Trading 212 Review
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Trading 212 was founded in 2004 under the name Avus Capital through its Bulgaria-based entity that is regulated nationally by the Financial Supervision Commission (FSC).
In 2013, Trading 212 obtained regulatory status through its United Kingdom (UK) entity, Trading 212 UK Ltd, that is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. Thanks to its FCA license, Trading 212 is pass-ported throughout 11 nation states within the European Union (EU) under MiFiD regulation. EU residents of the remaining member states not covered by the firm’s UK license (not including country-specific restrictions) can open an account with the broker’s Bulgarian entity.
Since its launch in the UK, Trading 212 has since experienced strong growth. The Trading 212 mobile app has been downloaded over 14 million downloads and boasts a rating of 4.5 stars in the Apple App Store as of June 2019. As of September 2018, Trading 212 reportedly had around 50,000 active clients.
Trading 212 is currently privately held, jointly owned by Ivan Ashminov and his business partner, who both own 50% of the company. Even with offering zero-commission trades, Trading 212 still posted revenues of £43.7m in 2017, with estimated pre-tax profits of over £25m in 2018.
Best known for its commission-free trading, Trading 212 offers an easy to use trading platform and mobile app to residents across the UK and broader EU. Benefits aside, trading tools and research are limited, and despite its marketed free pricing model, Trading 212 makes ample money from its operation, posting an estimated pre-tax profit of over £25m in 2018 alone.
- Diverse range of 1,800 instruments supported for trading.
- Extremely easy to use web trading platform and mobile app.
- 14 crypto pairs and several unique FX pairs supported, including 37 against the Bulgarian Lev.
- Algorithmic trading offered via mobile Pro Quant app.
- “Fee-Free” trades are not truly free as clients pay a spread on many instruments.
- No news offered in mobile app.
- Very limited research in web platform beyond basic economic calendar and headlines.
- Only regulated in the EU (UK and Bulgaria).
Is Trading 212 Safe?
Trading 212 is considered high-risk, with an overall Trust Score of 69 out of 99. Trading 212 is not publicly traded and does not operate a bank. Trading 212 is authorised by one tier-1 regulators (high trust), zero tier-2 regulators (average trust), and zero tier-3 regulators (low trust). Trading 212 is authorised by the following tier-1 regulator: Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Learn more about Trust Score.
|Publicly Traded (Listed)||No|
Commissions & Fees
Trading 212 advertises zero commission trading; however, actual trading costs vary. On one hand, it charges zero-commissions on many of its instruments, namely shares and ETFs. On the other hand, when trading forex and other CFDs such as crypto, commodities and indices, Trading 212 charges a spread. Like many forex and CFDs brokers, Trading 212 does not publish an average spread to reflect its actual costs to traders.
While the fixed spreads offered on 32 pairs are quantifiable, the pricing is less clear on the more than 150 pairs it offers with variables spreads.
Nonetheless, providing both fixed and variables spreads from the same account can be a value to traders depending on their needs, as Trading 212 offers a diverse range of markets from a single account.
- Near-zero commissions on share CFDs and ETFs.
- Offers ISA account in the UK.
- No average spread data published.
- Mostly offers variables spreads on 151 pairs, fixed spreads on 32 pairs, and both fixed and variable spreads on EUR/USD, GBP/USD, USD/JPY, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Monero.
- Company posted £43.7m in revenues for 2017 alone, suggesting traders are paying for trades in some way, even if it isn’t in via an upfront commission.
|Minimum Initial Deposit||€100|
|Average Spread EUR/USD - Standard||N/A|
|All-in Cost EUR/USD - Active||N/A|
|Active Trader or VIP Discounts||No|
Platforms & Tools
Trading 212 primarily offers a web-based trading platform for traders to access its more than 1800 available instruments. During my testing of the web platform on Google Chrome, I encountered no lag or disruptions and found the platform to be highly responsive.
Comparable to eToro, when a user visits the Trading 212 website and already had a previous session with their user credentials cached locally in their browser, they are automatically logged-in to the platform. In addition, most of the platform’s features are on the surface, adding to its ease of use and simplified layout.
Trading 212 is the first broker I have reviewed that also has its own Google chrome plugin, which provides quick-access to the platform from within a browser by emulating the mobile version.
- Web platform has user-friendly layout that is easy to use.
- Integrated candlestick patterns provided, and charts can be saved as a template.
- Five chart types, 43 indicators, and 20 drawing tools are available.
- Live chat is integrated directly into platform and is available 24/7.
- One-cancels-Other (OCO) and If-this-then-that (If/Then) order types are offered.
- Order window lacks advanced features such as adding a stop-loss or take-profit to a pending order, as well as Good-till-Date parameter.
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|Virtual Trading (Demo)||Yes|
|Desktop Platform (Windows)||No|
|Social Trading / Copy-Trading||Yes|
|MetaTrader 4 (MT4)||No|
|MetaTrader 5 (MT5)||No|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies (Total)||41|
|Charting - Drawing Tools (Total)||20|
|Charting - Trade From Chart||Yes|
|Watchlists - Total Fields||5|
|Order Type - Trailing Stop||Yes|
Research is not Trading212’s strongest point. The bare minimum is provided, with the bulk of research being an economic calendar, news headlines, and market analysis from staff.
