You are currently viewing What is Spread in Forex? A Beginner’s Guide

What is Spread in Forex? A Beginner’s Guide

What is Forex?

The trading of national currencies against one another is known as foreign exchange (Forex, or FX). The foreign exchange market, often known as the forex market, is where foreign exchange transactions take place. It is the world’s largest and most liquid market.

The forex market is an electronic network where banks, governments, central banks, brokers, large commercial companies, institutions, and individual traders trade in foreign currencies. Individual traders often conduct their transactions through brokers or banks.

What is a spread in forex?

In forex, a spread is made up of two prices: the bid price (the buying price) and the asking price (the selling price). The bid price is what a forex broker is prepared to pay for a currency, whereas the asking price is the rate at which a forex broker will sell the same currency. To put it another way, the bid price is the price at which you (the forex trader) may sell the base currency, while the asking price is the price at which you can purchase the base currency.

In Forex, a spread is the difference between the bid and ask price of a currency pair. The spread is also known as the bid-ask spread. The spread is the cost of each transaction charged by the forex broker and serves as the basic remuneration for each broker. The spread shows the trader’s cost.

A spread is essentially a representation of the supply and demand for currencies. The bid price indicates supply, whereas the ask price shows demand.

When the value of one currency is stated against the value of another currency, it is referred to as a currency pair.  A currency pair’s first stated currency is known as the base currency, while the second currency is known as the quote or counter currency. The quotation specifies the amount of the quoted currency required to buy one unit of the base currency.

For example, if it takes ZAR 19.20 to buy US$1, the expression ZAR/USD will equal 19.2/1 or 19.20. The ZAR is the base currency, and the USD is the quote or counter currency.

How do I calculate the spread in forex?

A forex spread is calculated by subtracting the asking price from the bid price.

The spread is often measured in pips, which are the most fundamental unit of measurement in forex trading.

Most currency pairs are quoted to the fourth decimal place. A pip represents the last of those four numbers and thus equals 0.0001.

Calculation example: In a currency pair, the EUR, the base currency, has a bid price of 1.0931, while the USD, the quote or counter currency, has an asking price of 1.0934. The spread is 1.0934 minus 1.0931, = 3 pips.

Why is spread important in forex?

Forex spread is an important subject to understand when beginning as a forex trader since it influences the future costs you will encounter as a trader.

A trader who uses modest spreads will have lower operational expenses and long-term savings. A high-spread trader will have to make bigger profits to cover the expense. For many traders, the spread is crucial to their losses and winnings.

Before you trade, you must take the spread into account. For example, if a transaction costs 5 pips, you must cover at least 5 pips before you may profit.

In fact, a spread is a direct initial loss for the trader, and the strategy should be to cover the loss during the following trading.

For example, the currency pair quote for EUR/USD is 1.0905/1.0910. The spread for one lot, in this case, is 5 pips. To recoup the loss, you want the subsequent currency pair quote to change in your favor by at least 5 pips.

By calculating the forex spread, you can determine if the cost is appropriate for your trading style and if you have proper trading strategies in place.

Forex spread is also one of the most important things to check when deciding on a forex broker. According to Finance Magnates, “all investors and traders should be educated about the lack of information regarding the possibility of manipulating the spreads on their (forex brokers) trading platforms without the consent of their clients. On certain occasions, there are unscrupulous brokers who exercise this practice to obtain more profits.” Therefore, selecting a quality broker with a good reputation and not guilty of spread manipulation is essential in forex trading.


High-spread and low-spread

A large spread occurs when there is a significant disparity between the bid and ask prices. In general, developing market currency pairs have a wider spread than major currency pairs. When compared to emerging market currencies, major currency pairs trade at larger volumes, and bigger trade volumes tend to result in narrower spreads under normal conditions.

Higher than normal spreads are normally indications of high volatility or low liquidity in the market.

A low spread indicates there is a small difference between the bid and ask prices.

Low spreads are generally indications that volatility is low and liquidity is high.

Entering a forex trade when the spread is relatively low implies that you start the trade with a slightly better overall position.

Before big news events or during a big shock (the COVID-19 pandemic), spreads can widen to a great extent.

Types of spreads

Fixed spreads stay the same, regardless of what market conditions are at any given time. Usually, a fixed spread is set for the most liquid currency pairs, like EUR/USD, USD/GBP, and USD/JPY, where average spread fluctuations are not significant.

Among others, fixed spread advantages are smaller capital requirements; more predictable calculation of transaction costs; being more predictable; traders can rely on strategies without anxiety about unexpected variables.

Disadvantages include, inter alia, more frequent requotes because your broker will not be able to change the spread to accommodate new market conditions, and it cannot be used during forex scalping.

Scalping is a trading method used by traders to buy or sell a currency pair and then hold it for a short period of time in an attempt to make a profit.

Variable spreads are set by the broker within a lower limit and may fluctuate. Changes in the currency value may also influence a variable spread.

Some advantages of variable spreads are: no requotes; more transparency; and better pricing because you have access to prices from different liquidity providers.

Disadvantages of a variable spread, to name a few: There are increased trading risks because a spread may look profitable but can be reversed in an instant; it is actually only low during market inactivity since a variable spread broadens with increased liquidity. In high-volatility markets, fixed spreads will always be the better choice.

What influences the spread in forex trading?

Some of the factors that can influence spreads in forex are:

The currency pair involved The major currency pairs like EUR/USD, USD/GBP, and USD/JPY tend to have the tightest quoted dealing spreads.

Dealing spreads tend to reduce in higher-volume forex markets because more traders are active as buyers and sellers.

Market volatility levels Market participants who quote prices in a turbulent market assume more risk; therefore, they offer broader prices to compensate. Market volatility may be influenced by news about events such as referendums and elections and natural calamities such as the impact of a pandemic.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make sure that you are paying the lowest spread?

When pricing forex brokers, it is important to take into account both the spread and the commission. A broker who appears to have low spreads might turn out to be more expensive than a broker with slightly higher spreads. It is important to calculate the final price after you have factored in the commission costs.

What are the disadvantages of trading with a fixed-spread broker?

A broker who offers fixed spreads will not forgo earnings for the benefit of a trader.  You may find yourself trapped in enormous spreads, which is a major disadvantage for any trader. Although fixed spreads seem appealing, they are mostly aimed at novice traders who lack trading expertise.

Do major currency pairs have lower spreads?

The major currency pairs have the most trading volume, and as a general rule, the more a currency pair is traded, the lower the spreads tend to be across all the brokerages.

What is the meaning of a high spread in forex?

In forex trading, a high spread indicates that a currency pair is less liquid than other pairings, implying that fewer traders are focused on that currency combination. Spreads rise when trade frequency decreases.

Do forex brokers include their trading fees in the spread?

Yes, they do, and traders should be aware that even if a broker presents itself as a “commission-free” forex trading platform, trading fees may be included in the spread.

#Speard #ProbabaFX #Brokers


Dr. William Odion is a financial coach and consultant who specializes in Forex and Crypto trading. He is also an author, founder and CEO of Probaba EA Consults a.k.a Probabafx, and a brand influencer and real estate investor.

Leave a Reply