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Best South Africa Forex Brokers for 2020

Want to trade currencies in South Africa? This article reviews the best South Africa forex brokers you can use to start trading today.
Alan Draper Lewis
Last Updated: Jul 4, 2020

Trading forex is hugely popular with traders around the world, and South Africa is not different. But to get the most out of trading currencies, you need the right brokerage for the job. Some South Africa forex brokers are specifically built to give you the tools you need to succeed, while others simply offer currencies as an afterthought to other types of trading.

To help you find the best forex brokers in South Africa, this article reviews our top picks for 2020, all of which offer low fees, plenty of trading options and a good range of trading tools. In addition, we’ll explain everything you need to know about choosing the right forex broker for you.

    eToro: Best South Africa Forex Broker 2020

    Our Rating

    • 0% commission forex trading
    • Wide range of currency pairs
    • Social and copy trading tools
    • $50 minimum deposit
    75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

    What is a Forex Broker?

    Forex brokers are companies that provide a platform through which traders can access the international forex exchange markets. By doing so, a forex broker makes it possible for a trader to open and close currency trades.

    South Africa forex brokers can be independent platforms offering their services to smallholder currency traders or large investment banks that provide the service to institutional investors such as hedge funds and smaller commercial banks. Most brokers carry out their operations online and integrate all the resources needed by traders to make informed decisions. These include analysis tools,, technical indicators, market data updates, financial news, risk management tools, and leverage.

    A forex broker earns in either of these two ways – or both. First is the bid-ask spread of every currency pair traded on their platform. There is no standard spread for forex brokers in South Africa, and it varies from one platform to another. Secondly, forex brokers may impose a fixed or variable commission (fee) for every trade executed on their platform.

    What Makes a Good Forex Broker?

    When comparing South Africa forex brokers, you have to take into account a host of security, operational, and regulatory measures. A good forex broker meets the following criteria at a minimum:

    • Regulation: Every good forex broker is adequately licensed by different regulatory authorities and adheres to all the security measures stipulated by the operating license. These include encrypting user data and maintaining segregated bank accounts for client funds.
    • Advanced trading platform: A good forex broker should also work consistently towards improving their trading platform. They should include updated trading, market analysis, and risk management tools while maintaining the fastest order execution speeds and supporting a reasonable number of currency pairs.
    • Considerate pricing model: The good forex broker must also be considerate with their fees. In the recent past, most brokers have abolished trade commissions and lowered their bid-ask spreads.
    • Readily accessible: Registering a trading account with a good forex broker should also be easy and straightforward. They should also make it possible to access the account on multiple devices like web trader, desktop and mobile apps on both proprietary and conventional trading platforms like MT4/5.

    The Best South Africa Forex Brokers for 2020

    1. eToro - Best for Social Trading

    There's no doubt eToro is among the very best forex brokers in South Africa. This broker made its name as a social trading platform which comes with a personalized news fee and allows you to interact with other users.

    eToro also offers innovative copy trading tools, allowing you to copy the entire portfolios of top ranking traders! You can follow other traders on the platform and easily see what currencies they’re betting big on, which makes it easy to find successful traders you trust and follow on the heels of their success, rather than spend hours a day toiling away at currency research.

    When it comes to forex, eToro offers an impressive range of currency pairs, including some exotics, which can be traded with up to 1:30 leverage on retail accounts. Trading is commission-free, and the forex spreads are among the tighest in the industry. You can trade CFDs for the popular US Dollar-British Pound currency pair at a cost of just 0.03%.

    eToro offers a range of payment methods you can use to fund your account, including PayPal. There's also a $100,000 demo account which is ideal for forex beginners. With licenses from several tier-one bodies, such as the FCA, ASIC and CySEC, eToro is one of the most secure South Africa forex brokers.

