To help choose an ECN forex broker, a spread and ECN forex platform comparison was completed. This led to a list of the top ECN brokers that offer straight-through processing (STP) allowing direct access to liquidity markets.
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Here is our list of the best MT4 ECN forex brokers
The best MT4 ECN Broker for UK traders is Pepperstone. Combined with ECN style execution, low spreads and commissions, Pepperstone offers the best solution for the MT4 platform.
Choosing the Pepperstone Razor account provides an excellent foundation for you to get the most from the MT4 platform. With this account, you get:
Note: True ECN is defined as trading with no dealing desk or human intervention.
Pepperstone is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which makes it a broker that can be trusted by traders from the United Kingdom. Being regulated by the FCA means Pepperstone must meet strict regulatory guidelines such as training standards, avoid conflict of interest and the requirements for customers’ deposits to be segregated in a separate account. The broker uses the highly respected auditing firm, Ernst & Young, to ensure Pepperstone processes and records are compliant with FCA standards.
Pepperstone is one of the top 10 global forex brokers and is a well-recognised broker in the United Kingdom where they have a strong presence.
Pepperstone is a no dealing desk (NDD) broker which allows them to offer low trading fees. The Razor trading account offers spreads as low as 0.0 pips for the EUR/USD currency pair. These ECN-like spreads are on par with other financial institutions intra-bank rates, that most retail forex brokers are unable to achieve.
The below table highlight the key features of the main trading accounts Pepperstone offers. The Razor account has spreads starting from as low as 0.0 pips, averages around 0.3 pips, and has a commission for each lot you trade. The standard account, on the other hand, adds one pip to the spread in place of commissions.
The below spreads table compares the average and typical spreads brokers provide on their website and are reviewed on a monthly basis. The table below shows the average spreads against a number of other brokers for the ECN commission accounts. You will notice Pepperstone spreads stand up well across the board against other brokers.
Data taken from broker website. Accurate as at 04/06/2021
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The main competitor to the Pepperstone Razor account is the True ECN offered by IC Markets, which are also one of the UK’s direct access and no dealing desk brokers (NDD). For most trading platforms, both brokers charge the same commission of $3.50 per side ($7 per round turn) and similar spreads. Pepperstone commission fees are:
A full IC Markets vs Pepperstone comparison table compares the two.
Pepperstone offers competitive trading costs across 180 financial markets. Pepperstone’s clients can expect an average transaction cost of approximately $5.36 (assuming the EUR/USD spread remains constant at 0.16 pips) for each standard lot you trade.
Compared to other ECN forex brokers, retail traders can expect total trading costs of $7.90 with Axi, $7.70 with IG, and respectively $8.0 with FXTM. When put side by side with other ECN brokers, forex trading with Pepperstone comes with an additional saving cost of almost 40%.
The cost related to trading forex and CFD trading can be further reduced by up to 15% through Pepperstone Active Trader Program. Typically, this translates into saving costs between $200 and $500 in monthly rebates. However, the Active Trader program is catered for high-volume traders and scalping trading strategies.
Pepperstone is the best forex broker in the UK when it comes to trade execution speeds. Their exceptional ECN-like trading speeds of 60 milliseconds are based on two key features:
1) A direct optical fibre connection to trading servers
The sheer distance between UK liquidity hubs can be a disadvantage for UK traders. Pepperstone offset this through a direct optic fibre connection from London to New York. The end result is a reduction in up to 10x times latency for the UK traders.
2) Usage Of Equinix Servers
Just having a fast connection isn’t enough if the server has a poor response rate. To overcome this, Pepperstone partners with Equinix who have servers near Wall Street in New York, which is one of the world’s largest and most important financial centres. Using the Equinix data centre means the broker is as close as possible to most of the currency exchange firms and banks means Pepperstone can achieve the best possible latency.
