Advertising Disclosure

We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services, which helps to maintain our site. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn’t influence our assessment of those products.

CFDs vs Forex: What are the Differences?

Dueling Trading Titans!

In one corner, we have CFDs – Contracts for Difference – renowned for their prowess in churning out profits even when the bears rule the markets. These financial powerhouses boast a diverse array of assets for traders to speculate on.

In the other corner, the dynamic world of forex trading beckons, a realm where savvy traders harness market volatility 24/5, Monday through Friday, for potential gains.

In this review, we’ll dissect the intricacies, revealing both the striking similarities and nuanced differences between these financial heavyweights. By the end, you’ll be armed with the insights needed to select the perfect trading companion that aligns seamlessly with your unique style and aspirations. It’s a clash of titans like no other!

Also consider: Discover my guide to CFD trading for beginners

Trusted partner

IG Index logo

71% of traders lose money trading with IG.

 Commission-free trading

  • Free demo account
  • Advanced charting tools
  • Extensive educational content

CFDs vs Forex: The key differences

  • What you can trade in
  • How the value is determined
  • CFDs depend largely on demand for the underlying asset.
  • Trading structure
  • CFDs allow traders to speculate on the price movement of assets

CFDs and forex are both popular financial tools that are used by investors worldwide. But while they have certain similarities, they also have major characteristics that set them apart.

One significant distinction between CFDs and Forex is the markets they trade in. Forex trading is solely concerned with the foreign exchange market, where currencies are bought and sold.

CFD trading, on the other hand, allows you to speculate on the value of a diverse range of underlying assets, such as equities, commodities, indices, and cryptocurrencies. The vast range of assets that CFDs provide access to enables you to diversify your portfolio by providing the opportunity to take out CFD contracts in many different markets at the same time.

Another notable distinction is the trading structure. Forex trading involves speculating on how one currency will move in value against another currency. In this way, currency pairs are bought and sold 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.

CFD trading, on the other hand, involves a CFD contract between the trader and the broker without the trader directly holding the underlying asset.

Lastly, another key difference between the two is that with CFDs, you have a tool that will provide you with greater trading strategy flexibility. When trading forex, you will be hoping to profit from the appreciation or depreciation of currencies relative to each other.

However, trading CFDs provides you with more ways to profit, as you can make money not only by rising and declining markets but also by taking long and short contracts. This provides a greater opportunity to earn in a variety of market scenarios.

Plus500 logo


  • Trade CFDs for both call and put options
  • Make your trades using leverage, requiring less upfront capital
  • No commission to pay on trades and spreads are highly competitive

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 81% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

CFDs vs Forex: The key similarities

I have highlighted some of the key differences between CFD and Forex trading, now I will take a look at their similarities.

Both are great tools used by active traders to make significant profits on rapidly changing markets, but another similarity is that Forex trading and CFD trading let you leverage your position. With leverage, you are able to access larger positions, thereby hopefully maximising your profits, with a smaller initial investment. But you also run the risk of losing money rapidly, as greater leverage also means greater exposure.

CFDs and Forex also let you speculate on price movements without owning the underlying asset. As already mentioned, the asset in question trading forex is limited to currency, and you are speculating solely on the exchange rate between two currencies.

Trading CFDs provides access to a much wider range of assets, including stocks, commodities, and indices. In any case, whether it’s trading CFDs or forex trading, you never actually take ownership of the underlying asset.

How do I start trading forex or CFDs?

To start trading CFDs and/or forex, you’ll need to follow a few steps:

Get informed

Before you start trading, make sure you gain a solid understanding of the markets, trading concepts, and risk management principles.

I would also advise you to learn about fundamental and technical analysis, financial markets, currency trading, market trends, and trading strategies. Numerous resources and courses are available that will help you build your knowledge base.

Choose a reliable broker

Before you make the first move into either a CFD contract or forex markets, make sure you have picked a reputable, well-rated broker that offers access to the Forex or CFD markets. Look for competitive spreads, reliable execution, user-friendly platforms, a range of forex pairs , access to cfd trades and a wide range of tradable instruments.

Develop a trading plan

As the saying goes, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. So, before you invest, make sure that you have a defined strategy in place. Set out your trading goals, risk tolerance, and preferred trading style.

Create a trading plan that outlines your strategies, entry and exit rules, and risk management techniques. Most important of all, stick to your plan to maintain discipline in your trading activities.

Open an account

Complete the account-opening process with your chosen broker. You will have to provide them with your personal details and verify your identity. The verification process may take a few days, though it is usually much quicker. Once your account is verified and you’ve added funds, you can start trading.

Practise with a demo account

If you’re new to trading, opening a demo account with your broker will prove invaluable. Many forex brokers and CFD brokers provide demo accounts that let you trade in a simulated environment using virtual funds. This is a great way to familiarise yourself with the trading platform and test your cfd trading and forex trading strategies without risking real money.

Start small and manage risk

When transitioning to a live trading account, start with a small amount of capital. This helps you gain experience and confidence while minimising potential losses. Implement strict risk management practices, such as setting stop-loss and take-profit levels, to protect your capital.

