author-profile
ByAnne 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.

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.

The 4 Best Forex Trading Platforms

Most
Currency Pairs

thinkorswim
TD Ameritrade
A full-service brokerage for savvy investors — trade forex alongside other investment products all from the same account.
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.

Best for
Experienced Traders

Ally Invest
Ally
Smart tools for sophisticated trades, without classing out investors new to forex.
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.

Most
Streamlined Tech

ATC Brokers
ATC Brokers
Super customizable and super transparent, a forex brokerage for the serious trader
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.

Best for
Beginners

OANDA
OANDA
Not as transparent as some, but chock-full of helpful tools to test, strategize, and perform trades.
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 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

Is forex trading legal in the U.S.?

Yes, forex trading is legal in the United States.

Believe it or not, this question does come up from time to time, especially from anyone unfamiliar with the foreign exchange market. Unlike the futures markets, there is no central governing body nor any arbitration panels or clearing houses that control the foreign exchange market. All trade is conducted through credit agreements between individual members.

How can I learn to trade forex?

The bare bones of foreign currency exchange trading are simple. You make money off exchanging one country’s money for another. However, exploiting those fluctuations or price movements requires both strategy and savvy. Signing up for online tutorials or in-person conferences will help you lay a base layer of knowledge on the forex market, but traders agree that true expertise is built on the job. Jump into a demo or a real (small sum) account and start hitting buttons, pulling from vast online resources whenever you hit a snag or just a big, fat question mark.

Is forex trading worth it?

Experts say that forex is a zero-sum game. That means that someone always loses commensurate to someone else’s win — that’s how the game is played. When you add in costs and fees associated with running a forex account and making trades, you enter negative-sum territory. That said, shrewd trading moves can pay out. Substantially. If you have the time and interest required to learn to identify patterns in price fluctuations and execute far-sighted trades, you will make wins on the forex market. That said, the most thoughtful strategy is also liable to bring about loss. Don’t trade more than you can afford to lose.

Should I be concerned about forex scams?

Forex trading scams are a concern for even the savviest investor. Foreign exchange fraud has been on the rise for the last few decades, leading the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and other agencies to deploy task forces analyzing and curtailing schemes. The ingenuity of fraudulent schemes, whether they’re based on phony software or creating fake accounts, increases, but their telltale signs remain largely the same. Steer clear of forex brokerages promising sure wins, fast results, or secret formulas for success. The market has proved time and again that there are no shortcuts. Scammers bank on the human propensity to believe otherwise.

How do forex brokers make money?

In return for executing your buy and sell orders, forex brokers will either take a commission per trade or a spread. A spread is the difference between the bid price and ask price for the trade. The asking price is the lowest price that a currency pair will be offered for sale and the bidding price is always lower. When forex brokers successfully execute a buy with the lower bid, they will take that difference — the spread — as payment.

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
50:01:00
Maximum leverage (U.S.)
50:01:00
50:01:00
50:01:00
50:01:00

Our Other Investment Reviews

We’ve spent years testing the tech and calling in the experts to surface exceptional services that manage and grow wealth. Check out our favorite companies in the related reviews below.

You might also like