Spreads have always been one of the most important things forex traders are looking at when selecting their forex broker. While this is indeed an important aspect of forex trading often enough the importance of spreads is overrated as there are many more things one need to consider before selecting a forex broker and I don’t consider spreads as being even in the top 5 of the most important features. Stability, regulation, execution, customer service and being a broker that isn’t infamous for not returning money comes to mind much before that. In my opinion, most retail clients shouldn’t care one bit about spreads because they almost don’t matter to them and those who do need to look at spreads (highfrequency traders for instance) already know where to go.
However, I can’t ignore the percepted importance of spreads and all forex brokers use this feature in order to promote their business. Just look at forex banners on all sites.
This recently gave stimulus to the rise of forex spreads comparison sites which by one method or another display spreads from various brokers and give traders a full picture of what’s going on before making a deposit.
I covered the first ever such website called FX Intelligence here. I wrote back than that “This is an important tool that finally takes the broker review sites to the next level: instead of reading biased and non-biased reviews traders are able to track broker performance real time. Hopefully the platform is connected to live accounts and not demo ones otherwise the tool won’t be 100% accurate as some brokers tend to display different spreads at their demo and live accounts.”
In my opinion, these sites are widgets with sites and not sites with widgets – so I can’t really see a real business model developing here. It’s also hard for Google to index these sites as they got little or no content at all and once big sites like fxstreet (hint hint Francesc) or forexfactory develop such a widget themselves (it costs almost nothing to do so) these independent sites will simply vanish.
Another issue is that it’s really hard to actually verify whether these sites show actual results and whether displayed are live and not demo feeds.
Ever since FX intelligence was launched, to no surprise similar websites started sprouting (apologies for the screenshots quality, I’m working on that).
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mt4spreads is another very useful spreads comparison site. It shows the spreads divided into majors, euro pairs, dollar pairs, gbp pairs and so on. You can filter by currency pair, time frame or by session. I didn’t really manage to fully understand whether it shows the average spread or minimum spread during the time session as the login process seems to be a bit buggy at this point.
But you can click any spread by any broker to see more detailed data – which is actually more confusing than helpful in my view.
While FX Intelligence and mt4spreads got that up-to-date flashy design, mt4i.com/spread seems somewhat outdated. Moreover, according to its own statement it shows only demo spreads – and this is simply worthless. MT4i.com however has additional services and this spreads comparison isn’t the focus of its site, rather it is regarded the way it should be – another nice gadget.
Coincidentally just as I was about to seal this post another comparison tool popped up! This time it was mataf.net’s Arnaud with his own version of broker spreads comparison. Unlike the sites above mataf.net is beefed up with content therefore this tool should be more popular. At this point it isn’t perfect as it displays only a couple of brokers and still requires more work before becoming a visually useful tool however I must recommend its spreads comparison methodology: unlike all others Arnaud doesn’t trust the broker feeds or APIs and derives the data from the charts themselves using Optical Character Recognition which takes screenshots of charts and compares them every few seconds. Sounds complicated? you bet! but this also makes it most accurate.