If you want to participate in the foreign exchange market—the most dynamic, heavily traded market in the world—you’ll need a broker.
On the surface, all forex brokers may look about the same, but there can be drastic differences in trading costs, trading execution, reliability, and your overall trading experience. These differences could determine whether you become a successful forex trader or suffer significant trading losses.
Trading forex can be extremely profitable. It is also inherently risky. Don’t increase your risk by choosing the wrong broker.
I’ve carefully analyzed dozens of forex broker options and reviewed, ranked, and compared them so that you can choose the best forex broker to help successfully launch your forex trading career.
This chart summarizes and compares the account details of the world’s best forex brokers. Extended reviews are located below.
|Best Regulated Global Forex Broker||Best Regulated |
Forex Broker (US)
|Best Regulated Broker for Beginners||Best Offshore Forex Broker|
|Initial Deposit Requirement||$100||$0||$100||$5|
|Tradable Assets||70 currency pairs, CFDs, crypto, stocks, commodities, indices, futures||US: 80+ currency pairs|
Non-US: Forex + CFDS, crypto, stocks, commodities, indices
|55 currency pairs, CFDs, crypto, stocks, commodities,indices||50+ currency pairs, commodities, stocks, indices|
|Regulation & Reputation||A||A+||A||C+|
|Promotion||25% account bonus|
|Offers Swap-Free Accounts||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Accepts US Clients||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|My Overall Score||9.2/10||9.4/10||9.0/10||8.4/10|
My Top Pick: IG – 9.4/10 (Best Regulated Forex Broker – US)
IG sets the gold standard for regulated forex brokers. They’re regulated in the UK, US, EU, Australia, and elsewhere. They have nearly 300,000 global clients and have been in operation since 1974. You won’t find a more trustworthy forex broker.
You could probably argue that there’s no more heavily regulated business in the world than IG. In addition to maintaining compliance with financial regulators from numerous countries and jurisdictions, IG Group is also a publicly traded company. This makes them as transparent and trustworthy as it gets.
Although most traders probably choose IG for peace of mind and security, there are plenty of other advantages as well. IG has won widespread acclaim, including being named the best all-around forex broker (Investopedia), the best mobile trading platform (Investment Trends FX Report), and the best customer service (Investment Trends).
Trading costs are also minimal at IG. For example, spreads on EUR/USD start at .8 pips and average about 1 pip. Of course, spreads are always changing as the market moves, but just through my own observations, IG’s spreads are typically lower than its competition in the US for the major currency pairs.
IG also excels at trader education. Beginning traders can choose from ample educational resources that focus on the basics. Programs vary by country, but US traders have access to over six hours of online courses that cover all the trading fundamentals. Seasoned forex traders can take advantage of live webinars, usually one or two a day, that discuss current market conditions and offer continuing education.
Although I wish IG offered MT5, their own proprietary trading platform is good, particularly the mobile version. In addition to being named best mobile trading platform by Investment Trends, the IG forex trading app has a 4.7/5 rating in the Apple App Store, with more than 4,000 reviews.
For a broker with as good a reputation as IG, it goes without saying that the trade execution is stellar, and few brokers can match the number of currency pairs available. US forex traders have more than 80 currency pairs at their disposal. European traders can access more than 18,000 markets through CFDs and spread bets and can also invest in ETFs and shares.
Finally, the customer service department, often an afterthought at some forex brokerages, is also worldclass, with 24-hour assistance available five days a week in most countries.
There are so many forex brokers out there that it can be easy to find some that beat IG by a few pipettes on spreads. Unregulated brokers, in particular, often offer cheaper spreads. Yes, every pip counts in forex, but unregulated brokers don’t provide anywhere close to the same level of security. You get what you pay for, basically.
There are other downsides to being regulated beyond slightly higher prices. For example, thanks to IG’s adherence to anti-money laundering laws and KYC (Know Your Client) guidelines, you might have to submit more paperwork than you would at other brokers.
Although most identity verifications are almost instantaneous, you might be looking at a longer sign-up process should something be slightly amiss with your paperwork.
