What is the best way to invest in oil?

A complete guide to buying, selling and investing in oil.

Last updated:

Warning: your capital is at risk. The value of investments can fall as well as rise, and you may get back less than you invested. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Learn about Oil, investment options and the risks to consider.

Oil can be volatile. Its value is driven by supply, political and environmental factors, and the demand of energy-driven nations.

How to invest in oil

There are three main options for investing in oil:

1. Purchase oil company stocks

A simple way to invest in oil is through stocks of oil companies such as ExxonMobil (XOM) or Chevron (CHV). It is important to do your research into the production process and production potential. Developing an understanding of the energy cycle, the competitive landscape in the industry and the impact of price fluctuations will help you determine valuable assets.

Accessing the market this way is simple because shares can be purchased with an online broker or financial advisor.

Pros
  • You can pick and choose a range of stocks and cash out when you want.
  • A simple, accessible and versatile way to access the market.
Cons

  • Due to the large businesses also being involved in things such as refining, which actually would not benefit from higher oil prices, oil company stocks don’t necessary move lock-step with the price of the commodity.

2. Purchase Oil ETFs

ETFs are another option worth considering. ETFs give access to a whole load of assets, without having to put all of your money into one or two firms. If you need to brush up on ETFs, check out our guide.

Purchasing commodity-based oil ETFs is a direct method of owning oil. ETFs can be purchased and sold in a manner similar to stocks. They allow investors to minimise risk, while taking advantage of the performance and general popularity of a particular sector. Oil ETF investors can avoid the risk of exposure to single stocks that fluctuate based oil prices.

There are loads of oil-based ETFs to select from, covering a whole host of different companies within the industry. Oil ETFs can be a good choice for those who are new to investing, as well as those looking to secure their portfolio.

Pros
  • ETFs allow for instant diversification across the whole oil industry, at a low price.
  • ETFs have a better track record with providing safe, more reliable growth.
Cons

  • By placing your money in an ETF, you relinquish some control over the split of assets.

3. Purchase Oil Futures

This is the most direct way to purchase the commodity without literally purchasing barrels of oil. Futures are purchased through a commodities broker. You are buying a contract to purchase oil at a future date at a specified price.

Futures are extremely volatile and riskier than other investment options. You have to be right on the timing and price movement.

Pros
  • Oil futures are the most actively traded future on the market and hence the most liquid.
Cons

  • All futures are volatile investments and oil is no exception. No one can predict with any degree of certainty how the pice of oil will fluctuate.
  • Futures expire on a certain date. If you fail to exercise them prior to expiry they become worthless.

3. Purchase MLP’s

Primarily existing in the gas and oil industry, A Master Limited Partnership (MLP) is a tax-advantaged corporate structure. It combines the tax benefits of a partnership – profits are taxed only when investors actually receive distributions – with the liquidity of a public company.

Typically, these companies own the pipelines that carry the commodity from one place to another.

Risks to MLPs could come from a slowdown in energy demand, environmental hazards, commodity price fluctuations, and tax law reform.

Pros
  • Companies can offer a very attractive dividend payment.
  • MLPs can easily be purchased through financial advisors or online brokers.
Cons

  • MLPs are subject to general market risk and low energy demand.
  • Stock prices don’t necessary move lock-step with the price of oil

