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AuthorAuthor: Alison Heyerdahl
Published: March 13, 2023
EditorEditor: Chris Cammack
Updated: October 7, 2023
Last Updated On October 7, 2023
Alison Heyerdahl

​​A trading platform is a software application or online interface which links traders to various financial markets via a broker, allowing them to trade Forex, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, futures, options and other financial instruments and CFDs. 

Trading platforms offer tools such as technical analysis indicators, real-time news feeds and charts to help traders make informed decisions. They also provide account management features and risk management tools. In addition, trading platforms often provide educational material, such as tutorials and webinars, to help traders learn how to trade the markets.

What is a Mobile Trading Platform (Trading App)?

A mobile trading platform is an app that allows traders to view financial markets and trade from their mobile devices. Mobile trading platforms offer traders the flexibility and convenience of being able to trade from anywhere, at any time, as long as they have an internet connection. However, it’s important to note that trading on a mobile device may have limitations compared to desktop trading, such as screen size and processing power, and may require traders to adapt their trading strategies accordingly. 

For more information on mobile trading apps and brokers that offer them, visit our trading apps page

Best Trading Platforms Compared

Features
MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 5
cTrader
TradingView
Timeframes
9
21
26
Unlimited – customised timeframes
Chart Types
Line, Bar, candlesticks
Line, Bar, candlesticks
Bar, Candlesticks, Line +4 more
Bar, Candlesticks, Line +9 more
EA Trading
Check Mark Green
Check Mark Green
Check Mark Green
Check Mark Green
Indicators
31
38
55
100+
Pending Order Types
4
6
4
6
Depth of Market
X Mark Red
Check Mark Green
Check Mark Green
Check Mark Green
Integrated Economic Calendar
X Mark Red
Check Mark Green
Check Mark Green
Available as a widget
One Click Trading
Check Mark Green
Check Mark Green
Check Mark Green
Check Mark Green
Trailing Stop
Check Mark Green (But from the terminal side)
Check Mark Green (But from the terminal side)
Check Mark Green
Check Mark Green
Sentiment Display
X Mark Red
X Mark Red
Check Mark Green
Check Mark Green
Coding Language
MQL4
MQL5
C#
Pine Script

Which is the Best Forex Trading Platform?

Many believe that MetaTrader 4 (MT4) is the best platform because it is the most popular and is supported by most Forex brokers. Others argue that MetaTrader 5 (MT5) is better, as it is newer and has more modern features. Others prefer cTrader for its advanced customisation and intuitive layout. More recently, many traders have started using TradingView, traditionally an advanced charting tool and social network, as a trading platform.

Alongside MT4, MT5, cTrader and TradingView, some Forex brokers also have their own platforms. Known as proprietary platforms, they are usually web-based and are better suited to beginner traders. They also tend to have a simplified interface and fewer customisation options. 

With MT4, MT5, cTrader, and TradingView, it is easy to switch brokers and keep your platform with all your preferences and customisations. But if you decide to use a proprietary platform, the platform will not move with you if you decide to change brokers. This means you will lose any customisation and specific platform knowledge you have gained.

First, let us have a closer look at the most popular third-party platforms.

MetaTrader 4

MT4

Launched in 2005, MetaTrader 4 (MT4) is the world’s most popular trading platform – over 90% of Forex brokers offer support for MT4. Like most retail trading platforms, the MT4 platform is free to download from MetaQuotes or any of these MT4 Forex brokers.

MT4 runs smoothly and executes trades quickly, even on slower internet connections. But it is most famous for its customisation options and automated trading capabilities. MT4 is available on Android and iOS devices, in a web browser and as a downloadable application. Be aware that some customisation options are lost on mobile devices or web browsers.

MT4 Platform Features

Although it is now a bit outdated, MT4 was designed with a professional look and feel, has an advanced charting package, with three different chart types and allows traders to view multiple charts in nine different timeframes. It also has 30 in-built customisable indicators and 31 drawing tools that can be easily added and removed from the charts. 

