Independent Review ActivTrades
Introduction to ActivTrades
ActivTrades began in Switzerland in 2001, but moved to the U.K. in 2005 and has made its headquarters there ever since. They offer CFDs on forex, commodities, indices and shares, as well as spread betting on shares. Spreads are known to be low, there are no commissions on non-share assets, and there are almost no additional fees for inactive accounts, deposits, withdrawals, or transfers.
ActivTrades keeps things simple with just one account type, although traders can also register as professional traders to avoid ESMA requirements. The minimum initial deposit is £1000, and ActivTrades also makes demo accounts available to test drive the platform before getting started.
Because the broker offers CFDs and spread betting there are some jurisdictions that cannot open an account at ActiveTrades. These include the U.S., Canada, and Japan.
Those who are able to open an account at ActivTrades will enjoy 1:30 leverage, and spreads as low as 0.5 pips on the EUR/USD cross. This makes the broker ideal for high-frequency traders, and the fact that ActivTrades supports hedging and scalping strategies makes it even more attractive.
U.K. based traders will also appreciate the offering of spread betting, allowing them to trade and enjoy tax-free profits.
Experienced traders can take advantage of the powerful MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 trading platforms, while those who want something easier to use can enjoy the simplicity of the proprietary ActivTrader platform. All three platforms are available for web, mobile, and desktop.
Traders can also gain an edge through the use of the premium products offered by ActivTrades. These include SmartForecast and SmartPattern, which helps in the discovery of chart patterns, and the Pivot Point Indicator which paints support and resistance levels right on the chart. There are several other proprietary MT4/MT5 tools that can help improve trading success.
As part of the research process to write this review, we set up a demo account with ActivTrades and accessed their website and their mobile trading platform. The process of opening a demo account was incredibly straight-forward and quick.
ActivTrades has only one tier of accounts for traders, which keeps things simple, but active traders won’t get any perks for their high-volume trading.
While the ActivTrader platform focuses on ease of use, ActivTrades realizes many traders want powerful analysis tools, so they also offer MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5. All the platforms are available on desktop, via web, and as mobile apps.
Demo accounts can be set up using any of the three platforms.
ActivTrades also offers many proprietary tools that extend the functionality of the MetaTrader platforms. These can speed trading, improve position management, and improve risk management.
ActivTrades Regulations & Licenses
ActivTrades is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under ActivTrades PLC, under reference number 434413.
ActivTrades is also regulated by the Securities Commission of the Bahamas (SCB) under ActivTrades Corp. with reference number SP-64388. According to the broker, the Bahamas subsidiary was setup to further develop the South American market and cater for non-EU clients.
The ActivTrades website is available in a dozen languages. Support is also provided in the same languages, which are English, Spanish, Russian, German, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese (3 dialects), and Italian. The trading platforms also feature these same languages.
Retail Trader Accounts
ActivTrades offers a very simple account opening process for their Free Demo Account. You can even use it without registering if you like, but registration only takes a minute or two. The registration for a real-money account is also straight-forward but takes longer due to the KYC/AML requirements that will require you to upload documents such as a passport copy and utility bill copy.
Individual accounts get access to the roughly 500 assets available on the platform, and access to all three available trading platforms: ActivTrader, MetaTrader 4, and MetaTrader 5. Clients also receive negative balance protection and enhanced fund protections. There is a minimum deposit of £500 required to open an account, and leverage limits are restricted to 1:30 by ESMA regulations.
There are also Professional accounts available that are not subject to ESMA restrictions, but there are additional criteria that must be met to obtain a professional account.
Who Is Eligible for a Professional Account?
There are three potential criteria for getting a Professional Account, and clients must meet at least two of these to become eligible for a Professional Account. These three criteria are:
- A minimum of one-year experience working in the financial industry in a position that requires knowledge of derivatives trading;
- The client must have a portfolio containing cash and/or investments of $500,000 minimum;
- The prospective client has traded derivatives at least ten times in the past four quarters. In this case, derivatives include forex, CFDs, futures, and spread bets.
All traders are able to open a demo account at ActivTrades and practice trading without risking any real money. These demo accounts begin with $/£/€10,000 in virtual funds and traders can test their strategies on the proprietary ActivTrades platform, or they can use MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 for the demo. They also allow you to use the demo for up to 3 days without registering. If you do take the time to register, that’s extended to a 30-day trial. Registering for a demo account took me less than 90 seconds.
Fees, Costs & Spreads
ActivTrades fees and costs vary based on the asset being traded, but the fees are also kept very transparent. There are no commissions charged on any of the non-share CFD markets, and some even have no overnight fees (Indices & Commodities). As the broker operates a no dealing desk model (STP) the costs come from a mixture of spreads and swaps, as well as commissions on equities.
When holding a position overnight there is a swap fee charged on forex, cryptocurrencies and shares. Short positions held overnight will be credited with swaps, calculated based on 3-month interbank rate minus 1% (if deducting 1 point from the interbank rate results in zero or in a negative value no interest will mature on short positions). Long positions held overnight will be debited with swaps, calculated based on 3-month interbank rate plus 1%.
There are very few additional fees charged, however they can be a small charge of 1 for market data from outside the U.K. and Europe.
Deposits & Withdrawals
Deposits or withdrawal requests can all be done from the Personal Area of the ActivTrades platform. They accept various funding methods, including bank transfer, credit/debit card, Neteller, Skrill and Sofort. There are no fees for any deposits, with the sole exception of non-UK/EU credit and debit cards, which are assessed a 1.5% deposit charge. Most payments post to your account within 30 minutes, although bank transfers can take a full business day, and this does not account for potential delays from the banks and other financial institutions.