Compare these providers for access to Oil ETFs and more

Updated October 22nd, 2019
Name Product Price per trade Frequent trader rate Platform fees
£1.75 + 0.022% (max £5.00)
£1.75 + 0.022% (max £5.00)
Portfolio transfer fees (in & out)
Your capital is at risk.
eToro Free Stocks
eToro Free Stocks
0% commission, no markup, no ticket fee, no management fee
N/A
Withdrawal fee & GDP to USD deposit conversion
Your capital is at risk.
from £7.50 on the Frequent Dealer Option (or 1% minimum £7.50)
£24 per quarter
£2.00 for a Share Account
Your capital is at risk.
£8
0.05% (min £5)
0.12% per year & transfer-out fee
Your capital is at risk.
From £7.99 on the Investor Service Plan
From £7.99 on the Investor Service Plan
No transfer fees or exit fees. £9.99 a month on the Investor Service Plan
Your capital is at risk.
£8
From £5
£0 - £24/quarter
Your capital is at risk.
£11.95
£5.95
Transfer out fee
Your capital is at risk.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated October 22nd, 2019
Name Product FTSE 100 daily spread Wall Street daily spread GBP-USD daily spread EUR-USD daily spread
eToro CFD Trading
eToro CFD Trading
150pips.
-
4pips. (variable)
3pips. (variable)
65% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
24option.com CFD Trading
24option.com CFD Trading
1pt. (fixed) margin: 0.5%+
0.8pts. (fixed) margin: 0.5%+
1.0pips. (fixed) margin: 0.5%
0.8pips. (fixed) margin: 0.5%+
84.94% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
IG CFD Trading
IG CFD Trading
1pt. (variable)
margin: 5%+
1.6pts. (variable)
margin: 5%+
0.9pips. (variable)
margin: 3.33%+
0.6pips. (variable)
margin: 3.33%+
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Plus500 CFD Account
Plus500 CFD Account
1pt. (variable)
margin: 0.33%+
4pts. (variable)
margin: 0.33%+
2.1pips (variable)
margin: 0.33%+
0.6pips (variable)
margin: 0.33%+
80.6% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
XTB CFD Trading
XTB CFD Trading
0.5
1
0.1
0.2
79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated October 22nd, 2019
Name Product FTSE 100 daily spread Wall Street daily spread GBP-USD daily spread EUR-USD daily spread
IG Spread Betting Account
IG Spread Betting Account
1pt. (variable)
margin: 0.5%+
1.6pts.
(variable)
margin: 0.5%+
0.9pips.
(variable)
margin: 1%+
0.6pips.
(variable)
margin: 0.5%+
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated October 22nd, 2019
Name Product Cryptocurrencies Bitcoin daily spread Ethereum daily spread Market hours
eToro CFD Trading
eToro CFD Trading
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, Ripple, Litecoin + more
0.75%
1.90%
24/7
65% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
24option.com Cryptocurrency CFD Trading
24option.com Cryptocurrency CFD Trading
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, Ripple, Litecoin
30pips (variable)
6pips (variable)
Sunday 22:00 - Friday 21:59
84.94% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
IG crypto CFD Trading
IG crypto CFD Trading
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Litecoin, Ripple
110 pips (variable)
leverage: 1:20+
5 pips (variable)
leverage: 1:5+
Saturday 8am -
Friday 10pm
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Plus500 Cryptocurrency CFD Trading
Plus500 Cryptocurrency CFD Trading
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, IOTA, Litecoin, Ripple
24/7
80.6% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
XTB Cryptocurrency
XTB Cryptocurrency
1%
1%
24h from 04:00 to 22:00
79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Compare up to 4 providers

Updated October 22nd, 2019
Name Product EUR/GBP daily spread USD/JPY daily spread GBP-USD daily spread EUR-USD daily spread
eToro Forex Trading
eToro Forex Trading
4 pips
2 pips
4 pips
3 pips
65% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
24option.com Forex Trading
24option.com Forex Trading
4 pips
3 pips
4 pips
3 pips
84.94% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Pepperstone Forex Trading
Pepperstone Forex Trading
1.9pips
1.2pips
1.9 pips
1 pip
74.6% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Plus500 Forex Trading
Plus500 Forex Trading
-
-
-
-
80.6% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
IG Forex Trading
IG Forex Trading
0.9 pips
0.7 pips
0.9pts (variable)
margin: 3.33%+
0.6pts (variable)
margin: 3.33%+
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
FXTM Forex Trading
FXTM Forex Trading
2.4 pips
2.1 pips
2.1 pips
2.0 pips
64% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
XTB Forex Trading
XTB Forex Trading
0.1 pips
0.1 pips
0.1 pips
0.2 pips
79% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Compare up to 4 providers

What are the risks?

While long-term investments in oil companies can be highly profitable investors should understand the risk factors before making investments in the sector. These risks include:

  • Price volatility: large price fluctuations can occur daily due to unpredictable influences such as supply and demand.
  • Dividend cuts: If a company is unable to earn enough revenue to fund payments to investors dividend can be cut.
  • Oil spill risk: Accidents such as oil spills can cause a company’s share price to drop significantly. In 2010 BP saw a decline of over 55% to their stock in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Frequently asked questions

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site