The Top 3 Brokers For E-Mini Futures (March-2020)
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.
However, two of them really shine as the best choice, especially if you have a smaller account. This is because recently one brokerage — Tastyworks — came out with what they call “the small exchange” which allows you to trade smaller E-Mini futures and other futures contracts that are 1/10th of the normal size, thus allowing even small accounts to start trading futures safely.
Interactive Brokers currently offers access to the small exchange too, but they charge a fee for it and don’t have full-access yet last we checked.
The Low-Cost E-Mini Futures Broker (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, and if you want to trade on mobile at all, forget it. 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.
My Overall Favorite & Choice for E-Mini Futures (Tastyworks):
I prefer Tastyworks to Interactive Brokers due to them having the same $0.85 cent E-mini Futures Contract commission rate, while having a MUCH easier to use trading platform. The only downside to Tastyworks is the margin rate is a tiny bit higher and they do not support trading on foreign-exchanges, although you can still buy foreign ADR’s and the like commission-free.
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.
A Good Balance Between User-Friendliness and Products to Trade (Etrade):
Etrade is a pretty decent brokerage over-all, but they don’t really exceed in anything in my opinion.
Their Margin rate (fee) is the highest of any of the brokerages mentioned here, but their platform is alright — although not as good as Tastyworks in my opinion. They don’t have all the Small-exchange products as Tastyworks, or allow for international trading.
Really I couldn’t ever bring myself to switch to E-Trade, because of the above things that just makes E-Trade not very competitive. I included them simply because they DO actually have E-mini Futures unlike pretty much all other brokerages at this stage, so they are an option, plus they allow for bond-trading while Tastyworks doesn’t, so they have slightly more flexibility in that respect.
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.