Best Futures Brokers

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    Achieving significant financial success in futures trading depends on many factors. While it is important for investors to have effective trading and risk management strategies, it is equally important for them to use the right broker. 

    Currently, there are more than 50 future brokers globally, each with its own unique offerings. However, the best ones should offer access to reliable and intuitive trading platforms, competitive pricing, and a wealth of research and analysis tools. Since each trader differs in their level of expertise and experience, the right platform varies from person to person. 

    Navigating this complex industry and looking for which broker has trading features that suit your needs requires a considerable amount of time and energy. Nonetheless, this guide has simplified that task by sifting through the mountain of information to reveal the 5 best future brokerages within the niche. 

    These companies are not only a good fit for novice and experienced traders, but they also have an excellent combination of technologies and capabilities – two key features for any trader seeking to maximize their returns. 

    This article reviews the charges, trading tools, product offerings, account types, as well as the pros and cons for each future broker. It also provides a checklist of important factors for traders to use in making their selection. Also, the article highlights the strengths of each broker, including low-cost options, trading platforms, and services for active and professional traders.

    Advantages of Using a Regulated Futures Broker

    The aim of regulation in the futures market is to protect all market participants from fraud, undisclosed financial risk, and deceptive practices like price manipulation. When shortlisting potential futures brokers to trade with, the first factor is to check whether the firm is regulated and the quality of their regulator. 

    When a broker is supervised by a top-tier regulator(s), they are mandated by the strict guidelines of their regulatory agency to follow transparent accounting practices. They are also required to keep customers’ funds in segregated accounts. 

    Investors can potentially recover their funds in the event of a brokerage’s insolvency or financial difficulties. This form of protection gives a trader peace of mind about the safety of their funds and transactions – something they would constantly worry about when doing business with an unregulated broker or one with lower-quality supervision. 

    Overview of the Best 4 Futures Brokers – Our Top Picks for 2023 

    This section contains the 5 top ranking brokers in this research. Each of these firms has top-quality regulation as well as its own strengths and weaknesses. Thoroughly go through the features and offerings of the brokerages to determine which option can best serve your unique trading requirements.   

    Interactive Brokers – Best Overall and Great All-Around Investment Platform

    Although Interactive Broker was founded as far back as 1976, the company actually started offering futures in 2003. Ever since they have grown to be the undisputed leader in the niche. They have some of the best pricing, trading platforms, and fastest order execution in the industry. 

    The broker is regulated by top-tier agencies like the US SEC and the CFTC. It is also authorized by UK’s leading regulatory watchdog for the securities market, the FCA. The company has a long history of transparency with fees and carries an extensive collection of tradable assets. 

    Their proprietary trading software may look outdated but it still features a comprehensive range of advanced trading tools and real-time market data.

    Account Types
    1) Individual, Joint, Trust, IRA, and UGMA/UTMA Accounts
    2) Family Office Accounts 
    3) Non-Professional Advisor Accounts
    4) Small Business Accounts
    5) Money Manager Accounts
    6) Advisor Accounts7) Broker & FCM Accounts
    8) Hedge & Mutual Fund Accounts
    9) Proprietary Trading Group Accounts
    10) Compliance Officers
    11) Administrators and 
    12) Institutional Hedge Fund Investors account. 
    Supported Assets
    Agriculture, Cryptocurrency, Currencies, Energy, Equity Indices, Fixed Income, Interest Rates, Metals, Softs, Volatility Indices
    Tools
    Trader Workstation (TWS) – desktop platform to trade multiple products

    Client Portal – web-based application to check account balances, quotes, reports and manage account

    Order types and algos – tool to help clients keep their privacy, improve speed execution, and limit risk during adverse price movements. 

    Risk Navigator – risk management platform that provides comprehensive, real-time data on the risk exposure of multiple asset classes around the world.
    Fees & Charges
    Deposit & Withdrawal Fee: $0 
    Minimum Deposit: $0
    Inactivity Fee: $0
    Commission: $2.41 per contract (plus exchange & regulatory fees)
    Mobile TradingSupported
    Overall Rating5★

    E*Trade – Most User-Friendly Platform for Trading Futures 

    For investors seeking a broker with sophisticated but user-friendly trading platforms, they need to look no further than E*Trade. Every one of the firm’s platforms – web, desktop, mobile – features advanced capabilities, fast execution, and a vast selection of futures trading tools. 

    The company is constantly updating various functionalities on all its trading software. In 2022 alone, they released more than 15 app updates optimizing their site navigation, position of tools, ad adding to their educational content. 

    E*Trade, along with other brokers in this guide, offers a diverse selection of futures products in addition to its highly-rated trading app. Their fees are competitive in the futures market, potentially making them an attractive option for active traders.

