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What You Need to Know About Binary Options Trading in 2024

Steven Hatzakis

Written by Steven Hatzakis
Edited by John Bringans
Fact-checked by Joey Shadeck

March 05, 2024

Binary options are financial instruments that only have two possibilities – profit or loss. Either you win, or you lose; there’s no in-between. Binary options have a short shelf-life, offer little control over potential outcomes, and feature odds that make them more like gambling than investing (the expression “flipping a coin” applies here).

Simply put, binary options are dangerous investments. I’ve created this guide to shine more light on these financial instruments and provide some historical context to help you decide whether these risky investments are right for you.

What are binary options?

A binary options contract is a type of derivative financial instrument. Upon expiration (all binary options contracts have an expiration date/time), the contract will result in one of two outcomes, leading to either a profit or a loss.

Binary options have fewer controls for risk management than standard options contracts, making binary options far more speculative (and much more like gambling).

For instance, with a traditional options contract, the value is marked-to-market throughout the trading day, allowing you to potentially exit a position early with either a profit or loss. On the other hand, if your binary options contract expires on the wrong side of the strike price, you’ll end up losing your money. There is no possibility of exiting early to preserve your funds.

Are binary options legal?

The legality of binary options will depend on several factors, including your country of residence and the regulatory jurisdiction that governs your broker. Many of the world’s most stringent, highly regarded regulatory jurisdictions consider binary options to be highly risky investment products with a tendency to be associated with fraudulent firms. A number of these regulatory institutions have either placed restrictions on the sale of binary options, or banned them outright.

Binary options according to Tier-1 regulatory jurisdictions

The ForexBrokers.com Trust Score database tracks over 100 regulatory jurisdictions and ranks them in a 5-tier system. Tier-1 is reserved for the strictest, most reputable regulatory jurisdictions in the world. Take a look at how some of the most stringent global regulatory jurisdictions view binary options.

In the United States

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) describes binary options as “all-or-nothing options," and has distributed warnings in conjunction with Investor.gov (not to be confused with our sister site, investor.com) about binary options fraud.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) maintains that “many online binary option trading platforms operate in violation of the law,” and that “many times these platforms are operated by offshore companies that are committing fraud.” Check out this video from the CFTC that demonstrates an example of a binary options broker scam.

Check out my guide to the best regulated brokers in the U.S.

In the U.K.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has permanently banned the sale of binary options to retail traders, expressing, “concerns about the inherent risks of these products, and the poor conduct of the firms selling them.” In Europe, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has introduced measures that explicitly prohibit the “marketing, distribution or sale of binary options to retail investors.”

See my guide to the best brokers in the U.K.

In Australia

A 2019 survey conducted by the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) found that a whopping 80% of binary options traders lost their money. ASIC has since banned binary options until 2031.

Click here to see my picks for the best brokers in Australia.

In Canada

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) has made it illegal to “advertise, offer, sell or otherwise trade binary options shorter than 30 days with any individual.”

Trying to find a regulated broker in Canada? See my guide to the best brokers in Canada.

In New Zealand

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has cautioned that, “binary options are very high risk, even for experienced investors.”

Click here to find my list of the best regulated brokers in New Zealand.

securityAbout regulation

Learn more about Tier-1 regulatory agencies and how we track and rate regulatory jurisdictions by checking out our Trust Score page.

Why are binary options risky?

Binary options are highly risky financial products. Unfortunately, the simplicity of binary options tends to attract novice investors and beginner traders. Here are some of the reasons that binary options present so much risk to investors and traders of all experience levels.

All binary options expire worthless. Binary options are a type of options contract for an underlying asset with a ticking time-decay that approaches a zero-value. Just like any options contract, these will expire as “worthless” when the time runs out (if not exercised).

Binary options are like a coin flip. Traditional options update in value as the underlying price updates relative to the strike price (allowing you to exit early with a smaller profit or loss). For binary options, the payout is solely based on whether the market price is above or below the strike price at expiration. This is where the “coin flip” analogy is relevant.

Hidden costs. One of the biggest problems with binary options is the obfuscation of trading costs. Many of the unregulated (or lightly regulated) brokers that offer binary options build egregious spreads into their pricing. These hidden costs makes it far more difficult for clients to make money, even if their options contracts happen to expire profitably.

