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Best brokers for futures in the US

To help you to find the best online broker for futures in 2020, we went ahead and did the research for you. First, we selected 71 quality online brokers, then we checked and compared their fees, products, trading platforms, deposit and withdrawal options and more. We dug deep, so you won’t have to.

5 made it to the top in the US. We highly recommend all 5 to you. And now, without further ado...

Our top 5 picks for the best online brokers for futures traders in the US:

  1. Interactive Brokers is the winner.
  2. NinjaTrader takes second place.
  3. tastyworks rounds out the top three.
  4. TradeStation, numero quattro.
  5. Charles Schwab. Just made it to the list at number five.
Best online brokers for futures in the US
Broker Futures fee class # of available futures markets
#1 Interactive Brokers Low 32
#2 NinjaTrader Low 7
#3 tastyworks Low 8
#4 TradeStation Low 11
#5 Charles Schwab Average 8

All 5 brokers are considered safe. They are regulated by at least one top-tier financial authority.

What makes a good online broker for trading futures? First, they need to offer fair fees for buying and selling futures. To size them up in this regard, we checked the costs of stock index contracts. Second, they should offer access to a variety of exchanges (like the CME, CBOT, NYMEX, etc). It’s also important that they have a user-friendly desktop platform that makes technical analysis easy. Last, but not least, we prefer brokers that charge very low or no withdrawal fees.

Easy to list, but hard to figure out. We are testing brokers based on ~300 criteria with real accounts and real money. We know what's up.

And now, let's see the best futures brokers in the US one by one, starting with the winner, Interactive Brokers.

Interactive Brokers Logo

#1 Best brokers for futures
Interactive Brokers

4.9

Interactive Brokers was founded in 1978 and is one of the biggest US-based discount brokers. The broker is regulated by several financial authorities globally, including top-tier ones like the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

As it has licenses from multiple top-tier regulators, Interactive Brokers is considered safe. Having a long track record and publicly disclosed financials while being listed on a stock exchange are also great signs for its safety.

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#1 Interactive Brokers
Fees

Interactive Brokers has low fees when it comes to buying and selling futures.

We excluded exchange & NFA, order routing and clearing fees, as they are specific to the products and not to the brokers. US stock index futures fees are for the Micro E-Mini contract, if available; otherwise we used the E-mini.

Interactive Brokers futures fees
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Futures fee class Low Low Low Low Average
US micro e-mini stock index futures $2.5 $3.5 $8.5 $5.0 $15.0
German e-mini stock index futures $8.8 $12.9 - - -
UK stock index futures $20.4 $12.9 - - -
Withdrawal fee $0 $40 $0 $0 $0

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#1 Interactive Brokers
Markets and products

At Interactive Brokers you have access to 32 futures markets.

Interactive Brokers markets and products
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Futures markets (#) 32 7 8 11 8
Interactive Brokers other products, besides futures
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Stock Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes No No No No
ETF Yes No Yes Yes Yes
CFD Yes No No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes No

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#1 Interactive Brokers
Desktop trading platform
3.0

Interactive Brokers provides a desktop platform for IBKR PRO accounts, with many customizable options and advanced execution functions. However, the platform is not user-friendly and is more suited for advanced traders.
Pros Cons
Clear fee report Not user-friendly
Good customizability (for charts, workspace) Poor search function
Good variety of order types Too complex for beginners

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#1 Interactive Brokers
Research
3.5

Interactive Brokers has almost limitless research possibilities, but the user interface is overly complicated, hard to follow and not very well designed.
Pros Cons
Good interactive chart Not user-friendly
Trading ideas
Data on asset fundamentals

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NinjaTrader Logo

#2 Best brokers for futures
NinjaTrader

4.6

NinjaTrader is a US-based software company, which provides a great trading platform with advanced research tools. The company was founded in 2003.

Besides providing the software, NinjaTrader is a registered NFA (National Futures Association) company and an introducing broker of brokers, like Phillip Capital or Dorman Trading. The introducing broker status means that your assets and cash are held with the broker, like Phillip Capital, but the platform, the fees, and customer support are provided by NinjaTrader.

In our review, we tested NinjaTrader's platform and brokerage services through an account opened with Phillip Capital. Phillip Capital is a global broker, regulated by the top-tier financial authorities, such as US CFTC or UK FCA.

You can also connect the following brokerage accounts to NinjaTrader platforms: Interactive Brokers, TD Ameritrade, Oanda, Forex.com, FXCM, and City Index. The advantage of connecting these accounts is that you can trade other popular asset classes, like stocks, on NinjaTrader's great platform.

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#2 NinjaTrader
Fees

NinjaTrader has low fees when it comes to buying and selling futures.

We excluded exchange & NFA, order routing and clearing fees, as they are specific to the products and not to the brokers. US stock index futures fees are for the Micro E-Mini contract, if available; otherwise we used the E-mini.

