Nutty

Best forex trading platforms (forex brokers) in the UK

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Fact checked.
Updated
May 19, 2024

In a nutshell

The best forex trading platforms in the UK are eToro and Plus500. They’re all super popular, easy to use and have low fees. Perfect for beginners all the way to experienced traders.

Keen to trade and invest in foreign currencies (forex)? It’s super popular, and big money can be made for those who are successful.

We’ve put together the best forex trading platforms (a place to buy and sell foreign currencies) to help you set yourself up for success – a great trading platform can make a real difference to your bottom line (how much you make).

Without further ado, here’s the best trading platforms:

Best forex trading platform for beginners

New to forex trading?

We recommend starting with eToro – it’s easy to use, has low fees, and you can copy the pros!

Visit eToro¹Visit eToro¹

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading.

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Best overall
eToro rated 5 stars

eToro

eToro is great. It's an easy to use, low cost, trading platform, with a huge range of investment options. It's crazy popular, with a huge community you can get involved in, learn from and copy their trades!

It’s also got the largest range of assets to trade, including stocks, ETFs, crypto, CFDs, currencies and commodities (such as gold).

Highly recommended for beginners to get started, and there's great features for more experienced traders too (such as margin trading).

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Platform experience: great
Device options:
website & phone app
Support:
24/5
Stocks & Shares ISA:
no
Pension (SIPP):
no
Range of investments:
huge
Stocks:
yes
ETFs: yes
Fractional shares:
yes
Crypto:
yes
CFDs:
yes
Forex: yes
Spread fees: yes (low)
Currency conversion fee:
0.50% on non-USD deposits

Pros

• Very easy to use
• Low trading fees (commission-free stocks)
• Awesome trading software
• Good range of investment options
• Offers CFD trading (alongside regular investing)
• Available on desktop, tablet and mobile
• 24/5 support
• Demo account

Cons

• No 3rd party integrations

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

New to forex trading?

We recommend starting with eToro – it’s easy to use, has low fees, and you can copy the pros!

Visit eToro¹Visit eToro¹

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading.

Best forex trading platforms overall

New to forex trading?

We recommend starting with eToro – it’s easy to use, has low fees, and you can copy the pros!

Visit eToro¹Visit eToro¹

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading.

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Best overall
Plus500 rated 5 stars

Plus500

Plus500 is one of the top trading platforms in the world. It’s well established, secure, and super popular – there's over 24 million users across the world.

The platform is user friendly, packed with trading tools, and some great, unique features such as +Insights – where you get information (insights) based on other traders on the platform, such as what investments are trending, and which are most bought and sold etc – it's all very cool, and super useful.

It’s low cost too (commission-free), and the customer service is excellent. It's the go-to trading platform for most traders.

Learn more

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Platform experience: awesome
Device options: website, tablet and phone app
Support: 24/7
Stocks & Shares ISA: no
Pension (SIPP): no
Range of investments: large
Stocks: yes
ETFs: yes
Fractional shares: no
Crypto: yes (not UK)
CFDs: yes
Forex: yes (CFDs)
Account fee: free
Cost per trade: free
Spread fees: yes (low)
Currency conversion fee: 0.70%

Pros

• Great trading experience
• Great mobile app
• Unique insights from all trades on the platform
• Low cost overall
• Good range of investment options
• Excellent customer service
• Free and unlimited demo account
• Trustworthy and reliable

Cons

• No 3rd party integrations
• Inactivity fee

Plus500UK Ltd authorised & regulated by the FCA (#509909). Note: 80% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Our criteria for determining the best forex trading platforms

As trading foreign exchange is very popular, there’s quite a few trading platforms out there to cater for all the different types of traders across the world. Which is a great thing. With more competition, it means lower fees, easier to use platforms and more currencies for us traders!

We’ve reviewed all the top trading platforms based on the following criteria:

  • Trading platform experience
  • Fees
  • Range of investment options (currency pairs)
  • Customer reviews
Best forex trading platforms

The best forex brokers above are all trading platforms we’re happy to recommend to our friends and family, and they’re big names in the forex market, used by millions of forex traders around the world. You can’t go wrong with any that you choose – we use them ourselves here at Nuts About Money.

If you’re still a bit unsure, it’s best to go with eToro¹, a great platform to get started on. It will guide you through how to start trading in general, and it’s super easy to use, with a great experience and learning resources. And you can copy the pro’s.

What is a forex trading platform?

If you’re not quite sure what a forex trading platform is, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. It’s a place to buy and sell foreign currencies (swap currencies for each other). Typically the platform runs on a website (or mobile phone app), where you can make trades simply and easily.

Trade foreign exchange (forex)

A trading platform can also be separate software that you download and run on your own computer. This connects to the forex broker (the official trading platform) to make trades (buy and sell). The most popular is MetaTrader 4. 

What’s a forex broker?