Using a third-party MT4 script to test the market order execution speed, the latency with Pepperstone is on average 85 milliseconds. See the full market order execution speed ranking below:
Overall, Pepperstone Limited offers the best ECN trading conditions for UK traders, which is the home of the world’s largest financial centre. Accounts can be funded through a variety of payment methods including credit cards, bank transfers, bPay, and PayPal. All traders can open a demo account and a live account. A demo account provides real-life trading conditions, allowing individuals to test trading strategies prior to opening a live account. The initial minimum deposit required by Pepperstone is $200.
View Pepperstone Review >>Visit Pepperstone >>
The overall rating is based on review by our experts
Second, on our list of best MT4 ECN platforms by spreads, costs and spread is the Australian regulated forex broker IC Markets.
IC Markets was selected as the best Australian ECN broker based on these key factors:
IC Markets has a major focus on Forex trading however traders can also choose from CFDs on Futures, Stock Indices, Shares, Bonds and Commodities. The company offers access to a true ECN trading environment via three powerful trading platforms – MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 and cTrader.
International Capital Markets Pty Ltd Australia complies with stringent regulatory standards set by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) which makes it a safe and trustworthy broker for Australian traders. IC Markets (EU) Ltd – regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) under the CIF Licence No 362/18.
As a true ECN broker, IC Markets matches the trades of its clients electronically and pass on trade orders to liquidity providers. This system means it operates a no dealing desk NDD execution model.
Since the broker uses a diverse liquidity mix, it is able to provide Forex traders with the lowest possible spreads – as low as 0.0 pips on some major currency pairs through its MetaTrader 4 ECN account (Raw Spread Account). IC Markets offers one of the lowest spreads on FX pairs such as EUR/USD in the world (0.1 pips) and is also able to offer tight spreads across its entire product list.
The table below demonstrates the minimum and the average spread on five major currency pairs through its Raw Spread and Standard trading accounts.
IC Markets will charge a small commission of $7.0 per round turn for 1 Standard Lot traded on its Raw Spread account, while Forex trading on its Standard account is associated with no commissions – just an all-inclusive spread.
The Raw Spread account supports 10 base currencies, including EUR, USD, AUD, GBP, SGD, NZD, JPY, CHF, HKD and CAD. Depending on the base account currency selected and trade volume (Micro or Standard Lots), IC Markets will charge AUD 3.50 per side (AUD 7.0 round-turn)on its MetaTrader 4 Raw Spread account.
At IC Markets, the average transaction cost for 100,000 units traded is USD 4.6 (assuming the EUR/USD spread remains constant at 0.1 pips).
As far as order execution speed is concerned, the broker’s MetaTrader 4 server is located in the Equinix NY4 data centre, ensuring ultra-low latency and an average order execution speed of 36.5 ms for retail clients.
We tested the latency for limit orders using our MetaTrader 4 terminal to calculate the time between sending the order and orders being processed by IC Markets’ servers. The results can be viewed below:
Due to deep liquidity and no dealing desk execution with no requotes, IC Markets’ MT4 ECN account (Raw Spread) offers one of the best trading conditions for retail traders who employ scalping strategies. The Raw Spread account may also suit the needs of day traders as well as of those who use Expert Advisors.
Overall, IC Markets offers the lowest spreads along with true ECN trading conditions. The minimum deposit required is $200, while the maximum leverage allowed for Forex and Metals is 1:30 on the Standard account and Raw Spread account types. Another advantage we should highlight is that the MT4 platform allows position hedging because of no “first in first out” rule with IC Markets. Last but not least, this Australian broker offers a free demo account, which is configured to support all account types, all trading platforms and all 232 financial instruments available.
Third, on our list of best MT4 ECN platforms by spreads, costs and speed is leading CFDs provider FP Markets. FP Markets was selected as the top zero spread ECN broker based on these key factors:
With 15 years of business history, FP Markets is one of the most reputable ECN brokers worldwide. FP Markets is regulated across multiple jurisdictions and is the parent company of:
With FP Markets, retail clients can access institutional-grade liquidity with no dealing desk and no requotes.
