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Best Forex Brokers for 2019

Jan. 23, 2019
Brokers, Investing
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Forex trading, which involves exchanging one currency for another on the foreign exchange market, isn’t for the faint of heart or the inexperienced.

No investment is without risk, but forex tips the risk meter further with its rapid trading pace and high leverage, which means investors can quickly lose more than their initial investments. Of course, that means you can also profit at the same speed, which — combined with liquidity — is what attracts investors to currency trading.

When selecting your forex broker, you should consider trading platforms and tools, the number of currency pairs offered, leverage maximums, customer service and, of course, costs. But comparing costs is tricky in forex trading: While some brokers charge a commission, many advertise no commissions, earning money in the bid-ask spread — the difference between the price a broker or dealer is paying for the currency (the bid) and the price at which a broker or dealer is selling a currency (the ask). Brokers essentially roll their fees into that spread, widening it and pocketing the excess.

That’s just one reason why the search for the best forex broker is complex. Another is that there are a variety of brokers, many of them unregulated or regulated in countries outside of the U.S. For our list of best currency trading brokers, we considered only those that are regulated by the National Futures Association and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

If you’re aware of the risks and still prepared to dive in, here are NerdWallet’s top picks for the best brokers for forex trading. (Thinking you want to dive out instead? Trading stocks might be more your speed — here are the best brokers for that.)

One suggestion: All of these brokers offer free demo accounts so you can test the market with virtual dollars. Dip a toe in with some play money before using your own cash.

Best brokers for forex trading overall

These brokers combine reasonable costs with strong trading platforms and a large selection of currency pairs.

  • Commission: Choice of spread markup or commission account. Commissions are $5 per 100,000 traded.
  • Maximum leverage: 50:1
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Currency pairs: 70+
  • Minimum trade lot: None.
  • Commission: Choice of spread markup or commission account. Commission is $5 per 100,000 traded.
  • Maximum leverage: 50:1
  • Account minimum: $50
  • Currency pairs: 80+
  • Minimum trade lot: 1,000

 

The best currency brokers combine value with selection and high-quality tools, and OandA and Forex.com hit all those notes. Each offers a wide range of currency pairs, low account minimum, the maximum legal leverage of 50:1 and low minimum trade lots. Both brokers offer the option to sidestep spread markups with a commissioned account, which offers lower spreads in exchange for fixed commissions. Both charge $5 per 100,000 traded per side for commission accounts.

Each broker offers multiple trading platforms, including the popular MetaTrader 4. The brokers also offer Sunday-to-Friday customer support.

One significant advantage for OandA: It consistently had the lowest spreads in our analysis, which compared forex brokers’ live spreads on major currency pairs.

Best brokers for beginner currency traders

These brokers stand out for their educational resources and trader support.

  • Commission: Choice of spread markup or commission account. Commission is $5 per 100,000 traded.
  • Maximum leverage: 50:1
  • Account minimum: $50
  • Currency pairs: 80+
  • Minimum trade lot: 1,000
  • See our Ally Invest review.
  • Commission: Spread markup.
  • Maximum leverage: 50:1
  • Account minimum: $250
  • Currency pairs: 50
  • Minimum trade lot: 1,000, if using MetaTrader platform.

 

If you’re just jumping into the forex market, you want a broker that can provide educational resources and customer support to get you started. Forex.com offers broad customer support, along with a wealth of videos, webinars and guides to help you learn the basics.

Ally has basic educational resources on its website but earns a place here for its strong trader support. Ally offers only spread markup accounts, and its spreads were consistently a bit higher than the competition. But it has no inactivity fees. Forex.com charges accounts with one year of no trading activity or open positions a $15 monthly data fee. Accounts with balances of $10,000 or more are exempt.

One note: Ally functions as an introducing broker to GAIN Capital, which acts as the account holder and trade counterparty at Ally Invest. Forex.com is owned by GAIN Capital.

Best forex trading platforms and tools

These brokers offer a choice of high-quality trade platforms and advanced tools.

  • See our TD Ameritrade review.
  • Commission: Both spread markup and commission ($1 minimum; $0.10/1,000 units), depending on currency.
  • Maximum leverage: 50:1
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Currency pairs: 70
  • Minimum trade lot: 1,000 to 10,000, depending on pair.
  • Commission: Choice of spread markup or commission account. Commission is $5 per 100,000 traded.
  • Maximum leverage: 50:1
  • Account minimum: $50
  • Currency pairs: 80+
  • Minimum trade lot: 1,000

 

 

TD Ameritrade is hard to beat with its much-loved thinkorswim trading platform, which allows users to trade not just currency, but also a range of other investment products. The platform is professional-level, with advanced technical analysis capabilities and the ability to create custom forex pairs. TD Ameritrade has an equally robust mobile app, Mobile Trader. One drawback: The platform is advanced enough that new traders can easily get overwhelmed.

In addition to all the other positives that made it one of our best overall picks, Forex.com offers a number of platforms for traders, allowing users to choose the one they’re most comfortable with. In addition to offering MetaTrader 4 and MT4 Mobile, the broker also offers its own platform for web, desktop and mobile. Access to the Ninja Trader platform is also available, as is TradingView for users to chart currencies, provide technical analysis and develop a trading plan.

Best brokers for low-cost forex trading

In our analysis, these brokers offered the most value.

  • Commission: Choice of spread markup or commission account. Commissions are $5 per 100,000 traded.
  • Maximum leverage: 50:1
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Currency pairs: 70+
  • Minimum trade lot: None.
  • Commission: $1 for 10,000 traded; $10 for 100,000 traded. Commissions charged round turn.
  • Maximum leverage: 50:1
  • Account minimum: $3,000
  • Currency pairs: 38
  • Minimum trade lot: 1,000

 

The costs associated with forex trading can be hard to suss out, as we noted earlier. Low-volume traders can often save money with a broker that marks up its spreads but charges no commissions, as long as those markups are competitive. OandA publishes both live and historical spreads on its website, and it came out the clear winner in our analysis for the lowest spreads on major pairs. While the company charges a monthly inactivity fee of $10, it only kicks in after a year of no activity, so it’s hardly a deal breaker.

High-volume traders may benefit from a commissioned broker. On this count, ATC Brokers’ flat commission pricing looks like a clear winner. The company had some of the lowest core spreads in our analysis. ATC prices its commission round turn (in other words, for both sides, when you buy and sell) and charges $1 per 10,000 lot and $10 per 100,000 lot. One caveat: Though the broker allows trades as small as 1,000 units, that $1 is a minimum commission.

Summary: Best forex brokers of 2019

Online Broker
Best for
Highlights
Commiss-
ions
Currency pairs
Account minimum
Start investing

Oanda

Oanda
Overall + low costs
Low spread, no trade minimum
Choice of spread markup or commission account. Commissions are $5 per 100,000 traded.
70+
$0

TD Ameritrade

Platform
Strong customer support, two powerful platforms trade a range of investment products
Both spread markup and commission ($1 minimum; $0.10/1,000 units per side), depending on currency.
70
$0

Forex.com

Forex.com
Overall
+
Beginners
+
Platform
Strong customer support, wealth of educational resources, varied platforms
Choice of spread markup or commission account. Commissions are $5 per 100,000 traded.
80+
$50

ATC Brokers

ATC Brokers
Low costs
Round-turn pricing and low spreads
$1.00 for 10,000 traded; $10 for 100,000 traded. Commissions charged round turn.
38
$3,000

Ally Invest

Ally

Beginners
Strong customer service
Spread markup
50
$250

Jim Royal contributed to this article.