Working with Futures Trading Brokers

Big risk, big reward. That’s what you’ll find when you trade commodities, also called futures trading.

Futures trading is a popular form of investment, because while the level of risk can be higher than other forms of investing, the payoff can also be more significant. Most people interested in this type of trading will go through futures trading firms or use one of the many online futures trading platforms.

It’s difficult to trade futures if you’re not experienced, which can be one of the appealing elements of using futures trading platforms.

With the important role of futures trading companies and futures trading brokers in mind, we created this comprehensive guide to break down the top six best futures trading brokers. This list covers not only the best futures traders but also details why they were selected for this list, so you can make a smart, informed decision if you’re venturing into this exciting trading world.

Best Future Trading Brokers Red Award EmblemAward Emblem: Top 6 Best Futures Trading Brokers

AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Best Futures Trading Brokers

This list is sorted alphabetically (click any of the above names to go directly to the detailed review of that personal finance blog).

What Is Futures Trading?

Before moving into coverage of the top futures traders, it’s worthwhile to cover the basics, including answering the common question, “what is futures trading?”

Futures trading is a means of investing money in which the investor is speculating on the price of a commodity group. A commodity is a tangible asset and is something that people use every day, such as food or precious metals.

The ultimate goal of futures trading is to speculate whether the price of a commodity group is going to go up or down in the future and then to make a profit based on buying low and selling higher.

Two entities participate in futures trading: hedgers and speculators. Hedgers are the people who work with the cash commodity. For example, if a farmer grows a crop which is then sold to a processing company, the processor is the hedger because he can buy enough futures contracts of the commodity to cover how much of the crop he’ll be buying.

The next group involved in these investment transactions are speculators. These are the people most pertinent to this guide. Speculator are anyone who’s a floor trader or an investor. There are independent floor traders who deal only in their own accounts, while floor brokers handle futures trading on behalf of their clients or the futures brokerage firm for which they work.

What Are the Advantages of Trading Futures?

As mentioned at the start of this guide, futures are often advantageous investment opportunities because the prices of commodities futures tend to show greater rates of change in a shorter period of time. This means that compared to traditional stock prices, you may find that you’re making more money in a shorter amount of time.

At the same time, it is important to note that this can go the other direction as well, which can lead to a higher loss than trading stocks or investing in real estate.

Another advantage of trading futures, aside from the potential to see faster and higher rates of return, is that they are highly leveraged. That means you only have to put up a small portion of a futures contract, which serves as a performance bond.

Trading futures is also seen as being largely immune to the unfair practices that come with insider trading because it’s difficult to have insider information on the supply of cash or other factors weighing into commodities trading.

When you’re working with futures trading firms, you’ll find commissions are generally lower than with other types of investment and usually aren’t paid until after your position has come to an end. Some of the best online futures broker platforms are the least expensive way to get into trading commodities, which is why they’ve become such an attractive alternative to full-service futures brokerage firms.

How Do You Select the Best Futures Brokers and Futures Trading Firms?

When you’re searching for the best broker for futures or the best online futures brokers, it’s important to make sure you find an option that’s the right fit for you.

The top futures traders will watch commodities markets and look at the leading indicators key to the markets: supply and demand. This will dictate how much a broker or trading firm will recommend an investor put in a particular position.

When you’re looking at futures trading, there are three routes you can take. You can go with a full-service futures broker, you can find a less expensive discount brokerage, or you can utilize futures trading firms that are online.

If you’re opting for a full-service futures trading company, you’ll want a firm with great communication and an interest in learning your needs and investment goals. A full-service brokerage firm is great if you’re new to futures trading or just starting to learn the ropes.

If you have some experience in the process, but you’re not ready to jump in head-first, you may opt to go with a discount brokerage. A discount brokerage will offer some of the perks and service of the full-service firms but at a lower price.

Finally, if you’re a highly experienced trader, you may opt to go with one of the online futures trading platforms, although many of the online options do also offer professional guidance.

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Methodology for Selecting Futures Trading Brokers

What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the companies that are ranked on its various top rated lists?

Please click here, “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies,” to find a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top companies, products, and services.

