Best Options Trading Platforms

Top option trading platforms that you can use in Britain 🇬🇧

Updated: May 28, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rachel Wait

Edited By

Rachel Wait

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When a book becomes a bestseller, the author may get their novel “optioned” as a movie script by a production house. The studio has a certain amount of time to purchase full rights – until then, the studio has “first dibs” because it paid for the option.

Roughly speaking, this is the same way that options work in financial trading… Options trading generally means buying and selling contracts that give you the option to buy something else (for instance, stocks). However, you aren’t obligated to.

With each contract, you’ve agreed in advance on what price that asset will be sold or bought at. And contracts expire after a given window of time.

This should give you a good (highly simplified) framework of how options work. Without further ado, let’s explore top options trading platforms on the UK market.

*Plus500 Disclaimer: 80% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

**IG Disclaimer: Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

ProviderScoreDetails
*1. Plus500★★★★★Learn more
**2. IG★★★★★Learn more
3. AvaTrade★★★★★Learn more
4. CMC Markets★★★★★Learn more
5. Interactive Brokers★★★★★Learn more
6. Saxo★★★★Learn more
7. City Index★★★★Learn more
8. Spreadex★★★★Learn more
9. Tastytrade★★★★★Learn more
10. Freedom24★★★★★Learn more

At a Glance, pros and cons of options trading

There are many reasons why options contracts may seem appealing. But is it the right choice for you?

If you want a succinct overview of the advantages and disadvantages of options trading, this is the right section for you.

Pros

Limited loss potential. Losses are limited only to the option's premium.

Possible leverage. When you buy an option rather than the actual underlying stock that the options contract is tracking, you can theoretically gain the same ROI as buying a full stock but put up a much smaller initial investment.

Used by sophisticated traders. Options work by creating time-sensitive trades. This can be used to play around with volatility. When you directly trade underlying stocks, you are limited to either buying or selling. On the other hand, options can be more sophisticated, if you know what you are doing.

Cons

Time. This is probably the biggest drawback to options trading. If you purchase the stock outright, you theoretically have an unlimited amount of time for your bid to be proven savvy. On the other hand, a stock option must be proven right by the specific expiration date.

Leverage is double-edged. Sure, you are investing less upfront in order to make a potentially much larger ROI. But if your bid is wrong, you could easily see a much bigger loss than you initially invested.

Can attract high fees. Depending on the circumstances, your options trade may accumulate high fees. For instance, in some rare cases, profits get taxed at the high-end short-term gains rate. Additionally, commissions for weekly options tend to be much greater for options compared to stocks.

Best options brokers – British reviews

Below is a list of the top options brokers. Each is accessible in the UK and meets requirements set by UK financial regulators like the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and FSCS.

PlatformMin DepositWithdrawal FeeOptions Available
1. Plus500£100FreeCFDs
2. IGNo minimumFreeSpread Betting, CFDs
3. AvaTrade£100FreeForex, CFDs
4. CMC MarketsNo minimumFreeForex, CFDs
5. Interactive BrokersNo minimumFreeForex, Bitcoin
6. SaxoNo minimumFreeStocks, Indices, Futures, Commodities
7. City Index£100FreeSpread Betting, CFDs
8. SpreadexNo minimumFreeIndex Options, Commodity Options, Stock Options
9. TastytradeNo minimumFree, except wire transfersStock Options, ETF Options, Index Options
10. Freedom24No minimum£7 per withdrawalStock Options

1. Plus500 – CFD trading platform for experts

We’ve written before about day trading. This particular type of trading involves high adrenaline and an aggressive outlook.

Day trading is similar to the reality of handling contracts for differences-based options. And the top traders usually succeed by being more disciplined than the competition.

So if you don’t have a well-tested trading strategy, you can lose your entire capital.

Plus500 logo

CFDs are a leveraged product and can result in the loss of your entire balance. Trading CFDs may not be suitable for you. Please consider whether you fall within Plus500’s Target Market Determination available in their Terms and Agreements. Please ensure you fully understand the risks involved.

80% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

If you, however, have a clear idea of what you’re doing, then this platform potentially gives you access to interesting markets that include the following:

  • Ways to trade on commodities like oil and precious metals 
  • Ways to trade on stocks for media companies like Amazon 
  • Exposure to British and global marketplaces 

This is not a dedicated platform for options trading or for binary options. What you get is a clean-cut layout showing you charts and preconfigured technical indicators with drawing tools. There are also trade alerts, an economic calendar, guides and risk management for accounts. This management includes things like guaranteed stops, trailing stops and closing at profit or loss.

Your screen shows you the live prices of instruments in the various markets. You can also execute orders from your window. On the web browser, you’ll be using what is known as Web Trader. For Mobile, Plus500 is compatible with both Apple and Windows users. 

Verdict? Certainly, this is best for very experienced traders who know how to use it in a disciplined way. Features charts, reporting and the ability to add or withdraw funds from your account.

Pros

✔️ Well-known platform

✔️ Magnify your positions

✔️ Regulated in Britain (Plus500UK Ltd is authorized & regulated by the FCA (#509909))

Cons

❌ CFDs are risky

❌ Requires intense self-discipline

2. IG – Top options trading platform, well reviewed

You can either purchase options contracts outright or indirectly bid on them through CFDs and/or spread betting.

Once again, because of the complexities of options trading and the explosive power of spread betting and CFDs, this may be a platform that is best for traders with experience under their belts.

Once you take out an options contract, you are able to buy or sell (depending on the option that you bought) before or after that share reaches the strike point that you agreed on.

The limitation, of course, is that you can only take this action before or on the actual expiry date of the option.

The central advantage to options trading lies in your being able to take market positions regardless of whether it’s stagnating, dropping or rising. It’s not only stocks that you can take out options on. IG also lets you trade options contracts on a day, week, month, or quarter-long basis for: 

  • Stock options
  • FX options 
  • Index options
IG logo

Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Verdict? There are many similarities between this platform and our number one selection. Get a good window for hours of trading. And play with leverage if you know what you are doing. 

Pros

✔️ Well-known

✔️ Amplify your trades via CFDs and spread bets

✔️ Well-regulated 

✔️ Open trading hours

Cons

❌ Better suited for experienced traders

❌ Indirect ownership of stocks

3. AvaTrade – Leading options trading platform for forex options

AvaFX became available to the market in 2013 and offers dedicated options trading.

You’ll find a wide selection of instruments there are tradable through options contracts. This makes AvaTrade one of the UK’s leading options trading platforms, particularly for currency pairs. Find options contracts for 40+ currency pairs.

Users have the option – no pun intended – to purchase options directly or through contracts for differences (CFDs). The latter option is available for the majority of instruments.

Remember, CFDs are a double-edged sword, perhaps in an even more extreme way than options contracts. We highly recommend that you activate the ‘negative balance protection’ feature.

This feature, imposed by changes to the financial regulation services, puts a rugged limitation on how much money a user account can lose when trading via the CFD vehicle.

All in all, it is a more secure version of a guaranteed stop loss – so that accounts do not go into the red with your hard-earned cash. But it does still mean that you can lose your account funds very quickly if things go wrong.

But a central reason that we’ve put AvaTrader as our number 1 entry is that it has a specialised options platform, called AvaOptions.

AvaOptions

AvaOptions is an additional offering to the main AvaTrade platform. It’s compatible with both iOS and Windows.

AvaOptions offers a variety of advanced technical and fundamental indicators. These include reports, analytics, educational resources and account management.

Note that AvaTrade does offer some social and passive options trading. This can be done through automation technologies offered by integrations with mirror systems, ZuluTrade and DupliTrade. However, it isn’t quite as user-friendly as the top copy trading platform, eToro. But particularly for more seasoned traders, it’s a useful addition. 

Verdict? Options trading is a rather subtle and potentially complicated form of trading. AvaTrade and AvaOptions suit seasoned traders who are looking to add more sophistication and variety to their arsenal.  

