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Comparing Oanda vs FXCM is a little (okay a lot) like comparing apples to oranges.
Reason being, as of late 2017, FXCM made headlines around the world as one of the few online forex brokers who got themselves AND their CEO at the time banned by the CFTC from operating in United States markets.
The CFTC, by the way, is the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission – aka the equivalent of the SEC for forex.
Oh, and guess where FXCM was headquartered at the time? New York, NY.
They are now based out of London, UK (and thankfully well on the road to recovering their reputation as an online broker who can once again be trusted).
Oanda, on the other hand, has had a long track record of squeaky clean success operating in the United States and globally. The platform has won all kinds of “best of” awards, with its most recent being just in the last year.
Oanda is also headquartered in New York, NY and also maintains offices in Asia and Europe.
Of course, as you might expect, FXCM got themselves a new CEO stat after the big 2017 shakedown. Then their parent company went bankrupt shortly after the ruling. Then FXCM got bought by a very reputable company.
Today, the “clean up FXCM’s reputation” project is going as well as can be expected, considering they are still not able to accept United States traders.
Having said that, it is also widely known that the United States is the most restrictive forex marketplace on the planet. And in truth, the $7 million penalty the CFTC ordered FXCM to pay is kind of like pocket change in a marketplace that turns over an estimated $5.1 trillion dailiy.
So how serious is being banned in the United States when many forex traders are already irked by what is often viewed as the U.S.A.’s oppressively, even punitively restrictive forex trading rules? Is it safe to trust FXCM now and let seriously scandalous bygones be bygones?
We will let you be the judge of that.
No matter what you decide, learning about these two competitors is guaranteed to be a colorful and rambunctious ride!
Average spread EUR/USD standard
All-in cost EUR/USD - active
Minimum initial deposit
Total currency pairs
Social / copy trading?
Intriguingly, both FXCM and Oanda were founded in the 90’s – FXCM opened its doors in 1999 and Oanda did the same back in 1995.
What this means is that both forex brokers have seen competitors come and go…and come and go…and come and go. It says something to achieve this kind of multi-decade longevity in a field as tumultuous and risky as the forex marketplace.
In other words, both brokers have what equestrians like to call “staying power.” After this many years in the biz, it is safe to say they are each fundamentally built to last.
FXCM’s rocky period began in 2009 and lasted until 2014. It took another three years for the CFTC to gather evidence, build a case and effect their ruling.
By 2018, FXCM was under new ownership with a new global CEO, longtime company executive Brendan Callan. Charging forward, FXCM proceeded to add cryptocurrency baskets for retail traders along with a host of new targeted offerings for its B2B and data division clients.
Smaller ticket retail clients can now take advantage of mini accounts to dip a toe (or few) into the forex marketplace. And all clients can now add CFD instruments to their trade portfolios.
For traders who want to use their own or another outside trading platform, FXCM now offers this extra perk as well. And for big ticket forex traders, FXCM makes its virtual private server (VPS) network available gratis.
Oanda made the cover of Time magazine just one year after launching its first big product. The reason? The company released up-to-date online information about exchange rates…absolutely free.
They have pretty much remained an industry darling ever since.
Every time technology took another step forward, Oanda was first in line to update, adapt and make use of it.
One year after FXCM began its long descent into scandal, Oanda released what is still a seminal manifesto in the forex marketplace, the Forex Trader’s Bill of Rights. The goal of this manifesto? To make forex trading more fair, transparent, efficient, clear.
Lots of similar “firsts” dot Oanda’s historical landscape.
In 2018, Oanda was acquired by CVC Capital Partners, a private equity firm with $70+ billion in assets under its management umbrella. This further solidified Oanda’s position as a marketplace leader for the foreseeable future.
And in 2019, Oanda won Investopedia’s “Best Online Brokers” award in the forex division.
After all that has seemingly divided them over the last decade or so, at this point, both FXCM and Oanda find themselves in similarly stable, growth-focused and ultimately positive positions.
Both are now wholly owned by two enormous, stable and eminently reputable parent companies: FXCM by the global investment banking group Leucadia and Oanda by the elephantine private equity company CVC Capital Partners.
Both are innovating at a fast and furious rate and earning high marks in their respective areas of strength, as the next section here will highlight.
