Home Trading Paper Trading UK Guide 2022
Tom Chen

Even if we are all familiar with the sentence “practice makes perfect”, it’s still an essential mantra to consider in every field of life, particularly when competing with other master traders. This is one of the main reasons why paper trading is so important. As such, many online brokers have enabled UK paper trading accounts to help newbies and experienced traders hone their skills and backtest their trading strategies before risking real capital.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover the basics about paper-trading in the UK. We’ll show you how to find a popular paper trading platform in the UK, outline the benefits of this trading account, and help you to get started quickly.

What is Paper Trading?

What is paper tradingPaper trading is a simulated trade environment in which the user can ‘practice’ trading without committing and risking real money. The term ‘paper trading’ derives from the old method of backtesting trading strategies when an investor could practice paper trading using a newspaper and a pencil and paper.

Since paper trading is a practice technique which uses virtual money, you can get in and out of trades, learn the sizes of your instruments’ contracts, get familiar with the features and tools of the platform, find the right leverage ratio for you, improve trading skills, and backtest different trading strategies.

Paper trading in the UK is a very popular method to practice trading for beginners that want to enter the markets, however, experienced traders and investors often use this type of trading account to backtest a certain trading strategy before they apply it in live markets.

Features of Paper Trading in the UK

Paper trading is a great tool for both novice and professional traders. As such, below we list some of the main reasons why you should use a UK paper trading account before you start trading with real money.

No Capital Risk

Paper trading enables traders to simulate the trading activity without risking real capital. In other words, it is an account that you can use to practice your trading, regardless of your trading knowledge and experience. This can be done due to the fact that some online brokers allow you to open a demo account without making a first deposit and start practicing your trading with virtual money.

Shortens the Learning Curve

A demo account is a popular way to start and learn trading the markets. Since trading is not an easy task and involves many trading mistakes before you become an expert, this type of account was designed to give you the chance to learn how to place orders, navigate inside the platform, learn how to analyze trading charts, and understand the dynamics of the markets. You can also make use of a demo account to learn how to utilize various trading features and tools provided by the broker.

Backtest Trading Strategy

One of the main advantages of a paper trading account for novice and experienced investors alike is the ability to backtest trading strategies. Having a trading strategy is crucial to trading success and you should test it on a demonstration account before you risk your capital. You should also keep in mind that while the majority of online brokers enable access for a limited period of time of around 30 days, other trading platforms enable unlimited access. This means you can always backtest your new trading strategy on a practice account.

Limitations of Paper Trading

Although a UK paper trading account allows traders to simulate trading strategies with live market prices and no capital risk, there are some key limitations that you must take into consideration. Those include:

  • No Emotions in Trading – When you paper trade, you will most likely not follow the trade properly as you do not risk your real money. Thus, you will not feel connected to your trade, and a demo account simply doesn’t simulate the emotions that a trader feels when trading the real live markets.
  • No Slippage – A slippage in trading is a term that refers to the difference between the expected price of a trade and the actual price at which the trade is executed. Trades made through a paper trading account will not be subject to slippage.
  • Commissions and Spreads – On a real live trading account, you may have to deal with all sorts of hidden costs and varying spreads that are not displayed on a demo account.

Nowadays, there are many options to choose from among the various online forex and CFD brokers that operate in the UK. However, there are some key factors that you must take into consideration before you choose a paper trading account:

  • Time limit – The majority of online brokers will provide you with a paper trading account, however, only a few will allow you to get unlimited time access to your demo account. Obviously, your preference is to paper trade with brokers that provide demo accounts that never expire like Plus500.  
  • Tradable assets – It is advisable that you choose an online broker that gives you access to a variety of markets and products, particularly for beginner traders. This will help you find the instrument or market that suits your trading style. 
  • Fees – Paper trading accounts are often offered by brokers with good possible spreads and trading fees. These conditions may not necessarily transfer to live accounts and as such, you have to take into consideration the fees and spreads applied by the broker.
  • Trading platform – Choosing a trading platform is a crucial decision for a trader and the choice highly depends on your needs and the trading strategy you wish to pursue. For example, ZuluTrade is a popular trading platform for social trading activity, while Plus500 is popular for those who are looking for a cost-effective platform. Platforms like FXCM and AvaTrade are more suited for experienced traders.
  • Educational tools – The goal of a paper trading account is to learn more about the process of trading, understand the markets, and how to use a trading software. Many online CFD brokers offer educational resources and research trading tools. These include news articles, technical analysis notifications, guides, economic calendar, trading signals price alerts service, and calculation tools. 
  • Size of Paper Trading Account – Each demo account has a starting balance of virtual money. While some brokers offer around £5,000-£20,000 as an initial balance, others allow you to trade with generous amounts of virtual money. Regardless of the amount you have as a starting balance, it’s advisable that you make sure you maintain realistic paper trading and adapt the right size of positions to your expected amount of investment. More importantly, you’ll have to learn the size of lots on a platform and how to calculate pips. 
  • Customer service – As a beginner trader you will most likely encounter many technical problems. For that reason, you’ll have to make sure that your chosen broker supports multiple communication channels that provide an engaging trading experience.

Paper Trading Accounts 2022

In order to start paper-trading in the UK, you will first need to find a regulated brokerage firm that allows you to open a demonstration account. While there’s a wide range of brokers to choose from, we have selected the five most trusted brokers in the UK that offer paper trading accounts.