Due to its vast pool of liquidity providers, the brokerage is able to offer the lowest possible Forex spreads, starting from 0.0 pips, on its MetaTrader 4 software, accessed through its Raw trading account type. The company offers more than 60 major, minor and exotic Forex pairs with the minimum spreads on some of the most popular pairs being:
During peak market hours the EUR/USD spread remains at 0.0 pips 55.87% of the time – according to price data compiled from August 2020 (only available through the Raw Spread account).
Spot Metals and Forex trading on FP Markets’ MT4 ECN account (Raw) is associated with a small commission – $6.0 per round turn for every 1 Standard Lot traded, while the minimum deposit required is AUD 100 or currency equivalent.
The maximum leverage allowed for Forex and Spot Metals is 1:500 via the broker’s offshore subsidiary and regulation, and 1:30 in Australia and Europe. Meanwhile, trading CFDs on Commodities and Stock Indices on the Raw account does not incur any trading fees for clients.
At FP Markets, the average transaction cost for 100,000 units traded is USD 3.9 (assuming the EUR/USD spread remains constant at 0.09 pips).
FP Markets operates a pricing model based on Electronic Communication Network (ECN) technology, which ensures deep liquidity, the highest level of price transparency, ultra-tight spreads as well as exceptional order execution with minimal slippage.
Since FP Markets’ MT4 server is located at the Equinix NY4 data centre, the broker is able to ensure ultra-low latency and ultra-fast order execution (37 ms) for its clients. FP Markets was awarded four consecutive times as the Best for Quality of Trade Execution 2019 by Investment Trends.
Another notable advantage of the broker’s MT4 platform is that there are no restrictions on limit orders, which suits perfectly trading styles such as scalping as well as trading strategies based on the use of Expert Advisors (EAs).
Along with the desktop version, FP Markets’ MT4 is also available as a web-based application (Web Trader) and as a mobile app for iOS- and Android-based devices.
Overall, FP Markets is the most trusted forex brokers with zero spread trading accounts. Similar to other regulated CFD and Forex brokers, FP Markets warns that CFD trading through retail investor accounts carries a high risk of losing capital rapidly, as leverage is used. Consequently, before starting to operate with such complex instruments, retail traders need to be fully aware of how CFDs work!
Fourth, on our list of best MT4 ECN platforms by spreads, costs and speed is one of the biggest stock brokerage firms in the US, namely TD Ameritrade. TD Ameritrade was selected as the best ECN Brokers for US-based forex traders based on four key factors:
Founded in 1975, TD Ameritrade is a renowned stock exchange-listed US stockbroker with a banking background, which falls under the regulation of:
TD Ameritrade is authorized to provide brokerage and trading services to residents of the United States only while covering the US markets only. The broker offers its clients direct market access via a range of trading platforms – Classic Web Platform, NextGen Web Platform, TD Ameritrade Mobile, ThinkorSwim Desktop, ThinkorSwim Web and ThinkorSwim Mobile.
At TD Ameritrade spreads may be slightly higher, especially during less liquid trading hours. The average EUR/USD spread is 1.06 pips based on price data compiled from Oct 2018 through June 2019.
One of the biggest advantages of TD Ameritrade price engine is that it can absorb large orders.TD Ameritrade clients can transmit trading orders to 5 of the biggest tier-one liquidity providers: JP Morgan, Citadel Securities, XTX Markets, HC Technologies, and Virtu Financial.
Trading Forex pairs does not incur any commissions at TD Ameritrade, as the broker’s compensation is incorporated in the bid-ask spread entirely.
TD Ameritrade will charge no commissions on trading Stocks and ETFs online but will charge a $0.65 fee per contract for Options and a $2.25 fee per contract for Futures.
Meanwhile, trading Mutual Funds is associated with a $49.99 commission per trade. However, we should note that out of 12,000 Funds available, the broker allows commission-free trading on approximately 4,000 of them. The $49.99 commission will be charged, in case clients sell those free Funds within 180 days following the purchase.
Finally, US Government Bond trading is free-of-charge, but, in the case with Corporate Bonds, the broker will charge a $1 fee per bond on secondary transactions.
