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ETF CFD Trading – What Is It All About?

ETF CFD trading is a specific type of derivative that rewards traders for moves in the underlying fund price either to the upside, or to the downside.

Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, are investment vehicles that track a basket of assets, such as stocks or bonds. When you trade ETF CFDs it is the total fund value you are speculating on, but without actually owning the ETF itself. The assets contained within an ETF are typically chosen based on a specific theme or market sector, but they also stretch to specific indices such as SPY (for S&P 500).

-> See here if you want to know more of an introduction on the basics of ETFs.

You can trade ETF CFDs just like you would any other CFD instrument, with the added benefit of being able to access a diverse range of assets in a single trade. That means all the flexibility of CFD trading, but with the wider balance of a carefully curated ETF. Additionally, ETF CFDs often have lower management fees and can offer increased liquidity compared to traditional ETFs.

However, it is important to keep in mind that ETF CFDs are still leveraged financial instruments and can result in losses exceeding initial investments if the broker or trading platform doesn’t have negative balance protection.


Pros & Cons of Trading ETF CFDs

Whilst trading ETF CFDs seems to be growing at a pace, it is worth noting that there are some advantages and disadvantages to this particular trading style over the more long-term traditional ETF investment strategies. See some of the main pros and cons below:


  • Ability to use leverage and potentially increase profits
  • Lower transaction fees compared to buying the physical ETF
  • Greater flexibility in terms of short selling and trading on margin


  • Higher risk due to the use of leverage
  • Limited access to certain ETFs, as not all are available as CFDs
  • Fewer diversification opportunities compared to holding a physical portfolio of ETFs

As you can see, the main advantages to trading ETF CFDs over traditional ETF investing revolve around the use of leverage to amplify short-term results, and the flexibility of being able to short the market, using lower transaction fees. Whilst these are all ticks in the box for short term traders, they do not give as much to those with a longer time horizon.

If you are one of those with a longer term outlook, then you will note that there is a significantly higher risk when trading leveraged ETFs, aswell as a narrower choice of funds to select, as the support with CFD trading platforms is usually isolated to some of the top ETFs.

Ultimately, it all comes down to your individual trading style and approach to the markets. But it is worth considering both the pros and cons before jumping into ETF CFD trading. As always, carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks before deciding whether trading ETF CFDs is going to be right for you.

What Are Leveraged ETFs?

Leveraged ETFs are a type of Exchange Traded Fund that use borrowed money, or margin, to amplify returns. These funds can both magnify gains and losses, making them potentially risky investments. It is important for you to thoroughly understand the mechanisms behind leveraged ETFs before investing in them.

For example, these funds often reset daily, resulting in compounding effects that can diverge significantly from the performance of their underlying index over longer time periods. It is also crucial to consider your own investment strategy and risk tolerance before investing in leveraged ETFs.

What are the fees with ETF CFD trading?

There are typically two types of fees associated with ETF CFD trading: commission fees and spread fees. Commission fees are charged for each transaction, while spread fees are the difference between the buy and sell prices of an ETF. It is important to note that some brokers may also charge additional fees for holding positions overnight or for maintaining a certain account balance.

It is important to thoroughly research and compare the fees charged by different brokers before choosing one to trade with. Most of the best CFD trading platforms these days run wholly on spreads, and by choosing a broker with low spreads, you can minimise what you spend on fees.

Are ETF CFDs regulated?

Yes, ETF CFDs are regulated by the financial authorities in whichever country they are traded in. In Australia, for example, they fall under the regulatory authority of ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission), in the UK they fall under the FCA (Financial Services Authority), and in South Africa the FSCA.

The regulators for ETF CFD trading are by and large the same as those appointed for forex trading, and you can find a more detailed list here. To ensure you are covered by the appropriate regulations it is important to ensure that you only trade ETF CFDs with a legitimate and properly licensed broker.

What are some potential risks with ETF CFD trading?

As with any financial investment, ETF CFD trading carries the potential risk of loss. This can occur due to market fluctuations or a lack of diversification in one’s portfolio. It is important to have a solid understanding of the markets and do thorough research before investing, as well as regularly monitoring and adjusting one’s portfolio to minimise risk.

How do I choose an ETF?

Some factors to consider when choosing an ETF include its past performance, the underlying assets it is comprised of, its liquidity, and any management fees charged. It is important to also consider your own investment goals and risk tolerance before making a decision. Researching and comparing different ETFs can help in making an informed choice, and we have a separate guide on this topic here.