Margin is the amount of equity that must be maintained in a trading account to keep a position open. It acts as a good faith deposit by the trader to ensure against trading losses. A margin account allows customers to open positions with higher value than the amount of funds they have deposited in their account. Trading a margin account is also described as trading on a leveraged basis.

Most online forex firms offer up to 200 times leverage on a mini contract account. The mini contract size is usually 10,000 currency unit, 1/200th of 10,000 equals to 50 currency unit, meaning only 0.5% margin is required for open positions. Compare to future contracts, which require 10% margin for most contracts, and equities require 50% margin to the average investor and 10% margin to the professional equity traders, foreign exchange market offers the highest leverage among the other trading instruments.

The equity in excess of the margin requirement in a trading account acts as a cushion for the trader. If the trader loses on a position to the point that equity is below the minimum margin requirement, meaning the cushion has completely worn out, then a margin call will result. Generally, in online forex trading, the trader must deposit more funds before the margin call or the position will be closed. Since no calls are issued before the liquidation, the margin call is better known as ‘margin out’ in this case. The account will be margined out, meaning all the positions will be closed, once the equity falls below the margin requirement.

Example of Margin Requirement:

Leverage Margin Req./ Lot Micro Lot = 0.01 Mini Lot = 0.10 Standard Lot = 1.0
1 : 50 2% $20 $200 $2,000
1 : 100 1% $10 $100 $1,000
1 : 200 0.5% $5 $50 $500
1 : 300 0.33% $3.33 $33.33 $333.33
1 : 400 0.25% $2.5 $25 $250
1 : 500 0.2% $2 $20 $200

Margin Calculation Formula

The calculation is performed as follows:

Required Margin = (Trade Size (lot size) / leverage) * account currency exchange rate (if different from the base currency in the pair being traded).

Example:

Trading 1 mini-lot of EUR/USD using 100:1 leverage with an account currency denominated in USD.

1 mini lot = 10,000 Unit Contract

Leverage = 100.

Base currency/Account currency exchange rate = 1.33.

10,000/100 = 100

100 * 1.33 = 133

Required margin on this trade is $133.