Forex futures contracts are a popular trading derivative. As one of the most liquid trading instruments, FX futures are frequently used by traders to dampen the downside of exchange rate movements. Here we explain what forex futures are, why they are useful and how to trade them. We also highlight the differences between the heavily regulated UK futures market and decentralised spot forex.
Brokers with Forex Futures
Trade 85 major, minor and exotic forex pairs via CFDs on IB's FXTrader platform with tight spreads and low commissions, or trade forex on the spot market. They offer more FX assets than almost any competitor.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread Commission (.20 pts x trade value) Commission (.20 pts x trade value) Commission (.20 pts x trade value) Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 70+ Yes No
XM offers ultra low spreads across a wide range of forex assets with no re-quotes or hidden charges. Forex can be traded 24/5 on desktop, web and mobile. Over 50 currency pairs are available including all majors.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 1.9 1.6 1.8 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 55+ No Yes
IG offers currency trading on its award-winning web platform and mobile app. Comprehensive charts and forex analysis tools are also available through ProRealTime.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.9 0.8 0.9 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 80+ Yes Yes
Trade 70+ currency pairs with ultra-fast execution speeds and tight spreads from 0.46 pips on EUR/USD. The range of forex assets outranks many rivals.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 2.39 pips (Ave) 1.58 pips (Ave) 1.74 pips (Ave) Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 70+ Yes Yes
Plus500 offers forex trading via CFDs with tight, floating spreads and an excellent suite of 60+ currency pairs. We got spreads of 0.6 pips on the EUR/USD during testing - lower than many alternatives.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 1.1 0.6 1.4 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 60+ Yes No
Markets.com offers major, minor and exotic currency pairs available to trade as contracts for difference (CFDs) or spread betting (UK customers only). Spreads are competitive starting from 0.6 pips on the EUR/USD.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 1.3 pips (var) 0.70 pips (var) 1.0 pip (var) Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 67 Yes Yes
NinjaTrader supports the trading of popular currencies including the EUR/USD. The trading software also offers unique features tailored to forex trading, including specific order and market windows.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 1.6 1.3 1.6 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 50+ No No
Trade 35 major, minor and exotic forex pairs through CFDs with floating spreads from 0.1 pips. Alternatively, binary options allow you to speculate on rising and falling prices with a fixed stake and payout.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread Floating from 0.1 pips Floating from 0.1 pips Floating from 0.1 pips Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 35 No No
Trade currencies with 0.0 pip spreads at one of the world's leading forex brokers. IC Markets is a great choice for serious traders with superior execution and low fees.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.5 0.1 0.5 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 55+ No Yes
Forex.com is a leading FX broker. The brand offers a wide range of currency pairs and some of the lowest fees in the industry. Spreads on the EUR/USD come in as low as 0.0 with a $7 commission per $100k.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 1.0 1.0 1.0 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 80+ Yes Yes
Go long or short on 50 forex pairs including the EUR/USD and GBP/USD with zero commissions. There are plenty of opportunities to buy and sell currencies via margin or copy trading.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread Variable Variable Variable Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 45+ No No
OspreyFX offers more than 50 major, minor and exotic currency pairs. Spreads start from just 0.1 pips on the EUR/USD and the broker provides a suite of forex trading education for beginners, including partnering with Forex Squad.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.8 pips 0.5 pips 0.8 pips Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 57 No Yes
Trade 70+ major, minor and exotic forex pair CFDs with up to 1:1000 leverage, no commission fees and competitive spreads from 0.8 pips. FX trades can also be executed via the reliable and fast MetaTrader 5 software.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread From 0.8 pips From 0.8 pips From 0.8 pips Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 70+ No No
Ingot Brokers offers forex trading on a modest suite of 30+ currency pairs with spreads starting from zero on raw spread account types. Currencies can be traded 24/5 though exotics are only available on MT5.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread From 0 pip From 0 pip From 0 pip Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 30+ No Yes
Axofa offers 50+ forex pairs with raw spreads and low commissions. On the downside, the broker is not particularly transparent when it comes to their account conditions and fees.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread From 1.6 pips From 1.6 pips From 1.6 pips Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 10+ No No
Go long or short on over 50 currency pairs with spreads from 0.6 pips on EUR/USD. Traders can access market-leading forex tools in the MT4 platform, including customisable forex charts and algorithmic trading.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 1.4 0.6 1.5 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 55+ No Yes
Trade 25+ major and minor currency pairs with access to over 30 technical indicators in the broker's proprietary terminal. You can also follow and replicate other forex trades using the integrated copy trader.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread Floating Floating Floating Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 25+ No No
Scope Markets offers MT5 trading for a range of major, minor and exotic currency pairs with high leverage and a low starting deposit. Multilingual 24/5 support is also available to support forex traders.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 1.0 1.0 1.0 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 44 No Yes
