The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the BEST Forex and CFD Broker

When it comes to trading the financial markets, selecting the right Forex/CFD broker is ESSENTIAL.

Particularly for newer traders, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with confusing features and statistics. Therefore, it is a time most require a helping hand – somebody to explain the ins and outs if you will.

External image

Why Trust Us?

The ForexBrokerReview website is a leading resource for online traders. Created by traders for traders, our research provides insightful information and extensive comparisons, exploring 100s of brokers. Our recommendations, therefore, not only help newer traders, but also old hands as well.

Security, regulation, commissions, customer support, leverage and platform functionality are just a handful of factors you must take into account before choosing a broker to work with.

In a Rush?

No time to read our comprehensive guide right now?
No problem. Following weeks of research, we’ve compressed the critical points and featured OUR broker of choice – FP Markets

Shiftkey image

Most reputable brokers are regulated by respectable financial watchdogs. FP Markets is regulated by a number of regulatory bodies, including the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).

Account types and trading platforms
Account types and trading platforms

FP Markets stepped it up here, offering not only multiple account types, but also a broad range of trading platforms, including MT4 and MT5, along with the very impressive Iress trading platform, a comprehensive trading package for professional traders.

ECN Pricing
ECN Pricing

FP Markets streams price feeds directly from liquidity providers.

Research and analysis
Research and analysis

FP Markets have numerous industry experts active daily.


Most reputable brokers are (or will be in the next couple of months) restricted to their offering due to recent regulatory intervention. The maximum leverage ratio for major currency pairs is 1:30.


A continuous flow of educational material graces FP Markets dedicated Traders Hub.

Competitive commission structure
Competitive commission structure

FP Markets states their EUR/USD spread to be 0.0 pips on average 37.2% of the time from 01-11-2020 to 30-11-2020 (available for their RAW Spread trading accounts).

Customer service
Customer service

We personally tested FP Markets customer service. Wait times were incredibly low and the support team’s knowledge was fantastic.

Start trading with The Forex Broker Review’s Choice

Find out our pick with detailed comparison

External image

Detailed Guide:

To make life a little simpler, we have shaped an easy-to-understand guide that highlights some of the heavyweight brokers in the Forex/CFD industry and, more importantly, underlined key aspects to zero in on.


The foreign exchange market is a mammoth decentralised auction house, with a daily turnover of 6.6 trillion USD, according to the latest BIS Triennial Survey.

Knowing your money is safe is a number one priority. Ethical and dependable brokers are sought after, and for good reason.

Given the decentralised nature of foreign exchange trading and increasing demand for CFD (contracts for difference) products, the need for a dedicated financial watchdog is paramount. Regulated brokers are required to follow specific guidelines stipulated by the local regulatory body.

Regulated brokers are also subjected to audits from supervisory authorities. When a regulated broker fails to follow standards set by its regulator, legal action can be taken by the agency. You will find regulated brokers openly display regulatory information on their websites.

We recommend traders AVOID brokers operating under no regulatory body. Promises of guaranteed returns and extravagant bonuses, together with huge leverage, often lure unsuspecting traders. Those who choose to trade with unregulated brokers have limited support options should they suffer financial loss at the hands of a broker.

Trading with a regulated Forex/CFD broker provides peace of mind that you’re working with professionals, an organisation who encourage and support ethical trading rules and transparency.

Some of the more prominent regulatory bodies are listed below:

Shiftkey image
Shiftkey image
Shiftkey image
Shiftkey image
Shiftkey image

Business Model

How a broker operates its business can affect commission structure for traders.

The majority of Forex/CFD brokers are a blend of A-Book and B-Book setups, often labelled hybrids.

  • An A-Book broker filters your trades to a liquidity provider (think large commercial banks and hedge funds).

  • A B-Book broker is the liquidity provider – a market maker.
  • In your quest to find a suitable broker you’ll come across other terms such as Dealing Desk, Non-Dealing Desk, ECN (Electronic Communications Network), STP (Straight Through Processing) and DMA (Direct Market Access). It is important you research these terms.

  • A dealing-desk broker is essentially a market maker (or sometimes referred to as a dealer) – a process in which the Bid/Ask prices are provided by the broker. When a dealing-desk broker accepts a trade they provide liquidity and are the counterparty. Dealing-desk brokers also have the option of covering risk exposure in the underlying market or offsetting trades with other traders’ orders.

  • As the name implies a non-dealing desk broker does not work with a dealing desk – they’re not counterparty to client trades. Non-dealing desk brokers often operate via ECN and STP models.

  • An ECN broker works by consolidating bid/ask prices from numerous liquidity providers. This frequently offers traders narrower bid/ask spreads. Think of an ECN as an aggregation engine, in place to connect traders and liquidity providers without the need for a middleman.

    A STP broker is often referred to as a silent middleman between trader and market. Orders are automatically routed to the broker’s liquidity providers, and prices are executed at the bid/ask rate provided by those liquidity providers. Usually, STP brokers have an internal liquidity pool that is represented by different liquidity providers, essentially competing for the best bid/ask spreads for STP broker orders.

