Futures trading is an increasingly popular investment option among Australians looking to invest and speculate on the future prices of commodities, currencies, and other financial instruments. However, finding the best online investment platform to trade on can be quite challenging.
That’s where we come in. We’ll compare the best futures brokers’ fees, features, and trading platforms, providing you with the essential information you need to choose the one that best suits your specific requirements.
Whether you’re an experienced trader or just starting out, you’ll find everything you need to know right here. So, read on to discover the top futures brokers in Australia.
#1 Trader Workstation (IBKR GlobalTrader)
Interactive Brokers at a glance
Trader Workstation (TWS), the proprietary trading platform of Interactive Brokers, is one of the most innovative trading platforms developed by a brokerage firm. It includes two subsets: the “TWS Mosaic”, which displays a fully customisable workspace, and the “Classic TWS”, where you can find more complex/advanced tools for more experienced traders.
You get comprehensive order management, technical charts, watchlists, and other portfolio tools in a single view. You can organise your trading activity by asset classes and, at the same time, keep up to date with relevant market news impacting the markets. TWS offers powerful trading tools like ComboTrader, which helps traders create proprietary combination order strategies or choose from multiple templates with predefined programs to execute futures trades.
Interactive Brokers also offers a web-based alternative called “Client Portal”, a “light” version of TWS, which lets you keep track of your portfolio performance and other essential features with few constraints. The same goes for its mobile app (“IBKR GlobalTrader”), which enables you to check every piece of information on the go.
IBKR offers competitive pricing starting at $0.1 per contract, among the lowest on the market. Although the pricing structure is a bit complex, it is important to note that IBKR has no added spreads, ticket charges, platform fees, or account minimums, making it a great option for traders looking to minimise their costs. However, the fee you pay will depend on your monthly traded volume. You can learn more about the pricing structure on IBKR’s dedicated futures pricing page here.
Below we present a table with a small selection of futures contracts available on IBKR and their respective commissions:
|Market||Contract||Commission per Contract in USD|
|Australia||Mini SPI Futures||AUD 0.20 to AUD 1.00|
|Canada||S&P/TSX 60 Futures||CAD 0.30 to CAD 2.40|
|United States||E-micro Futures||USD 0.10 to USD 0.25|
|Germany||Mini DAX Futures||EUR 0.28 to EUR 0.80|
|Bitcoin||Bitcoin Futures||USD 5.00|
|Commodities||Commodities Futures||USD 0.25 to USD 1.05|
|Stocks||Stocks Futures||USD 0.25 to USD 0.85 (depending on exchange)|
|E-Micro FX||E-Micro FX Futures||USD 0.05 to USD 0.15|
SaxoTraderGO at a glance
Features three platforms for trading: SaxoInvestor, SaxoTraderGO, and SaxoTraderPRO. Assuming that most people visiting this page have average knowledge of financial markets, we will focus on the middle one: SaxoTraderGO, which, by the way, is the most popular consumer-facing trading platform of the broker.
SaxoTraderGO is an award-winning web-based platform equipped with crucial features: fundamental and technical analysis tools, an extensive charting package, performance analysis, a comprehensive account overview, and a user-friendly interface. It allows you to synchronise every piece of information with the mobile app.
When you trade futures, you will have access to a comprehensive all-in-one screen where you can manage your investments from a wide range of asset classes, currencies, and countries. Saxo Bank has a dedicated futures trading page available here.
The fee on futures contracts will depend on your monthly traded volume. You can learn more about the pricing structure on Saxo Bank’s dedicated futures pricing page here.
Below, we present a table with a small selection of currency futures contracts available on SaxoTraderGo and their respective commissions, ranging from Classic from the lowest traded volume to Platinum and VIP for investors trading high volumes:
|Contract / Currency||Commission Classic||Commission Platinum||Commission VIP|
|AUD||AUD 10.00||AUD 5.00||AUD 1.00|
|US||USD 3.00||USD 1.80||USD 0.85|
|CAD||CAD 6.00||CAD 3.00||CAD 1.00|
|EUR||EUR 6.00||EUR 3.00||EUR 1.00|
|GBP||GBP 5.00||GBP 2.50||GBP 1.00|
Saxo Markets offers advanced tools for trading futures contracts. With the Futures Spread Trading feature, you can place orders to buy and sell multiple contracts at the same time. The Depth Trader feature lets you see all the buy and sell orders waiting to be executed so that you can manage your trades more effectively. You can also monitor real-time futures prices and trade directly from the exchange with the Time and Sales feature. Saxo Markets provides 24-hour support and educational resources for all types of traders. VIP traders can receive priority support and exclusive invitations to events.
Interactive Brokers vs Saxo Bank
Now that we have outlined the capabilities offered by each of the trading platforms, let’s compare how the two brokers stack up:
|Broker||Minimum Deposit||Futures offering||Futures commission, US||Regulators|
|Interactive Brokers||$0||Agriculture, Currency, Energy, Equity Index, Fixed Income, Metals, and Volatility Futures.||As low as USD 0.1 per contract (depending on exchange and account type)||FINRA, SIPC, SEC, CFTC, IIROC, FCA, CBI, AFSL, SFC, SEBI, MAS, MNB|
|Saxo Bank||$2,000 (varies between countries)||Metals, Energy, Power/Electricity, Grains, Meats & Dairy, Softs, Equity Indices, Currencies, Bonds, and STIR (short-term interest rate) futures.||As low as USD 1.25 per contract with a minimum of USD 10.00 (depending on exchange and account type)||ASIC, FSA, FCA, SFC, MAS, FINMA, DFSA|
Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a great option for retail investors interested in optimising their trading commissions. It is ideal for beginners or professionals looking for a large number of instruments and a secure broker. Furthermore, Australian residents keeping their idle cash in AUD may collect interest on it.
On the downside, if you are new to investing, the platform might be a bit complicated with too many buttons and features.
You can check IBKR’s dedicated futures website for more information on the broker’s futures offering.
Saxo Bank has a product offering very similar to IBKR, albeit with slightly higher commissions. SaxoTraderGO’s functionalities arguably make it more suited to sophisticated investors who can take full advantage of the platform’s functionalities.
A potential drawback for Australian residents is that Saxo Bank has not specified the interest it pays on idle AUD cash held in SaxoTraderGo.
Saxo Bank also has a dedicated website detailing the broker’s futures offering.
The bottom line
To sum it up, here’s a brief overview of our findings:
With our comparison complete, here is what you need to do to get started on trading futures:
- Find a suitable broker. Make sure the broker works with residents of Australia. Consider the fees and market access of the broker if you are interested in trading niche futures contracts.
- Open an account and deposit money: After deciding which broker’s trading platform to use, you must go through the account opening process and deposit money.
- You can now trade futures in Australia: Having considered the pros and cons of each broker, and after going through the account opening process, you can take advantage of the endless possibilities offered by the futures market!
We hope that this post addressed some of your concerns. Do your research to find the best investing strategy for you!
Please let us know in the comments if you have any doubts or suggestions.