20+ Difference Between Forward and Future Contract

Have you ever wondered how people manage to buy or sell assets like stocks, commodities, or currencies at a predetermined price, even if the actual transaction happens in the future?

Well, that’s where forward and future contracts come into play. These financial instruments may sound similar, but they have some key differences worth exploring.

So, let’s dive right in and unravel the dissimilarities between future and forward contracts, shedding light on how they can impact traders and investors alike.

Comparison Between Futures And Forwards

Transaction methodThe rules or guidelines that the government has established serve as the basis for determining how a futures contract is executed. As a direct consequence of this fact, futures contracts are often traded on stock exchanges.In contrast to futures contracts, which may or may not expire before the product is delivered, forward contracts nearly always end before the commodity is handed over to the buyer.
PriceThere is a dependable method for calculating pricing, which is made possible by standardizing futures contracts. The pricing of futures contracts is easily accessible to the general public.In contrast to futures contracts, which may or may not expire before the product is delivered, forward contracts nearly always end before the commodity in question is handed over to the buyer.
MaturityWhen engaging in futures trading, the value of the contract is established in advance; when partaking in forwards trading, on the other hand, the value of the contract is entirely malleable and may be modified to accommodate the needs of either side.The forward contract market is completely unregulated, which results in the process of price discovery that is very inefficient. This is due to the absence of any form of regulating organization that might keep things in control. For example, a price for a forward transaction is agreed upon by two parties but is not disclosed to either.
GuaranteeFutures contracts are settled each day with a profit and loss figure, and since their value depends on market rates, they pose a lower risk of counterparty default compared to other forms of financial instruments.There is no way to guarantee that the asset will be resolved before the Forward contract is due to mature, and dealing with a counterparty comes with a significant amount of risk attached to it.

Forward Contracts vs. Futures Contracts: What’s the Difference?

What exactly is the FutureπŸ“Š?

Futures contracts include making a pact to acquire or sell an item at a certain price at a future date. However, there are a few key distinctions between forward and futures contracts.

Changes in the value of these contracts are resolved daily up to the conclusion of the contract using a process known as “mark-to-market” (MTM).

Thanks to the great liquidity of the futures market, traders may join and leave the market at will. In most cases, a monetary settlement is reached in this circumstance.

πŸ”‘ Key Difference: Futures

  • When two parties agree to buy or sell an asset at a given price at a future date, they are said to have entered into a forward contract. The same is true of the futures contract.
  • By entering into a futures contract, the parties legally commit themselves to purchase and sell the asset at the agreed-upon price and date in the future.
  • The terms of a futures contract, including the amount, date, and place of delivery, are all predetermined. When referring to a futures contract, the size is given.
  • The Futures market is a regulated marketplace where financial instruments are bought and sold. Accordingly, margin calls must be made at the outset of futures contracts.
  • In contrast to a futures contract, where profits and losses are resolved daily via a process known as “marking to market,” spot exchanges do not do this.
  • A futures contract that almost eliminates the risk of default by using clearing houses to process payments. The Securities Exchange’s oversight of futures transactions.
Features Of Futures

What exactly are Forwards?

Privately negotiated arrangements between a buyer and a seller to trade an item at a future date and a set price are known as forward contracts.

Therefore, you won’t find them trading on any exchange. By their very nature, forward contracts provide greater wiggle room regarding things like the number of units of the underlying commodity and the precise type of delivery.

The expiration of a forward contract is the only time payment is due. Hedger often uses forward contracts as a tool to mitigate price risk.

πŸ”‘ Key Difference: Forwards

  • An advance contract’s conditions are agreed upon in private discussions between the buyer and the seller. This means it may be altered to suit individual needs.
  • The forward market is Over-the-Counter (OTC), meaning there is no secondary market for forward contracts.
  • When comparing a forward contract to a futures contract, you will see that the latter has far lower counterparty risk.
  • Since a forward contract is a private arrangement, one of the parties has a greater potential for default.
  • With a forward contract, the amount of the contract is determined by the conditions of the contract itself. The forward contract market is self-regulated.
  • As per the conditions of the forward contract, the agreement will expire at the specified date. Therefore, there is no need for collateral when dealing with forward contracts.
Features Of Forwards

Contrast Between Futures And Forwards


  • Futures contract- The parties to a future contract agree that one will transfer some asset in return for monetary compensation at a specific future price and at a given time.

    In addition, the parties agree that this transaction will occur in a certain future time. This stipulation is included in the next contract as a component of its terms.
  • Forwards contract- To buy or sell something at a future date and the agreed-upon price is the essence of a forward contract, which is an agreement between two parties.

