Majors and Minors

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

Quick definition

Majors and minors are currency pairs and they are the most popular way to trade forex. 

Key details

  • Major and minor pairs are the most commonly traded currency pairs and make up 75% of the forex market.
  • Major currency pairs include the U.S Dollar and the seven largest currencies in the world, and are the largest in terms of trading volume.
  • Minor pairs, also known as crosses, are traded less than majors and do not contain the U.S Dollar.

What are majors?

Major currency pairs are the most frequently traded in the forex market and all contain the U.S Dollar. You’ll find the lowest spreads and brokerage costs while trading major pairs, making them popular instruments for retail traders. 

In total, there are eight major currencies, but only seven major pairs. This is because every major currency is traded against the US Dollar and the US Dollar cannot be traded against itself. The following are all considered major pairs: 

  • EUR/USD. Euro/US Dollar 
  • GBP/USD. British Pound/US Dollar
  • USD/JPY. US Dollar/Japanese Yen
  • USD/CHF. US Dollar/Swiss Franc
  • USD/CAD. US Dollar/Canadian Dollar
  • AUD/USD. Australian Dollar/US Dollar 
  • NZD/USD. New Zealand Dollar/US Dollar

What are minors?

Minor pairs are often referred to as crosses or cross currency pairs. They’re traded less frequently and have slightly higher spreads and brokerage costs but are still popular amongst traders. Minors are not associated with the US Dollar. 

The most common minors are derived from the three largest non-US Dollar major currencies: The British Pound, The Euro and The Japanese Yen. When these three are paired with another major currency, they are categorised as a minor. The following are the most common minor currency pairs. 

  • EUR/GBP. Euro/British Pound
  • EUR/CAD. Euro/Canadian Dollar
  • EUR/CHF. Euro/Swiss Franc
  • EUR/AUD. Euro/Australian Dollar
  • EUR/NZD. Euro/New Zealand Dollar
  • EUR/JPY. Euro/Japanese Yen
  • CAD/JPY. Canadian Dollar/Japanese Yen
  • AUD/JPY. Australian Dollar/Japanese Yen
  • NZD/JPY. New Zealand Dollar/Japanese Yen
  • CHF/JPY. Swiss Franc/Japanese Yen
  • GBP/JPY. British Pound/Japanese Yen
  • GBP/CAD. British Pound/Canadian Dollar
  • GBP/AUD. British Pound/Australian Dollar
  • GBP/CHF. British Pound/Swiss Franc

Majors and minors are just two baskets of currency pairs. The third category known as exotics contains less traded currencies from developing markets. You can read more about exotics here

Where can I learn more?

To read more about currency pairs and other forex related information, check out our courses page. Alternatively, learn about cryptocurrency, the stock market, and commodities by visiting our education hubs. 

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

Sources & references
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Prash Raval
Financial Writer
When not researching stocks or trading, Prash can be found either on the golf course, walking his dog or teaching his son how to kick a… read more.