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10 Best Forex Brokers in South Africa 2019

By Jeffrey Cammack Published: September 8th, 2018 Updated: June 13th, 2019

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There are many Forex brokers available to traders, and comparing them to find the best is a common practice for beginners. There are no restrictions about which brokers can take clients from South Africa, so the choice is up to the individual trader.

While traders will find brokers that are regulated by the FSCA, many reputable international brokerages offer similar services that are regulated in other jurisdictions. Many of the big name brokers are based overseas and have multiple international regulations accompanying widespread industry recognition.

These are the best brokers in South Africa for you to choose from. Each of them has an extensive education section, leading trading conditions, comprehensive platform support, and demo accounts for beginners.

Top 10 Forex Brokers in South Africa

FXTM

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FXTM is the top international FSCA-regulated ECN/STP broker and requires low minimum deposits to open accounts.  In 2018, FXTM won the award for Best Forex Education Provider Africa from the International Business Magazine and Best Trading Conditions from World Finance.

Standard accounts - MT4 platform support, a minimum deposit of 10 USD and spreads from 1.3 pips on FX trades.
ECN accounts - MT4 & MT5 platform support, a minimum deposit of 200 USD, and spreads from 0 pips on FX trades.

FXTM won the award for Most Innovative Broker, 2017 for their focus on growing the product offering to include cutting-edge pivot point technical analysis tools, copy trading functionality on ECN accounts, and expanded payment methods.

For the beginner trader, FXTM has short introductory articles, and additional videos to introduce traders to the Forex trading.  For those who wish to keep learning, there are more advanced articles published daily, as well as webinars that are free for anyone in learning from professionals.

Read FXTM Review

AvaTrade

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For their streamlined onboarding and trading experience, AvaTrade has earned themselves the FX Empire Best Trading Experience 2018 award, while holding FX Empire Best Broker of the Year honour continually from 2011 to 2017.

Regulated first by the Central Bank of Ireland in 2009, they acquired ASIC regulation from Australia in 2011 and South African regulation from the FSCA in 2015. With over 200,000 active traders around the globe, on both the MetaTrader 4 and AvaGo platforms, and with the award for Best Trade Execution by the African Finance Expo in 2016, AvaTrade is a good trading choice for South African traders. Continue reading

Read AvaTrade Review

FXCM South Africa

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FXCM focuses on traders who want to learn how to start trading the financial markets. New traders can take advantage of the trading tools and forex education that FXCM offers. At the same time, FXCM offers innovative trading tools, education and platforms for experienced traders with the aim of offering them the ultimate trading experience. All traders can benefit from FXCM’s enhanced execution model in popular currency pairs and CFDs.

Supporting most of the major trading platforms like MT4, FXCM also offers traders the chance to use its award-winning Trading Station platform or a variety of speciality platforms for more advanced users like NinjaTrader.

Compared to other FSCA regulated international brokers, FXCM ZA offers more localised services to South African clients in addition to core FXCM products and services. The localisation priority is education, and FXCM has launched more and more seminars in different cities around South Africa. Continue reading

Read FXCM South Africa Review

XM

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Rapid growth since 2009 has landed XM upwards of 1.5 million clients from 196 countries. XM is considered to be the broker with the most extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the global markets with an operational philosophy that is by ensuring client satisfaction; they earn client loyalty through 24/5 personal customer service, varied account types and competitive trading conditions.

From their start, XM set out to create an MT4 setup with high-speed market execution and a no re-quotes policy. While that policy still exists today, XM has continued to improve trading conditions further by offering accounts with no hidden commissions on trades, tight spreads as low as 0 pips on all major currency pairs, and fractional pip pricing.

XM's pioneering trading infrastructure earned XM the Best Forex Execution Broker by Shares Magazine’s at the UK Forex Awards 2017, the Best FX Broker Europe at the World Finance Forex Awards 2018, and Best Trading Support for 2017 Award from the Capital Finance International Magazine. Continue reading.

Read XM Review

HotForex

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HotForex, the winner of the Best New Forex Broker South Africa 2016 at the Global Banking & Finance Review Awards, is a leading South African regulated STP broker who prides themselves on being a stable, fair, secure and transparent.

