We gathered a list of 65 forex trading brokers and narrowed it down to the best five by analyzing research features, customizability options, and trading platforms. While introductory incentives (special offers, free demos, referral programs) can make brokerages attractive for the short term, we looked for standard practices that keep you happily trading for the long term. Responsive client support, for example, earned a company more points than first-time perks.
During the 15th century, the Medici family were required to open banks at foreign locations in order to exchange currencies to act on behalf of textile merchants. To facilitate trade, the bank created the nostro (from Italian, this translates to "ours") account book which contained two columned entries showing amounts of foreign and local currencies; information pertaining to the keeping of an account with a foreign bank. During the 17th (or 18th) century, Amsterdam maintained an active Forex market. In 1704, foreign exchange took place between agents acting in the interests of the Kingdom of England and the County of Holland.
By contrast, the Australian Dollar, the New Zealand Dollar and the Japanese Yen tend to be more active between 00:00 and 08:00 GMT. As a trader, this means you can trade whenever it suits you - if you work during the day, there will be currencies available to trade before or after work. If you have children but are at home during the day, you can simply choose a different currency. In the Forex market, you can trade 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Trading charts simply chronicle the price movements of different trading instruments over time, which allows traders to identify patterns in price movements and make trading decisions based on the assumption that these patterns will repeat in the future. For example, one trading chart format is the Japanese candlestick chart, which is formatted to emphasise high and low price points for certain time increments (these increments can be set by the trader in their trading platform).
Wave analysis, also known as Elliott Wave analysis, is a well-known method that analyses the price chart for patterns and the direction (trend) of a financial instrument. The method is based on historical movements in market prices, with the belief that history repeats itself. The reason for this is due to market sentiment, meaning that the market as a whole moves as a herd, and reacts in a similar way to similar events and announcements.
This is quite a nice strategy for traders that have a lot of time at their disposal. Trading breakouts can be a great day trading strategy too. With this strategy you are patiently waiting for big market moves, usually caused by the various changes in the relevant country's economies. Such changes are delivered either unexpectedly or via expected news releases. During breakout trading, a trader opens a position in the forecasted direction, and waits for the currency pair to escalate (or slump) by a large amount of pips.
Retail Forex traders – Finally, we come to retail Forex traders (you and I). The retail Forex trading industry is growing everyday with the advent of Forex trading platforms and their ease of accessibility on the internet. Retail Forex traders access the market indirectly either through a broker or a bank. There are two main types of retail Forex brokers that provide us with the ability to speculate on the currency market: brokers and dealers. Brokers work as an agent for the trader by trying to find the best price in the market and executing on behalf of the customer. For this, they charge a commission on top of the price obtained in the market. Dealers are also called market makers because they ‘make the market’ for the trader and act as the counter-party to their transactions, they quote a price they are willing to deal at and are compensated through the spread, which is the difference between the buy and sell price (more on this later).
Non-bank foreign exchange companies offer currency exchange and international payments to private individuals and companies. These are also known as "foreign exchange brokers" but are distinct in that they do not offer speculative trading but rather currency exchange with payments (i.e., there is usually a physical delivery of currency to a bank account).
From a historical standpoint, foreign exchange was once a concept for governments, large companies, and hedge funds. But in today's world, trading currencies is as easy as a click of a mouse—accessibility is not an issue, which means anyone can do it. In fact, many investment firms offer the chance for individuals to open accounts and to trade currencies however and whenever they choose.
The number quoted for these prices is based on the current exchange rate of the currencies in the pair, or how much of the second currency you would get in exchange for one unit of the first currency (for instance, if 1 EUR could be exchanged for 1.68 USD, the bid and ask price would be on either side of this number). Learn more about Forex quotes in this article: Understanding and Reading Forex Quotes.
^ The total sum is 200% because each currency trade always involves a currency pair; one currency is sold (e.g. US$) and another bought (€). Therefore each trade is counted twice, once under the sold currency ($) and once under the bought currency (€). The percentages above are the percent of trades involving that currency regardless of whether it is bought or sold, e.g. the U.S. Dollar is bought or sold in 88% of all trades, whereas the Euro is bought or sold 32% of the time.
In particular, you should look for a Forex broker that has a major presence in your country or, at a minimum, offers phone and email support in your language. A broker with an efficient customer enquiry and complaints procedure will ensure that if an enquiry is filed by a Forex trader and cannot be resolved within a few hours, it is immediately forwarded to the customer support desk or compliance department.
Learn currency trading from the experts! At Online Trading Academy, we break down the online forex trading experience into multiple courses based on your level of expertise. We can help establish the fundamentals of online currency trading for the new trader, or refresh advanced principles with a more experienced investor. Trade forex online on your own schedule with markets open 24 hours a day, five days a week. Our expert educators can help you implement your own forex trading strategy based on live streaming data and analysis.
Currency trading was very difficult for individual investors prior to the internet. Most currency traders were large multinational corporations, hedge funds or high-net-worth individuals because forex trading required a lot of capital. With help from the internet, a retail market aimed at individual traders has emerged, providing easy access to the foreign exchange markets, either through the banks themselves or brokers making a secondary market. Most online brokers or dealers offer very high leverage to individual traders who can control a large trade with a small account balance.