For the 5th consecutive year, CompareForexBrokers.com compared the 30 best forex brokers with ASIC, FCA or MAS tier 1 regulation. Each broker’s top forex trading account was selected and compared based on average spreads, forex trading platforms, execution speeds, customer service and foreign exchange range offered in 2021.
Below are the best forex brokers in 2021 across the nine CFD trading category.
Pepperstone has three key strengths:
1) Low Trading Fees – Low spreads and commissions from $3.50
2) Best Trading Platforms – MetaTrader 4 – MetaTrader 5 – cTrader Platform
3) Fast Execution Speeds – 1st for market order / 2nd for limit order speed
Spreads are a major brokerage trading cost impacting trading. While most brokers mark-up their spreads, Pepperstone offers ECN broker style trading through their razor account that is ideal for experienced traders. There are several other ECN forex brokers that publish their average spreads. A comparison of these brokers in April 2021 showed Pepperstone to have the lowest spreads on 4 of 9 forex pairs, including the AUD/USD forex pair.
Data taken from broker website. Accurate as at 02/04/2021
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Commissions are the second major brokerage trading costs. MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5) are the most popular forex trading platforms, and with the Pepperstone razor account, these platforms were found to have some of the lowest rates. This commission rate varies by the currency based a trader selects when opening a Razor account. Based on current exchange rates the Australia base currency of $3.50 per lot is the lowest commission rate.
If you are using cTrader, commission fees equate to 0.0035% of the base currency that you are trading. For instance, if you are trading 100,000 units of the EUR/USD forex pair, you will pay €3.50 per side.
Pepperstone also offers commission rebates for high volume traders starting at 10%. The broker has no fees on deposits or withdrawals as well. This includes payment methods from debit cards, bank transfers to even Paypal.
Low commissions, spreads and no funding fees minimises brokerage.
Use the forex brokerage calculator to see how Pepperstone has the lowest fees of the brokers compared.
Pepperstone offers traders the choice of the three most popular forex trading platforms:
MT4 is the most popular forex trading platform in the world based on:
Compare MetaTrader 4 Brokers >>
MT5 is designed for forex and CFD trading with a core focus on:
Compare MetaTrader 5 Brokers >>
cTrader is designed for expert traders with core features including:
Traders can choose from the three most popular trading platforms.
Pepperstone also offers enhancements to platforms from Smart Trader Tools to social trading (ZuluTrade) leading it to win the ‘platform features’ award from Australian forex traders.
To compare broker speeds, MetaTrader 4 forex demo accounts trades were compared. There are two types of orders that were measured. The first type was market orders when an order is placed at market values. This is common, especially for automated trading software. As shown below, Pepperstone has the fastest execution speed.
Limit Order is the second type measured for execution speed. This is when the value is set in MT4 at a set loss or profit. Individual traders commonly use this feature. Pepperstone, as shown below, came equal second behind FP markets for this test.
On average, testing showed Pepperstone had the fastest MT4 speed.
In April 2021 Pepperstone state that most orders across MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 and cTrader are executed in:
To achieve the fastest execution speeds, the Equinix Capital Markets infrastructure is utilised. This includes servers in New York (for MetaTrader) and London (for cTrader). The Equinix data centre platform is the largest in the world for multi-asset trading with over 475 buy/sell-side firms and over 1,200 financial service institutions. The size and proximity of the data centre allow real-time exchange rate data for traders and Straight-Through-Processing (STP) of orders. With the Razor account offering no dealing desk, the trading experience is ideal for expert forex traders, those running expert advisors or scalpers.
Pepperstone offers the three most popular forex trading platforms, MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 and cTrader. In conjunction with low fees, the best technology has ensured trading execution speeds are the fastest.
Low Trading Fees + Fastest Execution Speeds = Pepperstone.
Pepperstone is a broker you can trust, as it is regulated by a number of tier 1 financial bodies. These bodies ensure the broker has the best policies in place to ensure your funds are secure.
Pepperstone tier-1 regulators include:
Pepperstone also has the following regulation:
Overall, Pepperstone is the best forex broker if you’re looking for a well-rounded trading experience. To open an account the minimum deposit requirement is $200 (in the UK it’s £200) with 9 funding methods ranging from credit cards to Paypal.