Detailed Review—Top Ranking of Futures Trading Brokers

After carefully considering futures trading brokers and online platforms, we compiled the following list of the top six. As you continue reading, you’ll find detailed reviews of each of our picks,  as well as an outline of the factors used in the decision-making process

FOREX.com Review

FOREX.com is an online trading platform ideal for investors who are seeking opportunities in not just forex, but also global markets. This website offers constant customer support, the utmost in secure trading, and advanced tools, all of which make it a go-to destination for many traders.

FOREX.com offers clients access to the global foreign exchange market, and some of the services offered by this company include professional charting, market research and commentary, and education and training tools.

FOREX.com is a registered FCM (Futures Commission Merchant) and RFED (Retail Foreign Exchange Dealer) with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and a member of the National Futures Association, which ensures the company always operates in line with the highest standards levels. FOREX.com is also subject to the most stringent of financial reporting, all of which were important in its selection as one of the top futures trading platforms.

Key Factors That Led Us to Rank This Website as One of the Top Futures Trading Platforms

Below are highlighted some of the elements of Forex.com leading to its selection as one of 2017’s best futures trading platforms.

Top Trading Technology

Since our selections offer online trading options,  technology is incredibly important for this futures brokers comparison. FOREX.com is a leader in pioneering trading technology, and the company has been for more than 10 years.

The technology and automation offered by FOREX.com ensure optimal execution of all trades, and there are several trading platforms, designed to suit the needs of any trader. These include:

  • FOREXTrader PRO: This is a proprietary platform for traders that offers advanced tools and high-performance levels. It’s available as a desktop application, a browser-based interface, and as native apps for iPhone and Android.
  • MetaTrader 4: This customized MT4 version includes features like automated order rules and advanced order functions. It’s automatically synced from a single download.
  • GTX-Forex ECN: This is designed for professional traders and high-net-worth individuals, featuring an independent, commission-based platform that boasts client-to-client functionality.

Tailored Futures Trading Options

For traders looking for commodity futures trading specifically, FOREX.com offers services through their affiliate, Daniels Trading. Daniels Trading is a full-service commodity futures trading platform established in 1995 and built on a mission of independence, objectivity, and reliability.

The benefit of the FOREX.com and Daniels Trading affiliation is that you get access to futures trading brokers specializing in this area, but your service is backed by the name and technology of FOREX.com.

Through the FOREX/Daniels Trading affiliation, clients receive access to premier trading resources, which include proprietary trading advice covering all market sectors. This access also includes insight from experienced brokers and direct trading recommendations.

The ability to access this type of expert and highly specific futures trading advice is perhaps one of the most important reasons FOREX was selected as one of the best futures trading platforms.

Free Practice Account

If you’re just beginning your exploration of futures trading platforms, through the affiliation between FOREX and Daniels, you can take advantage of  dt Pro, which is a simple software trading application that tackles all of the complicated elements of futures trading and order management.

With the free dT Pro Practice account, you can trade futures and view  spreads, options, and forex, with competitive commission rates and no software fees.

Generic Trade Review

One of the top futures trading platforms, Generic Trade, is a discount online trading firm where all accounts, regardless of size or volume, are priced at $0.59 commission per side.

Generic Trade is one of the best futures brokers that combines low cost with a high level of technology, and users can try out this technology by taking advantage of the free demo offer.

This commodity futures trading platform is ideal for someone who wants discounted futures and options trading without the parameters usually associated with futures trading, such as minimum account balances.

Generic Trade believes to be one of the only firms that charges all clients the same low rate, to the best of their knowledge. In fact, every client that it has had in the past and present, has paid the same $.59 commission. This was done to show the glaring contrast to the many other firms with intricate tiered-structures or that promote ‘as low as’ rates. 

Key Factors That Enabled This Futures Broker to Rank as One of 2017’s Best Futures Brokerage Firms

Below are highlighted some of the reasons Generic Trade was included in this ranking of the top 2017 futures trading brokers.

Security and Stability

Generic Trade may be one of the discount futures trading companies, but that doesn’t mean they don’t provide a high level of security, stability, and reputability. Generic Trade is registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and is also a member of the National Futures Association (NFA).

