Best Online Forex Trading Platforms and Software
It would be almost impossible for you to test-drive all of the available software out there, so FXEmpire have done the research for you. We have conducted legwork across all the platforms and trading technology you are likely to come across, in order to help you find the best software that suits your trading objectives. Below you will find a list of the top rated software compiled by our trading technology experts taking in mind user feedback.
How to Choose The Best Forex Software and Platforms
- What to Look For When Choosing A Trading Platform
- Proprietary platform or Commercial/Turnkey platform
- Popular Trading Software
Equally as important as the Forex broker you choose to work with is the trading software you will use each day. To get the most out of your trading day you should interact with a variety of different types of technology. This includes more than just the trading platform to actually execute the trades, but extends to the robots, auto trading software, charting packages, and signal services. The trading process in the Forex market is an interplay of interaction between various software ranging from the trading platform to other add-ons such as indicators and expert advisors. Both beginners and intermediate level traders should be familiar with what is out there and available to them for their Forex trading activities.
Being able to participate in retail forex trading requires a sound knowledge of the use of the trading software that has been designed for this purpose. The trading software provides direct access to the market and can also give you a trading edge. It is therefore essential that you pick the software that you will use to trade very carefully, as the level of understanding of the software and the tools and its functions will determine the extent of success you will achieve in the market.
What to Look For When Choosing A Trading Platform
While we are focusing here on choosing a Trading Platform it is important to note that it goes hand in hand with selecting the best Forex broker for you. You have to like the technology that the broker has on offer. In helping you decide on the best Forex trading software or Forex trading platform for you, you must be able to answer some basic questions. The questions posed below give some insight as to things the trader should consider when choosing a platform.
Does the trading platform offer the lowest spreads around?
This is really important to know as you want to get the best deal when placing trades. On each trade, you execute you will first have to cover the price of the spread (eg. The broker’s charge which is the difference between the buy and sell price of an asset) before you can see a profit.
What is my proficiency level? Am I a beginner, intermediate level trader or advanced trader?
The requirements of different types of traders are varied. For instance, there is software that is especially dedicated to beginners or pros.
Beginners will certainly require a stripped down simplistic version of a trading platform. It will need to be user-friendly and simple to understand. Beginner traders will not necessarily need indicators and will probably not execute complex orders. Beginners can find trading sentiment bars (showing how other traders are trading) and copy trading services particularly useful. They should refer to charts of course, but perhaps won’t yet be ready to implement technical studies.
Advanced traders will require much more functionality on their platforms, including advanced indicators on their charts and tools. They will usually require a source of news directly on the platform and may even wish to trade directly from charts. They will often use Electronic Advisers (EA’s) or other code add-ons, which is a type of algorithm that they can implement directly into the platform.
What types of software are available for trading?
There is quite a list that covers:
- Proprietary platform (eg. Built especially for the broker)
- Generalized or Turnkey (like the MT4 or CTrader).
- Charting technology that finds patterns in the trend lines (eg. AutoChartist)
- Market analysis software like Trading Central which gives you trade ideas
- Auto trading or copy trading software that lets you choose other traders to follow, while you sit back and let the trading be done for you.
- Signal services (like the FXEmpire one) which send you to trade alerts by SMS or email to identify trading opportunities for you.
- Trading Tools like economic calendar, currency converter, earnings report stream, commission calculator etc.
Does my preferred forex broker offer the trading platform I am used to?
If you want to trade for instance with MetaTrader4 as many traders do, first check if your broker of choice offer this. Perhaps you don’t get along with the MT4 and prefer customizable proprietary technology. You can also refer to our broker reviews which shows you all the technology offered by the brokers.
Is the software free? If not, how much will the forex trading software cost?
Platforms are almost always free to use. Signal services usually require a subscription fee as do charting software and auto trading services.
How much capital do I have?
Up to $1000 – A trader with just $1,000 capital will find it hard to find a true ECN platform (Electronic Communications Network where the broker passes on the trades to third parties) that accepts this capital size, as the minimum deposit requirements for ECN accounts are usually very high – sometimes $100,000+.
Remember most brokers do also offer demo-trading accounts to test drive their platforms before you commit real cash. A market maker broker will offer a micro or mini account for this capital. FXCM, for instance, have a mini account that requires just $50 deposit.
