While futures trading first began in the 1800s, regulated trading in the United States didn't take place until 1974 when Congress passed the Commodity Futures Trading Act, which added federal oversight and established the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The original Commodity Futures Trading Act was later amended by the Futures Trading Act of 1982 and thereafter by the Commodity Futures Modernization Act in 2000.
Primarily used a way to trade commodities on paper, futures trading has expanded over the years to include a variety of different assets, including most recently Bitcoin.
Wikipedia defines a futures contract as, "a standardized forward contract, a legal agreement to buy or sell something at a predetermined price at a specified time in the future, between parties not known to each other."
While futures trading is overwhelmingly conducted by institutional investors such as hedge funds, it is also traded by retail investors. Here, we breakdown the best online brokers for futures trading.
Best Brokers for Futures Trading
Here are the top five online brokerages for futures trading in 2019.
- Interactive Brokers - Lowest commissions
- TD Ameritrade - Best trading platform
- TradeStation - Great platform, competitive rates
- Charles Schwab - Unique order types
- E*TRADE - Well-rounded offering
Lowest commissions - Open Account
Exclusive Offer: New clients that open an account today receive a special margin rate.
While Interactive Brokers is not suitable for casual investors, it leads the industry in international trading and low-cost commissions desired by professional traders. Read full review
Best trading platform - Open Account
Exclusive Offer: Trade free for 90 days + get up to $600 cash.
The extra cost of trading with TD Ameritrade is worth every cent – the brokerage delivers fantastic platforms, research, mobile apps, education, and customer service. This outstanding all-round experience makes TD Ameritrade our No. 1 overall broker in 2019. Read full review
Great platform, competitive rates - Open Account
Promo Offer: $5 per Trade plus $0.50 per Contract for Options
As a trading technology leader, TradeStation shines, supporting casual traders through its web-based platform, and active traders through its award-winning desktop platform. Read full review
Unique order types - Open Account
Current Offer: $4.95 online equity trades + $0.65 per options contract.
For those seeking access to low costs, excellent research, quality trade tools, and professional planning for the future, Charles Schwab will not disappoint. Read full review
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- Compare Online Brokers
For the StockBrokers.com ninth annual best online brokers review published in February 2019, a total of 4,544 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.
Participation is required to be included. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and provided executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.
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