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Forex Trading Platforms

Forex Trading Platforms

Many people are now familiar with online trading and in fact millions are trading themselves. Forex trading has moved online and is done through electronic trading platforms, which come in many shapes and forms. Besides finding a good broker, forex traders have to find a good trading platform as well, which is not that straightforward, especially since the competition has incentivized many providers of trading platforms to come up with many innovations and upgrade them continuously.

So, while a lot of features are similar, everyone has their own special ones developed for PC, Web trading or Mobile platforms, which make their forex platforms different. This is a good thing, since there are many traders with different needs out there. Many brokers have their own built in platforms which they have developed, but there also quite a few white label platforms, like cTrader or Ninja Trader which many brokers offer. Although, a large part of the white label market share is taken by MetaQuotes Corporation, with its MetaTrader4 and MetaTrader5 platforms. In this article, we will introduce some of these trading platforms and take a look at pros and cons of both types of them.

Top Forex Trading Platforms Reviewed

1. MT4 was one of the first third party platforms for online retail traders and it still remains one of the most popular platforms, which offers the main features a trader needs

2. MT5 offers an increased numbers of time-frames for the charts and types of orders compared to the MT4, as well as market statistics on trading instruments

3. NinjaTrader has some great charting features, with numerous trading applications

4. ProTrader platform is fully customizable according to traders needs, as well as offering basket trading for multiple trades

5. cTrader is an ECN platform with many feed providers, which offers low spreads and very fast execution

1. MetaTrader4 MT4

Everyone knows the MetaTrader4 platform by now. That was the main major breakthrough for the MetaQuotes Corporation, introduced in early 2000s and is the most famous trading platform. The MT4 is like the Facebook of forex platforms. It is pretty easy to use and has a friendly interface. The MT4 used to be the most reliable third party forex platform for online retail trading for a long time. The MT4 set the bar for everyone in the business, basically offering all tools and features that a basic trader needs to analyze markets and trade, such as one-click trading, exposure, account history, news, alerts, mailbox, market, forex signals, expert advisors, journal, etc.

FeaturesProsCons
Multiple accounts
Easy to understand
Execution time varies
Automated trading
Low PC resources
No customized time-frame charts
Expert advisers
Multiple accounts
Historical data not always accurate
Multi charting
Accepted in many PC systems
No high frequency trading
9 time-frames
Automated trading
Pending orders
Easy to use indicators
Limit/Stop orders
MQL4 trading
Phone alerts
Trading level alerts
Over 50 chart indicators
Running simultaneous MT4 platforms
Hedging only on MT4

2. MetaTrader5 MT5

MetaTrader5 platform was the next best thing that the MetaQuotes Software introduced to the online trading community. The community was already used to its previous MT4 trading platform, so the MT5 was in demand right away with forex traders. It brought quite a few new features with the MT5. While the MT5 was specifically designed for forex trading, the MT5 was designed to provide traders with access to CFDs, stocks and futures. The interface is similar to that of the MT4, which is a good thing, since traders don’t like to change too much from one platform to another and it has many more time-frames than the MT4, apart from services and other advantages. Two more types of orders were added to the MT5, with Buy Stop-Limit and Sell Stop-Limit on top of the four types of orders already present in MT4.

FeaturesProsCons
Market statistics on various financial instruments
Unlimited number of charts
Complicated due to advanced tools
Increased number of timeframe charts
Netting allowed
Purchase required for all
Customed financial instruments
38 built-in technical indicators
Hedging only by request
6 different types of orders
Buy stop-limit and sell stop-limit
Most MT4 EAs not importable
Economic calendar
Depth of Market DOP liquidity
MQL5 programming language
Economic calendar
Hedging by request and netting
Compatible with PC/smartphone systems
Partial order filling 21 time-frames

3. Ninja Trader

The Ninja Trader platform has been one of the rivals of the MetaTrader platforms during the last 15 years. Ninja Trader was developed in 2003 and since conception it was intended to rival the MT4 trading platform, since it offered stock and futures trading, besides just forex like the MT4. If you have a funded account, the NinjaTrader platform is free to use for charting, market analysis, and live trading, while the SIM version is free even if you don’t have a funded account. Traders with high activity of trading finds the Ninja Trader platform quite handy to use due to its great charting features, innumerable applications from third-party developers, also for the brokerage it offers as well.