    • Currency Pairs: 47
    • Demo Account: Yes
    • Trade Commissions: No
    • Research Tools: Social trading, Copy Trading, Basic Charts
    • Minimum Deposit: $200 (ZAR 3,800)

    Our Rating

    • 0% commission and tight spreads
    • Social and copy trading
    • Strictly regulated
    • Only 1:30 leverage
    75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

    2. Plus500 - Best for Low-Cost Forex Trading

    For the widest selection of currencies to trade at the lowest cost, we recommend Plus500. This brokerage has CFDs for a whopping 70 currency pairs, including a number of infrequently traded exotics that may offer unique opportunities for profit. Even better, these exotics trade on leverage up to 200:1 for most currency pairs. Major and minor currency pairs can be traded at leverage up to 300:1.

    We also like Plus500 because it’s inexpensive. Spreads on most major currency pairs are in the neighborhood of 0.1% or cheaper. This platform also doesn’t charge excessive interest for holding leveraged CFD positions overnight. For many currency CFDs, the overnight funding rate was less than 0.008%. That’s a huge advantage if you want to trade forex on leverage over a period of weeks rather than days.

    Where Plus500 falls somewhat short of the mark, though, is in its research tools. The platform comes with a built-in charting system, but it’s fairly basic. You won’t find a huge variety of technical studies or strategy development capabilities, which can hold back more advanced traders.

    On the other hand, charting in Plus500 is very user-friendly, so this broker may be a suitable choice for many beginner and intermediate forex traders. Ths broker also offers a mobile app and PayPal support, which is a plus.

    • Currency Pairs: 70
    • Demo Account: Yes
    • Trade Commissions: No
    • Research Tools: Basic charts
    • Minimum Deposit: £100 (ZAR 2160)

    Our Rating

    • CFDs for 70 forex pairings
    • Low-cost spreadse
    • Up to 300:1 leverage
    • Only basic charting tools
    80.5% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

    3. AvaTrade - Up to 1:400 Forex Leverage

    If you’re looking to create large positions with relatively little cash to hand, AvaTrade is the best forex broker to use. This platform offers leverage up to 400:1 for most major and minor currency pairs. Even when trading exotic pairs, you can get leverage of 50:1 or higher. The amount of money you need to keep in your account is relatively low as well for leveraged CFD trades, at just 0.25%.

    Another notable thing about AvaTrade is that this broker offers options trading in addition to CFD trading for forex. Your selection of currencies to trade is slightly limited; you can trade options for 42 forex pairs, compared to 55 for CFD trading. But, that still includes options for all the major and minor currency pairs, and AvaTrade will let you take positions with leverage up to 100:1 for many contracts.

    We also like AvaTrade because it offers significantly more advanced research tools than many other low-cost, commission-free forex brokerages. AvaTrade has its own charting software, for example, which is easy to use and includes a wide variety of technical studies. For more experienced forex traders, AvaTrade also comes with access to MetaTrader 4. This software enables you to create custom strategies, backtest them, and automate them to optimize your trading.

    While there’s not much to dislike about AvaTrade, South African traders will want to note that this broker does not allow you to fund your account with Rand. Instead, you’ll need to first convert your funds to US Dollars or Euros.

    • Currency Pairs: 55 (42 for options trading)
    • Demo Account: Yes
    • Trade Commissions: No
    • Research Tools: Advanced charts, MetaTrader 4
    • Minimum Deposit: $100 (ZAR 1706)

    Our Rating

    • Up to 400:1 leverage
    • Options trading
    • Supports MT4
    • Must fund your account with US Dollars or Euros
    There is no guarantee you will make money with this provider.

    4. FinmaxFX – Best MT5 trading platform

    FinmaxFX is a new forex broker, having launched in 2019, but it's already proved a popular option among many traders.

    This platform provides access to 58 currency pairs, and you can trade forex with up to 1:200 leverage. All trading on FinmaxFX takes place on the highly advanced MetaTrader 5 platform, which provides all the tools you'll need, as well as access to trading bots and forex EAs. There's also some decent educational resources, including weekly webinars.

    When it comes to pricing, there's no commission at FinmaxFX. However, the spreads are slightly more expensive than at some other brokers, starting at 3 pips.