First, let’s explain what a broker is – it’s someone who buys and sells things on your behalf. They ‘broker’ a deal for you. And this can be in all areas of life, and across lots of different business industries, such as shipping, insurance, mortgages – you name it.

When it comes to finance and investing (including foreign exchange), only authorised companies can become brokers, they’re often called stock brokers (they broker stocks and shares, and other investments).

So to trade foreign exchange, you’ll need a broker to do it for you – and as technology has improved, brokers have created trading platforms where you can simply use their platform to make your own trades and it will automate the buying and selling – this makes it faster and more convenient.

You’ll have your own account on their platform showing your balances and information about the currencies you want to trade – plus some awesome trading tools to help you make the right decisions.

What’s the best forex broker for beginners?

If you’re just getting started with forex trading, the best one for you is eToro¹ – it’s simple to get started and use, they have everything you need to know, and you can learn from the pros. It’s low cost too.

You can also trade lots of different assets such as stocks and shares, ETFs (exchange-traded funds), and cryptocurrencies. All on the same platform. 

Plus, copy advanced traders, learn from others and start with a demo account if you like.

What’s a currency pair?

Trading the forex markets means trading currency pairs. That’s where you swap one currency for another, and together the two you are swapping is called a currency pair. For instance, if you want to swap Pounds (GBP) for Dollars (USD), that’s the currency pair, and it’s represented as GBP/USD.

The currency pair has a financial value too – and it’s how much you’ll need of the second currency (called the quote currency) to buy the first currency (called the base currency). This is the exchange rate. For instance, if GBP/USD is $1.2, then you’ll need to spend $1.2 to buy £1. Make sense?

Currency pair

There’s lots of currency pairs around the world, but only 7 major currency pairs (the most traded), which are:

Currency pair Countries
GBP/USD Great Britain / United States
EUR/USD Eurozone / United States
AUD/USD Australia / United States
NZD/USD New Zealand / United States
USD/JPY United States / Japan
USD/CHF United States / Switzerland
USD/CAD United States / Canada

Notice anything? They’re all US Dollars (USD). The Dollar is the most traded currency in the world. It acts as the base currency for a lot of industries and essentially the world in general.

Cross-currency pairs (crosses)

Aside from these 7 major currency pairs, there’s lots more currency pairs which don’t include the USD. And if the USD doesn’t feature, it’s called a ‘cross-currency pair’ (together called crosses).

The most popular by volume traded (how much gets called, also called liquidity) are the Euro (EUR), Japanese Yen (JPY) and British Pounds (GBP). And these can be traded with any other currency, for instance GBP/AUD – trading Pounds and Australian Dollars.

The most popular cross-currency pairs (with these 3 currencies, and not USD) are called ‘minors’.

Exotic currency pairs

Exotic currencies are currencies from emerging markets, which are developing countries, such as Singapore, India, Mexico, Thailand and Brazil (there’s lots more).

So, an exotic currency pair is when one of these currencies is traded alongside a major currency (e.g. USD).

These currency pairs are much less traded than the majors and minors, and therefore you may not find them all on forex trading platforms (forex brokers), and as there’s less liquidity (less people trading), the fees can be higher (we’ll cover fees below).

3rd party trading platforms

With the top forex brokers, they often have their own trading platforms, which you can access on their website and app, for instance, XTB¹ (another great forex trading platform), has a great platform called ‘xStation5’ (learn more with our XTB review).

xStation5 trading platform

You don’t need to use a  3rd party platform with either of these brokers, their trading platforms are great.

However, with some brokers, you can also use 3rd party trading platforms (completely separate software not built and owned by the broker). From the software, you can connect to a range of brokers (such as IG¹) to execute trades for you (make the trade).

For forex trading, the most popular software is MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5. They’re used by millions of traders around the world to help them make better trades. 

Essentially it’s great charting software (shows you the price and trading volume in a chart view), with real-time (instant) pricing and volume, plus lots more features, which is perfect for technical analysis (using price and volume to make decisions). 

And, you can also set up trading systems and algorithmic trading. Not to mention risk management tools too! If this is too confusing for you, don't worry. We're just geeking out a bit.

MetaTrader 4 (and 5) is available on desktop and mobile, for almost all devices.

What are CFDs?

When you trade foreign exchange, you can either trade the currency directly, or via a contract for differences (CFD).

With forex CFDs, you aren’t actually buying the currency, you are just trading the price of the currency instead. It’s a bit confusing, but bear with us…

You enter into a contract (an agreement) with the forex broker about the price direction of the currency, for instance going up or going down in future.

And when you close the trade (end the contract), you’ll settle the difference in price from the start of the contract and the current price. Making the difference in profit, or as a loss. And that’s why it’s called ‘Contract Fo Differences’ (CFD).

Trade both price directions

CFDs allow you to trade both price directions, so you can go ‘long’, if you predict the price will go up, or go ‘short’, predicting the price will go down. You wouldn’t be able to do this if you were just buying the asset directly.

