Is there a broker with 0 spread?
While many brokers advertise zero spreads, it can be misleading to look only at the minimum spread or the lowest spread of the day -- it's possible that the spread is worse (higher) the majority of the time.
That is why it is important to only trust the average spreads to determine the true cost of a broker claiming to offer zero-pip spreads. A zero spread implies there is no difference in pips between the bid price and ask price; they are exactly the same price when the spread is 0.
In our research, there are only a few brokers that truly average close-to-zero-pip spreads on the EUR/USD, but you still must pay a per-trade commission, thus the effective spreads average out to be higher. Any broker claiming to offer zero pips with no commissions should be considered carefully, as it could turn out to be either a scam or offer questionable execution practices. That's why it's always important to only use trusted, highly regulated brokers.
FP Markets, and
IC Markets feature spreads close to 0 for their commission-based accounts, with their effective spreads averaging anywhere from 0.42 to 0.62 on the EUR/USD pair (using monthly spread data obtained during our testing), helping them finish best in class in this category.
How do you compare zero spread accounts?
When you compare accounts offered by the best forex brokers for zero spread trading, spreads will still vary in most cases, and you may incur other trading costs such as commissions. Therefore, it is essential to keep the subtle details in mind when reading the fine print for zero spread trading.
Forex brokers often offer multiple accounts, where certain features such as the execution method, the trading platform available, or the range of markets will vary depending on which account you select.
Whether you are trading spot forex as a CFD or as a non-deliverable rolling contract, this guide covers some of the key takeaways for trading forex on margin with a zero spread broker. If you are interested in learning more about CFDs (and you want to read about our favorite CFD trading platforms), check out our guide to the Best CFD Brokers and Trading Platforms.
Should I choose a zero spread account?
An account with zero spreads can make sense if your trading strategy is spread-sensitive or if you just want to reduce your trading costs as much as possible -- but there are potential trade-offs.
Factors to keep in mind include any added commission and knowing if zero spreads are variable or fixed, especially during volatile market conditions when spreads may widen.
Consider that execution quality can suffer in a zero spread account if your trading strategy relies on specific execution qualities, such as avoiding slippage (where your order can get filled at a worse price).
- Pros of zero spread pricing: A scalping strategy or other high-frequency trading program based solely on latency, or price delays that cause arbitrage, will likely require that you have lower costs (i.e., cost-sensitive) to be profitable.
- Cons of zero spread pricing: Conversely, other high-frequency algorithmic trading based on technical indicators can perform better on zero spreads, even if there are execution delays or price requotes during fast markets. However, this potential slippage also means that the effective spread can be greater than zero if your order is filled at a worse price.
About zero spread forex brokers
A zero spread forex broker attempts to offer a spread of zero pips. The spread is the difference between the bid price (where you can sell) and the ask price (where you can buy), measured in pips (fractions of a currency). These seemingly small trading costs can quickly add up, because trading forex takes place from within a margin account (that is, uses leverage), especially as your trading volumes increase.
- Sample EUR/USD spread 10 years ago: 3 pips
- Sample EUR/USD spread today: 0.8 pips
- Sample EUR/USD spread at a zero spread broker: 0.1 pips
In the interbank market, where prices originate from major dealers, spreads are quoted in fractions of a pip, also known as fractional-pips. A zero pip spread may range from 0 to several fractions of a pip -- or even more during volatile market conditions.
Zero spread investment offerings comparison
How does a zero spread forex broker earn money?
A zero-pip spread that is fixed, and doesn't vary, will likely include a commission. The broker may also be operating a dealing desk to attempt to make money when you trade, by being on the opposite side of each trade.
The way forex and CFD brokers earn money depends on their business model and available execution methods. All brokers will ultimately do one or more of the following:
- Add a spread markup or earn a rebate (agency broker) when you trade with them, as they route your order to a third-party market-maker in return for compensation.
- Charge a commission (agency broker) in lieu of any spreads when routing your order.
- Manage risk as a dealer (agency broker or market maker) on zero spread accounts.
Pro tip: Some zero spread brokers combine some of these execution methods into a hybrid offering. Some brokers let you choose execution type from within your account or open an account specific to a particular execution method.
Which broker has lower spreads?
In order to really know which broker has lower spreads compared to the competition, we obtained average spread data and factored in any per-trade commissions to arrive at the effective spreads, which allow you to determine your true trading costs.
