Forex is the biggest financial market on the planet – worth some USD 6 trillion in trading volume on any given day. Isn’t it odd then that citizens of the world’s biggest economy are effectively shut out?
Not completely excluded, of course – Americans aren't subject to a North Korea-style ban on currency trading. But any US citizen signing up for a brokerage trading account quickly finds themself reigned-in by regulatory and legal restrictions that FX traders in other countries don’t face.
That's a severe disadvantage – and a disincentive to participating in forex at all.
Happily, there are more options for Americans than there used to be. In this article, we'll list ten of the most popular offshore forex trading brokers that accept US customers and let them use their trading platforms freely.
But first, it's worth looking at the forex trading environment in the US and understand the conditions that make trading ‘offshore’ a worthwhile option for many.
Up until 2009, it was pretty much plain sailing for FX traders in the US. The rollout of fast broadband spurred the growth of online trading around the world. Portals popped up everywhere, and as the market took off, American’s naturally jumped onboard.
Then the financial crisis landed, and regulators were tasked with cleaning up the mess. The 2008/2009 collapse's roots lay in the US sub-prime mortgage market and the complex derivatives that major banks and finance houses had constructed to prop-up demand. When the house of cards collapsed, however, forex found itself in the crosshairs.
As so often happens in time of economic distress, ‘currency speculation’ was blamed for irrational market activity and aiding in fraud. A new set of rules (see ‘Dodd-Frank’) was created to govern how American citizens and any trading brokerage operating in the US could conduct future forex trades.
Those rules created hurdles that make it hard for individual FX traders in the US to profit. Only big players like investment banks, hedge funds, and high-net-worth (HNW) individuals have the resources and flexibility to leap over them.
Here’s what American forex traders face if they want to open trades in the US with a US broker:
The highest leverage ratio US forex traders can access is 1:50. That means US citizens are at a disadvantage compared to traders in other markets, where leverage can be as high as 1:100 or even 1:2000.
US-based brokers can’t offer hedging and are forced to implement a First In First Out (FIFO) policy on trades. That means if you open a second position on a currency pair, you have to close the first one before the second one is accepted – an awkward mechanism designed to stop hedging.
When they sign up a new client, US forex brokers have to jump through the hoops laid out by The Office of Foreign Assets and Control (OFAC). That means placing limits on who they can accept as a client. US citizens and residents have to tick a long list of boxes before their new count application is approved.
Americans aren’t allowed to use credit cards to fund a forex trading account. That’s a serious impediment in the US, where pulling out the plastic is a standard way to make purchases and even access short-term loans in the form of cash advances.
American FX brokers have to follow a stringent rulebook when offering value-added trading services to US citizens. Things that many brokers outside the US offer as standard, like free market analysis, real-time news feeds, and ‘trading signals' sent to mobile phones, are forbidden.
With so many limits, rules and outright exclusions to deal with, it’s no wonder US forex traders are on the lookout for alternative brokerage options.
The search leads many to consider ‘offshore’ (non-US) forex brokerages that don’t have to stick to the playbook set out by Washington regulators. They can get around the restrictions on leverage, funding sources and added services that US-based brokers must abide by.
Let’s take a look at what offshore brokerages do and what they can potentially offer US-based FX traders.
An offshore forex broker isn't registered or licensed in the USA. In terms of compliance, they sit outside Uncle Sam’s regulatory remit, and as long as they don’t engage in criminal activity, they’re largely free to offer US citizens the forex trading services that other countries take for granted.
The offshore forex brokers favoured by US traders are mainly domiciled in lightly-regulated places like the Seychelles, Belize, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Vanuatu.
After that, the definition of 'offshore' gets a bit fuzzy. For example:
Depending on your definition, all of these jurisdictions could be considered offshore destinations.
As recently as a few years ago, most forex traders looking for an online broker would have defaulted to one registered in their home country.
That’s partly because there have so many high-profile cases of fraud connected with offshore financial services firms. The relative anonymity they offer to the businesses that register there made them a playground for criminals in the past, and a convenient place to set up grifts and frauds.
All of that has given the label ‘offshore’ a negative connotation, especially concerning finance. Every offshore firm engaged in financial trading gets painted with the same brush. Forex brokerages haven’t been immune from the bad vibes.