Pros

✔️ Dedicated options trading

✔️ Amplify your trades via CFDs and spread bets

✔️ Well-regulated 

✔️ Social trading elements

Cons

❌ Better suited for experienced traders

❌ Indirect ownership of stocks

4. CMC Markets – Popular options trading platform, good reviews

CMC Markets has been in the trading game since 1989 and seems to have a good number of positive user reviews. 

As with AvaTrade, this platform offers forex options. It is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Overall the company has a good track record for compliance in the trading industry and is used internationally – not just on the British market.

It stands out for having a competitive fee structure, so you should find some of the most reasonable prices on the market. And the platform offers commission-free trades.

As for the interface, it's fairy straightforward. Find advanced settings inside a friendly UI. At the top of the app is a search bar that filters through the key features CMC Markets offers.

Find items like research, analysis, instruments and other trading tools. In addition, you can integrate CMC Markets with M T4. Alternatively, use the CMC Markets proprietary platform. Whichever you use, you’re able to make trades through to vehicles: contracts for differences and forex options.

Verdict? Surprisingly, CMC Markets reportedly does not have two-factor authentication. So this is one weakness to keep in mind. Otherwise, it’s quite similar to the first entry in this guide. The platform seems to have a good number of positive user reviews. And there is a good range of support across live chat, phone and email.

Pros

✔️ FX options

✔️ Support across live chat, phone and email.

✔️ Commission-free and regulated 

✔️ Good user reviews

Cons

❌ No two-factor authentication

❌ Options seem limited to forex

5. Interactive Brokers – Popular options trading broker

This is another platform that doesn’t require a minimum deposit to get started. Interactive Brokers has a strong catalogue of tier one licences under its belt that includes ASIC in Australia, the FCA for Britain and SFC for options trading in China.

It offers a customised proprietary interface for its users. Alternatively, if you are an experienced trader who is more familiar with M T4/MC five, you can also integrate these instead.

Of course, you can expect a range of supporting indicators up to advanced such as detailed charts, notifications for price point setting, watch lists and demo trading.

You can fund your account via bank transfer. But note that there isn’t any support for cards or PayPal when we last checked.

Verdict? Reportedly, Interactive Brokers offers a large number of currency pairs to bet on. This also includes bitcoin. It has a mobile-first approach. And there’s a good selection of additional tools for evaluating the market.

Pros

✔️ Good user reviews

✔️ Magnify your positions 

✔️ Commission-free and regulated

Cons

❌ Limited options for funding

❌ May be reliant on CFDs

6. Saxo – Well-known options trading platform UK

Saxo is a popular name in the options trading market for the UK. There aren’t a lot of high-profile companies offering this vehicle in Britain as it’s more of an American approach.

Trading can be a challenging activity. Even the most seasoned investors get nervous when they see their account balance drop dramatically. If you’re going to trade, then you need to do it with an effective trading platform that offers you everything you need to succeed.

Saxo is an options trading company that offers options from 20 exchanges worldwide as a flexible alternative to trading the underlying securities, while providing a higher potential return at a fixed risk. You can access them all from one place, which is what makes Saxo a useful platform for time-efficient traders.

Find the tools you need to execute a full trade, including charting and analysis tools and order management tools. You can access all of the trading tools you need from a single trading platform, so you don’t have to switch between multiple screens or programs. 

This makes trading with Saxo much easier and more efficient than a less streamlined platform.

What’s possible?

Investors can access a number of different trading instruments to carry out options trades or other types of trade: 

  • Futures – This is a form of asset trading that involves the purchase of a fixed amount of an asset at a predetermined date and price. It’s similar to options trading. 
  • CFDS – This stands for “contract for difference”. This is a type of options trading that allows you to profit from a change in the price of an underlying asset. You’re bidding on options indirectly. 
  • Stock Indices – These are indices that track the performance of a number of stocks. They can be used to replicate the performance of a portfolio of stocks.

