The Best Forex Trading Platforms

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Anne Dennon

By Anne Dennon Home Technology Writer

Anne has covered home security and home automation for Reviews.com for two years. She’s interested in human-computer interaction and tech ethics. She previously worked in education and information literacy.

The Best Forex Trading Platforms

The sheer size of the forex, or foreign exchange, market dominates all others — even the stock market. Every payment that crosses currencies contributes to its fluctuations and momentum. And without a centralized marketplace, forex activity buzzes practically without cease, with traders waking up and doing business everywhere, in every time zone. To get a piece of the action, you need a forex brokerage with best-in-class technology and stellar support.

However, with so many options to choose from, it can be tough knowing which is the best forex trading platform. That’s why we looked at dozens of different platforms and consulted with stockbrokers, investors, and financial experts to bring you our top picks.

The 4 Best Forex Trading Platforms

    The Best Forex Trading Platforms: Summed Up

    Thinkorswim
    Ally Invest
    ATC Brokers
    OANDA
    Most Currency Pairs
    Best for Experienced Traders
    Most Streamlined Tech
    Best for Beginners
    Forex trade cost type
    Flat and pips
    Pips
    Commission
    Pips
    Minimum deposit
    $3,500
    $0 (for independent brokerage account); $100 (for Ally Invest Managed Portfolio)
    $3,000
    $0
    Clearing method
    Dealing Desk
    Straight Through Processing
    Straight Through Processing
    Market Maker
    Maximum leverage (international)
    50:01:00
    50:01:00
    200:01:00
    100:01:00
    Maximum leverage (U.S.)
    50:01:00
    50:01:00
    50:01:00
    50:01:00

    Data as of Dec. 10, 2019.

    thinkorswim – Most Currency Pairs

    TD Ameritrade


    Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

    Pros

    • High number of currency pairs
      Customized and automated
      One synchronized account

    Cons

    • Complicated for beginners

    Why we chose it

    High number of currency pairs

    Thinkorswim is the best option for U.S. traders looking to trade forex and multiple other products, allowing experienced traders or international traders to get a part of currency fluctuations in more obscure economies. Thinkorswim sits among the top forex brokers in terms of tradable currency pairs.

    Customizable and automated

    Thinkorswims’ robust platform puts every imaginable forex trading tool at your fingertips. Two trading perks you don’t often see: customized alerts for on-the-go trading as well as automated trading (only available if you subscribe to its newsletters.)

    One synchronized account

    Part of vast online brokerage TD Ameritrade, thinkorswim enables you to trade forex, stocks, futures, and options all from one account. Save time and keep abreast of your diverse portfolio without the hassle of switching between windows and platforms. Even better, these combined tools are available through just about any device.

    Points to consider

    Complicated for beginners

    While thinkorswim provides a ton of virtual and in-person support (unique amongst online firms), the complexity of its trading platform may be overkill for beginners. Same goes for the lofty $3,500 minimum deposit. Check out Ally Trading if you’re a forex novice.

    Ally Invest – Best for Experienced Traders

    Ally


    Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

    Pros

    • No minimum for self-directed accounts
      User-friendly platform

    Cons

    • Lacks educational resources
      Seperate accounts

    Why we chose it

    No minimum for self-directed accounts

    If you know what you’re doing, then you can get started with an Ally independent brokerage account with no minimum deposit required. This is an incredible feature for experienced traders and one of the many reasons Ally Invest is our top pick for the best Cheap Online Stock Trading.

    User-friendly platform

    One of the best parts about Ally’s trading platform: the intuitiveness of its layout and functions. The smart and streamlined trading interface makes it quick and easy to watch trends and make trades. New investors should be able to get familiar with the lay of the land fairly quickly by navigating from the trading panel. The panel also includes shortcuts: Buy and sell with one click. As your preferences develop, you can customize the look and location to suit your trading style.

    Points to consider

    Lacks educational resources

    While Ally’s price points are ideal for new traders, the educational resources are somewhat sparse. The site can walk you through the basics, but you’ll need to look elsewhere for courses, videos, and tutorials.

    Separate accounts

    You’re also not able to access other investment products within the same account. Unlike thinkorswim, you’ll have to open up and individually access other accounts if you’re interested in trading stocks, options, or futures in addition to forex.

    ATC Brokers – Most Streamlined Tech

    ATC Brokers


    Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

    Pros

    • Elite trading tech
      Streamlined processing

    Cons

    • Not ideal for beginners

    Why we chose it

    Elite trading tech

    High-end trading tools and perks that will be attractive to adroit traders, like a non-dealing desk environment. The advanced platform also allows you to customize and quickly execute orders, moving between analysis to trading without navigating windows.

    Streamlined processing

    ATC’s Straight Through Processing (STP) order system posts your order directly to counterparties, taking away the possibility of your broker holding a conflict of interest and trading against you.

    Points to consider

    Not ideal for beginners

    ATC provides backtest trading software to run simulations and testrun strategy, but goes light on other beginner-friendly features. For instance, it has a high minimum deposit ($3,000) and weak educational resources. Look to OANDA for an easier entrance to forex.