While Trading 212 does provide daily market analysis across a range of instruments, and daily video content from its YouTube channel, there is a lot of room to improve this area to compete with industry leaders in the multi-asset broker category.
- Videos stream from within the platform, which include fundamental and technical analysis from staff market analysts.
- It is not clear which news agencies are providing the headlines, which makes it difficult to verify source credibility.
- Very limited range of third-party research and features.
|Daily Market Commentary||Yes|
|Forex News (Top-Tier Sources)||No|
|Trading Central (Recognia)||No|
|Social Sentiment - Currency Pairs||No|
Trading 212 offers a mobile app for Android and iOS devices. The company advertises that their app has been downloaded more than 14 million times. Both the Apple App store (4.5-star average) and Google Play store (4.3-star average) boast strong ratings for the Trading 212 app.
I found the Android version easy to navigate and overall enjoyable to use. The biggest drawback I could find was the lack of any news headlines, and although there is an economic calendar, like the web platform, there were few research tools.
The default watch list screeners make it easy to sort through markets and the order-entry screens were pretty standard. Unfortunately, Good-till-Date order expirations are not currently available and instead default to Good-til-Cancel. Subtle but does illustrate how the app has room for further customization.
The Trading 212 mobile app also offers automated trading through Pro Quant where users can follow strategies, akin to a social copy-trading offering or MetaTrader Signals Market. However, one major caveat is that the Pro Quant app must also be installed alongside the Trading 212 mobile app, settings are only configurable within the Pro Quant app, and there is no web version of Pro Quant available. This makes the entire trading experience difficult to manage and arguably not worth the effort.
- 43 indicators and 20 drawing tools are cleanly integrated into the app’s charting tool.
- Clean user interface and overall well-designed app.
- Watchlist is customizable and syncs automatically with the web platform.
- Users can create strategies or follow existing ones via the Pro Quant app.
- Lack of news headlines and overall market research.
- ProQuant not fully configurable from within Trading 212 app and is not as user-friendly as the best copy trading platforms.
- Automated candlestick patterns are not available in the mobile app.
Mobile Apps Comparison
|Apple iOS App||Yes|
|Trading - Forex||Yes|
|Trading - CFDs||Yes|
|Alerts - Basic Fields||Yes|
|Watch List Syncing||Yes|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies||43|
|Charting - Draw Trend Lines||Yes|
|Charting - Trend Lines Moveable||No|
|Charting - Multiple Time Frames||Yes|
|Charting - Drawings Autosave||Yes|
Trading 212 was an early pioneer to offer zero-commission on trading shares and ETFs in the UK and parts of the EU. This helped Trading 212 scale its “freemium” model to cross-sell its forex and non-share CFD offerings to clients, helping the broker to post an estimated pre-tax profit of over £25m in 2018.
While Trading 212 does lack depth of research content across its web and mobile app, the broker has done a good job simplifying its platform to make the customer experience seamless.
The irony of a zero commission model is that it leaves intuitive clients wondering how the broker generates revenue. What’s the catch? As the adage goes, there is no free lunch, and given the lack of transparency of Trading 212’s average spreads, traders are wise to proceed with caution.
I’d like to see Trading 212 raise capital and go public to increase transparency into its finances or provide greater disclosure like other non-public brokers who report detailed execution statistics beyond the minimum required by regulatory mandates. Next, posting average spreads data like some of the best forex and CFDs brokers would be beneficial. Finally, seeing Trading 212 expand its regulatory footprint beyond the UK and Bulgaria would go a long way to increase overall trust.
2019 Review Methodology
For our 2019 Forex Broker Review we assessed, rated, and ranked 28 international forex brokers over a six month time period. Each broker was graded on 81 different variables and, in total, over 60,000 words of research were produced.
While encouraged, broker participation was optional. Each broker had the opportunity to complete an in-depth data profile and provide executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting.
All data submitted by brokers is hand-checked for accuracy. Ultimately, our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .1% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.
Forex Risk Disclaimer
"There is a very high degree of risk involved in trading securities. With respect to margin-based foreign exchange trading, off-exchange derivatives, and cryptocurrencies, there is considerable exposure to risk, including but not limited to, leverage, creditworthiness, limited regulatory protection and market volatility that may substantially affect the price, or liquidity of a currency or related instrument. It should not be assumed that the methods, techniques, or indicators presented in these products will be profitable, or that they will not result in losses." Learn more.
About the author: Steven Hatzakis Steven Hatzakis is the Global Director of Research for ForexBrokers.com. Steven previously served as an Editor for Finance Magnates, where he authored over 1,000 published articles about the online finance industry. Steven is an active fintech and crypto industry researcher and advises blockchain companies at the board level. Over the past 20 years, Steven has held numerous positions within the international forex markets, from writing to consulting to serving as a registered commodity futures representative.