FOREX.com: Advanced broker to trade currencies and more
If you’ve been involved in the financial world for a while, the chances are that you have heard about FOREX.com. This broker celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and has managed to keep relevant in an evolving financial industry. Don’t get fooled by the name, FOREX.com has opened its platform to a broad range of assets, including currencies, indices, commodities, equities and its more recent addition: crypto. I’ve used many brokers in my time, below are my thoughts on FOREX.com, as well as some information that should be useful.
- CFD and Forex broker.
- Highly regulated (FCA, CFTC, ASIC, FSA) – available in many countries.
- 300+ trading instruments. FX, commodities, indices, and crypto.
- Low minimum deposit: $50
- Desktop, web, and mobile trading platforms
FOREX.com Pros and Cons
What is FOREX.com: 20-year-old reliable broker
FOREX.com is a Forex and Contracts for Difference (CFDs) broker that has been active since 1999. It is one of the subsidiaries from GAIN Capital Group LLC, an important name on the online trading services in the USA. With 20 years on the market and supported by a financial company with 200,000+ clients (retail and institutional), FOREX.com has become one of the most regulated brokers worldwide, with licenses from 7 major jurisdictions.
As a Forex focused platform, you’ll get access to 80+ trading currency pairs. But this broker has evolved over the years, and now the FX market it’s just a part of their offering. Along with FX, they also do indices, cryptocurrencies, equities and commodities. In addition, you’ll be able to invest in more than 100 companies (e.g., Amazon) via UK shares (starting at 1pt). One of my favorite features of this broker is that it is designed for active traders that are more experienced. I wouldn’t advise newbies to use this platform from the get-go, though it has some decent educational resources. For a more thorough education however, do check out the VantagePointTrading courses.
FOREX.com offers multiple options for any type of trader. If you’ve traded before then you will be comfortable taking trades on MetaTrader, desktop, mobile and hosting applications. I’d prefer to use their native trading platforms which are also available via web, desktop or Android/iOS. These are much easier to use and are better for those into technical analysis, the built-in charting tool is TradingView, my preferred free charting platform. This feature integrated in 2017 is, in my opinion, one of the best decisions FOREX.com has made. If you’re a developer, you can also automate your orders using their REST API, which is ready for live streaming prices, trade execution, and advanced orders.
FOREX.com Regulation: is it safe?
With 20 years in the market, FOREX.com has acquired a wide number of licenses to operate around the globe. It is one of the most regulated brokers worldwide. As mentioned, FOREX.com is a subsidiary of GAIN Capital Holdings (NYSE:GCAP), an important provider of online trading services. Its regulatory framework is one of the strongest on the market, with licenses from 7 financial authorities in different regions:
- United States: registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Also member of the NFA.
- UK: regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
- Japan: registered with the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
- Canada: regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).
- Cayman Islands: registered with the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA).
- Australia: regulated by the Australian Services and Investments Commission (ASIC).
- Singapore: registered with Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
Is it available for US-based customers?
Yes, in fact, FOREX.com is a US-based company. As with any other broker, the assets available will depend on the selected region. For instance, the only crypto coin available from the United States is Bitcoin. Because of the local regulation, FOREX.com is only able to offer Bitcoin futures through its USA-regulated branch. But if you are in the UK, for example, you’ll get access to their full crypto portfolio via CFDs (this type of contracts are not permitted in the US).
Trading at FOREX.com
Trading experience at FOREX.com has been satisfactory for me. One of the things that I like about this broker, is that you don’t have to dig in to find important information that might affect your trading decisions. For example, when I logged in to get the screenshots for this review, I found this message on top of the page:
“On-going Brexit negotiations could increase market volatility and cause changes to market spreads & pricing.”
That’s the kind of stuff that an active trader is looking for. I don’t want to waste much time looking for important news on every asset I trade. You can also use MetaTrader 4 if you feel more comfortable with this software but is not my favorite and you can find MT4 tutorials all over the web.
Trading Platforms and Tools
Once you’re logged in into their platform (I’m using the web version for this example) you’ll realize that you’re facing a simple yet accurate presentation of a trading platform. Your workspace is customizable, which is a huge advantage to adapt your desk to your needs.
Besides the default components (watchlist, charts, position/order overview, and news) you can also add an economic calendar, reports, autochartist analysis, market analysis and Recognia research. Recognia is a popular service on quantitative and technical analysis.
Recognia is a worldwide leader in quantitative and technical analysis. But you don’t have to restrict yourself to a single workspace, you can have multiple workspace configurations and save them on the upper tabs. With the correct settings, you get a lot of data within the same workspace:
I like to give my TradingView chart decent room on the workspace to perform Technical Analysis easily. The economic calendar is quite useful when you trade different assets, especially FX, so I give it a small space in some of my workspace. Whilst I don’t solely use the Recognia trading centre, I do like to have it on my screen as confirmation.