View Pepperstone Review >>Visit Pepperstone >>
The overall rating is based on review by our experts
IC Markets fees are the lowest due to four key factors:
1) The Lowest Spreads – Lowest spreads on 56% of currency pairs
2) Low Commission Rates – Commissions as low as $3.50 per lot
3) No Funding Fees – No fees on funding or withdrawals
4) No Hidden Fees – No holding or inactivity fees
The EUR/USD is the most-traded currency pair worldwide. The IC Markets Raw Spread accounts have the lowest average spreads on this currency pair. In fact, 62% of the time there is no spread on the EUR/USD. IC Markets also has the lowest published average spread of the major global brokers for the EUR/GBP, GBP/USD and USD/SGD. This was last updated in April 2021.
IC Markets also off a range of CFD trading (such as commodities, metals, indices to bonds) and crypto. Below shows the minimum and average spreads of the major cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple.
There are 10 base currencies offered by IC Markets. The actual commission for the raw spread account (for MetaTrader 4) is determined by the base currency set. Below shows the commissions across each base currency from Euro, USD, GBP, JPY to AUD.
IC Markets have $0 funding fees when using Paypal, Skrill, Credit Card, Bpay and FasaPay. Only international transfers can lead to a $20 AUD fee, which is the charge passed on from the bank. The funding fee that is chosen can impact the processing time. The minimum deposit is $200 USD with IC Markets. Like deposits, IC Markets has $0 withdrawal fees from all payment methods but international wire transfers. This method like deposits has a $20 AUD fee associated, which is the charge by the Australian bank. The withdrawal method a forex trader chooses will usually determine the deposit methods available.
There are no inactivity fees, even after a prolonged period of no trading. There are also no transfer fees if you want to switch forex platforms or account types (eg standard vs raw). A rollover fee is also known as a swap and is charged by all forex and CFD brokers. They are applied when a position is key open for the next trading day. These change regularly, and on Wednesday night the charge for holding a currency pair is triple.
IC Markets operate similarly to an ECN broker with straight-through processing (STP) and no dealing desk. This setup ensures the best liquidity and with large global trading volume achieves the lowest fees for forex traders.
IC Markets = Low Commissions + No Hidden Fees + Lowest Spreads.
IC Markets Holds Three Licences:
The minimum deposit requirement is USD $200 across all three licences with 16 funding methods and 10 base currency options. It’s the best forex broker for traders looking to minimise brokerage.
Full IC Markets Review>>Visit IC Markets >>
Markets.com is a multi-regulated broker that offers an excellent range of trading tools and features such as:
Each trading platform suits a different style of trading, The broker’s proprietary platforms, Marketsx and Marketsi, come with unique features not available on other platforms. Marketsx was designed for CFD trading, and you can access various types of free sentiment tools. Marketsi, on the other hand, is also a CFD trading platform, yet there is a large focus on stock markets.
If you want to develop algorithmic trading strategies with Expert Advisors (EAs) or access social-copy trading tools, MetaTrader 4 (MT4) or MetaTrader 5 (MT5) are great options.
Marketsx is a CFD trading platform that comes with unique sentiment, technical analysis, and fundamental analysis tools.
Marketsi is a great option for beginner traders looking to develop trading strategies that include a diversified selection of assets and industries.
The primary tool on the Markesi platform is the Investment Strategy Builder. You can search financial instruments by sector, index, market cap and average daily volume and create a tailor-made strategy that suits your goals and risk profile.
Expected to be released soon, Marketsi Strategy Template will allow you to pick pre-made trading strategies that have been developed by forex experts. Markets.com states that the tool with cost a fraction of what portfolio managers charge with no hidden fees.
MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 are the two most popular mainstream trading platforms worldwide. Both MT4 and MT5 are incredibly popular due to the platforms inbuilt algorithmic trading strategies. You can fully automate trading using Expert Advisors (trading robots), that you either write yourself (using the MQL4 programming language on MT4 or MQL5 on MT5), or download online from the MetaTrader Marketplace.
