Spread Betting vs Share Dealing

Which is right for you? Spread betting offers leveraged short-term trading, while share dealing provides long-term ownership and dividend potential. Compare their differences, benefits, and risks to choose the best strategy that aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.


In the fast-paced world of financial markets, investors often find themselves choosing between different strategies. Among these options, the decision between spread betting vs share dealing frequently comes up. While both approaches offer opportunities to profit from market movements, they cater to different types of traders with varying risk appetites and investment goals. Understanding the distinctions between spread betting and share dealing is crucial for anyone aiming to align their strategy with their financial goals and risk tolerance. This article aims to clarify the key differences between these two approaches while providing insights into their respective benefits and risks.

Understanding Spread Betting

Definition and Concept of Spread Betting

Spread betting is a type of speculative trading that allows investors to bet on the price movement of financial instruments without owning the underlying assets. Instead of purchasing shares directly, traders bet on whether the price will rise or fall from a specified point. The difference between the buy and sell prices is known as the spread, which represents the broker’s fee.

How Spread Betting Works (Buying/Selling)

In spread betting, traders can go long (buy) if they believe the asset’s price will increase or go short (sell) if they expect a decline. Brokers offer a spread, and profits or losses depend on the direction and size of the price movement relative to the initial bet.

Example of a Spread Bet

Suppose the current price of an asset is 1,000 points with a spread of 998-1,002. A trader betting $10 per point goes long at 1,002. If the price rises to 1,012, the trader gains $100 (10 points x $10). Conversely, if the price drops to 992, the trader loses $100.

Key Benefits and Risks


  • Leverage: Allows traders to control larger positions with a smaller initial investment.
  • Tax Efficiency: In some regions, profits from spread betting are tax-free.
  • Diverse Markets: Provides access to a wide range of markets, including stocks, indices, and commodities.


  • Leverage Risks: Amplifies both gains and losses.
  • Margin Calls: Requires additional funds if the market moves unfavorably.
  • Volatility: Market fluctuations can lead to significant losses.

Understanding Share Dealing

Definition and Concept of Share Dealing

Share dealing refers to the buying and selling of actual company shares. Investors acquire ownership of a portion of the company, and profits are made through dividends and capital appreciation.

How Share Dealing Works (Buying/Selling)

When buying shares, investors purchase a stake in the company at the market price or a set limit price. Selling shares is simply the process of disposing of the ownership stake, either for a profit or loss, depending on the market price at the time of sale.

Example of a Share Transaction

An investor buys 100 shares of a company at $50 per share. Over time, the stock’s value increases to $60, resulting in a gain of $1,000 (100 x $10). If the price drops to $40, the investor loses $1,000.

Key Benefits and Risks


  • Dividends: Shareholders may receive regular dividends.
  • Ownership: Provides partial ownership of the company.
  • Voting Rights: Some shares offer voting rights in company decisions.


  • Market Volatility: Share prices fluctuate, leading to potential losses.
  • Brokerage Fees: Buying and selling shares often incur fees.
  • Limited Leverage: Investors can only buy shares up to their available capital.
Spread Betting vs Share Dealing

Comparing Spread Betting and Share Dealing

Trading vs. Investment Mindset

Spread betting typically caters to short-term traders who aim to capitalize on market movements, while share dealing appeals to long-term investors looking to build wealth through ownership and dividends.

Leverage and Margin Differences

Leverage is a fundamental aspect of spread betting, allowing traders to magnify their positions. However, this comes with the risk of margin calls. Share dealing is generally more conservative, offering less leverage and reducing the risk of sudden liquidation.

Tax Implications

Tax treatment varies based on jurisdiction. In the UK, for instance, profits from spread betting are often tax-free, while share dealing profits can be subject to capital gains tax. Investors should consider the tax implications specific to their region.

Fees and Costs Comparison

  • Spread Betting: Brokers earn through spreads and may charge overnight financing fees.
  • Share Dealing: Investors pay brokerage fees, stamp duty (in some regions), and potential management fees for custodial services.

Accessibility and Market Hours

  • Spread Betting: Available across multiple global markets, with extended trading hours for certain instruments.
  • Share Dealing: Subject to the market hours of the specific stock exchange.

Understanding the nuances of each option is key for traders and investors to make an informed choice. Whether it’s the high-leverage opportunities of spread betting or the long-term stability of share dealing, the right strategy depends on individual goals and risk tolerance.