Final Word: Saxo is one of the most trusted and reliable options trading companies available. It offers a range of options trading products and features, including a trading platform that is easy to use and provides all the tools traders need to succeed. 

Pros

✔️ Offers direct market access to options

✔️ Access to options from 20 exchanges worldwide

✔️ Industry-grade platform and reputable 

Cons

❌ No spread-betting

7. City Index – Well-known options platform

City Index is a European-based broker that provides traders with access to a variety of options trading instruments like weekly, monthly, quarterly, and even daily options.

The site features a variety of trading instruments that cover a wide range of asset classes like stocks, indices, commodities, and more. 

It also allows traders to create their own trading strategies. The site’s dashboard features a variety of options trading tools like order routers, charting, and order management. Traders can access their accounts through a series of digital interfaces, including desktop, mobile, and web applications.

You’ll need to be prepared to fund your account with at least £100. This opens you up to around 40 options markets. Because there’s no DMA, you’re betting indirectly on options, most likely at a lower level of liquidity than the actual markets.

Pros

✔️ Indirect access to 40 option markets

✔️ Clever trading signals 

✔️ Magnify trades

✔️ Regulated

Cons

❌ No DMA 

❌ Minimum deposit of £100

8. Spreadex – Non-professional options trading tool 

This is a gambling app that can be technically be used for options trading.

Spreadex isn’t a DMA options platform, it’s a general investment platform that allows you to invest in stocks and other securities through either CFDs or spread betting. As we’ve said earlier, this will have liquidity implications.

The CFD trading route lets you trade virtual contracts such as stocks, bonds and commodities; and of course, options. There are many CFD trading platforms available, but they all function the same way. To trade with Spreadex, you must first become registered. Then you will be able to trade with them like any other broker or exchange. 

Quick Look at Spreadex

Formed in 1999, and British-based, Spreadex isn’t a professional brokerage, but rather a gambling platform. But it allows you to invest in stocks, commodities and other financial assets like options. The platform offers a CFD trading service that is popular with some users. 

It also offers spread betting, which everyone from football to horse-racing bookies use. A few key terms to know:

  • CFDs – Invest in stocks, indices and commodities through CFDs.
  • Leverage – You can increase the amount you have invested on margin. 
  • Margin – This is the amount you need to “borrow” from your account to place trades. With margin trading, you can increase your investment and open trades that are much larger than your own funds. 
  • Account Types – There are two types of accounts: a standard account for less experienced traders and a Pro account for more experienced traders. 
  • Live Trading – You can access a range of tools to help you trade. 
  • Markets – You can trade a range of markets, including stocks, indices, commodities and Forex. If you want to trade foreign exchange, you can use the EME, USD, GBP and JPY markets. You can also access other markets. But remember, you’re not actually trading the underlying goods via the markets; you’re placing bets with the bookie itself. 
  • Market Data – Inform your positions by accessing market data. You should look into historical data, real-time data, news and financial data. As for research, many professional traders do stock research, market research and technical research.

Final Word on Spreadex

Once you’re registered and funded, you can trade with Spreadex like any other broker or exchange. You can access the platform through a web client, a mobile app or through a broker. Once you are logged into the platform, you can choose the market and asset you want to gamble on.

Pros

✔️ Indirect access to 5 option markets

✔️ Only £1 minimum 

✔️ Magnify trades

✔️ Regulated

Cons

❌ Only around 5 options markets and not necessarily a professional trading tool

❌ Absolutely no DMA, you’re making bets against a lender

❌ Liquidity will be different to actual DMA

9. Tastytrade – Plush options trading company for the experienced 

Tastytrade (previously tastyworks) is a broker committed to ETS, stocks, crypto, options and futures trading. The options fees begin at roughly £1 to start a contract and there's about a £10 limit per trade (no fee to close a position).

Rumour has it that tastytrade best fits experienced traders, particularly those who want to hone their abilities. The platform has full features necessary for an active trader, including derivative tools.

