10 Best ECN Brokers Reviewed for 2024

ECN brokers give you access to the Electronic Communications Network – which is used by banks and other institutional traders. Therefore, ECN accounts offer the lowest spreads in the global forex markets. 

This guide compares the 10 best ECN brokers in 2024. Our impartial reviews cover the most important metrics – including account minimums, average spreads, commissions, available pairs, and margin requirements. 

The Top 10 ECN Brokers Ranked

The 10 best ECN brokers for 2024 are ranked on the list below:

  1. Pepperstone: Top-rated forex broker with ECN-like pricing, Pepperstone offers razor accounts with 0.0 pip spreads on selected major and minor pairs. Commissions amount to $3.50 per traded lot, per slide. There’s no minimum deposit requirement at Pepperstone and multiple payment types are supported. More than 60 currency pairs are available and leverage of up to 1:200 is offered to eligible clients.
  2. Tickmill: Established forex broker offering spreads from 0.0 pips and competitive commissions of 2 units per 100,000 traded, per slide. Tickmill supports 62 forex pairs, alongside stocks, bonds, commodities, and other assets. The minimum deposit to access the Electronic Communications Network is just $100. Eligible clients can trade with leverage of up to 1:500 and both MT4 and MT5 are supported.
  3. IC Markets: Trade 61 forex pairs with spreads starting from 0.0 pips. IC Markets charges a standard commission of $3.50 per traded lot, per slide. It offers tier-one liquidity and fast execution speeds, making the broker ideal for scalpers and high-frequency trading. IC Markets has a minimum deposit requirement of $200 and leverage of up to 1:1000 is available. Other supported markets include stocks, commodities, and cryptocurrencies.
  4. FXTM: Offers two ECN accounts to choose from, with minimum deposit requirements starting at just $200. Traders can select an account based on their preferred spread/commission structure. There’s also a professional account with 0.0 pip spreads and 0% commission, but this requires at least $25,000. FXTM is another high-leverage broker, with minimum margin requirements of just 0.1%.
  5. FP Markets: This ECN broker offers fast execution speeds that average just 40 milliseconds. Its tier-one liquidity providers ensure traders get the most competitive spreads at all times. Raw accounts come with minimum spreads of 0.0 pips and a standard commission of $2 per traded lot, per slide. FP Markets supports over 70 currency pairs, including plenty of exotic markets. Leverage of up to 1:500 is available, but only to those covered by FSCA regulation.
  6. Eightcap: Open an ECN account from just $100 without paying deposit fees. Beginners will appreciate Eightcap’s free demo accounts, which can be used across MT4 and MT5. Eightcap supports over 800 financial markets, covering forex, stocks, commodities, and cryptocurrencies. Additional features include market insights, educational tools, and an AI-powered economic calendar.
  7. Interactive Brokers: Seasoned currency traders from the US will be suited for Interactive Brokers. It offers an advanced proprietary platform – IBKR TWS, which comes packed with high-level analysis tools. Interactive Brokers supports over 100 forex pairs and commissions start from just 0.008 basis points. Spreads are the best in the industry, with Interactive Brokers connecting to 17 of the world’s largest currency exchange dealers.
  8. Exness: Trade the world’s top 30 financial instruments without paying any spreads – including major pairs like EUR/USD. Commissions are super-low at Exness, costing just $0.20 per traded lot, per slide. There’s a minimum deposit requirement of $1,000, although eligible clients can trade forex with unlimited leverage.
  9. InstaForex: Access spreads of 0.0 pips on major forex pairs, with commissions costing between 0.03% and 0.07%. InstaForex is ideal for budget-conscious investors, as the minimum deposit requirement is just $1. More than 30 payment methods are accepted, including debit/credit cards and local bank transfers. InstaForex supports 108 pairs, in addition to stocks, commodities, and futures.
  10. RoboForex: This popular broker offers ECN accounts without a minimum deposit requirement. RoboForex charges a $20 commission for every $1 million traded, which is competitive. Spreads start from 0.0 pips but ECN accounts only support 36 currency pairs. RoboForex offers leverage of up to 1:500 to eligible clients, and both MT4 and MT5 are supported.

