Here's a head-to-head comparison of two well-known trading platforms. OANDA made its name in the forex market. offering individual investors access to spot forex and CFDs since 1996. While its standard trading platforms and below-average trading costs are attractive, the company tries to differentiate itself with superior execution quality and transparency. OANDA accepts customers from the U.S., U.K., Singapore, Canada and Australia. They offer an above-average number of products for trading, including currency, commodity and index instruments. They offer more flexibility in lot sizes than typical brokers, which helps to offset the disadvantage of some missing instruments like cryptocurrency and single-stock CFD trading.
FXCM has been in the forex business for 18 years and more recently entered the CFD business with major stock indices and commodities. The company's focus on forex enables it to provide high-quality Forex education and some of the lowest forex spreads in the industry. FXCM also offers mini accounts, which makes it a great choice for clients who have smaller account sizes. FXCM continues to regain public trust it lost in early 2017 when the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) barred the company from operating in the United States for misrepresenting its relationship with and receiving kickbacks from a market maker.
In our 2019 Best Online Brokers Awards, OANDA received an award for Best for Forex Trading.
- Account Minimum: $0
- Fees: EUR/USD 1.3 pips, USD/JPY 1.1 pips
- Best For: Seasoned traders looking for a stellar desktop trading experience
- Account Minimum: $50
- Fees: 7 to 1.3 pips (regular) .2 pips active trader only
- Best for: Professionals looking for a full-scale desktop trading experience
FXCM gives you the flexibility to automate your trading and even use your own, or a third-party trading platform to execute trades. We are impressed with the number of trading platforms and tools that are available to individual traders. In fact, the company's only negative mark was that they require a minimum monthly notional trading volume of 500K per month for the previous three months to access its Virtual Private Servers (VPS) for free.
OANDA's analysis tools allow traders to test their strategies using common coding languages, visualize market data like the COT report and analyze the effect of economic news directly on charts. We have found the target market for such features tend to be experienced traders who need advanced analytics and resources to deploy, test, and manage their trading strategies in real time.
- Customer service slow to respond, with unusually long hold times
- No minimum account size
- Good trading applications
- Extensive forex experience
- Tight forex spreads
- Mini accounts
- No emergency stop loss
Mobile and Emerging Technology
OANDA's FXTrade mobile trading platform crams an impressive amount of functionality into a small platform. In fact, we found the mobile application to offer similar functionality to the desktop application. Traders can access OANDA's trading instruments, complex order types and account analytics all from their mobile device. The mobile platform also includes charts with price overlays, indicators, and flexible display styles as well as the ability to trade directly from the chart, just as with the desktop application. Other features include news feeds and economic analysis. It was nice to be able to continue our research and trading experience on a mobile platform that felt very similar to our desktop experience.
The FXCM mobile app includes most of the functionality available in the desktop application. Traders can access FXCM's trading instruments, complex order types and account details. Charting is available (complete with trading indicators and drawing tools) on both the Android and iPhone apps. The app also includes a news feed and an economic calendar. Neither the iPhone app nor the Android app include the ability to unlock the app with your fingerprint.
- Mobile has standard navigation and easy-to-use menus
- Robust charts with integrated order entry helps unify experience with the desktop application
- News, economic announcements, and calendars opened inside the app
- No fingerprint security
- Mobile app includes all of desktop's functionality
- Dynamic charts can be expanded to full screen to provide better clarity during the technical analysis process
- Deposit funds through the mobile app
- App does not include fingerprint security and no added security beyond the login password
News and Research
FXCM provides a wide range of analytics, research and tools. We especially liked the Grid Sight Index and the Trading Signals. The economic calendar was easy to use and included expectations, actual results, currencies affected, and historical data. Research from FXCM's analysts was timely and informative. However, the only information source within the newsfeed is Investing.com.
OANDA provides a very wide range of analytics, research and tools. We found the insights into the behavior of other traders through the Order Book and COT reports particularly interesting. Economic analysis and calendars are comprehensive and include historical trend graphs. Social traders, however, will find their experience lacking on the OANDA platform. Other than a forum, OANDA doesn't offer any social investing tools.
- Some of OANDA's research and news resources are only available by launching external web pages or applications
- Backtest strategies on tick data back to 2004
- Unique data visualization
- Limited news source availability
- Economic calendar was easy to use, includes expectations, actual results, currencies affected, and historical data.
- FXCM analyst data was timely and informative
Education and Security
FXCM offers a robust forex education via its FXCM University, trading guides, video library, seminars and live classroom. However, the company provides little to no education for trading CFDs on indices or commodities. The ongoing webinars and commentary incorporate the trading platform, which will help investors to become more proficient with its use.
OANDA ticks all the boxes here as they offer economic analysis, real-time news feeds, calendars, and advanced data analytics. It's a very robust offering, but if we had one gripe it was that things are scattered across OANDA's website and trading platforms. The amount and quality of the resources are above average but investors should expect a learning curve as they try to find everything.
- Live webinars available covering market analysis and platforms
- Education for new investors about forex, CFDs, and orders
- Documentation and articles available for backtesting and advanced analysis
- Online live classroom enables interaction with instructors in webinars
- Downloadable guides covering specific trading topics
- No glossary available
OANDA offers flexible trading costs, allowing investors to trade with a traditional broker-spread or the typically less-expensive raw-spread plus commission model. OANDA uses an automated engine to attempt to follow global pricing closely, but spreads are still subject to market volatility and liquidity. The company makes it easy to see current spreads and historical average spreads to make their pricing more transparent. For traders who meet certain account requirements there is a commission plus raw-spread model available, which should be cheaper than regular spreads.
FXCM provides access to a limited number of financial markets - only Forex, commodities and major stock indices - via spread betting and CFDs. FXCM provides some of the lowest Forex spreads in the industry. Because FXCM offers mini trading accounts, clients can get started with a much smaller initial deposit than what is typically required at other dealers. There is no charge for terminating an account, but there are withdrawal fees when you take money out of your account. Inactivity fees kick in after an account has been idle for one year.
- Very transparent pricing
- Traders that meet certain account requirements can use a commission-plus raw-spread model, often cheaper than regular spreads
- Industry-low forex spreads
- Mini trading accounts enable clients to get started with a much smaller initial deposit than typically required at other dealers
- No charge for terminating an account, but there are withdrawal fees when you take money out of your account
- Inactivity fees kick in after an account has been idle for one year
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In addition, every broker we surveyed was required to fill out a 320-point survey about all aspects of their platform that we used in our testing. Many of the online brokers we evaluated provided us with in-person demonstrations of their platforms at our offices.
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