Other trading tools available on MT4 and MT5 include:
The forex community sees the online broker as trusted thanks to oversight from five major financial authorities in Australia (ASIC), Europe (CySEC), South Africa (FSCA), the UK (FCA) and in The British Virgin Islands (FSC). Markets.com is also very transparent with its disclosure and trading conditions as the broker publishes its quarterly execution stats and the parent company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and part of the FTSE 250 Index.
If you want a multi-regulated broker with extensive CFD trading tools plus access to thousands of financial instruments, Markets.com is a great option.
View Markets.com Review >>Visit Markets.com >>
Plus500 is a good option for those new to trading forex thanks to its risk management tools. To help protect yourself against volatility and the high risk of trading complex instruments, Plus500 offer features like premium order types and investor protections.
Beginner forex traders should consider the Plus500 online trading account based on:
Trading forex markets are high-risk due to leverage increasing exposure to the market. This means that if the market moves in the wrong direction, losses can quickly accumulate and could exceed a trader’s deposit. When this occurs, most forex and CFD brokers will request the negative balance be paid back to get reach a zero balance.
Plus500 offers negative balance protection, which means that if a trader goes into a negative balance that the fx broker will adjust the online trading account to $0. This means that if a forex trader places the minimum deposit with Plus500 of $100 (for a credit/debit card) that losses won’t exceed this amount.
A guaranteed stop-loss order (GSLO) order type is similar to negative balance protection but of individual trades. This means that when placing an individual trade a maximum loss amount can be set and Plus500 guarantees the trader’s loss will not exceed this level. This shouldn’t be confused with a standard stop-loss order which also allows a trader to set the maximum loss, but losses can exceed this level due to slippage. It should be noted that when the GSLO order type is activated that the spreads will be wider for that trade. Margin requirements may also need to be met.
Plus500 primarily makes its brokerage from the market-based spreads (the difference between the buy/sell price). This simplifies calculations for brokerage compared to other brokers who charge a commission, payment processing fees, and forex platform usage fees. Some standard fees to take note are a $10USD inactivity fee if a trader doesn’t log into their account for 3 months and an overnight funding fee if market positions are held over a sustained period.
Plus500 has Webinar and online forex training facilities for beginner to expert currency traders. Educational resources are also available through web-based tutorials and videos. News and information on global markets can also be easily accessed on the site or fx platform.
Plus500 focus is primarily on mobile trading with trading apps on iPhone, iPad, Android and window. Mobile trading can also occur on the webtrader, while a Windows 10 trader exists for those using a desktop device. The mobile trading apps have full functionality with the ability to monitor markets and make live trades. These can also be accessed through the Plus500 demo account. These capabilities led to Plus500 been viewed as best for beginners on the 2021 forex trading platform comparison.
Plus500 has over 300,000 active customers and is a regulated broker in Australia by ASIC (AFSL 417727), in South Africa by FSCA (FSP 47546) and in the UK by FCA (FRN 509909).
Plus500 is ideal for beginners with risk management tools, training and an easy to use trading platform.
Plus500 is the best forex broker for beginners based on their worldwide reputation, broker reviews, good customer support and educational resources. The minimum deposit to open an account is $100 from either a credit or debit card with other funding methods available.
View Plus500 Review>>Visit Plus500 >>
City Index (part of Gain Capital) offers the most comprehensive forex and CFDs across a range of asset classes. This includes indices, shares, cryptocurrency, commodities, interest rates and options. This is the ideal broker for those looking to trade a range of financial products (not just currency). They offer the lowest spreads of any forex broker when it comes to the ‘spread only’ category with no commissions charged to traders. This is termed the ‘standard account’ by most fx brokers.
City Index offers 21 Indices to trade across Europe, Asia and the USA. Trading in this class has fixed spreads from 1 point. Leverage can be up to 500:1 depending on your residence with the ability to trade contracts on options, futures and cash.
City Index allows individuals to trade contracts for difference across over 4,500 shares. The commission on global shares is 0.09%. Due to the high-risk nature of margin retail forex and share fluctuations, a stop-loss order is recommended. In some cases, a guaranteed stop-loss order (GSLO) order type can also be made to lock in the maximum loss of a trade. If your new to high-risk trading, this should be considered as part of your trading strategy.
