Many people find the forex market one of the easiest financial markets to start to trade. You just need to open up an account with an online broker and deposit some money as margin to get started trading currencies. To select the best forex broker to trade forex with, you need to do some upfront research to determine which is most appropriate for your experience level and requirements. Since not all online brokers take U.S.-based traders, read on for Benzinga’s top picks for brokers that do.
1. Best Overall: FOREX.com
FOREX.com is a fully-owned subsidiary of GAIN Capital Holdings (NYSE: GCAP), and this popular online forex broker ranks best overall for U.S.-based traders. You will need just $50 to open an account, and the broker offers 80 currency pairs you can trade in.
This broker submits to regulation by both the National Futures Association (NFA) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in the U.S., as well as to regulators in 6 other major jurisdictions around the world. Take a look at Benzinga’s FOREX.com Review for additional details about this top-rated broker.
U.S. traders can use FOREX.com’s sophisticated Advanced Trading Platform, but only non-U.S. residents can use the free MetaTrader platform from MetaQuotes.
That might be a problem for U.S. traders interested in using automated trading software written for MetaTrader.
FOREX.com’s Advanced Trading Platform, Source: FOREX.com.
2. Best for Social and Copy Trading: eToro
eToro offers a super easy-to-use social and copy trading service that allows you to duplicate the trades of other experts who have a proven trading track record. eToro also has good educational options for novice traders.
The broker does not support the MetaTrader platforms, but just about anyone can easily operate its very intuitive trading platforms and mobile apps.
eToro supports trading in over 2,000 different assets, and you’ll need a minimum deposit of only $50 to get started. eToro accepts clients from many states, and while it is not registered as an online broker with the NFA and CFTC, it is registered with the U.S.
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as a Money Services business. The company also submits to regulation in the U.K., Australia and Cyprus.
3. Best for Forex Platforms: IG US
IG lets U.S. clients trade contracts for difference (CFDs) in over 17,000 different assets that include forex pairs, stocks, indices, bonds, commodities, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), options and short-term interest rates.
Forex traders can operate in 80 different currency pairs through IG with just a $250 minimum deposit.
U.S.-based clients can trade through IG since it is overseen by the CFTC and NFA.
In addition to its decent proprietary trading platform, IG also supports popular 3rd-party forex platforms like MetaTrader 4 and ProRealTime.
IG’s trading platforms for mobile and desktop. Source: IG Trading.
4. Best for Futures Traders: NinjaTrader
NinjaTrader may be best known for its sophisticated trading platform but it also offers an online brokerage service that caters best to futures traders that wish to focus on contracts listed on the CME, CBOT, NYBOT and Eurex exchanges. In addition to futures contracts, you can also trade forex, CFDs and stocks using NinjaTrader.
As a broker, NinjaTrader has low margins and charges very competitive commissions that keep your per futures contract costs low. You can get started trading futures with just a $400 minimum deposit at this broker.
NinjaTrader’s popular trading platform offers advanced charting features, market analysis functions and simulated trading, as well as 3 different licensing levels to best suit your needs and budget.
NinjaTrader’s advanced trading platform. Source: NinjaTrader
5. Best for Advanced Traders: Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers (IBKR) offers a world-class brokerage service to U.S.-based clients that encompasses 134 markets in 33 countries. Forex traders will appreciate that IBKR lets you trade 23 different currencies against each other. The company’s U.S. regulators include the CFTC, NFA and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The broker is also regulated in the U.K., Australia and Canada.
The broker also features very competitive trading costs, such as a $0 commission on U.S. stocks and ETFs. To start trading with IBKR, you will need a $10,000 minimum deposit that gets applied to commissions for 8 months, with a $2,000 minimum thereafter. IBKR also charges maintenance and inactivity fees, so it’s best for advanced and active professionals who have plenty of funds to trade.
The broker’s own well-rated trading platforms include its Desktop Trader WorkStation (TWS), Client Portal and mobile app. They allow you to trade multiple asset classes, including options and offer sophisticated market analysis functionality.
Interactive Brokers’ TWS trading platform. Source: Interactive Brokers.
Why Trade Forex
Making a forex transaction involves the simultaneous purchase of 1 currency and the sale of another at a given rate of exchange known as an exchange rate. Forex traders make a profit by buying 1 currency pair low and selling it high, or by selling 1 currency pair high and buying it low. Making profits is the primary goal of forex trading. Many people like to trade forex because they can get started so easily by opening up a trading account and downloading a free trading platform like MetaTrader.
Forex Pros and Cons
The forex market has a unique set of pros and cons for traders that include those listed below.
- High leverage: Because an exchange of currencies at the going market rate has no net value, the use of leverage in forex trading allows you to control quite large positions with a rather small margin deposit. This increases your risk but also lets you benefit from relatively small exchange rate movements.
- High liquidity: The forex market is the largest financial market in the world, so it has a very high level of liquidity in the major currency pairs. This allows for sizable transactions to be executed in those pairs at virtually any time during normal trading hours.
- Around-the-clock trading: The forex market remains open for trading at all times from 5 p.m. EST on Sunday until 5 p.m. EST on Friday, even during U.S. holidays. This provides constant trading opportunities during market hours.
- Fewer asset choices: While many stocks can be traded, only a relatively few currency pairs are available to forex traders, and not all of them are highly liquid like the majors.
- Volatility: Strong movements can occur in the forex market as new information is digested by participants. This volatility can result in unexpected gains or losses for traders.
- Unregulated OTC market: The Interbank forex market trades over the counter (OTC) and so it remains largely unregulated. Still, some regulations are put in place in many jurisdictions to protect retail traders making transactions through online brokers.
Select a Good Broker
Your online forex broker will serve as your primary trading partner, so choose one carefully. You will definitely want to make sure any broker you select is well-regulated, has a good reputation with clients and meets all of your trading requirements. You can easily try out the services of the forex brokers you like by opening up demo accounts with them to see if any brokers feel right for you. Demo accounts also let you practice trading, and that can save you money if you learn to avoid common trading errors.