    Account Types
    Brokerage account, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Core Portfolios, Premium Saving account, Rollover IRA.
    Supported Assets
    60+ futures products including metals, market indices, energies, currencies, interest rates, and Bitcoin futures.
    Tools
    Power E*Trade – mobile app that offers low-priced future contracts, 24/7 customer support, and several powerful easy-to-use technical analysis tools.

    E*Trade web platform gives access to a vast library of written and visual educational content on investment. It keeps traders current with real-time quotes, charts, news, and daily commentary. 

    All the platforms also have simulators and trading calculators that check pricing, profit and loss, and risk analysis.
    Fees & Charges
    Deposit & Withdrawal Fee: $0 
    Minimum Deposit: $0
    Inactivity Fee: $0
    Commission: $1.50 per side per contract (plus exchange fees)
                          (cryptocurrency futures trades are $2.50 per side per contract 
                          plus exchange fees)
    Mobile TradingSupported
    Overall Rating4.8★

    TD Ameritrade – Best Futures Broker for Investor Education and Customer Service

    Similar to the other futures brokers on this list, TD Ameritrade has licenses from leading regulatory bodies like the SEC and FINRA. This makes it a safe and certain options provide customers with a low-risk way to protect their funds.

    The desktop trading platform of the company, Thinkorswim is a highly-regarded futures trading platform that received an award in 2022. The software was ranked number one in six categories including platforms and tools, active trading, and customer support. 

    TD Ameritrade is well capitalized and has over $4.7 billion in excess of regulatory requirements. The company offers a ton of futures products and a broad array of trading tools and resources exclusively for futures trading. They are known for having excellent customer service and offering educational content that covers a broad range of topics related to trading.

    Account Types
    Standard account, Retirement accounts, Educational accounts, Specialty account, Margin account
    Supported AssetsStock index, Metals, Energy, Agriculture, Currency, Interest rates, Crypto, Softs
    Tools
    Thinkorswim desktop platform comprises tools like the Options Statistics which helps spot unusual price conditions.

    Strategy Roller tool on the desktop platform helps trader automate their trading strategy via predefined criteria. 

    Thinkorswim mobile and TD Ameritrade mobile apps contain a host of tools that provide real-time quotes, check watch lists, and set up price alerts.   
    Fees & Charges
    Deposit & Withdrawal Fee: $0 
    Minimum Deposit: $0
    Inactivity Fee: $0
    Commission: $2.41 per contract (plus exchange & regulatory fees)
    Mobile TradingSupported
    Overall Rating4.7★

    TradeStation – Best for Lowest Trading Fees

    When it comes to offering the lowest fees per contract in the futures market, no one stands out better than TradeStation. At $1.50 per side/per contract, some brokers may be a budget-friendly choice for active traders looking to minimize costs.

    In terms of the effectiveness of trading platforms, the brokerage desktop and mobile platforms are well above the industry average. It carries over 350 futures products – one of the largest selections in the market. Clients will find an assortment of trading tools and resources offering detailed analytics and real-time market data to help them make more informed decisions. 

    Similar to the other brokers on this list, TradeStation offers micro futures. The cost of this product ($0.50 per contract per side) is well below the market price making it a good deal for scalpers. 

    Account Types
    Individual account, Joint account, Retirement accounts (Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP IRA), and Entity accounts (Trusts, Partnerships, limited liability companies, and sole proprietorships).
    Supported AssetsIndexes, Metals, Interest rates, Energies, Agriculture, Softs, Meats, and more
    Tools
    TradeStation for desktop, web, and mobile trading. The web and desktop versions of this program contain a diversified group of tools such as The Matrix – an order tracking and order-entry tool. They equally contain watch lists and dozens of charts of technical studies. 

    OptionStation Pro – another alternative for desktop trading includes key tools like order entry, position trading, and What-if position graphs for creating 2D graphs of theoretical positions for various kinds of analysis.
    Fees & Charges
    Deposit & Withdrawal Fee: $0 
    Minimum Deposit: $0
    Inactivity Fee: $50 per annum if the account equity balance is less than $2,000 or if the
    trader makes less than five trades that year 
    Commission: $0 commission + $1.50 per contract, per side (futures and futures
                          options)
                          $0 commission +$0.50 per contract, per side (micro futures)
    Mobile TradingSupported
    Overall Rating4.8★

    Key Features to Consider When Choosing the Best Futures Broker

    When it comes to choosing the most ideal futures brokerage, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A company that may be the perfect choice for one investor may be a wrong choice for the next one since needs and experience vary. 

    Primarily, the best futures broker for a trader should offer capabilities that would help that person build a successful trading strategy and achieve their financial goals. 

    This section breaks down everything a trader (both beginners and seasoned) should look for in their ideal brokerage.

