Forex trading is the simultaneous buying of one currency and the selling of another. Currencies are traded through a broker or dealer, and are traded in pairs; for example the Euro dollar and the US dollar (EUR/USD) or the British pound and the Japanese Yen (GBP/JPY). See Chart below for currency distribution in the Forex market. You will see here that the USD is traded 85% of the time.
There are many benefits and advantages to trading Forex. Here are just a few reasons why so many people are choosing this market:
No commissions. No clearing fees, no exchange fees, no government fees, no brokerage fees. Brokers are compensated for their services through something called the bid-ask spread.
No middlemen. Spot currency trading eliminates the middlemen, and allows you to trade directly with the market responsible for the pricing on a particular currency pair.
No fixed lot size. In the futures markets, lot or contract sizes are determined by the exchanges. A standard-size contract for silver futures is 5000 ounces. In spot Forex, you determine your own lot size. This allows traders to participate with accounts as small as $250 (although we explain later why a $250 account is a bad idea).
Low transaction costs. The retail transaction cost (the bid/ask spread) is typically less than 0.1 percent under normal market conditions. At larger dealers, the spread could be as low as .07 percent. Of course this depends on your leverage and all will be explained later.
A 24-hour market. There is no waiting for the opening bell – from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon EST, the Forex market never sleeps. This is awesome for those who want to trade on a part-time basis, because you can choose when you want to trade – morning, noon or night.
No one can corner the market. The foreign exchange market is so huge and has so many participants that no single entity (not even a central bank) can control the market price for an extended period of time.
Leverage. In Forex trading, a small margin deposit can control a much larger total contract value. Leverage gives the trader the ability to make nice profits, and at the same time keep risk capital to a minimum. For example, Forex brokers offer 200 to 1 leverage, which means that a $50 dollar margin deposit would enable a trader to buy or sell $10,000 worth of currencies. Similarly, with $500 dollars, one could trade with $100,000 dollars and so on. But leverage is a double-edged sword. Without proper risk management, this high degree of leverage can lead to large losses as well as gains.
High Liquidity. Because the Forex Market is so enormous, it is also extremely liquid. This means that under normal market conditions, with a click of a mouse you can instantaneously buy and sell at will. You are never “stuck” in a trade. You can even set your online trading platform to automatically close your position at your desired profit level (a limit order), and/or close a trade if a trade is going against you (a stop loss order).
Free “Demo” Accounts, News, Charts, and Analysis. Most online Forex brokers offer ‘demo’ accounts to practice trading, along with breaking Forex news and charting services. All free! These are very valuable resources for “poor” and SMART traders who would like to hone their trading skills with ‘play’ money before opening a live trading account and risking real money.
“Mini” and “Micro” Trading. You would think that getting started as a currency trader would cost a ton of money. The fact is, compared to trading stocks, options or futures, it doesn’t. Online Forex brokers offer “mini” and “micro” trading accounts, some with a minimum account deposit of $300 or less. Now we’re not saying you should open an account with the bare minimum but it does makes Forex much more accessible to the average (poorer) individual who doesn’t have a lot of start-up trading capital.
RISK WARNING: Trading foreign exchange on margin carries a high level of risk, and may not be suitable for all investors. The high degree of leverage can work against you as well as for you. Before deciding to trade foreign exchange you should carefully consider your monetary objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite. The possibility exists that you could sustain a loss of some or all of your deposited funds and therefore you should not speculate with capital that you cannot afford to lose. You should be aware of all the risks associated with foreign exchange trading, and seek advice from an independent advisor if you have any doubts. Past returns are not indicative of future results.