Pairs mean two things together. In foreign exchange, each currency’s relative value with another foreign currency gets displayed on board for basic currency conversion.

For example EURUSD, euro vs dollar. Here US Dollar is the quote currency and Euro is the base currency.

If EURUSD quotes 1.2500 means, for each 1 euro you will earn $1.25 by converting from euro to dollar. For all currency pairs, 1st currency is the base currency and 2nd currency is the quote currency.

forex base currency and quote currency
Forex currency pairs, base currency, quote currency

In the case of USDJPY, the base currency is the US dollar (USD) & quote currency is the Japanese Yen (JPY).

If USDJPY gets quotes as 112.00 that means for every $1 you will earn 112.00 Yen. In currency pair quote abbreviation, USDJPY and USD/JPY are the same. “/” (slash) here indicates “vs”.

Relative value:

The relative value of a currency is above stated. Like if EURUSD is quoting 1.25, that means the Eurodollar relative value is 1.25 compared to the US dollar. Most of the trader all of the world uses the relative value of a foreign currency.

Absolute value:

The term absolute means an independent value of a currency without any relation to other currencies. In a practical approach, it is a bit difficult to find the absolute value of a currency without comparing it with other currencies. But financial institutions have a separate algorithm to calculate currency index which replicates absolute value. For example, USD index, EUR index, etc.

Different currency pairs

There are a total of 180 currencies available in this world for 195 countries. So with 180 foreign currencies, there can be thousand and more currency pairs combinations possible. But not currencies get trades over the counter. Thus based on their daily trading volume & popularity, these currency pairs can be categorized into 3 sections as explained below:

Major currency pairs

Top major currencies of the world are Eurodollar, US dollar, Pound sterling, Japanese Yen, Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, New Zealand dollar, Swiss franc. They are major because they are highly traded among forex traders, thus having high liquidity.

Pairs Full name Rate Calculation
EURUSD Euro vs US Dollar 1.2520 1 Euro = $1.2520
GBPUSD Pound vs US Dollar 1.3155 Pound = $1.3155
USDJPY US Dollar vs Japanese Yen 112.50 1 US Dollar = 112.50 Yen
USDCAD US Dollar vs Canadian Dollar 1.1037 1 US Dollar = 1.1037 CAD
AUDUSD Australian dollar vs US dollar 0.7550 1 AUD = 0.7550 USD
NZDUSD New Zealand Dollar vs US dollar 0.7210 1 NZD = 0.7210 USD
USDCHF US dollar vs Swiss Franc 0.9850 1 USD = 0.9850 CHF

Cross currency pairs:

Cross-currency pairs are the minor currency pairs that get traded less than the major currency pairs. Thus it has higher spreads than the major currency pairs due to lower liquidity.

Crosses Currency pair Full name Rate Calculation
Euro Crosses EURCHF Euro vs Swiss Franc 1.1747 1 EUR = 1.1747 CHF
EURGBP Euro vs Pound 0.8823 1 EUR = 0.8823 GBP
EURCAD Euro vs Canadian Dollar 1.4878 1 EUR = 1.4878 CAD
EURAUD Euro vs Australian Dollar 1.5271 1 EUR = 1.5271 AUD
EURNZD Euro vs New Zealand Dollar 1.6674 1 EUR = 1.6674 NZD
Pound Crosses GBPCHF Pound vs Swiss Franc 1.3314 1 GBP = 1.3314 CHF
GBPAUD Pound vs Australian Dollar 1.7308 1 GBP = 1.7308 AUD
GBPJPY Pound vs Japanese Yen 151.91 1 GBP = 151.91 JPY
GBPCAD Pound vs Canadian Dollar 1.6862 1 GBP = 1.6862 CAD
GBPNZD Pound vs New Zealand Dollar 1.8897 1 GBP = 1.8897 NZD
Yen Crosses CHFJPY Swiss Franc vs Japanese Yen 114.10 1 CHF = 114.10 JPY
CADJPY Canadian Dollar vs Japanese Yen 90.09 1 CAD = 90.09 JPY
AUDJPY Australian Dollar vs Japanese Yen 87.77 1 AUD = 87.77 JPY
NZDJPY New Zealand Dollar vs Japanese Yen 80.39 1 NZD = 80.39 JPY
Other Crosses AUDCAD Australian Dollar vs Canadian Dollar 0.9742 1 AUD = 0.9742 CAD
CADCHF Canadian Dollar vs Swiss Franc 0.7895 1 CAD = 0.7895 CHF
AUDCHF Australian Dollar vs Swiss Franc 0.7692 1 AUD = 0.7692 CHF
AUDNZD Australian Dollar vs New Zealand Dollar 1.0918 1 AUD = 1.0918 NZD
NZDCHF New Zealand Dollar vs Swiss Franc 0.7045 1 NZD = 0.7045 CHF
NZDCAD New Zealand Dollar vs Canadian Dollar 0.8937 1 NZD = 0.8937 CAD

Exotic currency pairs:

Exotic currency pairs are made with major currencies from emerging country’s currencies. Mostly the developed countries other than the popular one. These currency pairs have the lowest number of transactions among traders. Thus it has the highest spread due to lack of liquidity.

Exotic currency pair Full name Rate Calculation
USDSEK US Dollar vs Swedish Krona 8.22 1 USD = 8.22 SEK
USDNOK US Dollar vs Norwegian Krone 8.10 1 USD = 8.10 NOK
USDTRY US Dollar vs Turkish Lira 3.76 1 USD = 3.76 TRY
USDDKK US Dollar vs Danish Krone 6.23 1 USD = 6.23 DKK
USDZAR US Dollar vs South African Rand 12.34 1 USD = 12.34 ZAR
USDHKD US Dollar vs Hong Kong Dollar 7.82 1 USD = 7.82 HKD
USDSGD US Dollar vs Singapore Dollar 1.3354 1 USD = 1.3354 SGD
USDTHB US Dollar vs Thailand Baht 32.20 1 USD = 32.20 THB
USDMXN US Dollar vs Mexican Peso 19.22 1 USD = 19.22 MXN
Currency pairs list
Forex major, minor, exotic currency pairs list, Data: Tickmill

With the MetaTrader trading software screenshot above, look at the spreads for exotic pairs, it’s usually higher than the major pairs & minor cross currency pairs.

Currency Pair Basket:

With 8 major currencies, there can be 28 currency pairs combination possible including major pairs & cross minor pairs which get traded mostly among forex traders. These 28 currency pairs combinations also get widely traded in basket trading strategies with currency correlation & hedging. (explained in chapter 12)















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