When Forex first became available to retail traders around the world in the early 2000s, the US was one of the earliest entrants into this new and exciting arena. Before this, only institutions and high-net-worth individuals had access to the Forex market.
It is not surprising that US traders quickly adopted Forex into their trading – the US already had a substantial community of retail traders because of its large stock market.
As a US trader, moving from stocks to Forex was especially attractive because of the high leverage offered in Forex compared to stocks.
With the popularity of Forex trading, the competition among US-based Forex brokers intensified. New retail traders are often unsure about the various types of brokers available and which one is best suited for their trading needs. We have created an in-depth analysis of all Forex brokers in the US and narrowed down the list to our top US Forex brokers, so you can choose the best broker for you. Our research included hundreds of hours of hard work so that you can make an easy choice where to begin your Forex trading journey. Through our independent research, we found the right type of broker for various trading needs and skill-levels, from new retail traders to longstanding day traders to seasoned professionals.
Is Forex legal in the US?
Yes. As a US trader, it is legal for you to trade Forex. US regulators exist to make sure Forex brokers accepting US Clients are properly monitored to act ethically and lawfully.
Understanding the US Forex Market
The US Dollar is the world’s largest currency and is considered the world’s reserve currency. Oil, gold, and many other commodities are priced in US Dollars. Plus, as mentioned before, the US contains the world’s largest equity market. All these factors lead to the US Dollar being the world’s major Forex currency. The term “major pairs” are Forex pairs containing the USD, for example, EUR/USD, USD/JPY, GBP/USD, and so on. That said, US Forex brokers usually offer Forex pairs that do not contain the US Dollar, for example, EUR/JPY, CAD/JPY, GBP/NZD, etc. Forex pairs not containing the US Dollar are known as “crosses”. As a US trader, you can trade both major Forex pairs and crosses.
US Forex Market Regulation
Of course, as US Forex brokers appeared on the scene to meet new demand from retail traders, the best US based Forex brokers carried out their operations legitimately, but others did not operate with integrity or in a way that served their clients’ interests. US regulators quickly realized that they could not allow Forex brokers accepting US clients to provide dishonest services or steal client money. Before retail Forex arrived in the US, the wider US financial sector was already tightly regulated, so it was only a matter of time before Forex brokers accepting US clients faced similar stringent oversight. That is a good thing – as a US trader, you want to be protected from brokers who do not operate honestly, to say the least.
What is the US Market Regulation?
If you are being offered services from a US Forex broker, they must be regulated by the Commodity Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC) and be a member of the National Futures Association (NFA). The NFA offers an online verification system called Background Affiliation Status Information Center (BASIC), where Forex brokerage firms can be verified for having the necessary regulatory compliance and approval.
How a Regulated Market Benefits You
Forex regulation in the US benefits you in two ways. Firstly, it ensures that regulated US Forex brokers are relatively well run and capitalized, which helps lower the probability that your broker will collapse and leave you waiting to get your deposit returned while you wait for bankruptcy proceedings to be concluded. Secondly, it ensures that your broker cannot unfairly take advantage of you and must offer you a fair market, and the trading conditions which their advertising promises.
How to Verify Your Broker is Regulated
Regulated Forex brokers always publish the information verifying by whom they are regulated and usually also the details of their license. It is usually published at the bottom of the home page of their website, and sometimes at the bottom of every page within the website. Typically, regulated Forex brokers also have a dedicated web page giving full in-depth details of their regulatory arrangement.
The Dodd-Frank Act, a set of US regulations passed in 2008 in response to the financial crisis, had a huge impact on US Forex brokers. Many feel that the stringent regulations resulted in US Forex brokers moving operations offshore or closing their doors completely. Those US Forex brokers that remain now face some of the most stringent capital requirements required by Forex brokers anywhere in the world plus hefty licensing costs.
It is worth noting that the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) does not have authority over the Forex market because it does not consider currency pairs securities.
Client deposits at US regulated Forex brokers are not protected by any form of deposit insurance. Despite this lack of protection, US Forex Brokers are still seen as amongst the safest in the world because of strong CFTC and NFA oversight.
Leverage for US regulated Forex brokers is capped at 50:1 and this maximum leverage cap is designed to protect retail traders from excessive leverage. It also means that the best US Forex brokers all operate under the same maximum allowances for leverage thereby removing leverage as a factor when choosing amongst the best US Forex brokers for beginners or advanced traders.
