Understanding Forex Fees and Commissions

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Contributor, Benzinga
August 25, 2023

Traders navigating the global currency markets must understand the intricacies of forex fees and commissions. Failure to research and understand these costs can severely erode profits. Pay attention to the fee schedules published by forex brokers to determine overall trading costs and factor them into forex trading strategies. 

This article sheds light on fees and commissions and offers insights on how to avoid or minimize forex fees. 

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 are Forex Fees?

Forex fees are the costs incurred when exchanging one currency for another on the forex markets. These costs include the spread, commissions, swap fees, inactivity fees, transaction fees, currency conversion fees and platform fees. The fees affect traders, investors and businesses engaged in international transactions and trading. Together they can have a significant effect on trading profitability and transaction costs. It is vital for traders to research and understand broker fees. 

Trading Costs That Come With Forex Trading

Several forex costs may apply to forex trading. In combination, they can have a significant effect on the profits made.  

Commission Structures

Though most forex brokers earn income from the spread, some charge commission. Electronic Communication Network Accounts (ECNs) running a dealing desk usually charge commissions. A trader will pay a commission on every trade made. This commission may be fixed or related to the trade volume. If the commission is volume-related, the higher the trade volume, the higher the commission charged. 

Some brokers also charge a variable commission, working at a sliding rate. They may charge a lower fee over a certain trade volume to encourage larger trades. Professional traders can take advantage of these volume discounts to reduce the cost of trading. Where a spread is charged with commission, it is usually at a much lower rate. Traders must weigh the best combination of spread and commission for the volumes they trade and their trading strategies.  

Spreads

The spread is the price your broker charges you to buy and sell forex. Every quote you receive will have two prices for each currency in the currency pair. These are called the bid and ask prices. They represent the buy and sell prices. The difference between the two is the spread. It is the amount your broker earns for the trade. The spread will differ for various currency pairs and is also market-dependent. The more volatile the market is, the higher the spread. The more volatile the currencies traded, the wider the spread. 

Swap Rates

Swap trading fees apply to traders who hold overnight positions. Swaps or rollover fees refer to the interest or financing cost incurred for an overnight position. This fee is coupled with the interest rate differential between two traded currencies.

When you hold a forex position overnight, you borrow one currency to buy another. As a result, you may receive interest on the currency you're holding (if the interest rate of the currency you bought is higher) or pay interest on the currency you borrowed (if the interest rate of the currency you sold is higher).

The swap fee is usually calculated and applied at the end of each trading day, typically around 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). The time will depend on your broker and its trading platform.

The swap fee is not fixed. It depends on your position size, the interest rate differential between the two currencies and how long you hold the position. Swap fees can add to traders’ profits or losses, depending on the direction of the trade and the interest rate differential. Some brokers provide a swap calculator on their trading platforms. The calculator helps to estimate the swap fees for different currency pairs. 

Inactivity Fees

Some brokers charge inactivity fees when a trader's account remains inactive or dormant for a certain period. An inactive account is one where there has been no trading activity. Inactivity fees incentivize traders to maintain an active trading presence. They help cover the administrative costs associated with maintaining inactive accounts. 

Understand your broker’s terms and conditions. Some brokers don’t charge inactivity fees if you leave funds in your account. You can avoid these inactivity fees by understanding your brokers’ terms and conditions and complying. If an inactivity fee applies, set a reminder to trade and avoid the fees.  

Storage Fees

Storage fees are added to the financing and swap fees. It is a superfluous charge for holding assets in the account. Avoid brokers that charge this unnecessary fee. 

Custodial Fees

Brokers impose custodial fees for safekeeping and maintaining client funds and assets. These fees cover the expenses incurred by the broker for service provision. Custodial fees are more commonly associated with financial instruments like stocks, bonds and mutual funds. In the forex market, custodial fees are less common. They are relevant in forex trading in the following scenarios:

  • Managed accounts: With managed accounts, professional traders or portfolio managers trade on behalf of clients. The broker may charge a management or performance fee as compensation for their trading expertise and efforts.
  • Savings or interest-bearing accounts: Some brokers offer interest-bearing accounts where clients can hold unused trading capital. The broker invests these funds to earn interest and may charge custodial fees on the interest earned.

CFD Trading Fees

Contracts for difference (CFDs) are derivatives. They allow traders to speculate on financial instrument price movements. Like all securities, CFDs attract trading fees. These may include a spread, overnight financing costs, commission, transaction fees and inactivity fees. 

CFD traders typically use stop-loss orders. Some brokers offer guaranteed stop-loss orders to protect from market volatility. However, guaranteed stop-loss orders may come with a premium fee. 

Financing Rates

Financing rates are related to margin use. What you pay will depend on the amount of leverage you use and whether you hold overnight positions. The financing cost increases for each day that the asset is held. 

Currency Conversion Fees

Your trading account has a designated currency, the base currency. This is the currency you use to deposit funds, calculate margin requirements and manage your account balance. When you trade currency pairs in currencies other than the base currency, profits or losses are in the currency of the traded pair. You pay a currency conversion fee if you wish to withdraw or convert those amounts back to the base currency. The conversion fee may be a percentage of the converted amount or a fixed fee. The fee is subtracted from the amount you're converting, reducing the final converted value. 

Choose an account denominated in your preferred currency to minimize the currency conversion effects. Compare broker conversion fees to find the most cost-effective option. Consider using several trading accounts with different base currencies if you trade in several currencies.

Different Trading Platforms Charge Different Fees

The forex fees and commissions that you’ll pay depend on the broker and trading platform you choose. All forex brokers charge fees, and traders must understand the total cost per trade. The trading platform you choose should combine the services you need at the best overall cost to trade. 

Compare Benzinga's Top Forex Brokers

Find the forex broker that suits your trading style and strategies from the table below. 

  • 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

  • Trading.com
    Best For:
    Simple and Precise Forex Trading in the U.S.
    securely through Trading.com's website
  • 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.

Choose a Broker Offering the Best Combination of Services and Fees

Forex fees and commissions are essential costs that can significantly impact trading outcomes, especially if you trade in high volumes. As a trader, research and understand the fees involved before you sign up. Choose a forex broker that offers the best combination of services and fees that align with your forex trading strategies. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q

Are there exchange rate fees with forex trading?

A

There are no specific exchange rate fees in forex trading, but traders make profits or losses from exchange rate movements. There are also associated costs like spreads and commissions.

Q

Do forex brokers have fees?

A

Forex brokers charge fees. Traders must protect their profits by understanding and comparing broker fees.

Q

How do forex brokers get their fees?

A

Most forex brokers get their fees by charging a spread, the difference between the currency buy and sell prices. Some brokers also charge commissions and other miscellaneous costs. 

Get a Forex Pro on Your Side

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You can also tap into:

  • EUR/USD as low as 0.2 with fixed $5 commissions per 100,000
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