FeaturesProsCons
Great charting with great tools
Amazing charting
Limited news research
Partial and full automation
Chart trader order entry tool
Payment for premium features
Simulation and back-testing available
Thousands of trading apps
No supported brokers for equity and crypto
Easier to build trading apps
Platform guides, video library
Not own smartphone platform
Many third-party trading apps
Free daily webinars
Data feed not included
Great learning guidance for the platform
Depth of Market DOP liquidity
Trading directly from charts
Very fast to submit and manage SL and TP orders
One cancels the other orders OCO
Free basic demo platform

4. ProTrader

The Protrader platform is another powerful and advanced trading platform in the forex industry, as well as another rival for the MT4. This platform was introduced in 2003, making it one of the oldest platforms for retail traders with a handful others, by PFSOFT, a Ukrainian company of trading and IT experts. The aim when it was designed, was to create a cutting edge platform for online retail forex traders, which would offer them access to most major markets, such as forex, commodities, options market, stock markets etc. The Protrader platform is already quite user friendly, but it also allows traders to rearrange the platform as they wish, which means that it is fully customizable. Speaking of customizing platforms, Protrader allows you to execute several trades at once, which is good for news trading, as well as placing limit orders direct from the chart. This platform is also quite hospitable to thousands of third party EAs and trading programmes, as well as offering depth of market tools too.

FeaturesProsCons
Powerful and friendly interface and charting
Friendly interface design
Limited order types
Fully customizable platform
Basket trading
Small charting area
AlgoStudio for programming purposes and back-testing of algorithmic strategies
Great for scalping
One-click chart pending limit orders available
Fully adjustable terminal
Basket trading for multiple trade execution
Beginner and professional workspaces
Scalper’s panel for quick trading
Chart pending ordersOptions Master
Option’s Master for options

5. cTrader

The cTrader platform was introduced in 2010 by Spotware, which raised the standards of the online trading industry. The cTraders was designed to be used by ECN brokers, with several top names already using this trading platform, so it is a desirable platform for those traders who like trading directly through an ECN. The main functions of the platform are two, charting and trade execution. Therefore, cTrader charting and interface is very clean and it is very easy to use because of its simple UI. Besides, traders are issued with tickets containing all the details and there is a map option available to analyze all the trade performance as a whole, for individual pairs, for a certain time and so on. cTrader has the Open API for traders to build their own trading programmes. cTrader is used by several well known brokers, such as Alpar.

FeaturesProsCons
Electronic communications network platform
Alerts Trade tickets with all the details
Not fully customizable
Reliable and fast execution
Map analysis of performance
Low number of EA and custom indicators
The spreads are very low and go to 0 pips in liquid times
Multiple source pricing
Use of C# language instead of MQL
Available to follow other traders
Very low spreads
Price feed from many feed providers
Advanced order types
Platforms for Windows, Web, Mobile
Fast entry and execution
Over 60 Indicators
cTrader Copy

Top-6 Broker Platforms

1. eToro is the best social trading platform, providing a TradeCopier and two types of trading portfolios

2. IG is another ECN platform, with an extensive number of market and trading instruments coverag

3. Oanda is a popular ECN broker/platform with no minimum deposit and an enhanced educational section

4. Dukascopy is a Swiss regulated bank/broker with features such as slippage control, PAMM accounts and built in customer service

5. AvaTrade has some interesting features such as trade protection, price alerts and access to data from AvaTrade traders

6. FXCM offers some high quality education for traders and great technical research tools

1. eToro

As forex trading became increasingly popular, social trading also became popular. eToro which was founded in 2007 is one of the first brokers to introduce social trading en masse. In fact, that’s what eToro is most famous for. There is a large number of eToro traders which form a vibrant community. The eToro platform offers this feature with great efficiency and also offers the translate option for traders of many countries. Although, the best feature of the eToro platform is the Toro CopyTrader which evaluates top traders according to a smart performance analysis, carried out by algorithms evaluating leverage, exposure, number of trades open, volatility of traded assets etc. Traders can also have ready made portfolios, which is another great feature. Portfolios can either be for Market Portfolios for certain CFDs and Stocks based on algo strategies, or Top Trader Portfolios, where anyone on eToro can follow a number of top traders with the best performance score. If you are an experienced trader, you can also offer your services for a fee for other traders to copy your trades.

