Direct market access (DMA) is a game-changer for active traders and investors. DMA brokers give traders direct access to market makers and liquidity providers, bypassing traditional broker intermediaries.
The main benefit of DMA is that it gives traders more control over their orders. They can see live market prices and place trades directly at the National Best Bid and Offer (NBBO) set by the exchanges. This level of transparency and speed is valuable for traders implementing active strategies like algorithmic, high-frequency or scalping.
In this article, we examine some of the best DMA brokers available today for those seeking direct access to financial markets. We consider factors such as minimum deposit, platform features, range of markets, and more.
Here is our list of the best DMA brokers:
Interactive Brokers | Best overall
Interactive Brokers offers one of the industry’s largest selections of tradable assets. They offer direct market access through their investment platform, Trader Workstation (TWS), an advanced desktop platform designed for active investors who engage in multi-product trading.
Forex.com | Best for DMA on Forex
Forex.com is a global Forex broker offering various financial instruments, including Forex, CFDs on indices, stocks, commodities, and cryptocurrencies. They have over 80 currency pairs available and offer direct market access to prices sourced from global banks and top-tier liquidity providers with no additional markup.
Charles Schwab | Best for DMA on stocks
Charles Schwab is a discount broker that offers low fees, a comprehensive online platform, and excellent research and customer service. It also offers direct market access and order routing arrangements with leading liquidity providers to maximise opportunities for price improvement and liquidity enhancement.
IG | Best for DMA on CFDs
IG is a well-known CFD broker that offers a wide range of trading instruments, including over 18,000 markets. Their L2 Dealer trading platform provides direct market access to CFDs on Forex and shares where you can benefit from anonymity, choose from a wide range of order types, and enter auctions to increase the chance of getting the best prices.
Saxo Bank | Best for institutional and professional investors
Saxo Bank is an international broker that offers a variety of features to meet the needs of both individual and institutional investors, including high liquidity, tight spreads, and advanced trading platforms. Saxo offers direct market access to bank and non-bank liquidity providers, ECNs, and listed FX derivatives on major exchanges.
TD Ameritrade | Best for fast execution
TD Ameritrade is a US broker with a user-friendly trading platform, Thinkorswim, that offers direct access routing with an average time of 0.04 seconds for market orders to be executed, a free streaming level 2 market data, a powerful charting package, expanded order types and back-testing capabilities.
|Broker||Interactive Brokers||Forex.com||Charles Schwab||IG||Saxo Bank||TD Ameritrade|
|Products available||Stocks, ETFs, Options, Futures, Forex, Commodities, Bonds, and Funds||Forex, CFDs on Indices, Stocks, Commodities and Cryptocurrencies||Stocks, ETFs, Options, Futures, Bonds, and Funds||CFDs on Stocks, Forex, Indices, Commodities, Options, Futures and Cryptocurrencies||Stocks, ETFs, Options, CFDs on Indices, Commodities, Forex, and Cryptocurrencies||Stocks, ETFs, Options, Futures, Forex, Commodities, Bonds, Funds and Cryptocurrencies|
|DMA available on||Stocks, Forex, Bonds, Funds, Futures, Options, and Warrants||Forex||Stocks, Futures and Options||CFDs on Forex and Stocks||Stocks, Forex, Options||Stocks, Futures and Options|
|Minimum deposit||$0||$100; $25,000 recommended for DMA||$0||$1000 for DMA||$2,000 (varies by country)||$0 ($2,000 required for margin trading)|
|Deposit Method||Bank transfer||Bank transfer, credit/debit cards, Skrill or Neteller||Bank transfer, check deposit (varies by country)||Bank transfer, credit/debit cards||Bank transfer, credit/debit cards, and electronic wallets||Bank transfer, cheque, and electronic wallets|
|Countries available||International including US (Some exceptions apply)||International including US (Some exceptions apply)||US and few other countries||International including US (Some exceptions apply)||International (Some exceptions apply)||US and few other countries|
These brokers offer a variety of features and benefits, so it’s important to compare them carefully before choosing one. In the next section, we’ll briefly review their services.