Best ECN Forex Brokers Reviews

The forex ECN brokers listed above will now be reviewed in full. Read on to choose the most suitable broker for your requirements.

1. Pepperstone – Regulated Broker Offering ECN-Like Pricing With 0.0 Pip Spreads and No Intermediary 

Pepperstone is one of the best forex brokers in the market. It supports more than 60 currency pairs, covering all majors and minors – plus selected exotics. Pepperstone’s razor account offers ECN-like pricing, so you’ll benefit from some of the best spreads available. For example, pairs like GBP/USD, USD/JPY, AUD/CAD, EUR/USD, and USD/CHF come with minimum spreads of 0.0 pips.

Other popular pairs, such as USD/CAD and EUR/GBP, start from just 0.1 pips. In terms of commissions, you’ll pay $3.50 per traded lot, per slide. Non-USD quoted pairs are charged the currency equivalent. For instance, GBP pairs are charged £2.50. Although Pepperstone isn’t a ‘true’ ECN broker, its framework operates like one.

Pepperstone review

For example, there are no intermediaries providing prices and it doesn’t run a proprietary trading book. On the contrary, tier-one liquidity providers supply real-time quotes via the Electronic Communications Network. This means that Pepperstone traders pay exactly the same rates as banks and other institutions. Unlike traditional ECN accounts, Pepperstone doesn’t have a high minimum deposit.

In fact, Pepperstone allows you to get started with any amount you’re comfortable with. Accepted payment types include debit/credit cards and e-wallets, and there are no deposit fees charged. In addition to forex, Pepperstone also supports other asset classes. This includes commodities like gold, silver, oil, natural gas, and coffee.

Pepperstone review

Indices are also supported, as are individual stocks. This covers stock exchanges from the US, UK, Hong Kong, Germany, and Australia. Pepperstone offers leverage on all supported markets. That said, limits depend on which financial regulator you fall under. For example, retail clients protected by the FCA(UK), ASIC (Australia), or DFSA (Dubai) are capped at 1:30.

Accounts covered by the SCB (Bahamas) can trade with leverage of up to 1:200. When it comes to trading platforms, Pepperstone supports cTrader, MT4, MT5, and TradingView. It doesn’t have a native trading suite, which could be considered a drawback. Moreover, all financial instruments are backed by contracts-for-differences (CFDs), so US clients cannot open an account.

No. Pairs 60+
Other Assets Stocks, ETFs, commodities, indices, cryptocurrencies
Commission $3.50 per traded lot, per slide (currency equivalent on non-USD quoted pairs)
EUR/USD Spread From 0.0 pips
Platforms cTrader, MT4, MT5, TradingView
Max. Leverage 1:200 (country-specific)
US Clients? No, not accepted

Pros pros

  • ECN-like pricing with spreads starting from 0.0 pips
  • Competitive commissions of $3.50 per traded lot, per slide
  • Regulated by multiple tier-one bodies – including the FCA, ASIC, and DFSA
  • Rated 4.6/5 on TradingView and 4.5/5 on TrustPilot
  • Leverage of up to 1:200 for clients falling under SCB regulation

Cons cons

  • Not a ‘true’ ECN broker by definition
  • All markets are backed by CFD instruments – so US clients are not accepted

75.6% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

2. Tickmill – Competitive Commission of $2 per Traded Lot and Leverage of up to 1:500 

Tickmill is also considered one of the best ECN brokers in the market. You’ll need to open a pro account to access the Electronic Communications Network. This requires a small minimum deposit of $100 or the currency equivalent. Accepted base currencies include USD, EUR, GBP, and ZAR.

Tickmill supports 62 currency pairs and the minimum trade size is 0.01 lots. In terms of pricing, spreads start from 0.0 pips on majors and selected minors. That said, specific spreads are determined by the Electronic Communications Network. Commissions are very competitive at Pepperstone; you’ll pay just 2 currency units per 100,000 traded. For example, if you’re trading EUR/USD, that’s just $2 per $100,000, per slide.

Tickmill review

Tickmill is also one of the best high-leverage brokers. The maximum leverage available is 1:500. However, country-specific restrictions are in place if you’re a retail client. When it comes to platforms, Tickmill supports MT4 and MT5 on all available devices. It also offers an iOS and Android app for mobile trading, which is proprietary.