    You can get started at FinmaxFX with a $100 (around ZAR 1700) deposit, and there's a variety of payment options supported, including several e-wallets. One thing to note is that while FinmaxFX is a secure broker, but it isn't licensed by a tier-one regulatory body.

    • Currency Pairs: 58
    • Demo Account: Yes
    • Trade Commissions: No
    • Research Tools: MetaTrader 5
    • Minimum Deposit: $250 (ZAR 4266)

    Our Rating

    • Supports MT5
    • Up to 1:200 leverage
    • Weekly live webinar
    • No tier-one license
    • High spreads
    There is no guarantee you will make money with this provider.

    5. IG – Great for Research and Educational Tools

    IG is a UK forex broker that was launched way back in 1974, making, it is one of the most trusted platforms in the market, with more than 178,000 users. This forex broker is heavily regulated and licensed in multiple jurisdictions, so it's a very safe and secure platform.

    IG offers a fantastic range of forex trading options, with 80 currency pairs available, including plenty of minors and a good range of exotics. You can trade with up to 1:50 leverage and there's no commission to worry about. With spreads starting from 0.6 pips, this is one of the most affordable South Africa forex brokers out there.

    When it comes to trading, you can choose from IG's excellent proprietary platform or several other options, including MT4 and ProRealTime, all of which provide access to an excellent range of advanced forex trading tools. IG also offers an impressive education and research department.

    You can get started on IG with a £250 deposit (around ZAR 5390), and it accepts a variety of payment methods, including PayPal. If you want to trade on your mobile, you can download the impressive IG app for iOS and Android.

    • Currency Pairs: 80
    • Demo Account: Yes
    • Trade Commissions: No
    • Research Tools: Advanced charts, MetaTrader 4, ProRealTime
    • Minimum Deposit: £250 (ZAR 5390)

    • 80 forex pairs
    • Lots of advanced charting tools
    • Very tight spreads
    • Imposes inactivity fees
    There is no guarantee you will make money with this provider.

    Choosing the Best Forex Broker in South Africa

    Getting the best brokerage for your needs is a key aspect of trading currencies successfully. To help you decide which brokerage is right for you, let’s take a closer look at some of the essential things you should consider.

    Which Currencies Can You Trade?

    The first thing to look at when choosing a forex broker is what currency pairs a prospective broker offers for trading. Currency pairs are typically classified into three categories based on how frequently they are traded. These are:

    • Major pairs are the seven most frequently traded currency pairs. For example, the US Dollar-British Pound and US Dollar-Japanese Yen are considered major pairs. Just about every brokerage that offers forex trading in some form offers the major pairs, and they make up more than half of all forex trades on a day to day basis.
    • Minor pairs are less frequently traded than the major pairs, but they still account for a large portion of all forex trades. Typically, minor pairs cross the US Dollar with a lesser-known currency or cross the other currencies in the major pairs with each other. All three of the brokerages that we highlighted offer trading on all minor currency pairs, but not all South Africa forex brokers do.
    • Exotic pairs cover crosses between minor currencies. The South African Rand, when traded with most currencies other than the US Dollar, is considered an exotic. Brokerages vary in which exotic pairs they offer, and you’ll need to be careful when trading exotics as they often have relatively low liquidity.

    CFDs, Options, or Both?

    Most forex brokers offer currency trading using CFD contracts. CFDs allow you to speculate on the price of a currency relative to its paired currency without actually owning either currency directly. The advantage of this type of trading is that you don’t have to take possession of the currency you’re trading, there are no wire transfers and no regulatory issues when trying to move money across international borders. In addition, CFDs enable you to trade with leverage, which is critical for forex trading since price changes are often on the order of a tenth of a percent or less.

    Some of the best forex brokers in South Africa, like AvaTrade, also offer forex options. Unlike CFDs, options have an expiration date. That introduces time as a major factor in determining the value of your position. So, you need to correctly predict not only whether a price change will occur, but also when it will occur. Options are already leveraged, but some brokers that let you trade forex options will allow you to leverage them further.

    How much Leverage Can You Use?

