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Etrade Futures Trading Account Review: Margin Requirements, Leverage, Pricing, and Platform



E*Trade Futures Trading Overview


Although there are brokers who specialize in futures, some investors may prefer to keep trading in both securities and futures under one house. E*Trade offers just that. Although more well known for its stock, ETF, and mutual fund offerings, E*Trade also provides its customers the chance to buy and sell futures contracts. Let's take a closer look at the broker's services in this area, and see how they compare to the competition.


Futures Contracts Available at E*Trade


There are more than 200 futures products available for purchase at E*Trade. These include contracts on agricultural products, energy, precious and industrial metals, equities, currencies, and interest rates. Regular contracts are available, as are mini contracts, which have a smaller value. The even smaller micro contract is available on certain products.

Some examples of available contracts at E*Trade include corn, soybeans, natural gas, the E-mini on natural gas, the E-mini on all three major U.S. stock indexes, GBP/USD, the E-micro on JPY/USD, the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, silver, and the E-micro gold.


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Charting


The broker's securities website is able to produce a chart for all of these futures contracts. Several different graph styles are available, including OHLC bars, candlestick, line, and area. Volume is shown below the chart, and the time scale can be adjusted. An image of a chart can be downloaded in png, jpg, pdf, or svg format. A chart can also be printed.

The maximum time scale for a contract is 5 years, or sometimes longer for certain contracts. The charting software can also show intraday price movements. If intraday is selected, the time interval can be set to 30 minutes or as short as 1 minute, which is per candlestick or OHLC bar. A sliding time scale appears below the volume, which allows for quick adjustments to a contract's time period. It's the same system that Google Finance has.


Etrade Futures


At the top of the chart, important information is displayed, including high and low prices, the day's volume, and the opening price. Hovering over a particular point on the graph will also display the same data for a past point in the contract's history. Hovering over the candlestick today for light sweet crude, for example, shows a high of $49.26, a low of $46.25, and a volume of 22,000.

At the very bottom of the charting page, E*Trade shows vital information on the futures product being studied. These data include the contract's ticker symbol, the dollar value of the contract, the minimum tick, the dollar value of one tick, and whether options are available on the contract.


E*Trade Futures Trading Platform


E*Trade has a dedicated platform for futures traders. It must first be downloaded, as it is a desktop program. The software features one-click ordering, customization, and several order types. It also provides access to all major exchanges. E*Trade customers can also request a free trial of the software with a virtual account.


Etrade Futures Trading Review


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E*Trade Futures Trading Pricing


Futures contracts at E*Trade cost $1.50 per contract, per side. Exchange fees are passed onto the customer. These include certain charges that are assessed by the futures exchanges and the National Futures Association (NFA). There may be other fees passed onto the trader as well, including charges for options on futures and the execution of futures that aren't electronically traded. The amount of these fees can vary, as they are not set by E*Trade.


Futures Education and Research


The E*Trade website has a good financial education section. Some of these resources cover commodities and futures related issues. Videos are available that discuss a variety of topics that futures traders will find helpful, such as interest rates and how they effect the price of gold. The broker has a dedicated futures trading desk. It can be reached over the phone by calling 1-877-553-8887.


Etrade Futures Trading Reviews


Promotion



New investors who open and fund a futures account at E*Trade will receive 50% off the broker's standard commission for three months. The discount applies only to E*Trade's charge, not to exchange fees. The minimum deposit to qualify for this special is $10,000. The balance must be maintained 6 months minimum, although trading losses are excused. If funds are withdrawn below this level, E*Trade will charge the account the amount of lost commissions.


Comparison


TD Ameritrade is another securities broker that also offers futures trading. The broker charges $2.25 per side, per contract, and passes on exchange fees just as E*Trade does. TD Ameritrade offers an advanced platform where futures can be traded, along with futures education. There is no charge for either service. However, TD Ameritrade does not currently have any futures promotions.

Ally Invest is a discount broker who is much better priced than both E*Trade and TD Ameritrade. Currently Ally's commissions on futures trading are $0.85 per contract up to 250 contracts, $0.65 per contract 251-2000 contracts, $0.45 per contract over 2000 contracts.


E*Trade Futures Trading Summary


E*Trade has a side futures business that offers traders a lot. However, for anyone looking for low rates Ally Invest is a better option.


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Etrade Futures Trading reviewed by Brokerage-Review.com. Rating: 3.5