Tickmill is also popular for its educational resources. It offers ebooks, seminars, webinars, and a forex glossary. It also offers market insights, forex calculators, and an economic calendar. Tickmill also supports other asset classes, which are backed by CFDs. This includes stocks, bonds, commodities, indices, and some of the best cryptocurrencies to trade. No commissions are charged on non-forex markets.

No. Pairs 62
Other Assets Stocks, ETFs, commodities, bonds, indices, cryptocurrencies
Commission 2 currency units per traded lot, per slide
EUR/USD Spread From 0.0 pips
Platforms MT4, MT5, Proprietary app for iOS and Android
Max. Leverage 1:500 (country-specific)
US Clients? No, not accepted

Pros pros

  • Competitive forex commissions of 2 currency units per lot, per slide
  • Supports 62 currency pairs
  • Leverage of up to 1:500 for eligible clients
  • Reasonable minimum deposit of $100
  • Trade forex on MT4 or MT5

Cons cons

  • Doesn’t offer a proprietary desktop platform – mobile app only
  • Live customer support isn’t available 24/7

Trading financial products on margin carries a high degree of risk and is not suitable for all investors

3. IC Markets – ECN Accounts With Minimum Margin Requirements of Just 0.1%

IC Markets offers raw spread accounts that connect to the Electronic Communications Network without any intermediary or dealing desk. Therefore, traders secure the same spreads as other market participants. IC Markets only deals with tier-one liquidity providers, so the best spreads are available around the clock. According to IC Markets, the average spread on EUR/USD is 0.1 pips.

That said, during busy hours (e.g. the London/New York crossover), this is reduced to 0.0 pips. There is a standard commission of $3.50 per traded lot, per slide. The average trade latency at IC Markets is just 1 millisecond, making the broker ideal for scalping and high-frequency trading. In terms of supported currencies, IC Markets lists 61 forex pairs.

IC Markets review

It also supports stocks, commodities, indices, cryptocurrencies, and futures. IC Markets is also a high-leverage broker; forex can be traded with a margin requirement of just 0.1%. This means that for every $1,000 traded, you’d need just $1 in your brokerage account. IC Markets doesn’t offer a native trading suite, but it does support popular third-party platforms. This includes cTrader, MT4, and MT5.

We also like that IC Markets offers a free demo account. This takes less than 30 seconds to open and there’s no requirement to make a deposit. If you’re looking to get started with real money, IC Markets accepts debit/credit cards and e-wallets like Neteller, Skrill, and PayPal. The minimum first-time deposit is $200 or the currency equivalent.

No. Pairs 61
Other Assets Stocks, commodities, indices, cryptocurrencies, futures
Commission $3.50 per traded lot, per slide
EUR/USD Spread From 0.0 pips
Platforms cTrader, MT4, and MT5
Max. Leverage 1:1000 (country-specific)
US Clients? No, not accepted

Pros pros

  • Best ECN forex broker for high leverage (up to 1:1000)
  • 0.0 pip forex spreads with commissions of $3.50 per traded lot, per slide
  • Fast execution speeds of just 1 millisecond
  • Popular with scalpers and high-frequency trading strategies
  • Also one of the best MT5 brokers

Cons cons

  • US clients are not accepted
  • Only supports third-party trading platforms

Trading Forex and CFDs carries a high level of risk to your capital and you should only trade with money you can afford to lose.

4. FXTM – 2 ECN Forex Accounts to Choose From With Competitive Pricing and Support for 48 Pairs   

ForexTime (FXTM) is an established forex broker that supports 48 currency pairs. It offers two account types that offer access to the Electronic Communications Network. First, there’s the standard ECN account – which comes with a $500 minimum deposit. This offers a minimum spread of 0.1 pips. There’s also a small commission of $2 per traded lot, which is competitive.

The standard ECN account also comes with a demo facility. This enables you to trade forex with paper funds, while still accessing the live markets. The second option is the ECN zero account. This comes with a smaller minimum deposit requirement of $200. Unlike the standard ECN account, there are no trading commissions charged.