FeaturesProsCons
Social trading platform for traders to evaluate their trade ideas
Non-expiring demo account
Limited stop-loss functions for cryptos
eToro TradeCopier allows traders to copy top traders
Vibrant trading community
One base currency, the USD
2 Types of copy portfolios: market portfolios and Top Trader portfolios
Low withdrawal and inactivity fees
No news streaming
Fast account opening process
Social trading
Partially customized platform
Fully digitalized opening process
Trade copier
No streaming news
The demo account stays active for unlimited strategy testing and practicing time
Two types of copy portfolios
Inactivity fee
$5 withdrawal fee and $10 inactivity fee after 1 year
High quality education
$200 minimum account deposit
Trading instrument sentiment indicator
Low CFD spreads
Covers forex, CFDs and cryptocurrency markets
Back-testing and forex strategy optimization

2. IG

The IG Group is a London based financial firm, founded in 1974. The broker is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the U.K. and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) in Australia, which makes it quite safe. They also offer a wide range of financial markets to trade, which we cover in an exclusive article about IG, from forex to options, futures, commodities, cryptocurrencies, indices and bonds. But, besides that, they also offer a number of trading platforms to chose, from the usual third party platforms such as the MT4, the we based platform which is their main trading one, the mobile application, the IG Markets L2 Dealer, which is mainly designed for stock traders and the IG ProReal Time, which includes more than 100 indicators, but comes with a fee, which is refundable if you trade enough each month. IG has also introduced a new feature, the IG Smart Portfolio, which is an EA advisory service for traders to select among automatically managed low-cost portfolios.

FeaturesProsCons
A very wide range of markets covered
Guaranteed stop losses
Dormant account fees
Alerts to trigger when a market moves an amount, hits a price level or meets your technical conditions
Interbank ECN
No interbank for forex
Risk mitigation to protect accounts, including guaranteed stops for watertight protection.
IG Smart Portfolio
No social/copy trading
Unlimited access to Thomson Reuters’ news streaming service
Easy to access web platform
Management fees + % fees for Smart Portfolio
Virtual private server to install algorithms that automate trading
1,000+ indicators for IG ProReal
Over 15,000 financial instruments to trade
Multi-source price feed
IG Smart Portfolio managed automatically
Indicators appear only when you tap on IG Mobile App

3. Oanda Trade

Oanda is one of the most famous brokers in the retail forex industry. Apart from the MT4 platform, Oanda offers its own trading platforms, the Oanda Trade Web, desktop and mobile application. In comparison to the MT4, the Oanda Trade platform is more modern looking. The coloring is less retro, the chart placement is better, as well as the layout of chart indicators. Charts are provided by TradingView, while the feed is provided by 25 central banks, which makes it an ECN broker. The desktop platform is fully customizable and it also offers sophisticated trader analysis, as well as offering a wide range of financial instruments.

FeaturesProsCons
More than 10 types of charts + chart layouts
GSLOs guarantee to exit trades
Wider spread during illiquid times
Fully personalized chart layouts
Interbank ECN
Fees when GDLOs are triggered
Ability to drag charts to different screens
No minimum deposit requirement
Inactivity charges
50+ drawing tools
Up-to-minute news
Only forex and CFDs
Very low spreads during liquid times
Economic calendar
No price alerts
Sophisticated trade analysis
Multi-source price feed
Updated market analysis
Updated market analysis
Many educational videos and webinars
$0 minimum deposit

4. Dukascopy

Dukascopy is another reputable name in the trading industry. Dukascopy is a Swiss regulated bank, which offers broker services as well, and some of the best services in our opinion. Apart from being a safe broker to do business with, it offers its own trading platform JForex, which provided access to the SWFX – Swiss FX Marketplace, which is a technological solution for trading, using a unique centralized-decentralized marketplace model. Dukascopy offers a wide range of markets to trade and a wide range of orders, such as market order, limit order, stop, take profit, stop loss, stop limit, trailing stop, place bid/offer, OCO, IFD etc. Besides that, Dukascopy platform offers the option to control the slippage when opening a trade. So, Dukascopy is an all-rounded broker.