NinjaTrader futures fees
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Futures fee class Low Low Low Low Average
US micro e-mini stock index futures $2.5 $3.5 $8.5 $5.0 $15.0
German e-mini stock index futures $8.8 $12.9 - - -
UK stock index futures $20.4 $12.9 - - -
Withdrawal fee $0 $40 $0 $0 $0

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#2 NinjaTrader
Markets and products

At NinjaTrader you have access to 7 futures markets.

NinjaTrader markets and products
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Futures markets (#) 32 7 8 11 8
NinjaTrader other products, besides futures
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Stock Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes No No No No
ETF Yes No Yes Yes Yes
CFD Yes No No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes No

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#2 NinjaTrader
Desktop trading platform
4.8

NinjaTrader's desktop platform is great for active traders. It's highly customizable with many advanced features. The platform is well organized but might feel complicated at first. Also, it lacks a two-step login.
Pros Cons
Clear fee report No two-step (safer) login
Good customizability (for charts, workspace) Available only on Windows
Good variety of order types
Many great tools for technical analysis

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#2 NinjaTrader
Research
4.8

NinjaTrader has great and sophisticated research tools, suitable for technical trading. The charts are easy to use and you can add a huge number of editor tools or indicators. You can also use unique features, such as strategy back-testing or automated trading tools.
Pros Cons
Good interactive chart No trading ideas
Good set of analytical tools

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tastyworks Logo

#3 Best brokers for futures
tastyworks

4.7

tastyworks is a young, up-and-coming US broker focusing on options trading. It is regulated by the top-tier Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

The people behind tastyworks are the same experts who built thinkorswim, now operated by TD Ameritrade. tastyworks is privately owned; it was established in 2017 and is headquartered in Chicago.

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#3 tastyworks
Fees

tastyworks has low fees when it comes to buying and selling futures.

We excluded exchange & NFA, order routing and clearing fees, as they are specific to the products and not to the brokers. US stock index futures fees are for the Micro E-Mini contract, if available; otherwise we used the E-mini.

tastyworks futures fees
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Futures fee class Low Low Low Low Average
US micro e-mini stock index futures $2.5 $3.5 $8.5 $5.0 $15.0
German e-mini stock index futures $8.8 $12.9 - - -
UK stock index futures $20.4 $12.9 - - -
Withdrawal fee $0 $40 $0 $0 $0

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#3 tastyworks
Markets and products

At tastyworks you have access to 8 futures markets.

tastyworks markets and products
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Futures markets (#) 32 7 8 11 8
tastyworks other products, besides futures
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Stock Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes No No No No
ETF Yes No Yes Yes Yes
CFD Yes No No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes No

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#3 tastyworks
Desktop trading platform
3.9

The desktop platform is very similar to the web trading platform and has extra features such as good customizability. On the other hand, it is likewise not well suited for beginners.
Pros Cons
Clear fee report Not suited for beginners
Good customizability (for charts, workspace)
Price alerts

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#3 tastyworks
Research
5.0

tastyworks's research tools include trading ideas, a great desktop charting tool and high-quality news. However, it's all very options-focused, and offers only limited fundamental data.
Pros Cons
Good interactive chart Limited fundamental data
Trading ideas
Quality news flow

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TradeStation Logo

#4 Best brokers for futures
TradeStation

4.7

TradeStation is a US stockbroker founded in 1982. It is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Clients are eligible for up to $500,000 investor protection per account (including cash up to $250,000).

TradeStation is considered safe because it has a long track record; discloses its financials; and its parent company, the Monex Group, is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

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#4 TradeStation
Fees

TradeStation has low fees when it comes to buying and selling futures.

We excluded exchange & NFA, order routing and clearing fees, as they are specific to the products and not to the brokers. US stock index futures fees are for the Micro E-Mini contract, if available; otherwise we used the E-mini.

TradeStation futures fees
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Futures fee class Low Low Low Low Average
US micro e-mini stock index futures $2.5 $3.5 $8.5 $5.0 $15.0
German e-mini stock index futures $8.8 $12.9 - - -
UK stock index futures $20.4 $12.9 - - -
Withdrawal fee $0 $40 $0 $0 $0

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#4 TradeStation
Markets and products

At TradeStation you have access to 11 futures markets.

TradeStation markets and products
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Futures markets (#) 32 7 8 11 8
TradeStation other products, besides futures
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Stock Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes No No No No
ETF Yes No Yes Yes Yes
CFD Yes No No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes No

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#4 TradeStation
Desktop trading platform
2.5

TradeStation offers a desktop trading platform with many advanced features and customization options. For that reason, though, it is not very suitable for beginners.
Pros Cons
Good customizability (for charts, workspace) Not user-friendly
Good variety of order types Poor search function
Two-step (safer) login Poor design

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#4 TradeStation
Research
4.0

TradeStation offers great research, including detailed fundamental data and high-quality news. On the flip side, some research tools are not free.
Pros Cons
Good interactive chart Many add-on research tools are not free
Trading ideas
Data on asset fundamentals

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Charles Schwab Logo

#5 Best brokers for futures
Charles Schwab

4.9

Charles Schwab is a US discount broker that was founded in 1971 and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

It is regulated by several top-tier financial authorities, such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

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#5 Charles Schwab
Fees

Charles Schwab has average fees when it comes to buying and selling futures.

