A good currency exchange converter enables traders to calculate average exchange rates for specific time periods – for example, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. Among its currency tools, OANDA has a smart converter that enables traders to check both live and historical data. The technology is free, multilingual and readily accessible. Just one click takes traders to the average exchange rates of their chosen currencies. For historical data, traders can specify a year and time period. OANDA charges for its API – one of the best for foreign exchange rates data – however, initially traders can sign up for a free trial.
OANDA is a leader in the provision of currency data, offering forex as well as CFD trading. A wide range of investors and organisations make use of the company’s exchange rates services and corporate forex payments. OANDA’s innovative financial and digital technology provides accurate and transparent data, enabling traders to access the markets quickly and easily.
OANDA has been an established broker for many years and is well known to experienced forex traders. A number of standard trading platforms are offered, and OANDA fees are very competitive with attractive trading costs that are below average. The company provides excellent educational tools and resources and accepts customers from Australia, Canada, Singapore, the US and the UK.
Although there are a large number of products for trading, every OANDA review tends to highlight the fact that the company does not yet offer single stock CFD trading or cryptocurrencies.
The regulatory bodies for OANDA include:
OANDA customers can open an account with as little as one dollar, which makes it easy for traders to test strategies. They can also choose to trade with a standard broker spread or opt for an alternative model offering raw spread plus OANDA commission, which is generally cheaper. Traders based outside the US are permitted to hedge positions.
As OANDA is a rate provider only, it does not convert currencies or provide a payment service. OANDA supplies exchange rates based on averages for the forex market worldwide. These are informed by a number of reputable sources, including contributing financial organisations and leading companies that sell market data. They also use their in-house forex currency trading platform, and the data is stored in their data depository after being filtered.
OANDA average rates are not based on market closing prices but on the average rate from all OANDA data collected over a 24-hour period. Worldwide, the foreign exchange market doesn’t really close, so monitoring it for a full 24 hours makes sense. It’s noticeable that activity in the market tends to be lower on weekends as well as during holiday periods, which influences how the number of prices vary on a daily basis. OANDA rounds up the majority of rates to five significant digits, though occasionally there may be a few exceptions.
OANDA average rates are updated daily at 22:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is the same as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Currency prices in some markets that are still emerging may be published less than once per day. Tax authorities recommend OANDA average rates as an accurate and trusted resource, and they are used by international financial institutions and major accounting firms across the globe.
Setting up an account is an easy process once a trader has decided on the level of funds to be committed and researched the likely level of OANDA trading fees. As with withdrawals, deposit options vary depending on where the trader is located. OANDA does not accept payments from third parties, so traders must ensure that the name on the account to be used for making deposits matches that on their OANDA account.
Traders who have successful trades with OANDA can withdraw funds from their accounts by several different methods. There are a range of OANDA fees that apply depending on the geographical location and type of account. For example, traders in the US can withdraw funds to a debit card or by bank transfer. In Canada, Australia and Europe, traders can use a credit or debit card, PayPal or bank transfer. Customers in Asia Pacific can use a credit or debit card, PayPal, cheque or bank transfer (including an internet banking transfer).
In all cases, the amount of withdrawals and the method depend on how the funds were first deposited. OANDA fees for withdrawal differ by countries, and where payments have been made by a credit card, debit card or PayPal, generally no fees apply for the first withdrawal. The process for withdrawing funds is straightforward and can be done from within a trader’s own account.
One of the aspects that always gets a mention in forex broker comparison articles is the high quality of OANDA’s educational information. The range of videos and articles on offer is comprehensive and caters for newer as well as more experienced investors. There is a live chat function on the OANDA website, and via live webinars, investors can find out about:
The live webinars can also be used for question and answer sessions. Some broker comparison commentators have noted that the educational material is not all in one place, which can sometimes make navigation tricky. Also, there has been criticism that communications with customer services can be slow.
Traders can also use professional tools, and there are articles available about advanced analyses and backtesting. This is the process of testing a trading strategy on relevant historical data, to check its viability before risking any actual capital. With backtesting, a trader can simulate the trading of a strategy over a specific, appropriate period of time and analyse the results. This is a good way for traders to check the levels of risk and profitability.
