If you are considering trying out Forex trading, or are an experienced trader looking for a new and perhaps better broker, you will be faced with a nearly limitless number of options.
Choosing a broker can thus be difficult, as extensive research may have to be done. This article aims to make the process of finding an online forex broker easier for traders of all kinds.
What do I need to look for?
You may now be wondering what makes a good Forex broker or online platform.
The answer will likely disappoint you, as there is no “one size fits all” broker. Choosing a forex broker tends to be a personal process, specific to each trader. However, below is a list of factors that most traders tend to look for.
Some of the factors may not be important to you, though they are always good to keep in mind.
When you make a trade, there is always a fee. Whether this is separately charged to your trading balance as a “commission” or paid for within the trade itself as what’s known as the “spread,” depends on the broker.
Spread is defined as the difference between the bid and ask price. The higher the spread, the higher the cost you pay as a trader per trade. Spread can change (or vary), this is known as variable spread. Spreads can also be fixed and thus remain the same.
Different brokers offer different types and sizes of spreads, which should be an important factor to most traders, so you should definitely keep this in mind when selecting a broker.
Some brokers charge fees when you deposit or withdraw money from your trading account.
You should be aware of this factor before making profits, as most traders believe that charging deposit and withdrawal fees are unfair as brokers are already making money off spreads and commissions.
It may therefore be said that good brokers do not charge deposit or withdrawal fees (or at the very least, low fees).
Different Forex brokers are located in various countries, which have to follow different laws. An example of a trading law that is mostly exclusive to the U.S. is hedging. Hedging is allowed in other areas, however, U.S.-based brokers do not permit said activity. Another example is countries in regions such as Europe banning the trade of binary options. Governing laws are extensive and require their own research. They do not tend to affect day to day trading, though every trader should be aware of the location of their broker as well as the regulations they must follow.
Interactive Brokers provides a very well-rounded experience, best suited for intermediate and advanced traders due to the time and effort required to get familiar with their designated trading software called IKBR.
Considering the low trading costs and $0 account minimum, Interactive Brokers is also very fitting for traders growing small accounts, however, a key drawback is that they only offer 1:200 leverage, which is relatively lower than other brokers and may make it more difficult to grow smaller accounts.
Further drawbacks include inactive account charges (which should not be an issue for day traders), a limited variety of payment options which does not include PayPal, and finally, no option for a fixed spread account.
Meaning that regardless of your account plan, spreads will always be variable. This may be an issue for shorter-term intraday traders who make trades on smaller time frames.
Interactive brokers are also not limited to the foreign exchange market, but also offers its clients access to the stock, bonds, futures ETFs, and metals market, meaning that traders of all kinds can use Interactive Brokers’ services for their trades.
The bottom line is that if you have a small (or even large account), do not plan to use a high amount of leverage, and like to keep an open mind in terms of other securities to trade, Interactive Brokers may be the choice for you.
XM is a broker that comes with many benefits for traders with very (very) small accounts. Considering that they provide up to 1:888 leverage, no account minimums, low withdrawal fees, and even support for micro-lots (a normal size lot is 100,000 of the traded currency, a micro lot is 1000 of a currency), you can start trading with less than $1.
This however will not even be necessary as XM provides new clients with $30 as an account opening bonus, and up to $500 in deposit bonuses (meaning if you deposit $100, you will be credited an extra $50).
XM has very few downsides, though one notable factor is that the broker does charge inactive account fees. The second and considerably significant downside for a large group of traders is that XM does not accept US clients.
If you live in the US, you will not be able to experience the extensive benefits of XM. XM otherwise, is a very easy broker to recommend to the majority of traders, though specifically, traders with very small accounts are likely best-suited to the broker due to its very high leverage, minimum deposit amounts, account opening promotions as well as smaller lot sizes.
On the contrary, TD Ameritrade is easy to recommend to US residents, considering it is only available to said group of traders, and not available outside of the US. The main benefit of TD Ameritrade is that they have developed their own trading platform known as “Thinkorswim.” It is loved by many traders due to the wide variety of features as well as its interface design.
TD Ameritrade also does not charge inactivity fees and charges very low trading fees, which is a plus for day traders who make large amounts of trades on a daily or weekly basis.
Based on their trading platform alone, TD Ameritrade is easy to recommend to US-based traders of all levels of skill.
FXCM is another great option in terms of a forex broker. The main feature that they offer is a TradingView promotion, where clients who open an account with FXCM gain access to TradingView Pro (which is usually $14.95 per month) for free.
TradingView is one of the most widely used chart analysis platforms available to traders around the world as it well-designed, it offers years worth of data for vast amounts of securities (which is excellent for backtesting strategies), and finally, another advantage of TradingView is that the platform allows traders to collaborate by sharing ideas, strategies as well as indicators.
However, FXCM does not accept US, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish clients. Secondly, there is a $50 deposit minimum, which is still an amazing deal considering that you get TradingView for free. The final disadvantage is that FXCM has been said to provide poor spreads for its clients.
The bottom line is that if you are interested in TradingView, you should definitely consider FXCM as the two platforms go hand in hand.
IG was established in 1974 and has offered clients with excellent service since. One of its main benefits is the dedicated platform that IG offers, known as ProRealTime, which is an award-winning web-based and mobile trading platform.
Unlike TradingView, which can only be used for chart analysis, ProRealTime offers automated trading, the ability to scan markets (to filter the best securities), as well as a vast amount of historical data that can be used in backtesting.
IG’s forex fees are also considered to be average to low relative to the other brokers. Furthermore, there is no minimum for bank transfer deposits, though a considerable $300 minimum for PayPal and credit cards. Finally, account opening times are slow according to many of IG’s clients.
IG has existed for a long time, and has done so by providing excellent service to its clients. It is a great option for anyone who would like to try automated trading (though MetaTrader 4 does offer this as well) and those are interested in screening and filtering securities.
It is hard to recommend a single broker as there are a vast amount of brokers that offer a wide variety of features. Though to help you choose the right broker, you must think about the financial aspect of your trading experience: how much you are going to start with, how much you are willing to spend.
Consider what style of trading you think you will be using: automated trading, day trading, long-term trading, as factors such as spread may affect shorter-term traders. If you are a US resident, think about the platforms that you have access to and which one best suits your needs. At the end of the day, it all comes down to you and your trading preferences.
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