Rock Global clients can access 50+ currency pairs via CFDs with leverage up to 1:500, world class liquidity and fast execution on the MT4 or TWS platforms. The tight spreads from 0.9 with no commission are a particularly attractive feature.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.6 0.6 0.6 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 50 No Yes
PU Prime clients can trade 40+ forex pairs via the MT4 and MT5 platforms with dynamic leverage up to 1:500. Spreads start from near zero on Prime accounts, which also charge a $7 commission per lot, and a zero-commission Standard account with wider spreads is also available.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread From 0.5 pips From 0.2 pips From 0.4 pips Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 800+ No Yes
Trade Nation offers over 30 of the most popular forex pairs with variable spreads. Traders can access a slick proprietary platform or MetaTrader 4, with real-time forex market updates and insights via 'Smart News'.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread Variable Variable Variable Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 33 Yes Yes
As well as a competitive selection of 55+ forex pairs, traders can access high leverage up to 1:300. You can also enjoy advanced analysis from Trading Central with easy integration into MetaTrader 4.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.8 0.8 1.6 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 55+ Yes Yes
Traders can access a decent range of 60+ major, minor and exotic forex pairs through standard and ECN accounts with tight spreads from 0.5 and 0.0, respectively. Execution speeds are also faster than most competitors at 50ms, which will appeal to active forex day traders.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.0 0.0 0.0 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 50+ No Yes
ActivTrades is a great broker for active forex traders with industry-low spreads from 0.5 pips and zero commissions. The forex broker also offers impressive execution quality and speeds, alongside award-winning customer service.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.8 0.5 0.8 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 50+ Yes Yes
BlackBull offers 64 forex pairs with very competitive pricing through its ECN accounts, with the standard commission-free spread starting from 0.8 and spreads with commission starting from zero. The broker supports diverse trading platforms including MT4 and MT5, and provides leverage up to 1:500.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread Average 0.8 pips (variable by account) Average 0.2 pips (variable by account) Average 0.8 pips (variable by account) Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 64 No Yes
Swissquote offers trading on a huge range of forex assets, covering 80+ currency pairs. Spreads start from 1.3 pips with the Premium account and there are zero commissions. Micro, mini and standard lot sizes are available plus options contracts on major currencies.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 1.3 1.3 1.5 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 80+ Yes Yes
Go long or short on over 50 forex pairs from majors to exotics, with spreads as low as 0.1 pips. Traders can analyze the currency markets with market-leading trading software and charts from MetaTrader 4.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 1.3 0.7 1.4 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 55 No Yes
During my tests, I was able to access a very competitive range of 90+ forex pairs with ECN spreads from 0.0 pips and leverage up to 1:500. FX traders can also make use of the Trading Central signals or the broker's daily forex analysis.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.4 0.5 1.6 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 90+ No Yes
Trade on 45+ majors, minors, crosses and exotics, with competitive pricing, ultra-fast execution and no requotes. Newer traders can access zero-commission trading. Experienced forex traders can operate with no trading restrictions and benefit from an ECN account and a VPS service.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread From 0.1 From 0.1 From 0.1 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 45 Yes Yes
FP Markets is a good option for forex traders, with 70+ pairs covering an excellent range of currencies. Spreads are already tight on standard accounts and start from zero on raw spread accounts, and the broker offers high leverage up to 1:500 and top-tier liquidity.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 1.9 1.1 1.7 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 60+ No Yes
IronFX offers 80 currency pairs with an excellent selection of minors and exotics as well as majors. Trading takes place on the MT4 or a proprietary platform with spreads from zero available to ECN accounts. IronFX offers more currency assets than virtually all competitors.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread From 0.8 From 0.7 From 0.9 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 80+ Yes Yes
HYCM offers 40+ forex pairs, with most available to trade on either the MT4 or MT5 platform. The maximum leverage on offer is 1:30 in accordance with regulations, and tight spreads start from 0.2 on the Raw account and from 1.2 on the commission-free Classic account.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread From 0.4 + $4 per round From 0.1 + $4 per round From 0.4 + $4 per round Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 40+ Yes Yes
Trade 45 major, minor and exotic forex pairs. This is an average range, but the broker offers attractive and very competitive tight floating spreads from 0.3. Useful features including a news feed set the broker apart from many rivals and can help plan forex strategies.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.4 0.3 0.3 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 45+ Yes Yes
Speculate on popular currency pairs with flexible leverage up to 1:500 and zero-pip spreads in the GO Plus account. Commission-free trading is available with micro, mini and standard forex contract sizes.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.0 - 1.5 pips 0.0 - 1.2 pips 0 - 1.4 pips Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 50+ No Yes
With around 190 forex pairs and spot metals, 140 forwards, top-tier liquidity, fast execution and spreads from near zero, Saxo Bank offers exceptional flexibility and value to forex traders. Advanced charting from TradingView is another plus for active forex traders.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.7 (varies by region) 0.2 (varies by region) 0.6 (varies by region) Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 40+ Yes No
Go long or short on a range of major and minor currency pairs with tight spreads. Powerful trading software is available with a choice of instant and pending orders.