But things are changing. Countries like Belize, The Seychelles, and the Bahamas have recently established financial oversight agencies and regulatory frameworks for forex trading. As those markets strengthen their ability to weed-out bad behaviour, market confidence and trader sentiment has risen as a result.
What’s also given offshore jurisdictions a boost in credibility is the arrival of several established and reputable forex brokerage houses. They’ve set up shop in places like the Seychelles in order to reach a broader global customer base. The pent-up demand in the US market was, and is, fully on their radar.
Brokerage Plus500, for example, is listed on the London Stock Exchange but registered and regulated in the Seychelles. Scan the Cypriot and Seychelles lists of regulated securities dealers, and you'll see many of the same names.
So the number of offshore brokerage options for US traders is increasing. But how do you know who offers the best services, and how can you be sure they’re trustworthy?
Let’s be blunt: there aren’t any bulletproof guarantees in financial trading of any kind. At some point, you take a leap of faith when you become the client of a financial services firm. Offshore forex brokerages are no different.
So you need to do your research. There are reputable third-party sites like Investopedia, which give you guidance on who the best brokerages are globally. You can use those to create benchmarks. Then there are review sites like Trustpilot, which give you raw and unfiltered ratings from actual customers.
Things to look for in any broker, offshore or otherwise, include fees and commissions, leverage options, funding options, funding minimums needed to operate an account, and any value-added services or education resources they offer.
Naturally, you'll want to understand how any offshore FX brokerage is regulated and the rules they have to abide by in their registered jurisdiction.
At 1box, we've done some of the digging for you and developed our own Top 10 list for US traders considering signing-up with an offshore forex broker.
The list is numbered but not ranked or listed in any particular order. It’s based on user reviews and the feedback we’ve received from readers. We hope it helps you kick-off your own research.
FxGlory is an online platform offering trades in currency and commodity instruments. It’s based in Dubai and regulated in the Seychelles. The company's website says a team of financial specialists formed it to deliver a premium online trading experience featuring high leverage, zero commissions, and rapid trade execution.
FxGlory users can trade 33 currency pairs, including majors, minors, and exotics. Major cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum are available to trade, while on the commodities side, traders can opt for oil and precious metals. Binary options trading isn’t available, and neither is trading in indices or stocks.
FxGlory offers fixed spreads to every trading account level, making it easier to account for them when calculating gains or losses. A standard account provides spreads beginning at two pips for forex pair majors. For CIP account holders, spreads start at 0.1 pips.
Leverage offered by FxGlory varies by account level. Standard accounts get 1:3000. Premium accounts get 1:2000. VIP accounts can take advantage of 1:300 leverage, while CIP accounts can get 1:50. It's important to note that leverage on trades offers the possibility of significant gains but also brings the risk of large losses.
FxGlory offers trading via MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and WebTrader. MT4 is the market leader thanks to its ease of use, advanced features and options that customise it to individual preferences and instruments. Its ease-of-use makes it a favourite of novice traders, while its more sophisticated functionality is ideal for experienced trading professionals. MT4 can be downloaded for free from the FxGlory site.
Traders who don’t want to download and install software can choose a web-based platform called WebTrader, and execute trades directly through their default web browser. WebTrader is both Mac and PC compatible. It has most of the functionality MT4 offers, including one-click trades, a market news feed, and multi-language support.
N1CM (Number One Capital Markets) is an online trading platform owned by a holding company based in Vanuatu and regulated by the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC). The company’s website says it was founded by a veteran team of online finance professionals and blends technological innovation with excellent client service.
N1CM offers three account levels: Cent, Standard, and ECN Pro. Islamic accounts are also available, along with negative balance protection. Traders can use the platform to trade major, minor, and exotic pairs, as well as contracts for difference (CFDs), indices, precious metals, and energy commodities like oil and gas. Its liquidity providers include Bank of America, UBS, Barclays, and JP Morgan.
N1CM offers variable spreads across all three account types. Available leverage is the same for all three — up to 1:1000, though with margin minimums in place for different levels. So, for example, taking on leverage of 1:400 requires a minimum margin of 0.25%. This is designed to keep trades in proportion to deposit size.
N1CM uses the MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and WebTrader platforms. MT4 is the market leader thanks to its mix of simple interface and advanced features that let traders customise it to individual preferences. Its ease-of-use makes it a favourite of novice traders, while its more sophisticated functionality is ideal for experienced trading professionals.
