With so many forex brokers in India, finding the best one, or even the top 5, can seem daunting. Due to tight SEBI regulations, you will need to identify legal brokers to compare against criteria based on your needs and goals. This guide explains some of the key factors to understand about forex brokers in India, including how they operate and make money. We have also reviewed and rated the best forex brokers that accept Indian traders in 2023.
What Is An Indian Forex Broker?
Forex brokers in India are companies that allow investors to buy and sell foreign currencies. For example, if you have Indian Rupees (INR) and would like to purchase American Dollars (USD), you will need to find a broker that allows you to trade the USD/INR pair.
Through forex brokers based in India, you can typically only trade a limited list of INR-based currency pairs spanning USD, EUR, GBP and JPY.
Some international forex brokers that operate in India may offer other currencies, but these may not be SEBI-approved. Using a broker that is not authorized by the SEBI or exchanging non-regulated currencies could lead to legal ramifications. With that in mind, only use trusted overseas FX brokers that accept Indian traders.
In India, forex brokers are highly regulated and legal if they are licensed by the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
SEBI-regulated FX brokers provide a secure platform for Indian residents to buy and sell currencies. However, investing in foreign currencies is discouraged, and Indian forex brokers must follow strict regulations. These regulations include restrictions on margin trading, rules on exotic currency pairs, regular audits, and compliance with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation.
Indian citizens who wish to trade with international forex brokers must seek permission from relevant government authorities as it is not viewed favorably. Online forex brokers in India earn money through commissions or spreads. ECN forex brokers charge a commission for each transaction, which keeps spreads very tight. For example, if a broker charges 200 INR per lot and the bid price is 74.00 INR for 1 USD, buying 10,000 USD for 740,000 INR with an order size of 0.1 lots would incur a commission of 20 INR. Other forex brokers in India may not charge a fixed cost per exchange and have different business models and brokerage structures.
Instead, forex brokers may incorporate their charges into the bid-ask spread of the pair, which is the difference between the buy and sell price of the instrument.
Spreads are dependent on the liquidity and volatility of the market, with a tight spread indicating low volatility and high liquidity. This would be a desirable time to place an order as the exchange cost would be lower.
A spread calculation could go as follows:
- Your chosen forex broker in India quotes a bid price for INR/USD of 74.105 and an ask price of 74.100
- The spread is therefore 0.005 INR (74.105 – 74.100), or 5 pips
- You decide to buy 10,000 USD, at the bid price this would cost 74,105 INR
- If you were to then sell it at the same quote of 74.105/74.100, you would get back 74,100 INR
- The missing 5 INR has been charged by the broker as the spread
- Of course, you would want to sell at a higher price point that would at least cover the cost of the spread
How To Compare Forex Brokers In India
If you are trying to choose a forex broker in India, there are several factors you should take into account:
Range Of FX Pairs
The SEBI only allows seven currency pairs to be offered by local brokers, INR/USD, INR/EUR, INR/GBP, INR/JPY and cross-currency pairs EUR/USD, GBP/USD and USD/JPY.
The best forex brokers in India will allow easy access to all of these pairs with tight spreads and low or zero commissions.
Some overseas forex brokers may offer other pairs, but sticking with SEBI-approved brokers will provide legal protections.
Forex brokers in India offer different spreads, commissions and non-investing fees. Zerodha for example offers a flat Rs. 20 fee or 0.03% of the trade value (whichever is lower) on intraday trades across currencies, equities, and commodities.
A useful cost calculator is also available on the broker’s website with additional transaction costs, such as SEBI charges, NSE/BSE transaction fees and stamp duty charges.
Also look out for brokers that offer INR as an account base currency so you are not liable for any currency conversion charges.
As outlined above, the Securities Exchange Board of India has strict regulatory rules making it challenging to buy and sell through non-authorized methods.
To identify fraudulent forex brokers in India, it is important to check the footer of the firm’s website. A legitimate broker will display their Indian forex broker license number prominently. For instance, Zerodha provides SEBI registration details at the bottom of each webpage. You can verify this number on the SEBI-registered entities list to confirm their authenticity. Another way to determine the credibility of a broker is to search for their name on the complete list of legal forex brokers on the SEBI website. Having an office in India is also a positive indicator of trustworthiness.