FXTM review

However, the minimum spread is 1.5 pips. Both the standard and zero ECN accounts also come with swap-free trading when using MT4. MT5 is also supported, but this comes with standard overnight financing fees. We should also mention the FXTM pro account, which is aimed at professional traders.

This still falls under the ECN umbrella but requires a minimum deposit of $25,000. This account offers spreads from 0.0 pips and there are no commissions to pay. The likelihood is that FXTM makes money from overnight financing on this account type. FXTM also supports other financial instruments, should you wish to diversify. This included stocks, commodities, and indices.

No. Pairs 48
Other Assets Stocks, commodities, indices, cryptocurrencies
Commission ECN standard ($2 per traded lot, per slide), ECN zero ($0), FXTM pro ($0)
EUR/USD Spread ECN standard (0.1 pips), ECN zero (1.5 pips), FXTM pro (0.0 pips)
Platforms MT4, and MT5
Max. Leverage 1:2000 (country-specific)
US Clients? No, not accepted

Pros pros

  • Retail clients have 2 ECN accounts to choose from
  • Professional traders are also catered for
  • Leverage of up to 1:2000 offered to eligible traders
  • Client funds are segregated and covered by insurance

Cons cons

  • Traders from the US, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and other countries are not accepted
  • Only supports MT4 and MT5

Trading is risky. Your capital is at risk.

5. FP Markets – Regulated Forex Broker With ECN Accounts and Ultra-Fast Execution Speeds  

FP Markets is a reputable trading platform that holds brokerage licenses from multiple bodies. This includes ASIC (Australia), FSCA (South Africa), and CySEC (Cyprus). Those falling within the remit of ASIC or CySEC will be capped to leverage of 1:30. This is increased to 1:500 for those covered by FSCA. Nonetheless, FP Markets offers two accounts, both offering ECN pricing.

The first option is the raw account. This comes with a minimum spread of 0.0 pips. Commissions are reasonable at just $3 per traded lot, per slide. The second option is the standard account. Although this offers commission-free trading, spreads start from 1 pip. Both accounts have a minimum trade requirement of 0.01 lots.

FP Markets review

The minimum deposit is just $100 and multiple payment methods are accepted. This includes debit/credit cards, bank wires, and selected e-wallets. Although deposits are free, some payment types attract withdrawal fees. In terms of markets, this popular trading platform supports over 70 forex pairs.

Other financial instruments are also covered, including commodities, stocks, cryptocurrencies, and indices. Although FP Markets supports all device types, it doesn’t have a native trading suite. Instead, you’ll need to choose from MT4, MT5, or cTrader.  We also found that FP Markets is one of the best ECN brokers for execution speeds – trades average just 40 milliseconds.

No. Pairs 70+
Other Assets Stocks, commodities, indices, cryptocurrencies, bonds, ETFs
Commission Raw ($3 per traded lot, per slide), Standard ($0)
EUR/USD Spread Raw (0.0 pips), Standard (1 pip)
Platforms cTrader, MT4, and MT5
Max. Leverage 1:500 (country-specific)
US Clients? No, not accepted

Pros pros

  • Spreads start from 0.0 pips
  • Raw account commissions cost just $3 per traded lot, per slide
  • More than 70 forex pairs are supported
  • All account types come with a minimum deposit requirement of $100
  • No deposit fees are charged

Cons cons

  • Some payment methods attract withdrawal fees
  • Retail traders covered by ASIC and CySEC are limited to leverage of 1:30

Derivative products are highly leveraged, carry a high level of risk and may not be appropriate for all investors.

6. Eightcap – User-Friendly ECN Broker With Trade Minimums of 0.01 Lots  

Eightcap is one of the best ECN brokers for forex traders on a budget. After opening a raw account, you’ll only need to deposit $100 to start trading. What’s more, the minimum trade requirement is just 0.01 lots, so that’s $1,000 on USD-quoted pairs. That said, eligible clients can trade forex with leverage of up to 1:500. This reduces the minimum trade size to just $2.

