CMC Markets Review
Based in the United Kingdom, CMC Markets is a leading Foreign Exchange company and financial derivatives dealer throughout the globe. Does CMC Markets have reasonable fees? Who is eligible to use the platform and why? In this CMC Markets review, we dive into all the essentials.
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Overview and Summary
The most important thing to know before reading further is that if you live in the United States, you won’t be able to trade Contracts for Difference (CFD) with CMC Markets. This is due to restrictions on CFD trading imposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This holds true even if you are a U.S. citizen living outside the United States.
Now let’s take a closer look at what independent reviews have to say about the major pros and cons for choosing CMC markets for your online trading needs and goals.
Investor Warning: Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 70.5% of retail investor accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Who is CMC Markets? A Brief Company History
In 1989, Peter Cruddas launched CMC Markets. First named Currency Management Corporation and later (thankfully) shortened to simply CMC Markets, the now global London-based trading corporation rapidly outgrew its truly humble beginnings.
When 1996 arrived, CMC Markets was ready with a big surprise: the unveiling of the first global FX trading program for online retail trading. Here, the operative word is “retail.” Before this new venture went live, certain markets had remained off-limits to the retail trader. Suddenly, retail traders found the world of online trading had expanded considerably.
In 2001, CMC Markets expanded again. This time, they received licensure as a CFD broker and also introduced an online spread betting platform. This service became an industry disrupter by permitting users to place daily rolling bets.
Simultaneously with this newly expanded business focus, CMC Markets was expanding out beyond the borders of the United Kingdom and into Sydney, Australia. Shortly thereafter, CMC announced the establishment of business offices in New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Norway, France and Italy – a total of 12 international offices.
The company went live with its Next Generation platform in 2010, which is now available to users worldwide. Since its launch, Next Generation has accrued a number of awards from respected UK institutions. Following the company’s 25th anniversary in 2014, CMC Markets opened an office in Warsaw, Poland, in eastern Europe.
2016 was a particularly exciting year for the corporation, when CMC Markets was listed on the London Stock Exchange and rapidly made its way onto the coveted FYSE 250 shortlist.
In 2017, CMC Markets launched Prime FX for its institutional users and opened an office in Shanghai, Japan.
And in 2018, CMC Markets opened its doors for cryptocurrency CFD trading and a new spread betting offering, an industry magazine called OPTO and a new user level, CMC Pro, for professional traders. CMC’s impressive development has landed it the #2 spot in our list of the best forex platforms.
CMC Markets Overview: Pros & Cons
Here is a big picture overview and summary of CMC Markets’s major pros and cons as outlined by the independent reviews cited below in “summary.”
- Overall a low-risk online forex broker that is well-regulated and well-known internationally.
- Pricing and fees are competitive for the current marketplace.
- The Next Generation online trading platform has won several notable awards in the UK and comes highly recommended.
- Optimized to support both beginning traders and experts at the professional and institutional levels.
- Account minimums to get started are set at zero.
- Excellent selection of products and securities (over 10,000 asset in six classes in total), including less readily available products like forex and cryptocurrency.
- Spread bet trading is tax-free (for UK traders).
- Professional trade accounts are eligible for cash rebates based on trade volume.
- Three-tiered account levels make CMC Markets accessible for all levels of traders.
- Free demo account lets you try out the platform using virtual funds before making a commitment to move forward.
- No availability for fixed spread accounts.
- Account security extras are limited (i.e. no VPS support or back testing for Next Generation, which is the superior of the two interfaces available to traders).
- No option to participate in a social trading platform.
- Traders outside the UK cannot participate in spread bet trading (but can sign up for a CFD Account as a consolation prize).
- Only options for making account deposits and withdrawals are bank wires, credit cards and debit cards (although there is no charge for either deposits or withdrawals).
To date, the company continues to serve retail, professional and institutional user groups.
Is CMC Markets a Legitimate, Trustworthy Platform?
CMC Markets is widely considered to be a relatively safe (see limited security under “Cons” section above here), trustworthy and legitimate online forex trading platform.
The platform is regulated by UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (registration number 173730).
CMC Markets is a publicly-traded company on the London Stock Exchange. It is regulated through four tier-1 and two tier-2 jurisdictions. It has the reputation of a relatively low-risk online brokerage for trading high-risk securities like forex and CFDs.