Pricing variance. Traditional exchange-traded options use the Black-Scholes Model. In a nutshell, this long-standing pricing model presents a method for tracking the skew of volatility across different strike prices by factoring a handful of variables tied to the price of an option. Conversely, brokers offering off-exchange binary options do not account for the skew (including across non-standard strike prices), which puts investors at a disadvantage. Today, there exists more transparency for the trading costs of exchange-traded binary options, but they are still short-lived investments attached to an “all-or-nothing” risk factor.

Risk management. Binary options provide less control over the risk management process than you would have with traditional options, such as American or European-style options contracts. Though the lack of complexity associated with binary options (compared to traditional options products) can make them appealing to investors, the lack of risk management tools makes binary options more akin to gambling than to investing.

health_and_safetyStay safe by avoiding scams

Binary options scams are commonplace. Choosing a well-regulated broker is a crucial step towards avoiding scams. My educational series dedicated to scams shows you how to identify common scams (like binary options scams) and provides helpful information about what to do if you've been scammed. I also explain how crypto traders can spot common crypto scams.

How do binary options work?

Binary options feature two potential outcomes: a profit, or a total loss. These derivative financial products allow you to speculate on the market without owning any underlying assets (similar to contracts for difference, or CFDs).

Contract prices vary, but in the U.S. contracts are always between $0 and $100. Binary options traders can speculate on a variety of markets, such as forex, commodities, and stocks.

Example of a binary options contract trade

Binary options are similar to event contracts, in which investors speculate on whether a given event will occur.

For example, you might believe that the EUR/USD will trade above 1.0760 by the end of the trading day (1.0760 would be considered the “strike price”). In this case, you might buy a binary options contract that lists the EUR/USD as trading above 1.0760 by a predetermined time (for this example, let’s say midnight).

The EUR/USD rising above 1.0760 by midnight is the event you are betting on. If the clock ticks over to midnight and the EUR/USD is trading above 1.0760, you’ll net a small profit. If it’s trading below 1.0760, you’ll lose your entire initial investment.

Types of binary options

Not all binary options contracts operate the same. Here is some common terminology used to describe the various types of binary options that exist on the market today:

High/Lows: These are call or put options that allow investors to speculate on the rise or fall of an asset relative to the strike price upon expiration.

One-touch/No-touch: These contracts allow investors to speculate on whether a price will be touched within a pre-determined time frame.

Range or Boundary: These contracts allow investors to speculate whether a price will remain within a specific range or boundary before expiration.

Knock-outs: A contract with a knock-out price mimics a stop-loss order. In this case, the contract will close out a trade at a predetermined loss if the price of the option contract moves against you.

Event-driven: These contracts are purely boolean. This is a “yes or no” bet for whether an asset will close above or below the contract’s price within a specified time frame.

Regulated forex brokers that offer binary options

I do not recommend trading binary options. That said, if you feel strongly about trying out this risky investment product, I recommend that you do so with a highly regulated broker. The only brokers I would ever recommend that offer binary options provide such products through a national exchange with proper regulation in place.

In the EU, for example, IG offers binaries in the form of Turbo warrants (also known as “turbos”) through its regulated Multilateral Trading Facility. Check out my IG review to learn about the wide range of investment products available with this broker.

In the U.S., Interactive Brokers offers zero-dated options (0DTE). These exchange-traded options expire on the same day you trade them, allowing investors to speculate on same-day events. Interactive Brokers’ EventTrader platform also allows you to speculate on whether an asset will close above or below a certain price by the end of the day. Read my review of Interactive Brokers to learn more about additional investment products available with this broker.

Note: These highly rated brokers offer a variety of other financial products and instruments, such as forex, CFDs, crypto, stocks, and commodities (availability depends on the broker and your country of residence).

ForexBrokers.com 2024 Overall Rankings

Now that you've learned more about binary options (and why I don't recommend them), check out my overall list of the best forex brokers in the industry. These brokers offer a wide range of financial products and instruments. I've evaluated over 60 forex brokers, using a testing methodology that's based on 100+ data-driven variables and thousands of data points. Check out our full-length, in-depth forex broker reviews.

