruments have variable or fixed spreads, but be mindful that some shares and cryptocurrency pairs have fixed spreads.
Overall, I found their variable spreads to be quite good, especially for Forex, and you can see a handful of live/fixed spreads on the website itself for a small portion of pairs of each asset. The cryptocurrency spreads are not very attractive however, and very high to what I have dealt with in the past.
What is their commission charge?
Plus500 do not charge commission on trades. Instead, they make their money via the spreads. It now makes sense that they offer a combination of fixed spreads as well as variable spreads; this way, the broker is able to guarantee profits on client losing trades, and the fact that a large portion of clients will use the retail account with the capped leverage, even if they trade pairs with floating spreads, the maximum profit they can make can only go so far. Therefore, without charging trade commission, offering a mixture of both fixed and variable spreads, as well as low leverage, the broker is able to guarantee consistent profits quite nicely.
What is the maximum leverage they offer?
As a result of a European operation, Plus500 have naturally been affected by the ESMA leverage caps, which are not favorable for many traders. However, for those that do have substantial disposable income, it is not an issue as Plus500 do provide ‘professional’ trader accounts, whereby you would be required to prove your net worth via documentation, and thus be granted the use of higher leverage of up to 1:300. However, for the standard retail account available to all traders, the leverage caps are as follows:
1:30 for major currency pairs
1:20 for non-major currency pairs, gold and major equity indices
1:10 for commodities other than gold and non-major equity indices
1:5 for individual equities and other reference values
1:2 for cryptocurrencies
The leverage is increasingly unappealing when you know the spreads are fixed or marked up in order for the broker to make their profit since they are not doing so via trade commissions. Moreover, it is disappointing that the maximum leverage for crypto trading is 1:2 when I have been able to trade cryptocurrencies with a maximum leverage of 1:100 in the past (with more competitive spreads as well). These leverage caps make decent profit opportunities incredibly challenging, especially since this broker does not allow scalp trading, which would seem an appropriate method to use with such low leverage and such spreads offered.
What do I need to open a verified account?
In order to be verified, you must submit a proof of photo identification, such as a passport or driver’s licence, a document to prove your residence such as a bank statement or a phone bill, and finally, you must submit a document to prove the source of your funds, which could be an image (front and back) of your bank debit/credit card.
How long does it take to open a live account?
Obtaining the answer to this question proved to be a lot harder than I imagined. The timescale is not stated anywhere on the FAQ page so I asked a live chat agent, and found myself asking 4 times the same question, and even when I did get a response, it was not a straightforward, simple answer.
There is no specific timescale that Plus500 adhere to when verifying and approving your documents which to me alone, is a subtle hint at their approach and manner with how they regard and handle their clients; the clients are not the priority.
Are desktop/mobile/ web trader versions all available?
Firstly, one must note that Plus500 do not offer the standard trusted MT4 platform. Plus500 offer their very own customized platform. This in itself did make me incredibly dubious as this usually means one thing- a customized platform allows hefty manipulation with profits in sole focus for the clients to have such boundaries making losses highly likely, and client profits incredibly unlikely, meaning the broker is gaining profits left right and center, and with incredible ease. Anyhow, Plus500 do offer compatibility for web based and mobile which is great to have flexibility between the two.
However, I think, for a well-established broker that is held in fair regard and has been for many years now, it would have been nice to have the option to use MT4 as well, as many experienced traders do tend to feel MT4 can be trusted more so than a customized broker platform.
Plus500 client area trading platform
What is the minimum deposit requirement?
In order to have trade live with Plus500, you are required to deposit a minimum of 100 Euros if you fund your account via debit/credit card or Skrill, however if you deposit via Bank transfer you must deposit a minimum of 500 Euros. I can only assume this amount is high as a result of Plus500 covering certain fees, which is a comforting note for the client.
What deposit and withdrawal methods are available?
Plus500 keep it simple with offering few methods to choose from so ensure you are able to use two of them as you will need to be able to use two in order to withdraw from your account. You may use electronic wallets (PayPal or Skrill), Bank transfer, or debit/credit card. These methods apply to both deposits and withdrawals. In regards to timescales, All withdrawal requests are normally processed by Plus500 within 1 business day before being sent out, however, it may take a few additional days depending on the payment method used. For electronic wallets (PayPal, Skrill), withdrawals are usually completed within 1-3 business days. For bank transfers, in addition to the initial processing time, it may take some additional business days until the funds are updated in your bank account.
