Before airplane pilots actually fly on their own, they usually practice in simulators that re-create what flying will be like without any actual risk. Since currency trading is as dangerous financially as flying is physically, it makes sense that there would be a forex demo available, too.
A forex demo is a smart way for a new investor to start. Reading books and taking online courses can teach you the basics, but the best way to learn anything is to get some hands-on experience. However, with forex, hands-on experience could mean losing your shirt. So a demo gives you real-world training with no actual money being involved.
Usually, the demonstration comes courtesy of a brokerage or other financial Web site that has an interest in currying your favor. The plan is that once you’ve tested your skills in the demo, you’ll get into the real thing and take advantage of the paid services the demo provider has to offer -- forex signals, managed accounts, automated trading, etc. The demo is like a free sample, offered in the hopes that you’ll enjoy it so much that you buy something, too.
For that reason, be should be highly suspicious of any Web site that wants to charge for a demo. Considering there are literally dozens of sites that offer free demonstrations, there is absolutely no reason that you should pay for it.
When you sign up for a forex demo, you’re given a username and password and shown how to use the demo system. Sometimes it involves downloading a piece of software unique to the company; other times it’s simply done over the Internet. (Some demos require Macromedia Flash, which most browsers have installed, but which you’ll need the latest version of.) You determine how much imaginary money you want to start with, and off you go!
Once you’re signed in to the forex demo, you do all the things you would do if it were a real-world situation: reading the charts, following the trends, visiting online forums to get other traders’ opinions, and making trades. The trades are recorded in the forex demo only and don’t go anywhere into the actual market since there’s no real money involved. When the market changes, the program determines how much you’d have gained or lost based on the decisions you made. You’re able to say, “Whew! Good thing this was only for practice!” or “Too bad this wasn’t real!” And once you’ve gained some expertise using the forex demo, you can move on to the real thing and start making some money for real.