Free Demo Simulators
Since the early 2000s, pretty much on a par with the availability of trading to the retail market, the first demo accounts made their appearance. You may find that some brokers call them simulations or practice accounts, but they are all the same thing: a version of a trading platform, pre-loaded with virtual funds that you can use to practice day trading under realistic conditions without risking your own money.
As we enter the 2020s this type of account is offered by almost every retail broker you can find. The demo account is used to provide an introduction to the platform, the assets, features and everything else. It may seem odd that a business will provide this benefit to you without taking any payment, but brokers would rather take on long-term, loyal clients than those who swap and change to the next best one.
We are sure that you will see it is not a quick and easy task to find the right broker, let alone to select one that is offering a great demo account as well. We fully understand that the search can be a long and tedious one for you, but there is another way. If you check out our extensive broker reviews, you will see that we have done a lot of the hard work for you already by only recommending the best brokers and making your choice a much simpler one.
In this article, you will learn:
- How to find the right demo account for you
- A few pitfalls to avoid when using demos
- Tips to make the most of a trading simulator
The Right Demo Simulator
There are several factors you need to consider when you are looking for a way to access a trading platform and explore it at your leisure without any financial risk. Here are a few of the questions you need to answer to make the right choice.
How Easy is it to Use
Mastering the ins and outs of day trading is a steep enough learning curve on its own, but the complexities of using a sophisticated piece of software add a whole new dimension to the process. While we cannot say that trading platforms are easy to use, some are more intuitive than others. The most popular trading platform is the MT4 and a lot of brokers offer this as a good all-round option for their demo accounts.
Is it Time-Limited
An increasing number of brokers no longer put time constraints on the use of a demo account. However, there are some exceptions to that, where the demo is only available for a fixed time or might expire when the pre-loaded funds have all been ‘traded’. Certain brokers go above and beyond, allowing you to continue to run a demo account alongside a live trading account. We feel that is the best-case scenario for almost any day trader because there is always room to learn or hone a skill.
The features provided for a demo simulator will vary from broker to broker. Some brokers give you a choice of different platforms or will allow you more than one demo account to run different the different platforms alongside each other and compare them. The majority provide a good selection of assets and derivatives you can try out, but a word of caution, sometimes the spreads are not the same as those offered for live trading accounts.
What Are The Costs
The majority of brokers offer some form of free demo account or simulation experience. Although it is not always the case, there is often only one basic platform on offer with few extras. Not a problem if you are a beginner, but if you already have some trading experience, then it is unlikely to fulfil your needs. Another alternative is to find a broker that offers a membership scheme where you can customise your platform and add software to try out. This type of option usually carries a monthly or discounted annual fee and costs vary according to your selection.
Why Use a Demo Account?
The opportunity to use a demo account is undoubtedly one of the best things about online trading. No matter whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned day trader they have a benefit for you. Students studying Economics at colleges and universities around the world are required as a part of their course to select and operate a demo account, which goes to show what a valuable tool they are.
The benefits speak for themselves if you are new to day trading. You get ‘hands-on’ experience of a modern trading platform and the opportunity to observe how the markets for different assets behave. You can also learn how to use different types of trade, how using leverage affects trading decisions and the results when you make a wrong decision, all without risking any of your own money.
If you are more experienced, a demo account still has major benefits for you, giving you an ideal opportunity to explore unfamiliar assets or try out new strategies, all at your leisure and without risk. Another benefit of simulations is that they will give you a ‘feel’ for the broker itself and how it operates. This is a point easily overlooked, but you do need to feel comfortable with a business that after all will be entrusted with your money.
Simulation Account Tips
We have already talked about a few of the benefits of using a simulation account in general terms, but have not covered any specific topics that will enable you to make the best use of it. There may even be a few things to test which you have not thought of or tried previously:
Even if you have always used a particular trading platform, there is certainly no harm in trying others and you might even get a pleasant surprise. If you feel confident enough, there is also nothing stopping you from having several on the go at once, except this will often mean using different brokers. Also, always make a point of trying out at least one broker with a bespoke platform, you might even get to like it better than your previous favourite.
One more tip we feel is relevant is largely aimed at those of you at the start of your day trading experience. While we always advocate taking advantage of using a demo account for a time, use that resource wisely and trade your virtual funds in the same way as you would if it were your life savings being invested. Demos do not put you under any financial or emotional pressure, so you must try to replicate that part of the experience for yourself.
We have a team of experts with many years of day trading experience who go through every broker’s operation with a fine-tooth comb.
Our Recommended Shortlist
If you have read through a few of the guides on our website, you will already be aware that it is no easy task to make the right selection where brokers are concerned. There are a lot of important factors to take account of, from security, mobile availability and assets, right through to customer support. Getting it right will ensure that you have the best trading experience possible.
A part of every review we complete covers the platform(s) the broker has available for live accounts and the features the broker includes with them. We also compare these to the demo account to ensure that the same functionality and assets are available. After all, there is no point in using a practice platform if it is not going to prepare you adequately for the real thing.
If you are not too enthusiastic about sifting through a selection of potential brokers to find your ideal match, then we think our broker reviews may be a good place for you to look first. We have a team of experts with many years of day trading experience who go through every broker’s operation with a fine-tooth comb, so the ones that make it through to our recommended list are the ones you can trust.
Are demo simulation accounts free to use?
It is highly unlikely you will come across a broker that charges for the use of a standard demo account, but if you do, we strongly recommend that you avoid them and look for a better one.
Do all brokers offer these account types?
Except for brokers who specialise in attracting professional day traders, almost every retail broker offers this facility to clients.
Can I use a demo account with a bonus?
Bonuses are only applied to live trading accounts, funded with real money. However, some brokers do have competitions for demo traders, where you can win a cash prize.
Are all assets available to trade in a demo?
Generally speaking, brokers offer an experience as close to real trading as possible, but the assets available will depend on the broker and the platform you are using.
Do they come with any time restrictions?
The majority of brokers offer free demo accounts without time restrictions. However, in some cases, the account will expire when the virtual funds are exhausted or after a trial period. You will need to check this with the individual broker to be sure.
Shane’s contributions to the site have proven incredibly popular, and he’s been with us since 2014. Having a background as a Money Manager for five different brokers, three of them household names, it’s clear that Shane has the substance to back up the knowledge he shares.