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Forex copy trading — also known as social trading, mirror trading, or auto trading — has been growing in adoption and general popularity for over a decade. Industry information, financial news, and market analysis now all propagate at lightning speed – thanks in part to social media and an increasingly faster web experience.
These factors, together with the power of the crowd and advanced sentiment data, help to power social copy trading platforms, and the popularity of these platforms has soared as investors generate trading signals and enter the market with new positions that people want to copy.
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. Between 65% and 82% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
What is copy trading?
The idea of copy trading is simple: use technology to copy the real-time forex trades (forex signals) of other live investors (forex trading signal providers) you want to follow. This way, every time they trade, you can automatically replicate (copy) their trades in your brokerage account.
Best Forex Brokers for Social Copy Trading
Here are the best forex brokers for copy trading, based on our testing of 39 brokers across 113 variables.
- Best overall platform for copy trading
- MetaTrader suite, ZuluTrade and DupliTrade
- MetaTrader, DupliTrade, and Myfxbook
- MetaTrader, ZuluTrade, DupliTrade, and Myfxbook
- MetaTrader, ZuluTrade, and supports algorithmic trading
- MetaTrader, Pelican Trading, Myfxbook, and ZuluTrade
eToro is a winner for its easy-to-use copy-trading platform, where traders can copy the trades of experienced investors – or receive exclusive perks for sharing their own trading strategies. eToro expertly merges self-directed trading and copy trading under a unified trading experience. Read full review
AvaTrade is a trusted global brand that offers an impressive selection of trading platforms, exceptional educational content, and average pricing and research. Our testing found AvaTrade to be great for copy trading, with AvaSocial, ZuluTrade, and DupliTrade available. Read full review
AvaOptions app is an excellent forex options mobile trading platform
Offers 44 forex options and over 1,200 CFDs
Pricing for retail accounts is average, but trails industry leaders
Desktop platform is slow to load, has outdated design
Pepperstone offers a growing range of tradeable markets, good-quality research, and support for multiple social copy trading platforms. It offers both MetaTrader and cTrader, and its wide range of available third-party tools and plugins enhances its already-impressive suite of available platforms. Read full review
Large selection of third-party copy trading platforms
Competitive pricing for active traders using Razor accounts
Selection of markets trails industry leaders
No interactive courses, progress tracking or educational quizzes
Vantage’s copy trading platform trio includes ZuluTrade, DupliTrade, and Myfxbook’s AutoTrade. While Vantage trails industry leaders in areas such as research and education, its MetaTrader offering is bolstered by content powered by Trading Central and a proprietary mobile app. Read full review
MetaTrader, ZuluTrade, and supports algorithmic trading
Starts from $50
Tradeable Symbols (Total)
FXCM is a good choice for copy trading with its support for ZuluTrade, and a great choice for traders who appreciate advanced trading tools and quality research – though its range of markets remains fairly narrow, and pricing at FXCM is just average. Read full review
MetaTrader, Pelican Trading, Myfxbook, and ZuluTrade
Tradeable Symbols (Total)
Tickmill is most valuable to high-volume, high-balance traders who want to trade only the most popular forex and CFD instruments. Tickmill does offer a variety of copy trading platforms, with support for Pelican Trading, ZuluTrade, and Myfxbook’s AutoTrade feature. Read full review
FP Markets offers competitive pricing and a decent range of social copy trading tools and platforms. Traders at FP Markets gain access to the broker’s own social trading platform, as well as the MetaTrader signals market and Myfxbook. Read full review
Very competitive spreads
Industry-leading pricing on MetaTrader
Room for improvement in education
Mobile trading app lacks features offered by industry leaders
Today, thanks to precise legal definitions and ever-evolving trading technology, regulators in nearly every jurisdiction consider copy trading to be self-directed — because the client must decide who to copy, even if the copying happens automatically (for each signal).
It's important to note that not all trading platforms with social features provide copy trading.
Our testing found that
eToro is the best copy trading platform available in 2023, compared to the range of platforms available from brokers and third-party provides such as ZuluTrade, cTrader, the MetaTrader Signals market, DupliTrade, and Myfxbook.
