If you are one of the many investors and traders who want to get the most out of buying and selling foreign currency pairs, you’ve likely already checked several of the software products out there. Because forex has exploded in popularity among non-professionals, meaning ordinary investors who operate from a home-based computer or mobile device, dozens of platforms have appeared in the past decade or so. What does it take to be one of the top platforms amid the intense competition in the marketplace? Here’s a look at four of the best FX platforms for trading forex, with brief summaries about each one.
Largely a North American phenomenon, NinjaTrader has been around for nearly 17 years and is U.S.-based. The good is its strong point in sophisticated charting but many choose it because it offers real-time data on bid/ask pricing and comes with charts that can be tailor-made for individual needs. For data hungry trading enthusiasts, there are multiple drawing tools, pre-set technical indicators by the hundreds, all kinds of alerts, and a watch list that can be set up however you wish. For all the benefits, NinjaTrader has limited worldwide use because only a few brokers include the platform as an option. And the fact that there is no app for mobile use is a huge negative factor for many. In fact, as of the most recent data in 2021, there were only about 64,000 people using NT regularly.
Built and introduced by a company called MetaQuotes in 2005, MetaTrader-4, typically referred to as MT4 by users all over the world, is the leader of this market niche. In fact, well more than half of all foreign exchange enthusiasts use it on a daily basis, and it is routinely described as the best among a select field of elite products at the top of the field. The good is that in addition to the fact that the software itself is highly stable, MT4’s widespread use is perhaps its biggest advantage. It’s a situation of success breeds success because so many brokers use MT4 that retail investors/traders can pack up and move from broker to broker without having to change platforms. Other pros include access to more than 50 useful indicators, the ability to multi-chart, single-click transactions, nine time frames, and the ability to set limit orders with ease. On the downside, some users would prefer more time frames and functionality for CFD (contract for difference) trading, which MT4 wasn’t designed for.
The MetaQuotes company received so many requests for a platform that could support CFDs and stocks, they released MT5 shortly after MT4, which only allows for forex trades. The good is that MT5 is fast, even compared to MT4. It lets you place numerous types of orders, trade CFDs, trade stocks, trade futures, use 21 different time frames, fill partial orders, place pending orders, take part in hedging, and view market depth at any time. So, why the slow acceptance by traders? The MT5 programming language is considered a non-user-friendly one, which is a deal breaker for many everyday traders.
The cTrader platform is regularly listed as one of the most popular packages of its kind, and was created by a company called Spotware. As of 2020, it was about the third-ranked in terms of the number of users worldwide. The good is if you like sophisticated graphics, analysis tools, level-2 price information in real-time, easy functionality for automated trading, and programming languages that are both more common and easier to configure than those used for MT4 and MT5, you’ll probably gravitate toward cTrader. On the other hand, if your preferences include the ability to do copy trading and social media bot-sharing, you’ll be disappointed because cTrader’s online population is rather limited.
Making an Informed Choice
As a consumer, you should always try to do a test drive of any tech package before making a final commitment. The good news is that you can try out any of the four products listed above and see how they feel, how they suit your style of doing business, and whether you think one of them would be an excellent long-term choice for daily trading. Some people are more data driven than others. Some simply want a bare bones setup that lets them purchase and sell currency pairs with precision and without technical hassles. The point is that none of the four reviewed items above is a universally ideal choice. Depending on your preferences, style, budget, trading frequency, and many other factors, one or another might be your own perfect choice.