Best Australian Forex Brokers (2020): Pros, Cons, & Fees Compared

Best Forex Brokers in Australia

The jurisdiction of Australia features a number of benefits for Forex traders. In this guide, we go over all the details involving legalities and regulations for Forex trading in Australia. Then, we compare Australia’s best Forex brokers to show you the pros and cons of each.

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The Foreign Exchange market, also known as the Forex or FX market, is where traders exchange currencies 24 hours, 5 days a week. With over $5 trillion worth of trades taking place daily, the Forex market is the largest and most liquid one across the globe.

Depending on the jurisdiction, the Forex market can be subject to stringent regulation — or outright banned. Is Forex legal in Australia? Yes. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is the governing body responsible for regulating Forex trading.

Forex trading in Australia, in particular, has thrived thanks to its Government, for the most part. Although Forex trading has been popular in Australia for some time now, the real appeal began in 2015, after stories of the Swiss franc increasing by a larger margin began circulating in the media.

But with an increase in the popularity of a profitable market comes an increase in those looking to take advantage. This makes regulation crucial for the safety and security of traders.

Brokers or firms not under regulation do not adhere to any set of standards which can lead to fraudulent and illegal behavior. Even worse, if something goes wrong, your funds are often not protected.

Forex broker regulations therefore, are the cornerstone of the Forex market, holding brokers to standards that are in the best interests of traders.

Due to the global and decentralized nature of the Forex market however, regulations vary across jurisdictions, impacting trader eligibility. Brokers in the US must comply with different regulations to those in the UK, or Australia. In essence, the protection you are given will depend on where the broker is based, and the regulatory body it is registered with.

For example, while the US has imposed strict regulations and penalties for any violations of these on the Forex market, Australia has aimed to offer a simplified financial system that regulates the Forex market enough to maintain a safe and secure environment, without imposing too many restrictions or penalties.

In fact, the only legal restrictions enforced by Australia’s regulatory body ASIC, is that trading platforms must limit credit card deposits to $1,000 when clients open an account. Apart from this, no leverage restrictions apply, or legal requirements, other than tax payments.

The market is also highly susceptible to volatility from economic turbulence, which regulations simply cannot protect us from. We’ll briefly explore these impacts by looking at the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, while the Australian financial system does offer customers protection, it is more relaxed than that of the US and UK, allowing both Forex traders and clients more room to breath.

Times of Crisis: COVID-19 and the Forex Market

The Forex market can also be susceptible to severe volatility from economic turbulence, which we are witnessing with the spread of the coronavirus. Currently, the market is seeing almost unprecedented highs and lows with the US dollar increasing against the Australian dollar, and other currencies.

While the economic effects of the financial crisis in 2008 were dire, and included a loss of 8.7 million jobs losses throughout, early COVID-19 predictions suggest job losses in the US alone could hit 1 million per month between now until June 2020. A price war has already been unleashed in the oil industry, between Russia, OPEC, and shale producers, due to market contractions. This will put serious pressure on the indebted energy sector, and could cause a cycle of debt-inflation that will affect the world’s immense corporate debt.

While it may be too early to predict the global economic effects that the coronavirus will cause, it is strongly looking like we’re about to face a repeat of the same consequences. At the least, a recession could be on the cards.

Is Forex Trading Legal in Australia?

logo of ASIC
ASIC regulates and protects Forex traders in Australia.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) regulates the Forex market in Australia and has played a part in it since the 1990s. All Forex brokers in Australia must register with ASIC and adhere to strict regulatory guidelines that aim to protect consumers by maintaining a fair and transparent financial environment. The ASIC works similarly to the NFA in the U.S Forex market. In Australia, there are a number of ASIC regulated Forex brokers.