Check out our mobile walkthrough of eToro's copy trading platform, CopyTrade:
In the above video walkthrough, we demonstrate how simple it is to find and select a signal provider in eToro's CopyTrader. We scroll through the signal provider's profile (which includes the trader's Overview, Stats, Portfolio, and Charts), and then we select how much to allocate towards copying the trader.
Overall, eToro is our top pick for social copy trading and cryptocurrency trading in 2023. Check out our full-length eToro review to see video walkthroughs of eToro's user-friendly web platform and well-designed mobile app – both of which are great for casual investors and beginners.
Is copy trading legal?
Copy trading is legal in most countries, as long as the broker itself is properly regulated. When investing in financial markets through a regulated broker, there are procedures in place during the account opening process that should ensure it is legal for you to trade (depending on your country of residence).
Is copy trading legal in the U.S.?
Yes, copy trading is legal in the U.S. – provided that your broker is properly regulated by either the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in the case of forex or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for stocks. For cryptocurrency copy trading, your broker must be a registered Money Services Business (MSB) and licensed by FinCEN. In legal terms, copy trading is typically treated as a self-directed account.
Before copy trading existed, a power of attorney form was required to authorize a fund manager to trade on your behalf. Today, individual investors agree to a Letter of Direction (LoD), which is a form that authorizes the broker to copy the trades of other traders automatically based on your explicit instruction.
Fun fact: The LoD (which is now incorporated in each platform’s terms and conditions) was a crucial piece of the innovation that helped legalize copy trading in the U.S., making it largely indistinguishable from a regular self-directed brokerage account. That said, in certain countries, there are still restrictions. In the U.K., for example, additional money-management licenses are required for copy trading.
Which US Brokers offer copy trading?
The following U.S.-regulated brokers offer copy trading either via their proprietary platform or from within the Signals market on MetaTrader:
To do your own copy trading, start by selecting the traders whose trades you want to copy. Then, you’ll just need to decide whether you want to copy just their existing trades or begin copying their new trades going forward. You’ll also want to set your own limits and/or thresholds for risk management purposes.
Traders who share their real-time trades for the purpose of copy trading are known as signal providers. Each user, or trader, can decide to which degree they want to copy the signal provider.
Copy trading platforms allow users to automatically copy the trades of available signal providers in real-time using individually customized account settings and platform tools.
Each copy trading platform provides its own set of optional controls to protect investors. For example, you can customize the amount of capital at risk for each signal provider that you are copying. This way users can set a maximum drawdown limit to prevent losses from going beyond their risk tolerance threshold.
How to copy trade in 7 steps:
Compare performance rankings and statistics from among the traders that are available to be copied.
Depending on your goals and risk/reward tolerance, narrow down your selection to the signal providers that best fit your desired criteria.
Analyze and compare the remaining candidates and decide which to copy, (if any), and determine how much of your balance to allocate towards copying each trader.
Fine-tune any risk/reward parameters for each trader that you have copied, and consider whether you will copy their existing open positions, or only new positions moving forward.
Once you are comfortable with the settings you have configured, click to copy trade the traders you have decided to follow.
Monitor the performance of your trading account as often as needed, depending on the frequency of trades established in your copy trading account.
Adjust your parameters and subscriptions as conditions change (such as signal provider performance, or your own market expectations.
How do you copy the best traders?
The best copy traders (signal providers) typically have a large following, an established track record of performance (i.e., history of monthly trading results), consistent risk-adjusted returns, and above-average overall results.
Try to look at more than just the absolute returns when comparing the best traders to copy. It’s best to review additional performance metrics — average profit and loss, the number of trades placed, and average trade duration — when making your decision. Depending on your goals, it can also be important to find the right balance of diversification.
Pro tip: You should always consider the time horizon (or, expected duration) of your investment when copying another trader. Even if you’ve analyzed the signal provider’s historical performance and found it to be consistent, keep in mind that their investment strategy may vary day-to-day in frequency and/or volume. There’s no crystal ball to predict the movements of the markets, so it’s important to seek out traders that are statistically consistent.
Can you make money from copy trading?
