Fast-moving, ever-changing and ultra-competitive: welcome to the world of the foreign exchange market (or forex, to insiders – what you’ll soon be).
It’s the world’s largest financial market, where the risks are high but the rewards can be higher. Finding a reliable trading platform and a broker you trust is a must to guiding you through this exciting place – and that’s what this guide will help you do.
We’ve broken this guide down into handy, bite-sized sections that’ll cover everything from top brokers by category through to what to think about when choosing the best forex trading platform for your needs.
Let's get started.
The best forex trading platforms for 2018
Updated: Feb 23, 2018
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The best trading platforms for beginners
Maybe you’re not a seasoned forex trader (yet). That doesn't mean you need to settle for anything less than a great broker. You still require low spreads, fast execution, outstanding customer support and world class education.
But don't let this daunt you. For new traders, simply choosing a trading platform can be one of the hardest parts in getting started. Based on educational offerings, spread ranges, account minimums and reputation within the industry, we narrowed down your choices to help you find a trustworthy broker to begin your journey with. Here are our picks for the top forex platforms for beginners:
One of the largest dealers in Europe, AVATrade is an Irish dealer that’s known for offering multiple markets for both small accounts and large ones, meaning it’s a good starting place for new traders. Thoroughly regulated, it offers access to forex plus other stocks for more experienced traders.
It offers fixed spreads and its trading platform (MetaTrader 4) is well known for stability and reliability. Used for years, it has an auto trader feature that uses pre-programmed strategies. You need an opening deposit of anything greater than US $100 and it offers a great range of deposit and withdrawals options, including credit card, PayPal, and electronic transfers.
Forex CFD trading platforms
Markets.com offers multiple trading tools, so as you become more confident with forex trading, you can find a platform that suits your style. It also allows you to trade on the move, wherever you are, with their trading platforms available as apps on both the iOS and Android systems. Better yet, they we're awarded the 'Best Forex Trading Platform in 2017' by UK Forex Awards.
A CySEC-regulated company, it offers tight, competitive spreads and SSL encryption and security for their website and online payment processing. To help you learn more about forex trading, you’ll also have access to a free education programme and tools.
UK online trading platforms
Looking for a trading platform provider based in the United Kingdom? The brokers below give UK traders access to the foreign currency markets through different platforms with top trading conditions. Here are our picks for the best UK forex brokers:
XTB UK - Earn Cashback Rewards
XTB is a leading FX and CFD broker offering individuals the ability to trade thousands of financial markets including Forex, Indices, Shares and Commodities on it's award-winning platform xStation as well as MT4. Winner of "Best Trading Platform 2016" at Online Personal Wealth Awards, XTB offers tight spreads, free education and a dedicated account management team to support your trading experience.
XTB Group has more than 14 years’ experience and is now one of the largest FX & CFD brokers in the world with a market capitalisation of more than $250m. We have offices in over 11 countries including UK, Poland, Germany, Spain, France and Turkey. We are also regulated by the world’s largest supervision authorities including the FCA, KNF, BaFin and CMB.
Pepperstone Limited is one of the worlds largest MT4 brokers. Because of its size and market depth it's able to provide traders incredibly low-cost pricing across all FX, CFDs and Commodities. Pepperstone is a great an all-round broker if you’re looking to trade multiple world markets from an array of online trading platforms -MetaTrader 4, WebTrader, cTrader and mobile apps for iPhone, Android and tablets.
It offers tight spreads and its size and reputation means its platform is well-tested and reliable, with thousands of transactions performed each week. You can start your account from just £100, and their deposit and withdrawal process is easy with options for credit card and electronic transfers.
Forex brokers for U.S. clients
Increased regulation has been brought into place to protect US forex traders. Great on one hand, but on the other, many international forex brokers have now stopped offering their services to people based in the US for fear of possible legal issues.