Regulation in the Australian Forex market

Regulation plays a crucial role in the Australian Forex market because, primarily, it helps prevent fraudulent and illegal behaviour. We’ve seen in the past the drastic effects that an insufficiently regulated market can have on traders. For example, during the U.S financial crisis in 2007-2010, where regulation favoured banks and financial institutions, and thus, failed to sufficiently protect the consumer, until it was reformed by the Obama administration in July 2010.

Due to dire examples like this, reputable authorities help to minimize these risks and maintain the integrity and transparency of the Forex market.

New to Forex? Check out our Forex guide for beginners.

Key ASIC Provisions

Here we have outlined some of ASIC’s key provisions that regulated brokers in Australia must adhere to.

A Valid License

ASIC License Application Page
Australian Forex brokers are required to obtain a license from the Australian Financial Services.

Top Tip: Solely holding a valid AFSL license does not mean the broker is safe or legitimate to deal with. Further research into the company will be required.

In order to offer financial services to clients the broker must hold a valid Australian Financial Services License (AFSL). To check if a broker has a valid license just search for the broker’s name on ASIC Connect. Don’t think that just because the broker’s name appears that it is a safe and legitimate company. This is one of several requirements of ASIC and doing a more thorough company check is the smart thing to do.

An Office in Australia

The broker must have an office based in Australia in order to ensure better accountability and trader confidence.

Periodic Audit Report Submissions

ASIC regulated brokers must submit regular audit reports that require full financial transparency to prevent fraudulent activity.

  • Segregated Funds

Brokers have to keep their funds in a segregated account to that of clients.

  • Seamless trading platforms & efficient consumer resolution

ASIC regulated brokers must provide seamless trading on fast and efficient platforms. They must also aim to resolve customer complaints in a time efficient manner.

All ASIC requirements, including those mentioned above help protect and reduce the risk that traders face when entering the Forex market.

ASIC Regulated Forex Brokers

An ASIC registered broker has an individual ASFL number that you can verify on the ASIC website. Usually, this is placed on the “About Us” page and the homepage of a brokers website.

You’ll also find a brief history of all its regulated brokers on the site. This will help you get a better understanding of the company before signing up with them.

How ASIC will Improve Your Trading Journey

ASIC regularly and continuously monitors its registered members, in addition to requiring regular audit reports. This means you don’t need to worry about whether or not a broker is currently upholding its standards and actively implementing them.

If any erroneous activity or information does arise, ASIC will launch an investigation immediately. As you can see, ASIC compliance is a crucial factor when determining Australia’s best Forex broker.

Creating an Enhanced Customer Relationship

Not only does ASIC monitor Forex brokers, it also aims to encourage and promote confidence in traders. It does this through some of the following initiatives and projects.

  • A compensation scheme that ensures clients will be compensated in the event of broker insolvency.
  • Creative projects like MoneySmart,  an educational program that aims to help traders of all ages enhance their financial skills.
  • Trustworthy services to help protect your trader rights such as, reclaiming money in dormant accounts.
  • Strict codes of practice for traders to become familiar with before trading in the financial market.
  • An efficient and thorough system to handle customer complaints made against member firms or ASIC staff. Complaints can be filed to ASIC’s customer helpline, including fraud and financial malpractice.

The Best Australian Forex Brokers

Don’t get caught up in low-fees, bonuses, flashy websites or advertising that a broker puts out there. It is every traders responsibility to determine how trustworthy and authentic a broker is.

An ASIC regulated broker will ensure you can be confident that your funds will be safe and secure. This will give you more headspace to focus on analyzing the current market environment and create a trading strategy. Finding the right broker can help put you in a more competitive position, and give you a leg up in a complex Forex market.

Keep in mind — some of the following platforms made our list of the best Forex brokers. The following list however, is specific to Australia.

Top 6 Forex Brokers in Australia

1. Best Forex Broker Overall: IG

IG Homepage Screenshot
IG is highly regulated and best suited to advanced traders and market professionals.
  • Regulated by: ASIC
  • Best suited to: Advanced traders and market professionals
  • Minimum deposit: $300

Founded in 1974, IG is highly regulated across six tier-1 jurisdictions, making it a safe bet for forex brokers. IG provides a superb offering of trading platforms and tools with widespread functionality that serves traders of all levels.

