Best brokers for trading futures

Choosing the right broker is a critical decision. Whether you’re a beginner trader looking for the best way to get started or an experienced trader wanting to improve your trade executions this post provides my opinion of the best brokers for trading futures.

In this post I will provide you with my opinion of the best brokers for trading futures. This post is based on my experience researching and using several brokers.

The selection of the best brokers for trading futures is based on 4 principle criteria: Commission and margin costs, trading platforms choices, customer service and trade executions. This post lists the best brokers depending on a traders experience level: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

Important Note: The information listed in this post is my personal opinion. It is not professional advice and should not be taken as professional advice.

Amp Futures – Best broker for trading futures for beginner traders

AMP Futures stands out in my opinion as the best choice for beginner traders. AMP futures offer many of the features that appeal to and benefit beginners. Low commissions and fees, good selection of platforms and swift phone support.

Below is a summary of the Pros and Cons of an AMP Futures brokerage account.

AMP Futures brokerage homepage
AMP Futures brokerage homepage

Pros of an AMP futures brokerage account

Huge range of charting software

AMP futures offers one of the biggest range of charting software of any brokerage. This is a huge benefit for beginner traders since it offers the flexibility to trial new platforms and tools without switching brokerages.

Some of the platforms available include:

See the full list of all the platforms available with AMP Futures.

Low cost or free platform software

Opening an AMP futures account allows access to most trading platforms for free or at a discounted rate.

Commissions, Data connection fees and chat room or course memberships add up fast. Free access to trading software is a great benefit for beginner traders starting out.

Sierra Chart is one such platform offered free for the basic package. Sierra is a powerful and user friendly platform with great features. Having access to the full suite of Sierra Chart tools at a discounted rate is a big reasons I rate AMP Futures.

Low cost commissions and fees

AMP Futures offer the lowest commissions and fees on the market.

This is a huge benefit to beginner traders – even the smallest savings on commissions over the long term has significant impact of your bottom line.

Whilst I’ve heard much comment and advice suggesting that commissions are relatively insignificant. My experience is that low commission costs have a big impact on profitability. Especially for beginner traders looking to find an edge in their trading methodology.

Selecting a brokerage with low cost commissions is an important criteria for beginner traders to keep their head above water starting out.

AMP Futures also offer competitive rates on ‘Account Fees‘. For a full list of withdrawal, deposit, currency conversion and other fees click the link.

AMP futures also offer discounted rates. I’m currently working on getting a discounted rate for readers of this blog. For now, a full list of commissions can be found here.

Low minimum opening balance

A $100 minimum opening balance makes AMP Futures accessible to most traders.

Even if you are still wanting to trade in demo having a brokerage account gives beginner traders access to live market data and free trading software.

No inactivity fees

AMP Futures also has no inactivity fees. So if you only wanting to trade demo you wont be changed inactivity fees some brokers charge.

low margins

AMP Futures brokerage offer some of the lowest margin rates around.

Day trading margins for the ES per contract are $300

Margin is the amount of funds needed to be held in reserve to open an order for a single contract. Margin is effectively your brokerages security deposit.

Low margin should of course be used wisely. The benefits of low margin should be seen as a mechanism for reducing the funds required to be held in your brokerage account not to maximize the number of contracts to trade.

For a full list of AMP Futures instrument margin rates click here.

Response time for live trade help

This is an important point. Before using any broker make sure you check the response time to assist with a live trade.

In my experience AMP Futures ring through time and response time has been very swift. Trade assistance can be reached after 1 menu option.

Cons of an AMP futures brokerage account

Considering the low cost benefits of using AMP Futures I have very limited criticism of using the brokerage.

Customer Service

If AMP futures could improve one thing it would have to be some of their customer service and response time to general email queries.

How to open an AMP Futures brokerage account

To open an AMP Futures brokerage account click here.

Ninjatrader – Best brokers for trading futures for intermediate traders

NinjaTrader is actually a great brokerage option for traders of any level.

The higher platform costs that come with the more technically capable software make it a better option for intermediate to advanced traders.

Strictly speaking Ninjatrader isn’t a brokerage. Ninjatrader actually partners with Dorman Trading and Phillip Capital brokerages to give its customers access to the futures markets.

The high quality platform along with low commissions and fees in the market plus reliable trade execution make NinjaTrader a good brokerage choice.

Below is a summary of the benefits and drawbacks of a Ninjatrader brokerage account.