If you’re based in the states, it may be easier to find an US-based forex broker. Some have foreign affiliates who will offer services to US clients, but they need to be registered with the CFTC and National Futures Association (NFA) abide by new CFTC leverage rules. These rules restrict leverage ratios and are intended to protect both you and the firm from unnecessarily large losses caused by over-leveraged positions.
See below our recommendations for the best US forex brokers:
NADEX - Accepts US Traders
What is forex?
Put simply, forex refers to the foreign exchange market. If you’re wondering how big a deal forex is, consider this: it’s the world’s largest and most liquid financial market. To put that into context, that means as of April 2013, trading in foreign exchange markets averaged an absolutely enormous US $5.3 trillion. A day.
Open 24 hours a day, five-and-a-half days a week, currencies are traded electronically around the world from financial hubs, like London, New York and Tokyo.
Why do I need a trading platform?
The forex market is completely electronic, which means there’s no central marketplace, so you’ll need to trade through a forex broker. Although you can buy or sell currencies directly through banks and other similar places, the advantages of forex brokers are all the added value they offer you – like trading platforms and analysis tools (more on this later).
Finding a broker that you trust means it’ll free your time up to focus on making the most of your hard-earned investment through analysis and strategy.
Getting to know your broker
If you want to find a forex broker you can trust, make sure they have rules, programmes and services that govern their practices – and a decent forex broker will make this information easy to find and view.
You’re looking for a forex broker that commits to protect you from fraud, manipulation and abusive practices, whilst also encouraging open, competitive and stable markets.
Sounds easy right? Don’t be suckered in by a professional looking website – it doesn’t guarantee that the broker is reputable, just that they’ve spent a hefty portion of their marketing budget on a website.
What you’re looking for however, should be easy to spot on their website – their regulators. On their ‘about us’ page they should say state which agency they’re regulated and governed by.
Every country in the world has a regulatory body that you can research, so you can check that your potential broker is affiliated with them. In the U.S., brokers should be registered with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as a Futures Commission Merchant and Retail Foreign Exchange Dealer. They’ll also be a member of the National Futures Association (NFA).
As an electronic market, you probably won’t ever actually visit your broker’s office beyond its virtual presence on your computer screen.
But its location is still important because of regulation and potential educational opportunities.
If you choose a broker that’s located in a country with very little regulation, it’s fair to say that’s riskier than choosing a broker in a well-regulated country with compulsory compliance.
If your broker is regulated and you have a problem with them, you can contact the relevant regulatory body (ASIC, FCA or CySEC) , file a complaint and get some help to resolve your issue. Choose a broker in a non-regulated location and it’s goodbye to helpful assistance if you’ve got an issue.
On a brighter note, choosing a broker in a nearby location – or who may have regional or local offices nearby – means you can take advantage of any training seminars or workshops they may run to help you learn the forex trading ropes.
How to choose a forex broker
Currency pairs are a neat and simple way of explaining the whole forex trading process. All forex trades involve you buying one currency, and selling another, simultaneously – there’s your pair. The first currency is called the base; the second is called the quote.
So when you buy a currency pair, you buy the base currency, and sell the quote currency. Simple.
Four forex pairs are the most heavily traded worldwide, and you’ve probably already of them. They’re called the majors and they are:
- Euro/U.S. dollar (EUR/USD)
- U.S. dollar/Japanese yen (USD/JPY)
- U.S. dollar/Swiss franc (USD/CHF)
- British pound/U.S. dollar (GBP/USD)
As you’d expect, there’s a huge range of forex pairs available with lots of options but bear in mind that the majors trade under the greatest volume. They’ve also got more predictable movements and ranges, so they’re the perfect pairs for the novice trader to start off with – make sure your broker offers these.
Whilst you’re busy trading money, your forex broker is busy trying to make it – and the spread is how they make their money. The spread is simply the difference between the bid and the asking price, with each unit known as a pip. Individual brokers get to decide the spread for each currency pair, so it’s worth hunting around to find competitive spread – not all brokers will offer the same.