Although tastytrade will be a lot for beginners to chew on, the platform offers lots of educational resources and research for learners.

Get ☑️:

✔️ Enormous library of education and resources

✔️ Ability to customise options trading

✔️ Sophisticated and special tools for the advanced options trader

✔️ Choose from single and multi-leg options contracts

✔️ Short stocks or go long

✔️ Deal with commodities and futures, and this includes the Small Exchange

✔️ Access the following: bitcoin futures, crypto, Treasury Bills and more

Tastyworks Options

However ❎ :

❌ Features can be overwhelming, especially for beginners to options

❌ There are notable limitations in investments and amenities

❌ Research and market news could be sharper

Tastytrade offers three different trading platforms: The mobile app, web browser, and desktop. Whatever you choose, there are a lot of customisations available, such as seeing the details of positions, having a trading page summary, running watch lists, viewing volume, theta, delta and more.

The tastytrade platform features a strong emphasis on active options trading, and you will find a lot of tools required for assessing volatility and probability.

Pros

✔️ Advanced, multi-and single-leg options contracts 

✔️ Has futures options

✔️ Harness indicators for liquidity and other experienced features

Cons

❌ Can be an intense experience for starter options traders

❌ Some limitations on investments, for instance, penny stocks 

❌ Could have sharper research and market news

10. Freedom24 – Powerful options trading platform 

Our final entry provides more than just options. You can access bonds, futures and ETFs across the big European, Asian, and American exchanges, with IPO access for retail investors.

If you’re dealing with USA stocks, you’ll be charged around 50p per contract. It’s about triple this for some of the other contracts.

Freedom24 is a subsidiary of Freedom Holding Corporation. It gives you access to more than 800,000 options. Also 35,000 stocks, 500 futures, and over 140,000 bonds across 15 exchanges. The standout feature is being able to access IPOs.

In fact, Freedom24 is the only stockbroker that is based in the EU and listed on the NASDAQ.

How Freedom24 Works 

Freedom24 gives you the ability to invest in IPOs as well as options.

IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) are a unique offering as they have been notoriously elusive for retail investors to access, and have potential strong returns. This platform has garnered attention for offering this, bringing IPO markets into the retail realm and giving access to some of the smaller capitalisation stocks at the IPO price.

So it’s worth investigating. The platform gives traders a unique ability to participate in both European and US initial public offerings. Freedom24 also has a few perks in this domain such as:

  • Adjusted threshold for retailers at around £2,000
  • IPO stocks reportedly curated by analysts of Freedom Finance
  • Permission to sell shares once the lock-up period is finished
  • Permission to hedge by purchasing forwards sales contracts
  • Simplified investment process
  • Because IPOs are notoriously elusive to retail investors, historically speaking, Freedom24 allocates according to your rating as the client — it will review the liquidity of your portfolio, your activity, and your IPO involvement consistency.

IPOs give investors early access to company stocks before they become publicly available. Before stocks are publicly traded, the IPO runs. It’s an opportunity to make a profit during the lock-up period, which can lead to returns of as much as 100%. However, you can also go in the reverse direction, leading to a drop in price and poor future returns.

Freedom24

Final Word on Freedom24 

Overall, it looks like both beginner and experienced traders have a lot to explore with this platform. Of course, any financial investment should not be taken lightly and options trading gets very complicated.
Pros

✔️ Hundreds of millions of pounds in holdings 

✔️ Half a billion pounds worth of client assets being managed

✔️ Provides access to 855,000 options

Cons

❌ Available only to EU/UK residents

❌ Small number of withdrawal and deposit methods

❌ No crypto

Best options trading apps – Buying Guide

This section could be useful if you are interested in learning more about how options trading and top options trading platforms function. 

Definition and the history of options contracts

So why do we need options contracts in the first place?

Options trading has been with us in some form since perhaps the 4th century BC. One of the earliest references to options trading was documented in a piece of literature by Aristotle himself. Aristotle was a Greek philosopher in the mid-4th century BC. His book “Politics” documents how one of his peer philosophers, Thales of Miletus, made great profits during an olive harvest.

