Best ECN Brokers
By Stéphane on 30/09/2023
Trade Forex and CFDs on raw spreads and low commissions through the following list of true ECN brokers. These are our top choices.
Brokers we recommend
Here's how and why rated these brokers, or learn more about our impartial 18-point methodology.
* Availability is subject to local laws and regulations.
Note: for brevity, this table only shows the most popular payment methods and regulators. Open a free account with any of these brokers to view funding options available in your country.
- Flexible leverage up to 1:500.
- Trade over 1,000 financial instruments.
- Trade on MT4/5 or cTrader without restrictions.
- Copy trading service is available.
- Customer support is available 24/7.
- No TradingView integration is available for now.
- No investor compensation fund in the event of bankruptcy.
We've traded through this broker's MT5 Raw account and can vouch for its low spreads and reliable trading environment. Its Raw account is designed for day traders and scalpers, and its Standard account will suit all others.
We also like the breadth of instruments available through its platform. You'll find over 70 currency pairs, as well as gold and silver priced in US dollars, euros and Aussie dollars. You can also go long or short on stocks and government bonds through over 40 ETFs.
Its free educational content also sets it apart from the competition. Fund your account to get access to trading signals from Trading Signal and Autochartist. You'll also get access to free trading courses for beginners and experienced traders, weekly webinars and e-books.
- Trade over 1,200 instruments across many asset classes.
- Trade on MT4/5, cTrader or even TradingView.
- All trading styles and EAs are allowed.
- Wide range of currencies for your trading account.
- Excellent customer service.
- You cannot choose which Pepperstone entity to open an account with. For example, you will need to open an account with Pepperstone's FCA-regulated entity if you live in the UK.
We particularly enjoy Pepperstone's integration with TradingView, which makes it possible to open and close positions directly from the charts. This in addition to its support for the popular MetaTrader 4, 5 and cTrader platforms.
Fees are a big factor for any trader. And Pepperstone's competitive spreads and commissions are a significant plus point for us. Its Standard account with low and variable spreads will appeal to all traders. And its Raw account is designed for Forex day traders and scalpers.
Deposits and withdrawals are easy and hassle-free, which is exactly what we look for in a broker. Whenever we've reached out to customer service, we've found their agents to be responsive and attentive.
ECN trading benefits
Unlike traditional Forex brokers, ECN brokers allow you to trade directly on the Forex interbank market. Experienced traders prefer to trade Forex and CFDs through ECN brokers for a number of reasons, that include:
- Tight spreads: trade directly on the Forex interbank market with Tier-1 liquidity providers. Competition between market makers and fractional pricing keep spreads as tight as possible. In turn, this makes it easier to profit for small price movements.
- Execute trades instantly: an ECN broker has no dealing desk and no re-quotes. Trade on live, best executable prices with immediate confirmations. This facilitates trading during economic releases and times of unusual market volatility.
- Depth of market: see liquidity at every price point in addition to bid offer spreads. Understand where liquidity lies and use these insights to predict short term changes in prices. Depth of market information supports scalping strategies.
- Trade anonymously: ECN trading is completely anonymous. This helps ensure that the prices you're see are free from bias and reflect market conditions.
- No conflicts of interest: ECN brokers act as intermediaries rather than market markers. They earn money through commissions on trades; the more you trade, they more they stand to profit. This helps align their interests with yours.
How to compare ECN brokers
Here are three criteria to keep top of mind when searching for the best ECN broker.
Most ECN brokers earn money through a commission on trades rather than a mark-up on spreads. This is why they typically quote spreads as lows as 0 pips, also known as "raw spreads". FP Markets is an exception to the rule in that it allows you to choose between a commission-based and a commission-free account.
Their commission is usually expressed in US$ per lot or million US$ traded, and typically applies to each side of a trade. In other words, a $3 commission per lot per side will first apply when you open a position, and apply once again when you close your position.
Trading fees aren't the only criteria you'll want to bear in when comparing ECN brokers. You'll also want to check how many liquidity providers they work with. The more liquidity providers compete for your trades, the deeper the market and the tighter the bid/ask spreads. This also provides greater certainty of execution, that you'll come to appreciate when markets are volatile.
However, that information can be hard to come by, as brokers view it as commercially sensitive. Most brokers in our panel work with over 10 such liquidity providers. This is also the case with FXCC, a broker established in 2010 as an ECN-only broker.
Last but not least, you'll also want to consider trading platforms when comparing brokers. In fact, this could be a major consideration if you already have a library of automated trading scripts. All brokers in our panel support the MetaTrader platform, in its versions 4 or 5. If you're into cTrader, an ECN trading platform with advanced charting and technical analysis capabilities, you should consider opening an account with FPMarkets.com instead.
Is your broker a true ECN broker?
You may have noticed that some brokers use the word 'ECN' liberally for marketing purposes, even though they may not provide a true ECN service. Here's how to tell if your provider is a genuine ECN broker.
Depth of market information
Does your broker provide depth of market (DOM) information? Depth of market shows you the liquidity available for every bid and offer. DOM should be available for every instrument and change dynamically as orders are filled and new orders come to market. It usually appears in a small monitor directly in your trading platform's interface.
Traders in an Electronic Communication Network (ECN) can enter competing bids and offers into the platform either inside or outside the spread, and hit one another's orders. You'll know your broker is a true ECN broker if you're able to open a position with a liquidity provider and close it with another, or execute a trade against the bid or offer of another trader through your broker's depth of market monitor.
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About the author
I'm Stéphane, a trader and an entrepreneur. My mission with TrustedBrokers is to help you find the right broker for you, whether you're a beginner or a pro. I've personally used and tested the brokers on our service, opening and funding real-money accounts, contacting customer service and placing trades. I started my career in investment banking in London.