    The Hybrid model is a combination of both ECN and STP. Both STPs and ECNs operate as non-dealing desk brokers.

    Direct Market Access (DMA) allows traders to execute trades directly on exchanges. DMA traders do not have to rely on market-making firms or dealers to carry out trades.


    Leverage is an important consideration for many traders.

    Leverage essentially governs margin requirement. Higher leverage means less of an initial deposit is required to open a trade, while lower leverage demands a higher initial margin deposit.

    Despite Australia and the United Kingdom being the main target markets in terms of Forex and CFD trading, regulatory bodies governing these countries have effectively put a cap on the amount of leverage Forex/CFD brokers can offer. The intervention order restricts CFD leverage to maximum ratios of: 1:30 on major currency pairs and 1:20 on minor currency pairs.

    For more information see here (ASIC) and here (FCA)

    Many brokers have welcomed the new changes that largely affect retail clients. Professional clients, from what we understand, will not be affected.

    Commissions and Spreads

    ‘Nothing is free. Everything has to be paid for’ – Ted Hughes

    Cost to trade is an important consideration when choosing a Forex/CFD broker.

    Traditional market maker brokers, those managing a dealing-desk model, largely earn revenue through the bid/ask spread, either by way of a fixed or floating spread.

    A spread, usually measured in pips (or in the case of a tight spread, pipettes) is the difference between willing buyers and sellers at any one time. For market maker brokers this will be your Forex/CFD broker’s bid and ask prices.

    The key difference between ECN and STP brokers in terms of commission structure is ECN brokers charge a fixed commission as spreads depend on the liquidity provider. STP accounts, however, generally add a mark-up to the spread, similar to a market maker.

    If you’re broker states commission-free trading, the commission will be built into the spread.

    Account Types

    Dependent on the broker you choose to trade with, a number of account types are available.

    It is important you look at this carefully – details are usually found under Account Types of each broker’s website. Some brokers also offer proprietary trading platforms.

    The majority of brokers also offer demo accounts. These are simulated practice platforms that generally track live market pricing. This is a real plus for newer traders, allowing for things such as strategy testing in a risk-free environment.

    For the purpose of this report, we researched two popular brokers:
    FP Markets and IC Markets.

    FP Markets, in our opinion, offers the more professional service of the two.

    FP Markets offers Standard and Raw accounts, each with a minimum opening balance of 100 AUD or equivalent. Their Raw account, according to their website, is most popular, with spreads reaching as low as 0 pips in some instances. Commission per lot is around 3 USD per side on their Raw account, though with their Standard account it is commission free (spread is typically higher). Both accounts also work with ECN pricing. At FP Markets they also offer a selection of Iress account types. This is an awesome platform for the professional trader.

    FP Markets noted the following regarding their Iress offering:

    Iress is a comprehensive active trader platform with advanced functionality. What makes the Iress platform superior is transparent Direct Market Access (DMA) which allows for CFD trading in shares and futures along with other non-DMA financial instruments such as indices, commodities and forex. Trade over 10,000 stocks across international markets including the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), London Stock Exchange (LSE) and NASDAQ.

    IC Markets, similar to FP Markets, offer a Raw Spread account and a Standard account, in addition to cTrader (third-party platform). Each account requires a starting deposit of 200 USD, with their Raw Spread Account being the most popular, according to their website. Their cTrader and Raw Spread account list commissions of 3 USD and 3.5 USD, respectively, yet spreads are reportedly as low as 0 pips. Their Standard account, similar to FP Markets, comes with zero commission but has higher spread cost.

    IC Markets noted the following:

    Our Raw Spread account offers some of the lowest possible spreads available. Our average EUR/USD spread is 0.1 pips, with only a small commission of $3.50 per lot payable per side, with aggregated source of pricing from up to 25 institutional grade sources.

    Trading Platforms

    The trading platform is where your trade execution takes place and for the majority of traders, where most analysis is prepared. This is why it is imperative to select a broker providing a platform that suits your individual needs. Ultimately, a good broker provides a range of trading platforms, in addition to mobile applications as some traders welcome the ability to trade through mobile devices.

    The majority of Forex/CFD brokers provide MetaQuotes Software: MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5). MT4 remains a favourite among retail Forex/CFD platforms, while MT5 usage is gradually increasing.

    Other third-party trading solutions are often available, with some brokers designing proprietary trading platforms to fit the needs of their traders.

    A particularly stand-out platform is the Iress platform, a new generation web-based trading trade station. According to our research there are only a handful of brokers that adopt this platform, including TradeMax Global Markets ( TMGM ) and FP Markets. While TMGM provides access to the Iress Viewpoint trading platform, FP Markets goes that extra mile and facilitates access to not only Iress Viewpoint, but also the Iress Trader, Iress Investor and Iress Mobile platforms.

    Both TMGM and FP Markets charge a fee for their Iress Viewpoint platforms, but is waived if, according to FP Markets, you trade 15 times (with a standard minimum ticket fee of 10 AUD) or more per calendar month or generate more than 150 USD in commissions to receive this trading platform free of charge.

