What is the best Forex trading platform?
Choosing a Forex trading platform is one of the most personal and important decisions a trader can make.
After all, once you get used to a trading platform, it gets increasingly difficult to switch to a different one later on. With learning to trade being as challenging as it is, you don't want to be spending more time and energy getting used to a whole new platform.
So before you decide on one, it pays to take some time now to consider the features that are most important for you.
Locally installed vs web-based trading platforms
The essential function of a trading platform is to send and receive trade data between you and your broker.
The data it receives from your broker goes into updating your price charts, so it needs to be able to process and display that information as quickly as possible.
Thankfully, this is not a problem with most Forex trading platforms as fast data transmission is practically a given these days.
That being said, there tends to be a noticeable speed performance difference between platforms that are installed locally on your computer, and those that are hosted on the broker’s servers, which are web based.
The way web based platforms are programmed (usually with Java) is such that they take a significantly longer time to start up when compared to locally installed trading platforms. I personally don’t like having to wait an extra 20 seconds every time I load up my trading platform, so I prefer those that I can install and run directly from my computer.
Web-based Forex platforms also tend to lag when opening and closing trade windows or when moving them around. If this is a big deal for you (as it is for me) then you’d want to be looking for a trading platform that you can install on your computer.
The upside to web-based platforms however, is that they can be used on all computers, regardless of the operating system. You can use a web-based trading platform on a Windows computer in exactly the same way you use it on a Mac. They are thus especially beneficial for traders who use both Windows and Mac computers.
Here are a few other things to consider in choosing a trading platform:
- Cost: is it free? Are the features worth paying for?
- User interface: is it intuitive? Is it hard to find the feature you’re looking for?
- Flexibility: does it allow you to add your own technical indicators?
- Ease of trade execution: how many steps does it take for you to enter a trade?
- Backtesting: does it have backtesting capabilities?
- Community: is there a big group of users online that use this platform?
- Tech support: how readily available is tech support?
Popular Forex trading platforms
MetaTrader 4 (MT4)
MetaTrader 4 is by far the most popular retail Forex trading platform.
It’s quick, locally based, highly flexible and intuitive to use.
Due to popular demand, MT4 has been adopted by all the big and reputable Forex brokers. This is the trading platform that I use 99% of the time.
MetaTrader 5 (MT5)
Following the success of MT4, the company behind the platform (MetaQuotes) redesigned it from the ground up and released the new MT5.
Prominent features not included in MT4 are:
- 21 trading time frames (MT4 has only 9 trading time frames)
- Economic calendar
- Buy stop limit and sell stop limit orders
Unfortunately, MT5 has a couple of drawbacks:
- It does not allow hedging
- It implements FIFO by default
- Supported by few brokers
The full comparison between MT4 and MT5 can be found here: http://fxtradecity.blogspot.com/2013/08/10-differences-between-mt4-and-mt5.html
This is another popular platform used by retail Forex traders. It runs and looks similar to MT4 but with 3 major downsides:
- Few brokers support it
- If you don't trade with a minimum volume you'll have to pay for the platform (or the price feed)
- There's a much smaller community of programmers online that support it
This is not to say that Ninjatrader is a bad platform. On the contrary, many successful traders who trade in large volumes use it exclusively.
For the majority of retail Forex traders however, there is little incentive to favour Ninjatrader over MT4 because their trading lot sizes are relatively small.
Most forex brokers allow clients to try a demo account prior to trading with a live account. Be sure to try out each broker's software during their trial periods to help determine which forex trading platform is most appropriate for you.
FOREXTrader PRO, Trading Station, fxTrade, cTrade
These are proprietary trading platforms offered by some of the largest and most reputable Forex brokers:
These Forex trading platforms are pretty good, and may be exactly what you need... so check them out!
The best Forex trading platform
Personally, I find that the simplicity, ease of use, and support community of the MetaTrader 4 platform makes it the overall best Forex trading platform.
Each of the other platforms have some benefits over MT4, but to be blunt most of those benefits don’t really matter to the vast majority of retail FX traders.
Thus, my opinion is that the best Forex trading platform is MetaTrader 4.
What do you think?
Do you agree? Or do you have a different opinion?
Let me know in the comments below, and please share this article if you liked it!