Ask any gathering of retail forex traders what they most prize in an online broker platform and you will soon discover no two answers are exactly alike.
Each trader comes to the forex marketplace with their own individual needs, preferences and goals.
But overall, certain features continually make their way to the top again and again.
So now let’s take a much closer look at how Oanda and FXCM stack up when they go head to head in each of these key areas. (If you are in a hurry to choose and just want the highlights, you can see our pick in each area at the start of each section.)
Oanda is the clear front-runner when it comes to forex spreads, given the platform offers literally more than double the forex pairs available through FXCM. Oanda also offers more than a dozen commodities while FXCM offers – wait for it – zero commodities options.
But FXCM makes a strong comeback in terms of overall trading functionality. FXCM offers a wider range of tradable instruments, including each of the following:
Compare this list with Oanda’s more limited offerings:
However, Oanda does offer a wider variety of options than FXCM in each of their categories.
Winner: Oanda (for forex spreads) and FXCM (for trading functionality)
This is a tough one. Oanda wins big points for the platform’s transparent pricing and efforts to minimize risk by offering micro lots and flexible pricing models (broker-spread versus raw-spread+commission).
Then again, FXCM offers mini trading accounts to help lower budget forex traders get a toe in the ring and zero termination fees.
But then again, Oanda requires an initial minimum of just $50 to fund a live trading account, while FXCM requires a $300 minimum to fund the same.
Both FXCM and Oanda offer discount options for active or VIP traders.
And here is where FXCM pulls ahead of Oanda for real. Oanda’s average spread is 1.4 versus FXCM’s average spread is 1.3. Oanda’s all-in-cost is also 1.4 versus FXCM’s all-in-cost is 0.7.
BAM. And we have a winner.
FXCM easily beats out Oanda in both the variety and the quality of their trading platforms for web (online) and desktop.
Unfortunately, recent FXCM users give both the iOS/Apple and Android apps poor reviews over the last few months. Oanda’s Android app gets lukewarm reviews.
But Oanda’s iOS/Apple app delivers consistent rave reviews which is noteworthy, since developing a truly functional mobile trading platform is one of the bigger ongoing challenges many forex brokers face today.
So here, the vote is evenly fairly split between the two.
As we mentioned here earlier, not only does FXCM provide a variety of trading platforms but the broker also allows access to their API if you want to customize their own in-house platform, Trading Station, to your preferences and needs.
Trading Station is available for use on online (web), desktop and mobile. The platform is also built to use HTLM5, which is Macintosh-friendly.
FXCM also integrates with a number of third-party trading platforms as follows:
FXCM offers mobile apps for both iOS/Apple and Google/Android. Both are available for tablet and smart phone.
Unfortunately, FXCM gets some points deducted for the recent performance of their apps. From the most recent user reviews for each app, it appears the company is in the midst of a number of app updates. Users report frequent crashes and missing or slow-to-load features.
Want to see more apps? Check our guide to best stock trading apps.
Oanda offers two options for a trading platform interface: fxTrade, which is their proprietary in-house platform, and MetaTrader4 (MT4).
There is also a plugin traders can use to integrate with their own MT4 platform as desired.
Oanda’s mobile app for iOS/Apple is a hit with traders as the recent reviews will attest. Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for the Android version of the app. Recent reviews cite frequent crashes and auto-logouts that interfere with their trades.
Winner: FXCM (web/desktop) and Oanda (app/mobile)
Oanda narrowly edges out FXCM in this category based on the number of Tier-1 (most trusted) operating licenses the broker has obtained.
Plus, Oanda has never been banned from any operating area for deceptive trading practices, which counts for a lot no matter how you slice it.
FXCM currently operates in these major markets worldwide:
FXCM is regulated by these four entities: FCA, ASIC, FCSA, IIROC.
FCA is the Financial Conduct Authority (UK). ASIC is the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. FSCA is the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (South Africa). IIROC is the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.
Oanda currently operates in these major markets worldwide:
Oanda is regulated by no less than seven entities: NFA, CFTC, FCA, ASIC, IIROC, J-FSA and MAS.
Two of the seven, the NFA (National Futures Association) and the CFTC (Commodities and Futures Trading Commission), are the United States regulatory bodies.
