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Best Forex Trading Strategies

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Trading forex without a strategy is a bit like starting out on a trip without a map since you never know where your account will end up. You might make money or lose money, but you have no idea which is more likely. 

The big advantage of having a forex trading strategy is that you can take some of the guesswork out of trading currencies. Read on to find out more about the best forex trading strategies and how to choose among them to trade currencies successfully. 

Picking a Forex Strategy

Picking a forex strategy is one of the most important things you can do to help assure your profitability as a currency trader, so you will definitely want to choose a successful strategy. 

You’ll also want to select a strategy that best suits your lifestyle and personality type — not everyone wants to watch trading screens all day or is suited for the stress of fast-paced or high-risk strategies. 

Once you’ve decided on one or more forex strategy options, you should check out how they perform. First, test each strategy via backtesting, which can be done with the popular MetaTrader forex platforms if you have modest programming skills. 

Vet your strategy in a demo account that most online brokers will allow you to open without risk. If any strategies still look profitable, you can start trading them in a live account for the ultimate test. 

It’s usually best to start with smaller trades and then work your way up to larger amounts as you gain confidence in the strategy’s performance and your ability to implement it in a disciplined way when trading live.  

Best Forex Trading Strategies

Many successful strategies for trading forex exist, but not all of them are suitable for every trader. Select a strategy that best suits your particular situation, including your available time, personality type and risk tolerance. These are covered below based on the typical time involved, ranging from short to long term. 

1. Scalping

Scalping is a very short-term trading strategy that involves taking multiple small profits on trading positions with a very short duration. Scalpers need ultra quick reaction times because they usually enter and exit trades in just seconds or minutes. This very fast paced and a rather stressful activity that may not suit everyone. 

Scalpers also closely monitor price charts for patterns that can help them predict future exchange rate movements. They tend to use very short-term tick charts similar to that shown below for EUR/USD for analysis. Scalpers generally do best using a broker with tight spreads, quick guaranteed order executions and minimal or 0 order slippage. 

EUR/USD tick chart and trade entry box. Source: MetaTrader 5

2. Day Trading

Day trading is another short-term trading strategy that is followed only during a particular trading session. Day traders generally do not take overnight positions, so they close out all trades each day. This helps reduce exposure to market movements when the trader is inattentive to the market.

Most day traders use trading plans based on technical analysis on short-term charts that show intraday price action. Many day trading strategies exist, but a popular one, is known as breakout trading. Trades get triggered when the exchange rate moves beyond a given level on the chart for a currency pair and are confirmed when accompanied by an increase in volume.

The 30-minute candlestick chart of GBP/USD shows a breakout below the level of the lower of the 2 converging trend lines of a triangle pattern drawn in red. Note that trading volume also increased when the breakout occurred, thereby confirming it. 

Triangle pattern breakout in GBP/USD. Source: MetaTrader 5

3. News Trading

Some forex traders with deep pockets and a decent appetite for risk might use news trading strategies, although they are probably not ideal for forex beginners. These strategies can be based on fundamental and technical analysis and they generally benefit from the notable volatility often seen in the forex market immediately after key news releases. 

News traders typically need to monitor economic calendars for key data releases. They then watch the market closely before the event to determine key support and resistance levels so that they can react quickly after the event based on the results. News traders need to maintain strict discipline when managing their currency positions during such fast markets and often place stop-loss and take profit orders in the market.

An example of an economic calendar and a data release event that a news trader might use is U.S. unemployment claims. This data was especially volatile during the COVID-19 shutdown in the U.S. and created considerable fluctuations in the forex market after its release. Although those jobs numbers were dismal, what mattered most to the market is how the result differed from the market’s consensus. 

In the situation below, the previous unemployment claims number was 3,176K, the expected number was 2,500K, and the result was worse than expected at 2,981K. This should have put pressure on the U.S. dollar after its release versus other currencies. 

Forex calendar showing a massive rise in U.S. Unemployment Claims data during the COVID-19 shutdown. Source: ForexFactory

4. Swing or Momentum Trading

Swing trading, sometimes also known as momentum trading, consists of a medium-term trading strategy that aims to capture more market moves. Swing traders do this by trading both with major trends and also against them when the market is correcting, so they should be willing to hold overnight positions. 