City Index trading is across the major crypto classes including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple. As shown below in 2021 City Index has the lowest costs when it comes to cryptocurrencies. Please note, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK no longer allows you to trade cryptos as a retail trader.
City Index allows trading on over 25 commodities from oil, coffee to wheat. This can be done with leverage, which varies by the commodity chosen. The big advantage of commodity trading is the tighter spreads compare to other trading markets.
The final trading grouping is Bonds, Interest Rates and Options. These are commission-free, with spreads only charged. Leverage is at the higher range, making it a high-risk tradable CFD.
City Index (Gain Capital) is Australian Securities and Investments Commission regulated with AFSL 345646 and is known as the service provider Forex.com in the UK, USA and Canada with licenses FCA 113942 and NFA 0339826.
With the lowest standard accounts spreads, high leverage and a range of CFDs, City Index is the low-cost solution for those looking to trade more than just currency.
With no initial deposit requirements and no funding fees (including from credit cards), City Index is recommended for those looking to trade forex and a range of financial products and no commissions.
View City Index Review>>Visit City Index >>
eToro is the worldwide leaders when it comes to social trading/copy trading with:
eToro focus on social trading with the trading platform having an inbuilt social news feed. The main feature used is copy trading where a trader can be selected based on their past trading activity. The social trading module displays key stats from past returns to the level of historical risk associated with the individual. eToro also rewards individuals who have their trades copied to maximise the number of individuals engaged in the platform.
Copy portfolio is similar to copy traders but combines similar individuals or markets (eg crypto). This can help to diversify risk from just copying one instrument or one trader. Options include market portfolios, top trader portfolios, and partner portfolios.
Through its propriety trading platform that includes mobile trading and mobile apps contracts for difference products and asset classes can be traded. This includes share (stocks), crypto-assets (crypto), commodities, EFTs, indices and 47 forex pairs.
eToro is quite different from all other online brokers and was built around social trading, especially its mobile trading platform. With the largest number of copy traders worldwide thanks to the way the broker incentives traders, this is the best broker for those looking for this functionality when you trade forex markets or contracts for difference. It was rated highly on our forex broker UK table and on the Australian and South African comparisons.
Open a demo account >>Visit eToro >>
Traders new to forex or looking to trade low volumes should consider FXCM based on their:
The FXCM minimum deposit requirement is $50 internationally, £300 in the UK and €300 in the Euro region. Deposit methods include Visa, MasterCard, and Discover debit/credit cards, Skrill, UnionPay, Neteller, Poli and in Australia BPAY. The minimum trade size is one lot.
FXCM offers the only demo account that doesn’t require the trader to provide their basic details. From any FXCM webpage, there is the option to “try demo” which launches the web-based demo platform. Virtual money up to $5,000 can be traded in the demo account with most order types supported except for stop/limit trades.
Like any demo account, FXCM replicates real currency markets but is still simulated. Differences can cause delays in pricing, liquidity restrictions, and not all instruments are tradable. Other factors from no slippage to rejected orders may not be present in a demo account. FXCM offers support for demo account users, but you need to leave the trading platform for live-chat, etc. They also offer an Islamic account which is swap-free.
Overall, the ease of opening a demo account anonymously and instantly with a simple tutorial to get you started is why FXCM has won this CFDs category. It should be noted though they are at the higher end when it comes to brokerage.
View FXCM Review >>Open FXCM Demo Account >>
Those looking to avoid a scam broker at all cost should consider IG as they:
IG Markets (now known as IG Group) is one of the older brokers founded in 1974. They operate in 16,000+ foreign exchange market and have over 178,000 clients across the globe. This makes them the largest of the top 10 brokers hence the claim that IG is the no.1 CFD trading and spread betting service provider.
IG has a signatory of the FX code of conduct. These global currency trading guidelines help protect traders from scams occurring in future and protect traders’ funds.
