Futures trading is complicated business, even for experienced investors, and so is shopping for a brokerage firm to use for futures and commodities trading. All of that, and you still want low costs and high-quality customer support. These are the features and services we focused on in our rankings, concentrating on the world of online discount brokers that serve self-directed traders not pros seeking to quickly execute their own futures strategies.
One note before we dive into the top-ranked brokers for trading futures: But futures trading is even riskier: You can do a lot of research, feel confident in your prediction and still lose a lot of money very quickly.
TradeStation and Generic Trade do a good job of serving two different types of futures traders. In the sections below, we highlight the standout firms in various categories. Each excels in different ways: TradeStation is a strong choice for seasoned tech-savvy futures traders. That said, traders pay more to access such high-caliber offerings.
Futures trading can become costly quickly. Investors can be subject to platform fees, data-feed fees, minimum-activity fees and fees to access premium reports and other research.
When companies cut costs for one service they often make up the difference elsewhere, typically by charging platform and data fees. Both brokers have tiered commission schedules based on monthly volume. Lightspeed customers also have free access to its Livevol X and WebTrader platforms where Level 1 quotes are free.
These brokers offer the highest level of real-time data and quotes, charting and screening tools, technical indicators and a wealth of free research. The only brokers that qualified for our best futures trading platform category were those offering advanced research, analytics, charting and screening tools, lots of technical indicators and free access to studies, a variety of streaming news and research as well as automated futures trades.
Four brokers met all the criteria: But the last two stand apart. Access comes at a price, however: The platform is known for its deep bench of free technical studies and research, and reports including ones offering insights from prominent investors in the futures trading industry and access to live futures pit audio. Both firms offer one-click order entry, ample technical indicators plus at TradeStation and plus at thinkorswim and access to trading specialists when you most likely will need to get in touch.
Traders who want the most leverage will appreciate the low day-trade margins at these brokers. Futures contracts are highly leveraged: That sounds like a good thing, and it is. But it also adds to the risk: Leverage can lead to bigger gains and bigger losses, and if your account dips below the maintenance-margin requirement, your broker may issue a margin call that requires you to add funds immediately. That means you need money available above and beyond any positions you hold.
But futures contracts are often bought and sold within the same day, and some brokers offer a reduced margin requirement for day trades; generally a percentage of the initial margin requirement.
These brokers offer phone support around the clock when futures markets are open, in addition to online educational resources. But even experienced traders need assistance: It can take time to adjust to a new trading platform, and many of the best ones are so advanced that even the most-active traders could use a road map.
Look for hour service from Sunday afternoon through Friday evening. Best Futures and Commodities Brokers Best for. See our TradeStation review. See our Generic Trade review. See our TD Ameritrade review. See our Charles Schwab review. Set on a case-by-case basis Futures products: Best brokers for trading futures and commodities: Volume discounts for frequent traders; free access to select platforms and data.
See the Best Online Trading Platforms. See the Best Brokers for Beginners. We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines , and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet's official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Volume discounts for frequent traders; pro-level platform. Volume discounts for frequent traders; no platform fees.More...