Forex Trading In The US

Forex trading in the US is among the largest and most liquid financial markets. This 2024 guide will focus on the key aspects of forex trading for US investors, including how it works and getting started.

Forex Brokers in the US

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The Best Forex Brokers in the US

How Forex Trading Works In The US

Forex trading involves converting one currency into another. Many people and corporations do this to profit from fluctuations in the relative prices of currencies. Currencies are traded in pairs, which means their value is determined relative to another currency. For example, trading the EUR/USD pair involves speculating on the strength of the Euro compared to the Dollar. If the US Dollar were to appreciate compared to the Euro, one dollar would be able to buy more Euros than before.

In the above pair, the EUR is the called base currency and the USD is called the quote currency. The base is always the first currency in the pair to provide standardization and make understanding instruments easier. In layman’s terms, the EUR/USD value is how many USD you could buy with one EUR.

Importantly, forex trading is a big business in the US. Many aspiring retail investors aim to profit from price fluctuations in currencies. However, as we outline below, forex trading in the US is heavily regulated so it is important to find a legal and supported online broker.

Products & Instruments

There are several methods for trading currencies in the US but they can be split into two main categories: spot and derivative. Spot forex trading in the US is measured in lots and involves physically purchasing another currency with USD or vice versa.

Derivatives, on the other hand, allow you to speculate on the price movement of one currency against another without actually transferring ownership of the funds. The main types of forex derivatives are spread betting, options and futures. CFDs, the most popular vehicle for retail forex trading outside the US, are banned within America.

The four most heavily traded currency pairs in the US and worldwide, known as the majors, all include the US dollar. These pairs represent the four next largest and most liquid currencies, paired with the USD. Given these characteristics, the major pairs tend to have tight spreads and high liquidity at top platforms, reducing slippage. Forex trading in the US with ECN brokers, in particular, provides access to raw market spreads, while STP and other execution styles generally involve a higher markup.

The most traded currency pair in the world is the EUR/USD, which accounts for more than 20% of all forex transactions. Unsurprisingly, this is a firm favorite with forex traders in the US.

Other major US forex pairs include:

Regulation When Forex Trading In The US

The United States holds one of the most regulated retail trading markets in the world. This extends not only to the companies that are allowed to sell their brokering services to US clients but also to the assets they can offer. American regulators insist that any company wishing to act as a retail brokerage in the US must hold a license with them, so there are no offshore options you can use to sidestep any regulations. Moreover, there are stringent capital requirements placed on firms looking for a US license, resulting in a small market of companies to choose from.

On top of this, all CFD trading is banned for retail traders in the United States, whether that is within forex, stock, crypto or commodity markets. However, those interested in forex trading in the US through derivatives can still make use of vanilla options, binary options, futures and swaps.

How To Get Started Forex Trading In The US

Open An Account

Once you have found the best broker for you, it is time to open an account. This is generally quite a pain-free process, though some firms will require more personal data and take longer to process your request than others. All companies will carry out some level of know-your-customer (KYC) check to ensure you are opening an account legally.

Things to consider at this point are the type of account you wish to open (STP, ECN, MT4, copy trading etc.) if the firm offers several options, and the leverage limit you want to include. You will also need to deposit at this point, funding your brokerage account with capital to get started forex trading in the US.

Choose An Instrument

With all the currency pairs in the forex markets, it can be hard to pick the right one. If you have a strategy that requires one specific pair then focus on this, otherwise, we recommend looking at high-volume, high-liquidity pairs like EUR/USD and USD/JPY. You should also ensure you are using the best asset type for your strategy, be it CFDs, options, spot or futures.

Analyse The Market

This is where you put your strategy into place, analysing the market technically and fundamentally as required. This step can take some time to carry out, especially if the market isn’t spitting out lots of opportunities for you. Here, you will likely be overlaying indicators and graphical objects onto your charts to identify specific price movements. Once an opportunity that fits your strategy has been identified, open a position and stake some money in the forex market.

Employ Risk Management

It is vital to employ careful risk management and consideration if you want to be successful forex trading in the US. Carefully managing risk can make a huge difference to your profit margins, potentially making or breaking your career. We recommend the 1% rule, never opening a position that risks more than one per cent of your account capital. This can be achieved using stop losses and take profits, as well as careful calculation of position sizes and margin levels.

Monitor & Close Your Position

Your strategy should also tell you when you should exit high and take the profit your position has made. This can be done automatically through take profits or by carefully watching the price movements of your instrument. It is also important to know when to cut your losses and exit a failed position before it takes even more from you. Once you have closed your position any profits will be added to your account and losses will be debited.

Taxes On Forex Trading In The US

Forex trading, when done successfully, can bring in a decent income. However, you must understand the tax implications of this before you get carried away with how much money you are making. We have laid out the basics below to give you a feel for it but we always recommend seeking professional help for taxes and legal issues.

Those interested in forex trading in the US through options and futures contracts will often have their positions considered under IRC Section 1256 contracts. These will have results split in a 60/40 ratio, setting 60% of gains or losses as long-term capital results, while 40% are counted as short-term outputs.

Spot traders, on the other hand, are generally considered under IRC Section 988 contracts, which are designated for positions that are settled within two days and so treatable as regular gains and losses.