Best Brokers for Direct Market Access (DMA) Reviewed
1# Interactive Brokers (IBKR)
Interactive Brokers at a glance
Interactive Brokers is a well-established brokerage firm founded in 1978 and listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. It is known for its advanced technology and robust trading platforms and offers a wide range of investment options across multiple asset classes, including stocks, options, futures, Forex and more.
The IBKR SMART routing algorithm aims to get the best overall price for your order by continuously evaluating and dynamically re-routing it as market conditions change. This is done by considering factors such as the current market depth, the size of your order, and the fees charged by different exchanges.
In addition to using IBKR’s SmartRouting technology, Interactive Brokers also offers direct-access routing, an excellent feature for professional traders. With direct-access routing, you can give specific instructions for your order to be routed to a particular exchange or venue. This is only available on the company’s desktop software, Trader Workstation, and not its mobile app or website.
Trader WorkStation allows traders to customise general order settings and IBKR SmartRouting defaults to meet their trading needs and preferences. Additional fees may apply depending on the directed order and exchange, and any rebate received from a liquidity provider will be passed through as a reduction in the standard commission. If you need access to Level 2 market data, the fees will vary depending on the exchange and whether your account is classified as non-professional or professional.
IBKR is available internationally and provides competitive pricing for traders looking for cost-effective borrowing options. The company offers two account types for US users: IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro. IBKR Lite is designed for beginners and offers a limited set of features at a lower price. IBKR Pro is intended for more experienced traders and offers a wider range of features, including access to more trading tools and research.
We recommend you check out our comprehensive Interactive Brokers review.
Forex.com at a glance
Forex.com is a global online broker regulated by several top-tier regulatory authorities, such as the NFA and CFTC in the US, the FCA in the UK, the IIROC in Canada, and the FSA in Japan. It is a subsidiary of a publicly traded company, StoneX, which makes it a safe broker due to strict requirements regarding its financial information’s reliability and availability. At Forex.com, you can trade Forex, stocks, indices, commodities, and cryptocurrencies through CFDs.
Forex.com offers a Direct Market Access trading account for professional traders who seek deep liquidity to take advantage of rapid price opportunities. With this account, you have direct market access to prices sourced from global banks and top-tier liquidity providers with no additional markup. It allows you to view multiple levels of real-time pricing on Forex.com’s order book, split the spread, and place orders within the top-of-book spreads. The DMA account also offers premium features, including earning interest on your average daily available margin balance, professional guidance from a highly trained Relationship Manager, priority VIP service, and waived bank fees.
Forex.com provides access to three platforms, including the popular MetaTrader4 and MetaTrader5 platforms and their exclusive trading platform, which is accessible via desktop, web, or mobile app, and offers advanced tools and functionality for experienced traders.
It has flexible account funding options, including bank wire transfers, credit or debit cards, and e-wallets like Neteller or Skrill. Additionally, it does not charge any fees for depositing or withdrawing funds. Although there are no minimum account or trade requirements for a DMA account, the minimum trade size is 100K.
As for pricing, you’ll only be charged a standard commission based on your trading volume. The more you trade, the deeper the commission discount you’ll earn the following month. On the downside, Forex.com charges a $15 monthly inactivity fee if no trades are made within 12 months.
3# Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab at a glance
Charles Schwab is a well-established online brokerage firm that has been in operation since 1971. It has grown to become one of the largest brokerages in the industry, offering a range of financial services, including brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, mutual funds, ETFs, and banking services. The company is known for its low fees, comprehensive online trading platform, and excellent research and customer service. The platform is primarily intended for United States users but is also accessible in a few other countries.
Charles Schwab’s Direct Market Access feature gives clients greater control over their trades’ routing and execution. With DMA, clients can choose from several order routing options, including Schwab Pre-Market, SmartEx, Schwab Post-Market, NSDQ, and ARCA ECN. They route orders for execution to unaffiliated broker-dealers who may act as market makers or manage order execution in other market venues.
