The Best Forex Brokers For Currency Trading
Below provides a summary of the best brokers based on detailed forex broker comparison reviews made over 2019. You can view each individual forex broker review by clicking on the ‘read more’ link under each company detail. These brokers ratings are ordered by suitability for international and Australian forex trading conditions factoring in brokerage costs, features and their forex trading platform.
1) Pepperstone – 10/10 Rating – Recommended For High Volume Traders
Pepperstone is the fastest growing Australian forex broker due to their enhanced MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and cTrader forex trading platforms, Edge trading environment and award-winning customer service and customer satisfaction. Their active trader program offers minimal spreads and commissions for high volume traders. Read more…
2) easyMarkets – 10/10 Rating – Recommended For New To Forex Traders
easyMarkets is designed for beginner forex traders with fixed spreads and no commissions making it easy to calculate brokerage costs. The broker also offers risk management tools including guaranteed stops, minimum balance protection and Deal Cancellation allowing a trader to exit a trade within 60 minutes of placing the order. Read more…
3) IC Markets – 9.5/10 Rating – Recommended For High Leverage Traders
IC Markets offers the highest leverage of 500:1 and allows scalping and Expert Advisors automated trading. The forex trading platform options are MT4 of MT5 with an additional twelve MetaTrader advanced trading tools to enhance market insights and executions. The forex broker has a True ECN trading account with the lowest EUR/USD spreads. Read more…
4) FP Markets – 9.0/10 Rating
FP Markets offers share trading, CFD and currency trading. They have won multiple Investment Trends awards including 6x ‘most satisfied traders’ and 4x ‘best trade executions’. They offer MT4, MT5 and their own IRESS trading platform and low spreads and commissions, especially for high volume traders. Read more…
5) CMC Markets – 8/10 Rating
CMC Markets are an all-in-one broker. This means that the rather than just focus on currency markets, CMC offers stockbroking, CFDs, Indices, Commodities and Treasury trading. CMC has its own propriety tools allowing for enhanced features unique to the broker. They also hold learn to trade seminars and other training. Read more…
6) AxiTrader – 7.5/10 Rating
AxiTrader is a MetaTrader 4 based forex broker that focuses on low spreads from their Pro account that has low spreads and low commissions from $3.50 per side. Investment trends also found the fx broker had the highest overall client satisfaction of the retail foreign exchange brokerage category. Read more…
7) Plus 500 – 6/10 Rating
Plus500 allows international and Australian forex traders to trade the most popular S&P/ASX 200, forex markets, Bitcoin, and commodities. The broker also offers leverage of up to 1:300 and doesn’t charge commissions on trades. The fx broker in 2017 had 37+ million positions opened, 317 + thousand active customers and $1,270+ Billion Traded value. Read more…
8) GO Markets – 5/10 Rating
GO Markets is one of the few forex brokers who also offer binary options and commodities. The newer GO Markets+ account is similar to the Pepperstone active trader program and offers a $3.00 per side commission and raw spreads for high volume traders. This account also offers a dedicated account manager. Read more…
9) FXCM – 4/10 Rating
FXCM is a global forex broker offering currency trading, indices, commodities and algo trading. All accounts offer 400:1 leverage with FXCM large size providing direct access to liquidity pools around the world. There is the choice between trading station, MetaTrader 4 and NinjaTrader forex trading platforms. Read more…
10) IG Markets – 3.5/10 Rating
IG is the largest Australian retail foreign exchange broker which like CMC offers Forex, CFDs and share trading. They offer a plethora of forex trading platform options and a range of accounts including ECN forex trading with low spreads and modest commissions. Leverage is now as high as other brokers such as Pepperstone. Read more…
11) City Index – 3/10 Rating
City Index is part of GAIN Capital which was formed in 1999. They offer share trading and many other trading options outside of currency trading. They also have offices in Singapore, UAE and the UK. Leverage is a modest 200:1 while the trading platform options are either MT4 or the AT forex trading platform. Read more…
How To Select The Right Forex Brokerage Firm
There are a number of factors that should be considered when selecting the best forex broker to suit your currency trading needs.
- Brokerage fees: Forex brokers fees are higher than many other financial services due to the complexity of forex trading and requirements such as leverage. The two forex brokerage fees. The first is spreads (the difference between the buy and ask price) which the broker may widen to make a profit. The second is commissions which us a charge based on turnover. View the section below where the lowest brokerage firms are reviewed.