    FP Markets also go on to say that by trading through their Iress platforms, you’ll receive access to more than 10,000 Australian and international CFDs on stock exchanges across several continents.

    Research & Analysis

    Access to a full suite of tools and research is a benefit many traders welcome.

    Global market coverage in one location that is (often) free of charge is a must for any aspiring trader.

    Following industry experts is recommended to learn from their analysis, which, for the better brokers, is published daily. Another key thing to look for is defined research tabs. If you want to view research regarding technical analysis, for example, a dedicated page for this should be available.

    The best brokers provide not only daily technical and fundamental research, they also cover week-ahead reports which effectively highlight key events to focus on and longer-term levels to be mindful of.

    Another key consideration is social media. Many reputable brokers post regularly, underlining key macroeconomic events to be aware of. In addition, closing prices are often advertised along with technical charting opportunities.


    It can be difficult to find reliable education when learning to trade Forex or CFDs.

    The appealing thing about most trustworthy brokers is their education offering.

    We found that the best Forex/CFD brokers have a dedicated hub that serves to educate its clients, highlighting things such as how to correctly operate trading platforms. Additionally, information on technical analysis is popular – aspects such as the correct application of chart patterns, for example. Trading psychology should also be addressed as this is a large (though unfortunately overlooked) part of trading success.

    Although each broker has their own take on format, the majority focus on articles in order to help educate newer traders about the workings of the Forex and CFD market.

    It is recommended traders seek a broker offering a comprehensive educational package that is FREE to access. In addition to articles, webinars are a must for many traders. This provides the option to ask industry experts in a live setting. Free downloadable E-books is also something you should look for.

    Some brokers offer basic educational packages; others take it a step further and offer a consistent flow of educational material. Our advice is to focus on brokers that invest in their educational offering. This shows the broker respects and understands the needs of its traders.

    Website Features

    In today’s ever-growing world, synonymous with technology, the importance of a user-friendly website presence is important.

    Having the ability to easily browse a broker’s website is a clear benefit. Another key element of user-friendly website design is mobile optimisation. Nowadays, users interact with websites through their mobile devices more than ever.

    Customer Service

    Irrespective of your trading experience level, customer service is indispensable.

    Trading the financial markets is a difficult enough endeavour, but without clear and concise means of contact with your broker, trading can be made very difficult.

    It is recommended you test-drive a broker’s customer service a few times. Ideally, you must check their customer service have a contact phone number and an address. Another test, of course, is their live chat support. Response should be quick and the support team must be well-informed.

    The importance of reliable customer service is tremendous. This will become evidently obvious if you encounter a technical issue during a trade.

    Our Picks

    FP Markets, IC Markets and Pepperstone are our brokers of choice.

    Each command a trustworthy and reliable presence, with knowledgeable support and a broad range of trading platforms and financial instruments available.

    Overall, however, FP Markets is our TOP PICK. Their professionalism, wide variety of platform choice and trading products represents a prime example of a first-class broker.

    Brokers under review


    Our Rating


    Account Application Time1 Business Day1 Business Day1 Business Day
    Minimum Account Balance100 AUD 200 USD100 USD
    Trading PlatformsMT4, MT5, IressMT4MT4, MT5
    Account TypesStandard, Raw and Iress ViewPoint, Iress Investor and Iress TraderStandard and ECN AccountsStandard and Corporate
    Range of Markets10,000+ (Additional Share CFDs via their Iress Platform)250 Trading Products250 Trading Products
    Trading Spreads/FeesLow Spreads - Commission per side is 3.0 USD per one standard lotLow Spreads - Commission per side is 4 USD per one standard lotIncorporated into the spread + inactivity fee of 50 USD
    Execution Speed36 Milliseconds79 MillisecondsUnable to retrieve data
    Regulation – Tier 1 LicencesASIC; CySECFinancial Conduct Authority (FCA)CBI; B.V.I. FSC; ASIC; FSCA; FSA and FFAJ; FRSA
    Market Research and Education97.57
    Customer Service9.587

    Trustpilot Reviews for FP Markets

    Overall, however, FP Markets is our TOP PICK. Their professionalism, wide variety of platform choice and trading products represents a prime example of a first-class broker.

    Bayo oke

    ‘I had a wonderful experience with FPMarkets. My Client Relationship Officer was Beatriz Moreira. She was so kind and helpful. Really recommend’.

    Christos Drakopoulos

    ‘The overall customer support experience was excellent. The company representative (Mr. Mohamed Mawardi) was very helpful and friendly, exactly what you want from a customer support team’.‘The overall customer support experience was excellent. The company representative (Mr. Mohamed Mawardi) was very helpful and friendly, exactly what you want from a customer support team’.

    Nana Addo

    ‘I just applied for a live account. The application was absolutely seamless!! the live chat support was top notch!!. I would give these guys 10 stars if i could’.

    Start Trading with TheForexBrokerReview's Choice- FP Markets

    Fast Account Opening in 3 Simple Steps