As a final thought on US Forex market regulation: as a US trader if you come across an overseas Forex broker that is not registered with the NFA but accepts clients from the US, be highly cautious before handing over your deposit. The advantage of working with the best US Forex brokers for beginners or advanced traders is a reliable, trustworthy firm to execute your trades.
Advantages of Choosing to Work with US Forex Brokers
The question to you as a US trader is whether these imposing restrictions are good for retail traders or serve as a detriment. The truth is that strong regulations are both beneficial and detrimental. As a detriment, the stringent requirements have made it difficult and costly for Forex brokers to accept US clients and that in turn has limited the choice of Forex brokers accepting US clients. On the beneficial side, those Forex brokers accepting US clients have worked very hard to meet all the regulatory requirements. They will be well-capitalized, have excellent compliance, and most importantly they are serious about being in the industry for the long-term. Unlike other parts of the world, there are sketchy US based Forex brokers.
All US regulated Forex brokers fall under the same set of regulations making the landscape much easier to navigate – there are no regional or state-level differences. That means if you are comparing one US Forex broker with another US Forex broker, you know that they will operate under the same set of rules.
What is the Difference Between a Dealing Desk and a Non-Dealing Desk?
A dealing desk broker takes the trade for itself and is, therefore, the client’s counterparty. In other words, they carry the client’s position on their books. Importantly, that means they do not execute client orders on the prices given by their liquidity providers. As such, a dealing desk broker is also known as a market maker as they literally create a market in the underlying security for their clients. This is not to say that dealing desk brokers do not have access to liquidity providers. Depending on the trade direction, size, and market conditions, they will decide whether they keep the trade on their books or not, and at some point, match their position with a liquidity provider. A dealing desk broker will charge a spread for their services.
In contrast, non-dealing desk brokers do not pass their clients’ orders through a dealing desk. They link buyers and sellers together through liquidity providers such as banks and institutions. There are two types of non-dealing desk brokers: Electronic Community Network (ECN) and Straight Through Processing (STP). ECNs generally have more liquidity providers than STP brokers. Non-dealing desk brokers do not charge a spread; instead, they charge a commission. There still may be a small spread on the trade but it is the underlying market spread, not a spread being created by the broker.
When you are choosing between dealing desk and non-dealing desk options, the most important feature is that non-dealing desk brokers offer the best bid/ask prices in the market. Secondly, non-dealing desk brokers will rarely show you a requote in normal market conditions when you execute the trade, in other words, you almost always get the price you see on the screen. This may not be the case when markets are particularly volatile, for example, during a big economic data release or news event.
Non-dealing desk accounts usually require higher minimum deposits and minimum trade sizes. For smaller account sizes, especially for mini and micro-lot accounts, the only option is often a dealing desk account.
Forex Trading Times in the US
The US Forex market for retail traders concentrates around the eastern time zone. Although there is no hard line that defines when the Forex market opens for US traders as it runs 24 hours a day, five days a week, it is widely agreed that the US opening time for Forex is at 8 a.m. Eastern Time. The first couple of hours of the US open is historically the most liquid during any 24-hour Forex period because London and other European centers are still operating at that time.
How to Choose a Forex Broker as a US Trader
Just as the team at DailyForex considers multiple variables in whether we should recommend a particular US Forex broker, as a US trader you should also employ a thorough analysis considering numerous factors. Whilst we do a lot of the hard work for you, here is a checklist you can employ for yourself.
Is the cost of trading, in particular spreads and commissions, competitive?
Are you happy with the trading platforms offered? Is there a choice of platforms? Does the broker offer mobile trading?
Is the broker truly global, offering access to wide range of global asset classes? This can be especially important if you want to trade individual stocks.
Spreads, Commissions, & Leverage
Spreads, and also commissions (if charged) can make a big difference to your overall cost of trading, as these are going to be the biggest cost you face by far, unless you make very few trades and hold for the long term. It is important to be sure that you really know what spreads and commissions are going to realistically be – do not rely upon what you see in a broker’s demo account, as the spreads you see here typically do not reflect what you will face in a real, live money account.
Leverage – the amount that a broker will let you borrow to trade – is another important issue. Almost every broker will offer quite generous leverage on Forex and many other asset classes, but if you are seeking high leverage, it is important to check the maximums allowed asset by asset.
Some Forex brokers will offer their clients a choice of different types of account. The right choice of account type for you will probably depend upon the minimum deposit required, what you want to trade, and how often you trade.