Because MT4 is so popular, thousands of community forums and guides are available to help get you started.  In addition, MT4 brokers will help traders set up the platform and offer specialist technical support.

MT4 Automated Trading

MT4’s open-source scripting language, MQL4, allows traders to build and buy Expert Advisors (EAs), indicators and other trading robots. Almost any trading strategy can be formalised and implemented as an Expert Advisor, so it automatically trades for you. A trading robot can control both trading and analytics, freeing you from routine market analysis.

MetaTrader 4 provides a full-fledged environment for developing, backtesting and optimising algorithmic/automated trading programs.

MetaTrader 5

MT5

Launched in 2010, MetaTrader 5 (MT5) is the most recent version of the MetaTrader platform and is also free to download from MetaQuotes. Though it is less popular than MT4, MT5 is also supported by many brokers. It is more modern in appearance and has more features than MT4, but there are other major differences between the two platforms.

Like MT4, MT5 allows traders to access the Forex market. But it also provides native access to other CFDs, like equities, stocks, and commodities. MT4 only supports access to these other markets via modifications to the platform. This wider range of CFDs is also great for brokers, as it lets them offer more products on a single platform.

MT5 Platform Features

The MT5 interface may look like MT4 but has more features. Like MT4, MT5 charts are highly customisable but available in 21 timeframes (12 more than MT4). It has 38 built-in indicators, including Fibonacci Retracements and Elliott tools, which are unavailable on MT4. MT5 has 44 graphical objects and an in-built economic calendar. The platform also provides a market depth feature that displays the order book of a particular financial instrument, showing other traders’ buying and selling orders in real-time. 

Other features include a live news feed, a larger number of pending order types than MT4 and an embedded chat system.  MT5 is also available on mobile, tablet, in a web browser and as a downloadable application.

MT5 Automated Trading

MT5 has a more advanced scripting language (MQL5), which allows for more complex algorithms than MQL4. The MQL5 back-testing function is also more reliable, permitting a more precise understanding of how an EA will operate in a live trading environment.

The main problem for many traders is that MQL5 is not backwards compatible with MQL4. This incompatibility means that any trading robots built for MT4 will not work in MT5 and vice versa.

cTrader

ctrader

cTrader is a multi-asset trading platform, allowing users to trade Forex and other CFDs. Launched in 2011 by SpotWare, cTrader offers high-speed execution with a cleaner user interface than the competing Metatrader software. cTrader is free to download from SpotWare, but cTrader brokers are harder to find than MetaTrader brokers. 

Platform Features

One of the best features of cTrader is the fully customisable layout. You can pick a chart-only layout or the default, which includes analysis and trading news. Even the charts are customisable, allowing you to display different charts side-by-side, or toggle between them. cTrader appears and functions similarly to MetaTrader 4, so moving to cTrader is an easy transition.

If you tend to trade with a specific set of currencies, the platform allows you to create a “favourites” window, allowing you to access your most-traded currency pairs easily. Here you can immediately see quotes when you launch the application so that you can make trades quickly. Additionally, cTrader has over 65 pre-installed technical indicators and objects, allowing further customisation.

cTrader also has a trade analysis tool that will enable you to check your trading history in an easy-to-digest visual format. It provides a comprehensive history of which pairs you trade, how often you trade them, your position sizes, and your trade directions.

One of the significant differences between the MetaTrader platforms and cTrader is that the infrastructure behind cTrader is managed by Spotware itself. The broker can alter commission and spreads, but the price feed and market data cannot be modified or manipulated.

Automated Trading

cTrader allows for automated trading with the built-in cTrader Automate. cTrader Automate allows traders to build or buy trading robots (cBots) and custom indicators. Algorithms built for MT4 and MT5 will not function in cTrader.

Another feature, cTrader Copy, allows traders to copy trading strategies, as well as provide strategies for copying by other traders.

Unfortunately, cTrader lags in the number of brokers that support its services.