    This may be done at any point in time in the future. On this day, both parties have already settled their differences and agreed on the amount of money that would be necessary.


  • Futures contract- This contract adheres to the standard format rather often used, which can be seen here.

    Buy and sell stocks are a very well-organized market. The issue is resolved in a new manner each and every day. It does not constitute a serious danger in any way.
  • Forwards contract- This is a one-of-a-kind contract developed with your specifications and inclinations in mind when drafted.

    Transactions involving it happen over the counter since there is no secondary market to which it might be sold. The day it reaches its full development is the day it is at last at peace with itself. It is fraught with danger at every conceivable turn.


  • Futures contract- In addition to requiring the payment of margin, the terms and conditions of a futures contract are standardized and similar in various other areas.

    Conversely, forwards tend to be illiquid, unlike futures with high liquid trading activity.

    When it comes to trading ETF Futures, the markets that include equities and stock indexes, currencies, and commodities are often the ones with the greatest activity.
  • Forwards contract- In contrast, the conditions of trade for a forward contract are open to negotiation so that they may be adapted to meet the needs of all parties participating in the transaction.

    OTC Forwards are often traded in the most active markets, generally those dealing with commodities and other forms of foreign currency.

⚠️ Risk involved:

  • Futures contract- Transactions using futures do not include any counterparty risk since the stock exchange acts as a monitor over all of the parties involved.

    A marked-to-market settlement is when the stock exchange records all the market positions at the end of each trading day.

    This procedure is also known as a mark-to-market settlement. Because the contract’s provisions obligate the trading parties through the stock exchange, there is no danger that payment will not be made on the due day.
  • Forwards contract- Forwards contracts always have the inherent danger of counterparties failing to fulfill their obligations during the settlement phase.

    Another risk inherent in forward contracts is the possibility that one of the parties to the contract may be unable to fulfill its obligation on the settlement date that was previously agreed upon.
Future Contract And Forward Contract

Example Of Future And Forward Contract

Forward Contract

A customized agreement between two parties to purchase or sell an item at a predetermined price at a future date is known as a forward contract. It is not traded on exchanges and is a private contract.


Assume that after three months, Company A, a furniture maker, wants to buy 100 units of wood from Company B.

They settle on a forward contract with a $500/unit pricing. Regardless of the current market pricing, Company A purchases the wood from Company B after three months at the agreed-upon amount.

Futures Contract

A futures contract is a standardized agreement to purchase or sell a certain amount of an asset at a preset price and later date. Participants can buy or sell futures contracts on exchanges where they are traded.


Let’s say an investor wishes to make a gold price prediction. They can sign a gold futures contract, which details the metal’s quantity, quality, and expiration date.

Assume the investor purchases one contract for gold futures at $1,500 per ounce.

The investor can sell the option and profit from the price difference if gold prices increase to $1,600 per ounce by the time it expires.

In contrast, if the cost of an ounce drops to $1,400, the investor will lose money when they sell the contract.

Explore The More Differences Between..πŸ‘‡

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Who takes advantage of futures contracts?

Futures contracts are a tool that allows speculators to place bets on the price of an asset or security at some point in the future.

Hedgers may reduce their exposure to market risk between now and when the goods are delivered or received by locking in a price using a futures contract.

Arbitrageurs trade futures contracts in connected markets or across linked markets to profit from theoretical mispricings that may arise briefly.

Q2. How can I get started trading futures?

It will depend on the broker you choose and the state of your account with that broker as to whether or not you are qualified to trade futures.

You will need a margin account, and you will need to get approval to use it. Futures trading is available on several different exchanges in the United States, including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), and the CBOE Futures Exchange. Qualified traders in the United States often have access to all of these markets (CFE).

Q3. Why do businesses rely on future contracts?

An investor may use leverage and a futures contract to speculate on the future value of an asset, commodity, or financial instrument. This may be done in either a long or short position.

Futures are often used to hedge against the underlying asset’s price movement to reduce the risk of losses due to adverse price movements.

Q4. When was the first ever forward contract established?

Historians of finance believe that forward contracts have existed since the beginning of human history, at the same time civilization started cultivating and exchanging agricultural items.

The usage of forwards may be dated back to the periods of the Greeks and Romans, and it is possible that it happened much earlier. Since the Middle Ages, they have been regularly traded throughout Europe.

Q5. What are the most significant nuances that differentiate forward contracts from futures contracts?

The trading concepts underlying forwards and futures contracts may be compared and contrasted in many ways.

The most important difference is that futures contracts are sold on exchanges and must comply with certain rules, while forwards may be customized and dealt with via over-the-counter transactions (OTC)

Differences Between Forward And Future Contract

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