If reliability and safety are your priorities when choosing a forex broker, you should choose IG. If you also want tight spreads, tons of currency pairs, great education, and 24-hour trader support, you should still choose IG.
My Second Pick: FxPro – 9.2/10 (Best Regulated Forex Broker – Global)
FxPro ranks with IG as one of the safest forex brokers in the world. They currently don’t offer their services in the US, but are available to traders pretty much anywhere else. FxPro has won numerous awards for its overall performance, lightning quick trade execution, and trading platforms and tools.
FxPro was founded in 2006 and has evolved into a world class broker. Over the years they’ve executed nearly a half billion trades and currently handle up to 7,000 trades per second.
They can execute so many trades because FxPro is peerless when it comes to execution speed. According to their own records, most trades are completed in less than 14 milliseconds. That means an infinitesimal amount of slippage, and it’s one of the main reasons that FxPro traders are exceedingly loyal.
This loyalty is also driven by the quality and variety of FxPro’s charting and analysis tools and the fact that they offer the best forex trading platforms. FxPro’s proprietary trading platform is excellent, or traders can choose MT4, MT5 or cTrader. Integrate your platform of choice with FxPro’s analytic tools, trade calculators, and informational resources and you’ll be as informed as any forex trader in the market.
In addition to more than 70 currency pairs, FxPro offers traders access to commodities such as gold, cryptocurrency, indices, and shares. What they may be most known for, however, are their CFD offerings on all of the aforementioned assets plus energy. CFDs are very popular despite the risk, and I should note that FxPro discloses that more than 84% of its traders lose money on CFD trading.
FxPro is also excellent for beginners because they offer Negative Balance Protection for all clients. This guarantees that you never lose more than the funds you have in your account. This is important if you’re trading CFDs or taking advantage of FxPro’s 200:1 leverage. Whenever leverage is involved, it’s easy for traders to lose more—sometimes substantially more—than what they deposited. FxPro makes sure this never happens.
Customer service is also one of FxPro’s many strengths. They are available 24/5 and can be reached via live chat, email, or phone (for any fellow old-schoolers out there). Impressively, FxPro offers trader support in 17 different languages.
FxPro offers 70 currency pairs, which is a few less than IG. So if you are into trading exotic pairs, double check to make sure FXPro trades your currencies of choice.
If you are married to cTrader as your trading platform, know that FXPro charges commissions on certain trades when using that platform. Users of cTrader should check if their financial instruments of choice come with that additional fee. If you use MT4 or any of the other trading platforms, your trades are commission free.
It’s a shame that FxPro has not yet expanded its services to the US. Certainly the fact that CFDs are not permitted in the US has a lot to do with this. CFDs are a big part of FxPro’s business, so without them expansion to the US probably doesn’t make sense.
The educational resources at FxPro are good, but not quite as comprehensive as what is offered by IG. FxPro has a wealth of information on “interactive cards,” but doesn’t offer as many videos or webinars, which I prefer.
If you live in one of the 170 countries in which FxPro operates, you are in luck. They offer competitive spreads, great trading tools and resources, and impossibly fast trade execution.
#3: AvaTrade – 9.0/10 (Best Forex Broker for Beginners)
AvaTrade is another excellent, extremely safe broker that is available to traders in most countries other than the US. They’ve been around forever and are renowned for their customer service and groundbreaking approach to automated trading.
AvaTrade was a pioneer among early online brokers and was one of the first to offer retail traders access to forex markets. Since then they’ve continued to innovate, perfecting new trading platforms, including AvaTradeGo, their mobile app, and the AvaSocial App, a cutting edge automated trading app.
These proprietary trading apps are offered alongside other trading platforms, including MT4 and MT5. AvaTrade also gives traders a lot of options in terms of tradable assets with more than 1,000 to choose from. If you want to do more than trade forex, crypto, stocks, commodities and indices are also accessible, usually with CFDs.
AvaTrade claims to offer a “customer first” approach to their business, but unlike other brokers, they can back that claim up. For one, they have more than 300,000 registered traders, which pretty much speaks for itself, and two, they have made sizable investments in programs designed to keep their traders happy and informed.