TradingView

tradingview-review

Established in 2011, TradingView is a web-based social network that allows traders to share trading ideas, spot trading opportunities, and trade directly from its advanced charts. TradingView Basic is free to download and use, but lacks the full functionality of the Pro, Pro+ and Premium versions. Pricing for the upgraded versions starts at US$ 14.95 /month or US$ 155.40 /year. 

Platform Features

TradingView is one of the most advanced charting platforms available. It has over 12 customisable chart types, including candlesticks, Renko and Kagi, though some of these are only available in the Pro+ and Premium versions. It also has hundreds of built-in and community-built indicators, more than 50 drawing tools, volume profile indicators, and in-depth market analysis tools. Another unique feature is its customisable timeframes that can be set to any time interval, and its trading alerts, available on any device, with 12 different alert conditions. 

Traders can use its Bar Replay feature to rewind the markets and review trading events with user-defined speed and resolution. TradingView also provides detailed reports on your strategy’s performance and comprehensive financial analysis for all major stock exchanges, including financial statements and valuation analysis. 

Automated Trading

TradingView supports automated trading through its Pine Script programming language. It allows traders to create their own trading robots or tools and run them on TradingView’s servers. Pine Script was designed as a user-friendly and intuitive language for developing indicators and strategies that can be backtested. Currently, there are over 100,000 Community Scripts available.

Although TradingView is such a feature-rich and customisable platform, it started out as an advanced charting tool, and only in 2018 did it become an operational trading platform. As a result, it is only available at select brokers. 

Proprietary (Broker-owned) Platforms

Proprietary platforms are broker-built and operated trading applications. These proprietary platforms vary in quality, but they are generally web-based and easy to use for beginners. Some of them are also quite different from traditional platforms like MT4.

Remember: If you use a broker’s in-house platform and decide to switch brokers, you must learn how to use another platform.

Some of the best and more interesting proprietary platforms are worth inspecting in more detail:

IG Markets Webtrader 

IG Market’s web platform is one of the best broker-operated platforms available and has won many awards for its clean, user-friendly design and accessibility. Research tools, monitoring tools, complex order management and advanced charts are all included. Other features include simple functionality to open, close and edit individual and aggregate positions, chart customisation and risk management tools. Traders can also turn on one-click dealing, streamlining the process for a faster experience. Custom indicators are available, as well as access to data and news feeds to help spot trading opportunities.

Read our IG Markets review

AvaTrade Webtrader

Avatrade’s user-friendly proprietary Webtrader platform is available in a browser for any device. It has a well-designed, modern dashboard with excellent search functionality, and it’s simple to place orders, set price alerts, create watchlists, and view live prices and charts. The web trader also provides a large range of indicators, drawing tools, and the award-winning risk-management tool, Avaprotect. Avaprotect allows ‎clients to purchase protection against losing trades for a specified time. If a trade goes negative during that period, any losses will be fully refunded.  

Webtrader also allows traders to manage several accounts from one interface and switch between real and demo accounts with ease.

One drawback is that the platform is not customisable, and traders can’t change the size and position of the tabs.  The platform also does not allow traders to set price alerts or notifications. More experienced traders may prefer MT4 or MT5, both also available at Avatrade, which allows traders to customise their indicators, has many more chart types, and has algorithmic (or automated) trading.

Read our AvaTrade Review

XTB

XTB’s xStation 5 platform is intuitive, powerful, and fast. It is the only trading platform available at XTB, xStation5, but has many advanced features found in popular third-party platforms, like MT4. It offers a range of customisable charts, risk management tools, multiple order types, price alerts, and real-time performance statistics to evaluate your trading activity and identify areas for improvement. xStation5 also displays sentiment data on its dashboard so traders can view the percentage of traders who bought or sold particular instruments. 

Other trading tool highlights include colour-coded heat mapping for analysing the top movers and a versatile stock screener. Economic news releases scroll along the bottom of its charts, providing traders with insights during important economic events.

xStation5 is available for iOS and Android devices, allowing traders to access their accounts and trade on the go.

Read our XTB Review

Social Trading Platforms

Social trading allows traders to view the trading activities of others and copy their strategies to profit from their expertise. This is especially useful for new traders who are just starting out and may not have the experience or knowledge to analyse the markets on their own.