List of 4 Tier-1 Regulators
- Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
- Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC)
- Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC)
- Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
With this many Tier-1 (high trust) regulators overseeing CMC Markets, this is overall indicative of a stable, strong organization with a positive track record as a trustworthy trading platform.
Who Can Use CMC Markets?
CMC Markets offers three tiers of trading accounts for their UK and international users.
- UK-only customers can open a spread betting account
- UK or international customers (as outlined in the countries list below here) can open a CFD trade account
- Corporate customers can open a corporate account
Countries that can Trade Forex with CMC Markets
As you learned earlier here, currently United States citizens are not permitted to register an account with CMC Markets. This is because the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) bans trading in CFDs. This ban remains in effect regardless of whether you are living in the United States or elsewhere. US traders might prefer looking at alternatives such as IG.
So which countries do permit CFD trading and can register an account with CMC Markets? Here is the country list from the CMC Markets website:
|Australia||French Guiana||Liechtenstein||Republic of Korea|
|Bermuda||Grenada||Martinique||Saint Pierre and Miquelon|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Guadelupe||Mauritius||Saudi Arabia|
|British Virgina Islands||Guernsey||Mayotte||Seychelles|
|Brunei Darussalam||Hong Kong||Moldova||Singapore|
|Czech Republic||Isle of Man||Oman||Taiwan|
|Estonia||Italy||Panama||United Arab Emirates|
|Falkland Islands||Jersey||Peru||United Kingdom|
|Faeroe Islands||Jordan||Philippines||Wallis and Futuna|
88 countries in total are able to participate in trading with CMC Markets.
Asset Classes Available to Trade Through CMC Markets
CMC Markets offers securities in six asset classes that are available for trading. The platform is also known for its futures trading, which is why it made our list of the top futures brokers.
Specifically, as of time of publication you can trade in each of the following:
- More than 330 Forex pairs with all major/minor currency pairs available and spreads for the most popular pairs ranging from 3.3 to 5 percent.
- 90+ indices, both cash and forward, with the average margin rate being 5 percent.
- 12 different cryptocurrencies including bitcoin and ethereum, ripple and Litecoin, with an average margin rate of 50 percent.
- 9,000+ shares and exchange traded funds (ETFs) from 23 countries with an average margin rate from 20 percent and commissions starting at 0.10 percent.
- 110+ commodities (including metals, grains, oil, natural gas) with an average margin spread between five and 10 percent.
- 50+ treasuries (including bunds, bonds, gilt, treasury notes) with margins starting at around 20 percent.
Available Trading Currencies
Currently, CMC Markets offers 300+ forex pairs and trades in all the major currency pairs.
Trade Order Types
CMC Markets currently supports the following order types for trading forex and other securities:
- Guaranteed stop-loss order (comes with a 100 percent guarantee)
- Stop-loss order
- Market order
- Limit and stop entry order
- Partially close trade order
- Trailing stop-loss order
- Take-profit order
The company also offers a range of advanced order features that are best accessed via the desktop platform (see mobile user experience reviews section here for an explanation about why).
One particularly neat desktop feature is that you can trade from charts view directly, including opening, amending and closing orders. But you really need a larger screen view to use this feature effectively.
Other advanced trading features include these:
- Boundary orders
- Long/short simultaneously
- Price ladder for larger trades
- Auto-rollover feature helps you save up to 50 percent on spread costs for new trades
- Order preferences pre-set
- Use your unrealized profit to place additional trades
- Execution alerts
- Account close-out options to control losses
Are ETFs your thing? Check out our list of the best ETF brokers.
How Does CMC Markets Stack Up Overall?
In the following sections, we explore several important areas essential to your overall user experience, including mobile versus desktop, platform interface options, customer service and support, account types, account fees and other fees.
CMC Markets Mobile vs Desktop User Experience
CMC Markets has won multiple UK awards for its Next Generation proprietary desktop user interface. But what is it like managing your trades from their mobile apps?
iOS/Apple Apps (Next Generation trading software)
The iOS/Apple apps work for iPhone and iPad. You can customize your home screen, create watchlists, manage open orders, view and place trades, read breaking news and, with the larger screen of the iPad, access many of Next Generation’s desktop features.
iOS/Apple app: 2.5 (out of 5 stars)
While there is no doubt the CMC Markets vision for their Apple-based mobile apps is grand, to date users say it isn’t yet delivering on that vision – not even close. With user review headlines with comments like “just ok” and “fails at the basics” predominant among more positive reviews, it is hard to get too excited about managing your CMC markets adequately account on the go.