Plus500

Another brokerage firm in the UK that offers a completely risk-free paper trading account is Plus500. The broker was founded in 2008 and is considered one of the safest brokers in the world with its wide regulatory framework. On this platform, you can practice trading shares, commodities, indices, FX currencies, ETFs, and options.

Plus500 enables users to easily switch between the two accounts and to have unlimited access to the demo account. The Plus500’s user-friendly trading platform gained mainstream popularity among investors due to its simplicity, ease of use, and the low-cost pricing structure. One of the popular things about Plus500 is that the platform offers built-in risk management tools such as guaranteed stop loss and trailing stop-loss orders as well as price alerts service.

Plus500 also offers a quick sign up process to its own proprietary trading platform that’s highly intuitive and is available on any web browser or on a mobile phone. The available leverage for Forex trading on the Plus500 platform is 30:1, while the leverage for share CFDs is 5:1. Plus500 offers two types of accounts consisting of a demo account, which has no time limit, and a live account that requires a minimum deposit of £100.

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AvaTrade

If you’re a beginner or an experienced trader looking for an options paper trading account, AvaTrade is the ideal trading platform for you. This online broker was founded in 2006 and offers a wide range of markets and products including FX options.

AvaTrade provides its own highly advanced platform called AvaOptions, which is available on mobile devices as well as desktops. The AvaOptions is a unique and innovative platform, with high-end functionality that was specifically designed for options trading. Investors at AvaTrade will get access to more than 40 currency pairs and any combination of vanilla options in one single account.

On top of that, AvaTrade offers a paper trading account on other financial assets such as shares, commodities, indices, cryptocurrencies, bonds, and ETFs. You will be able to start paper trading with a sum of $100,000 of virtual money. In terms of the range of trading platforms, AvaTrade allows you to trade on the AvaOptions, or the popular MetaTrader4, the MetaTrader5, and another proprietary trading platform called the AvaTradeGo.

The downside to the AvaTrade paper trading account is that it is limited to a duration of 21 days though you can contact the support team and extend your demo account beyond this period of time.

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FXCM

FXCM is a UK-based broker that specializes in offering forex and CFD trading services for retail and institutional clients. The broker was founded in 1999 and has a long history in the markets. As such, it is considered safe as it is regulated by financial authorities such as the FCA in the United Kingdom and ASIC in Australia.

FXCM is most suited for active forex traders thanks to the wide range of FX currency pairs and the competitive spreads it offers. It is also one of the trading platforms in the markets for those who want to use automated trading strategies. On top of FX currency pairs, the platform also covers shares, indices, cryptocurrencies, commodities, and trading baskets. This trading platform is particularly popular among day traders because of its competitive pricing structure and the selection of professional trading platforms. These include the Trading Station, the MetaTrader4, ZuluTrade, and Trading View. This means you can open a paper trading account on various trading platforms.

Their live forex, indices and commodities demo account offers £20,000 of virtual money. The other option is to open a Forex Trading MT4 Demo account that allows you to practice trading with £50,000 of virtual money

Our Rating

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Paper Trading Broker Paper Trading Account Size Time Limit 
Plus500 £200,000 No limit
AvaTrade $100,000 21 days
FXCM £50,000 No limit

How to Start Paper Trading

If you want to start paper-trading in the UK, in this section we’ll show you how to get started using a popular trading platform.

Step 1: Open a Paper Trading Account

The first thing you need to do is to visit the platform’s homepage and sign up for a risk-free paper trading account by clicking on the ‘Try Free Demo’ button. Then you will be asked to enter your email address and password for your account creation or you can sign up with your Google, Facebook, or Apple account.

Step 2: Get Familiar with the Platform

You will now be transferred to the trading platform where you can start practicing your trading with $100,000 virtual funds. But before you start trading, it’s important that you get familiar with the platform. For those who have experience with other platforms, it’s just a matter of seconds or minutes to get familiar with trading platform. For beginners, it’s important to take it slowly and learn every tool the platform has to offer.

Step 3: Place an Order

Next, you’ll need to learn how to place an order. In our example, we want to trade the British pound versus the US dollar, so we enter this FX currency pair into the search box at the top of the platform.

Then, an order box will pop up. Once you click on Buy or Sell, you will be able to modify the amount of the trade and insert a take profit and stop-loss orders. Finally, click on the Buy button to confirm your market order.

Step 4: Start Live Trading

Once you are truly confident trading on a demo account, you should consider moving to the next step of trading the live markets. The process is very simple and you can simply switch to your real-money account from your paper trading account. To get started with a live account, you will be required to meet a minimum deposit of £100.

Conclusion

If you are making your first steps in the trading world, it’s very likely that you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. In fact, even experienced traders make technical mistakes when placing orders and making trading decisions. Though paper trading is crucial for anyone who wants to enter the trading world, it’s also important to understand the limitations that come with a demo account. Ultimately, paper money is not real, and as such, you won’t have the same emotions when trading with actual money.

Nevertheless, paper trading in the UK is the most efficient way to get trading experience without putting your money at risk. A demo trading account gives new investors and traders a general idea of how the market works and how the broker’s platform functions. It is important that you choose a demo account that meets your needs, try to learn as much as possible, and be realistic with your paper trading account.

FAQs

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Tom Chen

Tom Chen

Tom is an experienced financial analyst and a former derivatives day trader specialising in futures, commodities, forex and cryptocurrency. He has a B.A. in Economics and Management and his work has been published on a range of publications, including Yahoo Finance, FXEmpire and NASDAQ.com.

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