At TD Ameritrade, the average transaction cost for 100,000 units traded is USD 10.6 (assuming the EUR/USD spread remains constant at 1.06 pips).
As for the broker’s order execution, TD Ameritrade utilizes advanced routing technology, which has ensured:
Overall, TD Ameritrade offers one of the best full-service experiences for US-based traders. By industry standards, the spreads are on the higher end, but this is compensated by the zero-commission trading policy. US traders can start forex trading risk-free with TD Ameritrade’s paperMoney account.
Note: TD-Ameritrade offers true leveraged forex trading and futures trading but does not offer CFD for trade.
Fifth, on our list of best MT4 ECN platforms by spreads, costs and speed is the world’s biggest CFD provider IG. IG was selected as one of the most credible forex brokers in the industry based on these key factors:
Founded in 1974 and having more than 239,000 clients worldwide, IG Group Holdings Plc is one of the most reputable Forex brokers with solid regulation and business operations in 16 countries across 5 continents. IG is authorized and regulated in the following jurisdictions:
One way to trade Forex with IG is over-the-counter, via Contracts for Difference, with no commissions. Clients will only pay the spread. IG offers variable spreads on its Forex CFDs, which depend on liquidity and time of the day.
When it comes to CFD trading on IG’s Standard OTC Account, we should note that the company will act as a market maker. In other words, every time clients execute a trade, they will be dealing directly with the brokerage.
Retail clients are able to choose from more than 60 major, minor and exotic currency pairs, with spreads on:
The minimum and average spreads, as well as the margin requirements for the most actively traded Forex pairs on IG’s MT4 platform, are presented in the table below.
We should note that the average spreads have been calculated over the 12 weeks ending May 29th 2020.
When holding Forex and Spot Metals trades overnight, clients will incur overnight funding costs. In this case, the cost will equal the tom-next rate plus a small charge.
When trading CFDs on Shares and Stock Indices, the overnight funding fee includes IG’s admin fee plus or minus the relevant interbank rate (depending on whether it is a long or a short position) for the currency in which the trading instrument is denominated.
For trades in Commodity CFDs and Futures CFDs, clients will not incur overnight funding charges.
Additionally, retail traders can reduce the cost of forex trading through cash rebates. Traders can save up to $10 for each notional million traded contingent on trading volume thresholds.
At IG, the average transaction cost for 100,000 units traded is USD 6.0 (assuming the EUR/USD spread remains constant at 0.6 pips).
As for order execution speed, IG’s pricing technology allows the broker to execute more than 98% of its clients’ market orders within 0.014 seconds on the MT4 platform. IG’s robust execution engine can boost the following performances:
Overall, the IG order management system has saved clients over GBP 55 million since June 2013.
Overall, IG is considered to be a safe ECN broker. Another way to trade Forex with IG is via direct market access (Forex Direct) through the broker’s L2 Dealer platform. This service is intended for professional clients and grants them access to the physical market with no dealing desk intervention. Clients are able to access the best bid and offer prices available for a particular instrument but will be charged a commission based on trade volume. Forex Direct keeps average spreads tight because pricing is provided by top financial institutions and exchanges.
View IG Markets Review >>Visit IG Markets >>
Sixth, on our list of best MT4 ECN platforms by spreads, costs and speed is the no dealing desk NDD broker FxPro. FxPro was selected as the best straight-through processing STP forex broker based on these key factors:
Founded in 2006 and headquartered in the United Kingdom, FxPro is an STP broker, offering CFDs on Forex pairs, Equities, Spot Indices, Commodity Futures, Spot Metals and Spot Energies on three popular trading platforms (MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5).
FxPro is authorized and regulated in multiple jurisdictions across the globe, including:
Along with NDD execution, retail traders can take advantage of fixed Forex spreads on FxPro’s MT4 account. The STP broker will have the spread on 7 popular currency pairs fixed, depending on specific time intervals during the trading session. Fixed spreads are offered on EUR/GBP, EUR/JPY, EUR/USD, GBP/JPY, GBP/USD, USD/CAD, and USD/JPY.
