How to Start Investing in Foreign Currency

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Contributor, Benzinga
August 2, 2023

Start investing in foreign currency with FOREX.com as your brokerage account.

The foreign exchange or forex market could be an attractive option if you ever considered diversifying your investment portfolio beyond traditional investment avenues. With an average daily trading volume exceeding $7.5 trillion in 2022, the forex market dwarfs other financial markets. Investing in foreign currency can provide a unique blend of risk and reward, offering a refreshing departure from conventional investment markets. 

This guide will discuss the intricacies of forex investing, detail various investment approaches and highlight potential rewards and inherent risks. Dive in and explore how you can participate in this massive and vibrant financial ecosystem.

Disclosure: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 69% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

What is Foreign Currency Investing?

Foreign currency investing, or forex investing, is the practice of buying and selling currencies from around the globe to make a profit. Investors speculate on the changing values of different currency pairs, such as the U.S. dollar against the euro, hoping to profit from these fluctuations. These value changes can occur due to economic indicators, interest rates and geopolitical events.

5 Ways to Invest in Foreign Currency

Several routes will allow you to explore how to access the vibrant currency market. Here are the five primary ways you can get into forex investing.

1. Forex Trading Account

The most direct way to invest in foreign currencies is by opening a forex trading account through a forex broker. These accounts allow you to buy and sell currency pairs based on real-time price movements. You speculate on the direction of one currency against another, known as a currency pair, and make profits from changes in their relative values. This approach involves high risk because of the use of leverage (borrowed money to increase potential return) but also presents opportunities for a significant profit.

2. ETFs and ETNs

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and exchange-traded notes (ETNs) provide a more indirect way to invest in foreign currencies. These financial instruments track the performance of a specific currency or basket of currencies. They are traded on stock exchanges just like company shares, offering a practical way for investors to gain exposure to foreign currencies without the need to trade forex directly.

3. Foreign Bond Funds 

These mutual funds invest in bonds issued by foreign governments or corporations. By purchasing these bonds, the fund effectively lends money in the foreign currency, giving you indirect exposure to that currency when you invest in the bond. The performance of these bonds often correlates with the value of the issuing country's currency. Investors can profit not just from the foreign currency-denominated interest payments from the bonds but also from appreciation in the foreign currency against the domestic currency.

4. Multinational Corporations

Investing in multinational corporations that conduct substantial business overseas is another indirect way to invest in foreign currencies. Currency exchange rates can significantly influence these companies' earnings. When a company's foreign operations become more valuable as the domestic currency weakens, it can positively impact its overall earnings and, by extension, its stock price.

5. CDs and Savings Accounts

Some banks offer certificates of deposit (CDs) and savings accounts in foreign currencies. These accounts earn interest in a foreign currency, which can be an excellent way to protect your money from inflation or to earn a higher interest rate than you would with a domestic CD or savings account. By holding a foreign currency CD, you can earn interest over time and potentially benefit from currency appreciation against your home currency.

Advantages of Investing in Foreign Currencies

Foreign currency investing can be rewarding, offering several advantages:

  • Portfolio diversification: Since currency values often move independently from traditional asset classes like stocks and bonds, they can help mitigate risk and smooth out returns over time.
  • High liquidity: The foreign exchange market is the world's largest and most liquid market, meaning currencies can typically be bought and sold easily. Increased liquidity can provide flexibility and lower transaction costs.
  • 24-hour market: The forex market is active around the clock, five days a week over many time zones. This factor allows investors to trade at any time, which can be particularly beneficial for traders wishing to trade part-time or outside regular market hours.
  • Profit potential in any market condition: Investors can profit from rising and falling markets. You can profit by speculating on one currency's rise against another's fall since currencies are traded in pairs.
  • Accessible to individual investors: With the advent of online forex brokers, the market has become increasingly accessible to individual investors. You can start trading in this vast market with relatively little capital.

Risk of Investing in Foreign Currencies

While the potential for substantial returns can make foreign currency investing attractive, you must be aware of the considerable risks involved.

  • Market volatility: While the high volatility inherent in forex markets can create profit opportunities, it can also lead to considerable losses.
  • Leverage risk: Forex traders typically use leverage to amplify potential returns. However, it also magnifies losses on unsuccessful trades, possibly exceeding your capital.
  • Interest rate risk: Changes in interest rates by central banks often cause significant movements in the value of a country's currency.
  • Political and economic risk: Political and economic events, such as changes in government, monetary policy shifts or geopolitical instability, can cause rapid fluctuations in currency values and are difficult to predict.
  • Liquidity risk: While the foreign exchange market is generally highly liquid, specific currency pairs may become less liquid. This factor could lead to difficulty entering or exiting positions and higher transaction costs.
  • Counterparty risk: This is the risk that your broker or the counterparty to your trades fails to fulfill their obligations, which could occur if the broker faces financial difficulties or goes bankrupt.

Foreign currency investing presents a fascinating opportunity to diversify your portfolio and possibly achieve significant returns. However, because of its inherent risks and complexities, it's crucial to thoroughly understand the methods of investing and the dynamics of the forex market. Consider your risk tolerance and investment objectives and consult with a financial advisor when necessary.

Invest in Foreign Currency with Benzinga's Favorite Forex Brokers

To help you get started on your forex investing journey, Benzinga has compiled a list of top forex brokers, considering factors such as credibility, user-friendliness and the range of tools they offer for successful trading.

  • Plus500 Forex
    Best For:
    Forex and CFD Trading for Mobile Users
    securely through Plus500 Forex's website
  • Forex.com
    Best For:
    Fast Execution and High-Volume Traders in the U.S
    securely through Forex.com's website

    CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 69% to 77.7% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

    The products and services available to you at FOREX.com will depend on your location and on which of its regulated entities holds your account

  • IG Markets
    Best For:
    Fast Execution for U.S. Traders
    securely through IG Markets's website

    Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

  • City Index
    Best For:
    International Forex and CFD Traders
    securely through City Index's website

    CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 69% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

  • AvaTrade
    Best For:
    Non U.S. Forex & CFD Traders
    securely through AvaTrade's website

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

How safe is forex trading?

A

While forex trading can be profitable, it’s not without risk. The forex market is highly volatile, and investments can quickly gain or lose value. Prudent trading involves careful strategy, risk management and continuous learning.

Q

Is it a good idea to invest in foreign currency?

A

Investing in foreign currency can be a good idea for diversification and potential returns, but it’s essential to understand the associated risks and market dynamics.

Q

What is it called when you invest in foreign currency?

A

Investing in foreign currency is typically referred to as forex trading or currency trading.

Get a Forex Pro on Your Side

FOREX.com, registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), lets you trade a wide range of forex markets with low pricing and fast, quality execution on every trade. 

You can also tap into:

  • EUR/USD as low as 0.2 with fixed $5 commissions per 100,000
  • Powerful, purpose-built currency trading platforms
  • Monthly cash rebates of up to $9 per million dollars traded with FOREX.com’s Active Trader Program

Learn more about FOREX.com’s low pricing and how you can get started trading with FOREX.com.