In the Forex market the term margin is most often referring to the amount of money required to open a leveraged position, or a contract in the market. It may also be used to describe the type of account, i.e. margin account; meaning that an account is being traded on borrowed funds. It is generally safe to assume that all off-exchange retail foreign currency (or Forex) traders are trading within margined accounts.
Default leverage levels for new accounts are set at 200:1 for Mini accounts and 100:1 for Standard accounts. * These levels have been set by JMI, and will likely vary from broker to broker within the retail Forex industry.
Margin Trading Example
A trader with a $10,000 account balance decides that the US Dollar (USD) is undervalued against the Euro (EUR). The current bid/ask price for EUR/USD is 1.2348/1.2350 - meaning a trader can buy 1 EUR for $1.2350 USD or sell 1 EUR for $1.2348 USD. The trader decides to sell EUR (buy dollars) by selling 1 standard lot. With leverage at 100:1 or 1%, initial margin deposit for this trade is $1,000, leaving the account balance at $9,000. As anticipated, the EUR/USD drops 48 pips to 1.2298/1.2300. To exit the position the trader would close 1 lot at 1.2300 In this scenario the trader has realized a profit of 48 pips or $480 US Dollars.
Managing a Margin Account
It is important that traders new to the Forex market take the time to understand the risk associated with trading in a margined account.
Calculating Your Margin Capability
The maximum available margin is 1% (100:1 leverage) for standard accounts and 0.5% (200:1) for mini accounts. Traders always have the option of setting a lower level of leverage. Doing such may help some traders manage their risk, but bear in mind that a lower level of leverage will of course mean that larger margin deposits will need to be made in order to control the same size contracts.
To calculate the margin required to execute 4 mini lots of USD/JPY (40,000 USD) at 200:1 leverage in a $500 mini account, simply divide the deal size by the leverage amount e.g. (40,000 / 200 = 200). $200 margin will be required to place this trade, leaving an additional $300 marginable balance in the trading account.