It is up to you which set of contracts you apply for taxation under at the start of the calendar year. However, once this decision has been made, there is no turning back until the following year, so think carefully. Section 1256 contracts are often best suited to those already in high-income brackets or who perceive a lot of success in the coming year. Those less sure may be better off with 988 contracts, which are more favourable for a year of losses.

Pattern Day Trading

PDT, or pattern day trading, is a tag given to short-term swing traders and active day traders in the United States. The minimum limit to earn this classification is to execute four or more intraday trades with a margin account in five business days. The number of such trades must also constitute more than 6% of the account’s total activity during that period.

Pattern day trading will be automatically defined by your US forex trading broker, when applicable. The system is designed to protect inexperienced retail traders from the dangers of margin trading, carrying heavy implications with it. Pattern day traders must maintain a minimum of $25,000 in their margin account at all times. If their account value falls below this, they must bring their balance back up before they can execute further day trades.US income tax on forex trading


Many major websites and media outlets have real-time coverage and analysis of the forex trading market. For example, the Markets section of the Wall Street Journal provides regular updates on relevant topics. Forex firms that accept US traders will also usually have an economic calendar, which can be used to identify upcoming market events that could influence the value of currencies.

Additionally, involved companies may have tutorials, webinars or FAQs, which can be helpful to many traders, particularly beginners. Discussion forum sites like Reddit are visited by many and may help you find the best forex platforms or provide predictions on future market movements.

Top Tips For Forex Trading In The US

Focus On Both Sides Of The Pair

When exploring opportunities in the forex trading market, speculators must be aware of the supply and demand factors influencing the other currency in the pair, such as the Euro or the British Pound. Considering the latter, demand for GBP may be impacted heavily by interest rate decisions made by the Bank of England. Therefore, anyone trading the GBP/USD pair should keep a close eye on both economies.

One very simple way to analyze the strength of the dollar is to look at the US Dollar Index. This measures the currency’s strength against a basket of major global currencies to provide a holistic value. However, this is a generic strength and you should be aware that a movement in your pair of interest may be outweighed by other pair movements. Therefore, ensure you have several avenues for analysis.

Combine Technical & Fundamental Analysis

Many US traders use technical analysis to identify profitable opportunities in the forex market. Technical analysis involves using charts, drawing tools and indicators to identify trends and fluctuations in the pair’s quote price. This approach is a statistical one, so will not be able to capture sudden, unexpected market movements caused by external events like natural disasters and wars.

Fundamental analysis is the opposite of technical analysis. This approach entirely forgoes any statistical thinking, focusing on tangible, real-world events instead. For example, fundamental analysis will take into account market events, economic news, financial reports and politics, both internal and external. The 2022 Russia-Ukraine war, for example, saw the Ruble slide against the Dollar.


Common forex trading strategies include scalping, day trading and swing trading. Scalping is a short-term approach that looks to make a large number of minimal profits from small price movements in the currency. Scalping often makes use of specialist technical analysis and automation.

Swing trading, on the other hand, is a short-to-medium-term strategy whereby speculators will look to profit from larger, slower price fluctuations. Swing trading tends to combine both technical and fundamental analysis to produce a more complete picture of the strengths of the two currencies.

Hedging, a popular approach to managing risk, is common when forex trading in the US. This involves using short-term derivatives, such as options, to minimize the impact of market downturns on a more substantial, long-term position. This can be particularly useful during an uncertain economic or political event, where the impact on the currency’s value is not yet known.

Other top advice includes:

Advantages Of Forex Trading In The US

Disadvantages Of Forex Trading In The US

Forex Trading Hours

Forex trading holds a major benefit over stocks, commodities and indices as it is a global market. This means that no exchange controls the market as a whole and you can trade at any time of the week, night and day.

However, bear in mind that certain currency pairs will display added liquidity and less volatility at certain times of the day. This is often dictated by the opening times of the respective country’s major exchanges and any crossovers with the US and European market hours. Always check that your platform and broker’s stated timezones match your own.

Final Word On Forex Trading In The US

Forex trading in the US is a hugely popular financial endeavour, though it should not be taken lightly. It is important to have a good understanding of the key factors influencing the price movements of key pairs, such as economic events, geopolitics and interest rates. Moreover, you should carefully consider your choice of broker, comparing trading platforms, asset ranges, fee structures, customer support and more, to increase your chances of a positive experience.


What Is Forex Trading In The US?

Forex trading in the US involves speculating on the relative strengths of different pairs of currencies. This can take the form of physically transferring one currency for another and reverting the transaction at a later date when the rates have changed. Alternatively, many traders opt for derivatives and simply stake capital on the outcome of their speculation and the movement of the forex markets.

Has The US Banned Forex Trading?

Forex trading is perfectly legal in the US, though it is more restricted than in many other regions of the world. For a broker to provide its forex services to US residents or citizens, it must hold a trading license with a US regulator.

What Are The Major US Forex Trading Pairs?

The major US currency pairs are the EUR/USD, USD/JPY, GBP/USD and USD/CHF. These represent the four most liquid and heavily-traded currency markets in the world.

When Is Forex Trading Open?

Forex markets are open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. However, there are three main trading sessions across the globe: the Tokyo, London and New York sessions. Liquidity is often higher and volatility lower during these peak times.

What Are The Tax Implications Of Forex Trading In The US?

Forex trading in the US does have income tax implications that must be considered. Trading results can be filed under section 1256 or section 988, each holding its pros and cons for different types of traders. You may wish to consult a professional for advice on your taxes.