For example, when trading EUR/USD on the MT4 Fixed Spread Account, the spreads offered will be as follows:
However, during illiquid times and news events, all market participants can expect the EUR/USD spread to reach 2.7 pips.
At FxPro, the total trading cost incurred on all forex transactions depends on three factors:
Investors can incur a total trading cost of $15 per side on the traditional broker-spread model. By comparison, on the less-expensive interbank spread plus commission model, investors can incur a total trading cost of $5.5 per side.
The brokerage will charge no commissions for CFD trading on its MT4 and MT5 account types.
At FxPro, the average transaction cost for 100,000 units traded is USD 15.0 (assuming the EUR/USD spread remains constant at 1.5 pips).
FxPro provides execution of client trade orders with no dealing desk intervention, which, in turn, ensures access to diverse liquidity and ultra-high execution speeds (most trade orders are filled in less than 11.06 ms).
According to the broker’s statistics, in 2019, 99.32% of all instant orders were executed with no requotes, while 9% of orders experienced positive slippage.
At FxPro, all client orders are processed through Equinix Data centres – LD5 in London and AM4 in Amsterdam, where FxPro has co-located servers. FxPro uses its own proprietary aggregator Quotix to aggregate bids and offers from top-tier banks.
Overall, FxPro is a trusted Straight Through Processing broker, but when we factor in the variable spreads they are relatively high when compared to other legitimate STP brokers. For scalpers, it will be extremely hard to overcome the total trading costs. For more inquiries, you can contact FxPro’s 5-star customer support by clicking the button below.
View FxPro Review >>Visit FxPro >>
Seventh, on our list of best MT4 ECN platforms by spreads, costs and speed is HotForex. HotForex was selected for offering one of the best ECN forex trading conditions in the industry based on these key factors:
HF Markets is a multi-regulated, award-wining online broker, which provides Forex trading and CFD trading services to retail and institutional clients in a number of countries globally. HotForex follows strict regulatory guidelines in the following jurisdictions:
HotForex offers good conditions for low-cost ECN-style Forex trading on its ZERO Spread trading account, which may suit high-volume traders, scalpers and traders who use Expert Advisors.
To start trading on this ECN account, retail clients need to deposit as little as $200. Since pricing is derived from a pool of top liquidity providers, the broker offers raw spreads with no hidden markups. For example, major pairs such as EUR/USD can be traded with a minimum spread of 0.0 pips, while spreads on minors and exotics (0.7 pips on EUR/GBP) are also kept ultra-tight.
Overall, HF Markets’ ECN account can deliver average spreads of 0.1 pips on EUR/USD.
On the other hand, the variable spread model offered through HotForex Premium account can boost an average EUR/USD spreads of 1.3 pips. Find out how HotForex stack up against the competition below (based on data sourced by HotForex):
Similar to other leading ECN brokers, HF Markets will charge a small commission of $6.0 per round turn, for every 1 Standard Lot traded on its MetaTrader 4 platform. This is valid for major currency pairs such as AUD/USD, EUR/USD, GBP/USD, etc.
Additionally, trading minor and exotic Forex pairs such as AUD/CAD, EUR/CHF, USD/SEK, USD/PLN among others are associated with a commission of $8.0 per round turn for 1 Standard Lot.
At HotForex, the average transaction cost for 100,000 units traded is USD 4.0 (assuming the EUR/USD spread remains constant at 0.1 pips).
HotForex passes on client orders to third party venues for their execution. Unlike market maker brokers, HF strives to offer the best order execution policy within the limitations of modern-day technology. While HF Markets doesn’t advertise on its website their order execution speed, according to a ping test done by our team of experts we verified 145 ms average speed.
Overall, HotForex offers good ECN accounts with low spreads, especially on EUR/USD. The good selection of trading markets (8 asset classes) coupled with competitive trade costs and spreads with no-markups makes HotForex a good pick. A demo account can be opened by simply clicking the button below.
