How important is brand recognition? One could argue that everyone wants to become the next “Photoshop” or “Kleenex”, to become so recognisable that you manage to cast a shadow so big over the entire industry you are just a part of. By partnering up with one of the oldest and most successful football teams in Europe - Atletico Madrid, Plus500 has managed to position itself as the dominant brokerage in the eyes of millions of potential clients.
However, brand recognition can take you only so far. It has to be noted that most of those new clients have never had any prior trading experience, so they can be forgiven for not noticing some obvious flaws. Experienced traders on the other hand, can spot those miles away. The biggest question I was facing was – were those flaws by accident or design? Plus500 is by no means a new duck in the pond. They have been around since 2008. So, in this review I will attempt to discover whether Plus500 is a scam or just too optimistic with its marketing.
Platform and Execution SCORE: 80%
From a technical perspective, Plus500 offers their clients a proprietary trading platform that is somewhat beginner friendly. It is available in several formats such as Web, Desktop, Android and iOS. However, while using it, I found out that it is not as transparent as it should be. For one, there was no escaping hidden fees, and it was very difficult to calculate the cost of trading on this platform. Not only was I charged with not being active, every time I was trying to buy and sell shares there was a considerable spread fee. The worst part is that the fee itself was an unknown until the time when you sold your shares. Once I actually grasped the mathematics, I realised that Plus500 was charging more than other brokerages. I understand that big brands earned the right to charge more, but I felt it should have been more transparent.
In some cases, I couldn’t shake the feeling the platform was intentionally slow and laggy when performing trades. I could swear that the platform would freeze so that there was no way to do adjustments in the worst possible times. The whole system seems to be manipulated in a way to extract as much money as possible before you hit the peak of frustration and give up. On other days the entire experience felt smooth and seamless. There was no way of telling when those “glitches” would occur, but in the end they were not frequent enough for me to give it all up.
Withdrawal Speed SCORE: 70%
Majority of the time, I’ve had no issues with Plus500 when it came to collecting my money. However, every once in a while I felt frustrated by the user experience. Starting to notice a trend? During one occasion I couldn’t withdraw any of my funds. Once I contacted support and informed them of the issues I was facing, my account balance started behaving erratically. At that time, it felt like Plus500 was going out of its way to make it hard for me to collect my earnings. They went as far as to lock me out of my account. Luckily, after spending what feels like half a day with their support, I was able to recover what was left of my funds. This kind of unpredictable platform behaviour was unacceptable, least of all from a company that tries to present itself as a market leader.
Support and Assistance SCORE: 45%
There is no need to beat around the bush – Plus500’s customer support is a far from perfect. Even though the company website states that they offer 24 hours online support, a lot of the times you will be stuck in limbo. Your best option is to contact them via email, but even so, good luck getting any response within the same day.
Also, you can kiss goodbye the promise of always having a broker on your side. Instead of being there at my back and call, this guy was unavailable most of the time leaving me to fend to myself. With even the more experienced of us felling frustrated by this kind of treatment, I can only imagine how lost some beginners feel like.
Education and Tools SCORE: 40%
This part of Plus500 review left me more puzzled than the others. Whereas most brokerages at least put some effort in providing their traders a decent education, Plus500 is a huge disappointment once again. Technically, there is a section called Trader’s guide, but it is laughably lacklustre as it fails to address anything but the bare-boned basics. If you are looking for anything more complex, your best bet is to look elsewhere. Competition like Stocksm has been setting the industry standards, and Plus500 falls short once again.
From my experience I can conclude that Plus500 aims to attract traders with big promises. Beginners are especially at a disadvantage due to poor education tools on offer and the absence of proper assistance. If you have been trading for a long time, and you know your way around, you won’t need to read this review to know Plus500 is a scam. Biggest drawback to look out for are those annoying glitches that will inevitably happen to you. Based on how frequent those are in your experience, your mileage with Plus500 will vary drastically.