- Trading platform: Every foreign exchange broker uses an fx trading platform which can be propriety or shared one. Propriety tools often have unique features specific to the forex broker from DealCancellation to cryptocurrency trading. Shared forex trading platforms make it easy to change forex brokers over time as the multiple brokers offer this software. The two most popular fx platforms are MetaTrader 4 and cTrader.
- Leverage: All forex brokerage firms offer leverage as traditionally currency pairings movements are modest each day. Leverage allows individuals to trade a multiple of their deposit from 50:1 to 500:1. Higher leverage means increased profits or losses on trades. A high-risk environment is only appropriate for experienced traders. It’s important to note that most high-risk (leverage) forex brokers allow a lower leverage level to be selected.
- Risk Management: As leverage leads to amplified risk when currency trading its worth considering the risk management tools available. A standard tool most brokers offer are stop-loss orders which exit a trade after a pre-set profit or loss is reached. This amount can be set-in-stone through a guaranteed stop-loss order (only available from some fx brokers) while negative balance protection ensures a trader doesn’t lose more than their deposit.
- Regulation: Another way to avoid risk is to choose a broker that is regulated in Australia. The Australian Securities and Investment Regulation (ASIC) are the regulating body that all of the forex brokers on Compare Forex Brokers have certification with through an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL). Past Forex scams and fraud from non-regulated fx brokers have highlighted the need to check certification prior to joining. Another leading regulator is the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) in the UK. Another popular regulator is CYSEC (Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission).
- Customer Service: Due to the complexities associated with foreign exchange trading there is regularly the need for customer service. It’s important to find a forex broker that offers the communication channels to suit you from live chat, e-mail to the call centre. Then there is a quality of customer service and hours available. There is the Investment Trends fx report which based on real brokers rates each brokers customer service.
- Range Of Markets: While all foreign exchange firms offer the trading of major pairings such as the AUD/USD only a handful offer exotic currencies. Then there are other markets that are offered from indices, commodities, cryptocurrency to EFTs trading. Some of the largest brokers also offer stockbroker service from trading on the Australian Stock Exchange to overseas markets such as the NYSE.
- Execution Speeds: With currency markets moving quickly (especially after announcements such as interest rates of job data) having an environment where trades can be quickly executed is essential. This requires tools that make it easy to make trades and servers that minimise latency allows trading directly to global liquidity tools. Understanding the technical configuration of the broker can help understand their speed capacity.
- Funding Options: Selecting a forex broker that allows you to fund the account with a method that suits you is a high priority for individuals. This can range from direct debit, credit card to Paypal. These funding methods can also impact the amount of time that a trader needs to wait for the funds to be clear. Finally, it’s important to understand the funding and withdrawal costs of a method by each broker as these costs can be significant.
- Education: All forex brokers have an online forex education section but the quality varies significantly. Then there is the education offered by the customer service team which can include a dedicated account manager. Some brokers also offer seminars to educate those new to currency trading which may be a key draw-card to selecting that provider. Overall, viewing the website is recommended to see if the education meets your requirements.
Best Forex Trading Platform
- Pepperstone – 5 Stars
- IC Markets – 4.5 Stars
- CMC Markets – 4 Stars
- Plus500 – 3.5 Stars
- FXCM – 3.5 Stars
- EasyMarkets – 3 Stars
- IG Markets – 2.5 Stars
There are two types of forex trading platforms. The first is a shared platform that is created by a software company and is shared by many forex brokers. The big advantage of a shared platform is that it reduces the barrier long-term to switching forex brokers as there won’t be a need to re-learn the platform. The second option is a propriety forex trading platform that is exclusively created and offered by a single forex broker. The advantage of a propriety platform is that features unique to that fx broker can be integrated into the software.
Reviewing each forex broker’s trading platform, it was clear that two platforms, cTrader and MetaTrader were the leaders in the field based on their execution speeds, features and high adoption rate in the fx community making it easy to exchange trading strategies and programs (expert advisors) between traders.
MetaTrader 4 (MT4) by MetaQuotes is the most popular forex trading and analytical technology offered by forex brokers and used by retail foreign exchange traders. While the interface may seem old fashion, the platform is light and powerful allowing for fast execution speeds. Traders can trade directly from charts, make pending order, instant executions of implement stop loss orders.
It’s widely accepted that the analytical functions with the strength of MT4. There are nine interactive charts allowing traders to review quotes and react to price movements within currency markets. There are also 30 technical indicators and 23 analytics objects to assist in analysing the market.
Another advantage of MT4 is the built-in Market. This allows for automated strategies (Expert Advisors) to be purchased.
There are a plethora of Expert Advisor indicators and robots available for purchase. This can be done within the MT4 interface.
- The most trading applications of any forex trading platform
- Over 2,000 technical indicators and 1,700 trading robots
- A range of free and commercial options are available
There is also functionality to copy deal automatically from other forex traders. There are free and paid signals that can be copied which vary based on logic, risk appetite resulting in differing profitability. These also work on the demo platform
cTrader by Spotware is an all-in-one CFD and forex trading platform with enhanced tools and features. It is the second most popular platform and has an interface that is more modern and attractive compared to MetaTrader 4. In addition to the rich charts, there is also level II pricing, advanced order types and fast execution.
One of the most popular features of the platform is cTrader copy. This allows anyone to make strategic decisions and charge a fee for others to copy trades. Another is cTrader automate which allows traders to create their own automated robots. Unlike MetaTrader 4 this is based on C# API to write the code with a test environment provided to simulate trades with the robot.
Other features of cTrader include:
- Open API allowing fx traders to build and own their own applications for free.
- Fix API interface for trading with hedging accounts with no administration costs.
- A web-based version that requires no downloads while having most functionality
- Android and iOS applications so that trading can be done via mobile devices
cTrader overall is a technology-focused platform with enterprise-grade IBM hardware, ultra-low latency and those cross-connects liquidity providers. There has been over $40m USD invested in infrastructure which has helped achieve 100% uptime over the past seven years. The platform has 3ms internal processing time with over one million price updates each minute.
Pepperstone Has The Best Forex Trading Platform
Pepperstone was given the most votes because the forex broker offers both MetaTradrer 4 and cTrader. The fx broker also offers advanced trading tools allowing for enhanced features to enhance forex trading.
- MT4 Alarm Manager
This tool allows traders to set up notifications or alerts that are triggered by trade-related events. Emails, web updates or an SMS can be sent as the alert mechanism.
- MT4 Connect
This is a centralised all-in-one portal including Pepperstone trading guides, economic calendar, RSS news feeds and the ability to fund the MT4 account and other account information.
- MT4 Correlation Trader
With the ability to compare competing markets, MT4 correlation highlight the similarities between markets in real-time or when different time periods are selected.
- MT4 Market Manager
Traders with market manager can access features including making trades with a set percentage of equity by balance order limits. Trade information can also be monitored including floating profit and loss.
- MT4 Excel Real-Time Data
Traders can use visual basic for application programming skills or basic excel skills to monitor and analyse the market. This can help build financial models for sophisticated currency trading.
- MT4 Trade Terminal
This positional analysis tool is packed with features from stop-loss orders, expert close-up functions and fast trading. Traders can also view pip size and value per pip as well the functionality of one-click order cancellation.
- MT4 Sentiment Trading
The Sentiment Trader provides an easy to read market sentiment rating for a particular market. The same sentiment data can be viewed historically to see the impact this has had on market direction.
- MT4 Session Map
This feature presents trading hours across the world from Melbourne, New York to London. The map shows when a session is live as well as when they overlap. News events are also displayed helping identify liquidity opportunities.
- MT4 Stealth Orders
Traders can hide pending orders using this tool. This is done by waiting for the entry price to be hit when orders are placed before the order if placed whether it is a buy or sell order. It’s worth noting that slippage is higher using this stealth order functionality.
- MT4 Trade Simulator
This simulator provides analysis and profit and loss results on tested strategies. This allows detailed testing to be done quickly whether automatic or manual trading. Orders can also be placed (including trailing orders) using the simulator.
Lowest Forex Trading Costs
- IC Markets – 5 Stars
- EasyMarkets – 5 Stars
- Pepperstone – 4.5 Stars
- FP Markets – 4.0 Stars
- IG Markets – 3 Stars
- Plus500 – 3 Stars
- FXCM – 2.5 Stars
- CMC Markets – 2 Stars
Costs that forex traders incur come from several elements that vary between fx brokers. These include spreads which are the buy and sell price (also known as the bid and ask price) differential. This is similar to when you visit a foreign exchange facility at an airport where you will see once price that provider will purchase currency for and a different price they will sell it.
The second cost is a commission which is a set price based on the volume traded. The forex account that has a commission will normally have lower spreads and vice versa. ECN forex broker (market maker) accounts specifically will have spreads set by the market with brokers primarily making their income from commissions.
Commissions are the closes to brokerage which is well known to share traders while spreads are similar to the buy/sell you see on the stock-market.
Other costs include the price of making deposits and withdrawals which range by fx broker and by the method used (eg EFT vs PayPal). There are also costs that can be charged for holding currency pairings for sustained periods (such as overnight). Costs can also be charged for advanced features such as guaranteed stop-loss orders and software packages.
Recommended Broker 1 – IC Markets
Based on forex trading costs, IC Markets was viewed as the best currency broker. This is based on their True ECN Account spreads (that utilises MetaTrader 4) and the ECN Account (IC Markets is an ECN Broker) which utilises the cTrader forex trading platform. As below highlights, spreads on main currency pairings starts from 0.0 with average spreads on the Euro / USD averaging just 0.1 pips.
The standard lot commission for the True ECN Account is $3.50 per lot (100,000 base currency) when trading with AUD as the base currency. The cTrader ECN Account is $3.00 per USD $100k.
Recommended Broker 2 – EasyMarkets
The equal first forex broker for low forex trading costs was EasyMarkets. While overall, IC Markets has lower costs, EasyMarkets has transparent trading costs ideal for those new to trading forex. This is due to the spreads been fixed allowing traders to know exactly what their trading fees are. There are also no commissions charged on any forex account by EasyMarkets. Below shows the spreads which as noted, are higher than IC Markets but have no commissions are fixed.
EasyMarkets also has further elements that fix in costs including guaranteed stops at no additional price and negative balance protection. This is why for those new to currency trading should consider this forex broker.
Risk Management Features
- EasyMarkets – 5 Stars
- CMC Markets – 4.0 Stars
- IG Markets – 4.0 Stars
- FXCM – 3.5 Stars
- Pepperstone – 3.5 Stars
- Plus500 – 3.o Stars
- FP Markets – 2.5 Stars
- IC Markets – 2.5 Stars
All forex brokers offer leverage which magnifies the movements of currency markets and the subsequent risks. Those new to currency trading will often start with demo accounts but then will make the leap to live accounts. To help manage risks choosing a forex broker with risk management features is advisable.
EasyMarkets has the best risk management features led by Deal Cancellation. When activated in specific scenarios (this feature isn’t available on all trades), a trader can exit a losing trade within 60 minutes of making it without making a loss except for the small fee of the feature.
EasyMarkets also offers guarantees stop loss on all trades. This means that when a trader sets a maximum amount (or price point) that they are willing to make or lose, this amount is locked in. Other brokers that only offer a standard stop loss may exceed this pre-set amount in volatile markets. This is known as slippage and at key market events such as rate, decisions can far exceed the expected exit point.
A final feature of EasyMarkets is negative balance protection. This means that a trader’s loss can’t exceed their deposit. It has been known for this to occur with other brokers leading to traders having to add additional funds to reach a zero balance position.
Highest Leverage FX Brokers
- IC Markets – 500:1
- Pepperstone – 500:1
- FP Markets – 500:1
- CMC Markets – 500:1
- EasyMarkets – 400:1
- Plus500 – 300:1
- IG Markets – 200:1
- FXCM – 200:1
While those new to trading may want to limit their risk and have a low leverage level, many brokers rely on high leverage to execute their leverage strategy. This is especially true using hedging strategies (including bots) which require leverage to make their quick trades worthwhile.
Leverage increases the exposure to currency markets amplifying profits and losses.
Pepperstone, IC Markets and CMC Markets all offer 500:1 which is the highest level of the ASIC regulated forex brokers in Australia.
All brokers with high leverage including IC Markets offer reduced leverage when requested by the trader. It’s recommended that those new to forex trading request a leverage level of 100:1 until they are familiar with currency markets. Those with a lower risk appetite should also consider a lower amount which can also be combined with risk management mechanisms such as guaranteed stop-loss orders.
Best Trading Education
- FP Markets – 5.0 Stars
- IG Markets – 5.0 Stars
- CMC Markets – 4.5 Stars
- Pepperstone – 4.0 Stars
- FXCM – 3.5 Stars
- EasyMarkets – 3.0 Stars
- Plus500 – 2.5 Stars
- IC Markets – 2.0 Stars
Trading any financial product requires training that can be completed either online or on-site. Currency trading has many elements for a trader to get used to including the forex trading platform, key market events and dates, the use of leverage and automation. Each forex broker differs in their quality of training and the level that training courses are aimed at.
