XTB Forex Broker Review

Overall Conclusion:

XTB is no longer a recommended forex broker. Although they score well for several key evaluation criteria, they have had regulatory action taken against them.  

Visit XTB's website

 

Brief Background:

XTB is an online broker for forex and other trading instruments, via contracts for difference (CFDs). The XTB brand is owned by X-Trade Brokers Dom Maklerski S.A., a publicly traded company headquartered in Warsaw, Poland. XTB operates under different affiliate companies in several countries including the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Turkey, Poland and others. The company has its origins in Poland, going back to 2002. Since then, the company has steadily expanded to countries around the globe, and has expanded its service offering.

 

 Summary Of Regulatory Status:

XTB is primarily regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom. They are authorized under FRN 522157, and have held their current status with that regulator since 2011. The FCA is one of the world's most respected and responsible forex regulators in the world.

As an FCA regulated broker, XTB is subject to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for retail forex broker complaints. XTB has a complaints handling procedure documented on its website. Any complaints should first be addressed through that process. If the complaint is not resolved to the satisfaction of the forex broker, the complaint can be escalated to the FOS, where the FOS can force a resolution in favour of the trader if it is warranted. This is a powerful regulatory mechanism that makes dealing with XTB safer than dealing with unregulated forex brokers.

Update: XTB is also regulated by the Polish Financial Supervisions Authority (KNF). On November 13, 2017, the KNF advised (link in Polish language) that it has "no doubt" that broker XTB has committed fraud to the detriment of its clients estimated at PLN 8 million to PLN 23.5 million. Based on this, the prosecutors' office believes there is reasonable suspicion for the offense, and has opened an investigation. The specific concern is that XTB has engaged in asymmetric slippage. Between the time that an order is placed and that same order is filled, the price can change. If the price moves in the client's favor, it is called positive slippage. If the price moves against the client it is called negative slippage. Asymmetric slippage happens when negative slippage is passed on to the client, but positive slippage is not passed on to the client. Over time, asymmetric slippage erodes the trading performance of the client. Forex traders should avoid any forex broker that engages in asymmetric slippage.

 

 Counterparty Risk: 

As noted elsewhere on our website, forex brokers can and do go bankrupt, and forex traders are at risk of losing some or all of their account balances when this happens. 

XTB is a large publicly traded company headquartered in Poland. As such, the financial health of the company is publicly available and can be checked by anyone to assess the risk of bankruptcy. 

During the SNB Swiss franc event of January 2015, it was business as usual for XTB. XTB reported "This is just a quick message to let you know that it is business as usual at XTB. We know that after the SNB announcement yesterday, a lot of brokers are under pressure. We are happy to say at XTB that we have not been left exposed by the Swiss Franc movement. We put this down to our effective risk management strategies and responsible leverage rules." This gives reasonable assurance that if XTB managed past events so well, that they have a good chance of doing so when there is a similar event in the future.

Finally, as a FCA regulated broker, clients of XTB benefit from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The FSCS is a compensation fund of last resort, to protect customers against bankruptcies of their financial services company. In the event that XTB cannot return client money for bankruptcy or some other reason, clients may be eligible up to £50,000 of compensation from the FSCS. This protection applies to all clients of that forex broker, and the client does not need to be a citizen of the UK to qualify.

 

Broker Type:

XTB primarily employs the market maker business model. This means that XTB can and does act as the counterparty to its client trades. This is not ideal, and raises concerns about conflict of interest between XTB's interest, and the interest of the client. XTB can make money when a forex trader loses money. XTB's website marketing materials indicate that its Pro accounts are straight through processing (STP) accounts. If this is the case, it means that XTB offsets each client trade with other counterparties, which would eliminate the conflict of interest concern. However, we have been unable to verify the STP operation in XTB's legal documentation.

Further, the KNF's allegations against XTB suggest that XTB is abusing its position as market maker to the detriment of its clients. Engaging in asymmetric slippage is a means for the broker to profit directly at the expense of its clients.

 Spreads:

XTB offers pricing model for currency pairs, depending on the type of account that is opened by a forex trader:

  • Fixed spreads are available on basic accounts 
  • An all-in floating spread with no commission is available on standard accounts
  • A narrower spread + commission is available for Pro accounts.

Forex Scam Alerts recommends that traders use either the standard or Pro accounts, rather than the fixed spreads of the basic account. For both of those accounts, XTB transaction costs are very reasonable, but not among the top brokers in this category. The all-in spread on standard accounts for certain instruments such as EUR/USD can be excellent, but these excellent spreads do not extend to all the currency pairs offered. 

For the Pro accounts, the spreads are excellent, and are close to the best you will see offered to retail forex traders. The commission charged is $4.00 USD per standard lot per side. Again, this is a reasonable commission, but not among the top brokers in this category. However, the overall transaction costs for the Pro accounts are very good.

For forex traders who scalp the markets or otherwise trade on very short timeframes, low transaction costs are of the essence. XTB's overall transaction costs should be considered when contemplating XTB as a forex broker. For forex traders who trade long timeframes, the spreads should not be a big factor in their selection of a broker. Other criteria will matter more.

The following is a snapshot of live spreads for the Pro account, taken at approximately 3:00am UTC on a weekday:

XTB live forex spreads

 

 Accounts and Funding

Clients of XTB can open and fund new accounts via a variety of payment options. These include:

  • bank transfers
  • credit and debit cards
  • Payment services such as PayPal, Skrill and Neteller

Care should be taken in the selection of payment option, as some may carry higher transaction fees than others. Credit and Debit card transactions typically require a fee as a percentage of the money being transferred, so this should only be used for funding the lowest amounts. 

XTB allows traders to deposit funds in any of the following currencies: EUR, USD, GBP, HUF.

XTB does not charge a withdrawal fees, unless the withdrawal amount is under a certain threshold. The thresholds are designed to contain operating costs, and since the thresholds are fairly low, we do not see this as a concern.

XTB offers demos accounts that expire after 4 weeks, to allow a new trader to become accustomed XTB's trading platforms before committing to a live account. 

 

 User Interface:

XTB offers good choices for trading platforms for forex traders:

  1. xStation is XTB's proprietary trading platform. It has won awards, and we can attest to its quality design and intuitive interface. New traders will not have difficulty learning to use xStation.
  2. xStation's mobile and tablet trading apps for Android and iOS devices, including smartwatches
  3. The very popular and feature rich MetaTrader 4 platform
  4. The mobile version of MetaTrader4.

Algorithmic traders will note that MetaTrader4 enables algorithmic trading via their Expert Advisors (EA's). This is a good option for traders who are technically inclined and want to take their trading to the next level.

The following is a sample of XTB's xStation user interface:

XTB's xStation forex trading user interface

 

 

 Other:

XTB offers the following additional features:

  • CFD trading of many other trading instruments, including over 20 indices, over 20 commodities, many equities, and numerous ETFs.

  • For active traders, a cashback program is available whereby a trader gets rebated a portion of his trading costs if minimum conditions are met.

 

Broker reviewed: XTB
Review date:
Rating out of 5: 3.0
Reviewed by: