Discount Futures Brokers 2015
Well, its that time of the year again to check futures broker commission rates for 2015. I do this once a year to make sure that my commissions paid are somewhere near the average. You really need to do this once a year, just to keep track of any newcomers, stay abreast of pricing trends, eliminate any brokers that went out of business, and find out about any juicy gossip about which broker got into trouble.
On January 5th, 2015 I set upon the task of building the yearly database of every futures brokerage that I could find on the internet. The process took a full three days of web scraping. I immediately eliminated any brokers with rotten unprofessional looking websites, disconnected phone numbers on the contact page, contact email addresses that bounced (Zaner Futures-My old broker), commission rates above $6 per side, and most importantly…I scoured the CFTC and NFA for any enforcement actions.
After I built the list, I next contacted each broker and requested a quote for commissions. My request stripped out any regulatory fee’s because regulatory fee’s are constant with every broker. I also made a uniform request with identical variables. I asked for a quote for the Emini SP500, 10 year note futures, crude oil futures, Euro FX futures, corn futures, and gold futures. Why did I select only these 6 markets? Because the exchange fee’s for the related futures contracts are identical. For instance, if you want to trade the 10 year note futures, the exchange fee is going to be $0.61. The exchange fee for the 30 year bond future, the 10 year note future, and 5 year note future, and the 2 year note future ALL have the same exchange fee. Asking for individual fee’s would of been redundant. You may also check and see that the exchange fee’s for corn, soybeans, wheat, soybean oil are identical. Same with FX and energy futures. These 6 market groups are also the most actively traded futures contracts in the world.
Contacting Each Broker And Haggling Over Price
Next I contacted each broker individually and I stated that my quote be based upon an opening balance of $10,000 and that I trade an average of two trades each day. I felt that this would represent the vast majority of my readers and give them the best chance at making sense of the landscape. I did my best to haggle over price. Some wanted higher rates and refused to budge. But some where quite willing to lower price to be more competitive. Yet others simply posted their lowest available price, right on their website and would not budge.
Consolidating The Price And Disclosure
After I felt like I had done my best to haggle with each broker, I then notified each broker that the price quote would be used on a comparison table that would be publicly available on my website. I gave each broker the option of contacting me later, and that I would immediately adjust the price higher or lower. I felt this a fair way to give each broker a chance to compete for new customers.
A Fundamental Unfairness
Some of these brokerages are quite large and have many different representatives within the company. It would be unfair to not disclose that on any given day, you might get lucky and find a hungrier rep than I was able to find. You could get a better price on a whole host of different input variables. I also want to be clear that these quotes are just a snapshot in time. Brokerages can and do change pricing without notice.
Hi! Could anyone here please provide a link to reputable online brokers who deal in both ‘normal’ stocks and shares and also penny stocks? … Brokers who are suitable for folks outside of the USA?
Thanks for any feedback.
Emmet, Thank you for putting this together. I would like to add some of my own 2 cents in order to help traders get the best deal for their account. Cost consists of the following:
2) Routing Fees
3) Exchange Fees
These are the three elements that each round turn in futures consists of. Whether brokers own their technology or not, the technology component is there and that is the “routing” and it could be defined as “technology”, “Platform” etc
Commission could also have different breakdowns according to the FCMs where the account is located.
Exchange fees from the exchanges could also have breakdowns like “trading” “Globex” etc
It is important that you may have some technologies like Trading Technologies https://optimusfutures.com/TradingTechnologies-X_Trader-Pro.php that may charge a monthly fee, but would wave all routing fees. Other Like CQG and CTS may have a routing fee but would cap it at for ex $395, $500, etc.
Brokers may quote commissions in different forms, some may include routing and commissions together, some may commissions only. Personally, I like to quote everything that is static as commissions because the only thing that changes is the exchange fee for each future.
Some broker quote ONLY the commissions and leaving routing out. From that perspective the table above is very inaccurate because quote commissions without all the added technology cost. For example, some CQG costs could be .10 via some FCMs while .25 with others per side. Therefore, quoting you commissions only may be very misleading.
The bottom line is that your best bet is to be quoted a whole Round Turn cost (Buy and Sell) and that way you compare apples to apples.
The Bottom line is the total cost, not a single component. “commissions” are only 25% of the story.
Many thanks, Emmett!
I just finished reading your piece on futures brokers, and I’m going for Optimus and Matt.
I am a total beginner that managed to lose a few $K’s before stumbling on your website. Now, I’m trying to find a good mentor from your reviews, looking both for stocks and futures. I really appreciate if there is a number to reach you to ask a few more questions about some of the top rated mentors.
Thank you for the wonderful website, including the brokers list. I’ve been reading and browsing your site for the last few days and learning a lot from it. I wonder if you have any specific comment about Interactive Brokers to use both for stock and future, hidden fees, pros, cons, etc.?
I wrote a review on futures brokers that can be found here. I like Matt at Optimus.
The brokerage side of the business has become so commoditized that the “helpful” broker can longer remain helpful and expect to make a living. There are a few very experienced and very skilled brokers that can be had very cheaply. Matt is Optimus is the smartest futures broker that I know, yet he is as cheap as everyone else.
For stocks, that is a whole different question. For daytrading stocks, and you have a $30k+ account, then Interactive Brokers is the best option. Sub 20k day trading stocks? I would avoid altogether. Stick with futures. Hope this helps. Best, Emmett
Anyone hear anything good or bad about the #1 on the list. EminiFuturesBrokers?
Dear Emmett Moore!
Have you heard anything about FASTBROKERS?
The platform definitely lacks some of the advanced analytics I’ve seen in other platforms . Also it doesn’t have complex auto-trading that some do as well (one of my friends that trades at GT made note of that). It works great for me though because I’m a day trader and I really want speed more than anything and some of the platforms I’ve used seem to get bogged down with heavy features. As for the auto-trading, they do have a bunch of basic auto-trade strategies like trailing stops, oco, brackets, etc. and unlike pretty much all of the platforms I’ve used, they are not run from my computer. That is a big deal for two reasons – if anything happens to my connection, my trades will not get executed and since they are on their servers at the exchange data center, they are executed faster than even if I had a VPN connection to my own server. I would say that if you want anaylytics overload and don’t care about the data or speed of execution, either trade station, trade navigator or eSignal would be the way to go. Keep in mind that they should not be used for any kind of volume trading since they all use compressed data and the platforms are a bit sluggish.
Thanks for the detailed explanation. That all makes sense.
Hi Jon and Peejay,
When I am home and trading, I usually do the volume listed above, but I travel frequently and when I am away (especially in countries with spotty coverage), my volume is sporadic. As a result, at firms where I paid less than my current rate of $.59 (I’ve paid as low as $.29), I got hit with some pretty imaginative fees – both in my ‘off time’ and then when my trading resumed. Last year I decided to trade for several months consistently so I leased a CME membership. I provided GT with my docs and they lowered my exchange fees so my all in rate was $1.11. If you are not a member the exchange fees alone are $1.60/side for currencies and that is the same for everyone. The commission is really the smallest factor in the transaction cost. Also, I don’t pay a data fee – when I paid the $.29, I paid $.25 for the data. So I’m pretty happy with the $.59 knowing that I’m never going to get shafted when I take off for a while and then have to ‘re-negotiate’. Personally, I’d rather not speak with anyone, especially a broker.
Thanks for the very extensive, and very authoritative review of Generic, Pat O. I prefer a more hands-of approach myself.
I’ve been demo-ing their trading platform for a few days, and it seems ok for me. I would like to have more sophisticated analysis tools for quickly seeing w/l ratio, mae/mfe for each rt, etc, but I guess I can do that in a spreadsheet too.
Sorry for the typo.
I find it hard to believe that people who ”claim” that are trading 250 and 1000 contracts a day are paying that high amount in fees.
If you are trading that size a day on 6E you should be paying peanuts with a clearing firm, I know for a fact, no more than $1.80 all in.
Thanks for taking the time to post all this information. It really helped me find a cheaper broker!
