When trading forex online, it is important to use a reliable forex trading platform that is easy to use and includes all of the relevant trading tools that you need for your forex trading strategies. Amongst the most important things to consider when choosing the best forex trading platform for your individual needs include the platforms features, user friendliness, currency pairs offered, trading tools, broker fees, spreads, execution speeds, user guides, support and much more.
Now, I will look at the best forex trading platforms available today. This is based on my own humble opinion and the popularity of the platform. You are of course free to use any platform that you wish and that suites your individual forex trading needs.
Best forex trading platforms:
- Competitive spreads
- Low slippage
- Award Winning Broker
- Plenty of Liquidity Providers (LP's)
- Fast deposit / withdrawal
- Excellent 24/7 support
- MetaTrader 4 platforms
- Multiple account types
- Many Trading Tools
What is a forex trading platform?
A forex trading platform lets you buy and sell currency pairs online through a forex broker. The broker will provide you with an online trading platform and trading account so that you can login to the platform via desktop, web browser or your mobile devices.
With so many brokers to choose from, I have conveniently compiled a list of my best forex brokers to help you quickly and easily choose a broker that meets your needs.
In the platform, you will be able to load charts of different currency pairs that you wish to trade, major currency pairs that are popular amongst traders include the EURUSD, GBPUSD, EURJPY, USDJPY, etc. You can choose between different chart time frames and different chart types. Most platforms such as MetaTrader will have chart time frames from 1-minute to 1-month.
The chart time frame that you choose to use will most likely depend on the time that you have available to dedicate to trading and also your trading style. Those who use a scalping strategy would probably use the lower time frames such as the 1-minute (m1) and 5-minute (m5) charts. Day trader and swing traders would most likely trade from the 1-hour (h1) charts and above if holding positions for the mid to long term.
Forex trading platforms will usually have the option to view charts as bars, lines or candlesticks. The type of chart style that you choose can again depend on your trading strategy. Those who primarily use support and resistance trading strategies may be ok with a simple line chart. However, those who use price action in their trading would probably want to use candlestick charts as they can help to identify price action patterns. There are complete courses on analysing candlesticks, some of which I have covered in my forex trading course reviews.
Each forex platform will contain technical indicators that you can attach to the charts to analyse the price movements of the currency pairs that you wish to follow. These are used to try and anticipate which direction the markets will move. Technical indicators include moving averages to spot trending markets and oscillators such as Bollinger bands to try and spot ranging markets. You can load multiple indicators on your charts at the same time for a more thorough analysis. In addition to technical analysis, it is important to consider the fundamentals such as economical news releases that can create volatility in the markets. You can follow these releases by using a forex calendar. Other analysis worth considering is price action analysis and the market sentiment.
Once you have found a signal on the charts that you are following, you can enter the position via the platform by placing an order at the current market price or a pending order which will trigger once your desired price is reached. You can manage your positions with stop losses, take profits, break evens and trailing stops. From your trading account you will be able to keep track of any profits and loss from your trading portfolio whilst you can open and close trades accordingly.
In addition to FX currency pairs, many forex brokers will provide additional trading instruments which can include stocks, commodities, cryptocurrencies, indices, energies, previous metals, bonds, ETFs, CFDs, etc. If you wish to trade asset classes other than currencies then you should check if your broker provides those.
How to choose the best forex trading platforms?
Although forex platforms have the same purpose of enabling us to trade forex online, the platforms will differ in certain aspects. Here I will look at some of the most important factors to consider in more detail which will hopefully help you to choose the best forex trading platform for your own individual online trading needs.
Forex Platform Regulation
Each forex broker will either be regulated or not regulated. When using a regulated forex broker, you can have more protection should something go wrong. For that reason, most professionals and experts would avoid using an unregulated brokerage. Some of the well-known regulators include the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom.
Forex Platform Currency Pairs
The currency pairs and other trading instruments (stocks, commodities, cryptos, etc) can vary between platforms. Therefore, you should check that the platform which you are considering using offers all of the assets they you wish to trade online now and possibly in the future.
Forex Platform Costs
Most forex trading platforms are provided free of charge by the broker. They may however charge fees for offering trading services which can include a commission on every trade you place through their platform, account deposit/withdrawal fees, spreads, swaps, inactivity fees and more. You should check all of the potential costs you may incur when trading through a particular trading platform as they can have an impact on your trading strategies. A general rule of thumb is that the lower the commissions and spreads offered by a broker, the more you can save on your trading costs in the long term.