Stay up to date

The markets are dynamic, so it’s crucial to stay updated with market news, economic indicators, and geopolitical events that can impact prices. Keep learning, refine your strategies, and adapt to changing market conditions. To this end, why not subscribe to our stack?

How does Forex trading work?

Forex traders use a global decentralised market to purchase and sell various currencies. A Forex trader will speculate on the rise or fall of one currency against another, known as forex pairs, in order to turn a profit and beat the market.

The Forex market is open Monday through Friday with no downtime and is used by traders from all over the world to trade currency pairs. Any transaction you undertake on the Forex market will involve you buying and selling one currency simultaneously.

The Forex market has bid and ask prices, aka the selling and purchasing prices, respectively, for quoted currency pairs. You can trade major currencies such as the USD, GBP, but also smaller currencies such as the Australian Dollar or even the Turkish Lira. Depending on how you think the value of the currency is likely to change, you will either take a long position (buy) or a short one (sell).

In Forex trading, leverage is frequently used to allow traders to handle larger positions with a smaller amount of cash. Due to the amplified potential for both gains and losses, careful risk management techniques are required.

For this reason, I would advise you to copy what a lot of seasoned traders do, namely employ a variety of analysis techniques to help you pick your trading choices. Forex markets are always changing and are greatly impacted by global macroeconomic events. With so many complex inputs, there is no single foolproof strategy, at least not that I know of.

Trade execution usually takes place on the broker’s online platform. These platforms give you access to real-time price quotes as well as letting you close trades.

How do I trade CFDs

When you trade CFDs, or contracts for difference, you are speculating on the price movements of various underlying assets without owning them. CFDs are a lucrative and popular trading tool, below I will show you how to trade CFDs.

You will need to open an account with a reputable broker that provides CFD trading services. Make sure that they are fully regulated by the relevant authorities; in the UK, this is the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Also check out reviews to see how user-friendly their platform is and how competitive their fees are. Open a trading account with the selected broker and complete the necessary registration process.

Next, select the asset you wish to trade. CFDs are available for stocks, indices, commodities, forex (yes CFDs can be taken out on a forex currency pair) and more. Regardless of the asset you will be trading, make sure that you have undertaken market analysis and analysed market trends, news, and indicators before you start making trading decisions.

Using the broker’s platform, execute your trades. Specify the asset, position size, and trade parameters. Monitor your trades closely, adjusting your strategy if necessary. I would also strongly advise you to implement risk management techniques, making sure to set up stop-loss orders to limit potential losses.


Leverage is another aspect to consider. Both CFDs and Forex allow traders to use leverage. This is a great way of maximising profits as it lets you open positions you would otherwise not be able to afford; however, leverage also increases the size of losses.

Generally speaking, CFDs offer higher leverage options compared to Forex, allowing traders to control larger positions with a smaller initial investment. This can be appealing to some traders seeking more substantial returns, but with greater rewards come greater risks. Understanding leverage and margin is essential for forex CFD trading

See also: My guide to the best high leverage forex brokers

Lastly, you should also consider their respective trading costs and fees. Forex trading often involves lower transaction costs since it operates in a decentralised market. CFD trading, on the other hand, may involve additional fees such as commissions, spreads, and overnight financing charges.

Regardless of which one of these financial instruments you pick over the other, be sure to carefully evaluate the cost structure of both options and consider their trading style and frequency before you make the plunge.

Is CFD trading better than Forex?

Having read this guide, you may now be wondering, “Is CFD trading better than Forex”? And the answer to this question will depend on your individual preferences and circumstances, as both CFD and Forex trading have their own unique advantages.

That said, I will try to highlight where one is better than the other, and maybe that way you can get an idea as to which one of these trading instruments is better suited to you and your needs.

One advantage of CFD trading is the ability to trade a wide range of underlying assets beyond just currencies. CFDs allow traders to speculate on stocks, commodities, indices, and cryptocurrencies, providing greater diversification and exposure to different markets. Forex trading, on the other hand, focuses solely on currency pairs.

So, if you are interested in a broader range of assets, CFDs may be more suitable. Then again, if you would rather specialise, you may prefer sticking to forex trades and becoming an expert in the volatile forex markets field.


In conclusion, CFDs and Forex share several key similarities, including leverage, margin trading, the ability to speculate on price movements, and access to global markets.

However, it is important for traders to understand the differences as well, as they can impact trading strategies, risk management, and potential returns in each respective market.

CFDs vs Forex FAQs

Should I trade Forex or CFDs?

If you are wondering whether you should trade Forex or CFDs, you should first decide what you want from your trading instruments. CFDs and Forex both have their own merits, and either one can work for you.

Can Forex be a CFD?

Yes, Forex can be a CFD. Forex CFD trading is popular with traders, as you can speculate on the highly volatile Forex market and profit from both rising and falling prices.

Please note

CFDs and forex carry risk and are complex instruments that may not be suitable for all investors. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. All contents are based on my understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change. The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investments should be considered over the longer term and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.

You might also like...
*Capital at risk

We put every effort into ensuring information on Investing Reviews is accurate. Double-check details that matter to you before applying or buying.

Have you tried Plus500? Visit Site

81% of retail CFD accounts lose money