One of their most visible investments has been in their trader education program. They have uploaded literally thousands of videos to their YouTube channel. These videos cover everything from tutorials on how to use various trading platforms to weekly trading plans, to informative, hour-long webinars designed for novice traders.
In addition, AvaTrade offers e-books and tutorials on their site. The breadth of their educational resources makes them the ideal online forex broker for beginners.
AvaTrade has also invested a great deal into their customer service department, and the results are very clear. Traders rave about the response times and knowledge of the trader support staff.
For what it’s worth, according to each broker’s disclosures, those who trade CFDs with AvaTrade seem to fare better than those that use FxPro. According to their websites, 84% of FxPro retail investor accounts lose money on CFDs compared to 71% of AvaTrade traders. There could be any number of reasons for this discrepancy and we may not be comparing apples to apples, but it is a significant enough difference that it bears mentioning.
Like the FxPro and IG, AvaTrade is as safe as it gets. They are regulated in the EU, Japan, Australia, South Africa, UAE, and the British Virgin Islands. AvaTrade is also reportedly planning an IPO on the London Stock Exchange, which would further increase the firm’s transparency.
Although their educational resources are outstanding, I don’t think AvaTrade’s charting and analysis tools live up to what is offered by FxPro. That’s a matter of personal opinion, of course, and many traders would probably disagree.
Historically, AvaTrades has been known as a fairly pricey broker, but a recent announcement that they were cutting trading costs seems to be making a difference. I’ve arbitrarily checked spreads on major currency pairs and found them to be in line with, if not a little bit cheaper than, other regulated brokers. Whether or not they keep the lower price points remains to be seen.
AvaTrade also offers the least amount of currency pairs of my top 6. By my count they offer 55 pairs, which is obviously still a lot, but less than other forex brokers of their caliber. They offer a lot of other tradable assets in other financial markets, but if you’re focused solely on forex and you like exotic pairs, you might be out of luck.
I love AvaTrade for their ingenuity, commitment to their traders, and educational resources. They are regulated in multiple jurisdictions and a great choice to start your forex trading career.
#4 N1CM 8.4/10 (Best Offshore Unregulated Forex Broker)
“Unregulated” brokers always present significant risks, but they also offer certain advantages over their regulated competition. Among all the unregulated offshore forex brokers out there, I believe N1CM to be the most trustworthy and reliable.
N1CM is categorized as an unregulated or offshore broker because they are registered in Vanuatu. Since the vast majority of N1CM’s traders are from countries other than Vanuatu (population 307,000), N1CM is unregulated in most of their traders’ jurisdictions. However, the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission does regulate its broker to a certain degree, so technically N1CM is a regulated broker. If that’s too much mental gymnastics for you, I suggest you go with one of the regulated brokers listed above that are subject to far stricter oversight.
Why did I include that last paragraph in the pros section? I’m trying to reach those of you who might just read the pros and skip over the cons. Offshore brokers definitely pose significantly more risk than their regulated competition.
There are, however, advantages to using offshore brokers. One advantage is that offshore brokers have the freedom to offer more promotions and deposit incentives. N1CM, for example, is currently offering a 25% account bonus. Certain restrictions apply, of course, but N1CM will put an extra 25% of your initial deposit into your account. That’s a pretty outstanding welcome.
Another reason forex and CFD traders choose to go the offshore route is the enormous leverage. N1CM offers 1000:1 in all of its accounts. That’s significantly more than you’ll get at any of the regulated brokers. N1CM also permits the trading of CFDs for all its clients, even those that live in countries like the US, where CFDs are more or less prohibited.
Thanks to the relatively cheap costs of registration in Vanuatu, N1CM can afford to offer really tight spreads and most accounts are commission free. If you are a high-frequency trader and your only priority is cheap trading costs, N1CM is your broker.
N1CM also breaks away from the typical regulated broker by offering some unique account options. A Cent account is for those who want to deposit less than $1,000 to start and don’t make frequent trades, while a Pro account is for those who take on larger positions and expect trade execution within .5 seconds.
The sign-up process with N1CM is a bit easier than with a regulated broker. Although they follow the same Anti-Money Laundering protocols as regulated brokers, N1CM seems to have streamlined the process.