Eightcap’s raw accounts connect to the Electronic Communications Network, so spreads start from 0.0 pips. There is a commission of $3.50 per traded lot, per slide. Although Eightcap also offers a commission-free account, this doesn’t come with ECN pricing. Eightcap is also a good option if you want to practice trade or try new forex strategies.

Eightcap review

This is because users can open up to six demo accounts between MT4 and MT5. You’ll have an unlimited amount of paper funds at your disposal, but demo accounts expire after 30 days. Eightcap supports over 800 financial markets in total. This includes dozens of forex pairs, plus cryptocurrencies, stocks, indices, and commodities. Eightcap connects to MT4, MT5, and TradingView.

No. Pairs Not stated, but over 800 markets in total – which covers major, minor, and exotic pairs
Other Assets Stocks, commodities, indices, cryptocurrencies
Commission $3.50 per traded lot, per slide
EUR/USD Spread From 0.0 pips
Platforms TradingView, MT4, and MT5
Max. Leverage 1:500 (country-specific)
US Clients? No, not accepted

Pros pros

  • Open an ECN account from just $100
  • One of the best forex demo accounts – no payment details needed
  • Supports TradingView – which will appeal to technical traders
  • Leverage of up to 1:500 for eligible clients

Cons cons

  • Just over 800 markets are supported – which is much less than other ECN brokers
  • Commission-free accounts do not offer ECN pricing

7. Interactive Brokers – US-Friendly Forex Accounts Connecting to the World’s 17 Largest Currency Exchange Dealers  

Interactive Brokers is one of the best ECN brokers for US traders. Although Interactive Broker is best known for its stocks, funds, and managed portfolios, it also offers a fully-fledged forex facility. In fact, Interactive Brokers connects to the world’s 17 largest currency exchange dealers, which represent 60% of the global markets.

Interactive Brokers connects directly to institutional participants, so it simply passes currency quotes onto its users. This means you’ll get the best spreads at any given time. In turn, traders pay a competitive commission, which depends on monthly trading volumes. This ranges from 0.20 to 0.008 basis points, at a minimum of $2 and $1 respectively.

Interactive Brokers review

Interactive Brokers supports over 100 currency pairs, covering all majors and minors, plus dozens of exotics. It also offers professional trading tools, including its own proprietary platform – IBKR Trading Workstation (TWS). TWS offers high-level analysis tools, such as technical and economic indicators, trading simulators, and support for algorithmic bots.

No. Pairs 100+
Other Assets Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, futures, options, bonds, IPOs, and much more
Commission Between 0.20 and 0.008 basis points, depending on monthly trading volumes
EUR/USD Spread From 1/10th of a pip
Platforms Proprietary desktop software and mobile app
Max. Leverage 1:50 (US retail clients, more for professional traders)
US Clients? Yes, accepted

Pros pros

  • Best ECN broker for US traders
  • Connects to the world’s largest currency exchange dealers
  • No intermediary pricing – all quotes passed directly to traders
  • Competitive commissions from just 0.008 basis points

Cons cons

  • Minimum order size of $20,000 (or currency quote equivalent)
  • IBKR TWS platform is aimed at professional traders

8. Exness – Zero Spreads on the Top 30 Instruments With Commissions of Just $0.20  

Exness is another popular forex broker that offers ECN accounts. Its zero account is the best option for traders who want the perfect balance with low spreads and commissions. In fact, this account type offers 0.0 pip spreads on the top 30 instruments for global volume. This covers major forex pairs like EUR/USD and GBP/USD, not to mention gold, oil, and selected indices.

What’s more, the zero account offers one of the lowest commissions in the market – you’ll pay just $0.20 per traded lot, per slide. That being said, this account type comes with a minimum deposit requirement of $1,000. Another drawback is that zero accounts can only be used on MT5.

Exness review

MT4 and a proprietary platform are available on other account types. Nevertheless, we like that Exness offers unlimited leverage to eligible clients. The amount available depends on how much capital is deposited into the margin account. Exness also supports virtual private servers (VPS), allowing traders to deploy forex expert advisors (EAs) around the clock.