NinjaTrader brokerage homepage
NinjaTrader brokerage homepage

Pros of a Ninjatrader brokerage account

Access to one of the best trading platforms on the market

The obvious benefit of opening a Ninjatrader brokerage account is having access to the excellent NinjaTrader platform software. Ninjatrader 8 is one of the best platforms on the market.

The platform comes loaded with great features such as chart trader and market replay plus C# framework for developers to build custom indicators, drawing tools and automated strategies.

Low cost commissions and fees

NinjaTrader offers some of the best value commissions and fees.

NinjaTrader offers a 3 tier commission system depending on the platform lease purchased. The best value offering comes with the ‘Lifetime’ licence.

For a list of the latest NinjaTrader brokerage commissions click here.

Low minimum opening balance

A $400 minimum opening balance to open a futures account.

With such a low minimum having a brokerage account gives beginner traders wanting to trade demo access to live market data and free trading software.

Low margins

NinjaTrader brokerage offers very competitive margin rates.

Day trading margins for the ES per contract are $400.

For a full list of NinjaTrader instrument margin rates click here

Response time for live trade help

Call through to the NinjaTrader 24 hour emergency trade Desk is direct and pickup is swift!

Cons of a NinjaTrader brokerage account

Need to lease or purchase the platform

The biggest downside of using the NinjaTrader brokerage is the need to lease or purchase a lifetime licence.

If you want to use some of the advanced functionality in a live environment like ‘chart trader’ you need to buy a licence key. The free licence only gives access to the basic platform.

For an up to date list of platform licence costs click here.

How to open a NinjaTrader brokerage account

To open a NinjaTrader brokerage account click here.

Interactive Brokers – Best brokers for trading futures for advanced traders

If you are looking for the best of the best then in my opinion Interactive brokers are the way to go.

Once you have developed consistency in your trading and looking to up your trade size, you really want to start looking at using a brokerage with the type of premier technology and service offered by Interactive brokers.

Keep in mind to access these services there are several financial and funding requirements to qualify for an IB account. So before you jump head first and go with the best straight up – lets weigh up the pros and cons to help decide if this is the best option for you right now.

Interactive brokers brokerage homepage
Interactive Brokers home page

Pros of an Interactive brokers brokerage account

Super fast order fills

Interactive brokers routing technology gives super fast fills and order slippage is rare.

Large brokerage with strong financial backing

Trading multiple contracts at big size with high margin accounts requires a sizable account balance. It’s important to know that your money is safe and secure. Interactive Brokers have been operating since 1977 through several financial downturns.

Best platform for advanced traders

Interactive Brokers trading platform, Trader Workstation (TWS) is one of the most advanced and best platforms in the industry.

Designed for professional traders. TWS is a fully featured and fully configurable platform, it offers an impressive 63 different order types and equally impressive selection of trading tools.

Configurable with various trading platforms

If you’ve come from a different platform. Interactive brokers is configurable with several of other platforms.

Sierra chart and NinjaTrader both offers support for Interactive Brokers.

It’s possible to connect the Trading Workstation (TWS) to third party trading platforms through API.

Low Commissions

Considering the quality of fills IB commissions are very competitive. IB offers fixed rate or tiered rate for higher volume traders.

For a full list of Interactive Brokers commissions click here.

Customer Service

My experience with Interactive Brokers customer service has been first class. Staff are extremely knowledgeable and have always given me plenty of time to answer questions.

Reduced minimum opening balance

A $2000 minimum opening balance to open a futures account.

IB have significantly reduced the minimum account deposit to open a margin account to $2000. However! If your trading futures on margin this amount is irrelevant since margins on a single contract are often well above this. (See ‘high margin’ section below for other requirements).

Response time for live trade help

IB provide 24 hour Client Service Centre that provides help services for a range of issues.

For trade related problems trade assistance can be reached after 2 menu options.

Cons of an Interactive broker brokerage account

High margin

If you are wanting to trade a margin account Interactive Brokers require a significant margin requirement against each contract traded. A single contract of the ES requires USD $4871.

Trade permissions

Once you open an Interactive Brokers account you need to apply for trade permissions. Trade permissions are used to assess your liquid net worth and Income against age to qualify for a margin account.

Inactivity fee

Interactive brokers charge a small inactivity fee of USD $10 if less than $10 in commissions are generated in a calendar month.

How to open an Interactive Brokers brokerage account

To open an Interactive Brokers brokerage account click here.

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