    Leverage allows you to make larger trades by effectively borrowing capital from our broker, but the amount of leverage on offer varies a lot depending on which trading platform you go with. For example, while some South Africa forex brokers limit leverage to 1:50, meaning a ZAR 100 would be worth ZAR 5,000, other brokers offer all the way up to 1:400.

    It’s also worth noting that many brokerages offer different spreads and maximum leverage for major, minor, and exotic currency pairs. For example, you may be able to trade with leverage up to 400:1 for major currency pairs at AvaTrade, but the broker will only allow leverage up to 300:1 for many exotic currency pairs. Spreads also typically increase for exotic pairs, since they are less liquid.

    What Tools Does It Come With?

    Research and analysis tools play a major role in your ability to spot opportunities forex trading early and act on them. Many brokerages include technical charts to help traders with forex research, but the quality of these charts varies quite a bit. Brokers like Plus500, for example, offer mostly basic charts that are beginner-friendly but don’t include many technical studies. AvaTrade, on the other hand, offers a much more powerful charting interface as well as gives traders access to the popular MetaTrader 4 software.

    Newsfeeds, analyst reports and social trading features are also useful tools for forex trading. These can provide critical insight into changing market conditions or sentiment around a particular currency, which will in-turn affect its price. Social trading tools, such as eToro’s CopyTrader, can also be useful for allowing you to spark discussions with other forex traders, as a way to gain insight into the strategies they are using or the currencies they’re investing in.

    How Much Does It Cost?

    Of course, the cost is a major consideration when you’re choosing a forex broker. To start with, it’s a good idea to look for a broker that doesn’t charge trading commissions. These can add up quickly, especially if you typically place many smaller trades to scale in and out of positions.

    However, trade commissions aren’t the only fees that brokerages charge. Most brokers make money on the spread, and this can quickly add up if the spreads are high. The brokerages we highlighted charge spreads of around 0.1% or less for major currency pairs, although the spreads may be higher for less liquid exotic currency pairs.

    Watch out for additional fees and charges as well. If you plan to trade with leverage, you’ll want to check how much a prospective broker charges as a percentage of your trade to hold your position overnight. Some brokers also assess fees for withdrawals or for inactivity, and you’ll want to be sure to know how to avoid these fees if at all possible. Keep in mind that even charges that seem small can add up over time.

    What Payment Methods Can You Use?

    Different South Africa forex brokers accept different payment methods, so you need to find a platform that supports your preferred option. For example, while most accept bank cards and bank transfers, e-wallets like PayPal, Neteller and Skrill are slightly less widely available.

    You should also check whether your broker accepts Rand payments or whether you have to deposit in another currency and therefore incur conversion costs. We’d also recommend choosing forex brokers that have low banking fees.

    Want to learn more about other types of trading? Check out our guides to how to buy Bitcoin and Bitcoin trading in South Africa. 

    How to Join a South Africa Forex Broker

    Found a forex broker that you like the look of? You can begin trading in minutes. Below you will find a handy step-by-step guide. We’ve decided to show you the steps with eToro, though the process remains much the same regardless of which platform you opt for.

    Step 1: Open an Account

    To get the ball rolling you will need to open an account with your chosen South African forex broker.

    eToro Thailand sign up

    This will require some personal information, such as your:

    • First and Last Name
    • Nationality
    • Date of Birth
    • Home Address
    • National Tax Number
    • Contact Details

    eToro and all other regulated South Africa forex brokers for that matter will ask you to verify your identity. This is to ensure brokers remain compliant with their license issuers. All you need to do is upload a copy of your passport or driver’s license, and the broker should be able to validate it instantly.

    Step 2: Deposit Funds

    You will now need to add some funds to your broker account.

    Deposit on eToro Thailand

    The payment options offered by brokers will vary, although this often includes:

    • Debit Cards
    • Credit Cards
    • Paypal
    • Skrill
    • Neteller
    • International Bank Transfer

    Be sure to meet the broker’s minimum deposit amount, too. Once the deposit has been processed, it will be converted to USD.

