By Jeffrey Cammack Updated: May 29, 2020

We compare CFD brokers by factors that will affect the overall quality of the trading experience for the trader. To qualify to be on a list of the best CFD broker for 2020, each of these companies will have leading regulation, fair trading conditions, wide platform support and suitable educational material for beginner traders.  As there is no single best broker for everyone, our list includes brokers that excel in each of these categories. 

These are the best CFD brokers in South Africa for 2020.

By Jeffrey Cammack Updated: May 29, 2020
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Trading Conditions
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  • Broker
    AvaTrade

    AvaTrade  - Best CFD Broker in South Africa

    REGULATED BY
    ASIC ASIC
    FSCA FSCA
    B.V.I FSC B.V.I FSC
    FSA FSA
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 100
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5

    With over 200,000 active traders around the globe, on both the MetaTrader 4 and AvaGo platforms, and the award for Best Trade Execution 2016 by the African Finance Expo, AvaTrade is a good partner for all types of trader. AvaTrade has built its reputation on being a client-focused, dependable broker, and continues to add to that reputation with the recent addition of AvaProtect to its product lineup.

    With great trading conditions across Forex, commodities, cryptocurrencies, ETFs, bonds, and equities and boasting FSCA and ASIC regulation, AvaTrade is competitive with some of the best brokers in the world.

    • Good for beginners
    • Well regulated
    • Low minimum deposit
    • Dealing desk
    • Limited education
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Islamic1.2 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
    Professional0.9 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
    Retail0.9 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
  • Broker
    FXTM

    FXTM  - Most Trusted Broker

    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    FCA FCA
    FSCA FSCA
    FSC FSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 10
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5

    FXTM is regulated by the FCA, CySEC and the FSCA in South Africa and the educational material offered is first-class. By keeping the focus on beginners looking for reasonable trading conditions, the FXTM team of educators and analysts have succeeded in creating a welcoming environment for new traders. Additionally, FXTM are one of the few brokers with 24/7 support, allowing new traders to get set up on weekends or holidays.

    For the absolute beginner, FXTM has a great deal of training material to help new traders get started. Materials include articles, videos, webinars and a searchable glossary of new vocabulary. This is an excellent resource and many hours can be spent covering the basics of Forex Trading. There is an additional set of videos that cover analysis topics, and more detail on chart reading techniques.

    FXTM has an open “Daily Market Analysis” section on their website where research analysts post bulletins that connect daily news items with analysis and actionable trading ideas. This can be combined with other sources to achieve a more comprehensive view of global events and the trading opportunities they represent.

    The Standard Account has a minimum deposit of 100 USD and spreads start at 1.3 pips. FXTM also offers a Cent Account where the minimum deposit if only 10 USD but the spreads will be wider. If you can afford it, I would recommend starting with the Standard Account.

    • Good for beginners
    • Excellent education
    • Well regulated
    • Low minimum deposit
    • Expensive withdrawals
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Cent Account1.5 pipsNoneInstantUSD 10 Account Details
    Standard Account1.3 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
    ECN Zero Account1.5 pipsNoneMarketUSD 200 Account Details
    ECN Account0.1 pips$2.00MarketUSD 500 Account Details
    FXTM Pro Account0.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 25000 Account Details
  • Broker
    Blackstone Futures

    Blackstone Futures  - Best Trading Platforms

    REGULATED BY
    FSCA FSCA
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    ZAR 1000
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • Cloud Trade

    Founded in 2009, BlackStone Futures is an established FSCA-regulated broker based in Johannesburg. It offers both ZAR and USD accounts on MT4 and the proprietary CloudTrade platforms, and STP execution ensures no conflict of interest. Beginner traders are well-catered for with excellent educational support, really emphasising the duty of care BlackStone Futures feels for their clients. Spreads are tight and leverage is kept sensibly low until traders can prove their ability, thereby limiting the chance of account wipe out for beginners.