CFDs

Leverage trading

CFDs also means you can trade with much more than your actual balance, called leverage trading, or margin trading. This is where the broker essentially lends you money, allowing you to make bigger trades with a smaller deposit. 

Still confused? Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you have £50, and you want to make a trade on the price of a currency or asset going up. Using 5:1 leverage (5x), you’ll be able to trade with £250 instead of £50. The £50 becomes your security (or collateral) for the trade.

Imagine the price increases by 10%, you’ve now made 10% of £250 (£25), rather than 10% of £50. Quite a big difference right? That’s actually a 50% return on your initial £50 investment.

Leverage trading - up

However, if the price went down by 10%, you would have made a loss of 10% on £250, which is £25. That’s half of your initial investment.

Leverage trading - down

So, only use leverage sensibly, you can lose a lot of money very quickly without the right strategy.

What’s spread betting?

Spread betting is similar to CFDs, however, when you place a bet (trade), you’ll be betting on the price at a specific date instead, called an expiration date. At which point the ‘bet’ will be settled. There’s not normally an expiration date with CFDs.

It’s completely tax-free as it’s counted as gambling. Check out IG¹ to learn more – they invented it.

Forex trading fees

With forex trading, it can be very low cost, depending on which trading platform you use, and which currency pairs you are trading.

There’s not normally any account fees with a forex broker, or any other fees except spread fees (explained below), and sometimes currency-conversion fees (to convert your home currency yourself initially).

Spread fees are a markup the forex broker puts on the currency pair (or asset) when you make a trade. It’s the difference between the price you’ll pay, and the price you'll sell it for at the same moment in time.

With stocks and shares and other investments, they’re normally expressed as ‘points’, which represents the smallest number on the left hand side of a decimal point (of the price of the asset). For instance, if an asset is £10.00 and the spread fee was 1 point, the fee would be £1.

However, in forex, ‘pips’ are often used. Pips are the smallest number on the right hand side of the decimal (the last decimal place). So, if the price of a currency was 1.1201, a pip would be 0.0001.

It can get pretty confusing, and it all depends on which currency pair you are trading, and its liquidity (amount or volume of trades). The more people there are trading it, the lower the spread fee, and it can fluctuate across the day.

The cost of the trade should be shown when you make the trade. All of the brokers we recommend above have some of the lowest fees out there.

Is trading forex in the UK legal?

Yes, it’s perfectly legal to trade foreign exchange (FX) in the UK, and it’s very popular, as you can make a lot of money. But bear in mind, most retail traders (non-professionals) end up losing money when not following a solid trading strategy.

Is it safe to trade forex?

It’s safe to trade foreign exchange, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lose money if your trade doesn’t work out.

All UK forex brokers are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means they’ve been reviewed and approved to handle your money and make trades for you.

All UK forex brokers are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

In addition, your money is almost always protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). But, not always – it’s best to double check with the forex broker you want to use and which trading activity you are doing. 

This means your money is protected up to £85,000 if something happens to the forex broker, such as going out of business (very unlikely) – and normally only applies to your deposits, rather than your profits.

Your money is almost always protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)

If you are registered as a professional client, you do not get this protection, it’s for ‘retail’ investor accounts only.

Note: almost all brokers in the UK have customers' money stored with a separate large bank, which can only be returned to the customer.

All the forex brokers we recommend above have safeguards in place to protect your money, are highly trusted, and are all authorised by the FCA, and FSCS protected for trading services.

Can you invest within a Stocks & Shares ISA or pension?

No, unfortunately you cannot trade forex within a Stocks and Shares ISA or a pension (self-invested personal pension). These are types of tax-free investment accounts suited for long term investing (not trading). This means you won’t pay any Capital Gains Tax, Income Tax or Dividend Tax.

Stocks & Shares ISA

You'll also buy the assets, like Stocks and Shares, instead of trading the price (normally via forex CFDs). If you’re keen to save within either a pension or investment ISA, check out the best investment platforms for our top picks.

Let’s recap

So, there we have it. The best forex platforms suited for beginners, to advanced traders. 

Forex trading can be a huge mix of emotions, from euphoria to dismay – be prepared! 

Having said that, there's lots of money to be made, and it can be a lot of fun too, but you’ll need to learn your stuff, and be prepared to make mistakes along the way. Check out the education resources on the trading platforms to learn more – especially with eToro¹. And please use a sensible trading strategy and system, especially if you’re using leverage!

All the best trading – you can do it!

New to forex trading?

We recommend starting with eToro – it’s easy to use, has low fees, and you can copy the pros!

Visit eToro¹Visit eToro¹

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading.

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This article was written, reviewed and fact checked by the expert team at Nuts About Money. You’re in safe hands. Learn more.

New to forex trading?

We recommend starting with eToro – it’s easy to use, has low fees, and you can copy the pros!

Visit eToro¹Visit eToro¹

76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading.

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