Foreign exchange (Forex or FX) is a global marketplace where traders exchange the currencies of various countries to allow global trading and hedge against inflation. The global forex market trades over £5.4 trillion every day.
The United Kingdom has a rich forex trading history, dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the early 20th century, the Great Britain Pounds (GBP) was the most traded currency in the world, as it was involved in more than half of all forex transactions in the world. At that time, the number of brokers in London grew significantly from two to about forty. This effect was significant in the growth of the city.
Although the GBP lost its status as the world’s reserve currency to the US Dollar after the two World Wars, it still continues to be a powerful currency and one of the most traded in the world.
This article is a guide for traders who wish to trade the forex market in the UK. We will look at the best UK forex brokers, and how to know if a forex broker Is legit and safe to invest in. We will also go through the benefits of trading with brokers in the UK and how you can start trading with any forex broker you choose.
Forex Trading in the UK
Forex trading is one of the most popular forms of investment in the UK. All forex trading must be done via regulated brokers, who are overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The United Kingdom is the world’s forex trading hub, with more than 280,000 active forex traders, making it the country with the highest number of forex traders worldwide.
Forex trading has been in the UK since the beginning of the 20th century, and forex brokers in the UK have grown from about 3 in the mid-1900s to over 48,000 currently regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). These 48,000 brokers help with the trading activities of about 300,000 forex traders within the country, helping them trade over 100 currency pairs.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a UK Forex Broker
If you live in the UK, you might find it difficult to select a good forex broker out of the 48,000 or more options available to you. While there are thousands of brokers available for you to trade with, not all forex brokers are built equal. Some have certain characteristics that make them more desirable than other brokers.
When choosing a UK forex broker, here are some of the factors/characteristics you should look out for.
For utmost safety, it is important that the forex broker you choose to work with is regulated by the FCA. By working with FCA-regulated brokers, traders will have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
The FOS helps traders resolve any issues or complaints they have with any FCA-regulated broker, while the FSCS protects traders from financial losses if their broker goes bankrupt. Check the FCA’s Financial Services Register to find out if a broker is registered with them before you start trading with the broker.
Trading instruments, also known as securities, refer to the markets available for traders and investors. These markets include currency pairs (forex), stocks, futures, commodities, metals and cryptocurrency. While we are focused on getting the best UK forex brokers, it is also important to check that these brokers have a wide range of instruments available for trading. You can check this by looking at the offerings on the broker’s website.
A trading platform is a piece of software used by the broker to connect the trader with the forex market. Generally, there are two classes of trading platforms: third-party trading platforms like MetaTrader and cTrader, and proprietary trading platforms, which are platforms created and used exclusively by the broker for the traders registered with them.
Check that the broker has a good proprietary trading platform or multiple options of both proprietary and third-party trading platforms for you to choose from.
Fees and Commission
Forex trading in the UK is not free. You have to pay different fees and commissions depending on the broker you choose. These fees could be the spread, currency conversion fees, inactivity fees, overnight fees and commission on each trade. Check the broker to see if the fee and commission structure works well with you.
Spreads are the most common fees you will pay on any UK forex broker. It is the difference between the buy and sell price of a currency pair, like USD/GBP or GBP/EUR. Spreads can vary depending on the currency pair you are trading. Check the average spread of the broker you wish to trade with and determine if you are comfortable with it.
Leverage in forex trading means using borrowed funds to open trading positions that normally wouldn’t be available with your trading capital. By carrying out leveraged trading, you can trade with up to thirty times your trading capital.
Leverages can be dangerous if used wrongly. They might cause you to lose all your trading capital. For this reason, FCA limits the amount of leverage that regulated brokers can offer traders for forex investing. Currently, the limit is 1:30, meaning you cannot trade with more than thirty times your trading account balance.
Before you choose a forex broker, it is also important to check the payment methods available on the platform and if it is comfortable for you. Some common payment methods include bank transfer, wire transfer, credit cards, debit cards, and e-wallets (like PayPal, Skrill, Payoneer). Find a UK forex broker with a payment method that suits you before you register with them. Also, check that the broker has options that allow you deposit and withdraw in GBP.
Customer service is important when selecting a UK forex broker, especially for beginners. Good customer service can be the difference between a great trading experience and a horrible one. Ensure that the broker has 24/7 support via their phone, email, chat, and other means of communication.