Clients enjoy the MetaTrader 4 & 5 platform, a selection of account types with account currency in either USD or ZAR, and an ultra-low minimum deposit.  Main account options are:

  • Micro: Minimum Deposit: $5/R70 - Spreads from 1 pip, 1000:1 leverage and bonus offers
  • Premium: Minimum Deposit: $100/R1400 - Spreads from 1 pip, bonus offers, and more profitable trading.
  • ZERO: Minimum Deposit: $200/R2800 - The pro account with spreads from 0 pips and commission charged.

HotForex has award-winning customer service with South African toll-free phone numbers, a great course for beginner traders, and a section devoted to helping traders find trading opportunities.  This quality of education is comparatively unique compared brokers we list.

Read HotForex Review

Khwezi Trade

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Khwezi Trade is a South African FSCA regulated broker headquartered in Cape Town. As is common with other STP brokers, Khwezi Trade uses MetaTrader 4 as their single choice of platform, as it provides fast and reliable market execution.

Khwezi Trade offers four account types depending on minimum deposit but all accounts come with a personal account manager.  Leverage is less than is offered by other international brokerages, and currency pairs are more limited, but the clear appeal with Khwezi Trade is their competitive trading conditions that rival other local players.

For beginner traders with higher deposits above R15,000, Khwezi Trade awards clients five trading sessions led by a professional trader as well as more profitable trading conditions. For deposits over R50,000 unlimited training is provided.

For a South African trader looking for a genuinely local broker, Khwezi Trade has local regulation, local offices, local staff and uses local banks.

Read Khwezi Trade Review

FxPro

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With over 870,000 client accounts, FxPro is one of the biggest international brokers regulated in South Africa. Major awards shows and institutions are continually showering FxPro with honours including top accolades like Best Broker 2018 and Best Forex Trading Experience 2018, which is the pinnacle of success.

The account options at FxPro are arranged by platform, which is not the case at most other brokers. Accounts are available with either MT4, MT5 and cTrader, where all accounts have a demo option, and the same minimum deposit of 100 USD and a spread as low as 0.6 pips.

The education section is smaller than that of other leading brokers. Despite the lack of structure and depth, the material that is offered is updated and honest and hosted webinars are free to join a couple of times a week.

FxPro is the broker choice for traders who need a reputable international broker while still being FSCA regulated, supporting a broad platform choice and a reasonable minimum deposit.

Read FxPro Review

easyMarkets

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Founded in 2001, easyMarkets (then easyForex) was one of the first online brokers. Regulated by ASIC since 2003 and CySEC since 2007, easyMarkets states their values as simple, honest and transparent which are reflected in their industry recognition - recently being awarded the Best Trading Platform and Most Transparent Broker awards in 2017 from FX Empire and Forex-Awards, respectively.

easyMarkets has always innovated, introducing tools like negative balance protection and guaranteed stop loss back in 2001 – these tools are now industry standards. Their innovation has continued with the unique Freeze Rate and dealCancellation tools, both intended to support new traders and keep trading transparent and simple. In 2018, easyMarkets won the Most Innovative Broker 2018 at the World Finance Markets Awards, a further sign that they are respected as innovators among their peers.

Read easyMarkets Review

XTB

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Well-regulated, safe and award-winning, XTB is a leader in the Forex trading space. Joining other leading ECN/STP brokers with reasonable trading conditions, excellent educational and analysis material XTB has developed an award-winning proprietary trading platform that goes beyond MT4 to offer clients easy-to-use functionality along with fast execution speeds.

Read XTB Review

Plus500

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Founded in 2008, and with over 300,000 active customers, Plus500 is a leading player in the CFD trading industry mainly due to the simplicity of their trading platform, and the appealing trading conditions.

Read Plus500 Review

How To Compare Forex Brokers

Since starting TradeForexSA in 2010, we have signed up and traded with more than 100+ brokers and have turned away twice that many.

To identify the best, we have used the following criteria.

  • Regulation is trust in the investment business.  There are major regulators and minor regulators, and we took all of these into account.
  • Trading conditions are the details of the product they offer the trader. In each instance, we looked at the detailed product on offer.
  • Platforms are the software offered to traders.  We tested each of them.
tradeforesa-transparent-comparison

Our rankings are calculated based on regulation, platform choice, and trading conditions for the clients.  Our comprehensive research in each of these areas is laid out here on our Google Spreadsheet.

Regulation

What is a regulated broker?

A regulated broker operates within the boundaries set by governmental regulatory bodies like the FCA, FSCA, CySEC & ASIC. These regulatory agencies ensure they maintain a fair-trading environment, and anti-money laundering processes, all the while operating strict auditing oversight and processes to protect client funds. We believe that one that is regulated by more than one major regulator is understood to have more trust and integrity.

