5 Best Online Brokers for E-Mini Futures 
There’s really only a few good brokers for E-Mini Futures Options, as most brokerages aren’t very user-friendly when it comes to futures in general — and most of them are very difficult to get futures trading approval on — below we’ll cover the brokerages worth considering if you’re wanting to invest in or trade E-mini Futures or options on E-mini Futures Contracts.
To be completely transparent we personally use and are big fans on interactive brokers — and they’re the brokerage that is best overall for experienced investors and traders with substantial capital to play with — this is because of their best-in-industry margin rates and market access — they’re our #1 pick.
With that being said all the below are good choices — if you’re a trader and don’t care to invest long-term in foreign markets, and want a better interface than Interactive Brokers offers, then we’d say Tastyworks likely fits you best — they’re our #2 pick.
There’s a handful of other brokerages we’ll cover below, which also offer E-mini futures, however if you’re not already with them and happy with them we’d say Interactive Brokers and Tastyworks are overall better choices for most people.
Table of Contents
Best Overall - Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers has a slight price benefit over the other options we’ll cover here, coming in at a puny $0.85 USD per contract per trade for each E-mini Future contract you trade, and more importantly the lowest margin rate — hands down — of any online brokerage that allows for E-mini Futures Options.
They’re also just generally a great broker in terms of execution of trades, products to trade, and varied advanced elements that can help you hedge (such as being able to hold multiple currencies in your account).
There’s some bad though — Interactive Brokers trading platform is hot garbage. If you aren’t familiar with trading on forex exchanges like Oanda Interactive Brokers will probably be a nightmare for you. Their web-based online trading platform is less bad for beginners, but still isn’t particularly user-friendly.
Because of this, while their margin rates are lower and they have the most products to choose from (such as access to foreign exchanges) they simply have ugly hard to use infrastructure that makes it significantly harder for a non-professional trader/investor to, well, invest or trade. They’re the brokerage you’ll want to use one day when you want to take advantage of their cheap margin rates and overall market access, however that day might not be today for you — it’s only really worthwhile using Interactive Brokers over one of the alternatives below if you have a portfolio margin account.
Best Interface for Beginners - Tastyworks
Tastyworks similarly to Interactive Brokers charges the same $0.85 cent E-mini Futures Contract commission rate, while having a MUCH easier to use trading platform. The downside to Tastyworks is the margin rate is a bit higher and they do not support trading on foreign-exchanges, although you can still buy foreign ADR’s and the like commission-free.
If you’re newer to trading, or simply like options trading and/or want easy account approval tasty works is arguably the best choice as their interface is very easy to understand and navigate compared to pretty much all brokerages (their mobile app isn’t the best though), and they will approve just about anyone to trade E-Mini futures, get a margin account, and whatever permissions you desire so long as you meet the minimum legal account requirements to trade them.
Tastyworks also has their own “Small Exchange” that allows trading essentially all futures contracts in a E-mini/Ultra-E-mini Form, so if you have a very small account, or just want to be able to trade small, you can trade smaller oil, natural gas, or pretty much any other futures contract in their E-mini form on Tastyworks. To me this is essential, as the other brokerages mentioned don’t give you access to all these small-sized “E-mini” style contracts.
Best For Mobile-Users - Etrade
Etrade is a pretty decent brokerage over-all — they are pretty average when it comes to margin rates and aren’t the easiest to get approved with (to trade e-mini futures) however they aren’t too difficult either.
They have the best mobile app in our opinion out of any exchange that offers E-mini futures, which is a plus if that’s something you’re into — however if I’m being completely honest I don’t think people should trade on their phones or on the go, call me old fashioned but it just feels wrong to me. I need a good desktop or laptop setup to really see the charts and/or options table to make a trade.
Overall I’d give E-trade a pass unless you’re already with them, in which case maybe it’s not worth the bother switching over to a different Brokerage like Tastyworks, at least if you want to invest in municipal bonds or anything — otherwise it might be worth a switch, especially because usually tastyworks has some promotions that can net you a few hundred dollars. You can check for promotions on this page of our site, as we keep track of those.
Best For Customer Service - TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade is another fantastic platform for E-mini futures — they’re probably our #3 pick overall as their interface isn’t the easiest to use and their margin rates aren’t the lowest, but otherwise they’re above-average in every regard — especially their customer service, which if you have a sizeable account will have a dedicated representative team to call — which means you’ll talk with the same people in regards to any issues you may have and have someone who fights on your behalf in the company.
Ultimately though, similar to Etrade, TdAmeritrade doesn’t really excell in E-mini futures or options trading, but rather is just present and overall a good trustworthy platform worth considering — they don’t offer sign-up bonuses like tastyworks or interactive brokers, nor do they offer any real tangible benefit like lower fees.
Best Lowest Cost - TradeStation
TradeStation is certainly the smallest of any of the brokerages we’ve mentioned here — but they’re just as trustworthy and have partnerships with many large financial institutions such as Interactive Brokers.
TradeStation’s main advantage is that they offer the lowest commissions for regular traders — of course with the other brokers if you’re a high-volume trader with a large portfolio you’ll likely be able to negotiate lower commissions, on-par with tradestation, but if you’re a penny pintcher you may prefer tradestation to start.
Tradestation’s interfaces are quite complicated similar to interactive brokers interfaces, and their margin rates aren’t nearly as good, but they do offer easy permissions approval like tastyworks does, meaning if you have a small account with not-so-long experience they’ll likely still approve you to trade E-Mini Futures.
E-Mini Futures FAQ's:
Below we’ll cover the FAQ’s we’ve been asked, or encountered, or even had asked ourselves about E-mini Futures when we first were checking learning about them — If you have other questions feel free to contact us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can — usually within a couple of days.
Can you make a living trading e-Mini Futures?
It’s definitely feasible to make a living trading E-mini futures and e-mini futures options, however it’s not really reasonable to make a living off a few thousand dollars — you’ll need a sizeable portfolio and a large cash reserve to make trading for a living not overly stressful. Ultimately unless you have a portfolio well above six figures, and have some experience trading, we’d say it’s not wise to try to make a living trading e-Mini futures or options on them.
How Much do you need to start trading E-mini Futures?
While in theory you only need $500 per contract you want to trade available in your account – in reality you need a few thousand dollars, generally $2500 – $5000 and some trading/investing experience to have a brokerage approve you to trade e-mini futures (or e-mini futures options). Really in our opinion you shouldn’t touch them until you have around $5,000 to $15,000 in your trading account at a minimum, and really would say they’re not worth the bother until you have $50,000+ in your trading/investment portfolio.
How Many e-Mini Contracts can you Trade?
There’s no upper-bound limit, however you’ll need a minimum of $500 of buying power to initiate a trade with a single contract, and really should have quite a bit more than that to account for volatility post-opening the position. While you can trade (account USD value / 500 = Contracts) contracts generally it’s not wise to trade more than (account USD value / 3000) of contracts at any given time.
Keep in mind if you are going to be trading 50-100+ contracts at a given time then it’s generally better to step up to proper traditional futures contracts as they would be notionally equivalent while reducing your margin usage, giving you better liquidity, and lowering your commissions slightly.