Michael Graw
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While trading can be exciting, it can also be risky. That’s especially true when you’re trying out a new trading strategy or transitioning to a new brokerage.

With paper trading, you can practice trading without risking real money. UK paper trading accounts give you access to many of the same features as live trading accounts, but without any of the pressure to perform well in the market.

In this guide, we’ll explain how paper trading works in the UK and why it’s worthwhile for many traders. We’ll also cover how to choose a UK paper trading account and highlight some of the most popular trading platforms you can try today.

What is Paper Trading?

Paper trading is simply simulated trading. The term ‘paper trading’ is a holdover from the days when practice trading was done with a pencil and paper – traders would simply record positions they would take if they were trading, and then add up the results of their imagined trades.

With paper trading, you’re still trading with real market data. The only thing that’s simulated is the money. Instead of committing your own, real money to paper trades, you’re given digital money that isn’t worth anything.Paper Trading UK

Paper trading is a great way to try out a new trading strategy or simply practice trading without the risk of losing real money. If you do lose simulated money while paper trading, it’s not a big deal. You can reset your account balance at any time and start from scratch.

Of course, the catch to UK paper trading is that you can’t make real money, either. Any profits you earn in a paper trading account exist only inside the market simulation, not in your real trading account.

Features of Paper Trading UK

Paper trading in the UK plays an important role in helping traders succeed. By using a trade simulator with real market data, you can test out new trading strategies or practice executing a strategy that needs improvement.

This allows you to see whether a strategy has merit – that is, whether it can deliver consistent profits – before you risk real money on it. If a trading strategy isn’t very good, you can save yourself some potentially significant losses by finding that out inside a UK paper trading account rather than inside your live trading account.

The same is true for trading a new asset class. If you’ve always traded stocks, for example, there can be a steep learning curve to switch to options trading or commodity trading. With a paper trading account, you can get a handle on how the prices of these assets move and how you can trade them profitably.

Another good use of paper trading in the UK is to test out new trading tools. For example, if you want to incorporate a news feed or automated technical analysis tool into your stock trading, you can see whether those tools are helping or hurting you inside a paper trading account. The same goes for testing out forex signals or forex robots before deploying them for live forex trading.

UK paper trading is also a good way to test out a new stock broker or forex broker. Most brokers’ paper trading platforms give you access to the same charting tools and order entry system as their live trading platforms. So, you can familiarize yourself with the trading platform and fully understand the order execution process before putting money on the line.

Paper Trading Limitations

The main limit to paper trading is psychological. When paper trading in the UK, it’s possible to change your approach to trading without realizing it. For example, you might be willing to make much riskier trades with an inside paper trading account than you would be when trading real money, simply because you know that any losses you incur are simulated.

For paper trading to be valuable, you should approach it in the same way you approach live trading to the greatest extent possible. If you normally set stop losses and take profit levels with every live trade, make sure to set them with every simulated trade, too. Along the same lines, if you typically wouldn’t use leverage for your live trades, don’t add leverage to your paper trades.

One way to develop good habits around paper trading is to start out trading as you would in a live session, using a strategy you already know. Once you’ve gotten into a groove, then try switching to a new strategy or incorporating a new trading tool. You’ll be much more likely to approach the strategy or tool you want to evaluate with a risk tolerance that reflects how you normally trade.

Paper Trading Strategies

Interested in using paper trading to try out new strategies? Here are three strategies that you can practice in a UK paper trading account:


Scalping trading is a popular day trading strategy that involves placing many short-term trades. The idea behind scalping trading is to trade at the start of a price movement when it’s most likely to be strong and directional. Scalping traders don’t wait around for the price movement to complete, though – the idea is to exit your trade quickly before the price move can collapse or reverse.

The return from any single scalping trade is typically very small. Scalping traders place dozens of trades per day to compound their earnings.

Swing Trading

Swing trading is a multi-day trading strategy. With swing trading, the goal is to profit off of shifts in momentum. You can enter a position at the beginning of a strong price movement, like a breakout or a reversal, and then hold your position as the movement develops.

Price Action Trading

Price action trading is a trading strategy that relies on price data rather than on technical indicators. The magnitude and speed of price changes offers information about where the price is headed next, while technical indicators typically lag the market by several time intervals.

This style of trading can be subjective, in that two traders can look at the same setup and come to different conclusions about what the price will do next.

How to Choose a Paper Trading Platform

While all paper trading platforms give you access to a simulator, not all platforms are made equally. Choosing a suitable paper trading platform is important to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your trading practice. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the factors you should consider when choosing a platform for UK paper trading:

Account Size

A good place to start when choosing a paper trading platform is to look at the size of your simulated trading account. Some platforms let you choose the size of your account, while others assign you a starting balance. That starting balance could range anywhere from £1,000 to £100,000.

The size of your account should ideally be in line with the size of your live trading account. That way, you’ll be placing trades of roughly the same magnitude and you’ll have the same margin balance for placing leveraged trades. Trading with a massive paper trading account can give you a false sense of your potential returns.