    • ZAR accounts
    • Tight spreads
    • Fast and free withdrawals
    • Limited platform choice
    • Local regulation only
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    USD Account0.6 pipsNoneMarketUSD 100 Account Details
    ZAR Account0.6 pipsNoneMarketZAR 1000 Account Details
  • Broker
    CM Trading

    CM Trading  - Best Research

    REGULATED BY
    FSCA FSCA
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 250
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • Sirix

    CM Trading is a well-regarded South African broker, regularly cited as the largest in the country, and headquartered in Sandton, Johannesburg.

    CM Trading is a market-maker, but offers competitive spreads and is a good choice for new traders due to their great educational material and the CopyKat copy-trading system. Maximum leverage is 200:1 and both MetaTrader 4 and Sirix Webtrader platforms are available, allowing for some flexibility.

    Customer service is generally excellent and, while deposit and withdrawal costs are high, many customers will find comfort in working with a good local broker.

    • Good for beginners
    • Great customer support
    • Copy trading accounts
    • Expensive withdrawals
    • Local regulation only
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Bronze1.5 pipsNoneInstantUSD 250 Account Details
    Silver1.2 pipsNoneInstantUSD 1000 Account Details
    Gold0.9 pipsNoneInstantUSD 10000 Account Details
    PremiumNot Published pipsNoneInstantUSD 25000 Account Details
  • Broker
    HotForex

    HotForex  - Best Trading Conditions

    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    FCA FCA
    FSCA FSCA
    DFSA DFSA
    FSC FSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    ZAR 70
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5

    Listed as on the Top 100 Companies by World Finance Magazine and the award for Business Excellence 2015 (World Confederation Of Businesses) HotForex is not just recognized for their integrity by their industry peers, but also in the financial industry as a whole.

    As an STP broker regulated by multiple major international organizations including the FCA, CySEC and the FSCA, HotForex has built a reputation among traders for achieving a stable, fair, secure and transparent trading environment for both the beginning and expert level trader.

    • Low minimum deposit
    • Tight spreads
    • Well regulated
    • Good range of accounts
    • Limited base currencies
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Micro1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 5 Account Details
    Islamic1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 100 Account Details
    Premium1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 100 Account Details
    Auto1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 200 Account Details
    Zero0.0 pips$3.00MarketUSD 200 Account Details
    HFCopy1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 300 Account Details
    Premium Pro1.0 pipsNoneMarketUSD 5000 Account Details
  • Broker
    XM

    XM  - Best Overall Broker

    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    ASIC ASIC
    IFSC IFSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 5
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5

    XM Group has achieved substantial growth since 2009, earning 1.5 million clients living in 196 countries. Regulated by three major regulators and the recipient of many industry awards, XM Group stands out from a crowded field of market maker brokers for their customer service and educational support.

    XM Group has extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the global financial markets. XM’s operational philosophy is aimed at client satisfaction and low client turnover; they earn client loyalty through award-winning 24/5 personal customer service, varied account types and competitive trading conditions.

    • Well regulated
    • Excellent education
    • Wide range of assets
    • Fast and free withdrawals
    • Dealing desk
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Micro1.0 pipsNoneInstantUSD 5 Account Details
    Standard1.0 pipsNoneInstantUSD 5 Account Details
    XM Ultra Low0.6 pipsNoneInstantUSD 50 Account Details
    XM Zero0.6 pips$7.00InstantUSD 100 Account Details
  • Broker
    REGULATED BY
    FCA FCA
    CySEC CySEC
    FSCA FSCA
    DFSA DFSA
    SCB SCB
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 100
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5
    • cTrader
    • FxProEdge

    With over 870,000 client accounts, FxPro is one of the biggest international brokers regulated in South Africa. Major awards shows and institutions are continually showering FxPro with honours including top accolades like Best Broker 2018 and Best Forex Trading Experience 2018, which is the pinnacle of success.

    The account options at FxPro are arranged by platform, which is not the case at most other brokers. Accounts are available with either MT4, MT5 and cTrader, where all accounts have a demo option, and the same minimum deposit of 100 USD and a spread as low as 0.6 pips.

    The education section is smaller than that of other leading brokers. Despite the lack of structure and depth, the material that is offered is updated and honest and hosted webinars are free to join a couple of times a week.

    FxPro is the broker choice for traders who need a reputable international broker while still being FSCA regulated, supporting a broad platform choice and a reasonable minimum deposit.