Copy trading is like any investment, in the sense that you can either make money or lose money. Your profitability is determined by which traders you follow, as well as the timing of when you copy their trades — both of these factors will affect any resulting profits or losses.
You should assess the profitability of each trader before choosing which one to follow, and remember: just because a trader is making money at a particular time doesn't mean it's the best time to copy them.
As the market adage goes, "Past performance is not indicative of future results." As copy trading is risky (and many traders do lose money), you should only invest what you are willing to lose. Start with a small amount of capital, and do thorough research before committing to a strategy.
How do I choose the best trading system to forex copy trade?
The best trading system to copy isn't necessarily the most profitable. It is crucial to align your risk parameters with the strategy that best suits your investment goals. For example, a more conservative investor may choose a system with a lower average loss per trade, relative to the average profit. On the other hand, a more aggressive investor may choose a strategy that has higher volatility, which means a higher risk for losses — but also higher relative potential profits.
Many modern copy trading forex platforms contain hundreds or even thousands of signal providers. As a result, it can be difficult for traders to decide who to follow. Thus, it is always important to do research, start with a small amount, and never risk more than you are willing to lose.
Is copy trading a good idea?
While it may sound like a good idea to automate your trading strategy, copy trading still requires active account management — it's not a quick fix or an easy way to make money. Though it's not for everyone, copy trading can help you diversify your existing portfolio when used correctly, and the best copy-trade brokers will offer tools to help you manage your account.
Whether or not copy trading is a good idea for you will depend on your preferences, overall goals, risk tolerances, and what percentage of your portfolio you plan on allocating to copy trading. You'll still need to specify various risk/reward parameters and maximum drawdown thresholds and decide which providers to copy (if any).
Copy trading still requires you to work when setting it up because it's considered a self-directed account in most countries, compared to a set-it and forget-it investment fund or other passive investments where other people make investment decisions for you.
Is copy trading good for beginners?
Copy trading can be good for beginners, provided they learn the basics and approach copy trading the same way they would any other self-directed trading account. Beginners should always start small before trading more seriously with larger amounts, and it’s always wise to learn how to use the software with a demo account before diving straight into live trading of any kind.
That being said, copy trading is not a replacement for your trading needs – regardless of your experience level. Instead, copy trading should be thought of as a way to complement your portfolio and existing trading tool arsenal.
It’s important to note - especially for beginners - that copy trading is not a replacement for managing your own account, and it requires that you take full responsibility for making decisions that can affect your trading results.
Prudent beginners will analyze all available performance metrics when deciding whether or not to copy a particular trader. For example, understanding a given signal provider’s risk tolerance is just as important as measuring their average profits or their overall results. It’s also important to look at a signal provider’s trading volume and frequency, and to decide whether their style of trading would be suitable for your own account balance, profit goals, and risk tolerance.
Overall, copy trading can have its place for beginners – so long as they take full responsibility for managing their choices. Beginners who adopt copy trading can adopt good practices, such as keeping track of their account performance to make changes as needed, but copy trading is not a replacement for self-directed trading, and should not be thought of as a passive investment or managed account.
How do you copy a trade?
Once you’ve decided which traders you want to copy from within the copy trading platform, you’ll allocate a portion of your account balances towards each trader (or, signal provider) to enable copy trading.
For example, if you are copying a trader who buys 100,000 units of the EUR/USD currency, you will see the same proportionally-sized trade in your account – depending on how much you allocate. The trade size in your account may be smaller or larger, depending on how you configured your account when initially subscribing to copy each investor).
Pro tip: Once you find one or more traders you wish to copy from within a copy trading platform, you will need to decide whether you want to only take on any new trades they establish, or immediately copy any of their pre-existing positions that may already be open. There may be additional parameters that you can configure — such as the maximum amount of risk you are willing to take for each trader you copy — and other controls that may affect how you manage your account when copy trading (these can vary depending on the copy trading platform you use).
Besides choosing a trader with good historical results, it's important to look at the performance statistics for each system, such as the amount of risk taken (maximum drawdown) and average trade size, duration, and frequency of trades. Some investors select more than one strategy, but having enough capital and choosing the right risk parameters (if any) is crucial when you copy trade forex strategies. Remember, copy trading is risky. Never invest more money than you are willing to lose.