Time Limit

Most high-quality paper trading platforms don’t put any limits on how long you can use your demo account. However, make sure to check whether you can reset your account at any time. Some paper trading platforms require you to reach a £0 balance or to contact customer support to clear your simulated trading history and start over.

Tradable Assets

Popular paper trading accounts will have not just a wide variety of assets to trade, but specifically the assets that you’re interested in trading. If you plan on trading, say, Tesco shares, then your paper trading account should offer simulated trading for this stock. Most UK brokers offer the same assets in their paper trading platforms as they do in their live trading platforms.


Ideally, paper trading in the UK should be free. At many brokers, it is. There are no commissions or spreads since you’re not placing real trades, and many of the most popular paper trading platforms don’t charge account fees.

However, watch out for brokers that charge inactivity fees or other account fees. If you’re only paper trading and not placing live trades for a period of several months, you could incur an inactivity fee.

Trading Platform and Tools

The trading software that you get access to varies widely between paper trading platforms. Some platforms use proprietary software that has been developed by a broker. This is great if you want to explore a new broker since you get access to all the charting and order entry tools. That said, proprietary paper trading platforms are unique to a single broker – so you’ll have to learn a whole new software interface if you switch platforms in the future.

Other brokers offer UK paper trading using popular – and common – software like MetaTrader 4 or 5. Since this software is used by multiple brokers, strategies, techniques, and custom indicators transfer well across platforms.

Another thing to consider is whether your paper trading account is available on mobile devices. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many trading platforms that have mobile trading apps. You may be able to place live trades across devices, but you’re limited to paper trading on your computer.

Educational Tools

Some of the most popular paper trading platforms offer educational tools along with trading tools. These tools can help you get the most out of paper trading by offering tips and insight as you trade. For example, some demo accounts can point out common trading setups or candlestick patterns to help you recognize them in real-time. While more experienced traders might not need these educational add-ons, they can be extremely useful for beginners.

Customer Service

Most traders will never need help with their paper trading accounts. But if something does go wrong, it’s helpful to have someone to talk to. Check whether your trading platform offers customer support and whether it’s available 24/7. It’s also worth ensuring that support is available for paper trading accounts, not just live trading accounts.

With those criteria for what makes a good paper trading account in mind, how do you find the one that suits you? There are dozens of paper trading accounts available in the UK. To help you choose, let’s take a look at five of the most popular paper trading platforms you can get started with.

1. IG

IG logoIf you want to practice trading a wide range of assets, it’s worth exploring what IG has to offer. This well-established UK broker offers trading on thousands of shares and ETFs from exchanges around the world. Plus, you can trade CFDs or place spread bets on forex, commodities, and cryptocurrencies. IG even supports options trading and futures trading, although only through CFDs and spread betting.

IG also offers two of the most popular charting packages on the market today: MetaTrader 4 and ProRealTime. MetaTrader 4 allows you to practice using forex signals and forex robots, as well as to design your own custom indicators. ProRealTime supports any type of asset and similarly allows you to create your own indicators and to backtest a new trading strategy. Both platforms have steep learning curves, so paper trading with them can be very helpful.

Paper trading with IG is free and all trades with this broker are commission-free. However, IG does charge a premium for its services through CFD spreads. There is an inactivity fee, but it won’t take effect for two years.

Stock Trading Fees £8 per trade (£3 for active accounts)
Deposit Fees No (0.5% – 1% for credit cards)
Withdrawal Fees No (£15 for international bank transfers)
Inactivity Fees £12 per month after two years
Monthly Account Fees No

Sponsored ad. There is no guarantee you will make money when trading CFDs with this provider.

2. AvaTrade

AvaTrade LogoAvaTrade isa popular paper trading platform for practicing options trading. This broker offers a dedicated options trading platform known as AvaOptions. It’s preloaded with more than a dozen popular options strategies, and it will automatically display your potential profit and loss for any options trade. Just keep in mind that options trading is only available for forex, not for stocks.

You can trade CFDs for hundreds of stocks as well as forex, commodities, and cryptocurrencies. A paper trading account unlocks AvaTrade’s standard charting software, which comes preloaded with popular indicators, as well as MetaTrader 4. Paper trading with MetaTrader 4 is a suitable way to practice with forex signals.

All trading at AvaTrade is commission-free and there’s no cost to open a UK paper trading account. However, you’ll want to be careful to avoid the inactivity fee at this broker. It’s set at £40 per month, and it takes effect after three months without a live trade.

Stock Trading Fees 0% commission + spread
Deposit Fees No
Withdrawal Fees No
Inactivity Fees $50 (£40) per quarter after 3 months of inactivity
Monthly Account Fees No

Sponsored ad. There is no guarantee you will make money when trading CFDs with this provider.

3. Plus500

Plus500 LogoPlus500 is another popular UK CFD broker that offers free paper trading accounts. With Plus500, the switch between paper trading and live trading is seamless – all you have to do is toggle a switch within the trading platform. That makes Plus500 one of the most popular paper trading platforms for day traders who want to simulate trades in real-time throughout the day.