Protection delivered by membership in these prestigious groups ensures your trades and assets are protected at the highest level, and all obligations from Generic Trade are backed by constant audit and enforcement on the part of regulatory agencies.

Trading Infrastructure

As it pertains to the selection of the best online futures broker options, two key components are essential to consider—the speed and reliability offered by the technology and infrastructure of the platform.

These are crucial elements to everything Generic Trade does and delivers. They offer colocation services at their data center in Aurora, with port-to-port latency in less than 500 nanoseconds. They also use the Chicago Data Fortress for the Digital Economy, which speeds up trading time significantly.

The infrastructure and network are designed for scalability, so Generic Trade can continue growing without interruption to service or speed.

Limited Restrictions

Generic Trade is the best futures trading platform for someone seeking simplicity, ease-of-use, and excellent trading options without high commission costs or unnecessary extras. This streamlined futures trading platform doesn’t have brokers or salespeople, which is how they keep their costs low.

At the same time, traders aren’t subject to typical restrictions, such as minimum account balances and trading activity, maintenance chargers, or quarterly fees.

24-Hour Trading Support

Just because Generic Trade doesn’t include all of the extras that usually lead to higher costs for investors doesn’t mean they don’t offer top-level service. This service includes 24-hour customer trading support in a secure environment.

The website design and concept may be simple, but traders can enjoy the  peace of mind that comes with constant support.

Interactive Brokers Review

Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. is a trading platform that’s rated investment grade by Standard & Poor’s, with a mission of creating the technology that ensures competitiveness in terms of advanced trading tools, price, speed, and diversity.

Interactive Brokers Group was founded by Thomas Peterffy, and over its 39-year history it’s grown to be one of the top securities firms, with more than $5 billion in equity capital. This worldwide broker dealer agency offers not only futures trading options but also stocks, options, forex, bonds, CFDs, and worldwide funds.

Key Factors That Enabled Us to Rank This Website as One of the Top Futures Trading Platforms 

Compiled below are some of the noteworthy reasons Interactive Brokers was selected as one of the top six 2017 futures trading brokers.


Despite the reputation and quality of technology and service provided by Interactive Brokers, they offer rates that are on average 69% lower than their competitors, which is a key reason they were selected as one of the best futures traders.

When comparing the U.S. Commission Rates, at E-Trade the commission is $2.99 for one E-Mini S&P 500 future, while Interactive Brokers rate is only $0.85.

Simple Pricing Plans

As well as offering low prices in general, Interactive Brokers was selected as one of the best futures trading companies because of their simplified pricing plans.

These include Fixed Rate Pricing:

  • In U.S. markets, you’re charged a fixed rate low commission, plus fees which are exchange, regulatory, and clearing.
  • For non-U.S. markets, the fixed rate pricing options include a single flat rate per contract or percent of trade value.
  • The non-U.S. markets fixed rate pricing also includes all commissions and fees (exchange, regulatory, clearing, and carrying).

Transparent volume-tiered pricing includes:

  • A low broker commission that decreases based on volume, plus exchange, regulatory and carrying fees.
  • This option is usually the best for trading in large volumes or the tendency to add liquidity.
  • The pricing under the volume-tiered option is the same for U.S. and non-U.S. markets.

Worldwide Market Centers

Interactive Market Brokers prides itself on being one of the best futures broker options in not only the U.S. but around the world.

Along with offering agriculture, currency, energy, equity index, fixed income, metals, and volatility futures from one streamlined platform, Interactive Brokers is ranked as one of the best futures trading platforms because it provides futures options on more than 35 global market centers.


Part of the notable reputation of Interactive Brokers stems from their awards and industry recognition.

In 2016, Interactive Brokers was recognized as a Top Online Broker, as well as being Best for International Traders, Best for Frequent Traders, and for being a Lowest Cost Broker for the  fifteenth year in a row by Barron’s.

OptionsXpress Review

OptionsXpress is an options and top futures traders platform, founded in 2001 and operating as a subsidiary of The Charles Schwab Corporation. As part of Charles Schwab, OptionsXPress can offer clients access to additional advice and services, and banking services as well.

