The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulates all Forex brokers which are legally allowed to market their services in the U.S., along with the National Futures Association (NFA). Most Forex traders in the U.S. choose to open their accounts with CFTC-regulated Forex brokers. I have created a shortlist for you of the best CFTC-regulated Forex brokers. Read on to view my shortlist and to learn how the CFTC can protect you plus the pros and cons of opening an account with a CFTC-regulated broker compared to an offshore broker.
Over 17,000 tradeable assets
CFD service 77% lose money
One of the best platforms for CFD traders.
CFD service 77% lose money
78% of retail CFD accounts lose money
Best social trading platform on the market
Excellent choice of options for crypto traders
78% of retail CFD accounts lose money
- IG Markets, No withdrawal fee.
- Plus500, Wide range of CFDs + trailing stop losses.
- eToro, Best broker for social traders and crypto traders : 78% of retail CFD accounts lose money.
5.0/5 in this category
No withdrawal fee
IG is a global giant amongst retail CFTC Forex brokers and currently services over 300,000 clients. IG’s large size and status as one of the major global Forex brokerages has given it the revenue to spend on trading platforms. It offers the industry standard MT4, ProRealTime, and a “Core platform” developed in-house with advanced features. IG provides live support 24 hours a day, 6 days a week.
In the US, IG only offers Forex. However, it does offer a wide selection of over 80 Forex currency pairs, giving a lot of choice and ability to diversify within the asset class to dedicated Forex traders.
Broad asset selection for Forex traders
Quality choice of trading platforms, including MT4
Autochartist signals integrated with the proprietary web-based platform
Superb educational tools for beginner traders
Limited deposit and withdrawal methods
Higher minimum deposit requirement, but within a reasonable demand
5.0/5 in this category
Wide range of CFDs + trailing stop losses
Plus500 is a global Forex broker founded in 2008. It maintains an excellent regulatory environment provided by the FCA in the UK, the CySEC in Cyprus, the ASIC in Australia, the FMA in New Zealand, the FSCA in South Africa, the FSA in Seychelles, and the MAS in Singapore. Plus500 offers traders a choice of more than 2,800 assets to trade, including nearly 900 options contracts, in a commission-free trading environment. This extremely wide range of choice can make Plus500 an appropriate choice for traders looking to pursue wide diversification of assets. Plus500 is licensed to offer CFDs through ASIC (AFSL #417727), and through the FMA (FSP #486026), for licensed CFDs in New Zealand. Plus500 trading services are also available in South Africa (Authorised Financial Services Provider #47546).
Low leverage for retail traders
Sub-standard trading platform without support for automated or social trading
No research and limited, below-average educational content
Lack of trading tools
4.5/5 in this category
Best broker for social traders and crypto traders : 78% of retail CFD accounts lose money
eToro was founded in the early days of the online retail Forex era, in 2007 – this broker occupies a unique space as the king of social and copy trading. eToro has a long track record and unique reputation to protect, although this image is more focused on its copy trading model than on any other individual feature, except maybe its special relationship with cryptocurrencies. eToro is regulated in Cyprus, the U.K., Australia, and the United States although its U.S. offering is firmly differentiated from its offering to the rest of the world. eToro is a leading cryptocurrencies CFD broker. Following its 2019 acquisition of Danish blockchain company Firmo and Belgian crypto portfolio tracker application Delta, it released its cryptocurrency wallet for mobile devices.
eToro Pros & Cons
Active investment community ideal for social trading
Dedicated tools for social trading
Broad cryptocurrency selection
Expanding educational offering for beginner traders
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is a US government agency created in 1974 that regulates the US derivatives markets, including futures, Forex, and certain kinds of options. Since the CFTC’s founding, the US government has expanded its mandate to keep up with developments such as the popularity of retail Forex trading and cryptocurrency assets.
Any Forex or Futures broker actively offering services to U.S.-based traders must be registered with CFTC and regulated under its standards.