Some general rules about which account type is probably going to be most suitable for you:
- The Micro Account accommodates deposits lower than $500.
- The Mini Account accommodates deposits lower than $10,000, and will be the more suitable vehicle for most retail Forex traders with more than $500 to deposit.
- The Standard Account is most suitable for more experienced traders with more than $10,000 to deposit. There is little doubt that if you can afford it, the higher deposit you make, the better deal you will get on overall fees and other trading conditions.
Most Forex brokers require a minimum deposit to in order to accept a new customer, and this is especially true for a wealthy country such as the US. This is justifiable as brokers incur their own operational fixed costs in opening and maintaining a new account. Fortunately, minimum deposits required by Forex brokers in the US tend to be low and affordable for the majority of Americans, at ranges between approximately $100 and $250. It is important to remember that these minimums are not applied to ongoing account balances, they just mean that to open an account you have to start by depositing a minimum amount.
The traditional image of the Forex trader as glued to their laptop or PC is out of date. More and more people are trading from apps, not least because using a trading app allows you to monitor and trade markets no matter where you are or what time of day or night it is. This does not mean that app traders are glued to the market, it means they use apps intelligently by setting their trading apps to alert them when something interesting happens in the market.
Every Forex broker in the US will offer their own dedicated trading app and they are mostly reaching very high standards.
Person-to-person customer service is something that you will probably never need, but you do want to know that if you need it, it is there and at a high standard.
Fortunately, due to the low number and generally high reputations of US Forex brokers, and high expectations of customer service in American culture, you are unlikely to find that you will be lacking help if you reach out and ask for it – or even if you do not.
All Forex brokers today have automated FAQ searches which should troubleshoot a solid majority of any operational difficulties you might encounter in your trading.
Day trading is short-term trading: in the literal sense of the phrase, it refers to Forex traders who open and close all their trades on the same day, without leaving any trades to run over the long term. In practice, day traders sometimes do leave at least some of their floating profit to run for days, or even for weeks and months if the trend is especially strong.
Day traders have special requirements and priorities. As they tend to trade frequently, the cost of spreads and commissions becomes more important to their bottom-line profit and loss. As they rarely or never leave positions overnight, swap / overnight financing fees which are imposed by Forex brokers on open trades become irrelevant. This means that one Forex broker may offer a better deal for day traders and another one for longer-term swing or position traders. Day traders can also benefit from more precise technological tools and faster executions, so anyone intending to be a day trader should investigate these areas carefully when looking to choose a Forex broker.
Day traders often trade in a “scalping” style – opening and closing lots of trades very quickly. Some brokers do not allow this, so if you want to scalp, it is important to check this is OK with the broker you want to choose.
Methodology: How Does Daily Forex Test and Choose US Forex Brokers?
As a US trader, you will have plenty of questions when choosing from a selection of Forex brokers accepting US clients or even trying to find which are the best US Forex brokers for beginners. As always, our team of analysts and industry experts at DailyForex have done much of the hard work for you to bring you the best US regulated Forex brokers.
We employ a rigorous methodology that measures multiple variables to find the best US Forex brokers for beginners and advanced traders. First and foremost, we are most concerned with the financial stability and regulatory compliance of any broker we review. Next, we look at the reliability of their execution, including speed of execution and accuracy of filling client trades. Then we consider the cost of trading whether it is through spreads and/or commissions. We review the capability of the platforms they offer traders for charting and execution, followed by the level of customer service they give clients. For example, are they available by phone 24 hours a day? Or is customer service by email only? Our team has direct experience of the brokers we are assessing through live and demo accounts, and by dealing with their customer service personnel. This 360-degree review of every US Forex broker gives us a complete understanding of whether they should sit on our list of Forex brokers accepting US clients.
What is the best Forex broker in the USA?
The best overall US Forex broker in our analysis is IG. The next strongest contender is Forex.com. If you want to trade in innovative ways using binary options and similar methods, we strongly recommend Nadex.
Can you trade Forex in the USA?
Yes. Forex is legal to trade, and US Forex brokers are well regulated by the National Futures Association (NFA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
What is the best Forex broker for US beginner traders?
The best US Forex broker for a beginner trader is IG. They offer an unparalleled support service and an outstanding academy to make sure you have the foundational knowledge required to succeed in Forex.
How to become a Forex trader in the US?
The keys to becoming a Forex trader in the US is having a methodology or trading strategy that you have profitably tested on a demo account, and then finding the best US Forex brokers that will execute your trades when you switch to a live account.