Furthermore, Schwab maintains order routing arrangements with leading liquidity providers to maximise opportunities for price improvement and liquidity enhancement. You can view the price improvement received on eligible equity orders on the “Order Status” page or “Order Messages”. Additionally, Schwab continually monitors execution quality to ensure that orders are routed to market venues that have provided high-quality executions over time.
The broker offers price improvement on orders filled at prices better than the National Best Bid and Offer (NBBO), with marketable orders receiving fast execution at an average execution speed of 0.04 seconds. For instance, the statistics published by Schwab show that orders of 500-1,999 shares in S&P 500 stocks had a price improvement rate of 96.2%, resulting in significant savings for customers.
75% of retail CFD accounts lose money.
IG at a glance
IG Group is a London-based broker founded in 1974 and listed on the London Stock Exchange. It offers access to an extensive range of trading instruments, with over 18,000 CFDs spanning various asset classes, including shares, indices, Forex, commodities, bonds, options, and cryptocurrencies. IG services are available internationally, and their offerings vary by country. For instance, US clients can only trade CFDs on Forex.
IG offers a variety of trading platforms for its clients, including the Direct Market Access (DMA) platform L2 Dealer, which provides institutional clients and professional traders direct access to the order books of major global exchanges. With L2 Dealer, traders can also benefit from anonymity, choose from a wide range of order types, and enter auctions to increase their chances of getting the best prices. However, it’s important to note that L2 Dealer is not recommended for beginner traders, as it requires a higher level of expertise and understanding of the markets.
Traders using L2 Dealer can trade CFDs on shares or Forex and benefit from Level 1 and Level 2 market access. Level 1 provides pricing directly from an exchange. In contrast, Level 2 allows traders to see and interact directly with the exchange order book, giving them a better understanding of market sentiment and underlying liquidity. L2 Dealer also features in-platform news and analysis, customisable alerts, and real-time charts, making it a comprehensive platform for experienced traders looking for DMA capabilities.
IG’s pricing structure for L2 Dealer is straightforward. You will pay a small commission (depending on the instrument), and there may be data fees associated with viewing or trading on certain exchanges. Under the customer agreement, IG will also pass on any transaction costs, such as stock borrowing fees. When it comes to Forex trading, there is no IG spread to pay. Instead, IG charges a variable commission based on the volume traded the preceding month, with rates ranging between $10 and $60 per $1 million worth of currency traded.
It’s important to note that while trading based on underlying market prices and depth, you do not gain ownership rights over the currencies or shares.
5# Saxo Bank
Saxo Bank at a glance
Saxo Bank is a leading broker that offers a range of financial services that provides institutional-grade trading capabilities to individual and institutional clients. It was founded in 1992 and offers a comprehensive suite of trading tools, in-depth research capabilities, and premium features such as Direct Market Access (DMA).
With DMA, clients can connect to all relevant liquidity venues through Saxo Bank’s high-quality market access and services. This includes direct market access to bank and non-bank liquidity providers, ECNs, and listed FX derivatives on major exchanges such as CME, HKEX, and ICE_NYBOT. Additionally, clients can access locally formed and aggregated liquidity from over 25 providers in NY4, LD4, and TY3, giving them access to a deep pool of liquidity and taking advantage of the best available prices.
Saxo Bank’s DMA feature also includes a range of post-trade and back-office services, such as real-time position-keeping and account management, as well as a suite of STP solutions and account management APIs.
Saxo offers three trading platforms:
- SaxoInvestor is simple and fast, ideal for beginners.
- SaxoTraderGO is award-winning with advanced features for experienced traders.
- SaxoTraderPRO is fully customisable for professional traders offering high-performance tools built to manage and execute orders with in-depth market analysis features.
Saxo Bank lets you open an account in various currencies, including USD, EUR, GBP, and other major currencies. However, it is important to note that the minimum initial funding requirement is USD 2,000 and may vary depending on your country of residence.
6# TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade at a glance
TD Ameritrade is a US-based online broker established in 1971 that is renowned for its cutting-edge Thinkorswim platform. It offers elite-level tools for analysing and testing strategies, market scans for idea generation, and monitoring potential risk/reward. The highly customisable interface allows traders to tailor it to their preferences. Additionally, TD Ameritrade provides onboarding tools such as ThinkManual and platform tutorials to help users get started quickly.
TD Ameritrade’s commitment to order execution quality is another notable feature. The broker’s proprietary routing technology ensures clients receive the best possible price, significant savings, and a greater chance of filling their orders. This is facilitated by advanced routing technology, with an average time of 0.04 seconds for market orders to be executed.
Clients can select their preferred exchange for routing orders through the order ticket window in Thinkorswim after enabling direct access routing. Two routing options are available: ‘Smart’ routing, where TD Ameritrade determines the most suitable exchange for your requirements, or direct access routing, which allows you to choose from the available exchange options. The platform offers free streaming level 2 market data, a powerful charting package with over 400 technical studies, expanded order types, advanced risk management, and back-testing capabilities.
In terms of pricing, TD Ameritrade offers competitive rates, with no commission on Forex and stock trades, although spreads do apply.
Factors to consider when choosing a DMA broker
When choosing a direct market access (DMA) broker, consider the following factors:
- Speed and reliability of order execution: A DMA broker should be able to execute orders quickly and reliably, especially in volatile markets.
- Access to multiple markets and asset classes: A good DMA broker will offer access to a wide range of markets and asset classes, allowing you to diversify your portfolio and find the best opportunities.
- Transparency of pricing and fees: Look for a transparent DMA broker about their pricing and fees to understand how much you pay for your trades.
- Level of customisation and control over orders: A DMA broker should offer high customisation and control over orders, so traders can fine-tune their strategies and take advantage of market opportunities.
- Quality of trading tools and platforms: Some brokers offer a variety of trading tools, such as charting tools, technical analysis tools, and research reports. Ensure the broker offers the tools you need to make informed trading decisions.
The Bottom Line
Direct Market Access (DMA) is a powerful tool that gives traders and investors a competitive edge in the financial markets. With a DMA broker, traders can access various markets and asset classes, execute orders quickly and reliably, and manage risk effectively. Identifying the best DMA brokers can take time due to the many options available. In this review, we identified the top DMA brokers and highlighted their key features:
Best DMA Brokers
When choosing a DMA broker, it is important to consider factors such as minimum deposits, market coverage, trading platform, fees, and regulation. We hope this article has been helpful in your search for the best Direct Market Access broker and saved you some time in your research. Remember that it is always best to do your research and determine which online broker is best for you.
DMA Brokers FAQs
What is a DMA broker?
A direct market access (DMA) broker allows its clients to trade directly on the market without going through a third party. This means that clients have full control over their orders and can execute them at the best possible price. You are connected directly to the order book of an exchange and liquidity provider.
What are the benefits of using a DMA broker?
There are many benefits to using a DMA broker, including:
- Full control over orders: With a DMA broker, clients have full control over their orders and can execute them at the best possible price.
- Access to multiple markets: DMA brokers offer access to multiple markets, including stocks, options, futures, and Forex.
- Low trading fees: DMA brokers typically charge lower fees than traditional brokers. However, you should be aware that some brokers charge connectivity or exchange fees.
What is the difference between a DMA broker and a traditional broker?
A traditional broker is a type of broker that acts as an intermediary between the client and the market. This means that the broker executes orders on behalf of the client and charges a commission for each trade. On the other hand, a DMA broker allows clients to trade directly on the market through a direct market access platform. This means the client has full control over their orders and can execute them at the best price.
Which is better, a DMA broker or a traditional broker?
Your best broker type depends on your individual needs and preferences. A traditional broker may be a better option if you are a beginner trader, as they offer more support and guidance. However, if you are a more experienced trader, a DMA broker may be a better option, as they offer more control and flexibility.