If you are looking to personally trade in the Forex and currency exchange market, then you will need a reliable Forex Broker and Forex Trading Platform where you can easily trade in currencies using your own computer, tablet or even mobile from wherever you are situated.
Before you start looking for the best Forex broker and Trading Platform that will cater to your needs, you have to understand what to look for. This will obviously vary from one person to another, especially depending on whether you are a beginner trader or a more experienced one.
In general, however, you will be looking for specific key features including, the broker’s fee or commission structure, the type of forex trading platforms offered by the broker, the number of currency pairs available, the level of customer support, training seminars and guides, currency exchange updates, research and stats available on the broker’s website and sent direct to your inbox, and probably the most important is the reliability of the financial broker or agent.
Best Forex Brokers in the World
Here’s our choice of the best forex brokers from around the globe. Depending on which country you are residing in you will find definitely find a broker in our list below, since the list covers forex platforms that are targeted most of the countries around the world, including Europe, USA, South Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand.
The below table shows the full list of online FX trading providers we recommend.
- IG– Best Overall(for US traders)
- eToro – Best Overall (for Europe, South Africa and Oceana)
- Saxo Bank– Outstanding Web Platform
- CMC Markets– Low Cost Forex Agent
- TD Ameritrade FX– Great Trading Platform, US only
- com– Reputable and Low Costs
- City Index
- XTB– Best Customer Service
- Dukascopy– Desktop Platform
- Ally Invest
- ATC Brokers
- London Capital Group
In the US only IG, OANDA and Forex.com are officially licensed to operate. All three are in our recommended list because they are all super big and reliable brokers, however they each have their own advantages and disadvantages which you will should go through, below, before making your choice.
Taking all the above mentioned factors into consideration we concluded that the best forex broker is IG for the US based traders. For Europe, South Africa and Oceana we suggest eToro as the best foreign exchange platforms for online trading.
We don’t want you to just take our word for it however, so below we will dive deeper into analyzing how we made our choice and what we have taken into consideration and then we will give a more detailed review of each forex broker and their trading platform so that you can understand what they have to offer and what suits you best.
Before we dive into this, let’s explain exactly the difference and similarities between a forex broker and a trading platform.
Forex Trading Platforms vs Forex Brokers
A Forex Trading Platform is an online service that allows you to log in and trade in different currencies across various foreign exchange Markets, any time of the day during weekdays (since the Currency Market is only closed on Saturday and Sunday).
Many Forex Brokers offer this service on their website but they also offer managed forex trading. In other words, you enter into a relationship/agreement with a forex broker that manages your portfolio and they trade in currencies on your behalf. This, however this does not allow you the level of control and flexibility that an online platform can give you.
For the purpose of this article we will be referring to forex trading platforms and forex brokers as the online DIY trading service and the two terms will be used interchangeably across this article, to mean the same thing.
Which Foreign Exchange Broker to Choose
Now, there are quite a few foreign exchange brokers you can use for your trading, and we will be reviewing the most reliable and trustworthy ones in this article. The best forex broker for you will depend very much on your trading strategy.
Don’t worry, we will dive deep into each trading platform’s advantages and disadvantages and hopefully give you a good indication that allows you to pick the right platform for your needs.
The important thing is that you can put your mind at rest that the brokers listed on this article are licensed entities that have a good reputation, and that’s why they all have a large client base of currency traders, just like you, who use them regularly for their online forex trading needs.
Best Forex Trading Platforms
Forex trading platforms provide a quick and easy portal to the world of currency trading. These platforms give you access to all the currency markets from around the world at any time of the day or night.
Why is the market open 24 hours a day? Because of the time differences between countries and continents. In fact as one Forex Market closes in one part of the world, another one is just starting the day on the other side of the globe. Yet, with the use of Forex Trading Platforms you get access to all the Markets from the comfort of your own home or office, or wherever you are thanks to mobile technology.