Scrolling down, there are multiple headlines about “server error” and one that says “terrible.” One user discovered that the app re-routed them mid-trade to a different brokerage! They reported having to go back to CMC’s mobile website to make the trade through the correct brokerage.
All this to say, for the moment at least, it may be better to view the iOS apps as a way to simply keep tabs on activity until you can get back to your desktop for hands-on management.
Android App (Next Generation trading software)
The Android app works with Android smart devices including phones and tablets. You can view 35+ technical indicators, create watchlists, view/trade based on live streaming pricing and keep tabs on open positions while you are on the go.
Happily, at least when compared to its iOS counterpart, the Android app appears to deliver slightly improved functionality overall.
But then there are the user reviews. With shares like “unable to log in,” “poorly designed,” “really slow,” “worst trading apps” (there are plenty more where these came from) clearly CMC Markets still has a long way to go to deliver a mobile user experience that meets its customers’ needs.
CMC Markets Trading Platform Interface Options
Speaking of the desktop interface, what is it like to use Next Generation? Actually, CMC Markets offers two options for a desktop interface experience: Next Generation and Meta Trader4.
Of the two, reviews showcase that Next Generation is vastly preferred. However, there are some advantages of having Meta Trader4 available as we will highlight here.
Next Generation has won a number of awards for design and functionality.
To date, Next Generation gives you the option to use 115 drawing tools and technical indicators, 12 chart types, 70 chart patterns and access to real-time industry news and client sentiment data.
Next Generation also incorporates pattern recognition that issues alerts for emerging patterns across a range of 120 popular assets. Alerts are issued every 15 minutes. And while Next Generation does not currently support a social trading feature, there is a chart forum community where you can ask questions, share your knowledge and connect with other users.
Next Generation also gives you access to 20+ years of pricing history to work from in charting and tracking price projections.
The feature-rich Next Generation interface is one of the highlights of all that CMC Markets has to offer. Across independent review sites, this platform is consistently mentioned as one of the main reasons to choose CMC Markets.
Meta Trader4 is neither as feature-rich nor as popular as Next Generation. But this older software has its place for some users. It does not currently permit you to trade shares, however. For this you have to download Next Generation and create an account.
One nice feature that Meta Trader4 offers for newer or less experienced traders is the option to mimic what experienced professional traders do. This is a useful learning tool to minimize some amount of risk, especially with inherently high-risk trades like forex and CFDs.
In particular, Meta Trader 4 can be a better choice if you plan to do a lot of switching back and forth between the desktop or tablet version and the mobile app. Meta Trader 4 has been around a lot longer than Next Generation and the developers have had more time to work out the mobile experience bugs, as these user ratings reveal.
- iOS/Apple app: 4.1 (out of 5 stars). Comments range from “great app” and “happy remote trader” to “decent,” although some reviews indicate there are still some features missing.
- Android app: 4.6 (out of 5 stars). With comments like “easy to learn” and “the best platform when it comes to charts and all views,” it is clear this software’s mobile platform is far ahead of where Next Generation’s suite of apps is at the present moment for mobile traders.
Meta Trader4 has also won an award from the Investment Trends 2019 UK Leverage Trading Report for its customer service. The award was for both email support and phone support in the UK and reflected user satisfaction with forex, spread betting and FX trading support.
CMC Markets Account Minimum Deposit Requirements
There are two basic account types: CFD and corporate. In both cases, there is no account minimum to open your account.
Telephone support is also available to place trades during trading hours, making CMC Markets a friendlier trading platform for beginners than many.
Account currencies that are currently accepted include the following:
- GBP (Great Britain pound)
- EUR (European Union euro)
- USD (United States dollar)
- AUS (Australian dollar)
- CAD (Canadian dollar)
- NOK (Norwegian krone)
- NZD (New Zealand dollar)
- PLN (Poland zloty)
- SEK (Swedish krona)
- SGD (Singapore dollar)
CMC Markets Account Fees and Other Fees
Here is an overview of the most important account fees and charges to be aware of. Here, CMC Markets overall is considered to be competitive and fair overall.