IG is regulated by most ‘tier 1’ government authorities including ASIC (Australian Securities & Investment Commission), JFSA (Japanese Financial Services Authority) and MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore). Other regulators include FINMA (Switzerland/Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority), CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission), and FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) with is the successor of the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The requirements of these regulators help mitigate the risk of forex scams that past brokers have been known to have. They are one of the top providers when it comes to regulation and spreads for their standard account (commission-free).
View Full IG Review>>Visit IG >>
Professional forex traders only should consider Interactive Brokers due to:
Interactive Brokers is not designed for most traders. Only professional traders with high currency trading volume can trade with the broker. To qualify these traders, the service provider’s minimum deposit of $10,000 US Dollars. There are also heavy penalties (known as maintenance fees) if commissions made don’t exceed $10k USD for the initial 8 months. This means real money volumes need to be traded consistently.
Interactive Brokers offers true ECN accounts (market maker) allowing trading directly with liquidity providers with no dealing desk. This is similar to IC Markets and Pepperstone. A key difference comes when to their commission, which is lower only when an online trader’s volume is very high such as exceeding $5m USD.
Interactive Brokers offer the most financial markets of any foreign exchange broker across a range of asset classes. This is because in addition to currency trading they offer stockbroking, mutual funds, and even hedge fund products. This allows high volume professional traders to have an all-in-one broker for all their financial requirements.
Overall, if you’re a VIP retail forex trader looking to start trading high-volume consistently in the future across a wide range of financial markets then Interactive Brokers is the best all-in-one solution that offers the lowest brokerage from spreads to commissions.
View Full Interactive Brokers Review >> Visit Interactive Brokers >>
Based on 13,000 traders who voted with Investment Trends, Pepperstone is the best broker offering the leading forex platforms, the fastest trade execution speeds and customer support. View the finding leading to Pepperstone being the best MT4 broker.
Plus500 is the beginner broker offering risk management features including negative balance protection and guaranteed stops, no commissions on trades, low deposit requires of $200 and an easy to use trading platform. See the Plus500 writeup.
An ECN broker acts the same as a stockbroker, allowing an individual to process a trade with the market. This type of broker does not want a trader to lose as they make a commission based on trade volume. You can read more about our recommended market maker broker on our page reviewing IC Markets.
The second type of broker is a market maker taking a position in most cases at the opposite end of a trade. These brokers want you to lose money as it’s a core way they profit from CFD trading. Generally, savvy traders avoid these types of brokers.
That data above came from the broker’s websites, broker reviews and our own analysis using their platforms and the regulators for:
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the regulator in Australia. Australian forex brokers hold an Australian Financial Services Licence. View the top Australian brokers with AFSL licences and ASIC Regulated Brokers such as Fusion Markets.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the regulator in the UK. Despite Brexit, the authority remains guided by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). Most clients in the EU need to provide a National Client Identifier (for UK residences this is their National Insurance Number) or LEI for entities. View the leading UK brokers with a valid FRN.
The UK, unlike other countries, allows spread betting. See our review about best spread betting forex brokers in the UK.
Formally the FSB, The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) is the regulator in South African. Regulated FSCA firms have a valid Authorised Financial Service Providers (FSP) licence. You view the leading South African FSP licence brokers.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is the local regulator. Regulated brokers will have a company regulation number relevant for a contract for differences trading. You can view our top accounts for Singapore traders.
Other regulators were considered such as the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC). The same is the case for brokers including Global Prime, XTB, OANDA, easyMarkets, FP Markets and eToro. We also considered features such as leverage and trading platforms like NinjaTrader. This page was not designed for USA trader who may require a broker with the National Futures Association (NFA) or the CFTC. Learn more about selecting a CFD provider with our choosing article.
You can also view pages for other countries including:
and forex trading tropics
Justin Grossbard has been investing for the past 20 years and writing for the past 10. He co-founded Compare Forex Brokers in 2014 after working with the foreign exchange trading industry for several years. He also founded a number of FinTech and digital startups including Innovate Online and SMS Comparison. Justin holds a Masters Degree and an Honours in Commerce from Monash University. He and his wife Paula live in Melbourne, Australia with his son and Siberian cat. In his spare time, he watches Australian Rules Football and invests on global markets.