The many tools and resources offered by OptionsXpress, one of the leading future brokerage firms, are designed to be powerful yet also convenient and easy-to-use. This is one of the best futures trading platform options if you’re seeking something that will be a natural fit with your busy life yet will allow you to make smart investing decisions.

Key Factors That Enabled Us to Rank This Website as One of the Top Futures Trading Brokers 

Listed below are some of the characteristics of OptionsXpress contributing to its inclusion on the ranking of the top six 2017 futures trading brokers.

Powerful Tools

Offered to clients of OptionsXpress are an array of incredibly powerful yet intuitive trading tools. Some of these tools include:

  • All-in-One Trade Ticket: This lets users build strategies and place all of their trades from one single, unified screen.
  • Strategy Scan: This tool, provided by this pick for one of the best online future broker platforms, lets users search for options strategies based on a variety of individualized factors including risk tolerance and sentiment of the symbol.
  • Trade and Profitability Calculator: Using this calculator lets clients identify risks and opportunity that comes with options and futures trade.
  • Virtual Trade: Unique virtual trade accounts let users try out their ideas and strategies at no risk, with $25,000 in a signature Virtual Trade account.

Education and Skills Building

OptionsXpress isn’t just one of the best online futures broker platforms; it’s also a provider of in-depth research and education tools that can help traders of all skill and experience levels build on their knowledge and become better at what they do.

Some of the skill building options provided by OptionsXpress include:

  • Live Events: OptionsXpress hosts weekly webinars as well as localized live events which can help traders, both experienced and inexperienced, learn more about anything from basic fundamentals to advanced strategies.
  • On-Demand Training: During the selection of OptionsXpress as one of the top futures brokerage firms, we considered their unique, on-demand training options which include videos, charts, and skills tests that allow traders to take maximum advantage of market conditions.
  • Daily Newsletters: When you sign up for the Today’s Options Market Update, you’ll receive daily insights and trends. You can also sign up for XPRESSO, which is a newsletter exclusively focusing on futures trading.

Convenient Access

OptionsXpress is one of the best interactive brokers of futures because they understand convenience and ease-of-access, and these are critical components to their products and offerings.

This is an all-in-one platform, so you can trade not only futures but also stocks and options in one location.

You can also use it wherever you are thanks to the technology that can be utilized at home, work, and on-the-go.

Advanced Orders

As well as offering features such as real-time quotes, a choice of browser-based or mobile platforms and global market access, OptionsXpress also features advanced order functionality so users can automatically lock in gains.

This feature ensures users are protected against losses with features including  contingent orders and trailing stops.

TD Ameritrade Review

TD Ameritrade has been working with clients since 1975 to ensure they have the tools, resources, and access to make the most of their financial situations. TD Ameritrade is an online platform offering access to everything users need to build and manage a portfolio, without charging platform or data fees.

All TD Ameritrade services are backed by the knowledge and expertise of a professional team of support specialists who are licensed and available in whatever way is most convenient for you, whether it’s by phone, email, online, or in-person.

Key Factors That Allowed This Platform to Rank as a Top 2017 Futures Trading Broker

Below is a list of some of the reasons TD Ameritrade was chosen as one of 2017’s top futures trading brokers.

Recognition and Awards

TD Ameritrade is consistently recognized as a leader in the industry, thanks to their powerful trading tools and broad resources.

Barron’s has recognized TD Ameritrade as a number one pick for long-term investing four years in a row, as well as number one for usability, research amenities, portfolio analysis and reports, and also number one for novices for five years in a row.

From StockBrokers.com, TD Ameritrade has recently received the following awards:

  • Number one for platforms and tools
  • Top pick for education
  • The number one broker for new investors

Other organizations that have recognized TD Ameritrade as one of the premier futures trading platforms, as well as a top overall stock and trading brokerage, include Corporate Insight and Stocks & Commodities.

Convenient Platforms

TD Ameritrade is often selected as a leader among top futures traders because of their technologically driven and convenient platform options. You can access trade tools on your desktop or on the TD TAmeritrade Mobile Trader, which is one of a very few mobile apps that let users trade from a mobile device.