Withdrawals also have no fees, with the sole exception of bank transfers, which are charged £/€15 for UK/EU accounts and $12.50 for U.S. accounts.
ActivTrades Trading Platforms
ActivTrades provides traders with an excellent selection of trading platforms, beginning with their proprietary ActivTrades platform. They also offer the award-winning MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 platforms. The functionality across these platforms will serve everyone from beginning to advanced traders. Clients can also choose from desktop, mobile, or web-based trading for all the platforms.
The ActivTrader Platform
The main trading platform at ActivTrades is their proprietary platform called ActivTrader. It is available in desktio, mobile and web-based versions, and was developed after years of research to afford traders both an easy to use, intuitive interface, and powerful tools to master the markets. The platform is also available in all the languages supported on the website, which is very useful.
The ActivTrader platform is good for beginning traders, since it isn’t overloaded with features, but the features it does have will also make it suitable for more advanced traders, especially if they’re looking for a lightweight web-based application they can use to quickly enter positions. There are a number of drawing tools, roughly two dozen pre-made indicators, the ability to customize the look and feel of the chart, and some proprietary tools such as the Progressive Trailing Stop which protects profits by allowing clients to set additional stop tiers that automatically modify the stop distance as market conditions change and reach predetermined levels.
The mobile version of ActivTrader performs smoothly, and has all the functionality of the web and desktop versions. Orders can be placed right from the chart, and you can still take advantage of the Progressive Trailing Stop and all the other features built right in. The platform is ready to be downloaded for Android devices and tablets running version 5 or higher, or for iOS devices and tablets running version 10 or higher.
Users who are already familiar with the MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 charting packages will be happy to know that these are also an option at ActivTrades. Both the desktop version and the mobile version of MT4/MT5 can be used with your ActivTrades account. Plus, ActivTrades has a number of proprietary tools that are available as plug-ins for MT4/MT5. Unfortunately several of these tools are not available on the demo platform, and can only be used by live-clients.
ActivTrades definitely doesn’t have the widest variety of assets available, but what they do have are suitable for nearly every trader. The assets available include both the popular and exotic forex pairs, commodities like gold and oil, over 450 share CFDs, and a handful of indices. While all assets are available as CFDs it is also possible to place spread bets on all the offered assets too.
Traders can choose from six types of orders. This includes the four basic order types: limit orders, market orders, stop loss orders, and trailing stop orders. It also includes the proprietary Progressive Trailing Stops, and the proprietary Pullback Entry, which lets traders enter the market at a better price by only opening a position if the market turns in the client’s favor. Orders are only filled at prices specified and ActivTrades claims their clients don’t suffer from slippage since they are an STP broker.
Notification and Alerts
The ActivTrader platform does not include notifications and alerts, but those using the MT4 and MT5 platforms can take advantage of the notifications and alerts built into those platforms.
Trading and Risk Management Tools
ActivTrades has developed several proprietary tools that can be used to enhance risk management of trading accounts. These include the Progressive Trailing Stops and Pullback Orders mentioned previously. They also include a suite of MT4 and MT5 plugins: SmartOrder2, SmartLines, SmartCalculator, SmartTemplate, SmartForecast, SmartPattern, and Pivot Points Indicator.
In addition to these special tools clients can take advantage of all the power behind MT4 and MT5, or they can simplify their trading by using the ActivTrader platform.
Education and Training
ActivTrades provides a set of guides and videos that explain the use of MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5, as well as all the proprietary tools that have been developed for these platforms. There are no educational materials for the ActivTrader platform, but it has been developed to be intuitive enough that most new traders will be able to figure it out easily.
There are also seminars and webinars conducted by the professional trading staff at ActivTrades. For example, when I was reviewing the offerings there were two webinars scheduled: The Best Chart Analysis Indicators for Trading and Short Term versus Long Term Trading Strategies. All of the webinars are also available in an archive, so you can go back and watch dozens of educational presentations. These are available to clients and non-clients alike.
Finally, new clients are able to take advantage of free one-on-one sessions where a team member will walk you through the Personal Area, the trading platforms, and how to use Smart Tools.
You can get support 24/5, with client support available in all 11 supported languages. Support channels include Live Chat, an online callback form, email, and telephone.
When testing the Live Chat feature an operator immediately responded. They were very quick responding to questions and seemed knowledgeable about the platform and services offered.
Support can be reached at +44 (0) 207 6500 567 and via several email channels as follows:
- Support Desk: englishdesk@ActivTrades.com
- Sales Desk: info@ActivTrades.com
- Institutional Desk: institutional_en@ActivTrades.com
Independent Opinion & Rating
ActivTrades is a good choice for those looking for access to the major forex pairs and commodities, and a good selection of shares, so long as CFD trading or spread bets are acceptable. It has made a strong name for itself in the CFD space. Because it is offering CFDs regulations prohibit the service in the U.S. and in several other countries, so you might be blocked from using the ActivTrades service if you live in one of these jurisdictions.
Because the broker is an STP broker and doesn’t use a dealing desk client get some of the best spreads, and no commissions on most products. Clients will also appreciate the lack of slippage on orders.
Offering three different platforms for trading gives clients excellent choices between the simple and easy to use ActivTrader platform, and the more sophisticated MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 platforms. The addition of proprietary tools improves the trading experience.
Overall ActivTrades is probably best for new traders, or those who have been trading for less than a year. We found the platforms, customer service and tools to be good, and the low spreads were very welcome.
Give it a try yourself and see if you don’t agree that ActivTrades is a solid broker.