    Account Types

    Notwithstanding the names they give their trading accounts, futures brokers offer basically 3 types of accounts – mini, standard, and managed. 

    Ideally, the type that is right for a trader should depend on these key factors: the size of their initial investment, their risk tolerance, and the time they intend to dedicate to trading on a daily basis. 

    Supported Assets and Investment Options

    The type of futures assets offered varies from broker to broker. Likewise, all traders have a preference for specific futures products. For traders keen on trading commodities, a good idea would be to choose a platform that provides a wide range of choices in this area. 

    If the client’s preference lies in trading stocks or currency futures, a similar strategy should be employed. Beyond that, when selecting a broker and platform, it’s important to consider the technology and fees that will make trading a particular product easy and profitable.

    Tools Offered

    In the futures market, a trader’s toolbox should include all the essentials like risk-management tools (e.g. stop-loss orders), charting and drawing apps, and trading calculators. These apps are critical in monitoring investment performance and limiting risks. The goal of any trading platform is to help traders make profitable trades.

    Trading Interface

    The trading platform and interface a client will need depends on their level of experience and the type of trade they want to perform. For instance, beginners may find it easier to start with user-friendly interfaces with basic order-entry screens. 

    Professionals, on the other hand, may benefit more from sophisticated platforms with advanced features like charting tools. For people who want to engage in day trading and short-term trading, having platforms with programs like Level 2 quotes is non-negotiable.

    Fees & Charges 

    Fees are a key requirement in choosing a trading platform. As a rule, short-term traders (scalpers) will always favour platforms with the lowest fees. However, the downside with some platforms with low fees is that they tend to offer less powerful features. 

    So, when choosing a discount broker, one should carefully weigh the tradeoffs to see if they will not adversely impact one’s trading strategy.    

    Mobile Trading

    At this present time, it is convenient to have the option of trading anywhere and anytime – whether at home, on the road, or in the office. Having a broker that offers fully-featured mobile applications with the same powerful workspaces and functionalities of the desktop and web platforms is a great advantage.

    Customer Support

    All brokers offer customer service to their clients. However, regulated futures brokerages are motivated to provide excellent support to keep clients satisfied.

    When these brokers delay or refuse to address a complaint, the client has the option of reporting to the regulatory body. This tends to make highly regulated futures trading firms provide superior customer support than less regulated platforms.

    Comparison Between the Best Futures Brokers for 2023

    The reality is that all the brokers on this list are top, well-known providers of futures trading services and will serve nearly all trading needs. That said, like any financial institution, each broker comes with its own unique strengths and weaknesses which are highlighted in the table below. 

    Carefully compare the features of each individual platform to make your own informed opinion.

    BrokerProsCons
    Interactive Brokers
    Regulated by top-tier agencies.

    No activity fee.

    Lots of educational materials.

    Multichannel customer support.

    Robust educational guide.

    Low futures commission.

    Wide range of futures products.
    Customer support available 24/5.

    Complicated pricing plan.

    Website not beginner-friendly.
    E*Trade
    Excellent trading experience.

    Regulated Broker

    Provides demo account.

    User-friendly Interface

    24/7 customer support.

    Extensive research and educational resources.

    Zero minimum deposit.

    Automated portfolio builder

    No international exchange support.

    No cryptocurrency support.

    No credit/debit card deposits or withdrawals.

    No protection against negative balance.

    Fractional trading not available on all platforms.
    TD Ameritrade
    Extensive educational materials for beginners.

    Provides demo account.

    Wide range of tradable instruments.

    In-depth research tools and materials.

    Responsive customer service.

    Intuitive and accessible mobile app.

    Content overload.

    High futures commissions.

    High margin rates.

    Advanced trading platforms.

    Tools on single platform.
    TradeStation
    Lowest futures commissions

    No minimum deposit.

    Wide variety of futures products.

    Advanced trading software.

    No commissions charged.

    High-quality mobile platform.
    No fractional shares trading.

    Customer support available 24/5.

    No credit/debit cards for deposits or withdrawals.

    Inactivity fee charged.

    Weak education resources.

    Best Futures Brokers for 2023 – StockHAX’s Conclusion

    Choosing the right futures brokers requires careful consideration. All the firms covered in this guide have many outstanding qualities that make them strong contenders in the futures market. They have high-quality regulation coupled with a positive history of being transparent. 

    Some brokers have a range of resources, libraries, and research tools available at attractive prices. Some brokers offer intuitive platforms with multilingual and easily accessible customer service teams.

    That said, the best broker will depend on whether the client wants to be an active trader, a passive trader, or are new to the world of futures trading. So, potential investors should do their due diligence to avoid unwelcome surprises and increase their odds of success in the complex but rewarding futures market.

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