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How to Calculate the Cost of Trading

Calculate the cost of trading Trading in the forex markets can be a rewarding endeavour, but it's crucial to understand the anatomy of the costs involved to maximise returns. The cost of forex trading encompasses more than just the brokerage fees as many other factors contribute to the total cost. Whether you're a novice trader or a seasoned professional, mastering the art of cost analysis can enhance your trading strategy and optimise your returns.

Here is the explanation of how to calculate the cost of trading and also provide insights into the key factors that every trader should consider.

Why It’s Important to Calculate the Cost of Trading
In an increasingly competitive market, understanding the full scope of forex trading costs is paramount, as it directly impacts your profitability in the long run. It also allows you to make better-informed judgments about trade execution and generate a more accurate evaluation of the viability and risks of your trading strategy. To get a competitive edge, you must understand how much you’re risking on each trade and whether the cost is worth it.

Factors to Consider in Calculating the Cost of Trading
Calculate the cost of trading
It’s important to note that the cost of trading depends on the type of assets you're trading and the brokerage platform you're using. However, here's a general overview of the main factors to consider:

Commission or Fees

Many brokerages charge a commission or fee for each trade you make on their platforms. Commissions are charged either as a flat fee per trade/lot or a percentage of the total trade value, e.g., $5 per trade/lot or 0.1% of the total trade value.

Commission (Lot Size) = Commission per Lot * Number of Lots Traded

Commission (Percentage) = (Percentage Commission / 100) * Trade Size

Make sure to check your brokerage's fee schedule to understand how much you'll be charged per trade to manage your overall trading expenses effectively.

Calculate the cost of trading
In addition to commissions, another critical factor influencing the cost of trading is the bid-ask spread. The bid price refers to the highest price that a buyer is willing to pay for a particular asset at any given moment, while the ask price is the lowest price at which a seller is willing to sell the same asset. Spread = Ask Price - Bid Price The difference between these two prices is known as the bid-ask spread. The spread acts as a fee that traders incur with each trade. The tighter the spread, the lower the cost. Platforms like Avatrade are compensated for their services by the bid-ask spread.

Margin Interest

Margin interest only applies if you’re trading on margin. When traders engage in margin trading, they borrow funds from their brokerage to increase their purchasing power and potentially amplify their returns.

However, this form of leverage comes at a cost, typically in the form of interest charged on the borrowed amount. This interest adds to the overall cost of your trades.

Daily Margin Interest = (Margin Loan * Daily Interest Rate)/365

The interest is calculated on a daily basis based on the average daily balance of the borrowed funds. So, the longer the margin position remains open, the more interest is accrued.

Market Impact Cost
Calculate the cost of trading
This cost is only incurred when executing large trades, which may move the market price of the asset, resulting in slippage. Slippage occurs when the execution price of your trade differs from the expected price at the time of order placement.

Market Impact Cost = (Actual Execution Price − Expected Execution Price) * Order Quantity

This difference can increase your trading costs. Traders often prefer to split large orders into smaller ones to mitigate market impact costs.

To calculate the total cost of a trade, add up every factor that pertains:

TOTAL COST = Commission + Spread Cost + Market Impact Cost (for large trades) + Margin Interest (if applicable)


Remember, reducing trading costs is crucial for optimising returns. So, explore various brokerages to find ones that offer the best commissions and spreads if you're an active trader looking to maximise your gains. Understanding and managing your trading costs will ultimately optimise your trading performance and allow you to make strategic decisions to better your trading journey.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 12th March 2024.

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