Who are the major regulators?

These are the International regulators that are respected globally for their commitment and for creating strong rules and processes and enforcing them strong auditing policies. The South African national regulator is called the FSCA, and while it is not one of the major international regulators, it is the most credible regulator on the African continent. The major regulators are:

United Kingdom – Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Continental Europe – Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC).
Australia – Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)

Types of Forex Brokers

Forex brokers fall into two main categories – Dealing desks (DD) and Non-dealing desks (NDDs). These categories are differentiated by how they execute trades, however, while there is only one type of DD broker, NDD brokers are split up subcategories called STP and ECN or a combination of the two.

Pure STP Brokers

In the NDD category, a Pure STP (or Straight Through Processing) broker, will never interfere with your trade, and the only source of liquidity comes directly from the market. STP execution will mean that if there is no liquidity in the market, a trade will have slippage, and the trader will get a requote. Pure STPs are entirely free of conflict of interest, but traders should expect continuous requotes, and slower trade execution speeds.  The top Pure STPs are:

Broker Min. Deposit Min. Spread
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ECN Brokers

True ECN (Electronic Communications Network) send your orders directly through to the liquidity providers with who they are partnered. These providers can be other intermediaries or dealing desks, or the major banks. In a True ECN environment, traders have direct access to the Interbank market prices and have an accurate picture of the entire trading environment.

STP/ECN Brokers

An STP/ECN broker is both an Electronic Communications Network and a Straight Through Processor. Depending on the trader profile, or the trade itself, they will decide which of the execution methods is in the best interest of the customer.

If there is liquidity in the market for a particular trade, then STP execution could be used. But if it is better for liquidity to be taken immediately from within the network, then ECN will be used. This combination of execution types is intended to be able to help traders get liquidity and to execute trades faster without the brokerage becoming the market.  The top ECN/STPs are:

Broker Min. Deposit Min. Spread
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Market Makers

Market Makers, also called Dealing Desks, operate in a completely different way. Instead of executing the trade on the currency market, a Market Maker will provide their client’s trades liquidity by immediately taking the counter-party of the trade and becoming the market. The top Market Makers are:

Broker Min. Deposit Min. Spread
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Image Title $5 0.1 Visit
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While this means that there will always be liquidity for any trade, taking the counter-party implies that the broker is continually trading against its client base and that it profits directly from the client’s losing trades.  This opens up a direct conflict of interest.

Reputation

Can you trust a Forex broker?

Four things should be considered when determining if a broker may be trusted – regulation, trade execution method, client fund management, and industry recognition of their achievements.

The more major regulators their group is regulated by, the more oversight the group has. The number of regulators overseeing their processes gives a strong indication of the level of trust the government regulatory agencies have in them.

It is more of a concern if a market maker is regulated by fewer major regulators.  Therefore, a heavily regulated market maker is considered more reputable than one with lesser regulation.  It is noteworthy that some market makers have strong reputations and lots of client resources.

The execution method of clients trades is another component because if there is a financial incentive to have you lose your trades, this could be seen as making the broker less trustworthy.

Most regulators require strict processes to keep client funds safe. This process includes placing client funds in segregated accounts at major banks in the local jurisdiction. Segregated bank accounts that are audited every evening means that client funds are protected against any bankruptcy.

Industry awards are given to brokers from journalists, financial watchdog organisations and their peers. While it can be argued that these award ceremonies are biased, they remain the best gauge industry recognition.

Do brokers trade against you?

If the broker is a Market Maker, then they are the market and will be trading against you by taking the other side of your trade in order to create the liquidity you need.  Since a vast majority of trades by retail traders are lost, a market maker is making money in most client trades.

STPs do not have any conflict of interest and do not trade against you, but an ECN may play counterparty to the trade.

How do brokers make money?

Depending on how a broker is executing trades, there are different ways they are making money. They will either make money charging a commission on the volume of the trade or the spread.

STPs and ECNs will make money from a tight spread and a commission, which is calculated on a per lot amount.

Market Makers will make money from the spread – the difference between the buying and selling price of the currency pair. Since a Market Maker will become the counterparty to any trade, they will also make money when clients lose trades.

Platform Choice

A minority of brokers have proprietary platforms while others use mainstream trading platforms like MetaTrader4 and cTrader. If you do choose MetaTrader 4, we have a guide to setting it up as it can be complicated to get going.  Select brokers will offer their documentation and services to set up the trading software.

