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What is leverage in CFD trading?

Written by
Tamás D.
Fact checked by
Updated
Mar 2024
  • Leverage lets you do CFD trading with a smaller amount of money and increase the size of your trading position.
  • Leverage amplifies both your potential profits and losses, making it a double-edged sword, so be careful when using it.
  • If losses reach a certain level, called the margin level, you may be required to deposit more funds, or your position may be automatically closed.
  • Some CFD brokers offer investor protection and negative balance protection schemes that set maximum loss amounts.

CFD trading can be an exciting way to invest in the markets, but it's not without its risks. One of the most tempting aspects of CFD trading is the ability to use leverage, which can magnify your profits, but also multiply your losses. In this article, we'll discuss what leverage is in CFD trading, how it works, and what risks it entails. Let’s look at the key info first!

What is leverage?

Leverage is like a double-edged sword, and it's essential to understand how it works before you start trading. When you open a leveraged position, you're essentially borrowing funds from your broker to increase your trading position beyond what you could afford with your own funds. For instance, if you have $1,000 in your account and use 10:1 leverage, you can open a position worth $10,000.

It sounds pretty straightforward, but here's the catch: if the price moves against you, you could lose more than your initial investment. Imagine you're using high leverage, and the price of the asset you're trading suddenly drops, you could lose all your funds, and even more than that.

How does leverage work in CFD trading?

When you open a leveraged position, your broker will require you to deposit a percentage of the total value of the position, known as the margin. The margin requirement varies depending on the asset you're trading and the leverage you're using.

For example, if the margin requirement is 10%, you would need to deposit $1,000 to open a position worth $10,000. As the price of the asset moves, the value of your position will change. If it moves in your favor, your profit will increase, but if it moves against you, your loss will increase.

If the value of the stock moves against you and reaches a point where your losses exceed your initial margin deposit, let's say $1,100, your broker may issue a margin call. At this point, you will need to deposit an additional $100 to keep your position open. If you fail to deposit the additional funds, your position may be automatically closed by your broker.

To mitigate the risks associated with trading on margin, some CFD brokers offer investor protection programs. These programs set a maximum loss amount for each position, which can help prevent traders from losing more than they can afford. Additionally, some investor protection programs may offer negative balance protection, meaning that traders cannot lose more than their account balance.

At BrokerChooser, you can rest assured as we only feature CFD brokers that are properly regulated and reputable. To see some options, check out our latest list of the best CFD brokers.

What are the risks of using leverage in CFD trading?

Leverage is a powerful tool that can potentially increase your profits, but you must keep in mind that it also comes with significant risks. The higher the leverage you use, the greater the potential for profit and loss. Here are some of the risks of using leverage in CFD trading:

  • Amplified losses: If the price of the asset moves against you, your losses will be magnified. If you use high leverage, even a small price movement could wipe out your entire account balance.
  • Margin calls: If your losses reach the margin level, your broker may issue a margin call, which means you need to deposit more funds into your account to keep your position open. If you can't deposit more funds, your position may be automatically closed.
  • Overtrading: When using leverage, it's easy to get carried away and open too many positions. Overtrading can lead to significant losses and erode your account balance quickly.
  • Emotional trading: The potential for high profits and losses can trigger emotional responses, such as fear and greed, which can cloud your judgment and lead to poor trading decisions.

FAQ

What is the best leverage for CFD trading?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to what is the best leverage for CFD trading, as it depends on your individual risk tolerance and trading strategy. It is important to use leverage cautiously and understand the potential risks involved in trading on margin. It is generally recommended to use lower levels of leverage, such as 3:1 or 5:1, rather than the maximum leverage offered by the broker, to minimize the risk of significant losses.

Can I buy CFDs without leverage?

Certainly! While it is possible to buy a CFD without using leverage, it is not a common practice. Buying a CFD without leverage would mean using your own funds to open a position, which would limit the size of the trade to the amount of capital you have available.

Are CFDs better than investing?

It's not accurate to say that one is "better" than the other, as they serve different purposes and may be suitable for different individuals with different goals and risk tolerances. It's important to understand the risks and benefits of each approach first and then make an informed decision based on your own financial situation, risk tolerance and investment objectives.

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Tamás Deme
Author of this article
With over two decades of experience as a financial journalist, proofreader, copy editor, and editor, my mission revolves around making financial knowledge accessible to all. I firmly believe in the power of clear and straightforward writing. My past roles include contributing to Interfax news agency and covering M&A deals for EMIS DealWatch.
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