Hi Pat and Emmett:
We are struggling with execution on ES @ TradeStation – over half of the trades don’t seem to execute (especially to get in and TP). We usually do over 250 contracts a day at the minimum and it hurts quite a bit. Would you recommend anyone better – maybe Advantage, Generic or…? Highly appreciate
I haven’t had the issue you are describing at any firm in recent years. I have not had an account at TS, but have heard they didn’t really specialize in high volume day trading, due to their infrastructure. I have always heard that their software was fantastic for really advanced configuration, but if you don’t need that you may wish to switch to a firm that is better able to accommodate higher volume traders. It’s unlikely that you would have these issues at Advantage, Velocity or Generic Trade. I’m at Generic now and have been doing my most volume ever (about 1000/day) and am very pleased with the execution. If I do any more volume I may consider leasing a server or VPS from them, which I’ve heard can help even more. Good luck.
Hi Pat 0,
If your daily volume is 1000 contracts a day, you can easily get a price of less than 0.50 per contract.
I must say that I am incredibly impressed! Wow, I thought I had done my homework, but you put me to shame. I trade indices and currencies almost exclusively (mostly ES and 6E) and trade at least 300 contracts daily and upwards about 1000 when the stars and planet align (j/k). Anyways, I’ve been trading about 20 years and have had accounts with several of the ones you list as well as the old standby, Interactive Brokers. My favorites were Advantage and Velocity, since they were best geared for higher volume traders IMO and offered TT, my platform of choice. Well, after the takeover at Velocity, they were never the same and Advantage made it difficult for me to trade in that they really don’t work with non-institutional very well. A friend (who trades more than I do) recommended Generic Trade, but I was hesitant since they are an IB and not a clearing firm and also do not offer TT. I decided to open with only enough for a single contract (since they have no minimum) and get used to their platform/check them out. I have to say, the process of opening was certainly different. I usually get calls as soon as I completed my form from a broker asking when I’m funding and then the negotiating for rates begins. Nothing. I completed the form and received an account number and funding instructions. I then wired funds and was trading the next day – didn’t talk to anyone!! I have to say, that was nice. The platform was more simplistic that TT, that’s for sure, but I was able to get acclimated pretty quickly and the execution speed was easily as good as Advantage, which I always considered the best. After two weeks without issue, I sent the rest of my funds and have been there for about six months or so. The platform works fine for me and it’s nice only spending $59 and not over $1000 for the TT- I also get a mobile that works in sync with their pro platform. Another thing is that most (if not all) companies that offer decent platforms charge a transactional cost in addition to the commission, so factor that in. I think AMP charges another $.50 side. Also, you mention that Zumo is the same as Generic Trade, which is not the case. Generic is a private company and Zumo is Ironbeam and according to my friend who was there before Generic, has brokers calling trying to sell him on more commission/service. Generic claims to not have any brokers or salespeople – not sure how that works, but it seems to be true. Finally, I would say that if you do not need powerful charting or any assistance, Generic may be a a good second firm or even a first firm is your needs are simple like mine. Otherwise you might want to give Advantage or even Velocity (they’re still pretty good) a try.
Thanks for the comment Pat. You definitely know your stuff.
I really do like Generic Trade. You cannot beat the costs. The platform is simple and easy to learn. Other, more technical stuff like strategy back testing can be implemented using Trade Navigator, or Tradestation or Ninja, etc.
Hope to read more of your comments in the future.
I’m not usually one for posting, but since you asked, I thought I’d oblige 🙂 I’m done trading quite early today also. Anyways, I had never heard of your top three, so I thought I’d check them out and here is what I found if anyone is interested. The first two are two different names for the same company; in fact it is just one guy working out of his apartment (thanks Google). That’s probably fine, I just thought it was kind of amusing. The third one listed is similar as he is one guy working from his house. Regardless, I was curious about the commission and as it turns out, you have to add another $.50 a roundtrip for their fee to connect to the platforms. They both offer a bunch of platforms and a lot of traders are really particular about that, so keep that in mind. I was just caught off guard about the commission and had to check it out. I remember when $5 commissions were cheap, so I guess it’s all relative. Transaction costs are just something that I’m really sensitive about because on a good month I may do over 10k trades and I’ve been burnt by brokers giving me a low rate and then raising them when my volume goes down or I go on vacation/hiatus. When I was looking into Generic I read somewhere that since they opened, every account has received the same commission of $.59 – I thought that was pretty cool considering my previous experiences. Anyways, I’ve spent way too much time opening accounts and talking to brokers over the years, so hopefully my pain is your gain. Thanks again for this site, I really appreciate it – good luck trading!
