eToro bills itself as a social trading and investment network platform.
They offer a combination of simple trading platforms, a wide range of trading options including Forex, stocks, and more, have a library of training courses, and have plenty of opportunities for interaction with other traders through messages and forums.
They currently don’t accept traders located in the United States.
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eToro has three different trading platforms. Here’s a quick overview of each.
eToro OpenBook Platform – The OpenBook platform is the main trading platform at eToro. It combines the traditional platform items including the ability to use charting software and make real time Forex trades with the social networking aspect that makes the site so interesting.
eToro Web Trader Platform – The Web Trader platform is designed more for the traditional trader who isn’t as concerned with the social networking aspect of the eToro experience. It offers a full suite of trading options and tools including live rates, charts and charting software.
Mobile Trader Platform – The app works with Android and Apple products and provides full trading options on your mobile device. You can open and close positions, place and change stops, look at charts, and connect with other traders on the platform.
The deposit options available at eToro include popular services including Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club International, Paypal, Skrill, Neteller, WebMoney and Yandex,
The following pairs are offered on the eToro system. Other trading options are included below the list of Forex pairs.
- AUD / CAD
- AUD / CHF
- AUD / JPY
- AUD / NZD
- AUD / USD
- CAD / CHF
- CAD / JPY
- CHF / JPY
- EUR / AUD
- EUR / CAD
- EUR / CHF
- EUR / GBP
- EUR / JPY
- EUR / NZD
- EUR / USD
- GBP / AUD
- GBP / CHF
- GBP / JPY
- GBP / NZD
- GBP / USD
- NZD / CAD
- NZD / CHF
- NZD / JPY
- NZD / USD
- USD / CAD
- USD / CHF
- USD / CNH
- USD / HKD
- USD / JPY
- USD / RUB
The eToro trading platform also lets you trade Bitcoin somewhat like Forex, but it isn’t paired with any other currencies. It’s listed with the Forex pairs with a buy and sell option with a spread between the two.
You can also trade commodities, indicies, stocks, and ETFs.
The spreads are competitive with most popular pairs at 3 or 4 pips. The EUR / USD is at 3 and the GBP / USD is at 4 for example.
Bonus and Promotions
Unlike many Forex brokers, eToro doesn’t currently advertise a particular sign up bonus.
They do run monthly promotions that sometimes include deposit bonuses, but their normal promotions are centered on paying customers for referring other customers and rewarding you when you get other traders to copy your trades.
Notice that in order to become a trader who gets copied you probably need to make frequent trades, which locks in more profit for the broker. In order to build a list of other people who copy your trades you need to be a relatively good trader to produce consistent results.
You also don’t get credit for getting other people to sign up until they deposit at least $500.
While all of this fits nicely into the social networking aspect that eToro advertises, it doesn’t offer anywhere near the bonuses you can find at most Forex brokers.
Their invite a friend offer gives you a $100 bonus for every person you refer who makes a minimum deposit of $500, up to 10 people. The person you refer gets a $200 bonus.
If you sign up for the popular investor program, officially named Popular Investors, you become eligible for a deposit bonus after you get your 5th person who copies our trades. But even when you get five copiers you have to contact eToro to receive your special bonus offer.
This sign up bonus isn’t listed on the web site or on the page describing the popular investor program, so I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone or if it varies based on some unknown criteria. They also don’t list the clearing requirements for the bonus. This lack of transparency doesn’t help the overall rating for eToro.
If you do trade on eToro and start picking up followers and copiers you need to sign up for the program. As you gain more followers you can earn a cut of the fees they generate. This starts at 25% and you can earn rebates on the spreads you pay after you amass at least 50 copiers.
The Social Network Trading Problem
Social networking is fine for many things, and on a limited basis I can see why people are drawn to it in a Forex trading setting.
It can be especially helpful if you’re a new trader and use the information you get from watching other traders to improve your skills.
The problem with combining the social networking components with playing the financial markets is the possibility that the market is influenced by everything that happens and every trade or position.
If enough people start making the same trades with a significant amount of money it can create a situation that makes the trades less profitable or unprofitable all together.
I don’t believe any trader is generating enough volume on eToro at this time to create this problem, but if a trading platform based on social networking like eToro continues growing it can happen.
Basically, anything that can artificially move the market can lead to bad things. Here’s a scenario that shows how this can be a bad thing.
A successful trader with a huge following starts seeing so many people copying their trades that it starts reducing the profitability. The trader has accounts at other brokers and starts using the account with all of the copiers to manipulate the market while cleaning up with their other accounts.
If you don’t think this is possible you should probably stop playing in the financial markets. Take a look at the history of people and institutions trying to manipulate markets, including the many pump and dump schemes that have been run over the years.
The majority of complaints dealing with eToro are about fees. They have fees dealing with minimum activity, making withdrawals, and of course the spreads between buying and selling.
Their terms and conditions list an account inactivity fee and the fact that they charge it, but it leaves the amount up to them. It’s currently set at $5 a month, but they can change it at any time.
Other fees include a withdrawal fee or $5 to $25 and conversion fees on deposits and withdrawals depending on the currency you use.
I always find it interesting when I read about people complaining about spreads. Every broker and platform has spreads. That’s how they make money. If you don’t like the spreads either don’t trade or find a place that offers lower ones. So I ignore most complaints that have anything to do with spreads.
In comparing the spreads at eToro to other popular brokers, I don’t see any that are out of line. Three and four pip spreads are standard for most platforms. As you start trading larger and larger volumes you can find brokers that are willing to give you discounted spreads.
The platform also has generated a great deal of complaints about their stop loss settings. To be honest I see complaints about stops with most brokers, but rarely can anyone provide proof that there’s an issue.
Most stop loss complaints claim that the stop profit settings are always triggered but the stop loss settings are only triggered sometimes.
I can honestly say that I’ve never had a stop loss setting that didn’t work, but I haven’t traded large volumes and this doesn’t mean that some traders haven’t had problems.
You should start out with smaller trades until you’re confident in the eToro system and they prove you can trust them with your bankroll.
Conclusion and Rating
At the end of the day finding a good Forex broker is about the reliability of the trading platform, how safe the company is to deal with and how safe your money is. Being a profitable trader is hard enough without worrying about getting screwed by your broker.
Our overall rating for eToro is 6 out of 10.
The lack of a consistent sign up bonus hurts the overall rating and for the reasons listed above I’m not a big fan of the social networking aspect of the site.
Most of the complaints I found were the same ones that most Forex brokers have over time and I feel the eToro platform is safe.
One of the most positive aspects of the eToro system is their collection of trading platforms. The platforms are easy to use and some of the better ones in the market.