Forex Platform Spreads
When you enter a trade position via a forex trading platform, your broker is going to charge you a spread which is the difference between the bid and ask price. These costs can add up especially if you are trading frequently whilst they can also eat into profits. Traders who are using scalping strategies are likely to be affected the most and would therefore usually look for a broker with the tightest spreads. I find major currency pairs such as the EURUSD and GBPUSD tend to have some of the lowest spreads along with plenty of liquidity for prompt trade execution speeds at the prices that I want.
Forex Platform Execution
When you place a trade via the forex trading platform, there can be a delay which may hardly be noticeable but can have an impact on overall performance if you are not always getting trades executed at the price that you want. The difference between the price where you wanted to enter your position and where it was actually placed, is known as “slippage”. The minimal the slippage the closer to your desired price you get your trades placed at. For the best possible execution speeds, I would use an ECN forex broker as they I find they have more liquidity providers (LP’s) and thus can offer some of the fastest execution speeds at the best available prices sourced from the LP’s in an aggregated liquidity pool.
Forex Platform Usability
Most traders want a simple forex trading platform that allows them to quickly and easily analyse charts and place/manage trades. For this purpose, MetaTrader remains one of the most popular choices among traders worldwide. This is due to its user-friendly interface and abundance of trading tools. It is easy enough for beginners to use whilst having enough functionality for the more experienced traders. The available tutorials should make learning how to use your chosen platform a pleasurable experience. If you are new to trading forex online then you could always open a demo trading account to practice using the platform to see if it is suitable for your needs.
Forex Platform Education
It can be useful if the forex trading platform offers users a range of educational materials which can help them to learn how to use forex trading platforms and also to improve their trading knowledge and skills. This could include trading guides, videos, courses, webinars, etc.
Forex Platform Customer Service
If you get stuck with any technical queries it would be good to have a broker who is quick to respond to your questions in a helpful manner. You may wish to check when the customer support is available and how they can be reached. Most brokers will offer live chart, telephone and email support. If they are located in a different time zone to you, check if they have offices available during the hours you prefer to trade.
Without a doubt, MetaTrader still remains one of the best forex trading platforms for me. MetaTrader was established as a brand way back in 2002 by MetaQuotes Software Corporation. After their online charting packages became popular amongst online traders, they launched the MetaTrader 4 (MT4) platform in 2005 which was then followed up in 2010 with the launch of the MetaTrader 5 (MT5) platform which expands into additional asset classes and has some additional features. Despite that, MT4 remains one of the most widely used by millions of forex traders around the globe and is provided by most online forex brokers.
MetaTrader is free to download and use on desktop and mobile devices which is useful for those who wish to trade whilst on the go. It is also available as a web-based platform which runs in most modern web browsers without needing to download or install any additional software. This makes MetaTrader a very flexible forex platform that is convenient and can meet the needs of various different traders. It is suitable for traders of all experience levels with a quick learning curve making it easily accessible to new traders and enough advanced functionality to satisfy the more seasoned trader.
Some of the key MetaTrader features include:
- User friendly interface
- Fully customisable
- Supports multiple trading instruments including forex, stocks, indices, commodities, cryptos, metals, energies, etc
- Multiple chart time frames from 1-minute to 1-month
- Multiple chart types including bars, lines and candlesticks
- Support for multiple order types and 1-click trading
- Large selection of technical indicators and drawing tools for detailed chart analysis
- Fully automated trading through the use of expert advisors (EA’s)
- Strategy tester to back test EA’s over historical data
- MQL programming interface to create bespoke indicators, scripts and EA’s
- Market place to purchase additional trading tools and signals
- Signal alerts can be sent via SMS, email and platform pop-ups
- Built in economic calendar in mt5
- VPS hosting
Where to download a forex trading platform?
Hopefully you now have an understanding of forex trading platforms and you may be considering to download a platform and open a broker account to start trading forex online. If you are looking for a forex broker to download a trading platform from, please see my best forex brokers for those who I think are worth consideration. The majority of them will offer the MetaTrader platforms which I personally consider to be amongst the best forex trading platforms which can meet the needs of most traders.