The CFTC’s mission is to foster open, competitive, and financially sound markets and protect market users and the public from fraud, manipulation, abusive practices, and systemic risk related to derivatives subject to the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA).
Without the CFTC’s oversight, market participants could be subject to fraud by unscrupulous firms or individuals and, in turn, lose faith in our capital markets, with severe consequences for investors, consumers and society.
The CFTC delegates much of its oversight operations to the National Futures Association (NFA), a self-regulatory organization. For example, the CFRC requires retail foreign exchange dealers (RFEDs) to become members of the NFA.
Both the CFTC and NFA are highly active agencies that set industry standards, and they investigate and prosecute violations of the CFTC regulations and the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA), which establishes the statutory framework under which the CFTC operates.
- The CFTC is a US government regulatory agency.
- All Forex & derivatives brokers actively offering services to U.S.-based traders must be registered with the CFTC.
- The CFTC delegates much of its oversight operations to the NFA.
There are several ways to find out a broker’s regulatory status, but the easiest way is through the NFA online verification system called “BASIC” where the status can be verified using their NFA ID, firm name, or other identifying criteria. If a broker is regulated by the NFA, it is also regulated by the CFTC. Ensure you enter the correct information because many Forex broker firms are known by different names (for example, a website name may be different from the legal corporate name).
The CFTC also maintains a “RED list” containing names of foreign entities that appear to be acting in a capacity that requires registration with the CFTC but are NOT registered with the CFTC.
CFTC guidelines for brokers are amongst the most stringent in the world. Here are some of the more noteworthy regulations:
Minimum capitalization. Brokers must maintain a $20 million security deposit—significantly higher than any other global regulator. As a result, only larger and well-capitalized brokers choose to be CFTC regulated, and smaller companies focus on other parts of the world.
Anti-money laundering. Brokers must have policies and internal controls to help prevent money laundering and a designated individual to monitor Anti-money laundering compliance.
Security. Brokers must protect the reliability and confidentiality of customer orders and account information.
There is a difference between regulated and licensed brokers, but they still follow the same rules so you can effectively treat them as the same.
A regulated broker holds a CFTC registration number to operate within the United States. On the other hand, a CFTC licensed broker only needs written permission to offer services in the US, for example, when the broker is governed by a foreign regulator with which the CFTC holds a treaty.
CFTC and NFA regulations and guidelines set minimum standards for U.S.-active Forex brokers to help minimize the risk of fraud and give traders a transparent and fair marketplace. Some of the key measures and mandates they use to achieve this are:
Segregated accounts. Separating client funds is possibly the most crucial requirement for the safety of client funds by CFTC Forex brokers. The CFTC requires that brokers keep customer funds in accounts separate from the firm’s money. Whether or not you choose a CFTC Forex broker, I highly recommend always using a broker that segregates your deposits from its operations.
Trade integrity. Brokers must have procedures designed to ensure the integrity of trades placed on their trading platforms. In particular:
- Pricing. Trading platforms must be designed to provide pricing that is reasonably related to current market prices and conditions. Customer market or limit orders must be executed at or near the price at which other customers’ orders during the same time have been executed.
- Slippage. Trading platforms should be designed to ensure that any slippage is based on real market conditions.
- Rollovers. Trading platforms should be designed to ensure that automatic rollovers comply with the terms disclosed in the customer agreement.
Market risk disclaimer. All brokers registered with the CFTC must display a disclaimer about trading risks, particularly stating that performance is not guaranteed.
Enforcement. Regulations without enforcement mean very little. The CFTC has dedicated enforcement staff as part of their Division of Enforcement (DOE). Taking 2020 as an example, the DOE filed 113 enforcement actions, the highest number in the CFTC’s history. That same year, the CFTC ordered over $1.3bn in monetary relief.
