Futures brokers provide direct market access to futures exchanges so that their clients can trade futures contracts. When trading futures, traders buy and sell futures contracts that give them the obligation to buy or sell a set amount of a specific asset at a specific date in the future.
Best futures trading platforms compared reviewed
Use our comparison of what we think are the best futures brokers to compare commission, market access and what different types of accounts they offer. We have ranked, compared and reviewed some of the best futures brokers in the UK to help you choose the most appropriate account for your trading strategy.
Interactive Brokers: Best futures broker 2023
Interactive Brokers offer one of the best futures trading platforms in the UK for both simple and complex trading strategies. Overall, Interactive Brokers is the cheapest major brokerage offering futures trading so is suitable for traders looking for discount executeion from a well-established and capitalised company.
- ✔️Advanced order execution
- ✔️ Low-cost futures trading
- ✔️Wide range of market access
- ❌Desktop platform is very advanced
- ❌Limited voice brokerage
Saxo Markets: Excellent futures trading platform for professional traders
Saxo Markets won “best futures broker” in our 2022 awards as they offer a very robust futures trading platform, dedicated dealers and low costs. Overall Saxo Markets offer the best futures trading platform for the majority of semi-professional and institutional traders in the UK. They also offer access to the markets via CFDs and options for traders that want a more rounded service as well as investment options like physical shares dealing and investment bonds.
- ✔️Professional futures trading platform
- ✔️Advanced research and analysis
- ✔️UK office with voice brokerage
- ❌High minimum deposit
- ❌No futures spread betting
- ❌No US customers
We have chosen what we think are the best futures trading platforms based on:
- over 17,000 votes in our annual awards
- our own experiences testing the futures brokers with real money
- an in-depth comparison of the features that make them stand out compared to alternative futures trading platforms.
- interviews with the futures broker CEOs and senior management
How to choose the best futures broker:
The main things to consider when choosing a futures broker are:
- Are they right for your level of experience?
- How many futures exchanges are they connected to?
- What are the commissions and fees?
- Do they offer any other sort of account other than futures?
- What sort of added value does the broker offer?
In this guide to the best brokers for trading futures, we will go through each point and highlight which broker is best for each point so you can make the best choice for the specific type of futures trading you do.
- Further reading: How to trade futures
Advantages of using a futures broker
- Futures contracts have very low margin
- Futures contracts are on-exchange which reduces counter-party risk
- The cost for trading futures are very low for high-volume traders
Disadvantages of using a futures broker
- Some brokers may insist clients close positions before delivery
- Trade in lots of preset amounts that are inflexible for exact accounting
- Mainly traded on US-based exchanges and are USD denominated
- They trade in large amounts that cannot be partially closed
- You need to be a professional trader to get the full benefits
Futures broker FAQs:
Interactive Brokers is a good choice for new futures traders as their web-based platform is very easy to use.
Futures trading is a high-risk form of speculation and not suitable for complete beginners. If you are a beginner and looking for a futures broker, these are the main things you consider:
- Do you fully understand the risks?
- Do you have enough risk capital to diversify your exposure?
- If you do not have the relevant experience, you will be classified as a retail client and not allowed to trade futures.
- If you can demonstrate the relevant experience, you will be classified as a professional trader and your futures broker will not be obliged to explain how the markets work, and you will lose some of the protection the FCA offers retail traders.
Saxo Markets is a good choice for experienced futures traders.
The majority of UK futures brokers require clients to be classified as professional and have a clear understanding of the risks and mechanics of futures trading before they can have an account. The UK regulator, the FCA, requires all clients to either be classified as retail, professional, or ECP (Exchange Counter Parties). Retail clients tend to trade more accessible products such as financial spread betting or CFDs through a CFD broker, which often require smaller trade sizes. Futures brokers in the UK have their margin and trade size levels set by the underlying futures contracts, and the margin is set by the exchanges where the futures are traded.