Pros and Cons of Trading with UK Forex Brokers
Some of the pros and cons of trading with forex brokers in the UK are:
- Ease of Trading
- Access to a Wide Variety of Trading Instruments
- Access to Tools for Fundamental Analysis
- Low Spreads
- Negative Balance Protection
Benefits of Trading with UK Forex Brokers
There are many benefits that come with registering with the best UK forex brokers. Some of them are:
- Low minimum deposits: Many brokers like eToro allow you to register and start trading with £100 or less.
- Limited leverage: Too much leverage can be dangerous. For this reason, all FCA-regulated brokers are required to keep the leverage at 1:30 to prevent huge losses.
- Wide range of instruments: You can trade forex, stocks, cryptocurrency, indices, etc on the best UK brokers platforms.
- Negative balance protection: This protects you from losing money and running into debt when leveraged trading doesn’t go as expected.
How to Start Trading with a UK Forex Broker?
After selecting a broker you wish to trade with, you need to register with the broker before you can start trading with them. Here are a few steps to follow when registering with a UK forex broker:
Step 1: Open a Trading Account and Verify your Identity
- Go to the broker’s website and click on “Sign up” or “Start investing”, etc.
- You will be directed to another page where you would be asked to sign up with your email address, username and password. Fill in the required details and click “Sign up”. The broker will send you an email to verify your address, so go to your email inbox and click on the verification link.
- After verifying your email address, the broker will require you to verify your personal identity to confirm that you are who you claim to be and that you are above 18 years old.
- To do this, you need to submit some documents for identification. These documents are:
- Proof of identity: This includes Government-issued IDs like your driver’s licence or international passport.
- Proof of address: This includes documents like your utility bills and bank statements. This document must be recent, i.e within the last three months and include your address.
The broker may take about 6 to 48 hours to verify these documents before they grant you full access to start trading on their platform.
Step 2: Deposit Funds
Now that you have full trading access, you can start depositing funds into your trading account. To deposit funds into your eToro trading account:
- Go to the bottom left hand side of your trading account and select “Deposit Funds”
- Choose the payment option you wish to use to deposit. You can choose bank transfer, credit or debit card, PayPal, Neteller, Skrill, etc.
- Fill in the required details to complete the payment transaction and your money will be deposited into your trading account.
Step 3: Search for Supported Trading Markets and place a Trade
- Search through the broker for currency pairs you may be interested in and start trading them.
Trading Instruments Available on the Best UK Forex Brokers
Forex brokers in the UK usually offer more than just currency pairs. There are many other securities like stocks, commodities and cryptocurrencies. Here are some of the most common securities you will find on a forex broker in the UK
Foreign exchange or forex is the process of converting currencies between different parties. Each country on earth has its own unique currency, and this can make international trade very difficult. The forex market makes it possible to exchange currencies between different traders using currency pairs.
A currency pair is two currency values being quoted against one another. A common currency pair example is USD/GBP where the base currency (USD) is quoted against the quote currency (GBP). Buying the currency pair in this example would mean buying the USD and giving away your GBP.
The most common forex pairs are: EUR/USD, USD/JPY, GBP/USD, USD/CHF, AUD/USD, USD/CAD. These pairs are known as Major Pairs. There are other minor pairs, like EUR/GBP, GBP/JPY, and EUR/CHF.
A share or stock is a small part of a company owned by an investor. If you buy an Apple share, you own a small fraction of the company and will receive profits if the company’s value goes up. Some companies also pay dividends, which are annual profits, to its shareholders.
When trading stocks with the top UK forex brokers, you can choose to trade real stocks or CFDs. A broker like eToro offers both real stocks and CFDs to UK traders.
Commodities are goods like oil, gold, natural gas, and beef. Traders can choose to buy these commodities from the commodity market, earning some profit if the price goes up, or making a loss if it goes down. Most brokers in the UK offer commodities to traders registered with them.
An index is a group of stocks that represent a particular market or industry. The performance of an index is often used as a benchmark to compare the performance of individual stocks or portfolios. Understanding indices can help you get a sense of how the stock market is doing overall and can be useful when making investment decisions. You can trade indices on brokers in the UK.