For comparison, the typical spread for the EUR/USD currency pair is between 1-2 pips.
What trading platforms do they offer?
Meet your forex best friend – your broker’s trading platform is your gateway to the foreign exchange markets. There are a few things to look out for in your perfect trading platform – make sure it’s:
- Easy to use – you don’t have time to hang around learning complex systems when there’s money to be made.
- Visually pleasing – as you’re going to spend a bit of time in here, it’s good to ensure you actually like how it looks and feels.
- Got a variety of analysis tools – you’ll want to keep track of how you’re doing.
- Easy to enter and exit trades, with clear buy and sell buttons – again, it’s all about time-saving and being able to do what you need easily. It might even offer a panic button, a great tool that closes your open positions (that’s a trade you haven’t completed) if you change your mind.
As you get the hang of forex trading, you can start to think about other options, like customisation, automated trading tools, alerts and strategy builders.
As you’d expect from the world’s largest financial market, it’s well up to date with the times – so you should be able to trade on the go, via mobile forex trading. See if your broker has an app for their platform that means you can keep trading, even when you’re not at your computer.
Do they provide demo trading accounts?
You might have been teaching your mum how to use the computer since you were five years old, but it’s still a good idea to give trading a trial run before committing any serious time or dollars.
Check that your forex broker offers demo trading accounts, it’s the best way to:
- Find out if the platform really is easy to use and intuitive.
- Practise making trades without saying goodbye to your hard-earned money.
- Familiarise yourself with the platform. Once you know your way around all those insider shortcuts, you’re going to save some serious time and money when you begin trading for real.
Is there a minimum deposit amount?
So you’re ready to get out there and start your first trade? Hang about – some brokers require an eye-wateringly huge minimum deposit amount. We’re talking US $10,000.
Thankfully there are plenty out there who offer a much more pleasant minimum deposit, from a few hundred dollars to a thousand or so. Make sure you’ve got enough to get started before signing up.
Are their deposit/withdrawal methods easy?
If by now you just want to be up and running really quickly, pay attention to your forex broker’s deposit methods. Credit card, bank transfers and electronic payments like PayPal are all simple, convenient and quick, meaning you’ll be able to start using your account really quickly.
Be aware of other deposit options like cheques (yes, really) – great to have another option, but you’ll have to allow time for the funds to clear (yawn).
Let’s get into the good stuff – the money coming back to you.
Look for a hassle-free, quick withdrawal process – think direct deposit to your bank account, credit card, or wire transfer. Read your broker’s terms and conditions carefully to find out how long the withdrawals take.
Be careful you don’t get stung with fees too, especially if your broker says they don’t charge any fees. That bit might be true, but if they’ve paid a bank fee for any reason (like a wire transfer), you may find that fee slapped onto your account.
What client support is available?
As you already know now, the forex marketplace is one big electronic hub, open 24 hours a day, five-and-a-half days a week. So make sure that your broker’s customer service is available when you need them, i.e. when you’re awake, even if that’s their normal middle of the night snooze time.
Speaking to an actual real living person is the best option for your tricky trading questions, with live chat support not a bad second. What you really don’t want is an automated phone line.
Luckily it’s easy to find out what support is available before you commit – give them a ring and see the type of customer service they provide. It’s also a good test of how long you have to wait. Throw them a couple of difficult questions too, and see how they handle them.
Customer service also goes a lot easier if you’re both speaking the same language – try to find a forex broker that’s fluent in your language, whether that’s English, Korean or Klingon (good luck with that).
Begin your forex trading journey
By now you should know a bit more about forex and be able to impress with your knowledge of the forex market, regulatory requirements of brokers, and what to look for when choosing the best platform for you.
Good luck out there – may the rewards be high, and the risks only slightly scary.
AFFILIATE DISCLAIMER: Myforexchart may be compensated by IG and other brokers listed as a result of any promotional activity.