The forex market, unlike other exchange driven markets, has a unique feature that many market makers use to entice traders to trade. They promise no exchange fees or regulatory fees, no data fees and, best of all, no commissions. To the new trader just wanting to break into the trading business, this sounds too good to be true. Trading without transaction costs is clearly an advantage. However, what might sound like a bargain to inexperienced traders may not be the best deal available - or even a deal at all. Here we'll show you how to evaluate forex broker fee/commission structures and find the one that will work best for you.
There are three forms of commission used by brokers in forex. Some firms offer a fixed spread, others offer a variable spread and still others charge a commission based on a percentage of the spread. So which is the best choice? At first glance, it seems that the fixed spread may be the right choice, because then you would know exactly what to expect. However, before you jump in and choose one, there are a few things you need to consider.
The spread is the difference between the price the market maker is prepared to pay you for buying the currency (the bid price), versus the price at which he is prepared to sell you the currency (the ask price). Suppose you see the following quotes on your screen: "EURUSD - 1.4952 - 1.4955." This represents a spread of three pips, the difference between the bid price of 1.4952 and the ask price of 1.4955. If you are dealing with a market maker who is offering a fixed spread of three pips instead of a variable spread, the difference will always be three pips, regardless of market volatility. (For more, see Common Questions About Currency Trading.)
In the case of a broker who offers a variable spread, you can expect a spread that will, at times, be as low as 1.5 pips or as high as five pips, depending on the currency pair being traded and the level of market volatility.