Pros and Cons of Each Strategy

Pros and Cons of Spread Betting

Pros of Spread Betting

  • Leverage: Enables traders to control larger positions with a small initial margin, potentially magnifying profits.
  • Tax Efficiency: In some jurisdictions, profits are exempt from capital gains tax, offering a tax advantage.
  • Market Variety: Offers exposure to diverse markets like indices, forex, and commodities.

Cons of Spread Betting

  • Risk of Losses: Leverage amplifies both gains and losses, potentially resulting in rapid losses.
  • Margin Calls: If markets move against a trader’s position, brokers may issue margin calls, requiring more funds.
  • Overnight Financing Costs: Positions held overnight incur additional fees, reducing profitability.

Pros and Cons of Share Dealing

Pros of Share Dealing

  • Ownership: Investors own a portion of the company, granting them rights such as voting.
  • Dividends: Provides regular income through dividend payments if the company is profitable.
  • Long-term Gains: Shares generally appreciate over the long term, offering substantial returns.

Cons of Share Dealing

  • Market Volatility: Share prices fluctuate, which may result in significant losses during downturns.
  • Brokerage Fees: Investors pay fees for buying and selling shares, affecting profitability.
  • Limited Leverage: Requires full payment for shares, limiting exposure compared to leveraged products.

Scenarios Where Each Strategy Is More Advantageous

Spread Betting Advantages:

  • Short-Term Trading: Ideal for traders seeking to capitalize on short-term price movements.
  • Risk Diversification: Offers a broader range of markets for diversification.
  • Tax-Free Profits: Can be advantageous where tax-free profits apply.

Share Dealing Advantages:

  • Long-Term Investing: More suitable for investors with a long-term outlook.
  • Dividend Income: Provides a steady income stream through dividends.
  • Capital Appreciation: Shares have potential for significant long-term appreciation.

Making the Right Choice: Spread Betting vs. Share Dealing

Assessing Your Risk Tolerance and Financial Goals

Consider your personal risk tolerance. If you’re comfortable with high-risk strategies that could yield substantial profits, spread betting may suit you. Conversely, if you prefer stability and long-term wealth building, share dealing could be a better fit.

Evaluating Your Investment Timeframe

Your investment timeframe is a crucial factor. Spread betting is generally more suitable for short-term strategies. However, if your goal is long-term growth and dividend income, share dealing is more advantageous.

Choosing Based on Tax Efficiency

The tax treatment of profits varies across regions. In the UK, spread betting profits are tax-free, while share dealing gains may be taxed. Evaluate your local tax regulations before choosing a strategy.

Final Considerations and Advice

Before diving into either spread betting or share dealing, research extensively and ensure your financial goals align with your chosen strategy. Consider the leverage risks of spread betting and the market volatility of shares, then opt for an approach that fits your risk profile.

Conclusion: Spread Betting vs Share Dealing

Spread betting and share dealing offer distinct approaches to trading and investing, each with unique advantages. Spread betting is ideal for traders seeking short-term gains through leverage, while share dealing appeals to those focused on long-term returns and company ownership. By carefully evaluating your goals, risk tolerance, and tax considerations, you can select the approach that best suits your financial journey. For more personalized guidance, consider joining our betting course to learn the intricacies of both strategies.


“Can you use spread betting and share dealing simultaneously?”
Yes, it’s possible to use both strategies simultaneously. This approach helps diversify risk and capitalize on different market conditions.

“What is the impact of leverage on both strategies?”
Leverage amplifies both gains and losses in spread betting, leading to greater risk. Share dealing typically involves limited or no leverage, providing stability but limiting potential profits.

“Are profits from spread betting taxed differently than those from share dealing?”
In many regions, spread betting profits are tax-free. Share dealing profits are generally subject to capital gains tax, depending on local regulations.

“What are the typical costs associated with share dealing vs. spread betting?”
Share dealing costs include brokerage fees, stamp duty (in some regions), and management fees. Spread betting costs include spreads, overnight financing fees, and margin calls.

“How can I minimize risks in both spread betting and share dealing?”
In spread betting, use stop-loss orders and limit your leverage to minimize risk. In share dealing, diversify your portfolio and hold a mix of stable and high-growth shares to reduce volatility exposure.

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