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Top Day Trading and Active Trading FX Firms

Steven Hatzakis

Published by Steven Hatzakis


Monday, February 18th, 2019

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The ForexBrokers.com annual review is among the most cited in the industry. With over 60,000 words of research across the site, we spend hundreds of hours testing forex brokers each year. Industry leaders trust us because our rigorous testing is totally independent and 100% unbiased.

When it comes to active trading programs, not all forex brokers’ offerings are created equal. The requirements, and resulting commission/spread discounts a forex trader is entitled to, can vary considerably across forex brokers. In addition, the available trading tools active traders need, such as advanced order types, for example, may vary from one firm to another.

Bottom line: this year was a very close race.

Active Forex Trading Best FX Brokers

Based on over 81 variables, here are the top seven forex brokerages for active trading.

Active traders are consistently engaged with the market on a daily basis. Tracking news, monitoring watch lists, and conducting analysis make up most of the usual routine. As a result, this unique breed of investor places far more trades, on average, than any long-term investor.

For active equities trading in the US, for example, this means placing at least ten trades per month. Meanwhile, active forex trading is measured differently since fx trading is conducted with much more leverage. Instead of total trades, active forex traders are measured by total trading volume.

For example, an active US equities trader can access up to 4:1 margin (2:1 is standard in most cases), resulting in trade volumes of, say, at least $1 million each month. Alternatively, an active forex trader using 30:1 or 100:1, or even higher leverage (resulting in a lower margin requirement) can rack up volumes of tens of millions or more each month, compared to the same deposit amount used to trade other asset classes. Leverage isn’t the only way to trade higher volumes; some active traders simply have larger balances, and thus more buying power.

Definitions aside, looking at our top picks for active trading, CMC Markets maintained its first place position in our 2019 Review after coming second in 2017, and then first in 2018. CMC Markets lowered its barrier to entry for its rebate program, which, coupled with its already low average spreads, is a winning combination.

Clients of CMC Markets can access all-in costs of 0.744 pips on the EUR/USD, using average spread data published by the broker for September 2018. Through its active trading rebate program, CMC Markets reduced the barrier to entry from £200 million down to £50 million in monthly volume, making it easier for traders to qualify. The broker rebates £7 back per million traded for those who trade between £200-£300m per month, and £10 per million, for its highest tier above £300m per month.

View a full breakdown of CMC Markets commission notes.

CMC Markets Web Platform
CMC Markets Web Platform.

Meanwhile, Saxo removed the minimum monthly requirement for the base tier of its fx volume-based discount plan, which has six tiers as part of its active trader offering. As per September 2018 data, the all-in cost to trade the EUR/USD at Saxo Bank was 0.8 pips, based on 0.3 pip average spreads plus the default 0.5 pip commission equivalent on its volume-based pricing. The broker also launched a new pricing model with even lower trading costs than its volume-based pricing, initially rolled out in the UK, Singapore, and Australia, in addition to its spread-only offering that was re-introduced.

Furthermore, Saxo Bank also aligned with the industry best practices outlined in the Global FX Code, and began to publish more detailed statistics regarding its execution of orders.

Additional transparency in execution and pricing data is valuable to any active trader. View a full breakdown of Saxo Bank commission notes.

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Saxo Bank SaxoTraderPro Desktop Platfrom
Saxo Bank SaxoTraderPro Desktop Platfrom.

IG, in third place, followed closely behind Saxo Bank, thanks to the active trader pricing on its Forex Direct offering. The broker lists average spreads of 0.263 pips (although these values date back to October 2016). After adding the default tier commission of $60 per million or 0.6 pip equivalent, the all-in cost is approximately 0.9 pips.

In its primary offering, IG listed an average spread of 0.75 pips for the 12 weeks ending December 12, 2018. Together with a low minimum deposit of just $1,000 to open a Forex Direct account at IG, while only available to professional traders in the EU, IG’s active trader offering continues to rank highly among its peers.

Even further discounts are available when monthly trading volumes exceed $100 million, where commission rates are reduced from $60 per million down to $30 per million, with additional tiers available for higher volume traders.

View a full breakdown of IG commission notes.

IG Web Dark mode
IG Web Dark mode.

Dukascopy Bank finished in fourth place with its commission-based pricing. Referencing average EUR/USD spread data for the US session during the last quarter ending December 31, 2018, the all-in costs were 1.22 pips (0.32 pips + 0.9 commission).