Mobile trading is available with MT4 apps for iOS and Android. The MT4 desktop software and mobile apps are all available at the N1CM site.
Traders who don’t want to download and install software can choose to use WebTrader, a web-based trading portal that lets users trade through an add-on for their web browser. WebTrader is both Mac and PC compatible and offers most of the functionality MT4 does, including one-click trading, market news feed, and support for multiple languages.
LQDFX is an online forex brokerage based in the Marshall Islands. Established in 2015, it offers a non-dealing desk (NDD), straight-through processing (STP) model, giving traders direct access to markets without the additional time and cost of requotes.
LQDFX users can trade more than 70 currency pairs, including majors, minors, and exotics. A total of sixteen precious metals can be traded, including gold, platinum, palladium and silver. Twenty-one stock indices can be traded, along with six energy and agricultural commodities.
LQDFX spreads are floating and structured differently for each account type. Micro accounts have the widest spreads at between 1.6 pips for EUR/GBP and 1.3 pips for EUR/USD. Islamic accounts and gold accounts have tighter spreads, with EUR/GBP hovering around 1.2 pips, GBP/USD at 1.3 pips, and EUR/USD ar ca. 1.1 pips. Traders with premium VIP and ECN accounts get the most competitive spreads, with a typical range of 0.5 pips for EUR/GBP and 0.1 pips for GBP/USD.
Gold, Islamic, and Micro accounts are all commission-free. ECN accounts incur a USD 3.50 charge per lot, while VIP pays USD 2.5. The broker also charges for swaps that hold positions open overnight.
Traders can take advantage of flexible leverage at ratios up to 1:500 with a Micro account, but leverage on other accounts maxes out at 1:300. Only VIP accounts do better at up to 1:100. It's important to note that leverage on trades offers the possibility of significant gains but also brings the risk of large losses.
LQDFX offers trading via MetaTrader 4 (MT4). MT4 is the market leader thanks to its ease of use, advanced features and options that customise it to individual preferences and instruments. Its ease-of-use makes it a favourite of novice traders, while its more sophisticated functionality is ideal for experienced trading professionals. MT4 can be downloaded for free from the LQDFX site.
LMFX is an online forex trading platform based in the Republic of North Macedonia. Founded in 2017, its website says it has a global user-based and differentiates itself from other brokers by offering higher-than-usual leverage on trades.
LMFX offers a broad spectrum of trading instruments, including spot prices on currency pairs, precious metals trading, and contracts for difference (CFDs) in several markets.
Forty-eight major, minor, and exotic currency pairs can be traded. There are five commodity-backed CFDs, including metals and agricultural goods, three energy CFDs, and four precious metal pairs. Traders can also open trades against eight global stock indices. There are also 35 stock CFDs available, comprised of shares from the NASDAQ, LSE and NYSE.
LMFX offers variable spreads that are somewhat lower than the industry average.Premium accounts see a typical spread of 2.5 pips for GBP/USD and 2.1 for EUR/GBP. As the name suggests, a Fixed account offers fixed spreads. However, base rates are somewhat higher than the norm, coming in at 2.6 pips for GBP/USD, for example.
The leverage ratios offered by LMFX are very competitive. A Premium account can access leverage of 1:1000. Rates for a Fixed account are lower at 1:400. Zero accounts offer leverage of up to 1:250. Remember: leverage on trades offers large gains and brings the risk of large losses.
LMFX offers trading via MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and WebTrader. MT4 is the market leader thanks to its ease of use, advanced features and options that customise it to individual preferences and instruments. Its ease-of-use makes it a favourite of novice traders, while its more sophisticated functionality is ideal for experienced trading professionals. MT4 can be downloaded for free from the LMFX site.
Traders who don’t want to download and install software can access LMFX services with WebTrader, which execute trades directly in the end user’s default web browser. WebTrader is both Mac and PC compatible. It has most of the functionality MT4 offers, including one-click trades, market news feed, and support for multiple languages.
ProsperityFX is an online platform offering crypto and forex trading. It’s owned by a holding company based in St Vincent and the Grenadines and regulated by the local authority. The company’s website says it promises low spreads and ‘maximum excitement’ from the trading experience.
