ESMA regulated Forex / CFD brokers offer traders one of the world’s tightest regulatory regimes with a high level of customer protection. Maximum leverage on Forex is capped at 1:30 while bonuses are banned, although neither of these issues should deter traders. Many of the best Forex brokers in the world enjoy their status as an ESMA regulated entity. We have reviewed them all and present our detailed broker by broker findings below.
High floating leverage + fast execution
Daily market research and Autochartist access
High level regulation in multiple jurisdictions
Impressive range of tradeable assets including vanilla options and gold options
Marketsi strategy builder helps traders trade smarter
Competitive trade execution with low slippage
CFD service 72% lose money
Best platform for new Forex traders
CFD service 72% lose money FXTM
, Best all-around: high floating leverage + fast execution.
, ECN trading with leverage up to 1:500.
, Highly regulated, choice of fixed or floating spreads.
, Wide range of CFDs + trailing stop losses.
5.0/5 in this category
Best all-around: high floating leverage + fast execution
FXTM ranks among the best ESMA Forex brokers due to its low trading costs and fast order execution. For a deposit of $500 or a currency equivalent, Forex traders get raw spreads from 0 pips for a commission between $0.80 and $4.00 per 1.0 standard lot, plus NDD execution, ideal conditions for scalpers, ranking it among the lowest trading costs covered by the ESMA regulatory framework. FXTM features the trusted MT4 trading platform, leader for algorithmic trading using EAs, and offers VPS hosting. FXTM additionally upgrades the out-of-the-box MT4 with six plugins and its FXTM Pivot Point Strategy. Beginner traders will benefit from the quality educational section available at FXTM. It consists of written content, videos, eBooks, webinars, and seminars. FXTM also developed an interactive Forex periodic table. Market commentary is available via podcasts, market analysis videos, and the FXTM Forex News Line. FXTM’s reported retail loss rate is 77.0%.
Excellent commission-based Forex pricing environment and transparency
Upgraded MT4/MT5 trading platforms plus proprietary mobile trading app
Quality market research and educational content for beginner traders
Proprietary copy trading platform, low minimum deposit, and high leverage
5.0/5 in this category
ECN trading with leverage up to 1:500
FP Markets caters to traders within the ESMA regulatory framework via its Cyprus operating subsidiary. Forex traders are offered 60+ currency pairs, fast NDD order execution without requotes, and ECN pricing. The available trading platforms at FP Markets are MT4, MT5, its proprietary WebTrader, and its newly developed mobile trading platform FP Markets Trading App. The twelve plugins for MT4, part of the FP Markets Traders Toolbox, upgrade the core version to a competitive trading solution. Traders have two pricing options. The commission-free Standard account lists average spreads at 1.2 pips for the EUR/USD, the lowest cost, or $12.00 per 1.0 standard lot. A notably cheaper cost structure exists in the commission-based Raw account, with an average mark-up of 0.1 pips and a commission of $6.00 per round lot for a total cost of $7.00. Video tutorials and daily market reports are also available. The retail loss rate is 70.7%.
Choice of trading platforms and auxiliary trading tools
Very competitive cost structure and excellent asset selection
Low minimum deposit requirement and leverage of up to 1:500
Well-regulated and trustworthy
5.0/5 in this category
Highly regulated, choice of fixed or floating spreads
Traders looking for an ESMA compliant broker, a broad range of trading platforms, and a well-balanced asset selection from a commission-free trading environment will feel at home at Irish-based AvaTrade. Besides the well-known and trusted MT4, AvaTrade presents MT5, its proprietary WebTrader, its mobile app AvaTradeGO, its options platform AvaOptions, and its newly added social trading service Ava Social. Services by Trading Central are available as an MT4/MT5 plugin and in its mobile app. With 1,200 trading instruments, including options, AvaTrade presents a competitive asset selection. It is also a trusted cryptocurrency CFD broker operating within the ESMA regulatory framework. AvaTrade also offers a high-quality partnership program. Trading costs start from 0.9 pips or $9.00 per 1.0 standard lot. Beginner traders will benefit from SharpTrader, the spun-out trading academy featuring 40+ lessons and 200+ videos. It is the most in-depth broker-developed educational resource. The retail loss rate is 71.0%.