N1CM is an offshore brokerage. Vanuatu is in the middle of the South Pacific, which is about as offshore as you can get. This means there’s no deposit protection, no enforcement of capital reserves, not a lot of risk disclosure, and very little transparency. Yes, I feel these risks are mitigated with N1CM, but they are still risks that are not to be taken lightly.
If you use MT4 or MT5, you won’t be disappointed, but if you prefer other trading platforms you are out of luck. N1CM does not have its own trading platform nor does it offer cTrader or any others.
N1CM also offers fewer options when it comes to tradable assets. For an offshore broker they have quite a few options, but they come up short when compared to the best forex brokers above. N1CM offers 52 currency pairs, which isn’t bad, and a number of indices, but only a limited number of other assets.
If you’re new to forex trading, you won’t find a whole lot of educational resources at N1CM. Yes, you can find plenty of forex educational services elsewhere, but I think a broker should bear some of that responsibility.
I vastly prefer the security of regulated brokers. However, if offshore brokers are the only option for you or if you value tighter spreads and sign-up bonuses over account security, N1CM is your safest bet.
#5 Forex.com 8.2/10
Forex.com has a few flaws but deserves a spot amongst the best forex brokers due to its trustworthiness, trading tools, and transparency.
Forex.com claims to be the #1 forex broker in the US, although their methodology backing up this claim is a little dubious. They awarded themselves the top spot based on the amount of client assets (per the CFTC). I’m not sure that’s the right metric to claim the #1 spot, but it does mean they are a trusted broker with a lot of assets.
Further underscoring their trustworthiness, Forex.com has been around since 2001 and is regulated by the NFA and CFTC in the US, in addition to six other regulatory agencies. Forex.com is also a subsidiary of StoneX Group, which is traded on NASDAQ, meaning they are transparent as well as well regulated.
They also offer more currency pairs than anyone, but I’m most impressed with their innovation in the pricing department. Through flexible payment plans, you can choose a cost structure that best suits your personal trading style. They also offer a unique active trader program that issues rebates on every trade you make. High-frequency traders saved around 15% with the rebate program.
Forex.com also features a really nice suite of advanced trading tools including advanced charting, performance analytics, and “SMART Signals,” a trading algorithm that provides real-time trading ideas by searching for more than 800 price movement patterns.
The Forex.com trading platform holds its own, and you can also choose to use MT4 or NinjaTrader. I know a few forex traders who are fiercely loyal to NinjaTrader, and Forex.com is the only forex broker that made my list to offer it.
If you are new to the world of currency trading, Forex.com offers invaluable education resources. Their two-hour live webinar courses are an excellent introduction to trading forex.
And now the bad news: Forex.com has issues when it comes to processing withdrawals. Most traders don’t have problems, but the ones that do seem to have persistent issues that aren’t quickly resolved.
I don’t think there’s anything devious about these delays. Forex.com is just following to comply with Anti-Money Laundering laws. The trouble is, they are not very efficient at following these protocols and once something goes awry, they can take weeks to get everything back on track. And while Forex.com is certainly not trying to abscond with anyone’s money, their intent really doesn’t matter if you are the trader facing significant withdrawal delays.
The withdrawal issues speak to the one general problem that pushes Forex.com down my rankings—poor customer service. For a lot of traders, this will never be an issue. Forex.com runs a pretty smooth ship and you may never need help from the support desk.
But poor trader support darkens everything Forex.com does. A good example is the rollout of the new trading app. I like the app itself, but when traders had issues adapting, customer support wasn’t as responsive as they should have been, and despite the app’s improvements, many traders were left frustrated.
Despite the inefficient withdrawal process and customer support issues, Forex.com is a premier broker that offers the most currency pairs, flexible pricing options, and an active trader rebate program that makes this a good time to sign up.
#6 Capital.com 8.1/10
Capital.com is another great forex and CFD broker that does not accept US clients. That’s a shame for my American readers, as Capital.com is a secure broker with an incredible range of tradable assets, innovative trading tools, and a great track record.