The brokerage offers an extensive list of trading instruments, including more than fifty currency pairs, thirty crypto CFDs, plus a range of CFDs on indices, commodities, and equities.
ProsperityFX makes leverage available to traders at ratios of up to 1:500 and charges a trading commission of USD seven dollars per lot. Account funds can be topped up with large-cap cryptos like Bitcoin, wire transfer, as well as major credit cards MasterCard and Visa (Note ProsperityFX uses a third party payment provider for card transactions.
ProsperityFX uses the MetaTrader 4 (MT4) platform. MT4 is the market leader thanks to its mix of simple interface and advanced features that let traders customise it to individual preferences. Its ease-of-use makes it a favourite of novice traders, while its more sophisticated functionality is ideal for experienced trading professionals.
Mobile trading is available with MT4 apps for iOS and Android. The MT4 desktop software and mobile apps are all available for download at the ProsperityFX site.
CryptoAltum is an online platform offering crypto and forex trading. It’s owned by a holding company based in The Marshall Islands and regulated by the local authority there. The company’s website says it aims to be the crypto and forex broker of choice for traders in more than 150 countries, offering next-generation technology, tight spreads, and generous leverage.
The brokerage offerstrading on a selection of nearly 60 cryptocurrency pairs, plus various CFDs on gold, indices, and fiat currencies.
CryptoAltum offers a 50 per cent bonus on your first deposit. Leverage ratios are as high as 1:500. Account funds can be only be topped up with cryptocurrencies. At the time of writing, CryptoAltum accepted Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and USD Tether. Remember: leverage on trades offers the possibility of significant gains, alongside the risk of large losses.
CryptoAltum uses the MetaTrader 5 (MT5) platform. MetaTrader's next-generation version offers a mix of straightforward and advanced features that can be configured to suit different trading styles. Its ease-of-use makes it a favourite of novice traders, while its more sophisticated functionality is ideal for experienced trading professionals.
Mobile trading is available with MT5 apps for iOS and Android. The MT5 desktop software and mobile apps are all available at the CryptoAltum site.
Coinexx is an Edinburgh, UK-based online trading platform offering trades in cryptocurrency and traditional fiat pairs. Its website says it was launched on the premise that only a crypto currency-driven brokerage could address common forex trading frustrations like delays in withdrawal and high fees.
The brokerage gives traders access to both crypto and standard forex pairs. Coinexx users can also trade in a range of indices and commodities. As the name implies, funding Coinexx accounts require access to cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Coinexx also accepts Litecoin, Ripple, and Dash— though accounts can only be denominated in crypto majors like BTC and ETH.
Coinexx offers some of the lowest trading fees available anywhere. The platform’s raw ECN feed starting at zero pips and only charges a USD two-dollar commission per lot. Contrast that with some onshore forex brokers where a standard lot is 100k currency units. For instruments where USD is the quote currency, one dollar in commission equals 0.1 pips, for a total spread of 0.2 pips, which is lower than the norm.
Coinexx uses the MetaTrader 5 (MT5) platform. MetaTrader's next-generation version offers a mix of straightforward and advanced features that can be configured to suit different trading styles. Its lightning-fast trade execution and ease-of-use make it a favourite of traders at every level, while its more sophisticated functionality is ideal for experienced trading professionals.
Mobile trading is available with MT5 apps for iOS and Android. The MT5 desktop software and mobile apps are all available at the Coinexx site.
Hankotrade is an online forex trading platform registered and regulated in The Seychelles. The company’s website says the biggest advantage it offers traders is low spreads — some of the lowest available anywhere (it claims).
The brokerage gives traders access to both crypto and standard forex pairs as well as a range of indices and commodities. Hankotrade only accepts payments in cryptos like Ripple, Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Across three different account levels for novices, intermediates, and professionals, Hankotrade offers maximum leverage of 1:500 against spreads, starting as low as 0.0 pips. That would give it some of the lowest trading costs available anywhere. It claims to have zero fees on withdrawals and deposits. Trading accounts can be opened with as little as ten US dollars.
Hankotrade uses MetaTrader 4 (MT4) to execute trades, the forex market leader. Its ease of use, advanced features and options make it configurable to individual preferences and instruments. It’s the go-to choice for most novice traders, while its more sophisticated functionality is ideal for experienced trading professionals. MT4 can be downloaded for free download from the Hankotrade site.
