Forex trading offers some advantages over the stock market because of its liquidity, decentralization and 24/5 operating schedule. Foreign exchange trading is riskier than other types of investing, because the currency markets shifts rapidly and you'll need to trade on a margin account, which can maximize returns but also magnify losses. Investors wanting to actively trade on the forex market should not only be comfortable with stock trading in general but also with the platform they use to execute their trades.
Demo accounts offer you a chance to test a forex broker's trading platform. These accounts let you use virtual money to make trades and test strategies. The best demo accounts let you enact all the important trading functions, including setting up alerts and creating stop-loss orders. As you experiment with a demo, assess how intuitive the controls feel, how easy it is for you to understand the charts at a glance and how well you can drill down to get the exact information you want in order to make a wise trade.
The best forex demo accounts don't just sell you on their system, however. They should educate you on the forex market, simulate real-world trading and allow you to test different strategies. Demo accounts can help you learn your trading style – whether you are more comfortable with intraday moves or longer-term position holds, for example.
The Four Best Forex Demo Accounts
The best forex trading platforms offer demo accounts, so you should first check which brokers most interest you. We've reviewed eight of the best on our site, and of those, we found these to have the best demo accounts:
- Thinkorswim: Thinkorswim by TD America is easy to learn and offers the most robust analytics of any broker we reviewed, including more than 300 technical indicators as well as forecasting tools. It works not only for forex but also online stock trading, making it a good choice if forex is just part of your investment portfolio. When trading on this demo platform, you are using information that's 20 minutes old, which is close enough to real time to give you a good idea if your strategies are sound for the current market. It also has tutorials and educational resources right on the platform. You can try thinkorswim for 60 days without opening an account.
- FXCM: Our reviewers say the forex training provided by FXCM is among the best. This forex broker's demo account runs that same hours as the forex market – 24 hours, Monday through Friday. The demo accounts attempt to replicate real markets but have delays and may not have all the products available in the real-world market. You can select a standard account or a mini account, which helps you better simulate how you intend to trade in real life. The platform itself, Trading Station, was one of the best we tested, with multiple watchlists, alert options and analytic tools. You can get educational materials along with the demo.
- OANDA: This platform does not offer all the features of other forex trading demo accounts, but as a result, it's simpler to use. Our reviewers had an easy time creating stop-loss and other advanced orders. It offers 50 technical indicators to help you plan your trading strategies and provides real-time data. This forex broker does not offer as many training resources as others, but its forex demo account never expires, and it offers unlimited virtual funds, giving you the opportunity to bounce back after a disastrous learning experience. It also offers you the choice of five trading platforms.
- ForexTrader: This forex demo account is limited to 30 days and offers you $50,000 in virtual money. You can choose to create simple or complex orders, read trade analysis and tips and use mobile apps as well as the desktop demo. FOREX.com is one of the largest forex brokers in the United States. It also allows you to trade gold, silver and futures. While it offers an impressive 50 technical indicators, our reviewers found the charting tools less versatile than those of other forex trading platforms.
Demo Accounts Are Not Enough
While a demo account can help you get used to a platform and enable you to test strategies, experts say it's not sufficient for becoming a trading wiz. The changing nature of the market means that backward analysis can only go so far in helping you determine strategies.
In addition, there's a lack of emotional investment when working with play money. It's easy to fall into the trap of playing the forex market like a game. If you don't treat the demo as if it were real – if you don't trade according to your real-life budget, for instance – you can develop unrealistic expectations that lead to disappointment or financial disaster. Therefore, some forex traders who teach others recommend that after the demo, you start with a micro account, investing only a fraction of your financial capabilities until you have a strong idea of what really works for you.
Demo accounts are an excellent way to learn a forex trading platform and get an initial feel for the world of forex trading. The best ones not only match your trading style but also offer instruction and support. However, a demo account alone does not prepare you for real-world trading. After using a demo and finding the right platform for you, start with a micro account. These steps help you grow comfortable with this high-risk activity.