FP Markets has twice won the Investment Trends award for best educational material. Their best feature is their video tutorial with approximately 100 lessons to build up traders knowledge from beginner to expert. There are also dedicated training courses dedicated to each level of trader experience. Mixed in are webinars held frequently including one at the start of the week to discuss upcoming events that may impact the market. There are also trading e-books which are ideal for those who want to learn about forex, shares and CFD while travelling.
IG Markets which is Australia’s largest retail foreign exchange broker was considered the second-best when it came to education. The IG Academy included interactive education, webinars and seminars as well as a demo account to trade risk-free.
There are also articles, blogs and exclusive videos provided by IG Markets. It these online resource combined with the in-person seminars they hold periodically across Australia which was why this fx broker was considered the best in the category.
CMC Markets are close behind IG Markets who also have a high market share when it comes to retail foreign exchange in Australia. They have similar forex training features as IG including videos, demo accounts and videos. An extra feature worth downloading is their eBooks which cover a range of training topics. These are catered for those new to forex trading and intermediate traders. Another popular feature is The Artful Trader Podcast which is where experienced traders are interviews to hear their stories and tips.
Pepperstone came third based on their online videos and the availability of a dedicated account manager who can assist with training forex traders. Smart trading tools also provide training and market information within the MT4 trading platform. This was followed by FXCM who have ‘Afterwork’ seminars to educate and keep traders up-to-date with elements impacting markets.
- Pepperstone – 5.0 Stars
- EasyMarkets – 4.5 Stars
- FP Markets – 4.5 Stars
- IG Markets – 4.0 Stars
- IC Markets – 4.0 Stars
- FXCM – 3.5 Stars
- CMC Markets – 2.5 Stars
- Plus500 – 2.5 Stars
Experienced forex traders understand how important customer service can be from becoming familiar with a forex broker to requiring assistance when trading currency markets. While looking at online reviews is one way to gauge customer support, the most credible source comes from Investment Trends. This was last completed in November 2017 based on a survey of 10,000 traders. The Australia forex report rated Pepperstone 1st for Customer Service (the third consecutive time they won this award). Other awards they won were also for spreads, value for money and risk management.
EasyMarkets were the second-best customer service forex broker based on their support for those new to currency trading. Their staff, support and online inventory are all designed for this market making it easy to get started on currency markets. Traders can also get customer support from the Sydney office in York street for face-to-face support. IG Markets and IC Markets also followed for their general support through their Australian-based support centre.
Forex trading glossary
This is the shortened version of foreign exchange. The buying and selling of currency pairings.
This is when in volatile markets the price quoted is not achieved due to delays in processing the order compared to the speed of the market.
The lowest price that a currency can be purchased by a trader.
The price that a trader can sell a currency at.
Markets (At Best) Price
This is when a trader give the direction to buy/sell a currency pairing at the best rate available within currency markets at that point of time.
The variance between the bid and sell (ask) price, similar to the difference seen at foreign exchange centres at the airport.
The ability to trade a multiple of the deposit a forex trader makes. For example, 500:1 means you can trade 500 times a foreign exchange trader purchases.
This is the amount required when opening a forex position with leverage.
When a currency pairing moves unfavourably, the trader may not have adequate funds to maintain the position and a warning is raised or the position is automatically closed.
Stop Loss Orders
These is a predefined price or alternatively profit/loss amount that leads to a position been closed.
Guaranteed Stop Loss Orders
This is similar to a regular stop loss order but guarantees against slippage. This means a loss cannot exceed the amount requested. The forex broker fees associated with these stop loss orders are higher than regular orders.
Background To This Low Fee Australian Currency Trading Comparison
This comparison site was updated in November 2019 by the Australian authors of compare forex brokers who have worked with the forex industry in the past. Only those currency brokers that are Australian regulated were used in this comparison to help protect investors from poor quality operators overseas. Broker accounts were primarily chosen by their spreads and fees in this section with additional options such as trading systems, leverage to filter by experience levels and leverage.
The information shown on these forex broker comparison tables came from the online broker’s websites, CFDs, forums and product disclosure statements. The broker list doesn’t contain firms such as forex.com, eToro, Interactive Brokers, Saxo Bank, FXCM, FXTM, Swissquote and Oanda which were evaluated but not shortlisted. Other forex broker tables and individual forex broker reviews on this site does feature these firms.
If you see any element (no matter how basic) that may require updating feel free to contact the authors using the contact us form. We aim to update this site regularly and provide dates on each page of when the last update was. We recommend that the website and tables be used as a guide when formulating your trading forex strategies to help make your decision easier. However, you should always click on the ‘view website’ button and review the information on the site first to ensure the broker suits your trading needs.