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread Av. Floating 0.6 Av. Floating 0.2 Av. Floating 0.5 Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 1000+ No Yes
Capital.com offer a long list of forex CFD pairs for trading. All have competitive spreads. The firm also ensures negative balance protection
GBPUSD Spread EURUSD Spread GBPEUR Spread 0.00013 pips (var) 0.00007 pips (var) 0.00015 pips (var) Total Assets FCA Regulated MT4 Integration 130+ Yes Yes
Forex Futures Explained
Forex futures are contracts to buy/sell currency at a set time and value in the future. Changes in the value of currency have the potential to dramatically impact trading for international firms. Futures can help to minimise downside and maximise upside for traders who expect movements in exchange rates.
For example, consider a company in the US that has agreed to buy a machine from an Italian factory for EUR 1.1million. If the current exchange rate for USD/EUR is 1:1.1 then this will cost the firm $1 million to purchase. But, if the exchange rate moves to 1:1 the new machine price will be $1.1million – costing the company $100,000 more than they originally expected.
To avoid this scenario, the company might purchase five forex futures contracts with a value of $200,000 each. These contracts allow them to purchase at the current exchange rate on a set date in the future. If the exchange rate improves, they’ve lost the benefit they could have seen. But, crucially, if the exchange rate worsens, they don’t have to fork out the extra $100k they would have done had they had traded currency at the new rate.
Forex futures and options are often quoted together. The latter gives the contracted party an option to purchase the currency pairs at the old rate vs futures which are the obligation to.
There are futures and options available on most tradable assets – it’s not restricted to forex. This hedging tactic can be utilised on stocks, bonds and indices such as the S&P 500 (ticker symbol ^GSPC), Dow Jones (DJC) or USD index (DX); or commodities such as gold (GC), natural gas (NG), and crude oil (CL).
What Makes A Forex Future?
Forex futures have a number of differences compared to other assets.
Forex futures contracts are standardised and not customisable. This ensures they’re ease of trade on futures exchanges.
The nominal amount (eg. AUD$100,000), margin, maturity date, and delivery date are all standardised. The only contract component which is not is the price. This is determined by supply and demand on the exchange.
There are smaller forex contracts available for those looking for lower nominal amounts and margin requirements. These are known as ‘mini’ futures which are half the size of a standard contract. E-minis are even smaller, at one tenth vs the standard. And e-micro forex futures contracts are one tenth of an e-mini (i.e. one hundredth of a standard).
Publicly Traded On A Futures Exchange
Just like stocks on the National Stock Exchange (NSE), forex futures are traded through specific futures exchanges such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME Globex) or ICE Futures Europe in the UK.
To trade on live exchanges, brokers must be a futures association member (eg. part of the NFA in the US) or in the case of ICE, be a registered participant.
Some notable examples of futures brokers include TD Ameritrade, Interactive Brokers, and TradeStation.
The Tick (Minimum Price Fluctuation)
Another standardised feature of a forex futures contract is minimum price fluctuation know as ‘the tick’. Ticks are unique to the instrument being traded. For example, in forex, the USD tick size will always be $0.01. What that means on a contract size of $125,000 is that the minimum price fluctuation for the contract to be enforced is $1,250.
Margin & Leverage
Forex futures work on leverage, so a trader does not have to put down the full nominal value in order to invest. Instead, they use the margin as consideration (or a down payment) for the trade. The margin is a fraction of the nominal value, facilitating liquidity in the futures market. However, this means there’s a risk that losses could exceed the margin amount.
Despite this, because of UK regulation in the market, leverages on forex futures tend to be lower than for spot forex, which can be up to 1:500 at unregulated brokers.