Swing traders tend to focus on entering and existing positions based on momentum indicators that provide buy and sell signals. Traders use them to find overbought or oversold markets they can sell or buy. Swing traders might also buy ahead of support or sell before resistance levels that develop on the charts of the exchange rate for a currency pair.

Some commonly used momentum indicators include the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) histogram and the relative strength index (RSI). The daily candlestick chart shown below for the GBP/USD exchange rate also displays the MACD and RSI in indicator boxes. 

Daily chart for GBP/USD with MACD and RSI indicators shown below. Source: MetaTrader 5

5. Trend Trading

Trend trading is a popular longer-term forex trading strategy that involves following the prevailing trend or directional movement in the market for a particular currency pair. This strategy often involves buying on pullbacks in up trends or selling on rallies in down trends. 

After a trend trader has taken a position in the direction of the trend, you will probably hold onto it until the market reaches their objective or the trend starts reversing. Trend traders often use trailing stop loss orders to guard their profits if a significant reversal materializes.

Many trend traders use technical analysis indicators like the Average Directional Movement Indicator (ADX) and/or moving averages that smooth out the price action so they can better identify trends. They might also use longer and shorter term moving averages and watch for crossovers to signal a potential reversal. 

The 4-hour candlestick chart for EUR/JPY below shows an upward trend in progress after a significant decline with a 10-day moving average shown in red and the ADX in the indicator box underneath. 

4-hour chart for EUR/JPY showing a down trend followed by an up trend. Source: MetaTrader 5

Best Forex Brokers for Trading

If you want to start trading forex right away or are looking for a better online broker to partner with, check out Benzinga’s top picks for forex brokers in the table below. You can start the account opening process today and most brokers will let you open a demo account first to try their services out and trade without any risk before depositing your money. As an example of what to look for in a good forex broker, you can check out Benzinga’s FOREX.com review

Commissions
$10 value per pip
Account Minimum
$0
Get started securely through IG Group’s website
Commissions
$10 value per pip
Account Minimum
$0
1 Minute Review

IG is a comprehensive forex broker that offers full access to the currency market and support for over 80 currency pairs. The broker only offers forex trading to its U.S.-based customers, the brokerage does it spectacularly well. Novice traders will love IG’s intuitive mobile and desktop platforms, while advanced traders will revel in the platform’s selection of indicators and charting tools. Though IG could work on its customer service and fees, the broker is an asset to new forex traders and those who prefer a more streamlined interface.  

Best For
  • New forex traders who are still learning the ropes
  • Traders who prefer a simple, clean interface
  • Forex traders who trade primarily on a tablet
Pros
  • Easy-to-navigate platform is easy for beginners to master
  • Mobile and tablet platforms offer full functionality of the desktop version
  • Margin rates are easy to understand and affordable
  • Access to over 80 currency pairs
Cons
  • U.S. traders can currently only trade forex
  • Customer service options are lacking
  • No 2-factor authentication on mobile
Account Minimum
100 of your selected base currency
Pairs Offered
80+
Get started securely through FOREX.com’s website
Account Minimum
100 of your selected base currency
Pairs Offered
80+
1 Minute Review

FOREX.com is a one-stop-shop for forex traders. With a massive range of tradable currencies, low account minimums and an impressive trading platform, FOREX.com is an excellent choice for brokers searching for a home base for their currency trading. New traders and seasoned veterans alike will love FOREX.com’s extensive education and research center that provides free, informative forex trading courses at multiple skill levels. While FOREX.com is impressive, remember that it isn’t a standard broker. You can’t invest in the stock or bond market through your FOREX.com and you cannot open an account with tax advantages. The confusing pricing and margin structures may also be overwhelming for new forex traders.

Best For
  • MetaTrader 4 users
  • Beginner forex traders
  • Active forex traders
Pros
  • Impressive, easy-to-navigate platform
  • Wide range of education and research tools
  • Access to over 80 currencies to buy and sell
  • Leverage available up to 50:1
Cons
  • Cannot buy and sell other securities (like stocks and bonds)
  • Confusing margin requirements that vary by currency
  • Limited customer support options
  • Cannot open an IRA or other retirement account
Account Minimum
$50 USD
Pairs Offered
47
Get started securely through eToro’s website
Account Minimum
$50 USD
Pairs Offered
47
1 Minute Review

Though Australian and British traders might know eToro for its easy stock and mobile trading, the broker is now expanding into the United States with cryptocurrency trading. U.S. traders can begin buying and selling both major cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) as well as smaller names (like Tron Coin and Stellar Lumens).

eToro offers traders the opportunity to invest their assets into premade portfolios or cryptocurrencies, similar to services offered by robo-advisors through traditional brokers. Though eToro isn’t a one-stop-shop for everything an investor needs, its easy-to-use platform and low spreads is a great way to enter the cryptocurrency market.

