Live Chat Support
Since the forex marketplace is open nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a broker's customer service should be available during the hours that the trader might need help; i.e., when the trader is awake. The ease with which one can access live chat support or speak with a live person, rather than a time consuming and often frustrating auto attendant is an important consideration. A quick "test" chat or call can provide an idea of the type of customer service a broker provides, wait times, and the representative's ability to concisely answer questions regarding spreads, leverage, regulation, and company details, including how long they have been in business, and the size of their trade volume (larger brokers generally have access to better prices and execution). Most reputable brokers do offer round-the-clock support due to the nature of the forex markets. (For related reading, see Forex Trading The Martingale Way.) Languages
Many brokers' websites specify the languages spoken by their customer support crew, or list separate telephone and/or email contacts by country. If the website does not provide this information, a call can be placed to clarify and determine if a trader will be able to comfortably and effectively communicate with the broker. In general, it makes sense to only do business with a company that can provide clear and helpful assistance in a language in which the trader is fluent.
Most forex brokers allow clients to make deposits using a credit card, such as a VISA or MasterCard, a bank wire transfer, or an electronic payment, such as PayPal. These methods are generally quick and allow traders to start using an account within a short period of time. Checks, either from an account in the individual's or corporation's account name, are often accepted as well; however, there will typically be a delay as the broker waits for the check to clear.
Withdrawal of funds from a trading account can be made in several ways, depending on the broker. Ideally, the system in place should allow for hassle-free withdrawals, and the process should be clearly stated on the broker's website or in its promotional material. Brokers may offer withdrawals via direct deposit to the bank account on record, by check, credit card, or wire transfer. If a withdrawal is made to a credit card, it will typically be processed only to a card that was used to fund the trading account, and cannot exceed the amount of the deposit. The broker's website should state how long withdrawals take, and if any fees will be incurred. It pays to read the fine print: a broker's website may state that they do not charge a fee for depositing or withdrawing funds, when in fact they may relay the costs of bank fees onto the client. For example, if the broker pays a bank fee of $20 for a wire transfer, the cost will be passed on to the client.
Commissions and Fees
Clients should be able to find detailed and up-to-date information regarding a broker's commission and fee schedule. Brokers make money through commissions and spreads – the difference between the bid and ask price of the forex pair. Many brokers advertise that they charge no commissions, but instead make their money with wider spreads. The spread could be a fixed spread of, for example, three pips (the minimum unit of price change in forex), or it could be variable depending on market volatility. The wider the spread, the more difficult it can be to make a profit. Popular trading pairs, such as the EUR/USD and GBP/USD typically have tighter spreads than more thinly traded pairs. (There are three types of commissions used in this market. Learn how to get the best deal. For more, see How To Pay Your Forex Broker.)
Any fees associated with deposits, withdrawals or other account actions, such as receiving a paper statement by mail or having an inactive account, should also be clearly stated.
Forex Broker Guide: Advanced Features
TradingForex brokers set their prices based on commission, spread, or a combination of both. Traders have to be cautious in the thinly regulated forex market.
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InvestingIf you're a rookie investor, your first big investment decision should be an informed one. Read about how to choose your first broker here.
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Financial AdvisorMake sure you're getting the best service by staying informed and involved.
Financial AdvisorWhat you need to know about fees when choosing between a full service and discount broker.
TradingHow do you find the right broker for your investment needs? Start by reading our broker tutorial.
InvestingIn the investment world, broker is a term used to refer to an individual or entity that helps facilitate trading in financial securities.