    • Well regulated
    • Great platform choice
    • Tight spreads
    • Limited education
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    FxPro cTrader0.45 pips$4.50MarketUSD 100 Account Details
    FxPro MT41.2 pipsNoneMarketUSD 100 Account Details
    FxPro MT51.52 pipsNoneMarketUSD 100 Account Details
    Islamic1.2 pipsVariableMarketUSD 100 Account Details
  • Broker
    REGULATED BY
    FCA FCA
    CySEC CySEC
    ASIC ASIC
    MAS MAS
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    ZAR 1500
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • Plus500

    Founded in 2008, and with over 300,000 active customers, Plus500 is a leading player in the CFD trading industry mainly due to the simplicity of their trading platform, and the appealing trading conditions. Educational and analytical material are limited, but beginners will find the Plus500 trading platform very easy to use and reliability and security are absolute priorities.

    • Well regulated
    • Wide range of assets
    • Limited education
    • Limited account options
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Standard0.0 pipsNoneInstantUSD 100 Account Details
  • REGULATED BY
    ASIC ASIC
    CySEC CySEC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 100
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • MT5
    • IRESS

    FP Markets is an ASIC-regulated, STP broker with simple account options and an exciting set of tools for traders with higher minimum deposits. Spreads are tight, even on the Standard Account, and the lack of dealing desk intervention for all accounts removes any concern over conflict of interest.

    Trader education and market analysis are slightly weaker than other brokers, but the material presented is well-structured and useful. Overall, FP Markets is an excellent choice for beginner and more experienced traders alike.

    • Well regulated
    • Tight spreads
    • Good range of accounts
    • Great customer support
    • Expensive withdrawals
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Standard IRESSN/A pips$10 AUD min, then 0.1%STPUSD 1,000 Account Details
    Platinum IRESSN/A pips$9 AUD min, then 0.09%STPUSD 25,000 Account Details
    Premier IRESSN/A pipsNo min, then 0.08%STPUSD 50,000 Account Details
    RAW0.0 pips$3.50STPUSD 100 Account Details
    Standard1.0 pipsNoneSTPUSD 100 Account Details
  • Broker
    REGULATED BY
    CySEC CySEC
    FCA FCA
    IFSC IFSC
    Trading Desk Type
    Minimum Deposit
    USD 5
    Trading Conditions
    Trading Platforms
    • MT4
    • xStation5

    Well-regulated, safe and award-winning, XTB is a leader in the Forex trading space. Joining other leading Forex brokers with reasonable trading conditions, excellent educational and analysis material XTB has developed an award-winning proprietary trading platform that goes beyond MT4 to offer clients easy-to-use functionality along with fast execution speeds.

    • Well regulated
    • Tight spreads
    • Low minimum deposit
    • Good for beginners
    • Limited platform choice
    AccountSpread FromCommissionExecutionMin. Deposit
    Islamic0.28 pips$10.00InstantUSD 5 Account Details
    Pro0.28 pips$7.00InstantUSD 5 Account Details
    Standard0.35 pipsNoneInstantUSD 5 Account Details

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What is CFD Trading?

CFD trading, or a Contract for Difference, is where investors don’t take ownership of the asset they are trading. CFDs are derivative products; their value is derived from the underlying asset. The underlying asset can be anything that is commonly traded on a market – be this commodities such as crude oil, corn and gold or equities such as Spotify or Boeing shares or currencies such as Forex and crypto pairs, or even entire indices such as the NASDAQ, JSE or FTSE. So, rather than trading the asset itself, traders instead speculate on the future price of the asset with what is known as a futures contract.

Leverage

The second important thing to understand about CFDs is the leverage involved. CFDs are leveraged products where traders only put up a small percentage of the amount required for the trade, and a third-party liquidity provider will lend the trader the rest. The money in the trader’s account will then be used as collateral against the loss, but in exchange, the profits for the trader can be much larger. For instance, if you buy 100 USD of a crude oil CFD at 100 USD a barrel and the price of crude goes up by 2 USD you will make 2 USD in profit. But if you borrow 900 USD (to make an even 1000 USD when added to your 100 USD – a 10% margin or 10x leverage) and you buy 1000 USD of crude oil you would make 20 USD – all without spending more than your original 100 USD, a fairly incredible 20% profit in real terms.