Does copy trading really work?
Yes, copy trading really works, and you can verify the proof by checking the results of the best-performing traders. Likewise, there are traders that do lose money when copy trading. The key to success is picking the right strategies at the right time, and then allocating enough capital to each strategy, in addition to setting any risk/reward thresholds depending on your needs.
Copying a trader who has a successful track record or history of positive returns is no guarantee that you will succeed, although it can help increase the probability of making money compared to copying a trader that has poor historical performance.
Pro tip: The tools available for analyzing traders and managing risk can vary widely across copy trading platforms, and database biases may come into play (for example, recency bias, which can lead to simply following the trader currently performing best, which is not always the best choice). In addition, investors may be led astray by strategy drift — which is when a trader deviates from the strategy that led to their historical performance, which can produce unexpected results. The key to success is to do your research and keep up to date with your account performance, and intervene when necessary if copy trading doesn't work for you.
Other thoughts on copy trading:
Understanding how social copy trading networks calculate trading performance is an essential aspect of successful copy trading, as it affects the ordering of trader rankings. The method used to measure and track profit and loss also influences trade copiers.
Instant backfill bias is just one example of the challenges social trading technology developers face if they permit traders to instantly upload their entire trading history at the click of a button.
Such challenges have been known for years, and thanks to broker procedures, regulation, and robust technology, these concerns are mostly non-issues, especially for top-rated forex brokers. Nonetheless, if in doubt, it's always prudent to check and ask questions.
eToro is a winner for its easy-to-use copy-trading platform where traders can duplicate the trades of investors across over 2300 instruments, including exchange-traded securities, forex, CFDs, and popular cryptocurrencies.
Trust: eToro was founded in 2007 and is regulated in two tier-1 jurisdictions and one tier-2 jurisdiction, making it a safe broker (low-risk) for trading forex and CFDs.
Commissions: For trading forex and CFDs, eToro is slightly pricier than most of its competitors, despite recently cutting spreads and introducing zero-dollar commissions for U.S. stock trading.
Copy trading platforms: eToro's main innovation is merging self-directed trading and copy trading under a unified trading experience. It is a winning combination.
Note: Past performance is not an indication of future results.
AvaTrade is a trusted global brand best known for offering traders an extensive selection of trading platform options. Our testing found AvaTrade to be great for copy trading, competitive for mobile, mostly in line with the industry average for pricing and research, and a winner for investor education.
Trust: Founded in 2006, AvaTrade is regulated in three tier-1 jurisdictions and three tier-2 jurisdictions, making it a safe broker (low-risk) for forex and CFD trading.
Commissions: Compared to pricing leaders such as IG and Saxo Bank, AvaTrade does not rank among the best brokers for low-cost trading, except for clients designated as Professional traders in the EU.
Copy trading platforms: Alongside MetaTrader, AvaTrade offers its proprietary platforms, as well as ZuluTrade and DupliTrade, for social copy trading. The variety of platform options makes AvaTrade competitive in this area.
ForexBrokers.com 2023 Overall Rankings
Now that you've seen our picks for the best forex brokers for copy trading, check out the ForexBrokers.com Overall Rankings. We'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.
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).
In order to assess the best brokers for copy trading, we conduct extensive research on a wide variety of copy trading platforms and services. We test copy trading platforms as provided by the online brokers themselves, and evaluate the overall proprietary social copy trading experience, and we test copy trading services offered by third-party providers.
We also examine the costs of these services, to determine whether these costs are folded into the spread or charged as standalone fees or subscriptions, for example. We test these services across a variety of platforms and devices and assess the fluidity between self-directed trading and copy trading within each broker’s offering.
All websites and web-based platforms are tested using the latest version of the Google Chrome browser. Our Desktop PCs run Windows 11, and we use MacBook Pro laptops running macOS 12.5 to test copy trading on the go. We also test copy trading services on mobile devices; for Apple, we test using the iPhone XS running iOS 15, and for Android we use the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra devices running Android OS 12.
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. Read more on forex trading risks.
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).
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