Cryptocurrencies are digital decentralised currencies used for trading on the internet. They also represent a store of value, and are mostly seen as digital assets. You can buy and sell cryptocurrencies on UK forex brokers. You can also hold valuable coins in your trading account.
The Different Account Types UK Forex Brokers Offer
Depending on your trading strategy, there are different account types available on UK forex brokerage platforms. These accounts differ based on the amount of risk the holder is willing to bear, the fees and commissions charged, or the knowledge level of the trader.
A demo trading account is a simulated trading account that allows traders practise trading without real money. This is great for beginner traders who need to learn the ropes of forex trading without risking their capital. Most UK forex brokers offer demo accounts with virtual capital up to $1,000,000.
A standard trading account is a real trading account where traders invest real capital to trade the forex market and risk losing it or gaining profits from it. Opening a standard account requires full account verification.
RawZero Spread Account
A raw/zero spread account is an account that offers trading of securities without any spread from the broker. This is commonly offered by brokers who use the Electronic Communication Network (ECN) or Straight-Through Processing (STP) execution model, where traders are connected directly to the financial market without any intervention by the broker. The broker charges commission for executing the trade. Brokers like Pepperstone and IG offer raw/zero spread accounts with spreads starting from 0.0 pips for forex trading in the UK.
This type of account was created specially to be compliant with the Shariah law that prohibits the payment of interest. These accounts use alternative methods of profit sharing to allow Muslim traders carry out trades without breaking the Shariah law.
Professional accounts are only available to experienced traders who have a higher trading activity than normal and experience trading forex. These accounts often offer higher leverage than standard accounts, but traders need to meet some FCA criteria before they can trade with this account.
Trading Platforms Available on UK Forex Brokers
Trading platforms are software used by brokers to connect traders to the forex market. There are two classifications of trading platforms on UK Forex brokers based on your device: Desktop and mobile trading platforms.
Desktop Trading Platform
Desktop trading platforms are platforms available on desktops and laptops. They can come as computer applications to be downloaded or websites that can be accessed on a computer browser using the internet. These platforms can be proprietary or third-party platforms like MT4 or MT5.
Proprietary trading platforms are platforms created by brokers exclusively for the registered traders on that platform. The tools available on these platforms are restricted to the general public and can only be used by traders registered to that broker. Online trading brokers like eToro and Capital.com have trading platforms with order management systems, technical analysis tools and trading algorithms that are customizable to suit the traders’ needs.
The alternative to proprietary platforms are third-party trading platforms like MetaTrader (MT4 and MT5) and cTrader. These platforms are widely-used and preferred by a lot of traders, but are not as customizable as proprietary trading platforms.
Brokers also offer trading apps for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. These apps are similar to the platforms on desktop computers, but they offer the added advantage of providing trading on the go for people who move around a lot.
Both proprietary trading platforms like eToro, and third-party platforms like MetaTrader are available on mobile devices for quick trading on the go.
Payment Methods Accepted By UK Forex Brokers
The payment methods accepted by brokers vary depending on the broker and location of the trader. However, some of the most common payment methods the best UK forex brokers use are:
- Wire transfer: Wire transfers often take longer than other methods, but are usually more secure
- Credit Cards and Debit Cards: Mastercard, Visa, etc.
- E-wallets: Neteller, Skrill, PayPal, etc.
- Cryptocurrencies: Some brokers in the UK like eToro and IG Markets allow cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as payment.
The top UK forex brokers allow account funding in GBP, so you can deposit, withdraw and trade with the Pounds without any currency conversion.
Forex Trading Regulation in the UK
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is a financial regulatory body that oversees forex regulation in the UK and ensures that forex trading is done in a free and transparent manner. To achieve this, they set rules and regulations that all brokers and traders must comply with before they can trade.
The FCA also tries to ensure that traders and brokers are properly educated by operating initiatives to promote financial literacy. Some of these initiatives include the FCA Financial Lives Survey, Money Advice Hub, and the ScamSmart Campaign.
The rules and guidelines that regulate brokers in the UK ensure that they take steps to manage risks and prevent losing customer funds.
Is Forex Trading Legal in the UK?
Forex trading is legal in the UK with FCA-regulated brokers who are required to segregate clients’ funds and provide transparent pricing and trading practices. UK traders can legally access local and international forex markets through brokers regulated by the FCA.