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Last on our list of best MT4 ECN platforms by spreads, costs and speed is the Australian brokerage trading firm Axi. Axi was selected for offering the best MT4 ECN platform based on these key factors:
Axi is a multi-regulated ECN brokerage, licensed in the United Kingdom, Australia and Dubai, where it falls under the regulation of the FCA, ASIC and respectively DFSA.
Axi supplies its Forex quotes directly from a network of +20 top-tier liquidity providers (LP). The extensive network of LPs allows Axi to offer reliable low spreads across its CFD product list.
Axi price engine aggregates in real-time price quotes from its LPs and identifies the best bid and the best offer prices available. Since the broker’s pricing can reflect even the tiniest price changes in real-time, this brings its clients very close to institutional-grade pricing.
The broker’s MT4 platform allows access to over 140 financial instruments, which can be traded with ultra-tight spreads on Axi’s Pro Account. In times of high liquidity, spreads on the most popular Forex pairs can reach 0.0 pips. The average spreads offered on Forex majors are:
In exchange for ECN trading conditions, Axi will charge a small commission of 7.0 per round turn for 100,000 units traded on its Pro account type. On the other hand, there are no commissions on the Standard Account, but spreads will be wider. Axi commission rate of $3.5 per side per 100,000 units traded is in line with the industry standards.
When we take into account the total transaction cost (spread + commission), Axi’s charges are on par with other respected brokers, maybe slightly higher.
At Axi, the average transaction cost for 100,000 units traded is USD 5.5 (assuming the EUR/USD spread remains constant at 0.2 pips).
Axi’s MT4 software solution uses an ECN bridge to ensure considerable latency reduction. This translates into less negative slippage and subsequently lower trading costs compared to market maker brokers. The cutting edge technology offered by Axi allows it to deliver fast order execution.
Our team of experts has put to the test how fast the broker is executing your order and found the following performance:
With all this taken into account, we consider Axi’s MT4 software as one of the best ECN platforms on the market. You can trade with an award-winning MT4 forex broker that handles over $100 billion in average monthly trading volume from over 40,000 traders. Claim your free Axi demo account with $50,000 in paper money by clicking the button below.
View Axi Review >>Visit Axi >>
ECN stands for ‘Electronic Communication Networks’ and is a network that allows you to connect directly with liquidity providers for trading CFD products like forex, bonds, commodities, shares and ETFs without the need for a middle man (often called a market maker). Trading directly with liquidity providers means you can achieve tight spreads with fast trading execution.
See our best ECN Brokers for
Electronic Communications Networks or ECNs essentially help speed up the settlement of trades between brokerage houses and individual traders. With an ECN, no 3rd party or middle man exists. This helps to reduce settlement costs as there is one less party involved in a trade that needs to get paid.
Straight through processing or STP is another name that describes a true ECN broker. Brokers that offer STP on their platforms, place client orders directly with liquidity providers such as banks or institutional brokers without them passing through a dealing desk. Not only does this promote faster trade execution speeds, but STPs also allow for greater market depth and transparency. STP brokers are usually compensated for offering this service via a small fee/commission.
Compare forex brokers was created by a team that has worked with forex providers over several years. The aim of their comparison tables has been to simplify the process of comparing brokers to find the best forex broker by spreads, costs and speeds. The tables were made based on information from true ECN broker websites and market maker websites, with no automation used to compile information on the tables or reviews.
Our final rankings when it comes to the average transaction cost, the cheapest ECN broker is Pepperstone due to its ultra-competitive spreads + commissions + fast order speed. The Australian-based broker is closely followed by HotForex, IC Markets and FP Markets. Solely based on the speed, the fastest ECN brokers are Pepperstone and TD Ameritrade.
Please note that all FCA regulated brokers have stopped offering cryptocurrencies to retail traders starting from June 2021. However, cryptocurrency trading is still available to professional clients who are able to meet the ESMA requirements.
You can also view our Electronic Communication Network (ECN) Broker dedicated sections, including a section for South Africa brokers and Singapore brokers.
Risk Warning: Forex trading on margin through the ECN technology carries a high level of risk and might not be suitable for everyone. A market maker broker can be used as an alternative for traders with less trading experience.
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.