Thales was erudite in the subjects of mathematics and astronomy. He used these primarily to form the foundational principles of options contracts. The philosopher understood how to predict when olive harvests would be massive where he lived. He predicted this by reading the position of the stars in the skies. This meant he knew when the olive presses would have intense demand, and be able to profit by preparing early.

But because Thales did not have the funds to purchase olive presses himself, he instead paid money to rent olive presses to the owners in order to be able to use them at the time of harvest. The owners had a win-win. They were paid in advance. And even if Thales opted out the following year, the owners could sell the rights to a new person for use of the presses each year.

Today, options are used in the following ways (non-exhaustive list):

  • Options are a contract between two entities. One is offering the other permission to buy or sell a security (in the example above, the olive press was the security that the philosopher was securing: although he rented it). And this will occur at a future price and date which is set ahead of time.
  • Options contracts can be cost-effective. In the example above, Thales the philosopher did not have the money to purchase the presses outright. So instead, he purchased the right to rent the presses at a particular period of time – a rolling yearly contract that could be opted out of at any point. A single upfront payment was needed to secure this right.
  • Options trading can be risky, nonetheless. The greater the level of speculation, the more the risk. So, as with any form of trading, parties need to know how much they are willing to lose in the worst-case scenario.
  • Today, options contracts are conservatively used by hedge fund managers. Through various complex utilisations, they mitigate risk in their portfolios stemming from volatility in their assets and the market.

Self-directed trading accounts and example

‘Self-directed accounts’ is a fancy term for a retail investment broker. Any of the names in this guide would qualify as a self-directed trading account. 

It simply means that you can register with the platform, and as long as you meet the requirements, you can begin directly interacting with the markets. (In some cases, you will be interacting indirectly with the markets, such as with contracts for differences – these tend to steer more on the side of gambling than actual investment).

If you were to go through your financial adviser or employer (eg. a pension plan), you would be herded into limited selection criteria. But these platforms tend to give you more securities to trade. For instance, you could be trading crypto, stocks and bonds, options and even futures. This comes with obvious risks because many of these derivatives are very complicated and precarious.

Example of an options trade

Let’s return to the main example we used above, featuring Aristotle’s colleague…

Thales didn’t outright purchase the presses he needed during the time of harvest. He couldn’t afford that much equipment. So instead, he purchased contracts (the right) to use those presses during the time of harvest.

He knew when a harvest was going to be extreme and so he would be able to reap significant profits from gaining early permission. However, he did not purchase the obligation to use the presses – whether he chose to or not at the time of harvest would be up to him.

Similarly, when you take out an options contract, it’s granting you the right, not the obligation, to buy or sell an instrument. But how can you use this in a basic strategy? Suppose you wanted to buy 10,000 shares of the company for a fiver per share.

Like Thales, you don’t have the upfront money secure that many shares. So instead, you buy an option contract that gives permission to purchase 10,000 shares. If the price goes up when you activate the contract, then you reap the profits (minus the cost of the options contract).

It gets a lot more tricky and confusing, so this is a very basic example. There are many different types of options contracts – many forms of making a call or a put. Each of these comes with its limitations and risks.

Best options trading platforms: The Verdict 

One way to think of options trading is that it gives you more versatility in terms of the basket of goods you can speculate on (for instance, utilise indices, foreign currencies and commodities). And while the fundamentals are not too hard to understand, the nuances of options trading get intensely complicated.

So overall, options trading is best for those with a solid experience in stock trading. Options arguably work the same way as stock trading – but they add more sophistication, more complexity and more manoeuvrability.

This capability will probably be the most attractive to traders who are making the transition from intermediate level to advanced – and who are looking for additional ways to curate their trading systems.

Related Guides:

FAQs

What are the average earnings of an options trader?

What is the difference between call holders and put holders?

What is the difference between call writers and put writers?

What is a covered call?

What is a protective put?

What are the most common options trading strategies?

Is options trading risky?

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