Overall, I think FOREX.com has one of the best trading platforms out there. It’s fairly versatile and you can customize according to your preferences. As an advanced trader, that’s exactly what I look for.
As I explained above, you can perform your technical analysis using built-in TradingView. In my opinion—and those of many professional traders worldwide—this is the most powerful tool for charting. In the image above, you’ll notice that my trades are added automatically to the TradingView chart. If you click an instrument in your watchlist, you’ll get an extended version of the chart with a handy overview (margin factor, spread, trading hours, dealing, price tolerance points, etc.). Let’s take a look at Bitcoin’s BTCUSD pair:
Placing orders using FOREX.com
You can place orders quite easily and fast. To set the order details, you just have to click on the arrow next to the trading pair of interest. You’ll get three options to place your position depending on your preferences: Buy Trade (open a market long position); Sell Trade (open a market short position); Entry Order (open a long/short position as a limit order—not market prices). You can also set price alerts to keep track of your favorite pairs.
I like the approach of FOREX.com on this, but it can be hard to find if you’re exploring the platform for the first time. BUY and SELL buttons would be far better but you’ll get used to this pretty quickly. Once you’ve chosen your order type, you’ll be able to set stop loss (including trailing stop loss), take profit, but you don’t get to set your margin manually.
If you want to create your own trading algorithm, you can use an Application Programming Interface (API) from FOREX.com, with the full range of assets. This REST API allows you to verify a live stream of prices, set automatic trade execution, program advanced orders, etc. The solution is very compatible and you can code using common programming languages like C++, Python, Perl-script or VB.NET.
Trading pairs available
FOREX.com has more than 80 different pairs, including the normal majors and some wild exotics, which I’d recommend you leaving alone, the spread alone will cost you a lot. Obviously the majors will include pairs like EURUSD, GBPUSD, USDJPY, USDCHF, USDCAD, AUDUSD, NZDUSD.
But FOREX.com doesn’t just offer FX pairs… you can also trade more than 220 equities, popular commodities, indices and cryptocurrencies. FOREX.com started offering Bitcoin at first, but now it has a broader offer that includes Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), and Ethereum (ETH). You’ll be able to trade crypto with leverage, a possibility that’s not available in most brokers. Leverage might change depending on your location, you won’t be able to trade it in the US for example, check out eToro if it’s crypto you’re after.
FOREX.com Deposits and Withdrawals
Even though I like the FOREX.com solution, I think they could add more payment methods to fund your account. Saying that, they do offer most common methods so it should suit most users. The minimum transaction size depends on your location, so do check here for details.
- Payment methods: wire transfer, credit and debit cards.
- Minimum deposit: In most countries, you can get started with a small deposit of $50. Big kudos to FOREX.com!, but be careful, small trades will likely require higher margin (leverage), aka, higher risk.
- Withdrawals are processed upon request, typically within 48 hours. You can withdraw up to $100,000 via credit/debit card and there’s no limit if you use wire transfer.
As with any other broker in the industry, FOREX.com makes money by adding a “spread” on every trading pair. This is simply a difference between the buy and sell (bid/offer) prices that benefit the broker. Their spreads are clearly specified on every asset and you can easily check on your workspace.
I have to say that FOREX.com has competitive spreads and it also offers fixed spreads on some markets. Fixed spreads are a huge advantage because you don’t have to worry about non-manageable conditions such as liquidity or volatility. For example, EUR/USD spread is 1,2 at the time of writing. Surprisingly, Bitcoin’s spread is low: around 40 points (1 %). However, spreads are higher for other crypto coins like Ethereum (3,5 %). You can check the full spreads by opening a demo account or check the most important ones here.
FOREX.com also charges additional fees that I don’t like that much. For example, rollovers (needed to keep positions open overnight). These rates are “at benchmark regional interest rate of +/- 2.5%.” There is also an inactivity fee of $15 per month if you don’t trade in a period of 12 months or more. Deposits are free from charge. Some withdrawals are also free, but it depends on your location. For instance, US wire transfers under $10,000 will cost you $25 so you won’t be able to cash out regularly if you are on the US.
Customer Support on FOREX.com
24/7 customer support “guaranteed” on working days (from 10 am ET Sunday to 5 pm ET Friday). I’ve never used their customer service myself but checking the opinions on forums and specialized websites, it seems to be very fast but there may be a queue of people you need to get through before you speak to someone useful. You can contact them via phone or email. Live chat is available if you want to solve your concerns with a “Forex specialist”.
Final thoughts on FOREX.com
FOREX.com is one of the best brokers for advanced traders who want to have control over several variables. If I was a beginner, I would rather choose a more user-friendly platform like eToro.
My favorite FOREX.com feature is the seamless integration of TradingView into the trading platform. This is one of the most useful tools and it is great that you can use it on the same workspace. By the way, “workspaces” are fairly customizable and again a good setting, this can be quite helpful. On the downside, I think FOREX.com lacks many assets and you won’t be able to explore smaller markets.