Regarding leverage, SEBI leverage rules introduced in May 2022 stipulate that clients can only use 50% of their margin against securities, while the remaining 50% must be held with the forex broker. This represents a reduction from the previous rules governing forex trading with leverage. Additionally, SEBI has imposed restrictions on the use of intraday profits for further investing activities on the same day. Retail investors must wait at least two days before using their profits.
The best forex brokers in India offer various local payment options, including RuPay credit/debit cards, bank wire transfers, and online wallets such as Paytm. Upstox, for instance, offers a range of deposit methods, including NetBanking, UPI transfer, Google Pay, NEFT/RTGS/IMPS, and cheque. It is worth comparing withdrawal times and associated fees when selecting a forex broker in India.
Some forex brokers in India have a minimum deposit requirement, although recognized brands such as Upstox and Zerodha do not impose such a restriction.
This makes them good choices for beginners.
Although the best option for beginners is likely to be an account with an accessible deposit requirement, ensure you still benefit from all the tools and analysis features required to execute your forex strategy. For example, the top forex brokers that accept Indian traders may offer useful insights into announcements from the Central Bank of India (CBI).
Forex brokers in India often provide referral schemes rather than welcome bonuses or other financial incentives for new or existing customers. Dhan, for example, offers lifetime referral rewards, accrued daily, for those investors that refer and meet eligibility requirements. You can earn up to 20% of a referral’s profits.
Forex brokers in India will offer different account types so you can choose a solution that best suits your strategy. You may find brokers that offer a commission-based account and a spread-based account, whereas other Indian forex brokers will offer you professional accounts with more benefits but higher minimum deposits. If you are a beginner or are looking to test new strategies, it is a good idea to find a forex broker with a demo account. This type of account is loaded with virtual funds and operates in the same way as a live account, so you can try out a broker or INR/USD strategy without taking on any risk.
Platforms & Mobile Apps
The platform offered by a brokerage is a key consideration.
Forex brokers in India provide a variety of platforms, including web-based or desktop-based options.
Popular choices include MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and cTrader, but some Indian forex brokers may have their own proprietary platforms. For instance, Dhan offers day traders access to their web platform that comes with TradingView charts, advanced Option Chain, and an instant pledge margin benefit for over 1400 assets.
Other factors to consider when comparing platforms are technical indicators, analysis tools, and forex heat maps. The best forex brokers in India also provide a mobile app for full account management, market analysis, and easy order execution. Zerodha’s proprietary platform Kite is available as an iOS and Android app, providing a simple yet intuitive user experience for your forex investment needs.
The top forex brokers in India offer comprehensive, round-the-clock customer support in various languages, including Hindi.
24/7 online chat or telephone lines are excellent options to get help quickly whenever you need it. The best forex brokers that accept India also provide support through social media channels.
Forex Taxes In India
When purchasing and selling forex with a broker in India, ensure that you are aware of how you will be taxed and how you need to report your income.
If your forex investments are not your primary source of income, any profits you make may be taxed as capital gains. However, if your income falls below the basic exemption limit, you will not be taxed.
If you use forex brokers in India for business purposes, you will be subject to business income tax. You can offset your taxable profits with losses, and if you are in a lower income bracket, your tax liability will be relatively low.
To understand how to work with authorized forex brokers in India and report taxes, consult a local tax advisor.
Final Word on Forex Brokers in India
If you want to trade currencies online, choose a SEBI-regulated forex broker for legitimacy and client safeguards. Alternatively, use a reputable overseas provider. Although the number of available currencies for Indian forex traders is limited, leverage and market insights can maximize profits.
Use our comparison guide to find the best forex broker in India for your investment strategy. Alternatively, our experts have compiled a list of the top 10+ forex brokers that accept Indian traders.
Is It Legal to Use Forex Brokers in India?
Yes, it is legal to trade with forex brokers in India that are regulated by the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
Just look for brokers that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). You can also check our list of forex brokers in India for SEBI-regulated options.