Company Overall Rating Offering of Investments Commissions & Fees Platform & Tools Research Education Mobile Trading Trust Score Visit Site
IG logoIG 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 99
Interactive Brokers logoInteractive Brokers 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 99
Saxo logoSaxo 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 99
CMC Markets logoCMC Markets 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 99
FOREX.com logoFOREX.com 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 99
Charles Schwab logoCharles Schwab 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 99
City Index logoCity Index 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 99
XTB logoXTB 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 96
eToro logoeToro 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 90
Swissquote logoSwissquote 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 99
Capital.com logoCapital.com 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 87
AvaTrade logoAvaTrade 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 94
Plus500 logoPlus500 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.0/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.0/5 Stars 4.0/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 99
OANDA logoOANDA 4.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 93
FXCM logoFXCM 4.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 95
Admirals logoAdmirals 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 93
Pepperstone logoPepperstone 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 95
XM Group logoXM Group 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 88
FP Markets logoFP Markets 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 87
FxPro logoFxPro 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 90
IC Markets logoIC Markets 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 84
Markets.com logoMarkets.com 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 96
Tickmill logoTickmill 4.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 86
FinecoBank logoFinecoBank 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 94
BlackBull Markets logoBlackBull Markets 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 78
Vantage logoVantage 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 90
HYCM (Henyep Capital Markets) logoHYCM (Henyep Capital Markets) 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 88
HFM logoHFM 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 86
ThinkMarkets logoThinkMarkets 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 92
FlowBank logoFlowBank 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 58
DooPrime logoDooPrime 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 83
Trading 212 logoTrading 212 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 79
BDSwiss logoBDSwiss 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 76
Trade Nation logoTrade Nation 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 85
TMGM logoTMGM 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 83
Moneta Markets logoMoneta Markets 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 72
Eightcap logoEightcap 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 85
MultiBank logoMultiBank 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 84
ACY Securities logoACY Securities 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 75
RoboForex (RoboMarkets) logoRoboForex (RoboMarkets) 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 71
VT Markets logoVT Markets 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 70
easyMarkets logoeasyMarkets 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 80
IronFX logoIronFX 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 83
Spreadex logoSpreadex 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 71
IFC Markets logoIFC Markets 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 67
Trade360 logoTrade360 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 76
Octa logoOcta 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 70
Axi logoAxi 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 81
TeleTrade logoTeleTrade 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 71
GKFX logoGKFX 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 65
Vestle logoVestle 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 78
FXOpen logoFXOpen 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 80
FXPrimus logoFXPrimus 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 71
Forex4you logoForex4you 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 61
GBE brokers logoGBE brokers 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 71
Alpari logoAlpari 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 68
TopFX logoTopFX 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 67
Libertex (Forex Club) logoLibertex (Forex Club) 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 73
LegacyFX logoLegacyFX 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 67
FXGT.com logoFXGT.com 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 69
ATFX logoATFX 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 73
Xtrade logoXtrade 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 2.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 80

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At ForexBrokers.com, our evaluations of online brokers and their products and services are based on our collected quantitative data as well as the qualitative observations and qualified opinions of our expert researchers. Each year we publish tens of thousands of words of research on the online forex brokerage industry, and we evaluate dozens of international regulator agencies (click here to learn about how we calculate Trust Score).

Our research team, led by Steven Hatazkis, conducts thorough testing on a range of features, including each broker’s individual products, services, and tools (collecting and validating thousands of data points in the process). We test all available trading platforms for each broker – whether they are proprietary or come from third-party providers – and evaluate them based on a host of data-driven variables.

We also take an in-depth look at each broker’s commissions and fees, such as bid/ask spreads – including the average spread data for some of the most popular forex currency pairs. We research other trading costs, such as inactivity or custody fees, minimum deposit requirements, VIP rebates and/or discounts, and an exhaustive list of other important fee-based data points.

Some of the other important research categories that are factored into our testing include mobile trading accessibility and capability, availability of market research and educational content, and each broker’s overall Trust Score.

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About the Editorial Team

Steven Hatzakis
Steven Hatzakis

Steven Hatzakis is the Global Director of Research for ForexBrokers.com. Steven previously served as an Editor for Finance Magnates, where he authored over 1,000 published articles about the online finance industry. A forex industry expert and an active fintech and crypto researcher, Steven advises blockchain companies at the board level and holds a Series III license in the U.S. as a Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA).

John Bringans
John Bringans

John Bringans is the Senior Editor of ForexBrokers.com. An experienced media professional, John has close to a decade of editorial experience with a background that includes key leadership roles at global newsroom outlets. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from San Francisco State University, and conducts research on forex and the financial services industry while assisting in the production of content.

Joey Shadeck
Joey Shadeck

Joey Shadeck is the Content Strategist and Research Analyst for ForexBrokers.com. He holds dual degrees in Finance and Marketing from Oakland University, and has been an active trader and investor for close to ten years. An industry veteran, Joey obtains and verifies data, conducts research, and analyzes and validates our content.

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