AAFX (AAFX Trading) is a no-dealing-desk broker offering forex spot trading and a range of CFDs on crypto, indices, equities, and commodities. Founded in 2014 and headquartered and regulated in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, its currency trading offer covers 45 pairs, including all majors and selection of minors. It also has offices in Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Australia.
AAFX offers 45 major and minor currency pairs for leveraged trading. Under CfDs, The broker lists 140 stocks and 11 global equity indices. Fifteen commodity CfDs are available, including coffee, corn, sugar, and soybeans. The broker has recently expanded its offering to crypto, listing one trading pair, BTC/USD. AAFX supports all order types. Traders can use risk mitigation techniques such as stop-loss orders and take-profit targets, plus other conditional orders available on MetaTrader 4 (MT4).
There are no fees attached to AAFX trades, but margin accounts have costs, and traders will need to consider the broker's spreads. Spreads can vary by trading volume, asset type, and market conditions. Traders can choose between fixed or floating spreads, while the spreads on CFDs vary by asset class. AAFX charges interest on margin of between two and five per cent.
Leverage offered by AAFX varies by account level and asset class. Leverage on currency trades can be as high as 1:2000. On all other assets, leverage ranges from 1:20 for equities to 1:1000 for commodities. It's important to note that leverage on trades offers the possibility of significant gains but also brings the risk of large losses.
AAFX offers trading through MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and WebTrader. AAFX supports MT4 on Windows, macOS, and tablets. Traders can use MT4 to access all AAFX's range tradable assets, with one-click trading and full EA functionality. Hedging and micro lots are supported. MT4 can be downloaded for free from the AAFX site.
Traders who don’t want to add new software to their machines can use a web-based platform called WebTrader. It provides access to AAFX services, and lets traders execute trades directly in a web browser window. WebTrader is both Mac and PC compatible. It has most of the functionality MT4 offers, including one-click trades, a market news feed, and multi-language support. A downloadable, locally-installed version of the software is also available.
Turnkey Forex is a UK-based online trading platform for traditional fiat currency trading. Headquartered in London, the company isn’t regulated by Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FSA). Its website says the firm aims to keep forex trading simple: with no bells or whistles, just tight spreads, low commissions, and excellent service.
Turnkey Forex offers trading in 85 currency pairs and CFDs on commodities, shares, indices and ETFs. Users can choose from five types of live trading account, including a swap-free Islamic trading account. Like most onshore brokerages, it offers a free demo account for novice traders to learn with and PAMM accounts where all trades happen on a single money manager’s account that consolidates funds from multiple traders.
Turnkey Forex makes its money with a mixed fee structure that blends commissions and spreads. Commissions start at around one US dollar per lot and max out at two dollars. The company claims to have zero fees on withdrawals and deposits. For Micro accounts, the spreads come in at 0.2 pips against max leverage of 1:200 on a minimum five-dollar deposit. VIP accounts have average spreads starting at 0.0 pips against leverage of 1:100 on a minimum USD 25,000 deposit.
Turnkey Forex offers maximum leverage of 1:500 against spreads, starting as low as 0.0 pips. Trading accounts can go live with as little as ten US dollars at kickoff.
Turnkey Forex offers trading via MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and ZuluTrade. MT4 offers experienced traders advanced features and options that make it customisable to individual preferences and instruments. Its simple interface makes it a favourite of novice traders. MT4 can be downloaded for free free download from the Turnkey Forex site.
Web-based ZuluTrade lets traders engage in social and automated trading, meaning they can mimic more experienced traders' trades and strategies in over 180 countries. Accounts are protected by proprietary risk management tools that limit losses if the traders being followed deviate from their standard strategies.
So there you have it. Ten potential offshore forex trading brokerages a US-based trader could consider. One or all offer advantages that onshore US brokers can’t: generous leverage, favourable tax treatment, and access to more trading instruments.
No matter where you trade, as a US citizen or resident, you're still expected to disclose any forex trading activity to the IRS and stay in compliance with American financial regulations like FACTA.
Final thoughts: Be aware that the risks of engaging in forex trading with an offshore broker could vary significantly depending on the circumstances. If you’re a US citizen or based in the US and considering signing up with an offshore broker, we recommend finding one that’s regulated, trustworthy, and low-cost.