No. Pairs 100+
Other Assets Stocks, indices, commodities, cryptocurrencies
Commission $0.20 per traded lot, per slide
EUR/USD Spread 0.0 pips on the top 30 instruments, including major pairs like EUR/USD
Platforms Only MT5 can be used on the zero account
Max. Leverage Unlimited leverage offered to eligible clients
US Clients? No, not accepted

Pros pros

  • 0.0 pip spreads on the world’s top 30 traded instruments
  • Ultra-low commissions on $0.20 per traded lot, per slide
  • Unlimited leverage is available to eligible traders
  • Offers a VPS for forex EAs

Cons cons

  • Minimum deposit requirement of $1,000
  • Does not accept clients from the European Union

9. InstaForex – Budget-Friendly ECN Accounts With a Minimum Deposit of $1  

InstaForex is one of the best ECN brokers for those on a budget. The Insta.Eurica account – which offers access to the Electronic Communications Network, requires a minimum deposit of just $1. Spreads start from 0.0 pips and commissions are charged on a variable basis.

Depending on the pair, you’ll pay between 0.03% and 0.07% of the trade size. The minimum trade requirement is 0.01 lots and leverage of up to 1:1000 is available to eligible clients. Be mindful when trading with leverage at InstaForex, as margin calls come once the position declines by 30%. InstaForex offers a huge range of markets, including 108 forex pairs.

InstaForex review

This includes many exotic currencies, including the South African rand, Polish zloty, and Mexican peso. Other supported markets include stocks, indices, commodities, cryptocurrencies, and futures. The latter covers weekly and monthly futures on EUR/USD, but no other currencies.

No. Pairs 108
Other Assets Stocks, indices, commodities, cryptocurrencies, futures
Commission Between 0.03% and 0.07%, depending on the pair
EUR/USD Spread From 0.0 pips
Platforms Only MT5 can be used on the zero account
Max. Leverage 1:1000 (country-specific)
US Clients? No, not accepted

Pros pros

  • Trade 108 forex pairs – including lots of exotics
  • Minimum deposit of just $1
  • Spreads of 0.0 pips and minimum commission of just 0.03%
  • Also offers EUR/USD futures with weekly and monthly maturity

Cons cons

10. RoboForex – ECN Accounts Without Deposit Minimums and Commission of $20 per $1 Million Traded  

RoboForex is the final option on this list of the best ECN brokers. This popular broker is also ideal for those on a budget; its ECN accounts don’t come with a minimum deposit requirement. Moreover, RoboForex also offers a free demo account, so you can take the broker for a test drive before risking any capital.

RoboForex is also competitive in the fees department. You’ll pay just $20 for every $1 million traded. This works out at $2 per round lot or $1 per slide. What’s more, you’ll also get spreads of 0.0 pips, but this only covers 36 forex pairs. Nevertheless, ECN accounts are also compatible with precious metals and cryptocurrencies.

RoboForex review

You can choose from two third-party trading platforms – MT4 or MT5. There’s also a proprietary trading suite, but this doesn’t support ECN accounts. When it comes to margin, RoboForex offers leverage of up to 1:500 to eligible clients.

No. Pairs 36 pairs are compatible with the ECN account
Other Assets Metals and cryptocurrencies
Commission $20 for every $1 million traded
EUR/USD Spread From 0.0 pips
Platforms MT4 or MT5
Max. Leverage 1:500 (country-specific)
US Clients? No, not accepted

Pros pros

  • No minimum deposit requirements on ECN accounts
  • Competitive commission of $20 for every $1 million traded
  • ECN accounts also support metals and cryptocurrencies
  • Leverage of up to 1:500 for eligible traders

Cons cons

  • ECN accounts only support 36 forex pairs
  • Several instances of contradictory information

What is an ECN Broker?

To understand how ECN brokers stand out in the market, you’ll need to first have a grasp of the Electronic Communications Network. In simple terms, this is the forex trading network used by banks, hedge funds, and other institutional traders. Trillions of dollars worth of capital pass through the Electronic Communications Network every day.

This means premium liquidity and the most competitive market prices. Although you might not be an institutional client, the best ECN brokers support retail traders. This means that you can trade directly with leading market participants. The result? You’ll get the best forex spreads available at any given time. In many cases, ECN accounts allow you to trade major pairs at 0.0 pips.

