Understanding the Forex Bid vs Ask Spread: A Beginner’s Guide

Understanding the Forex Bid vs Ask Spread: A Beginner’s Guide

If you have recently ventured into the world of forex trading, you may have come across the terms “bid” and “ask” spread. These terms are fundamental to understanding how the forex market operates and can greatly impact your trading decisions. In this beginner’s guide, we will delve into the concept of the bid vs ask spread and its significance in forex trading.

What is the Bid vs Ask Spread?

The bid vs ask spread, also known as the bid-ask spread or simply the spread, represents the difference between the bid price and the ask price of a currency pair. In simple terms, the bid price is the price at which a trader is willing to buy a currency, while the ask price is the price at which a trader is willing to sell a currency. The spread is the cost that traders incur when entering or exiting a trade.


For example, let’s consider a currency pair like EUR/USD. If the bid price for EUR/USD is 1.2000 and the ask price is 1.2002, the spread would be 2 pips (0.0002). This means that if a trader wants to buy euros, they would have to pay the ask price of 1.2002, while if they want to sell euros, they would receive the bid price of 1.2000.

Why does the Spread Exist?

The bid vs ask spread exists due to the presence of market makers in the forex market. Market makers are entities, such as banks or brokers, that facilitate trading by providing liquidity to the market. They make money by buying currencies at the bid price and selling them at the ask price, thus profiting from the spread.

Market makers play a crucial role in ensuring there is always sufficient liquidity in the market. Without them, it would be challenging for traders to execute trades at any given time, especially in large volumes. The bid vs ask spread acts as a compensation for market makers’ services, allowing them to cover their costs and make a profit.

Factors Affecting the Spread

Several factors can influence the bid vs ask spread in the forex market. These include:

1. Market Conditions: During periods of high volatility, such as major economic releases or geopolitical events, the spread tends to widen. This is because market makers perceive a higher risk during these times and adjust their prices accordingly.

2. Liquidity: Currency pairs with high trading volumes and deep liquidity tend to have tighter spreads. On the other hand, currency pairs with low trading volumes and limited liquidity may have wider spreads.

3. Time of Day: The forex market operates 24 hours a day, five days a week. However, the spread can vary throughout the day. During the overlapping hours of major trading sessions, such as the London and New York sessions, the spread tends to be narrower due to increased trading activity. In contrast, during quieter periods, such as the Asian session, the spread may widen.

4. Brokerage Policies: Different brokers may have varying policies regarding spreads. Some brokers offer fixed spreads, which remain constant regardless of market conditions. Others offer variable spreads that fluctuate in response to market conditions. It is important to consider your trading strategy and choose a broker that aligns with your needs.

Impact on Trading

Understanding the bid vs ask spread is crucial for forex traders as it directly impacts their trading costs and profitability. The wider the spread, the higher the cost of entering and exiting trades. Therefore, it is essential to factor in the spread when calculating potential profits or losses.

For example, if a trader wants to buy a currency pair with a spread of 2 pips, they would need the price to move by at least 2 pips in their favor before they can break even. In this scenario, the price must overcome the spread to generate a profit.

Additionally, tighter spreads can be advantageous for traders employing short-term trading strategies, such as scalping or day trading, as they aim to capture small price movements. On the other hand, wider spreads may be more suitable for traders employing long-term strategies, as they are less affected by short-term price fluctuations.


The bid vs ask spread is a fundamental concept in forex trading that all beginners should understand. It represents the difference between the bid price and the ask price and acts as a compensation for market makers’ services. Various factors influence the spread, including market conditions, liquidity, time of day, and brokerage policies. Traders should consider the spread when making trading decisions to minimize costs and maximize profitability.


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