In fact some of these platforms allow you to conduct foreign exchange transactions directly from your mobile phone or tablet, bringing the largest trading market at your fingertips, literally!
While most of these online trading platforms provide the same main features and functionality, there are a few subtle differences that can influence your trading experience.
This will obviously depend on your trading style, strategy and just general preferences, however choosing the right platform will help you make the most of your day-to-day forex trading sessions and in certain cases can influence heavily the results obtained, that is, gains or losses.
Some platforms provide you with research material and updated news, for example, and may give you access to charts that allow you to perform in-depth technical analysis and search for optimal trading prospects. These type of platforms might be suitable to the more experienced analytical currency trader.
Other trading platforms are better for beginners or those who trade mainly as a hobby or as a side project and who do not have much time on their hands. The ease of use of these platforms is therefore essential and enables quick day to day transactions. They also have a close community of traders where you can exchange opinions and ideas and in some cases also automatically copy the trades carried out by the more experienced traders.
All the top forex brokers from around the world have their own Trading Platform which their clients can make use of for free. There will be charges which in most cases are based on transactions carried out, however the best brokers will enable clients by giving them a currency exchange platform that caters to the needs of their type of clientele, taking into consideration user experience, ease of use, security and a number of different features which users can choose from to maintain a satisfactory and enjoyable currency trading experience.
How to Choose a Forex Broker
As mentioned above, there are various factors to take into consideration when choosing a forex broker in order to find and use the one that is optimal for your needs.
We feel that the below are the most essential features you should consider before making your final choice of forex broker and currency trading platform.
Reliability and Regulation:
You should have full and absolute trust in the forex broker you choose as otherwise this will affect your trading amount and risk. Now, unfortunately regulations around the world are not standard and certain jurisdictions are more lenient then others in issuing operating licenses for brokers. This means that certain CFD brokers who are licensed in certain jurisdictions, like Curacao, for example are not as reliable and trustworthy as others since the country does not impose heavy regulations and control over them.
Investors and traders should check the country in which their broker is licensed in and verify how reliable the license actually is. We suggest you always go for a well-known and well-regulated broker.
In order to ensure that your broker is serious you should check if they are regulated by the National Futures Association.
Broker’s Due Diligence Process
It might seem tedious and annoying but if the broker you are registering with requests that you provide various documentation to proof your identity before making a deposit then take that as a good sign. International Anti Money Laundering regulations require that these due diligence are carried out on each and every customer so as to limit the risk of criminals using the forex exchange platform to launder stolen or dirty money.
The investor due diligence process is therefore a necessary evil and the fact that your broker has processes and procedures in place for this purpose is a sign that they are reliable and trustworthy. Which in the end means that they have lower risk of being exposed to fraudulent activity and therefore your money is safeguarded and your trading activities are more secure when you invest through them.
Range of Markets Offered
The best forex broker will ultimately offer a wide range of currency pairs to trade in and cover all the main international Forex markets and also various minor ones.
If you are looking to trade in specific currencies then you should definitely make sure that the broker or platform you choose has the currency pairs you intend to trade in. It is also important to verify beforehand that the products you want to trade in are available in the country you are residing in. This is because it could be the case that the broker offers these products only for customers trading from certain regions. This would mainly be done for regulatory reasons beyond their control.
As an investor, having access to multiple currency pairs within the same platform should be a very important part of your trading strategy as this will allow you to react quickly to news and events happening in the different international financial markets.
Costs of using Forex Brokers
Few things in life are as complicated as trying to break down the cost of using Forex Brokers and this is where many traders get easily confused and understandably frustrated with certain Forex Agents.
Some brokers charge an outright commission on each transaction and this can be easily calculated. However many other brokers boast and publicize that they charge no commissions to attract potential customers who are unaware that these brokers would then be making money from the bid-ask spread which can be much costlier for the trader.
The bid-ask spread is the difference between what the bid price, ie, what the broker is paying to buy the currency and the ask price, ie, the price that the dealer is selling the currency for. So, brokers can insert their fees within this spread without showing it as a commission and instead widening the gap between the spread and taking the difference as income for themselves.