When it comes to choosing a partner to trade with, finding the right platform can make a substantial difference to a trading career. While MetaTrader 4 & 5 are the most common of CFD trading platforms, its older interface and the software’s need to adjust advanced settings before starting, make it less accessible to beginners. cTrader, on the other hand, has a more modern interface and is more comfortable for the beginner trader to set up.

If you are an experienced trader with a particular software choice in mind, or if you are a beginner seeking to learn more about platform options, we have put together a list of the best forex trading platforms for traders and the organizations that support them.

All brokers have mobile phone apps, and some will have developed their own priority apps, but a vast majority rely on the MetaTrader software for IOS and Android.

Educational Material

Beginner traders should get some educational support with starting out, and each broker varies significantly in what material they provide. The minimum that each will offer is some general videos and articles, but others have invested in creating small trading universities that include video material as well as live webinars hosted by experts.

Each of our reviews has a section on the educational content to help beginner traders decide the best path forward.

Trading Conditions

Spreads

Spreads, measured in pips, tell traders how profitable their trades can be and the fees associated with trading that currency pair.

The spread tells the trader if the buy and sell prices for any currency pair are far from each other, or close to each other. If the spread is 15 pips, that is considered a wide spread, where a 0.4 pip spread is deemed to be tight.

Spreads differ on their FX pairs between brokerages, but to maximise profits, a trader should always find a broker who has the tightest average spreads on the pairs they trade. If you are trading using STP or ECN execution, also consider that a per lot commission will be charged in addition or in conjunction with the spreads.

Leverage

Leverage amplifies the volume of a Forex trade. Leverage is essential in Forex trading because the movements in the market are so small that if there were no way to increase the size of the trade, it would be near impossible for individual retail traders to make money from their trades.

Leverage is presented in a format like 300:1 – in this case, a trader can increase the size of the trade by a maximum amount of 300 times but will remain liable for losses on the full amount of the trade.

Using high volumes of leverage dramatically increases the exposure of the trader to risk, which has led some regulatory bodies like CySEC to restrict leverage to 30:1 for retail traders. The maximum leverage offered varies among brokers, and some may also reserve the right to limit a client’s leverage based on the client’s trading experience.

Trading Assets

A large broker will have a lot of different assets available to trade including Forex, CFDs, cryptocurrency, equities, softs, energy, metals, bonds. A good Forex broker should have 50+ FX pairs.

Scalping

Forex scalping strategy is where a trader seeks to profit from sizeable rapid price changes in a short period. Scalping opportunities are usually created when significant unexpected new events happen, or when the equity markets open. A scalper, a trader who employs a scalping strategy, enters and exit trades several times a day, and closes all trades on the day they were opened.

Hedging

Hedging is a way of protecting yourself against an adverse event happening, that risks open trades, and can be seen as a form of insurance. Direct hedging is a common hedging strategy, where a trader buys a currency pair and then sells the same pair at the same time. Not all brokers allow hedging on their platforms, so here are those that do.

Account Types

Each brokerage will have various account types, and there is a trend in the industry to have fewer account types available than in years past. The primary distinction between account types is between the Live or Real accounts, Demo accounts, and Swap-free accounts. Managed accounts are available, but rare.

Live or Real Accounts

These accounts use real money, and everything that you do in this type of account will affect your profit or loss.

Demo Accounts

These are accounts loaded with fake money and does not expose a trader to any risk. Demo accounts give traders an opportunity to try the trading platform, customer service, research area, and trading conditions before committing real money. Most demo accounts are time limited but are easy to reactivate. These are the best demo accounts.

Managed Accounts

Select brokers will operate a managed account for you, but it is rare. There are independent money managers who can manage your account while they are trading for themselves. It is vital that you read our article on managed accounts and understand the minimum deposit requirements and additional risks involved when trading CFDs.

How to deposit with a broker?

Each broker is going to have different deposit methods, but all will have a deposit by credit/debit card and bank transfer option.  Select few will accept regional payment methods, but local deposit methods have not yet been adopted in South Africa.  On occasion, brokers will accept Bitcoin deposits in additional to traditional currency.

Which broker should I choose?

Traders have different requirements of Forex brokers, and thus there is no single best choice. This is how we compare them, and we offer insight into your choices. At the top of this article, there is a list of those that we believe are the best broker for traders based on their reputation, platform, trading conditions and resources available to beginners.

Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors and comes with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.