Global Futures has been around for over 15 years and they specialize in futures trading (..surprise!) but also offer forex trading. My experience with them has been great.
It almost feels like they run as a small business. The customer support is really friendly and you can negotiate fees/commissions with them based on your trading style.
They seem to provide services and pricing unique to your needs so you have a customized experience.
Don't worry - they won't rip you off if you trade infrequently!
You can obviously compare with other brokers (on this site or with your own research) to assess the market rate for commissions and see if it is in line with Global Futures. I doubt you will be disappointed.
All in all, I feel these guys are one of the better futures brokers out there. Based on reviews all over the internet they have a great reputation.
Futures / Forex
4 / 5
5 / 5
Global Futures treats all their customers as individuals with unique needs and take into account their specific situation. As such, they do not post any commission costs on their website.
They determine commissions based on:
For instance, if you trade very actively, in large volumes, across multiple markets and/or you are an experienced trader needing little assistance, all these points help you in negotiating a much cheaper commission rate.
If you are new to the scene, do not generate much trading activity, need more assistance (see account type below), then they help service you but obviously you won't receive the top discount. That being said, they still offer low rates compared to other competitors out there.
There are a few different account types that would affect how much you are paying the broker. Here is the simple breakdown:
1) Self Directed: You make your own trading decisions and do not rely on any help from the broker. This is your cheapest option. You must monitor your trades and make sure you meet all margin requirements.
2) Full Service: You have your own personal broker. Broker is there to help you set goals, suggest trading ideas and to monitor your account to make sure you are in compliance with margin.
3) Managed Account: This means you are opening an account to have someone else do all the work for you. Global Futures will hire a CTA ("Commodity Trading Advisor") to make the trading decisions for you as well as execute them. Essentially you are authorizing a money manager to try and generate a return for you.
The account minimum is technically zero. This means it is up to you to decide how much money you will put in. The amount you put in is critical as you need to meet margin requirements to be in good standing.
How do you go about figuring out the minimum amount to put in?
Let's run through a scenario:
1) Decide what contract(s) you want to trade.
Let's use the ES (S&P 500 e-mini contract - one of the most popular ones).
2) What is the margin required?
Check Global Futures website: http://www.globalfutures.com/accounts/margins.asp
For the ES, margin is $400 for the day or $5,060 full margin.
Let's say you will only be trading 1 contract at a time. If you are planning to close out any position you open by the end of the day (for the ES trading halts between 3:15pm and 3:30pm thus you must exit before this time) you only technically need $400 in the account.
However, obviously you will need a cushion. If you only put in $400 and the market goes against you, you will have less than required and you will receive a margin call to put in more money. I would recommend at least $2,000 (preferably more) so you can absorb short term volatility.
Perform the above analysis for all the contracts you wish to trade - account mimimum requires some judgement. Use the process above and I am sure you will come up with a good ballpark.
Global Futures used to offer access to live real-time market data for free. I could just ask them that I wanted to trade cotton and my broker would set it up so I receive the fee at no cost.
However, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange has now forced everyone that has access to real-time market data to pay the respective fees.
The CME has several exchanges (CME, CBOT, NYMEX, COMEX) and various contracts trade on them. I recommend going to CME's website and see which contracts trade on which market to determine what access you need.
You can either pay $5/month per exchange or you can have access to all four for $15/month.
Overall, market data fees are never a make or break decision for me when choosing a broker as they are usually similar in pricing.
To be honest, it was difficult to find meaningful disadvantages. Here are a couple noteworthy ones that may not even have significance for you:
Global Futures offer competitive commissions, use of a multitude of day trading platforms, and their customer service is exceptional. It was difficult to find any bad things about them. From my own experience in using them, and my research of others' opinions, I would definitely recommend using them for futures trading.