Hi Pat O,
Exactly how much does Generic charge all in for currency futures options (Eur/USd) . It should not be more than USD 2 for single turn. Then it is competitive.
I don’t trade options, but I do know that they charge the same commission for everything. One of the reasons I decided to open with them was that the fee schedule was so easy to understand – compared to companies like Interactive or some of the ones listed on this page that have ‘other’ transaction fees. Since I’ve been trading the ES for a long time, I know that the exchange and NFA fees are $1.16 and if the only transaction fee they really charged as they said was $.59, then my round trip charge should be $3.50 – and it was. I found that most places I had accounts and many I called had other transaction charges including those for the platform and feeds I used (along with some others that made no sense like ‘processing fee’).
Anyways, the easiest way to know for sure what they charge is either look at your current statement, as all firms have to itemize the exchange, clearing (part of the exchange) and NFA fees, which are the same for everyone. Just add $.59. Also, you can see if they list your market on their website on the commissions page. Finally to make sure any of the firms are charging correctly, you may always visit the exchange website.
Pat O, Hello was reading your post interesting trading you are doing , i gotta ask however you mention TT? could you explain what that is. Thank You !
I just wanted to say thank you for your time, and effort in preparing this comparison, as well as for the rest of the vetting you do! I’m sure you’ve saved many bundles of $$. Thanks again!
Thank you for this detailed list. I wasn’t aware of any Mac compatible broker platforms until I came across your website. So delighted to see that Generic are. Are Zumo and Generic good for fills compared to Ninja Trader for trading in a live trading room scenario on oil?
thank you for your comments and thoughts.cheers.c
I would like to talk to you is there a phone number or Skype
I can call you on.
what do you thing about ninja trader
Ninja Trader is an excellent brokerage, and an excellent trading platform. Pretty much.
However, the fee’s can get a little aggressive. For instance, you need to pay network access fee’s of .30 per trade, and .10 for a functional trading DOM. So in reality, you are paying the published rate plus .40 cent, which can really add up. In addition, you need to pay platform fee’s, which is not cheap either. And the learning curve on the platform does take some time.
I am active and trade a lot of contracts, so I HATE these little addon fee’s. And I like to keep my brokerage options separate from my trading platform options. In other words, if the broker starts having problems then I want out immediately. And if the platform gets old and starts having problems, I also want out.
So what do I use. I use Transact Futures at .75 with no hidden network or trading DOM fee’s. The brokerage fits nice and snug into my favorite trading platform, which is Trade Navigator.
Transact is cheap and reliable. I keep a large account and no problems. And Trade Navigator is hands down the best support for all of the available trading platforms. They have a toll free number than you can call and they screen share on the fly, with no delay. The techs are located in Colorado Springs Colorado and they speak perfect english, with nearly zero wait time. When I have a problem, I want answers immediately, and I want help within a minute of the problem.
Hope this helps. Might not be the best answer, but this is my best answer.
can you email me a list of the best futures brokers
The list is getting finalized. Just waiting for a few brokers to respond with pricing. I personally use Transact Futures and pay .75 each side, plus exchange fee’s. Would like to use Zumo or Generic Trade, (same company) as they are .50 and .60 plus exchange fees. However, these brokers make you use their own platform. I use Trade Navigator.
Fees are something that I am pretty sensitive about, last year I spent over $3,000 in trading commissions.
You need to be tough on the fee’s, especially if you are a new trader. Be merciless about commissions paid. And watch out for the fine print, some broker will say .75 but then you have this additional hidden fee of .25 to a third party for network access and .05 for dynamic trading DOM. Just ask lots of questions. You can email me directly at email@example.com