Capital.com has half a million registered traders despite being locked out of the US, one of the largest forex trading markets. They are certainly doing something right!
No doubt a lot of these traders are attracted to Capital.com’s sheer breadth of asset offerings. You can currently trade more than 6,000 different assets including crypto, commodities, shares, and yes, currency pairs. In fact, last time I checked I counted more than 130 forex trading options. If you love trading exotic currency pairs, Capital.com is your best option.
Other key selling points are Capital.com’s low trading costs and excellent execution speeds. They don’t charge commissions and their spreads on major currency pairs are some of the tightest I’ve seen from regulated brokers this year. Speedwise, they’re among the world’s fastest online brokers.
Traders with Capital.com are also given access to their “patented AI trade bias detection system.” I think that’s just a really cool, modern way to say they can automatically analyze your trades. I like the idea of a robot checking over my trades and offering opinions.
The technological innovations don’t stop with analytic robots, either. Capital.com also offers an award-winning trading app centered around CFDs. The app issues price alerts, has in-app educational resources, and enough charting and analytical tools to keep you on the top of your game, even if you’re trading from your phone rather than from your computer.
Although it doesn’t seem quite as bad, Capital.com also occasionally struggles with inefficient withdrawals. Once again the main culprit seems to be the AML laws, but almost all the brokers on this list face the same compliance issues and manage to do so without alienating affected traders.
Again, I think this is symptomatic of a broader issue with customer service, which can affect a broker’s entire operation.
For such a prominent broker, I’m a little disappointed in Capital.com’s educational offerings. They offer a comprehensive glossary, which can be a good reference for newcomers to the forex market, but their video series leaves something to be desired. For instance, their introduction to forex trading is a mere four minutes.
Capital.com’s available trading platform options are also pretty underwhelming. If you don’t care for their own platform, your only other option is MT4. If you’ve grown comfortable with MT5 or any other platform, you’re out of luck.
Capital.com is regulated in both Cyprus and the UK, meaning it’s trustworthy, but they’ve only been in business since 2016, so while they have an ample track record, they don’t have nearly the longevity of their peers.
Capital.com is a worldclass broker with a few occasional flaws but an incredible array of currency pairs and very low trading costs. They’re the ideal broker for European and Asian residents who want to sign up with an outstanding broker.
Choosing the right forex broker is a big step towards becoming a profitable forex trader.
I put a tremendous amount of work into my annual broker rankings and comparison, and I hope this article has helped you make that critical decision.
If you’d like to dig even deeper, or if you’d like to analyze a forex broker that didn’t make my list, I want to show you how I reached my conclusions.
Although new forex brokers always seem to be appearing on the scene, I started my analysis by compiling a list of brokers who had a proven track record.
From there, I ranked each forex broker according to the following eight factors and awarded points on a scale of 1 to 10. Although you could argue that some of the factors are more important than others, I gave them all the same weight to make my rankings because different factors are going to be more important to different traders.
Here’s my list of factors, listed in no particular order:
Factor 1: Trading costs
The success of many forex trades hinges on very small price movements. Excessive commissions and large spreads can eat up your small profit margins and turn successful trades into net losses. Over the long term, trading costs can have a significant bearing on your overall profitability.
Forex brokers make their money through commissions and/or spreads. Commissions are straightforward and easy to assess, but you also have to factor in spreads. Spreads are the difference between the bid and ask prices, and the forex broker will pocket that difference. The wider the spread, the more money ends up in the broker’s pocket than yours.
Factor 2: Trading execution
Trading execution can be critical, especially when markets are moving very fast. If a broker takes too long to place a market order you’ve made, you may end up with a completely different price point. This is known as slippage—when the price you pay is different from the set price in your order. The better the broker, the less slippage.
Many brokers disclose their average execution speed and it is a useful metric. The forex market moves so quickly that a good broker executes trades within a tenth of a second.
Factor 3: Trading tools and platform
Some brokers offer their own trading platforms and many offer industry standard platforms, such as MT4 or MT5. The key is to find a trading platform that provides you with all the information you need and is intuitive enough that you can quickly pull the trigger on a trade.