    Step 3: Choose Forex Pair

    Now that you have added funds to your account, you will need to search for the forex pair that you wish to trade. In our example, we have entered ‘GBP/USD’ into the search box.

    Forex search eToro Thailand

    If you’re not sure which forex pair you wish to trade, you can browse through eToro’s currency section.

    Step 4: Place Order

    You will now need to place an order on your chosen forex pair. This tells the broker the specifics surrounding your trade.

    Forex trading on eToro Thailand

    Be sure to enter the following:

    • Buy/Sell: If you think the exchange rate of the currency will increase, opt for a ‘buy order’. If you think the opposite, place a ‘sell order’.
    • Amount: Enter the amount that you wish to trade. In the case of eToro, everything is denominated in USD.
    • Leverage: If you plan to trade on leverage, select your preferred multiple (2x, 3x, etc.).
    • Stop-Loss: Enter the price that you wish your trade to be closed at if the markets go against you
    • Take-Profit: Enter the price that you want your trade closed at when you hit a profit target

    Finally, click on either ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ to complete your trade depending on which way you think the markets will go!

    Leverage at South Africa Forex Brokers

    Leverage allows you to make larger trades by effectively borrowing capital from your broker. For example, a 1,000 Rand trade with 1:10 leverage applied is worth 10,000 Rand.

    South Africa residents are not restricted in the amount of leverage they can apply when trading forex. Instead,  this will be determined by your chosen broker. In most cases, forex brokers will offer you leverage of no more than 30:1 if you are just starting out. After you show that you have the capacity to trade leverage in a risk-averse manner, you may be offered higher limits.

    There are some high leverage brokers out there with significantly higher limits. You should always tread carefully with leverage, as there’s the risk you could incur significant losses. Make sure you do plenty of research into the forex market and don’t risk more than you can afford.

    Conclusion

    Finding the best broker for trading forex in South Africa is essential to success. Forex markets move fast, so you need to have access to critical tools and be able to place trades without sacrificing profit to excessive fees. On top of that, your broker needs to offer a wide range of forex pairs so that you can take advantage of opportunities in any currency, and you’ll want to find a broker that charges affordable fees for its services.

    If you’re looking for the very best South Africa forex broker, we recommend going with eToro. With 0% commission, a wide range of forex pairs and excellent copy trading tools, eToro ticks every box. Simply click the link below to register an account today.

    eToro: Best South Africa Forex Broker 2020

    Our Rating

    • 0% commission forex trading
    • Wide range of currency pairs
    • Social and copy trading tools
    • $50 minimum deposit
    75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

    FAQs

    Can I use South African Rand to trade any currency pairs?

    As long as your brokerage account is funded, you can trade CFDs or options for any currency pairs that your broker offers. You don’t need to convert money in your account to one of the currencies in the pair you want to trade. Note that some brokers, including AvaTrade, only accept US Dollars or Euros for funding your trading account.

    Do forex CFD contracts or options contracts expire?

    Forex CFDs typically expire at the end of each month, but you don’t need to worry about this expiration date. At the end of the month, your broker will automatically roll your contract over into the next month’s CFD contract for the same currency pair. Options, on the other hand, have a hard expiration date. The value of your options contract will vary significantly according to how much time remains until expiration.

    If my brokerage offers leverage, do I have to trade with leverage?

    Many brokers offer leverage when trading forex CFDs. But, you don’t necessarily have to trade with leverage. Most forex traders use some amount of leverage, since forex price changes are typically very small—on the order of one-tenth of a percent. Leverage can enable you to turn a 0.1% price change into a 10% return.

    How much money do I need to start trading forex?

    You should have at least several thousand Rand to start trading forex. This ensures that you will be able to meet the minimum deposit requirement of your brokerage, as well as meet margin requirements if you want to trade with leverage.

    All trading carries risk. Views expressed are those of the writers only. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The opinions expressed in this Site do not constitute investment advice and independent financial advice should be sought where appropriate. This website is free for you to use but we may receive commission from the companies we feature on this site.
    Alan Draper Lewis

    Alan is a content writer and editor who has experience covering a wide range of topics, from finance to gambling.