BEST OF

6 Best Online Brokers for Futures Trading and Commodities of September 2021

Chris DavisSep 16, 2021

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Futures trading is a complicated business, even for experienced investors, and so is shopping for a brokerage to use for futures and commodities trading. It’s not just about contract fees and trading platforms (although both are important factors to consider).

Trading in futures requires looking for a broker that offers the highest level of real-time data and quotes, an intuitive trading platform, an abundance of charting and screening tools, technical indicators and a wealth of research — plus the ability to leverage your account with reduced day-trading margin requirements. All of that, and you still want low costs and high-quality customer support.

These are the features and services we focused on in our rankings, concentrating on the world of online discount brokers that serve self-directed traders (not pros) seeking to quickly execute their own futures strategies.

One note before we dive into the top-ranked brokers for trading futures: Investing in futures is a strategy that earns a few caveats from NerdWallet. It comes with risk, as do all investing strategies. But futures trading is even riskier: You’re making a bet on the direction a market is going to go, an outcome that is difficult for even professional analysts to predict correctly. In other words: You can do a lot of research, feel confident in your prediction and still lose a lot of money very quickly.

If you’re new to futures trading and want to dabble in this strategy, you should understand how to trade futures, determine the risks involved, and have your financial bases covered. And if you decide you’d rather stick to stock trading, which — while still risky — is vanilla compared to futures? Check out our list of the best brokers for stock trading instead.

Summary of Best Online Brokers for Futures Trading and Commodities of September 2021

Interactive Brokers Futures
Learn more

on Interactive Brokers's website

Interactive Brokers Futures

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Interactive Brokers Futures

Fees

$0.25 - $0.85

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Learn more

on Interactive Brokers's website


Promotion

None
no promotion available at this time

Why we like it

Interactive Brokers' IBKR Lite is a strong option for frequent traders: The broker offers international trade capabilities, no stock-trading commission and a quality trading platform.

Pros

  • Large investment selection.

  • Strong research and tools.

  • Over 4,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

  • NerdWallet users who sign up for IBKR Pro get a 0.25% discount on the first $100,000 of a margin loan.

Cons

  • Website is difficult to navigate.

Read Full Review
TradeStation GO Futures
Learn more

on TradeStation's website

TradeStation GO Futures

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
TradeStation GO Futures

Fees

$0.85

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

N/A
Learn more

on TradeStation's website


Promotion

N/A

Why we like it

TradeStation is a strong choice for active stock, options and futures investors who rely on the broker’s high-octane trading platform, reams of research and sophisticated analytical tools. Trades of up to 10,000 shares are commission-free.

Pros

  • High-quality trading platforms.

  • Comprehensive research.

  • Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades.

  • Advanced tools.

  • Active trader community.

Cons

  • Free trading on advanced platform requires TS Select.

  • No transaction-fee-free mutual funds.

  • Plans and pricing can be confusing.

Read Full Review

Want to compare more options? Here are our other top picks:

Disclosure: The author held no positions in the aforementioned securities at the time of publication.

Last updated on September 16, 2021

Methodology

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers and robo-advisors by assets under management, along with emerging industry players, using a multifaceted and iterative approach. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgments on which ones will best meet your needs.

DATA COLLECTION AND REVIEW PROCESS

We collect data directly from providers, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. Our process starts by sending detailed questionnaires to providers to complete. The questionnaires are structured to equally elicit both favorable and unfavorable responses from providers. They are not designed or prepared to produce any predetermined results. The questionnaire answers, combined with product demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

RATING FACTORS

Evaluations vary by provider type, but in each case are based upon the weighted averages of factors that include but are not limited to: advisory and account fees, account minimums and types, investment selection, investment expense ratios, trading costs, access to human financial advisors, educational resources and tools, rebalancing and tax minimization options, and customer support including branch access, user-facing technology and mobile platforms.

Each factor can involve evaluating various sub-factors. For instance, when gauging the investment selections offered by robo-advisors, 80% of the score is based on the potential for diversification (how well-diversified a resulting portfolio of investments could be) combined with the availability of specialty portfolios and level of customization for investors. Expense ratios form an additional 10% of the score, and low or no management fee the remaining 10%.

FACTOR WEIGHTINGS

The weighting of each factor is based on our team’s assessment of which features are the most important to consumers and which ones impact the consumer experience in the most meaningful way. The factors considered, and how those factors are weighted, change depending upon the category of providers reviewed.

Provider categories include: Best Brokers for Stock Trading, Best Brokers for Beginners, Best Brokers for Day Trading, Best Brokers for Options Trading, Best Discount Brokers, Best Brokers for Free Trading, Best Investment Apps, Best Brokers for Penny Stocks, Best IRA Brokers, Best Robo-Advisors, Best Financial Advisors, Best Real Estate Platforms, Best Brokers for ETFs and Best Brokers for Mutual Funds.

INFORMATION UPDATES

Writers and editors conduct our broker and robo-advisor reviews on an annual basis but continually make updates throughout the year. We maintain frequent contact with providers and highlight any changes in offerings.

THE REVIEW TEAM

The review team comprises seasoned writers, researchers and editors who cover stocks, bonds, mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds, alternative investments, socially responsible investing, financial advisors, retirement and investment strategy on a daily basis. In addition to NerdWallet, the work of our team members has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, USA Today, Bloomberg News, Nasdaq, MSN, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance and other national and regional media outlets.

The combined expertise of our Investing team is infused into our review process to ensure thoughtful evaluations of provider products and services from the customer perspective. Our writers and editors combine to have more than 70 years of deep experience in finance, ranging from a former Wall Street Journal reporter to a former senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

While NerdWallet does have partnerships with many of the reviewed providers, we manage potential conflicts of interest by maintaining a wall between our content and business operations. This wall is designed to prevent our writers and the review process from being influenced or impacted by our business partnerships. This way, all reviews can provide an unbiased review that serves the interests of our users. For more information, see NerdWallet’s editorial guidelines.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Online Brokers for Futures Trading and Commodities of September 2021