What is Bid and Ask Price in Forex Trading?

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In forex trading the bid price is the amount a forex trader is prepared to ask for when selling a currency pair. A trader will purchase a currency pair at the ask price. These prices are both displayed in real-time and are updated often.

If a seller anticipates a loss in the value of a currency, they could sell at the offered price to profit from the decline. For example, if a trader wants to pay 1.20740 to buy the British pound against the US dollar, thus that is the ask price for that currency pair. The spread is the price difference between the ask and the bid.

What is Bid and Ask Price in Forex Trading?

The difference between the asking price and the bid price is known as the bid-ask price. But in the retail market, the spread, the distinction between the ask and bid prices for a currency, may be substantial and can change greatly from one dealer to the next.

To grasp the significance of broad spreads in the foreign currency market requires a grasp of how exchange rates are determined. Additionally, finding the greatest exchange rate is always in your best interest.

The difference between the bid and ask price is known as the bid/ask spread. The "offer" price is another name for the "ask" price. It is the price differential between the buyer and the seller. For an asset, the "bid" reflects supply, while the "ask" represents demand. In other words, it's the difference between the price a buyer is willing to pay and the price a seller will accept to sell something. The cost of the transaction is the spread.

Buyers who act as "price takers" do both buying and selling at the ask price. Traders who act as "market makers" buy at the asking price and sell at the bid price. You are referred to as a price taker in forex trading. Your forex broker, sometimes referred to as a market maker, sets the price.

Bid-Ask Spread Explained

The spread is the distinction between the ask price and the bid price. Based on the security being traded, bid-ask spreads might range from a few cents to more than 50 cents or $1. Through the placing of buy and sell orders by investors and/or market makers, the market determines the bid and ask prices. The stock price will often increase in the short term if buying demand outpaces selling supply, however this is not a given.

Although the terms are also used when trading other securities like bonds and options, investors frequently refer to stocks when discussing the bid-ask spread. Depending on where the option stands, the bid vs. ask price changes in options.

Wide vs. Narrow Bid-Ask Spread

A significant factor in determining the spread is supply and demand. There is a lot of liquidity when the bid price and ask price are relatively close to one another. There is a term for it: a "narrow" bid-ask spread. When a security has a lot of liquidity, it is considerably simpler to purchase or sell it at a fair price, especially if the order size is large. However, when the bid-ask spread is large, trading the securities may be challenging and costly.

Bid vs. Ask Spread Example

Suppose an investor has placed a limit order to purchase 1,000 shares of a company for $100. Assume that a different investor has issued a limit order to sell 1,500 shares at $101. The spread on this stock is $1 if these two orders reflect the highest bid and lowest ask prices in the market.

Bid-Ask Spread Impact on Trading Profits

There are several types of orders that can be placed, although the most basic is the market order. Market orders are filled at the best obtainable price. If an investor places a market order to buy 1,000 shares of a stock, and the ask price is $110, that's the price the trade will be executed at.

Buy Limit Order

An investor may decide to put a limit order when the bid-ask spread is significant. A sell limit order is only carried out if the price of the asset rises above a specific level, and a purchase limit order is only carried out if the price of the security falls below that level. For instance, a limit order can only be filled if the price is at, above, or below the ask price or bid price. If an investor has a securities and wants to sell it in order to make a certain profit, they can use a sell limit order.

Understanding Exchange Rates in Forex Trading

Exchange rates are often determined by supply and demand on the international financial market. In other circumstances, exchange rates might be set or tied to the value of the currency of another nation. They inform you of the exchange rate between your currency and another. To assess the overall liquidity conditions in the currency markets, forex traders may also keep an eye on the spreads.

Although it could be perplexing at first, once you start trading forex frequently, it becomes second nature. For instance, if you were considering trading USD/CHF, this would be the exchange rate between the Swiss franc and the dollar. The base currency is shown on the left, while the quote currency is shown on the right. A Swiss franc will be worth $1.50 if the USD/CHF exchange rate is 1.5. If the exchange rate increases, this indicates that the value of the base currency has increased, and vice versa.

Which Currency Pairs Have the Lowest Spreads?

When trading, it's crucial to know which currency pairings have the best or lowest spreads. Some of the more exotic currency pairs can have wide spreads, which can result in a significant deficit as soon as you initiate a trade, while the major currency pairs and even some crosses have respectable spreads.

The currency pairs with the smallest spreads also have the highest volume on a daily basis. The key currencies we refer to are: EUR/USD, USD/JPY, GBP/USD, USD/CHF, AUD/USD, USD/CAD, and NZD/USD.

The spreads on these currency pairs are typically the lowest, with EUR/USD, GBP/USD, and USD/JPY having the lowest spreads of all.

The bid ask spread is less critical when trading the higher time frames than when trading the lower time frames, which is a benefit. This is due to the fact that over longer time frames, we are more interested in making larger moves and fewer trades. Compare this to a day trader, who may only be in a transaction for a few minutes but can execute dozens of trades in a single day.

But make no mistake, even when trading the higher time frames, the spread on some of the less liquid currency pairs can be substantial and should be taken into account before placing a trade.

The Bid Ask Spread During Different Trading Session

We are all aware that there are many trading sessions on the forex market, which is a global market. Sydney, Tokyo, London, and New York are the locations of these sessions.

Depending on the trading session, a currency pair's bid-ask spread may change. The London and New York sessions often have the lowest bid ask spreads since they have the highest trading activity.

However, the spreads can be significant during the three hours that follow the conclusion of the New York session and before to the start of the Tokyo session. Although it can affect the major currency pairs as well, this is particularly true for some of the currency crosses and exotic currency pairs.

Sydney's session begins immediately after New York ends, but because it is far less liquid than the latter, spreads are substantially wider. Three hours later, when Tokyo goes live, the volume increases up and most spreads return to normal.

If you intend to trade during this three-hour timeframe, keep this in mind. In fact, regardless of the current trading session, you should always verify the bid ask spread before placing a transaction.

Do you buy at the bid or ask?

The bid price is always used to purchase assets. Since the terms "bid" and "buy" are identical in this context, the bid price is frequently referred to as simply "the buy price." The sell price and the ask price are equivalent.

Taking a buy position is what it means to go long in a market. At the bid price, you'll start the purchase position. When you buy a market long, you are betting that it will appreciate in value so that you can sell it at a profit at the ask price. On the other hand, if you are shorting a market, you will start your position at the ask price and end it at the bid price.

Pros and Cons of Bid and Ask Price in Forex Trading


Encourages competition
Advocates transparency
Provides liquidity


Can be time consuming
Can be costly
Can be volatile
Can sometimes send false signals to traders
Prices can be manipulated


When you are ready to purchase or sell an asset on your trading platform, you should not overlook the bid-ask spread but instead take it into consideration. When you first open the position or when you finally close it, it might either benefit or damage your trade.

In the end, traders may determine the present status of a currency pair by looking at how wide the spread is during a particular trading session. This is true regardless of the number of points involved.

When it comes to the difference between the bid and the ask price, there are a few important details to bear in mind:

  • The major currency pairs often have the lowest spreads.
  • When selling a currency pair, the bid price is used.
  • When purchasing a currency pair, the ask price is used.
  • For the majority of pairings, the bid-ask spread is significantly wider during the three hours after the New York session. 
  • A trade should always be placed after checking the bid-ask spread.
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