FeaturesProsCons
A very wide range of markets covered
A regulated bank broker
High minimum deposit
Rich and advanced platform
Interbank CCN
High commissions
More than 250 indicators to use
Slippage control function
Restricted leverage
Many unusual orders types, such as stop limit, place bid/offer, OCO, IFD
Modern trading platform
14 days only demo account
Slippage control option to control maximum price slippage on execution
PAMM accounts
No US traders allowed
Platform inbuilt plug-in customer support
Multi-source price feed
Limited funding options
Multi-language interface for JForex Platform
EsiSwisse deposit insurance scheme
News and economic calendar
Platform-built customer support
Managed account option by professional traders
250+ trading indicators
Multi-language platform

5. AvaTrade

AvaTrade is a forex broker regulated in Ireland among other countries, founded in 2006. Apart the MT4 and MT5 platforms, it also offers its own web trading platform, as well as the mobile AvaTradeGo platform. The web trading platform is quite simple to understand, use and trade, although it consumes PC resources. With AvaTrade platforms you get access to data on buy/sell positions from AvaTrade traders. The web platform, as well as the AvaTradeGo platform, have some interesting tools, indicators and features, one of which is the AvaProtect option, which you buy for a price. That’s a feature to protect your trades for a certain amount of time after you have opened it, with the option to renew it when the time purchased ends. But one of the downsides is that the product portfolio is limited as it offers only CFDs, forex, and cryptos, which is enough for many traders, but some traders might want access to more markets.

FeaturesProsCons
An easy and fully digitalized process to open an account
$0 withdrawal/deposit fees
Limited number of trading instruments
No deposit and withdrawal fees
Low CFD spreads
Occasional crashes of AvaTradeGo platform
One stop shop register and deposit mobile platform
Easy account opening process
$50/quarter inactivity fees
Price alerts on AvaTradeGo
Easy to access web platform
Administration fees
AvaProtect option for safer trading
AvaProtect order types
5 base currencies
AvaTradeGo including AvaOptions
Web platform friendly and well designed, but not customizable
$100 minimum deposit
AvaOptions platform within AvaTradeGo for Mobile
CFDs for cryptocurrencies

6. FXCM

 

FXCM Logo

Forex Capital Market which is abbreviated into FXCM is another renowned online retail broker which started in 1999 and is based in UK, offering forex and CFDs. The account opening process is pretty straightforward with this broker and the quality of the education content is quite high. FXCM offers its own trading platform, the Trading Station, which is FXCM’s proprietary platform and available via desktop download, web or mobile device. The Web platforms is clean and fresh looking and the mobile is also pretty easy to use, but lacks advanced features. Although, the download version has some pretty good technical research tools.

FeaturesProsCons
Covers corex, CFDs and cryptocurrency markets
Guaranteed stop losses
$50 dormant account fees
Educational content is of high quality
HTML5 for MT5 EAs
Low number of base currencies, 3 limited trading products
Fast account opening process
Minimum deposit for non-EU clients at $50
Mobile platform not user friendly
Fully digitalized opening process
Very low spreads on ActiveTrader
No price alerts
Great technical research tools
Key trading levels
No deposit/withdrawal fees and low trading costs
Forex strategy optimization
$50 charge for one year of inactivity
High quality education
Low CFD spreads
Updated news and calendar section
Back-testing and forex strategy optimization
High number of orders, such as One-Cancel-Other (OCO), Good-Till-Date (GTD), Good-Till-Cancel (GTC), Immediate or Cancel (IOC) and Fill or Kill (FOK)

How to Select the Best Forex Trading Platform for You

Forex brokers come in many shapes and forms, with different offers and products, as do traders, which have different requirements. If you don’t know what type of broker you are, you should go through our broker choosing guide, in order to make it easier to pick a broker suitable for your needs.

Someone must first know themselves what type of trader they are, before choosing a broker or a platform. Traders who specialize on short term trading and scalping would be better off with an ECN broker which offers low spreads during liquid times, such as Oanda or brokers who offer the cTrader platform. Traders new in the business might want to go with brokers that provide high quality education such as FXCM.

Traders who trade overnight and want their positions protected while they’re asleep, might prefer AvaTrade for the AvaProtect option. Frequent traders should avoid brokers with high trading fees, but long term traders, such as professional ones which don’t mind such costs would happily pay for broker with a wide range of market and professional coverage such as Dukascopy.