$1001-$5000 – Most brokers will offer a mini trading account for a capital of this size including some NDD brokers. This is considered the standard account for beginners and more experienced traders.
$5000+ – Anything above the $5000 mark will qualify for a Pro account. This account type will come with some added benefits like better trading conditions and extra trading features like signals.
Will I be trading a single account or multiple accounts simultaneously?
Are you a money manager? If so you will require a PAMM account which gives you access to trading multiple accounts with your email address. For instance, the MT4 Multi-terminal enables the trader to implement a single trade on several accounts at the same, which gives better handling than if several instances of the MT4 were to be used to trade all the accounts.
Does my preferred trading platform offer the financial assets I intend to trade?
Do you have preferences over the assets you like to trade? If so check that the platform you are trading on gives you access to them.
Proprietary platform or Commercial/Turnkey platform
Proprietary platforms are unique platforms which are designed by a brokerage to suit their unique product offerings. Some brokers decide to go this route so as to give something extra to their clients beyond what the turnkey platforms offer. For instance, the eToro OpenBook/CopyTrader software is proprietary software from eToro, specifically created for this broker’s social trading program. You will not find a replica of this software anywhere else. The Plus500 proprietary platform for web, PC and mobile are extremely user-friendly which makes it perfect for new traders, plus it has enough capability for more experienced traders to implement indicators and strategies onto the platform charts.
In contrast, the MetaTrader4 is a turnkey/commercial platform which can be customized by the software company to suit the broker’s brand, without any alteration in the features and functions of the platform.
There are pros and cons to the use of proprietary platforms. Let us use the Plus500 platform and the MT4 to illustrate this.
- Built to spec – Brokers design and plan their proprietary platforms carefully to meet the needs of their traders. They will factor in a whole range of functionality in order to cater to different types of a trader and sometimes will offer a simple and a pro version of their platform catered specifically to a beginner or more expert traders.
- Additional Features – For proprietary platforms, traders may be able to get some features that they would not get anywhere else with a particular broker. For instance, Plus500’s award-winning platform allows traders to trade in over 50 markets and sends alerts when the assets reach certain levels. They offer their proprietary technology across multiple platforms eg. mobile, web and download.
- Execution types – often proprietary platforms will allow traders to trade directly of charts and may give them the option for one-click trading or confirmed trade execution.
- Restrictive Platforms – Proprietary platforms can be restrictive. They may be stripped down or oversimplify the trading process. Or they may not have as much functionality as the popular platforms.
- Add-ons Non-Compatible – There are many add-ons such as EA’s (Electronic Advisers) and strategies that can be programmed and implemented into the turnkey technology such as the MT4 platform. There also API’s eg. Bridges to other technology types from the turnkey technology, such as using a shared wallet for many different trading vehicles
Commercial / White Label Platform
- Implement EA’s/Add-ons – Ability to implement add-ons such as EA’s (Electronic Advisors) in order to create trading signals based on a specific strategy.
- Suitable for all – Suitable for all levels of trader from beginners through to advanced, can sometimes be a little complicated for absolute beginners as it contains many features
- Country Restriction – Some brokers offering the MT4 will not allow traders from certain countries to open live accounts. Affected traders can simply search for another MT4 broker that does not have such restrictions and open their accounts there. This is an advantage seen with commercial platforms.
- Cross-Platform – Commercial platforms are usually available for download, web and for mobile trading too.
- Asset Selection – Usually feature a wide variety of assets covering a broad spectrum of markets
- Fast and robust – Usually fast execution times and low slippage with low downtime.
- Basic Features – Tend not to be ultra modern or feature advanced trading tools such as calendar, news feeds, reports, tutorials
- Generic – The turnkey platforms are often very generic and are not broken down to cater for beginner or expert traders. They are also not highly customizable as proprietary usually are.
Popular Trading Software
Now that we have some information about what software is used in the forex market, what are the most popular trading software used in forex today? Here are some of them.