IIROC is the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. J-FSA is the Japanese Financial Services Authority. MAS is the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
If you can overlook the somewhat scattershot organization of Oanda’s educational tools, overall you will find a comprehensive suite of resources from which to do your own research.
Experienced traders in particular are well-served by Oanda’s research and resource offerings.
The one potential downside is that some of the research resources are only available for an extra fee, such as the Dow Jones Select.
Highlights include real-time streaming of news headlines from a variety of respected outlets, access to ongoing live and recorded webinars, a Foundations of Forex free course and staged training materials to help beginning traders advance in knowledge and confidence.
The one notable downside here is the lack of social trading tools. Otherwise, Oanda’s scalable learning resources are designed with the active, intermediate to advanced trader in mind.
Although less comprehensive than Oanda’s overall, FXCM also makes a decent showing by offering live and recorded webinars, trading guides, an economic calendar, forex charts and indices and a free 14-day trial of their premium market signals product, Trading Signals.
Beginning traders may find FXCM’s learning portal less overwhelming to organize and make use of.
Customer service and support is a particularly big deal in the fast-moving, high-risk field of forex trading. A minute can equal an eternity in a marketplace that deals in the trillions on a daily basis.
FXCM comes out ahead with under a minute wait time. Overall, customer surveys indicate FXCM is more responsive to trader needs and more professional in how inquiries are handled.
Oanda, on the other hand, seems to have developed somewhat of a reputation for sub-par customer support. Surveys show the platform rates just above average across the board in this area.
FXCM makes two phone numbers available to all active traders: a forex trading desk phone number and a client support staff phone number, along with detailed instructions on when to use which number. There is also a special number clients can call to resolve trade execution errors.
The forex trading desk phone support is available from Sunday at 5pm ET and Friday at 4:55pm ET. The client support staff phone line is open 24 hours a day five days a week. And there are local toll-free phone numbers listed for all the countries where FXCM has a local office.
Live chat is accessible 24 hours per day five days per week. Email is also available for account queries.
Oanda offers a live chat virtual assistant that is available 24 hours a day five days a week. The platform also offers a frequently asked questions portal and phone numbers for its regional offices.
The posted support hours for phone and live chat are Sunday at 1pm to Friday at 6pm, which is a wider support window than what FXCM offers.
However, having said that, Oanda’s customer service gets consistently fair to poor ratings across a wide range of platform reviews. Long hold times, slow responsiveness to urgent queries and difficulty navigating the website to find the correct support contacts are some of the top complaints.
Before we close out this comparison, there is one additional clear difference between FXCM and Oanda that is well worth mentioning. In fact, it directly relates to the 2017 incident that caused such harm to FXCM’s reputation.
Oanda is a market maker while FXCM is a STP (straight through processing) broker.
This means that the basic ways that each broker makes money will always differ.
As well, both market makers and stp brokers provide a valuable service to the greater forex and trading marketplace. But they fulfill very different roles and thus their inherent business structure will reflect each company’s unique role and purpose.
Once again, this makes it harder to do a true side by side comparison of Oanda vs FXCM.
As a market maker or dealing desk broker, Oanda’s primary role in the greater marketplace is to ensure ongoing liquidity. As such, Oanda does not charge commissions. Instead, Oanda is going to make money based on the forex spread (difference between bid and ask price).
In contrast, as a stp (straight through processing) forex broker, FXCM’s primary role is to connect buyers and sellers who wish to partake in that liquidity through trading available assets. For this reason, FXCM is primarily going to make money on commissions and fees added to each trade order you place.
Some forex traders prefer to trade through market makers, while others prefer to trade through intermediary brokers. Personal preference aside, the important takeaway here is that there is no one “right” or “wrong” choice of where to trade forex.
Rather, it is simply important to understand the different pricing structure that comes along with each business model so you can pick the one that makes the most sense for your own forex trading needs and goals.
It is a smart move to take the time to understand how different forex platforms and brokers operate, how they make their money and where you, the trader, fit into the bigger picture of the worldwide forex marketplace.
By taking this extra step to do your research and due diligence, you will be in a much better position to select a broker that is affordable, intuitive and optimized for your trading needs and goals.