The Best Forex Trading Platform in 2021
A trading platform is a peculiar type of intermediary software between the user and the exchange they are working with. It is an important aspect of this business, because while you can use all types of software to enhance your trading performance, you’ll have a hard time working without one of these platforms.
Trading platforms have a very specific set of features that define what a trading platform really is. Most of them can be used to invest into all kinds of assets: stock, commodity, crypto, and of course currency. That’s also why these platforms are so practical – you can have one and trade with it for all kinds of assets on all exchanges that support it.
What is a trading platform?
A trading platform is a collection of tools and plugins in one easily accessible app. While variety is generally a good trait for an app, this characteristic is really a cornerstone when it comes to determining which platform is better. Variety means: large selection of features, multi-tasking, support for different OSs, and so on.
Generally, trading platforms have several major features that define them:
- An ability to setup orders which help perform deals automatically
- An ability to open several timeframes for better analysis
- An ability to open several charts for multi-tasking
- An ability to put indicators – variables that help you monitor different market characteristics
Many platforms also don’t supply their users with the so-called Expert Advisors, specifically programmed software that helps traders take watch out for specific trading opportunities. Many experienced users consider them a nuisance, however.
But most importantly, good currency trading platforms must let users perform their operations with speed, simplicity and stability. Without these qualities, online trading loses all of its sense.
The available Forex trading platforms
FX trading platforms don’t need any specific appendages. Forex demands impeccable speed and variety of orders because of the sheer mass of information available to the user. Stock traders don’t have nearly as much opportunities to gain or lose money, that’s why trading platforms that intend to support Forex need a lot of indexes, charts, timeframes and maybe several additional plugins.
Luckily, there are platforms designed specifically in such a way that people could customize them and build on them for better experience. They proved so great that they moved outside of the Forex market – they are now used for all sorts of online trading and investments.
It’s a line of popular platforms called MetaTrader. As of now, there are two readily-available pieces of software with such name – MetaTrader 4 and Metatrader 5. Their primary advantage over all other platforms is that you can very thoroughly modify them to your needs.
MT4 is by far the most used trading platform in the trading community. It was launched by the MetaQuotes Corp in 2005, and it’s still used by the majority of traders around the globe. The number of features this software offers isn’t too bad:
- 50+ trading indexes
- Ready pending and limit orders
- A limit of 9 timeframes
- 4+ Expert Advisors (with the ability to develop your own)
- A lot of charts available at the same time
While these characteristics are fairly good in their own right, the cherry on top is still the ability to build over the basic MT4 architecture and to add to it. That’s what a lot of online exchanges do. Instead of creating their own platform, the reasonable companies simply modify the existing MetaTrader 4 to their specific environment.
Admittedly, this effective and highly customizable software has its flaws. One of the biggest amongst them is still discomfort during stock trading. MT4 is designed for Forex and it exceeds very much at trading on margin. Luckily, you can install some modifications from community to make other types of trading better on MT4.
As mentioned, you can download MT4 on iOS, Android, your PC, boot it on the Internet (the web version) or work with it on many other available systems.
MT5 is a direct continuation of the concept developed in MT4. The new platform has been improved in many aspects and many new features were added to the system. However, it’s not to say that MetaTrader 4 needed a lot of reworking. It is a speedy platform with a lot of instruments and modifying potential.
Regardless, MetaTrader has been out for a long time, and here’s the list of improvements:
- The timeframes limit was increased to 21
- Two new types of pending orders, including buy-stop-limit and sell-stop-limit. They are exclusive to this platform even now
- Hedging and netting modes added. Because of these two additions, the traders have been given a lot more options to trade and make profit
- Depth of Market option added which allows users to see other bids on the market
MT5 is also available for different operational systems. However, MT5 doesn’t allow you to install additional programs, scripts and advisors. This was a step in the wrong direction, but MetaTrader is generally faster, a bit more stable and still allows the users to be creative and modify.
MetaTrader products heavily dominate the trading space, but they aren’t the only viable options.
cTrader is the third most-used Forex trading platform. Much like MetaTraders, it was designed for currency market, and it can offer virtually everything that MetaTraders have, but with a few quirks.
While cTrader has advanced features and trading opportunities, it is very insecure about customizations. The developers very heavily limited the cTrader’s customization capacity:
- You can’t install additional third-party software
- You can’t customize your indexes
- You can’t find much support or additional legal software on the Internet
All in all, cTrader is almost the same thing, but with a huge downside in the customization department.
NT is supposed to be a flexible trading platform not just for Forex trading, but also for the stock investments. Being not just speedy and stable, but also all-encompassing in regards to different markets is a very good trait. And this platform does possess a large variety of likable features and general characteristics.
However, there are two very poor downsides. Firstly, the platform isn’t free. MetaTraders are by design almost a charity by the way they operate – they are free, open to modifications and good. NinjaTrader is also good, but you have to buy the full license to be able to trade on it.
Additionally, NinjaTrader doesn’t show you any proper market data – it’s only a trading mechanism. As such, you’ll have to rely on additional software to have a fully-fledged trading experience here.
There are many options even besides there four popular trading platforms. However, they have some big flaws. Even without the downsides, MetaTraders outweigh all other platforms by the sheer amount of additional material you can find on the Internet. The other two options compensate this lack, but they are worse inherently.
In short, don’t scoff at MT4 and MT5 because they are popular or old, they are still the best options out there. The ‘old’ argument doesn’t work either, because they are constantly updated and improved by the community.