TD Ameritrade is often considered one of the pioneers of mobile trading. Other mobile tools include the ability to set up live market updates from CNBC and to download customized charts and paper trade with paperMoney.

The signature “thinkorswim” platform is designed for integration, functionality and the inclusion of all the trading tools you could need or want in one location.

Technical Studies and Education

When you rely on TD Ameritrade as your interactive broker of futures, you’ll have access to one of the largest libraries of free education tools. You can also get insights from the leaders in the futures trading industry in the form of complimentary technical studies.

TD Ameritrade is unique because they don’t charge a subscription fee to access these valuable studies.


TD Ameritrade strives to ensure they’re providing their clients with the highest possible level of value. With that in mind, they offer a flat-rate commission on all online trades, and many options for commission-free investments.

Other benefits to users of TD Ameritrade include no trade requirements to gain  access to advanced features and no required opening deposit minimums.

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TradeStation Review

TradeStation is an award-winning platform offering a range of online financial brokerage services and trading across asset classes. It’s frequently named one of the best futures traders thanks to customizable tools and automated real-time monitoring.

TradeStation Securities Inc. is the licensed securities broker-dealer under which TradeStation operates, and it is a registered futures commission merchant, as well as a member of the Boston Options Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the Chicago Stock Exchange, and the International Securities Exchange.

Key Factors That Enabled Us to Rank This Platform as a Top 2017 Futures Trading Firm

Gathered below are a few of the many reasons TradeStation was named as one of 2017’s top futures trading platforms.

Awards and Recognition

Throughout the years, TradeStation has been the recipient of many awards and accolades in the industry.

In 2016 these awards include:

  • Highest rated by Barron’s in the “Best for Frequent Traders” category
  • Rated “Best Trading System—Stocks” and “Best Trading System—Futures” by Technical Analysis of Stocks & Commodities readers
  • Named as “Best Platform Technology” and “Best in Class” for mobile trading by StockBrokers.com
  • Ranked as one of the top five online brokers and number one for equity trading tools by Investor’s Business Daily.

Speed and Analytical Power

The strength of TradeStation and one of the big reasons it’s often named as one of the best online future broker platforms is because of their robust, stable technology. This technology is one of the top-ranked platforms available, boasting data, speed, and analytical power.

With one-click, futures traders can make trades straight from charts and the Matrix, and you can automate almost any futures strategy using EasyLanguage, which is a signature technological offering of TradeStation.

Fund Safety

As one of the most respected commodity futures trading options, TradeStation places a high premium on ensuring client funds are safe.

TradeStation doesn’t engage in proprietary trading as a result, and TradeStation Securities operates as part of the Monex Group, which is a leading Japanese financial service company. That means TradeStation is subject to rigorous Japanese oversight, as well as U.S. regulations and account protection requirements.

Some of the regulatory requirements adhered to by TradeStation include reserve and segregation requirements for futures accounts.

TradeStation Community

As well as the tools provided by TradeStation, one of the top-ranked futures trading platforms, you’ll also find the TradeStation Community, which is a collection of resources and discussion forums for investors.

The TradeStation Community includes TradeStation Wiki, which is a collection of tips, tricks and how-tos written by other users.

It also includes an array of discussion forums so you can talk to other traders and experts about everything from analysis to strategies. Some of the most popular forum categories include:

  • TradeStation and EasyLanguage Support
  • EasyLanguage File Library
  • Strategy Backtesting, Analysis, Trading, and Automation

Conclusion—Top 6 Futures Trading Brokers

While futures trading has been around for many decades, the way people see futures trading firms and the top futures traders is changing. Traders can now turn to the automated and technologically-driven power of futures trading companies that are primarily online.

The top futures traders now offer options such as mobile capability, online learning and resources, and constant support.

It’s our hope that this collection of the best futures trading brokers and futures trading platforms serves as a helpful guide. We designed this futures brokers comparison as a way to highlight important features to look for when selecting a brokerage firm or platform so you can design value-creating futures trading strategies, regardless of your experience level.

AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.