We excluded exchange & NFA, order routing and clearing fees, as they are specific to the products and not to the brokers. US stock index futures fees are for the Micro E-Mini contract, if available; otherwise we used the E-mini.

Charles Schwab futures fees
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Futures fee class Low Low Low Low Average
US micro e-mini stock index futures $2.5 $3.5 $8.5 $5.0 $15.0
German e-mini stock index futures $8.8 $12.9 - - -
UK stock index futures $20.4 $12.9 - - -
Withdrawal fee $0 $40 $0 $0 $0

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#5 Charles Schwab
Markets and products

At Charles Schwab you have access to 8 futures markets.

Charles Schwab markets and products
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Futures markets (#) 32 7 8 11 8
Charles Schwab other products, besides futures
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Stock Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes No No No No
ETF Yes No Yes Yes Yes
CFD Yes No No No No
Crypto Yes Yes No Yes No

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#5 Charles Schwab
Desktop trading platform
4.0

Charles Schwab has a great desktop trading platform, which is highly customizable, offers many order types and has a clear fee report. However, it is available only for Windows.
Pros Cons
Clear fee report Only for Windows
Good customizability (for charts, workspace)
Good variety of order types

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#5 Charles Schwab
Research
4.3

Charles Schwab has great research tools, including trading ideas and detailed fundamental data, although it's hard to navigate the web trading platform due to their abundance.
Pros Cons
Good interactive chart Hard to navigate among research tools
Data on asset fundamentals
Trading ideas for stocks and ETFs

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Best online brokers for futures in the US
How did we pick the best brokers for futures?

We tested brokers based on more than 300 criteria. Below, we will show you the 5 important criteria we took into account.

5 important criteria for the best brokers for futures in the US
Futures fees We checked the fees for buying and selling stock index futures in the US (Micro E-Mini if available), UK and Germany. We excluded exchange & NFA, order routing and clearing fees as they are specific to the products and not to the brokers.
Number of available futures markets We added up the number of futures exchanges the broker has access to. For example, if the broker provided EUREX and CME, this would count as 2 (even though on the CME Exchange you can trade 4 different types of markets: Equity indexes, interest rates, FX and agricultural futures).
Research score Futures trading relies heavily on technical analysis, so it made sense to look at what we call Research score as it the covers charting capabilities of the broker.
Desktop trading platform score A user-friendly and well-equipped trading platform can significantly increase your trading comfort.
We looked at customizability, as well as the availability of different order types, price alerts, and 2-step authentication, among others.
Withdrawal fee Futures trading involves margin so traders often have more banking transactions than investors. While deposits are usually free at most brokers, there can be big differences among brokers when it comes to withdrawal fees.

Are these brokers safe?

These brokers are all considered safe. You can be sure none of them is a scam. They are regulated by at least one top-tier regulator.

Note that while there have been ongoing talks regarding this, currently there is no agency like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) that would provide investor protection for futures trading in the US. The FDIC is not meant to provide protection to investors who are making speculative investments. Furthermore, futures are very highly-leveraged trading instruments. Implementing FDIC insurance for all customer deposits trading in futures would ultimately increase the cost of transactions for the customer. This is because the participating FCMs (Futures Commission Merchants) would be required to pay the insurance.

All Futures Commission Merchants (FCMs) are required to report their daily segregation and secured requirements to their various regulators. Monthly FCM financial data is published by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Best online brokers for futures in the US
Bottom line

You saw the details, now let's zoom out. Here are the best online brokers for futures in 2020:

Best online brokers for futures in the US for 2020
Interactive Brokers NinjaTrader tastyworks TradeStation Charles Schwab
Futures fee class Low Low Low Low Average
US micro e-mini stock index futures $2.5 $3.5 $8.5 $5.0 $15.0
Futures markets (#) 32 7 8 11 8
Withdrawal fee $0 $40 $0 $0 $0
Open account Open account Open account Open account Open account

Interactive Brokers is our winner, the best online broker for futures in the US.
All of these brokers are considered safe, and a great choice. Pick the winner, or any of the runners-up, and take the next step in your trading journey. Let us know what you think in the comment section.
Still unsure? For a tailored recommendiation, check out our broker finder tool. You can enter your country and it will show only those brokers that are relevant to you. Want more details? Compare brokers with the help of this detailed comparison table.

Author of this article

András Iván

Author of this article

Andras has over 4 years of experience analysing and trading equities and bonds. He believes that active trading and a more passive investing approach both have merits and everyone can find a strategy that fits their needs. He's eager to help identify the characteristics of specific brokers, so the best match can be found for each client.

András Iván

Broker Analyst

Andras has over 4 years of experience analysing and trading equities and bonds. He believes that active trading and a more passive investing approach both have merits and everyone can find a strategy that fits their needs. He's eager to help identify the characteristics of specific brokers, so the best match can be found for each client.

Everything you find on BrokerChooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

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