High-quality educational offering via SharpTrader
Excellent choice of trading platforms catering to various trading needs
Broad asset selection and cross-asset diversification opportunities
Well-regulated and trusted broker with oversight from a central bank
5.0/5 in this category
Excellent educational offerings
Markets.com belongs among the leading ESMA brokers with dedicated services for CFD traders and investors. Traders may also use MT4/MT5 and get the Markets.com mobile app. With an asset selection of 8,000+, Markets.com also ranks very high among the ESMA brokers for choice of trading instruments. Forex spreads commence at 0.6 pips or $6.00 per 1.0 standard lot, a competitive cost structure. The trade execution at Markets.com is also excellent, as 86% of all orders received zero or positive slippage. The personalized financial live streaming service XRay presents traders with valuable market commentary published daily, embedded within the two proprietaries Markets.com trading platforms. Beginner traders get free webinars, and the Investment Strategy Builder assists investors with portfolio management. Markets.com additionally provides eleven high-quality trading tools, including trading signals, analyst recommendations, and hedge fund investment confidence. It results in one of the most competitive ESMA trading environments. The retail loss rate is 67.0%.
Very Competitive Forex Fees
Very Wide Choice of Assets
Choice of Trading Platforms
Excellent Customer Support
4.5/5 in this category
Wide range of CFDs + trailing stop losses
Plus500 is one of the most trusted execution-only brokers inside the ESMA regulatory framework. It presents traders with its user-friendly proprietary trading platform, a solution for manual traders featuring a detailed and transparent order ticket. Plus500 also issues alerts on price movements, notable percentage changes in price action, and changes in the Plus500 trader sentiment indicator. It also publishes news and market commentary on its website. Beginner traders get a brief introduction to trading via ten videos and accompanying written content. With 2,000+ trading instruments, including hundreds of vanilla options contracts, Plus500 supports complex trading strategies. ESMA Forex traders get 60+ Forex pairs and 15 cryptocurrency CFDs, plus a well-balanced choice of equity CFDs. Plus500 maintains a commission-free trading environment with minimum Forex spreads of 0.6 pips or $6.00 per 1.0 standard lot. It is also a rare broker offering guaranteed stop-loss orders. The retail loss rate is 72.0%.
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
Forex/CFD brokerages operating under ESMA regulations carry two very notable regulatory conditions which are worth understanding. Firstly, the maximum leverage which can be offered to clients trading Forex currency pairs is thirty to one. This means that the largest trade you can open is your total account size multiplied by thirty. Some traders will not like the idea of being limited to a maximum leverage of thirty to one, but it is worth considering how much money you could become liable for at a much higher level of leverage in the event of a sudden huge price movement.
Closely connected to this is a further restriction which prevents any retail client from being liable under any circumstances for an amount beyond the funds which are already sitting in the brokerage account. This “negative balance protection” is a welcome one, as in the past when there have been huge sudden price movements which slip right through brokerage stops, such as the huge Swiss Franc move in January 2015, clients could suddenly find themselves legally liable for large sums far exceeding their deposit. The sudden volatility triggered by that event and effective freezing of the entire global market in Swiss Francs for about an hour resulted in traders leveraged by more than 1:3 seeing instant losses exceeding their account equity with no ability to immediately exit the trade. This is now a danger which belongs to the past if you trade with an ESMA regulated Forex/CFD brokerage. However, it is also true that many brokers who are not regulated by ESMA offer negative balance protection as it has come to be seen as a fair practice.
Now that you have considered ESMA-related issues, you can consider what the broker has to offer. Is the cost of trading there competitive or not? Check spreads, commissions, and other incidental fees. Remember that some brokers can offer very competitive fees on certain asset classes, such as Forex, while the cost of trading commodities might be high, for example, so check the fees section in the reviews carefully depending upon what instruments you intend to be trading the most. Traders who are planning to keep trades open over the New York rollover at the end of the trading day there should also consider the overnight swaps typically offered. Unfortunately, some brokers abuse this typically “hidden” fee.
Finally, examine the “nice to have” elements, such as the range of tradable instruments, quality of customer support, and trading platforms. Going through the process in this order should ensure you end up opening an account with the best ESMA regulated Forex broker for you.