IG’s sheer size allows it to offer competitive pricing all round on all products with a particular highlight being its active traders prices accessible to traders with Forex Direct accounts.

Traders can utilize a comprehensive and quality selection of market research provided from both the company’s in-house experts including IGTV, and third-party providers. For example, traders can benefit from Real Vision TV, premium research for those with $5,000 or more in an IG account.

Customer service is another highlight of the broker with an average waiting time of under 1 minute, and professional and helpful support provided.

Pros 

  • Wide range of investments available
  • Competitive commissions and fees
  • Advanced platforms and tools
  • In house and third party research
  • Quality educational material

Cons

  • Limited product portfolio
  • High stock CFD fee
  • Steep inactivity fees after 2 years

Get started with IG here.

2. Best for  Low Broker Spreads on EUR/USD: IC Markets

IC Markets Homepage
Traders will appreciate IC Markets offering of the lowest average spread.
  • Regulated by: ASIC and FSA
  • Highlight: Lowest average spread available
  • Best suited to: Advanced & Beginner traders
  • Minimum deposit: $200

Founded in 2007, IC Markets (International Capital Markets Pty Ltd) is based in Kent Street Sydney, NSW, along with another in Limassol Cyprus. Advanced and experienced forex traders are best suited to IC Markets with an offering of the lowest average spread out of competitors, advanced trading platforms and offers quick execution. Other attractive offerings include a leverage of up to 500:1, no deposit or withdrawal fees and competitive commission of $3.50 per low.

IC Markets offers some limited research tools and educational material is for forex traders, including a blog outlining fundamental and technical analysis, third party content from trading central, ZuluTrader for social/copy trading, an economic calendar, and Myfxbook news headlines.

Those looking for some face to face support can visit IC Market’s office in 306 Kent Street Sydney, NSW 2000. The team is also contactable through email, skype and by phone, for CFD traders.

Customer support is contactable 24 hours, five days a week and the team in Sydney generally respond within 15 minutes, with more complex issues taking a day. Live chat is available for quicker answers.

In addition, IC Markets prioritises its educational center, which includes articles and videos, and proves to be a good source of information for those starting out. The company’s customer support for Fx brokers comes second place only to Pepperstone.

Pros

  • Several customer support awards
  • Competitive spreads
  • Beginner friendly educational material
  • Leverage of up to 1:500.

Cons 

  • Limited research tools

Join IC Markets here.

3. Best for Beginners: Plus500

Plus500 Homepage Screenshot
Traders will appreciate IC Markets offering of the lowest average spread.
  • Regulated by: ASIC, FCA
  • Highlight: Customer support
  • Best suited to: Beginners
  • Minimum deposit: $1

Plus500 is a forex broker that’s been around for over a decade. The company is regulated in several countries including Australia, the UK and Cyprus. Its trading platform is simple and easy to use, secure and fast, making it the perfect option for Beginners.

In fact, an Australian CFD report by Investment trends, awarded Plus500 the best platform for its easy to use desktop and webtrader interface, advanced mobile CFD platform, and Security features.

A spread rate of .60 pips is charged which is higher than some competitors including IC Markets, and a wide range of over 2,000 CFD products are available.

Unfortunately for beginners, Plus500 offers no educational material. Furthermore, no research material or technical analysis is provided.

As far as customer support goes, Plus500 offers clients bilingual, fast and knowledgeable responses. Chat support is available 24/7 in an impressive 16 languages. Even better, the platform is available in over 30 different languages, and a local office in Sydney will allow you to pop in should you prefer to speak to someone in person.

Pros

  • Wide range of over 2,000 CFD products, including cryptocurrency CFD
  • Guaranteed stop-losses
  • Highly regulated across the globe including by ASIC, FCA, CySEC and MAS

Cons

  • Lack of educational and research material
  • Lack of news

Open a Plus500 account here.