The main problem with Forex Brokers who make their money from the spreads is that the way exchange spread Costs are calculated will vary from one broker to another in a myriad of ways, such as;
- The bid and ask spread are different from one platform to another. Some are fixed spreads while other brokers may opt for variable or floating spreads.
- Those brokers that have floating forex spreads in their costing system will vary in how they calculate the rates on the variability of the spread.
- The Way brokers execute orders is also different from one to the other and this raises or decreases costs. For example, one broker may be a Market agent, while the other is a Market dealer. What’s the difference? Forex dealers make the currency market, in the sense that they actually trade the currencies. On the other hand a Forex agent is a middleman acting on behalf of the dealer and getting a commission in return.
How can your trading style effect the choice when considering the fees charged by Forex Brokers?
For Low-volume traders, brokers that charge no commission but have spread mark-ups can be beneficial. They often save broker fees this way, so long as the mark-ups being charged by the forex broker are reasonably priced and within the market range.
Oanda, for example is one of the best brokers for this purposes. An analysis of Oanda’s historical spreads which they publish on their website website, show that they have one of the lowest spreads on the market for the most popular currency pairs.
For those traders that trade in high volumes, a commission based broker fee should be more cost-effective, as they have a large number of spreads within a set period and this means a large number of opportunity for brokers to charge spread based fees often.
As far as flat commission brokers go, ATC’s pricing seems to be one of the cheapest on the market. At the time of our check ATC charges a commission on both buy and sell with a commission of around $1 per 10,000 lot.
In our detailed reviews below we therefore take the costs of transactions into consideration when comparing one forex trading platform with another so that, as a trader, you can assess the broker you will be using also based on the quantity (in units) and spreads you are expecting on your transactions.
Remember, however that costs of forex transaction should only be a part of your overall consideration. The overall consideration of a Forex Trading broker and platform should also include the currency pairs offered, forex trading volumes, ease of use, timing, reliability, community and much more. Let’s take a deeper look in the other factors.
FX Trading Tools & Platforms
As mentioned previously every online broker will usually have their own trading platform and tools that they offer for free to their clients in order to make it as easy as possible for you to conduct your online forex trading sessions.
It is essential that you understand and test these platform before you deposit any real money in order to ensure that the tech specifications are compatible with the device you will be using whether it is a computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
Some other things you should look into are
- Is it compatible with the internet browser you usually use
- are they web based platforms or do they require you to download the program on your computer. If that is the case you must ensure that your device has enough memory and hard-disk space to allow for the download and comfortable operating speed. You definitely don’t want to get frustrated during your trading sessions by trivial matters such slow program performance or constant freezing of the operating system.
- Are the products you intent to trade in, be it forex currencies or stocks offered on that platform.
Order Types and Order Completion
The type of order processing for Forex trades may vary from broker to broker, mainly depending on whether they are the market dealers or whether they’re an agency acting on behalf of third party dealers.
The types of orders you will be allowed to execute and the facilities they have implemented within their platform can make a big difference to your trading experience and final performance. Certain features like stop-loss orders, deviation range triggers, time based execution orders can be an essential part of your trading strategy and therefore you must ensure that these are available on the forex trading platform you will be using.
Certain methods of forex order execution can involve slippage which could be either in your favor or against you. In other words, when the actual order is executed the actual fill price will vary than what you originally requested. In this case, your broker should have a system which alerts you of the change in price and request that you manually accept the new price, or reject it as the case may be.
It goes without saying that since you are investing your hard earned cash, a reliable customer support service should be available you’re your chosen forex broker.
This is one of the biggest differentiating factors across the different forex providers and when you’re looking into customer support service you should consider the speed in which they answer your query, the various type of contact options they offer (phone support, chat support, email etc), the availability of their support service, ie you should opt for 24 hour availability since the international currency markets are open twent-four hours a day during weekdays. Finally, the quality of their assistance is also an essential aspect to consider.
