Best Futures Brokers

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Choosing the proper futures broker depends on your level of experience and trading style.

As you progress as a day trader, your needs are going to change. The best option for you today, may not be the best option a year down the road.

As a professional trader for over 20 years, my needs are going to be much different than someone who is just getting into day trading. Experienced traders care about four things: speed of execution, commissions, available products to trade, and security of funds.

If you’re a new trader, you’re also going to need good support and education as well as a platform that’s easy to learn. Brokerages who cater towards new traders put a lot more resources into education and support. Those resources cost money, as a result you will typically see higher commissions.

What is a Futures Broker?

futures or commodity broker executes orders to buy or sell futures contracts on behalf of their clients and charges them a commission for the transaction. 

Types of Futures Brokers

Before we get into the reviews, I want to quickly clear up any confusion you may have on the differences between introducing brokers, futures commission merchants, and broker dealers. 

Introducing Brokers are middlemen, a link between the client, you, and the trading floor.  Their primary roles are to solicit , educate, and provide front end support for traders. IB’s do not receive assets or money from the client. Instead, they partner with a futures commission merchant to handle clearing.

An FCM, again Futures Commission Merchant, accepts orders to buy or sell futures contracts, options, or forex swaps. The Introducing Broker introduces the client to the FCM. In return, the FCM pays a commission to the IB. You can think of the commission as a referral fee.

Finally we have broker dealers. A broker-dealer is a financial entity that is engaged with trading securities on behalf of clients, but which may also trade for itself. A broker-dealer is acting as a broker or agent when it executes orders on behalf of its clients, and as a dealer or principal when it trades for its own account.

While this knowledge isn’t going to improve your day trading, I think it’s important to know where you’re putting your money.

About Our Futures Brokers Reviews

Jumpstart Trading is NOT being compensated in any manner by any of the brokerages discussed in this review.

Thus, you’re about to read a truly unbiased review from a professional trader based on what I believe are the strengths and weaknesses of each futures broker that made our list.

All of the Futures Brokers reviewed here are reputable brokers or they wouldn’t have made our list. Again, it really comes down to your experience and needs.

One component we left out of our scoring is charting software provided by the brokerages as none of them compare to the 3rd party products on the market today.

Futures Brokers Scoring

There’s several components we considered when scoring our list of futures brokers. If you’re evaluating any other broker not reviewed here today you’re going to want to take all of these key factors into consideration.

All components are scored on a scale of 1-5 (5 being best) or 1-10 (10 being best) depending on their importance.

Commissions – 1-10 Points: Commission structures and rates are the most important thing to evaluate when looking at brokers. Why? Because it determines your costs of doing business and what you will have in your account at the end of the day.

Customer Support – 1 – 5 Points: We look at a number of factors including response times, live chat, video training… just to name a few.

Products – 1-5 Points: Some brokers specialize in particular products like Futures or Options while others offer multiple products. 

Innovation – 1-5 Points: It’s imperative your brokerage keeps up with the times as new tools, products, order types, and other technologies come into the market.

Security – 1-5 Points: Based on a broker’s capital position, balance sheet and automated risk controls.

Education – 1-5 Points: Education is for new traders. Professional traders will put less emphasis on this component.

Additional Components

The following components each account for One Point if the charting platform includes the component.

  • Banking
  • Mobile Application
  • Paper Trading
  • Trade Journal
  • Desktop OS
  • Free Demo

Highest possible Broker Rating is 46.

We’ve crunched the numbers… without further ado here’s how we rank the best future brokers for 2024. 

BEST FUTURES BROKERS [2024]

1. Interactive Brokers

Screenshot of Interactive Broker's Website with Review Rating

Website: https://interactivebrokers.com/
Minimum Account Size: No Account Minimum
Commission: $0.50 (micro e-mini s&p 500 per side)
No Intraday Margins on Futures
Score: 42 of 46 Points

I opened my first account with IB in 2004, and I believe they’ve been the best broker out there for a professional trader since that time.

I care about four things: execution, commissions, available products, and security of funds. IB has been the leader on this front for the past 20 years.

IB has always run their company conservatively and I’m confident my money is safe. IB currently exceeds $12.7 billion in equity capital, over $9.0 billion in excess of regulatory requirements.

Pair that with the most competitive commissions in the industry and a huge selection of products to trade and you have the best Futures Broker in my opinion.

On micros you’re going to pay around 50 cents per contract per side, all in. 

I have to mention that IB does not offer lower margin requirements for intraday like the FCM’s provide through EdgeClear or Optimus. 

They have no minimum account size, but again they don’t offer intraday margin. For example, if you wanted to trade 1 micro e-mini S&P 500 contract, you would need to maintain a balance above roughly $1200 currently.

You can find margin requirements on the CME’s website.

I want to warn you that the leverage offered by the FCM’s through Edge Clear and Optimus are way too high. In my opinion, this is one of the main factors that contributes to the absurdly high failure rate for retail day traders.