This broker also offers a wide range of trading at a low cost. You can use CFDs for stock trading, forex trading, commodity trading, and cryptocurrency trading. All trades are commission-free and Plus500 has some of the most competitive CFD spreads in the UK. Just watch out for the inactivity fee when paper trading, which takes effect after just three months.

Plus500’s proprietary charting software is convenient. It comes with dozens of built-in technical indicators and offers the ability to set price alerts on any asset. Plus500 has a mobile trading app that can be used for paper trading. Price alerts you set on the desktop can even be pushed to your smartphone to help you stay on top of the market.

Stock Trading Fees 0% commission + spread
Deposit Fees No
Withdrawal Fees No
Inactivity Fees $10 (£7.60) per month after three months
Monthly Account Fees No

4. IUX.com

iux.com logoIUX.com is a forex broker designed to empower traders of all experience levels. They offer a comprehensive suite of trading tools, including a wide range of instruments, flexible account types, and the industry-standard MT5 platform. This combination allows you to tailor your trading experience and pursue opportunities across the forex market.

IUX.com boasts competitive spreads, a key factor for maximizing your profit potential. They also advertise high leverage, which can amplify gains (and losses) for experienced traders comfortable with calculated risks. The MT5 platform is a user-friendly and powerful tool, providing advanced charting functionalities and a robust set of technical indicators to help you make informed trading decisions.

IUX.com understands that every trader has unique needs. That’s why they offer a variety of account types, allowing you to select the option that best suits your capital and trading style. This level of flexibility ensures you can enter the market with confidence, knowing your account is set up for your specific goals.

If you’re looking for a forex broker that prioritizes your trading experience, IUX.com is definitely worth considering. Their diverse platform, competitive offerings, and focus on trader empowerment make them a compelling choice for those seeking to navigate the forex market.

Your capital is at risk

Factors to Consider when Paper Trading UK


  • Risk-free environment for learning how to trade
  • Try out new strategies or asset classes
  • Often free or inexpensive to use
  • Familiarize yourself with a broker’s trading platform
  • Test trading tools to see how they integrate with your strategy

  • Possible to take bigger risks when trading with simulated money
  • Can incur inactivity fees at some brokers
  • May encourage taking greater risks than you would when live trading

How to Start Paper Trading

Ready to jump into paper trading in the UK? We’ll show you how to get started through the steps presented below:

Open a Trading Account

Head to the broker’s home page and click ‘Join Now.’ Then enter a new username and password for your account along with personal details like your name, email, and birthdate.

You’ll also be asked to verify your identity to comply with UK government regulations. You don’t need to do this to start paper trading, but it’s a good idea to complete this step now if you plan to move to live trading later. Simply upload a copy of your passport or driver’s license and a copy of a recent bank statement or utility bill.

Deposit Funds

You may be asked for a minimum deposit when you open a new account, even if you only plan to practice trading with a paper account. This money is not at risk when you are paper trading, and you are free to withdraw it later.

There are often several ways to pay:

  • Credit or debit card (Visa or Mastercard)
  • Neteller
  • Skrill
  • Bank transfer
  • Wire transfer

Start Paper Trading

To start paper trading, head to your dashboard and click the ‘REAL’ button in the navigation pane. In the drop-down, select ‘Virtual Portfolio’ to switch from live trading to paper trading.

You can place your first paper trade by searching for any asset in the dashboard and then clicking ‘Trade’. This will open an order form where you can enter how much virtual money you want to trade. Just as for a live trade, you can set stop loss or take profit levels and choose whether to use leverage.

When your paper trade is ready, click ‘Open Trade’ to complete your first simulated trade.


Paper trading is a relatively safe way to practice trading. You can try out new strategies or understand how a new asset class works before committing money to trading it. While UK paper trading can be a very effective tool, it’s important to approach it as if you were trading real money. Otherwise, paper trading makes it possible to shift your approach to take greater risks than you normally would.

If you wish to start paper trading today, many FCA-regulated brokers offer this feature.

Frequently Asked Questions on Paper Trading Accounts

Can I place limit and stop orders when paper trading in the UK?

Is price data presented in real-time when paper trading?

Can you apply leverage when paper trading?

Can I paper trade outside of normal market hours?

Do I need to deposit money to open a UK paper trading account?

Michael Graw

Michael Graw

Michael Graw is a freelance journalist based in Bellingham, Washington. He covers finance, trading, and technology. His work has been published on numerous high-profile websites that cover the intersection of markets, global news, and emerging tech. In addition to covering financial markets, Michael’s work focuses on science, the environment, and global change. He holds a Ph.D. in Oceanography from Oregon State University and worked with environmental non-profits across the US to bridge the gap between scientific research and coastal communities. Michael’s science journalism has been featured in high-profile online publications such as Salon and Pacific Standardas well as numerous print magazines over the course of his six-year career as a writer. He has also won accolades as a photographer and videographer for his work covering communities on both coasts of the US. Other publications Michael has written for include TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, StockApps, and LearnBonds.