    OANDA – Best for Beginners

    OANDA


    Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

    Pros

    • Compatible with all skill levels
      Backtest capabilities
      Forex-focused

    Cons

    • Sets its own price

    Why we chose it

    Compatible with all skill levels

    OANDA serves the forex trading needs of the inexperienced and experts alike, with robust and user-friendly desktop and web-based platforms. Both options translate to mobile apps, so you’re never far from your investments.

    Backtest capabilities

    Another major bonus with OANDA’s powerful tech: access to historical exchange rate data. Backtest strategies before you trade in one of the largest currency databases across the globe. You can also subscribe to the data feed for even deeper analysis.

    Forex-focused

    OANDA doesn’t provide any products to American investors besides forex. In some ways, the clarity and concentration of a forex focus is ideal for all types of forex investors. The inexperienced can set their sights on mastering one corner of the market. The seasoned can take advantage of a trading platform that’s designed to manage nothing but forex. That said, if being able to diversify your interests while staying within the same brokerage is important to you, check out thinkorswim or Ally Invest.

    Points to consider

    Sets its own price

    One downside to OANDA — it’s a market maker. Setting the bid and the ask price means its protocol stands in opposition to the open pricing and non-interest conflict of an Electronic Communications Network. However, these pricing mechanisms are almost wholly automated, meaning concerns of partiality are largely unfounded.

    How We Chose the Best Forex Trading Brokers

    Enduring features

    We gathered a list of 65 forex trading brokers and narrowed it down to the best five by analyzing research features, customizability options, and trading platforms. While introductory incentives (special offers, free demos, referral programs) can make brokerages attractive for the short term, we looked for standard practices that keep you happily trading for the long term. Responsive client support, for example, earned a company more points than first-time perks.

    Flexible and interactive tech

    All good forex brokers update account information in real time, display balances, and provide history reports and statements. But exceptional brokers offer trading technology that boasts a broader spectrum of features, from alerts to automated trading, cooperatively helping you execute strategic trades. Specifically, we prioritized forex brokers with trading tech that offers customizable interfaces and interactive charts.

    Mobile capabilities

    We also wanted technology that’s not desktop-bound. As mobile trading continues to grow, the best brokerages make high-performance, on-the-go research and trading tools as powerful as traditional platforms. We prioritized brokers staying ahead of the curve with dedicated, well-functioning apps that are compatible with a variety of devices.

    Resources

    Forex brokers provide clients with resources to understand market activity and make fast, informed choices. These resources should include third-party research, research reports, and market commentary, alongside venues for sharing knowledge (community forums) and receiving advice and confirmation (live chat, email, and phone support). Exceptional brokers also include access to historical data, so traders can back-test strategies before allocating real money. (Experimenting with virtual trading is also a good way of getting your feet wet.) Alongside research options, we wanted to see education: opportunities to learn more about forex trading and platform navigation via articles, videos, and webinars.

    Major Currency Pairs

    Major Currency — currencies from the world’s most developed economies including Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia — represent the most heavily traded and liquid currency markets for any forex trader. A major currency pair is created when one of these currencies is traded against the U.S. dollar. Examples include Euro vs. the U.S. Dollar (EUR/USD) and the U.S. Dollar vs. the Canadian Dollar (USD/CAD). Their availability on a forex brokerage is essential.

    Cross Currency Pairs

    Cross Currency Pairs signifies secondary currencies traded against each other and not against the U.S. dollar. Examples include Euro vs. the Japanese Yen (EUR/JPY) or the British Pound vs. Swiss Franc (GBP/CHF). Most reputable brokers offer this category of trades, and it’s especially important for a forex trading account denominated in a currency other than the U.S. dollar, or for more advanced traders capitalizing on discrepancies between other economies.

    How to Choose a Forex Trading Platform

    Identify top concerns

    If the velocity of your trades necessitates low fees, know that you will be sacrificing some educational resources in favor of a streamlined system designed for the pros. You’ll be jumping in with both feet. On the other hand, a low minimum account typically comes with the educational resources and communication channels required by new forex investors. The identity of different brokerages rest on the type of investors they aim to appeal to. Choose accordingly.

    Test the tech

    Because the functionality of the trading platform has such a huge impact on your experience trading forex, take the time to try before you buy. Explore the features of your top two or three brokerages, either by diving deeply into their site’s introductory info or by running a demo of their platforms. The platform that’s best for you will feel intuitive and clear: You shouldn’t have to scour the site to find basic functions.

    Keep an eye on regulatory compliance

    Forex trading is governed by the National Futures Association, and they routinely check brokerages for financial irregularities, hidden or overly high fees, and scams. A key point of comparison between forex brokerages is their regulatory approval status with the NFA. Because the forex market and its major players move rapidly, it’s wise to regularly check on that status via the NFA’s Status Information Center. Increased regulation (coupled with higher capital requirements) continue to force forex brokers to leave the playing field, and one side effect is that it’s increasingly easy to find the best out of a constrained number of options.

    Forex Trading Platforms FAQ

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