Retail Forex Trading
This software is mostly used by retail forex traders. They have features which enable retail traders to easily adapt to the rigors of the market since these traders do not have professional experience or training. The most popular retail forex trading software on this list is as follows:
The MetaTrader4 and its successor, the MetaTrader5 (MT5) are undoubtedly the most widely used forex trading platforms in the retail segment of the market. This is because of the ease of use, its array of tools, compatibility with trading software, availability among brokers and the presence of a marketplace where traders can gain access to a variety of trading software, tools, scripts, indicators, expert advisors and other services, directly from the trading platform. The MetaTrader series was developed by Metaquotes Inc, a Cyprus-based company. The company also took advantage of innovations in the technology space to develop mobile and web-based versions of the software. The platform was developed as a turnkey solution, enabling various brokers to have the software adapted to their own brands. In terms of universality, the MT4 comes first above other retail forex trading software. There is virtually no retail forex broker that does not offer this software.
ActTrader is a JAVA based platform. The advantage of this software is that it offers a unique web-based version of this platform, thus allowing traders to log in from any internet-connected computer that runs with JAVA.
Other retail forex platforms are those offered by JForex, NinjaTrader and TradeStation.
Non-dealing Desk Trading Software
This software is specifically built for institutional traders. These are traders with professional experience and training. The tools provided by this software are not meant for retail traders as the level of trading here is beyond the comprehension of retail participants in the market. This software is also called Level II trading software. Examples of this software are as follows:
cTrader was developed by Spotware Systems, a company based in Cyprus. This software was built as a transition software. In other words, it incorporates features of retail forex trading software and the fully professional trading software. It features more time frames, more tools, a better charting package and a clean interface. However, it can only accept add-on software that has been coded with cAlgo.
The Currenex ECN platform has been in the market for some time and provides traders with true ECN conditions. It is not built for beginners but for professional traders.
The Fortex 6 platform is another example of an ECN platform. It works hand in hand with the Algox platform, which is the platform on which algorithms for the Fortex 6 are built.
Other Types of Software and Platforms
The software mentioned below is not trading software offered by brokers but is auxiliary software that complements the core trading software in the market. You may like to call this software the support software which provides value-added service to the core trading software.
Forex Charting Software
Some software is designed to create better charting of instruments and enhanced technical analytical tools. This software creates stand-alone charts which can be better visualized and analyzed by traders. There are free and paid versions of this software.
Forex Signals Software
These are usually software services that are designed to provide traders with trade alerts on what to buy or sell at any given time. Most of these types of software are semi-automated, and provide just buy or sell recommendations either as pop-up alerts on the computer screen or as messages to the trader’s email or mobile phone (SMS and push notifications). The trader is left with the option of trading these signals or ignoring them. Signals are usually generated from the back end of the software and the front end can be programmed to deliver the signals to the trader as required. Take a look at the FXEmpire signal service.
Forex robots are automated trading software. They can be attached to the charts to analyze and place trades automatically based on their algorithms. This software can range from the simplified versions seen on retail forex platforms, to the highly complex algorithmic quants used for high-frequency trading in institutional setups.
Forex Virtual Dedicated Servers (forex VDS) are commercial services which provide cloud-based remote connections for local computers of traders so that they can host their trading software in the cloud for continuous operations. They are fast becoming popular as they are a very good way to ensure that software is not affected by downtimes and power failures.
Copy Trader Software
This software is mostly used in social trading platforms to enable traders to copy the trades of those traders they have decided to follow. So instead of copying their trades manually (a time-consuming process which is prone to errors), the use of copy trader software simply does the job automatically once the choice of a leader trader has been made. More experienced traders can choose to become trade leaders in order to bring in an additional revenue stream.
Strategy builder software allows traders with no previous coding experience to build their own expert advisors and optimize them using tools already provided by the strategy builder software. All the trader needs to do is to indicate what parameters are to be fulfilled on the charts and the software automatically compiles the information into a trading software.
The purpose of trading software is to enhance a trader’s trading results. When used correctly trading software can give insight into the market or even trade on your behalf. To test all of the available software on the market would be almost impossible to take a look at the list that we have compiled below to help you make your decision about what to use.
Best Forex Platforms 2017
|Broker||Min. Deposit||Regulation||Headquarters||User Reviews||Official Site|
|$100||ASiC, CySEC, FCA||United Kingdom|
|Open AccountYour capital is at risk|
|$100||ASiC, BVI, FSA(JP), FSB, MiFID||Ireland|
|Open AccountYour capital is at risk|
|Open AccountAll trading involves risk|
|Open AccountYour capital is at risk|
|Open AccountYour capital might be at risk|