The basic fees involved in trading futures contracts are brokerage fees, clearing fees and settlement fees.
Futures trading is an alternative investment that offers very high leverage for traders. Trading futures contracts does not require investing the full value of the contract. Traders put up a small amount of margin to hold a position, typically no more than 10% of the value of the contract. In addition to possessing the necessary capital, traders also pay fees on each trade.
The primary costs involved in futures trading are brokerage fees. These fees vary substantially between full service and discount brokers. In addition, how fees are calculated varies. Some brokers charge a flat fee per buy/sell transaction. Other brokers charge one fee when a trading position is opened, and another when the position is closed. Some brokers charge a percentage of the total value of the order. Others assess both a flat fee and an additional percentage based on the size of the order.
Some futures traders, rather than trading directly themselves, prefer to use a managed account that is traded by a futures trading adviser or money management professional. A managed account incurs management fees in addition to trading fees. These fees may be charged either as a flat fee, a percentage of total capital invested or a percentage of profits.
The exchanges on which futures contracts are traded charge clearing fees and settlement fees. However, these fees are usually insignificant, commonly starting at a few cents and totaling no more than a dollar or two per contract traded.