Generally, research tools are of top quality, and OANDA has excellent resources for advanced data analytics, calendars, economic analysis and real-time news feeds.
With an impressive range of platforms from which to choose, OANDA traders can take their pick. MetaTrader 4 is supported along with the company’s web trading platform, fxTrade. As well as OANDA’s desktop trading app, there are also mobile versions suitable for smartphones and tablets. OANDA has introduced the upgraded v20 Trading Engine, which is designed to deliver superior order execution. All existing trading platforms are being updated to execute against the v20 engine. Currently, the following platforms are supported: OANDA API, MT4 Windows and fxTrade (Desktop, iOS and Android apps).
Platform users must select dedicated servers for the new trading engine, so for practice accounts, they can use OANDA-v20 Practice, and for live trading, OANDA-v20 Live.
Deemed to be an excellent service overall, the fxTrade desktop trading platform provides investors with easy access to OANDA's account analytics, trading instruments and complex order types.
The platform includes MultiCharts, which offer very clear displays and sophisticated studies. Traders have the capacity to trade directly from the chart, and they can also benefit from economic analysis, news feeds and watch lists. The alternative MT4 platform is a well-known industry standard, and traders moving from other brokers to OANDA will be familiar with its functionality. A particular favourite with many traders is the “Expert Advisor” plug-ins.
Most brokers have helplines that are available 24/7. However, a recent review of OANDA customer services noted that support team members are available only by email around the clock. It seems that facilities for both live chat and phone support are only made available from Monday to Friday, and only during the hours of 1:00pm to 6:00pm ET (Sunday 6.00pm to Friday 11.00pm UTC). OANDA’s website publishes service times for America, Canada, Europe, Asia Pacific and Australia, all of which are slightly different according to the time zone.
Generally, OANDA's representatives have been found to be knowledgeable and courteous and, of course, the support website has excellent resources in the form of a searchable archive and a sound knowledge base. Very new investors, however, might struggle to get the answers they are seeking, and even experienced traders could be frustrated by response times. While the education resources are certainly plentiful, there is a lack of organisation that can make it difficult to pinpoint specific information that a trader requires.
This hasn’t prevented OANDA from receiving many industry awards for its achievements, however. In 2016, for instance, ShareInvestor Awards in Singapore rewarded OANDA’s best practices, excellent services, innovations and premium investment products in the financial industry. OANDA won ‘Best Provider’ for both forex and CFD.
One comparison of the best broker customer service revealed that OANDA was among 15 brokers tested on this count. However, it did not achieve any of the first three top spots. Undoubtedly, the way that a customer support service team handles enquiries tells traders a lot about the broker’s company culture. Where customer care service is genuinely engaged with traders, it will tend to be efficient, denoting a well-run organisation. Each broker was asked for the same information, and responses were judged by the same criteria. OANDA scored 13/25, while GFT was placed third with 20/25, and the runner-up Trading212 scored 22/25. The winner’s score was not published.
During the customer service tests, while OANDA’s answers to queries were very accurate and the response time and patience level were moderately good, the personal attitude of the representative, including sense of humour, did not score well. In fact, several commentators have remarked that waiting times for responses from OANDA customer support services can be quite long, so accessing assistance can be slow.
Notwithstanding these results, OANDA has also benefited from awards made by its clients over the years. For example, in 2016, client awards included ‘Best Provider of CFD’ (Singapore ShareInvestors Award), ‘Highest Overall Client Satisfaction’ (US FX Report), ‘World’s Best Retail FX Platform’ (FX Week) and ‘Best Value for Money’ (Investment Trends US FX Report).
On balance then, OANDA’s primary advantages are its low level of cost, as OANDA trading fees compare very favourably to those of other brokers. The company has a wide range of products to offer, highly functional trading platforms and advanced tools. Despite having many different trading instruments, OANDA provides competitive trading spreads, with traders who meet certain requirements for their account balances being able to further reduce costs. This is achieved by opting to trade a flat commission and a raw spread structure.
A raft of client and industry awards indicates that the broker is performing satisfactorily for traders and is well-regarded in the financial industry. It may be that OANDA’s customer support services need a little streamlining to bring them up to speed with their competitors. However, this is not an insurmountable issue. To date, it has not negatively affected OANDA’s capacity for being lauded by other financial institutions as well as its own clients.