Guaranteed By Clearing Houses
Once a trade has been executed, a third-party, known as a clearing house, steps in to ensure the trade has cleared and settled. Clearing houses also guarantee trades against credit losses ensuring that there is no risk of default by either party.
Benefits Of Trading Forex Futures
Forex Futures vs Spot Forex
Trading forex futures has some pros when compared to with trading spot forex. Spot forex trading involves buying/selling currency pairs (eg. USD/CAD) on the day of the trade. You’re exchanging one currency for another. But, there are major differences in how these instruments are traded (as mentioned above) which bring a number of benefits.
In particular, since there’s a central exchange, there are no market makers. Therefore, futures brokers cannot trade against you and there are no spreads.
You’ll also notice that volume and positioning data is hard to come by for spot forex, as it would only reflect the volume traded through the individual broker. Sharing this data would be the equivalent of Apple telling the market how many handsets they sold today and being able to compare this to their competitor’s sales. With futures, you’ll be able to access this data more easily because trading is centralised and heavily regulated by the FCA.
Forex Futures Strategies
There are a number of strategies that can be used when trading forex futures. Some of these are unique to futures and others you may recognise as similar to spot forex strategies.
- Speculation – Traders can use futures to speculate on a change in the value of a currency, index, stock or commodity and profit from the difference.
- Hedging – Hedging forex with futures reduces the risk of currency price movements on trade agreements. This tactic comes with pros and cons – investors won’t reap the benefits of a favourable price movement, but will mitigate the risk against an unfavourable one. It’s also useful for businesses reliant on commodities (such as natural rubber, gold or silver) who know that they’ll need to purchase in the future.
- Arbitrage – Forex traders can use the ‘futures spreads’ technique to benefit from discrepancies in market prices by taking both a long and a short position at the same time.
- Day trading – Day traders hold positions for a very short time period vs swing traders who could hold on for months. Letting a futures position rollover to the next day or over the weekend exposes you to risk. This is particularly prevalent on the forex market as exchange rates may not open at the same rate they closed at. Day trading eliminates this risk.
Where Are Forex Futures Traded?
Whilst forex futures are traded on centralised exchanges, as a retail trader you can enter the market using a broker. There are fewer futures brokerages than spot forex due to the heavy UK regulation on this instrument.
The best forex futures brokers enable you to trade the assets directly. Examples include Interactive Brokers, ADM Investor Services, AMT Futures Ltd & GHC Capital markets Ltd. All of these brokers are registered participants of the ICE Futures Exchange which facilitates global futures trades.There are also retail brokers which will offer you spread bets and CFDs on forex futures. You will not own the underlying futures contract, but will instead be trading on a derivative of futures. Brokers include FxPro, XM and Forex.com. Most providers offer detailed forex futures charts, symbols and quotes.
Trading on forex futures is available 24 hours a day, Monday-Friday.
Final Word On Forex Futures
Trading forex futures is big business in the UK. The financial product offers a means to hedge against exchange rate risks and to trade on the financial markets with leverage. Forex futures are available at multiple regulated trading brokers in the UK, though it is worth highlighting, spot forex and CFDs on forex are more readily available.
Is The Forex Futures Market The Same As A Spot Forex Market?
No, spot forex is trading one currency for another in a pair. The exchange takes place on the day the trade is executed. Futures are a commitment to purchase the currency at a later date, at a set price. They are considered derivatives, as they are a contract based on an underlying asset. Whilst the two markets are linked, there is not necessarily a correlation between them.
How Do Forex Futures Work?
Forex futures are financial derivative contracts that commit to purchasing currency at a set rate on a future date. They are often used to speculate on currency fluctuations or to hedge against poor exchange rates.
Are Forex Futures Profitable?
Yes, forex futures can be profitable if you have the right strategy in place. However, speculating on exchange rates is risky, particularly if you’re trading CFDs with high leverage. Some brokers, such as Daniel’s Trading, offer forex futures calculators to help you understand your risk and reward potential. Always ensure you understand the investment fully before you trade.
Does My Broker Offer Forex Futures?
A broker must be a registered participant of an exchange to trade forex futures. Most retail brokers offer CFDs on futures instead. Check our broker reviews to find a provider that’s right for you.
Forex Futures Vs Stocks - Which Is Better?
Neither asset is better than the other. The choice depends on your expertise, interests and risk appetite. Both are traded on centralised exchanges and are heavily regulated, and both can be profitable with a considered approach. But equally, they can be risky if you’re not willing to put the hours in to do the analysis.