There’s also a small aesthetic element. You might find yourself staring at this screen for hours at a time, so it should be efficiently layed out and somewhat pleasing to look at. It’s also important that your broker provides a platform with the charting and analysis tools that you plan on using.
Most forex brokers also offer mobile platforms for tablets and phones, so if you don’t plan to be at your desk all day, you can still make trades or respond to dramatic events in the market.
I gave out points in this category based on the number of trading-platform options each broker offered and the quality of those offerings.
Factor 4: Ease of withdrawal
This shouldn’t be a factor, but it is. Theoretically, you should be able to withdraw your deposit plus any profits without any complications or delays, but it isn’t always so simple. Less-than-reputable brokers may ask for a fee or invent some sort of delay to prevent you from withdrawing. This is a huge red flag. If there is any sign of trouble regarding withdrawing your money, find another broker as soon as you can.
I included ease of withdrawal in my analysis to eliminate bad brokers. Every forex broker in my top six got a 10/10 in this category, otherwise they wouldn’t deserve to be on any best forex broker list.
Factor 5: Regulation and reputation
This is obviously a huge factor, and all of my best forex brokers listed above scored very highly in this category. I am amazed, however, how many traders open up accounts with brokers that are loosely regulated and have terrible online reputations. You can’t believe everything you read on the internet, of course, but where there’s smoke there’s usually fire.
I prefer regulated brokers, for the reasons I listed here. Using a regulated broker also just saves time. I don’t have to do significant detective work to determine the security of a broker if a regulatory body like the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) has essentially done it for me.
For some forex traders, unregulated brokers are either the preferable or only option, so I also included the most trustworthy unregulated broker I could find on this list.
Factor 6: Tradable assets
Not every broker offers the same currency pairs or tradable assets. All forex brokers offer the major currency pairs, of course, but some offer a limited number of exotic pairs. Considering that there’s more than $6 trillion traded in the forex market every day, even the most scarcely traded currency pairs are pretty liquid these days. A good broker will give its traders access to as many pairs as possible.
Many forex brokers also offer a number of other assets, such as equities, indices, crypto, and more. But for the sake of this analysis, I only scored the brokers on forex-related trading. If you plan to trade other markets with the same broker, you might score this category a little differently.
Factor 7: Resources and education
We live in an incredible age where there’s a wealth of information about any given subject at our fingertips. Google “forex trading for beginners” and there’s 133 million results. So your broker doesn’t necessarily need to be your source of forex education—you have 129,999,999 other options.
However, a broker can be a very valuable resource, particularly in regards to topics specific to their trading platform or charting software. Your forex broker can also keep you up to date with strategies based on current market conditions, and the best forex brokers employ market analysts that can alert you to trading opportunities you otherwise would have overlooked.
Trading forex is a pretty solitary profession, but a really good broker offers you enough support and resources that you’ll feel like part of a team.
Factor 8: Customer service
A lot of traders ignore this category, but it can be critically important if you run into technical problems and can’t unwind a position or execute a trade. A customer service department that responds quickly and accurately can make a massive difference.
Live customer support is a must in a market that moves as fast as the forex market. If you encounter a problem, you need assistance instantly, not in three to four hours.
The quality of a forex broker’s customer service is also a good proxy for how much they value their traders. The best forex brokers invest in their customer service department because they want what’s best for their clients.
Risks of Forex Trading, Leverage, and CFDs
I want to take a quick moment to remind everyone reading this article of the substantial risks associated with currency trading. Those risks are magnified by taking on leveraged positions or using leveraged financial instruments such as CFDs. Any time leverage is involved, you can lose more than your initial deposit. Do not trade any of these instruments unless you fully understand the risk involved.
Best Forex Brokers Conclusion
The best forex broker for you depends on a lot of factors such as where you live, what you trade, and how you trade. It’s a decision only you can make, but after studying and trading the forex market for years, I can confidently say that you can’t go wrong with any of the brokers above. These are the best of the best.
The best of the “best of the best” is clearly IG, particularly in the US where your forex broker options are limited. If you value account security, tight spreads, great educational resources and a great variety of currency pairs, start trading with IG today.