Understanding Forex Commission Structures

Unlike most other exchange-driven markets, forex has an enticing feature that brokers take full advantage of in their continual bid to lure in investors: no exchange fees, regulatory fees, data fees, or commissions. To many first-time traders, this gives it a major advantage over other markets, but accepting such a bargain doesn’t always mean that you get the best deal available.

Read on to discover how to choose the commission structure that will work best for you…

Three Forms of Commission

Forex brokers offer three different forms of commission to their traders: fixed spread, variable spread, and commission based on a percentage of the spread. These options each have their advantages and disadvantages, which means that there’s no simple answer when it comes to choosing which of them will work best for you.

However, before you can make an informed decision, you need to understand what spread is. Spread is the difference between the price the market maker will pay you for buying the currency (the bid price) and the price at which they’re prepared to sell it to you (the ask price). It is calculated in pips. If your broker quotes you EURUSD – 1.5550 – 1.5552, the spread would be two pips, for example.

To work out how this translates into real money, it can be useful to use the trading calculators that some brokers provide.

Fixed Spreads

If you choose a broker offering a fixed spread, then the difference between the bid and ask price, and thus the spread, in the above example would always be two pips. This would not be affected by market movement, either positively or negatively. At first glance, this can seem like the best choice, as it provides you with certainty. For some people, it will be, but for others, it is worth considering the other options available to you.

Variable Spreads

For those who are not averse to risk, variable spreads can prove a wiser choice. These spreads will change in accordance with market movements. On the one hand, this could mean that they rise to as much as five pips; on the other, it can see spreads drop to as little as 1.5 pips.

Commission

There are also brokers who will earn money through charging a small amount of commission. The benefit of this type of broker is that they often have a good relationship with a large market maker who can pass tight spreads onto you.
Each type of commission will have a different effect on your trading. Of course, part of this will be influenced by your individual broker, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth considering their individual merits and pitfalls. Which one do you think would work best for you?