Whistleblower program. The CFTC is one of the few financial regulators that directly accepts complaints about suspicious activity from the public. The Division of Enforcement houses the CFTC’s whistleblower program, which provides monetary incentives, confidentiality and retaliation protections to individuals who come forward to report possible misconduct. The CFTC even pays a percentage of money sanctioned to whistleblowers whose information leads to successful enforcement. On one occasion in 2021, the CFTC paid a whistleblower almost $200 million.
- The CFTC requires brokers to segregate customer accounts from their operations, a critical foundation for the safety of funds.
- The CFTC requires that brokers provide their clients with trade integrity with fair pricing, slippage, and rollovers.
- The CFTC enforcement program leads to successful prosecutions and recovery of assets every year.
U.S. persons using CFTC-regulated Forex brokers have several significant restrictions to consider that they would not face at non-CFTC regulated brokers based outside the U.S. The most important restrictions are:
Leverage. This restriction is probably the most significant for U.S.-based traders. Since 2010, the CFTC has set the maximum leverage for retail Forex traders at 50:1 for major Forex pairs (EURUSD, GBPUSD, USDJPY, USDCAD, USDCHF, AUDUSD, NZDUSD, USDSEK, USDNOK, and USDDKK), and 20:1 for minor Forex pairs.
No Hedging. The CFTC does not permit hedging on Forex accounts, i.e., holding two opposing positions in the same currency pair.
First in First Out (FIFO). This rule requires that traders liquidate their positions in the order in which they were opened in a currency pair. For example, if you opened two positions in EUR/USD, you must close the first one before closing the second one.
- Using a CFTC broker means maximum leverage of 50:1 on major Forex pairs and 20:1 on minor Forex pairs. You can’t hedge trades, and FIFO rules apply.
The CFTC monitors US futures and options markets via its CFTC Market Surveillance Program in partnership with exchanges. Should the CFTC or an exchange detect suspicious activity, the first step is verbal contact seeking to clarify the situation. Although the CFTC grants an exchange the right to resolve the issue without CFTC intervention, the CFTC has emergency powers to force action but has only ever used this power against an exchange four times. These powers have been used to impose new or reducing existing position limits, position liquidations, delivery period extensions, or market closures.
The CFTC may also impose fines on market participants, impose lawsuits, or revoke licenses, forcing cessation of operation. The most prominent institutional examples include PFG Best and MF Global. A detailed list of all such historic actions is available on the CFTC website under the Enforcement Actions section.
- CFTC oversight of brokers. Any Forex or Futures broker offering services to U.S.-based traders must be registered with the CFTC and regulated under its standards.
- US-based traders. CFTC regulations are not designed to regulate traders, meaning if you correctly report offshore accounts to the IRS, you can use offshore brokers which are not regulated by the CFTC. If you are a US-based Forex or Futures trader, you should consider using a CFTC regulated broker as it offers major protections.
- The CFTC’s role. The CFTC and NFA are active in setting industry standards and preventing fraud. CFTC regulated brokers are well-capitalized, have strong safeguards to protect your deposits, and provide a fair environment for trading.
- Restrictions. U.S.-based traders face leverage restrictions, no hedging and FIFO rules.
- Checking regulatory status. It’s easy to check the regulatory status of a broker that claims to be regulated in the US through the NFA’s “BASIC” portal. While registration and a clean disciplinary record won’t protect you from fraud, most scams involve unregistered entities.
What is the CFTC in Forex? The CFTC is a US regulatory agency that regulates Forex brokers.
Who is registered with the CFTC? Derivatives and Forex brokers must register with the CFTC. The CFTC has delegated registration responsibility to the National Futures Association (NFA).
Who is regulated by the CFTC? The CFTC regulates the US derivatives markets and Forex. The CFTC regulates any broker offering those services to U.S.-based traders.
Is the CFTC legit? The US Congress created the CFTC in 1974. The CFTC is considered one of the most respected financial regulators globally.