Introduction to currency pairs

Currency pairs, also known as forex, measure the value of one currency against another. 

The currency pair can be split into the ‘base’ currency, which is the first named currency; and the secondary currency, which is called the ‘quote’ currency. The price displayed shows how much of the quote currency is required to buy one unit of the base currency. 

Base currency

When trading forex the base currency is always quoted first, and is the currency you are buying. For example, if you buy pound versus US dollar (GBP/USD), you are anticipating a rise in the pound at the expense of the US dollar.

Secondary currency

This is the secondary, or 'quote', currency in an exchange rate and can sometimes be referred to as the 'term' or 'counter' currency. Profit and loss is normally expressed in the amount of the secondary currency in forex.

Bid and offer

Every currency pair has a bid and an offer price. This is the rate at which you can buy a currency, and the rate at which you can sell a currency. The price maker (usually a broker) gives you a rate at which they are willing to buy or sell a currency pair. 

The table below illustrates basic bid and offer prices.

Currency pairQuotationBidOfferClient buysClient sells
EUR / USD1.1200/011.12001.12011.12011.1200
EUR / GBP0.7210/110.72100.72110.72110.7210
AUD /USD0.7030/320.70300.70320.70320.7030
AUD / JPY84.35/3884.3584.3884.3884.38
USD / JPY119.97/119.99119.97119.99119.99119.97
USD / CHF0.9628/0.96300.96280.96300.96300.9628
GBP /USD1.5550/531.55501.55531.55531.5550

Basis point or pip 

The last decimal place to which a particular exchange rate is usually quoted is referred to as a point or ‘pip’. Some online forex providers typically quote no more than a fixed 1-point spread between the bid and offer on major currency pairs, and liquid cross rates in normal market conditions. 

Access over 300 forex pairs with us

At CMC Markets, we offer CFD prices on over 300 forex pairs, including all the major currency crosses. Our spreads for AUD/USD and EUR/USD start from 0.7 points, while our GBP/USD and EUR/GBP spreads start from just 0.9 points.

We offer consistently low spreads on a number of popular currency pairs, and our typical forex spreads are a reflection of our pricing consistency through the day. 

Forex spreads and margins

View the spreads, margins and trading hours for some of the most popularly traded spread betting and CFD trading forex pairs: 

ProductMinimum spreadMargin rate fromTrading hours
AUD/USD0.70.20%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
AUD/JPY1.50.20%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
AUD/NZD3.60.30%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
EUR/CHF2.50.50%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
EUR/GBP0.90.20%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
EUR/JPY1.50.20%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
EUR/USD0.70.20%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
GBP/AUD2.40.20%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
GBP/CHF3.20.25%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
GBP/JPY2.50.20%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
GBP/USD0.90.20%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
INR/USD6.01%Daily 03:30-11:30/ 12:15-18:00 Mon-Fri
NZD/USD2.00.20%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/CAD1.70.20%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/CHF1.50.25%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/CNH10.02%Daily 02:00-17:00 Mon-Fri
USD/CZK3.02%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/DKK7.02%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/HKD5.04%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/HUF20.02%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/JPY0.70.20%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/MXN75.02%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/NOK25.00.40%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/RUB2.010%Daily 06:00-18:00 Mon-Fri
USD/SEK30.00.40%    Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/SGD6.00.30%Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/TRY15.02%          Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00
USD/ZAR85.0        2%          Sun 21:00 to Fri 21:00

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