Are UK Forex Brokers Safe?
The FCA has a regulatory framework that provides a good level of safety to forex traders using regulated brokers. Some safety measures the FCA takes are:
- Compensation Plan: The FCA provides compensation of up to £85,000 per registered trader if a broker goes bankrupt.
- Negative Balance Protection: This prevents the trader from running into debt when trading leverages in a volatile market.
- Segregation of Clients Funds: Brokers are required to keep their operating funds separate from their clients funds to protect the clients in case of financial difficulties.
- Disclosure Requirement: Brokers are required to be transparent and open with all their trading practices.
What Reddit & Quora Say About UK Forex Brokers
We went through many opinions and threads on Reddit and Quora to see what people thought about the best UK forex brokers.
On the first thread we found, a user was looking for a good UK forex broker based on these requirements: spreads, commission, minimum deposits, ease of use and compatibility with Meta trader 4.
One redditor suggested Pepperstone, XM and Coinexx based on the requirements listed by the OP. According to this redditor, they all had matchless trading execution and they all offered the MT4 platform.
On another platform, a redditor wanted to know which UK broker offered low spreads for their trading needs. They had been using Oanda to trade with their demo account and wanted to move to a low-spread standard account.
On Quora, we went through some of the threads to find out what people thought about the best UK forex brokers.
We found a thread where a user asked others who they thought the best forex brokers in the UK were. One user responded that he had a few points he used to categorise brokers he traded with, like low market spreads, fast market execution, easy withdrawals, etc. According to him, Coinexx, InstaForex and FBS are best suited to meet these requirements.
Another user mentioned three brokers he thought were the best for trading forex in the UK: Turnkey forex, Lqdfx, and Lmfx.
The United Kingdom has always been one of the most active countries for forex trading, with more than 280,00 active traders. These traders use brokers which are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and offer an online platform for trading. Before you choose a forex broker in the UK, you need to look at some factors, like the fees and commission, trading instruments offered, trading platforms and regulation status.
To start trading with the best UK forex brokers, you need to register and provide documents to prove your identity and address. After doing this, you’ll be given the option to trade with a standard or demo account. You can also choose a professional account if you meet the trading requirements. You can choose between a broker’s proprietary trading platform or a third-party trading platform and use any of the payment methods (credit/debit cards, e-wallets, wire transfer, etc.) available to you.
Forex trading is fully legal in the UK, and forex regulations ensure protection of forex traders from scammers and mismanagement of funds by brokers. However, it is important for traders to do their due diligence when trading forex in the UK, and research the brokers they wish to trade with to see that they are the right fit for them.
Q & A
Some of the best UK forex brokers are: eToro, Capital.com, IG, and Saxo Markets.
The Financial Conduct Authority regulates all forex trading in the UK.
The FCA protects retail traders by imposing laws that enforce transparency by forex brokers. FCA regulations also ensure that brokers offer negative balance protection to protect traders from debt when trading with leverage.
The best forex brokers in the UK for beginners are the ones with demo accounts for newbie investors to hone their skills before risking their capital. Some of them are: eToro, Capital.com, IG and IC Markets.
The highest leverage to trade forex with in the UK is 1:30, as mandated by the FCA.
Yes, many UK forex brokers allow spread betting.
Yes, retail traders can trade cryptos on a UK forex broker.
Some of the best ECN forex brokers operating in the UK are: IG, Pepperstone, IC Markets, LCG, and FxPro.
Some UK forex brokers with the best spreads are: eToro, IC Markets, IG, CMC Markets, and Pepperstone.
The best methods to fund your trading account with a UK forex broker are: credit/debit card, e-wallets (PayPal, Skrill, etc.), wire transfer and bank transfer.
Yes, forex traders are subject to income and capital gains taxes enforced by the HMRC.
Scalping is legal in the UK, but not all UK forex brokers allow it. Brokers like Pepperstone and IC Markets allow scalping.
The time taken to withdraw on a UK forex broker depends on the broker and the withdrawal method used. Depending on the method used, a withdrawal could take anywhere from a few minutes to three business days.
Yes, many UK forex brokers are some of the best in the world, so they offer some of the best trading services globally.