4. Best for Customer Support: GO Markets

Go Markets Homepage
Go Markets trading platform is a highlight for forex traders
  • Regulated by: ASIC in Australia
  • Highlight: Trading platform
  • Best suited to: All levels
  • Minimum deposit: $200

GO Markets is another ASIC regulated broker and has been serving clients since 2006. As ASIC requires an office in Australia, GO Markets, along with the others, has a head office based in Melbourne. Over the years, Go Markets has established itself as a leading broker with clients around the world in an incredible 150 countries.

Clients can access forex, indices, share CFDs metals and commodities on the MT4 and MT5 platforms to make super fast trade executions. Trading and analysis tools like Trading central and Autochrist are also provided.

GO Markets standard trading account charges no commissions with set spreads. A separate account was introduced in 2019 that charges a fixed commission of AUD$3.00 per side and spreads based on the market for as low as 0.0 pips. A leverage of up to 500:1 is also offered.

The customer support team is top quality. Traders with Go Markets accounts can access support easily, 24 hours, 5 days a week by phone or email. A comprehensive FAQs page is readily available on the website for any questions you might have outside of these hours, and the team is overall efficient and helpful.

Pros

  • Highly regulated
  • Super quick executions and innovative technology
  • Trading tools like Trading central and Autochrist
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Limited account types
  • Demo account expires after 30 days but a non-expiry demo account can also be accessed

Start with GO Markets here.

5. Best Social Copy Platform: eToro

eToro Homepage Screenshot
eToro offers the world’s leading copy/social trading platform.
  • Regulated by: ASIC in Australia
  • Highlight: Social/copy trading platform
  • Best suited to: Beginners
  • Minimum deposit: $200

First launched in Tel Aviv in 2006, eToro quickly became a social trading phenomenon. Its popular social trading features lets users imitate the actions of more successful traders on the platform. Today, the firm offers access to the biggest combined social network forex, CFD, stock, cryptocurrency and commodity traders in the world, totalling 11 million users, across 140 countries.

eToro lead the way for $0 commission and broker fees, regardless of the preferred asset traded. Instead eToro makes it money on foreign exchange spreads.

Taking that into consideration, eToro’s spreads are higher than competitors, starting at 3.0 pips for major currencies and going all the way up to 50.0 pips for exotic currency pairings. Professional traders can open a position with a leverage of 1:400.

Customer support is limited. Users can look for answers on the help section of its site, or alternatively, live chat is available.

eToro’s Trading Academy is useful for learning how to trade forex and CFDs where users can utilize an e-course, webinars, and a dedicated education centre.

Pros

  • Largest copy/social trading network
  • Helpful educational material

Cons

  • No MetaTrader 4
  • Shares cannot be bought directly with an Australian account
  • Limited support available

Join eToro here.

6. Best for VIP Clients: Saxo Bank

Saxo Bank Forex
Saxo Bank has a high minimum deposit but offers an advanced trading platform.
  • Regulated by: ASIC in Australia
  • Highlight: Advanced trading platform
  • Best suited to: VIP Clients
  • Minimum deposit: Between $600-10,00

Saxo Bank is a leading retail forex and multi-asset brokerage, established in 1992 and regulated across 15 jurisdictions including Australia, UK, and Denmark.

Traders who can meet the higher minimum deposit of USD 10,000 will benefit from Saxo’s advanced trading platforms, over 40,000 instruments, competitive pricing, in depth research, and reliable customer service.

Saxo also offers VIP accounts with a minimum deposit of 200,00 and 1,000,000 but if this is too high then IG might be a better option.

Spreads average on 0.6 pips for a EUR/USD pair but the bank does focus on spread-only pricing which has $0 commission fees and is available to all traders. That said, its volume based pricing does charge a default commission of 0.5 pips which could be worth it for active traders.