I thought it was a nice touch that Plus500 also have a couple of useful explainer videos on their FAQ page should you need assistance on how to make a deposit/withdrawal if you are unsure or unfamiliar.
Do they offer a bonus scheme?
I could not get total clarity on this, as the live chat agent I spoke with initially said that due to regulation, they no longer offer bonuses but prior to this had asked for my residency to see if it was available for me. So clearly, they do offer bonuses for particular countries. I must admit, this struck me as odd because this is a bit of a grey area when it comes to regulated brokers and the ability to offer bonuses as you would have thought this would be a very big no nowadays with tighter restrictions constantly homing in.
Which countries are restricted from trading with this broker?
For some inexplicable reason, this is not on the website, nor could I get an answer from the live chat agents (I spoke with about 3 who all refused to answer) and never sent me an email as promised. However, when you register, you will have to select your country of residence and from there you will know if Plus500 allow you to trade with them.
Do they sell additional products/services/managed accounts?
Plus500 do not sell EAs or Signals however what they do offer are notifications and live trend alerts to guide you on placing a short or long position, which could be useful to many traders. A plus to these is that they are free of charge and are directly incorporated into their platform for ease of access.
Since they only offer their own platform, and not MT4/5, the use of third-party software such as EAs cannot be used.
Plus500 do not offer MAM or PAMM accounts which is a positive in my eyes, as this allows clients to manage their own trades and take the risk on solely by themselves.
If assistance is required, how can you get in touch?
You may speak to an agent via Live Chat, send an email, or you can contact an agent via WhatsApp, 24 hours, 7 days a week. You cannot however, phone in as they do not have a phone line available. I think this is very progressive in their thinking to offer WhatsApp as a channel of communication as most people have a busy schedule so WhatsApp makes things easy and convenient for some people. However, I do feel that it is a shame to neglect the phone line, as there are times when you would need to discuss a trade query, for example, and such matters, some would argue it is a lot more straightforward and less frustrating to discuss this over a call rather than SMS.
What is the quality of customer service?
In general, I found the quality of customer service to be good, but there were times where I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with agents over live chat and WhatsApp as I had to repeat myself many times and still felt as though I was not being understood at all. However, I did speak to other agents who delivered fast and comprehensive responses without any drama.
The lack of consistency, and at times, abrasiveness from the customer support did put me off, as I do feel this is a huge element of a Forex Broker service that can either maintain clientele, or not.
Do they offer an IB affiliate program?
Yes, you may become a CPA affiliate for Plus500 if you wish, but you are not able to find out the commission structure until essentially, you request to become an affiliate first via email and then you will be sent forms to complete before being on-boarded. I sent the email as instructed via live chat, as they were unable to give me the commission structure, however I did receive an email reply from the affiliate team a couple of hours after sending the email.
I found out that if you work for the CPA payment plan, one can earn fixed payments for each new client on-boarded, who must have deposited the minimum or more, of 100 Euros. You can only quality for the CPA once the trader has deposited and the broker has earned at least $40 from the trader’s spreads.
What is my overall opinion of Plus500?
In conclusion, I do not think they are a bad broker but I would not categorize them as one of the best, either. My reasoning behind this is that I feel they have a lot of control over their clients through offering only their own platform, and not MT4. They do not charge trade commissions; therefore, the spreads are marked up here and there. In addition, they offer both fixed and floating spreads which is an indication that they have manipulated these pairs for a reason, to disallow volatility in particular pairs from resulting in hefty profits for the clients, and thus, causing guaranteed losses in certain situations, meaning the broker’s best interests are the priority here.
Moreover, I was not overly impressed with their leverage and the fact you are not allowed to scalp or hedge your trades. I know I am not alone in saying that this is not attractive for particular traders who like to diversify their trading methods.
I would not go out of my way to recommend this broker; however, at the same time, I would not gasp in horror if someone I know is looking at trading with them. The only thing I would say is that you must ensure you have a very thorough understanding of forex, and how low leverage can affect your trades, especially with small deposit amounts. I would not deem this broker suitable for novice traders.