Dukascopy’s entry-level tier of $90 per million ($45 per side with 0.32 pip average spreads), can be accessed with a deposit of at least $5,000. While its entry tier is not as competitive as other finishers in this category, Dukascopy Bank fares better in the middle to higher activity tiers (i.e., a deposit of $50,000 or volume greater than $50 million will reduce the commission rate to the equivalent of 0.56 pips in the above example).

View a full breakdown of Dukascopy commission notes.

Dukascopy JForex3 desktop platform
Dukascopy JForex3 desktop platform.

Finishing fifth, FOREX.com spreads on its EUR/USD pair averaged 0.77 pips based on Q3 2018 data provided by the broker (for its non-Metatrader platforms). Relevant for traders who have a balance of at least $25,000 in their account, FOREX.com’s Active Trader program has five tiers of pricing, where the month-to-date volumes will determine the applicable tier. In 2018, the broker rolled out a new account and execution type for its US offering, as part of its DMA account type, where the execution type is agency and the broker just charges a commission. This account type also provides greater discounts for the most active traders, compared to FOREX.com’s Active Trader program, and is commission-based.

View a full breakdown of FOREX.com commission notesFOREX.com’s commissions.

Forex com Advanced Trading desktop
Forex com Advanced Trading desktop.

In 2018, City Index finally launched its active trader offering, Premium Trader, aligning with FOREX.com’s prices, which originate from the same providers. City Index’s average spread data is the same at 0.77 pips, according to Q3 2018 data. It is worth noting that City Index’s Premium Trader offering differs (from FOREX.com’s) in that it requires a minimum £10,000 account balance, and has just three tiers, with the base entry tier requiring more than £20 million in monthly volume in order to qualify for a $3 per million rebate, with as much as $8 per million available for its highest tier.

City Index web platform
City Index web platform.

For active traders at Pepperstone (applicable only to commission-based Razor accounts) a AUD $1 per standard lot rebate kicks in when at least $20 million (200 standard 100 k lots) in volume is reached over a three-month period. Pepperstone’s Active Trader Program has five tiers, with the next tier triggered at $50 million in volume, where the rebate increases to AUD $1.5 per lot. The highest tier requires more than $500 million in volume (5,000 lots) and the rebate is more than $3 per lot and negotiable. Rebates are paid daily in the same currency as your trading account base currency. Its offering has improved markedly year over year.

Pepperstone MT4 desktop
Pepperstone MT4 desktop.

Overall, the best broker for active trading will depend on your specific situation when it comes to commission and fees. All the forex brokers in this category offer competitive pricing for active and hyperactive traders who trade frequently.

If you’re considering an active trader program you might first ask: How much do I plan to trade over the next 30 days or calendar month? How will the available margin rates at my broker affect my trade sizes and overall volumes? How sensitive is my trading strategy to spread/commission rates? Other factors that can play a crucial role in your overall experience are the execution method, order types, trading platforms, and other such preferences.

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"There is a very high degree of risk involved in trading securities. With respect to margin-based foreign exchange trading, off-exchange derivatives, and cryptocurrencies, there is considerable exposure to risk, including but not limited to, leverage, creditworthiness, limited regulatory protection and market volatility that may substantially affect the price, or liquidity of a currency or related instrument. It should not be assumed that the methods, techniques, or indicators presented in these products will be profitable, or that they will not result in losses."Learn more.

Forex Risk Disclaimer

"There is a very high degree of risk involved in trading securities. With respect to margin-based foreign exchange trading, off-exchange derivatives, and cryptocurrencies, there is considerable exposure to risk, including but not limited to, leverage, creditworthiness, limited regulatory protection and market volatility that may substantially affect the price, or liquidity of a currency or related instrument. It should not be assumed that the methods, techniques, or indicators presented in these products will be profitable, or that they will not result in losses." Learn more.

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Trading CFDs, FX, and cryptocurrencies involves a high degree of risk. All providers have a percentage of retail investor accounts that lose money when trading CFDs with their company. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money and whether you understand how CFDs, FX, and cryptocurrencies work. All data was obtained from a published web site as of 02/18/2019 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. The ForexBrokers.com staff is constantly working with its online broker representatives to obtain the latest data. If you believe any data listed above is inaccurate, please contact us using the link at the bottom of this page.

IG - 81% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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