Understanding Spreads in Forex: A Beginner’s Guide


Understanding Spreads in Forex: A Beginner’s Guide

When it comes to trading forex, understanding spreads is essential. The spread is the difference between the bid and ask price of a currency pair, and it represents the cost of executing a trade. As a beginner in the forex market, it is crucial to grasp the concept of spreads and how they can impact your trading results.

What is a Spread?

In forex trading, currencies are quoted in pairs. The first currency in the pair is called the base currency, while the second currency is known as the quote currency. For example, in the EUR/USD currency pair, the euro (EUR) is the base currency, and the US dollar (USD) is the quote currency.


The bid price is the price at which you can sell the base currency, while the ask price is the price at which you can buy the base currency. The difference between these two prices is the spread. Brokers make money by charging traders a spread on each transaction.

Types of Spreads

There are two main types of spreads in forex trading: fixed spreads and variable spreads. A fixed spread remains constant regardless of market conditions, while a variable spread fluctuates in response to market volatility.

Fixed spreads are often higher than variable spreads, as they provide traders with certainty. This can be beneficial for beginners who prefer to know the exact cost of executing a trade in advance. On the other hand, variable spreads can be lower during times of low market volatility, but they may widen significantly during periods of high volatility, such as economic news releases or geopolitical events.

Factors Affecting Spreads

Several factors can influence the size of spreads in the forex market. The most significant factor is market liquidity. When a currency pair has high liquidity, it means there are many buyers and sellers in the market, resulting in tighter spreads. Conversely, low liquidity leads to wider spreads because there is less trading activity.

Economic news releases can also impact spreads. Major economic indicators, such as interest rate decisions, GDP reports, or employment data, can cause significant market movements and increase spreads temporarily. Therefore, it is important to be aware of upcoming news events and their potential impact on spreads.

Choosing a Broker with Competitive Spreads

As a beginner, it is crucial to choose a broker that offers competitive spreads. A narrower spread can significantly reduce your trading costs and increase potential profits. However, it is important to consider other factors as well, such as regulation, trading platform, customer support, and educational resources.

Compare different brokers and their spreads before making a decision. Some brokers may offer fixed spreads, while others provide variable spreads. Take into account your trading style and the currency pairs you plan to trade to ensure the broker’s spreads align with your goals.

Impact of Spreads on Trading Results

Understanding spreads is vital because they directly impact your trading results. When opening a trade, you start with a small loss due to the spread. For example, if the spread on the EUR/USD pair is 2 pips and you enter a buy trade, the price needs to move 2 pips in your favor just to break even.

If your trading strategy involves frequent trades with small profit targets, it becomes even more crucial to have low spreads. A wider spread can eat into your profits, making it more challenging to achieve consistent profitability.


In conclusion, understanding spreads is essential for any beginner in the forex market. It represents the cost of executing a trade and can significantly impact your trading results. Whether you choose a fixed or variable spread broker, it is important to consider other factors such as liquidity, economic news releases, and the impact of spreads on your trading strategy. By choosing a broker with competitive spreads and developing a sound trading plan, you can navigate the forex market more effectively and increase your chances of success.