Demo accounts are an excellent way to practice trading forex, CFDs, stocks and cryptos. They present an opportunity to trial strategies, explore new markets and test trading platforms in a risk-free environment. So if you are looking to open a live trading account with the likes of IG, eToro, Oanda, or Plus 500, it could be worth opening a demo account first.
This article runs through the range of markets, platforms and features available at top demo accounts. We also run through their benefits and explain how to open demo accounts with leading brokers in the UK.
Best Demo Accounts
What Are Demo Accounts?
A demo account is a free, market simulator offered by brokers as an introduction to their trading services. They replicate real market conditions and volatility and let traders experiment with a broker’s features and tools before setting up a real-money trading account.
Practice accounts are bankrolled with virtual cash, the value of which varies from broker to broker. Some demo accounts can be used indefinitely while others expire after a fixed period. Again, this varies between online brokers.
Demo Account Markets
Demo accounts can be used across a multitude of instruments and markets:
- Forex – FX trading is available with most demo accounts. Trade major global currencies including ZAR, USD and EUR.
- Stocks – Trade thousands of single shares and stock CFDs, along with penny stocks across global indices such as the NSE, S&P 500 and NASDAQ.
- Cryptocurrencies – Demo accounts offer a great opportunity to explore cryptocurrency trading including on Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Ripple.
- Commodities – Practice trading futures and options on commodities such as gold, silver, oil and wheat.
Why Use Demo Accounts?
Demo accounts offer an easy way to test a broker’s services, including, charts, indicators and online platforms, prior to investment. From customer support and account types to leverage and bonuses, demo accounts offer a comprehensive insight into all aspects of a broker. They also offer traders the chance to test new day trading strategies, try ECN account conditions, or explore a different market, such as forex or binary options.
The MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5) platforms are popular amongst demo accounts in addition to proprietary platforms such as TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim solution. Limitations may apply but there is a good pool of technologies to explore and the simulated market conditions accurately reflect those of live accounts.
Demo Accounts vs Live Accounts
The key difference between a demo account and a real or live account is that a demo account is a simulation. The conditions of a demo account accurately reflect live markets but there is no exchange of money, meaning zero risk and zero cash profits.
Demo accounts often have limitations that live accounts do not. There is usually a set period for which they can be used, whereas a live forex account offers unlimited use. Some demo accounts also have a reduced trading platform and instrument offering. Having said that, not all demo accounts operate in the same way – you can open some forex and futures demo accounts without time limits, for example.
Benefits Of Demo Accounts
The primary benefit of a demo account is that it is risk-free. They are also normally free to open and operate. Most brokers credit accounts with virtual funds and there is usually no sign-up charge. In addition, demo accounts are quick to set up and traders can easily upgrade to a real account when ready. Given their simplicity, they are also great for beginners looking to develop strategies and get to grips with the financial markets before putting money on the line.
How To Open Demo Accounts
Registering for a demo account is quick and simple:
- Find a broker that you would like to open an account with
- Head to the demo account tab on the broker’s website
- Enter your personal details including name/username, email, telephone number and country of residence
- Once you’ve received registration confirmation, use the login credentials to open the platform and start trading
Note, the details needed to open a demo account in the UK vary.
Best Demo Account Reviews
Finding the right demo account largely depends on what you’re looking for. With that said, there are a number of popular demo accounts offered by leading online trading brokers:
- eToro – A multi-asset platform offering $100,000 in virtual cash to trade stocks, forex, CFDs and cryptos
- IC Markets – The demo account supports a range of instruments along with the MT4, MT5 and cTrader platforms. The broker also offers demo contests and competitions with real cash available for withdrawals.
- iFOREX – $5,000 in virtual funds is provided to test the broker’s trading tools, including the iFOREX analytics mobile app.
- IG – Access 17,000 markets, including leveraged CFDs and spread betting. The key difference between the demo account vs the live account is that demo trades are not subject to slippage, interest or dividend adjustments. Also, trial chart packages are free and demo trades aren’t closed to cover margin and running losses.
- XM – Simulate trading on forex, stocks, easy equities and commodities. To open a demo account with XM, head to the ‘open an account’ tab on the broker’s website and follow the setup and login instructions.
- NinjaTrader – Open a free demo account with NinjaTrader to access futures, forex, equities and more. NinjaTrader works alongside supported brokers including Interactive Brokers, TD Ameritrade and data providers such as TradeStation, IQ Feed and eSignal. You can also trial the proprietary NinjaTrader 7&8 platforms.
While not built into the list above, other good options include 24Option, Olymp Trade, HYCM, Questrade, FXCM, Exness, Tickmill, Saxo, InstaForex, Binance, Videforex, Hantec, ETrade, Degiro, FxPro, HotForex, Hugosway, Trading 212, FBS, OctaFX, XTrade and AvaTrade.
Demo Account Support
For any issues, such as you’ve forgotten your demo account password or for problems with servers that are not working, contact the respective broker’s UK customer support team. For issues with MetaTrader 4 (MT4) or MetaTrader 5 (MT5) downloads and setups, speak to the MetaTrader support team if the broker’s customer services cannot help.
Final Word On Demo Accounts
Demo accounts are a great, risk-free way for traders to explore a broker’s services. They also offer a hassle-free means to refine forex strategies, test stock ECN trading, or practice leveraged Bitcoin trading. However, not all demo accounts are created equal so do your research.
When you’re ready to upgrade to live trading, check out our list of the best brokers.