This often extends to popular minor pairs too, but not exotics. Crucially, ECN brokers are simply intermediaries. They pass on live forex quotes from the Electronic Communications Network, meaning no requotes or markups. As such, you don’t need to worry about an ECN broker trading against you, as there’s no conflict of interest. This is because ECN brokers typically charge flat commissions.

Why Use an ECN Forex Broker?

Read on to discover the main benefits of using an ECN forex broker.

Lowest Spreads in the Markets

The biggest advantage of opting for an ECN broker is that spreads are unrivaled. As we’ve established, ECN brokers connect your trading account to the Electronic Communications Network. This means that forex quotes are determined by bid and ask prices, and not individual brokers. 

The majority of ECN accounts offer spreads from 0.0 pips on major pairs like EUR/USD and GBP/USD. This means that you’re getting the actual wholesale exchange rate. Although spreads can kick in during less busy hours, they rarely increase by more than a few basis points.

Pepperstone spreads

In contrast, when using a commission-free forex broker, spreads will be significantly wider. EUR/USD, for example, often starts from 1 pip. This means that you’re always playing catch up, as you’d need your position to increase by the spread just to break even. ECN accounts, however, generally charge a flat commission – making it a lot more cost-effective.

Premium Liquidity 

The Electronic Communications Network is used by the world’s largest financial institutions. This means that ECN brokers offer unprecedented liquidity levels. Not only does this result in premium forex quotes, but you’ll never have issues entering and exiting a position. This is even the case with exotic markets. 

In fact, ECN brokers typically offer the fastest execution speeds, due to the liquidity available. This is particularly useful for short-term strategies, such as scalpers and high-frequency trading. After all, even the slightest delay in order execution can result in unfavorable pricing, known as slippage.

What is Slippage in Forex?

  • Slippage often occurs when there isn’t enough liquidity available for the position you wish to enter or exit.
  • This could be because of the respective broker or the chosen forex market. Either way, slippage results in less favorable pricing.
  • For instance, suppose you place a market order on GBP/USD at 1.2201. However, when the order is executed, it opens at 1.2209. This means you’ve entered the market 8 pips higher than you intended to.
  • ECN accounts rarely suffer from slippage, as there’s always significant liquidity available – especially for retail clients.

No Conflict of Interest

Some traders prefer ECN brokers because it removes a major risk – conflict of interest. The reason for this is that other broker types – such as ‘market makers’, have their own proprietary order books. This means that spreads and forex quotes are determined by the broker, rather than market forces.

This is risky, as market makers are known to trade against their own clients. They’ll use their own preferred liquidity providers to ensure minimum risk, meaning clients often get unfavorable prices. 

In comparison, ECN brokers simply act as intermediaries. They provide access to the Electronic Communications Network, so wholesale prices are passed on directly to traders. This means that ECN brokers do not and can not trade against their own clients.

Predictable Trading Fees

Another benefit of using an ECN broker is that fees are predictable. This is because the majority of ECN brokers charge flat trading commissions. Therefore, you always know exactly what you’re paying, allowing you to make trading calculations accordingly.

Bloomberg currency prices

This isn’t the case when using other broker types. For example, market makers usually offer commission-free trading. However, not only are spreads much higher, but they can be volatile. This is because spreads react to broader market conditions, making it difficult to know what you’re actually paying.  

How to Pick an ECN Broker for Trading

Research is crucial when comparing the best ECN brokers. To help clear the mist, we’ll now discuss the most important factors to consider when selecting a provider. 

True ECN Brokers

Not all providers in this space are ‘true’ ECN brokers. Instead, some brokers simply offer ECN pricing.

  • If you’re looking to secure the best spreads in the market, make sure the broker actually provides access to the Electronic Communications Network.
  • In doing so, the broker has no input in pricing – this is determined by market forces.
  • In other words, you’ll be trading directly with other market participants – be it banks, hedge funds, or professional forex traders. 

This is important, as true ECN brokers never add markups to the spread. They don’t need to, as ECN brokers make money by charging flat commissions. 

Regulation and Client Fund Protection

Only regulated forex brokers can access the Electronic Communications Network. Nonetheless, it’s still important to understand which licensing body regulates your chosen broker. This will help you understand what client fund protections are in place. 