Social trading platforms are tools that allow traders to follow the trading activities of other traders and copy their trades if they believe they may be profitable.

The following social trading platforms are some of the most popular in the industry.

ZuluTrade

ZuluTrade is a popular option that specialises in copy trading and social trading.  With ZuluTrade, traders can copy each other’s trades and share ideas and strategies. With over a million users, it is one of the largest copy trading providers around. An added benefit, you can link a pre-existing MT4 account to ZuluTrade. ZuluTrade is also available on iOS and Android devices.

DupliTrade

DupliTrade is another popular social and copy trading platform and is MetaTrader compatible. It is user-friendly and intuitive and allows traders to follow more experienced traders (or Strategy Providers) and mirror their trading signals in real time. 

Duplitrade’s potential strategy providers undergo a strict auditing process to ensure that they have years of proven trading history and maintain their performance level. Only after the full auditing process are strategy providers added to the platform and available for traders to copy. Duplitrade also only works with fully regulated brokers so that traders’ funds are safe. 

MyfxBook Autotrade

Myfxbook’s social trading platform, AutoTrade, allows traders to automatically copy the trades of other successful traders. Traders can search for and select from a range of different signal providers based on their trading strategies, performance, and other criteria.

Unlike Duplitrade and Zulutrade, in addition to its excellent social trading functionality, MyfxBook provides a range of powerful tools and resources for analysing and improving trading performance.  These tools include a trade analysis tool, a trading simulator, and a range of performance metrics.

Final Word

Whichever platform you choose, remember that a trading platform is only a tool to connect you with the market. Your success or failure will depend entirely on your trading choices, level of education, and risk appetite.

Forex Risk Disclaimer

Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors as it carries a high degree of risk to your capital: 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. Forex and CFD transactions involve high risk due to the following factors: Over-leveraging, unpredictable market volatility, slippage arising from a lack of liquidity, inadequate trading knowledge or experience, and a lack of regulatory protection for clients. Traders should not deposit any money that is not disposable. Regardless of how much research you have done, or how confident you are in your trade, there is always a substantial risk of loss. (Learn more from the FCA or from ASIC)

Our Methodology

Our State of the Market Report and Broker Directory are the result of extensive research on over 100 Forex brokers. The explicit goal of these resources is to help traders find the best Forex brokers – and steer them away from the worst ones – with the benefit of accurate and up-to-date information.

With over 150 data points on each broker and over 3000 hours of research and review writing, we believe we have succeeded in our goal. 

In a world where trading conditions and customer support can vary based on where you live, our broker reviews focus on the local trader and give you information about these brokers from your perspective.

All research has been conducted by our in-house team of researchers and writers, gathering information from various company representatives, websites and by sifting through the fine print. Learn more about how we rank brokers

Editorial Team

 

Chris Cammack
Head of Content

Chris joined the company in 2019 after ten years experience in research, editorial and design for political and financial publications. His background has given him a deep knowledge of international financial markets and the geopolitics that affects them. Chris has a keen eye for editing and a voracious appetite for financial and political current affairs. He ensures that our content across all sites meets the standards of quality and transparency that our readers expect.

 

Alison Heyerdahl
Senior Financial Writer

Alison joined the team as a writer in 2021. She has a medical degree with a focus on physiotherapy and a bachelor’s in psychology. However, her interest in forex trading and her love for writing led her to switch careers, and she now has over eight years experience in research and content development. She has tested and reviewed 100+ brokers and has a great understanding of the Forex trading world.

 

Ida Hermansen
Financial Writer

Ida joined our team as a financial writer in 2023. She has a degree in Digital Marketing and a background in content writing and SEO. In addition to her marketing and writing skills, Ida also has an interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain networks. Her interest in crypto trading led to a wider fascination with Forex technical analysis and price movement. She continues to develop her skills and knowledge in Forex trading and keeps a close eye on which Forex brokers offer the best trading environments for new traders.

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