Brokers with the lowest effective spreads in 2023 are as follows, based on average price data obtained by our research for the EUR/USD pair:
Tickmill - 0.47 (September 2021) on Pro account
FP Markets - on 0.7 (October 2021) Raw ECN account
CMC Markets - 0.73 (August 2021) on all accounts
IC Markets - Average 0.62 (August 2021) on cTrader account
HYCM - Average 0.6 pips (September 2021) on Raw account
Interactive Brokers - 0.6 pips (Week ending Oct. 6, 2021)
IG - Deeper discounts on Forex Direct account
Which forex broker has the tightest spread?
Tickmill provides the tightest spreads (averaging 0.13 pips on the EUR/USD during August) after factoring in trading costs (i.e., any commissions). CMC Markets follows closely in second place, with its competitive FX Active pricing. FX Active features zero-pip spreads on select major currency pairs, along with low per-trade commissions. .
Pro tip: When measuring forex spreads, the most accurate way to determine which broker has the tightest spread is to calculate the average spread for a given period -- such as one month. In addition, it is important to factor in the trustworthiness of the broker, to ensure you are provided with the best execution to pay the spread you deserve and avoid pitfalls like asymmetrical slippage.
Which broker has the best spread?
Tickmill stands out as having the best spread, as the overall trading cost (spread + commission) is 0.47 pips, which is the lowest on average based on September 2021 data using the EUR/USD pair on its Pro account offering. Other brokers might advertise a lower spread, but end up being more expensive because they charge a higher commission or have higher average spreads.
Is a zero spread account good?
While it's nice to avoid fees, a zero spread account can still end up costing you a per-trade commission, and even worse -- spreads can potentially widen in a zero spread account even if it is commission-free.
Depending on your strategy and trading needs, a zero spread account might not be good for you if certain order types or execution methods are not available. The key is knowing what the average spreads are, and whether there are any per-trade commissions -- this allows you to calculate the effective spread.
Can I trade forex without a broker?
No, forex trading is conducted from within a brokerage account, which provides you a certain degree of leverage (margin), along with access to a trading platform and a range of currency pairs. You should always choose trusted forex brokers that hold proper regulatory licenses to avoid becoming a victim of scams.
Pro tip: For cryptocurrency users looking at forex trading with stablecoins, a decentralized exchange is also not a suitable option for forex. Spreads can be significantly wider, and there is no mechanism to ensure the best execution even if zero spreads are advertised -- which could result in extreme slippage.
Which forex broker is best for scalping?
IC Markets is an excellent forex broker for scalping, and provides zero spreads (plus commission) via its Raw Spread Account. IC Markets is used by a significant number of algorithmic traders and provides access to cTrader and MetaTrader. These platforms allow you to run automated high-frequency trading programs such as scalping-based strategies and can even place orders in between the spread. If you want to learn more about algorithmic trading and automated high-frequency trading systems, check out our guide to high-frequency trading.
Pro tip: Whether brokers claim to offer Straight Through Processing (STP) or an Electronic Communications Network (ECN), these descriptions are not as important as how your broker's business model actually operates, including its order execution policy during fast markets when spreads can widen.
What's the difference between raw spread and a standard account?
A standard account refers to the smallest trade size of 100,000 units of currency, which is also known as a standard lot size. A raw spread refers to the cost of trading reflected in the bid/ask price, where the broker is not adding any markup but instead provides the price as is (i.e., raw spread) straight from their liquidity providers.
Pro tip: In most cases, raw spread forex brokers will add a per-trade commission to make money or act as market makers.
ForexBrokers.com 2023 Overall Ranking
Now that you've seen our picks for the top low-cost forex brokers, check out the ForexBrokers.com Overall Rankings. We've evaluated over 60 forex brokers, using a testing methodology that's based on 100+ data-driven variables and thousands of data points. Check out our full-length, in-depth forex broker reviews.
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We conduct meticulous research that covers the entire spectrum of industry fees and commissions in order to provide the most accurate, up-to date information on the costs of using the online brokers that we review.
We examine each broker’s bid/ask spreads as well as the average spread information for the most popular forex currency pairs, the existence and eligibility requirements of Active Trader or VIP rebates and discounts, inactivity or custody fees, minimum deposit requirements, execution methods, and a host of other data-driven variables.
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