Best For
  • International Forex/CFD Traders
  • New cryptocurrency traders looking for an easy-to-use platform
  • Traders who want to buy and sell cryptocurrencies on-the-go
Pros
  • Simple platform that is easy to master
  • CopyTrader feature that allows new traders to copy the same strategies used by professionals
  • Virtual dummy account that gives you $100,000 to practice trades
Cons
  • U.S. traders currently limited to cryptocurrencies
  • Only 15 major coins available to trade
Account Minimum
$100 USD (or equivalent)
Pairs Offered
69
Get started securely through HYCM’s website
Account Minimum
$100 USD (or equivalent)
Pairs Offered
69
1 Minute Review

HYCM is 1 of the world’s leading forex brokers, offering investors access to over 69 unique currency pairs. However, forex isn’t the only thing the broker offers — HYCM also offers high rates of leverage, stock and ETF trading, commodity investing and much more. Getting started with HYCM is quick and easy, and most investors can open an account in as little as 10 minutes.

HYCM offers a varying fee structure, which allows investors to choose the spread option that’s best for them. A wide range of educational and investing tools are available, which can be equally beneficial to both experienced and novice traders. Though HYCM isn’t currently available in the United States, it can be a great choice for residents of the other 140 countries where it offers service. 

Best For
  • Investors who want a customizable fee schedule
  • Traders comfortable using the MetaTrader platform
  • Islamic traders who need swap-free accounts that don’t build interest
Pros
  • Wide range of currency pairs available
  • Excellent selection of educational tools
  • $0 deposit and withdrawal fees
Cons
  • Not currently available to traders based in the U.S.
Account Minimum
100 EURO
Pairs Offered
50+
Get started securely through AvaTrade’s website
Account Minimum
100 EURO
Pairs Offered
50+
1 Minute Review

A fully regulated broker with a presence in Europe, South Africa, the Middle East, British Virgin Islands, Australia and Japan, Avatrade deals with mainly forex and CFDs on stocks, commodities, indexes, forex, cryptocurrencies, etc. This brokerage is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and began offering its services in 2006. It offers multiple trading platforms and earns mainly through spreads.

Best For
  • Beginners
  • Advanced traders
  • Traders looking for a well-diversified portfolio
Pros
  • Controlled by regulatory agencies of multiple countries
  • Choice offered in terms of trading platforms
  • Support available in 14 languages and trading platforms in 20 languages
  • Practice/demo account available for trying out
  • Breadth of trading assets
Cons
  • Does not accept customers from the U.S. as it isn’t regulated in the U.S.
  • Transferring funds to the account may take up to five days; withdrawals could take up to 10 days

How to Get Started Trading Forex

If you’ve chosen a strategy and a broker to use to trade forex, then remember that money management and your trading mindset are key determinants of success. Take time to educate yourself about those facets of trading forex, too. 

When you’re ready to begin, visit the broker’s website to open up a demo account so that you can start to practice trading and learn how to use its trading platform. If you feel confident in your strategy and the broker you chose, then you can open up and fund a live account to start trading with real money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How profitable is forex trading?

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Q: How profitable is forex trading?
asked
1

How profitable you are with forex depends on you! To make a profit through forex trading, you must know how to trade intelligently and you also need a trading strategy. Trade with risk capital only — this is money that you can afford to lose.

Ideally, forex trading shouldn’t exceed more than 15% of your entire investment portfolio.

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Q: What are the best forex trading tips?

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Q: What are the best forex trading tips?
asked
1

Regardless of what market you plan to trade, the online broker you choose is extremely important to your success. The broker you choose should be well-regulated. 

Put together a trading plan that lays out an appropriate position sizing method and clear risk parameters. You can devise a trading plan and practice using it in a demo account. If you prefer to use someone else’s plan and copy trades, then you will need to open an account with a broker that includes a social trading platform. 

Learn from your mistakes, but don’t let them push you over the edge.

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Get a Forex Pro on Your Side

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