Best For
-Experienced Traders
Pros
-Best commission pricing
-Well capitalized
-Huge selection of products to trade
Cons
-Platform is dated. Recommend using a 3rd party like MotiveWave for Charts.
-No Intraday Margin

Interactive Brokers Score Breakdown

Commissions: 10 of 10
Customer Support: 5 of 5
Platform/Tools: 3 of 5
Products: 5 of 5
Innovation: 5 of 5
Security: 5 of 5
Education: 3 of 5

Mobile App: Yes
Banking: Yes
Paper Trading: Yes
Trade Journal: Yes
OS: Windows & Mac
Demo: Yes

2. EdgeClear

Screenshot of EdgeClear's Website with Review Rating

Website: https://edgeclear.com/
Minimum Account Size: $1,500
Intraday Margins Varying by FCM
Commission:
 $0.69 (micro e-mini s&p 500 per side)
Score: 37 of 46 Points

Honestly I think Optimus and EdgeClear are pretty much a tie. I decided to give EdgeClear the edge, no pun intended, due to the fact that they were a disruptor when they entered the industry a few years back with their aggressive commission structure, forcing other to follow suit

The founder of the company was a professional trader, which I think gives the company a unique insight of what day traders really need and want… low commissions, a solid trading platform, and education. EdgeClear white labels MotiveWave, which is the trading platform I have personally used for the past several years. 

A lot of my students use EdgeClear and have nothing but good things to say.

Best For
-New and Experienced Traders
Pros
-Fair commissions
-White Label MotiveWave
-Great Support
-Large Selection of Education on Youtube
Cons
-Futures only

EdgeClear Score Breakdown

Commissions: 8 of 10
Customer Support: 5 of 5
Platform/Tools: 5 of 5
Products: 3 of 5
Innovation: 5 of 5
Security: 3 of 5
Education: 5 of 5

Mobile App: No
Banking: No
Paper Trading: Yes
Trade Journal: No
OS: Windows & Mac
Demo: Yes

3. Optimus Futures

Screenshot of Optimus Future's Website with Review Rating

Website: https://optimusfutures.com/
Minimum Account Size: $500 (IronBeam)
Intraday Margins Varying by FCM
Commission: $0.72 (micro e-mini s&p 500 per side)
Score: 36 of 46 Points

Optimus could be considered a tie for second, but I decided to put them in a very close 3rd because of EdgeClear leading the push on lower commissions and do to reviews from our members. Optimus has been around a long time and provide a ton of education on their blog and YouTube channel.

If you can’t decide between the two, I would demo both quantower and motivewave, and make your decision based on which platform you prefer.

Best For:
-New and Experienced Traders
Pros:
-Fair Commissions
-White Label Quantower
-Large Selection of Education on Youtube
Cons:
-Futures Only

Optimus Futures Score Breakdown

Commissions: 7 of 10
Customer Support: 5 of 5
Platform/Tools: 5 of 5
Products: 3 of 5
Innovation: 5 of 5
Security: 3 of 5
Education: 5 of 5

Mobile App: No
Banking: No
Paper Trading: Yes
Trade Journal: No
OS: Windows & Mac
Demo: Yes

4. TD Ameritrade

Screenshot of EdgeClear's Website with Review Rating

Website: https://www.tdameritrade.com/
Minimum Account Size: $1,500
Commission: $2.25 per futures contract per side
Score: 34 of 46 Points

Coming in fourth on our list is TD Ameritrade and their ThinkOrSwim platform. TD Ameritrade offers the best education for new traders out of the brokers reviewed today.

They’re also well capitalized and offer a ton of products to trade. 

While they did make our list, I believe the only traders who should consider TD are new traders looking to trade longer term strategies.

They’re a good place to begin your career, but eventually you will want to move to a brokerage with better commission structures.

TD’s commissions on futures are over double any other broker reviewed in our list.

Best For
-New Traders
Pros
-Huge number of products to trade
-Best education for brand new traders
Cons
-High Commissions, they have to pay for that education some how!

TD Ameritrade Score Breakdown

Commissions: 1 of 10
Customer Support: 5 of 5
Platform/Tools: 4 of 5
Products: 5 of 5
Innovation: 4 of 5
Security: 4 of 5
Education: 5 of 5

Mobile App: Yes
Banking: Yes
Paper Trading: Yes
Trade Journal: Yes
OS: Windows & Mac
Demo: Yes

List of the top brokers of 2023 highlighting the pros and cons of each.

Choosing the Right Futures Broker

I want to reiterate that I would have no problem recommending any of these brokers to my students.be happy with any of the futures brokers reviewed here today. You simply have to decide what your most important needs are as a trader, and that tends to change over time.

Prior to picking a broker, I would hone in on your strategy and what charting software you plan on using and then find a broker that supports your charting package. Switching and learning a new trading platform can be very disruptive to your trading.

As you progress as a trader the only things you will likely evaluate when it comes to brokerages are speed of execution, commission rates, and security.

Final Thoughts

If you can’t decide between the two, I would demo both Quantower and MotiveWave, and make your decision based on which platform you prefer.

No matter your experience level, all the brokerage firms highlighted in this review deserve your evaluation. 

Let us know your experiences with any of the brokerages discussed in the comments below!

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