The people in the customer support team should be technically adapt and well trained to help you in any type of issue or query you may have.
Forex News and Research
The last aspect you should take into consideration is the level and quality of research and news updates the forex broker offers to its clients to help them evaluate investment prospects.
It is true that in today’s day and age where everyone has access to the internet and information is easily obtained in real time, however this also means that investors can easily get confused and lost in the sea of information available to them.
The best forex broker will be the one who sends out tailor made news and updates to their clients to enable them to easily get the most important information amongst the sea of financial forex news. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence in email marketing systems a broker should be able to send out specific emails to different clients based on their past investment history and currency pair preferences.
Apart from this, a good forex broker will not only have the major financial headlines and research on display but should also have their own researchers who can offer a unique or different perspective when interpreting market information. This should give the investor a small advantage over others who only reply on the general news and updates available to everyone.
All the news, research and analysis should ideally be integrated within the main trading platform so that investors and forex traders can easily navigate between the news updates and the trading screen and get alerts immediately noticeable on their trading dashboard.
Finally, the way the information is displayed is important to allow users to easily understand and interpret it. Charts, videos, heat maps, sentiment indicators and screeners all make it easier for traders to quickly recognize an opportunity when it arises.
Beginner Trader Considerations
As a beginner you will need a broker that provides educational resources and guides on how to use their platform and also how to trade within the market. A solid and efficient customer support will also be essential as surfing the intricacies of the forex market is difficult enough without other external factors effecting your trading sessions.
We found Forex.com to be one of the best brokers for offering a range of educational videos, webinars and guides as well as a very helpful and efficient customer support service.
Another very strong customer support service is offered by Ally, even though their educational resources are quite basic. A word of warning though. We found Ally to have a higher average spread than its competition and since they do not have fixed commissions on trades this means that they are charging slightly higher fees within their bid/ask spreads. Having said this, if customer support is an essential aspect for you, then you should consider giving Ally a try, even if just with a demo account.
Actually if you’re a beginner we suggest you always start with a demo account and this is because of the high risks involved in currency trading if you’re not very experienced in this market. Luck will only get you so far!
This brings us to the next section.
Risk of Forex Trading – Disclaimer
The rapid and volatile nature of the currency exchange markets make this very appealing for traders since they can leverage the swift shifts in rates to make money very fast, however on the other side of the coin, your invested funds can be lost very easily also.
In fact there are risks in every Market, whether it’s commodities, stocks or currencies and the amount of risk involved will depend on the instrument you will be trading in. So, trading in the Dollar to Euro pair is much less risky then the Dollar to Bitcoin exchange, for example. Very often there is a correlation between risk and rewards, in other words, the higher the risk, the higher the possible gains and vice versa.
Apart from the product chosen, another added level of risk will depend on the type of trading mechanism you will be engaging in. In the foreign exchange market, margin-based trading and derivatives will expose you to a much higher exposure to losses and on the other hand when gains come, they will be quick and large. The risks of losses is obviously tied to your experience as a trader and it should be noted that if you are just starting out in foreign exchange trading we do recommend you stay away from these riskier trading methods and techniques until you gain some experience. It is said that over 60% of traders using these methods lose money and the main reason for this high % is that a lot of beginners dive into the deep end of currency trading before they understand the intricacies of how it works
So, the overall best Forex platform for you will depend on numerous factors. We suggest that you start by deciding if you prefer a web-based environment or a desktop download.
The web based system is more versatile and practical and will allow you to conduct your Forex trading sessions from wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection.
You should then consider how experienced and comfortable you are in trading on your own without any assistance, or if assistance, community help and customer support are an essential part of your requirements, at least, until you get some trading experience in the currency exchange market and find you strategy.
The good news is that most, if not all, Forex Brokers will allow you to test their platform with a demo account before you invest and trade you’re your hard earned cash.