Leverage Iceberg

The problem with this is that you can also lose money incredibly quickly. Take the same example above, but this time the price of crude oil falls by 5 USD. Because of your leveraged position (10x in this case), you would lose 50 USD, half of your original investment. In a volatile market (such as Crypto or certain commodities) it is very easy to lose your entire investment.

Additionally, losses apply not just to your investment but to your whole account and, if you are not careful, you can lose large amounts of the trading capital in your account through something called a margin call – this is explained in detail in the FAQs below.

Due to the risk involved in using leverage, retail CFDs are banned or very tightly regulated in much or the world. Since this trading is speculation on the price of an asset or instrument, traders can make money when the price is both rising or falling.  CFD traders will take long positions when the market is bullish, and short positions when the market is bearish.

How to trade CFDs

To start trading CFDs, you will need to find a reputable broker and open an account – check out our list above. Because it is a financial trading account, the broker will require that you submit copies of your government issues identification documents and proof of residence such as a utility bill issued in the past six months. Once your account is set up, you will be able to make a deposit and open your first trade.

Is CFD trading gambling?

It can be gambling if you treat it as such, but if you do your research and treat it like any other investment in the financial markets, it is not gambling. It’s important to remember the risk of leverage as your deposit is only a small part of your overall exposure and you can lose substantially more than your deposit if the trade goes against you.

However, it is possible to reduce your potential losses by using a stop order. This means that the trade will automatically be closed if it goes against you by an amount you specify. Higher spreads can be another pitfall as it can ruin any potential profits. So pick which instruments you trade very carefully.

What is short selling with CFDs?

Short selling is when you believe the price of an instrument is going to decrease rather than increase. Instead of buying low and selling high, you sell high and buy low – profiting on the decrease in the underlying instrument’s value. See our article on short-selling for a more detailed breakdown of how this can work and it’s uses in trading.

What is a Margin Call?

Brokers will apply a required margin on any position taken by a trader – this is often 50% of the original margin or 50% of your original investment, but it varies from broker to broker and instrument to instrument. If the total funds available in your trading account falls below this value the broker will make a margin call – requiring you to add funds to your trading account or close your position, covering any losses from your trading account. Needless to say, this is a very bad thing, and if you are planning on holding a long-term position in a volatile market you should have the required margin foremost in your mind when calculating the funds to hold in your trading account.

Commissions on Trades

In addition to your deposit to open or close a CFD trade, you might have to pay a small commission, which can be as low as 0.1%. That said, most brokers make money through the spread and will charge no commission. You may also have to calculate interest adjustments that are added or subtracted from your trade if you hold the trade overnight.

Is Trading Profits Taxed in South Africa?

Profits are taxable in South Africa as income, even the case if the broker is located outside of South Africa. The South African government never sees this as a tax-free form of income. For more detailed information read our tax article.

Is CFD Trading Allowed in Islam?

Traders can open Halal accounts, which the industry has named Swap Free accounts. Swap Free accounts will stop any interest payments being made either from the broker to you, or you to the broker.

Swap Free accounts are more common than you may think and are widely available with CFD brokers. The usual way to get a swap-free trading account is to complete the regular registration process and ask your account manager to make the changes in your account.

Summary

CFDs are designed to mirror the price of underlying assets so traders can take advantage of the price fluctuation without owning the underlying instrument. Technically a CFD is a financial contract between the trader and broker that allows speculation on price.

CFDs are a flexible and attractive alternative to other financial vehicles and they allow you to take advantage of the fluctuations in the value of a huge range of instruments.

Importantly, CFD trading allows traders to make money both when the market is rising or falling. Furthermore, you don’t have to put up the full cost of exposure to the market, and there is no fixed period for your trade. With CFDs, you’re able to trade a multiple of your capital using leverage, but this can be a double-edged sword so make sure you’ve done your research and that you keep a close eye on your trades.

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Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors and comes with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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