Trading Costs, Commissions and Fees
Both account types have the same basic associated trading costs, commissions and fees.
- Spreads: from 0.3 points
- Commissions: shares only, minimum of $7 USD (or equivalent)
- GSLO premium fee: refunded if not triggered (ranges from $1.50USD (or equivalent) per unit)
- Fees for market data and overnight holding
As a perk, cash rebates are also available on both types of accounts.
Account Inactivity and Reactivation Fees
For less active traders, it is important to note there is an account inactivity fee of 10GBP (or equivalent). But the leniency period for dormancy is generous – only accounts with zero activity for one calendar year will incur the monthly fee.
If the account balance on the dormant account is zero no fee will be assessed. But accounts reactivated after a period of zero balance dormancy for three consecutive months will then be assessed a 30GBP (or equivalent) fee for reactivation.
Market Data Fees
To view certain CFD share pricing (Australia, Hong Kong) you will need to take out a subscription. The fee for the Australia subscription is 20AUD (or equivalent) monthly. The fee for the Hong Kong subscription is 120HKD (or equivalent) monthly. Local duties and taxes (VAT) may also apply.
There are no subscription fees for viewing market data in these countries: Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.
Some review sites have pointed to a higher-than-average spread for certain assets traded on the S&P 500 and spread bets. No such unaffordable spreads were noted for the NASDAQ.
There may be additional holding cost fees for trading some forex pairs. Reviews noted these were “minimal” but still worth paying attention to.
CFD trades held open when the market closes at 5pm (EST, New York, NY) may incur holding costs. Holding costs will vary based on the asset (cryptocurrency, indices, share CFDs, cash commodities, treasuries, FX, et al). The reason is because holding costs are charged when a trade is in the buy position and credited when a trade is in the sell position.
Assessed holding costs may be positive or negative depending on the status of your trade at the time the market closes. For shares and indices, generally speaking, the average holding cost will be the interbank rate for that share/index plus or minus 0.0082 percent.
The interface offers historical holding costs data that can be used to calculate/estimate the potential impact on your account holdings.
CMC Markets Customer Service
CMC Markets scores consistently high marks in customer service, which is saying something considering this platform currently caters to users in 88 countries around the world.
The customer service team is reachable by phone, email and chat. Independent reviews report chat wait times are typically no more than 40 seconds and phone support is available 24 hours per day during week days.
Social media feeds show plenty of interactive communication between users and customer service team members.
CMC Markets Online Learning Tools
The types of learning and educational resources a relatively inexperienced trader will seek out are going to be different than what an experienced professional trader will require.
In this area, CMC Markets scores higher points for providing newbie education. Even a casual survey shows that a majority of online educational resources are geared towards the newcomer who wants to learn to trade forex, place spread bets or CFDs or needs help reading technical indicators.
In the same way, the live webinars and events seem similarly geared to helping to improve the knowledge and expertise of less experienced traders.
To this point, at the bottom of the CMC Markets website’s Learn tab, on the right hand side where it says “Experienced trader?” when you click the “Advanced” button nothing happens. Only the learning links for the “Beginner” and “Intermediate” buttons work.
So advanced traders may need to look elsewhere for the in depth training and knowledge base required to navigate more complex trading needs. However, the Next Generation software platform in particular has sufficiently robust inbuilt features, including the option for a standard or customized portal, to allow advanced traders to take what it offers and personalize it to their needs.
In addition, CMC Markets offers current news and updates from in-house analysts to support traders at all levels of expertise. The same is also available from inside either trading platform, Next Generation or Meta Trader4.
Is CMC Markets the Right Online Trading Platform for You?
If you live outside of the United States or Mexico, CMC Markets is a viable option for trading mainstream (shares/ETFs, treasuries, commodities) and high-risk (cryptocurrency, forex, indices) securities across the six major asset classes.
There is no doubt you have a lot of variety in terms of your desktop user interface and at least some mobile functionality to support trading on the go (more when using the Meta Trader4 software than with Next Generation at present, unfortunately).
Customer service gets reliably high marks, which is especially important for many users today and yet can be increasingly difficult to come by.
The fees and commissions structure seems reasonable overall and the option for cash rebates is a nice extra perk.
If you are on the fence about whether to give CMC Markets a try, the free demo account populated with virtual “funds” is a nice touch and might be a way to get a sense of whether the software is the right fit for your preferences and trading needs.