UK traders should look for ECN brokers that are approved by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). FCA guidelines require brokers to keep client funds in segregated bank accounts. FCA brokers are usually members of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This is similar to the SIPC, but the FSCS limits client protection to £85,000

Traders from other countries should look for ECN brokers that are approved by their domestic licensing body. If there’s a client protection scheme in place, ensure the broker is a member.  

ECN Trading Commissions

You won’t need to worry about spreads when using a true ECN broker. As we’ve established, the broker is simply an intermediary between you and the Electronic Communications Network. However, you’ll still be charged a commission to trade, which will vary from one broker to the next. 

EUR/USD TradingView

We found that the average commission on ECN accounts is $3 per traded lot, per slide. This means you’re paying $3 for every $100,000 traded, or the currency equivalent. This is charged when entering and exiting a forex position. Some ECN brokers quote commissions for every $1 million traded. Alternatively, Interactive Brokers charges commissions in basis points, based on the total order size. 

Minimum Account Requirements 

Minimum account requirements should also be considered when researching the best ECN brokers. This starts with the account opening process, as some ECN brokers have high minimum deposits. 

  • Make sure the minimum requirement aligns with your budget.
  • Due to anti-money laundering regulations, you’ll likely need to trade the entire deposit before you can make a withdrawal.
  • Therefore, you should only deposit funds that you intend on trading. 

In addition, you should check the minimum lot size requirement. This is the minimum amount of currency you can buy or sell on a particular trade.

The majority of ECN brokers require a minimum trade of 0.01 lots. Assuming you’re trading a USD-quoted pair, that’s $1,000 ($100,000 x 0.01). 

However, some brokers have much higher requirements. For example, Interactive Brokers has a minimum trade size of $25,000 – meaning it’s only suitable for professional traders.

Leverage  

Leverage is used by most seasoned forex traders. Otherwise, it’s difficult to make viable gains, as forex prices move by such small amounts. Similarly, leverage makes forex trading more affordable for those on a budget. This is because you can enter positions with much more than you have in your account. 

Therefore, when researching the best ECN brokers, check what leverage limits are offered.

That said, in countries without a tier-one licensing body, there are often no limits at all. Traders in these regions can often secure leverage of up to 1:1000 – sometimes more.

Supported Pairs

You should also assess what forex pairs are available when opening an ECN account. We found that some ECN accounts only offer limited pairs, especially when it comes to exotic currencies. For example, although RoboForex offers more than 40 forex pairs, only 36 are available to ECN account holders.

major currency pairs

Similarly, ECN accounts at Exness come with 0.0 pip spreads, but only on 30 instruments. This covers selected major currency pairs, alongside gold, oil, and indices. As such, it’s important to check what markets you’ll have access to before choosing an ECN broker. 

Which Forex Pair has the Lowest ECN Spreads?

  • There is a correlation between spreads, trading volume,  and liquidity.
  • In other words, the most traded forex pairs come with the tightest spreads.
  • This means that major pairs like EUR/USD can often be traded at 0.0 pips.
  • At the other end of the scale, exotic pairs come with the widest spreads. This is because exotics are more volatile and attract lower liquidity levels.

Conclusion

In summary, ECN brokers allow you to trade forex with the world’s largest institutions – including banks and hedge funds. This means you’ll get the tightest spreads without markups or requotes.

Overall, Pepperstone offers the best forex account for ECN pricing – spreads start from 0.0 pips on majors and minors, and commissions cost $3.50 per traded lot, per slide. Pepperstone also offers demo accounts, so you can test the platform before making a deposit.

75.6% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

References

FAQs

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Kane Pepi
Editor

Kane Pepi is an accomplished financial and cryptocurrency writer who has an extensive portfolio of over 2,000 articles, guides, and market insights. With his expertise in specialized subjects such as asset valuation and analysis, portfolio management, and financial crime prevention, Kane has built a reputation for providing clear explanations of complex financial topics. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Finance and a Master's Degree in Financial Crime, and is currently pursuing his Doctorate degree, which focuses on investigating the complexities of money laundering in the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology sectors. Kane's wealth of knowledge and experience in the field make…