Online Forex Brokers and Trading Platforms 2023
Compare the best online brokers and their trading platforms to make sure you pick the most appropriate to your needs. Use the comparison of spreads, range of markets and platform features to decide the best broker for you. Here we list the top online brokers in 2022, with full expert reviews of their trading platforms.
How to Compare Online Brokers
Before you can find the best internet broker for active trading you should determine your own investing style and define your individual needs – how often will you trade, when, for how much money and using which financial instruments?
Then, when choosing from all the top-rated brokers, there are several factors you can take into account.
If you simply pick the broker with lowest fees, you might have to compromise on trading platform features (or face hidden costs later).
It is best to do a comparison of several trading platforms and features, both locally and from all over the world, to find one that suits your needs.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to online brokers and their trading platforms. Platform layout might be a personal preference, likewise accounts with balances in specific currencies.
Much like traditional brokers, the best online brokerage will tick all of your individual requirements and details.
These are some of the key points and areas to compare in this competitive market:
- Do they offer low commission rates? – As an active day trader, for example, that is placing numerous trades intraday, low commissions over a long period will bolster your overall performance. Finding online brokers with the lowest fees is crucial. See our list of best day trading brokers.
- Do they offer attractive margin rates? – Trading on margin increases your exposure to risk on each trade, rapidly increasing both profits and losses. Use with care.
- Do they have a complicated fee structure? – Online broker fees can rack up quickly. You need to look at the fine print to ensure you won’t get stung by hidden costs later down the line, such as when you want to withdraw your money. Having said that, the cheapest online brokers for active trading usually make up that money in other areas, such as customer service.
- Will you need a minimum deposit?- Some online brokers will require you to put down significant capital to open an account and start investing. For example, if you’re investing at Interactive Brokers you’ll need to put down serious cash before you can get to work.
- Does the broker have a daily activity limit? – Some limits are imposed to protect against extreme volatility and market manipulation. But the Interactive Brokers investing limit can be set by you to prevent you from losing too much capital in a set period.
- Do they offer different account types? – Different accounts will come with varying costs and attractive perks. For example, choose between Interactive Brokers accounts and you can get lower commission fees, greater leverage and enhanced tools for technical analysis. Read more about Account types here.
- Do they process trades fairly? – Execution speed is a complex subject, traders should focus on execution quality. This ensures their interests are better aligned with the broker. Read more about Execution Quality here.
Online Trading Platform Features
- Do they have high tech, informative tools for research and analysis? – You will need live price quotations, and both detailed charts and access to historical data will also help you trade smarter. The top 10 online brokers all offer a multitude of tools and resources.
- How quick and efficient is their order execution? This is massively important if you’re short-term trading, as just a few seconds could cost you serious cash. Whilst many virtual brokers offer real-time execution, there remains a slippage concern, meaning you could pay a price higher than you’d hoped. This highlights the need to test drive your online broker first.
- How user-friendly is their trading platform? – The platform provided by the broker needs to work for you. Most online retail brokers offer several to choose from, some will tick the boxes for the average day trader, others will offer more advanced platforms for the longer-term, veteran trader. Likewise, does it suit your hardware – is the platform compatible with Mac, Windows, Linux, or whatever you use?
- Is there a mobile platform? – It is rare for an online-only broker not to deliver a mobile app, but the quality will vary. If investing on your mobile phone is important, then checking the app’s compatibility (Android, iOS or Windows etc.) will be vital. Nowadays, many brokers are purely app-based, like Robinhood. Consider whether this is right for your trading style.
- How good is their customer service? – Will you be able to quickly get in contact with someone when you need support or advice? This is particularly important if something goes wrong like a computer crash. Some brokerages offer 24/7 customer support, with call waiting times of less than one minute. This is particularly crucial when trading assets that are available to trade round the clock, such as Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency.
- Do they have a ‘dealing desk’? – The best online brokers offer direct access. You don’t want to be sending an order to a train desk that then initiates it in the market. This is time-consuming and can result in re-quotes. By the time you’ve confirmed you want to proceed, your profit opportunity has probably vanished.
Assets and Markets
- Do they offer the right asset classes?– Not all online brokers offer every market and asset type as they may not have access to all of them. If you know you wish to invest in gold, ETFs or fractional shares, find online brokers offering these. One broker may be great for penny stocks but be very limited in its provision of cryptocurrencies.
- Can you access your preferred markets?– Many, though not all, online brokers are limited by geography. If you are in the UAE or Hong Kong but want to find a discount broker in India, you may not be able to invest in stock markets in Mexico or New Zealand. Some top online brokers may offer global trading services, though these are often located in bigger countries, like Japan, Australia or the USA.
- Do they offer any attractive extras?– Any ‘Open Account’ promotions?£100 in free trades, which may not seem like a lot, could mean you can iron out any creases in your strategy before it’s your money on the line. Investing without a broker means zero free credit for trial and error.
- Are there Account levels? Does a VIP account get free Level II data or reduced spreads?
- What returns do you get on your cash? – You’ll find you usually have something lying around in your brokerage account. Some online brokers won’t offer you a penny on that balance, but some will give you 3-5%.
- Strategy – Can you implement your strategy, or even use automated trading, signals or copy trading at this online platform? Perhaps you need an online broker that will allow the ability to diversify your portfolio through smaller trades, such as micro-lots or fractional shares? Does the broker allow short selling, enabling you to hedge your trades?