Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own.

Share trading vs share CFDs: What’s the difference, which is right for you?


Deciding between trading shares or CFDs? Find out all you need to know here.

Sponsored by Axi Online Trading (AFSL 318232). The edge for 60,000 traders in 100+ countries across Share CFDs, Forex, precious metals and more. Raw spreads, high liquidity, flexible leverage and ultra-competitive pricing.

Disclaimer: General information only. All forms of investments (in particular, trading CFDs, commodities & forex) carry significant risk, including the risk of losing more than the invested amounts, market volatility & liquidity risks. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Such activities are not suitable for most investors. Seek independent advice and consider the PDS and TMD on the provider's website before making any trades.

If you know a little bit about investing, you've probably come across share trading.

Through buying shares, you own a small piece of a company and can also trade with other investors.

But did you know there's another way to access the stock market?

A Contract For Difference (CFDs) differs to share trading as it enables traders to speculate on the future price of an asset without actually owning it.

While share CFDs are a higher risk, higher reward strategy usually reserved for more experienced investors - the democratisation of investing has seen a growing number of retail investors using these products.

But before getting started it is important to do your research to better understand how it all works.

To help, Finder chatted to Axi business development manager Milan Cutkovic about how CFD trading works. There are 50 share CFDs available to trade on Axi, and more coming soon.

What are the perks of CFDs?

CFDs have two major benefits over traditional assets: leverage and being able to speculate on share prices going up or down.

"Share CFDs can have a leverage of up to 5:1 [in Australia], which means that in order to buy shares worth $1,000, you would only have to put up a portion of your funds as margin – in this case $200," Cutkovic explains. "You could use the remaining funds to trade other products. It also gives you the flexibility to speculate on both rising and falling prices."

When trading using leverage, investors are taking a position on whether or not they think a share will increase or decrease over a set period of time. Traders make profits or losses depending on the extent to which the forecast is correct.

Okay, but what are the disadvantages?

One major advantage of share CFDs can also be its biggest downfall.

"Leverage is a double-edged sword and can be dangerous for investors who do not understand its power," Cutkovic continues. "Leverage can amplify both profit and losses, which is why investors should make themselves familiar with leveraged products – which carry a higher level of risk to their capital – before using them."

With CFDs, investors also don't own the shares themselves which can be a good or a bad thing.

"Share CFDs do not provide any shareholder privileges, as no actual buying of the underlying securities occurs,'' Cutkovic explains.

However, in the case of some brokers, including Axi, they will adjust your position to offset changes from dividends.

Also, investors who use CFDs are likely to pay a higher tax rate.

"Depending on your country of residence, there might also be significant differences in tax liability," he said. "Furthermore, with CFD trading your losses could exceed your initial deposit, so you should always check if your broker offers a negative balance protection," he warns.

From March 2021 in Australia, revised rules from ASIC limit losses to the amount of funds sitting in a traders CFD account.

While mandatory in Australia, not all CFD brokers around the world have negative balance protection which potentially leaves investors exposed to heavier losses.

What type of investor could use share CFDs?

Given the structure of the product, short-term investors will likely favour share CFDs over traditional assets.

This is because share CFDs give them more flexibility and the ability to speculate on falling stock prices.

Using the example of a market correction, like we had recently during COVID, Cutkovic explains how investors can benefit from share CFDs.

"For example, an investor who is anticipating a temporary downturn in the stock market might not wish to reshuffle their entire portfolio and rather opt on speculating on a price decline by using share CFDs," he said.

How to get started

Investors can get started trading share CFDs in just a few short steps.

  1. Learn how share CFDs work and whether they are right for you. Axi has a free online Share CFDs trading course.
  2. Create a plan that includes how much you have to invest, potential investment opportunities and the downsides should your thesis not work out.
  3. Open a trading account with a broker, such as Axi.
  4. Add funds to your account and open your first position.
  5. Monitor and close position.
Axi disclaimer: CFDs and Margin FX are leveraged products that carry a high level of risk to your capital. Trading is not suitable for everyone and may result in you losing your initial investment. You do not own, or have any rights to, the underlying assets.”The information is not to be construed as a recommendation; or an offer to buy or sell; or the solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security, financial product, or instrument; or to participate in any trading strategy. Readers should seek their own advice. Reproduction or redistribution of this information is not permitted.

Trade CFDs with Axi

Sponsored by Axi Online Trading (AFSL 318232). The edge for 60,000 traders in 100+ countries across Share CFDs, Forex, precious metals and more. Raw spreads, high liquidity, flexible leverage and ultra-competitive pricing.

CFDs and forex are risky investment products and most clients lose money trading. Consider whether this is right for you before making a decision.
Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) for the product on the provider's website.

Compare other CFD trading platforms here

Go to site