Saxo banks platforms SaxoTraderGO and SaxoTraderPRO are streamlined and a robust choice for any trader.

The in-house research provided by third-party sources creates a quality experience for traders prioritizing research. The customer support offered is up there with the best, with a response time averaging under 1 minute, and overall helpful responses.

Get started with Saxo Bank here.

A Guide to Legal Forex Trading in Australia

What is leverage and margin trading?

A key strategy for Forex traders to make and increase their earning is through leverage. A leverage offered by a broker is the amount they are willing to loan traders.

For example, some brokers offer a leverage of 50:1. This means that if you invest $1,000 the broker will give you $50,000 to invest in your position. To receive leverage, you will need to open a margin account with a Forex broker.

What currency pair is most likely to increase my returns?

There is no straightforward answer to this. The most popular currency pairs include the EUR, USD and GBP. Therefore, the pairs traded most frequently are the EUR/USD, AUD/USD, GBP/USD, and JPY/USD.

Is there a limit to the leverage offered with Forex Australia?

While Forex traders in the U.S are restricted to a leverage of 50:1, traders in Australia do not have a restricted leverage. However, the majority of Forex trading platforms offer a leverage of up to 500:1.

This can change depending on an individual’s account history and the positions you are looking to trade. This makes it harder for new traders to get a high leverage, but it’s safer this way.

Why is AUD a popular trading currency?

Like any currency,  the AUD’s volatility and coverage is what makes the AUD appealing to traders. The exporting of commodities and resources on the Australian commodity can also be easily found, which have a significant impact on the value of the currency, unlike more exotic currencies. When this is combined with price fluctuations of other countries it makes for a strong consideration for Forex traders.

Will I have to pay tax in Australian Forex trading?

Yes, you will. As of 2003, any money made from Forex trading will be taxed in the same way that taxed is paid on profits you make in any other investments or business. It’s important to note that when you sign up to a broker you are required to submit your banking and personal information. When you do this, your account activity will be recorded by the broker, making it risky to avoid filing your taxes.

Understanding how to access Australian markets is important for foreign investors as well, with some exceptions being made. Some Australian trading platforms will allow individual and institutional investors depending on category, “The three broad categories ASX uses to delineate market actors or participants with regard to ASX market products are either to designate them as a Market Participant, Principal Trader, or Market Maker.”

Only those designated as trading participants can have full access to Aussie markets.

How does Australia tax Forex earnings?

You can find all the information you need about this in the Income Tax Assessment Act, division 755 and subdivision 960 C & D. This Act states that all gains must be reported as assessable income and losses as deductibles. However, these are only recognized when realized.

It’s also worth pointing out that unconverted gains or losses are not differentiated between in this act and several exemptions apply that do not consider gains assessable nor losses deductible, for example gains incurred in an earning exempt income. Nonetheless, it is not wise to attempt to categorize these yourself if you do not have a good understanding of the provisions, and so a tax professional is always your best option.

Are bonuses offered in Forex trading?

Yes, bonuses are offered by some Forex brokers during the signup stage to encourage traders to join, but not all offer this and it shouldn’t be an important factor in your decision making. Bonuses offered tend to be trading credit, like 10% on top of your deposit, or points that can earn you perks with the broker. If a bonus initially seems enticing to you, make sure you fully understand the terms of this bonus.

Is there a minimum legal age to start trading Forex in Australia?

Surprisingly, there is no minimum age required before Australian citizens can begin trading. But hold on, that does not mean you can trade forex at 12, because to trade Forex you need to have a bank account. And you cannot open a bank account until you are 18, without the consent of a guardian.

Therefore, anyone under 18 will not be able to trade Forex. That said, you can open a practice/demo account which is offered by most brokers.

About Author

Tim Fries Tim Fries is the cofounder of The Tokenist. He has a B. Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Tim is also the co-founder of Protective Technologies Capital (protechcap.com).