Interactive Brokers is the best futures broker in the US based on our analysis. Even though Saxo Markets has won the award for best futures broker more often, Saxo Markets is not able to take on US clients. However, Saxo Markets can offer futures trading on US products to non-US residents.
US futures traders are not allowed to trade futures through a UK-based futures broker. US regulations require that US residents trade futures through US futures brokers. However, most UK-based futures brokers will have an office in the US and our comparison tables will redirect users to US futures broker entities if they are based in the US. UK futures traders are allowed to open futures trading accounts with US futures brokers. As with UK futures brokers, the same criteria for determining the best US futures brokers are the same. However, in the US, as there are no other derivatives products like spread betting or CFD trading, private (retail) traders are more likely to trade futures and options as a way to get leveraged exposure to the financial markets.
Futures brokers mainly make money through commissions. But they also have a few additional revenue streams including:
- Commission- this is charged on a per-lot basis for every lot traded.
- Exchange fees- this is a fee charged by the exchange that the broker either includes in the commission or passes on to the client.
- Foreign exchange- futures are settled in various different currencies, so if you are trading USD-denominated futures and your account is in GBP, there will be a cost to convert USD P&L into GBP.
- Account interest- if you are running an account overdraft in either your base currency or other currencies, your account will be charged interest every day that it is overdrawn.
Yes, E-micro futures are mini versions of full-size futures contracts. They were introduced to allow futures traders to have more control over their exposure by trading in small contract sizes. They are particularly helpful for smaller futures traders or beginners, as e-mini futures contracts require a lower margin and have less exposure to the markets. Due to their popularity over full size futures contracts, they are also more liquid contracts and are therefore more accessible to trade.
For example, the full-size S&P 500 futures contract is worth $250 times the S&P 500 index, whereas the e-mini S&P 500 futures contract is worth $50 times the S&P 500 index.
Yes, you can scalp through a futures broker.
Scalping is a type of trading where futures traders buy and sell quickly with the intention of taking advantage of small moves in bid-offer prices.
The best futures brokers for scalping will offer direct market access to the futures exchanges, so traders can work orders inside the market prices. Traders that are planning on scalping should inform their brokers of this so that they can negotiate lower trading costs, as the lower the cost of trading futures, the higher the returns on a scalping trading strategy will be. You can read more on why some brokers don’t allow scalping here.
Futures brokers are often referred to as futures and options brokers, as futures brokers also provide access to the options markets. Options contracts are traded on the same exchanges as futures options. For example, a futures broker will provide access to FTSE futures as well as FTSE options. It is possible to trade futures and options strategies that offset the exposure of futures and options. For example, buying call options and selling FTSE futures to speculate on, or protect against volatility. For more information on options brokers, please refer to our guide on options trading or compare options brokers here.
Yes, Saxo markets lets you trade futures over the phone. All futures brokers offer online futures trading through either their own propriety trading platform or third-party platforms. Most futures trading is done online through futures brokers, although there is still demand for telephone-based futures broking, known as voice brokerage. Our comparison table of online futures brokers in the UK highlights which brokers offer voice and online trading, as well as prime and API access.
All futures brokers in the UK must be regulated by the FCA. You can check the status of what a futures broker is regulated to do on the FCA register. Most futures brokers will have an office or exposure to the London futures markets, as the UK offers one of the most robust financial infrastructures for trading futures.
A discount futures broker offers clients significantly reduced fees for online trading and algorithmic trading. For futures traders that trade in significant volume, futures brokers will reduce commission and the exchanges will also reduce exchange fees. Futures brokers are able to negotiate these discounts on behalf of their clients, based on the volume of trades that are placed.
Yes, if you want to keep a futures position past expiry, you roll the position into the next month by closing and opening existing and new positions simultaneously. You can either do this online, or if you can’t figure out which way the spread works, give them a call and ask them to do it for you. That way, if they get it wrong too, they have to cover the loss.
This article contains affiliate links which may earn us some form of income if you go on to open an account. However, if you would rather visit the futures brokers via a non-affiliate link, you can view their futures trading pages directly here: