So you’ve researched brokers and narrowed your choices down to ones that suit your needs, but there’s another step to take before you make a decision. Make sure you know which trading platforms each broker makes use of, as some may be more suited to you than others.
The trading platform is the tool that provides the trader the means to trade through their chosen broker. Each platform provides important data to the trader in order for them to make good trades. It’s crucial to pick one that works for your needs and one that you understand easily.
Equally, you need to make sure that the trading platform is compatible with whatever device and software you are using, whether it’s a mobile phone, tablet or computer running OSX, Android, Linux or Windows. Many trading platforms are simply Java or HTML based, meaning that all you will need is an Internet connection, no matter which operating system you use.
MetaTrader 4 and 5
The most popular trading platforms worldwide, MetaTrader is downloadable for free from MetaQuotes or through any Forex broker that uses it (and most do). MetaTrader is considered the standard of trading platforms due to its availability, ease of use, security and ability to be customized.
The platform commonly shows four chart windows, each displaying a different currency pair. At the top of the screen you’ll find toolbars and a “market watch” window, which displays currency pairs and their bids and asking prices.
Below the “market watch” window is the navigation window where you can see your account and various indicators and other features. Tabs including “Trade”, “Account History”, “Alerts”, “Mailbox” and more help you navigate between windows that help you perform trades and view your trading history, access messages and more.
Since MetaTrader is so popular, you can access thousands of reviews online to make sure it’s the one for you. If you’ll be using it on your mobile, you can check out reviews at Google Play and the App Store, as well as many other trading review sites. MetaTrader is also available in South Africa.
You can open a demo account for free in order to practice trading. Allow yourself a few weeks to become familiar with all its features and windows, as forex trading itself caries risk and if you are using unfamiliar tools this will add another layer of difficultly in succeeding at currency trading.
Commission and fees:
MetaTrader itself does not charge commissions for opening and closing positions, but the broker you use may add a markup depending on currency values. Usually fees, or spreads, will depend on currency pairs, values and market fluctuations.
Webtrader is eToro’s trading platform and is ultra easy to use, best for new and social traders. Even if you are brand new to trading, it will prove easy to navigate and make trades quickly.
Since you can export your trade history to an Excel worksheet, it’s simple to survey your past trades and spot any mistakes or trends, as well as track your improvement. This is perfect for new traders who want to learn as quickly as possible.
In the main window you will see trading instruments including currency pairs, commodities, indices and a charting icon beside each one. Everything you need to see to make good trades is easily viewable in WebTrader’s incredibly clear layout. eToro and thus WebTrader are available in South Africa.
WebTrader is an online platform, requiring no extra software or any particular operating system. You can access the platform from your mobile phone too.
Commission and fees:
Commission and spreads vary according to currency pairs, with some costing the trader and others providing credit. Fees are charged each afternoon at 5pm New York time, while positions are open.
cTrader also has the advantage of a simple, intuitive layout. It was launched with FxPro, but is now available with other Forex brokers, including Pepperstone and Liquid Markets.
cTrader has a nice feature that allows you to change the layout to suit your needs. You can pick a chart-only layout or the default, which includes analysis and trading news. Even the charts are customizable, allowing you to display different ones side by side, or toggle between them. Some of cTrader’s features and windows look fairly similar to MetaTrader 4, so it’s an easy transition if you’re used to the latter.
If you tend to trade with a certain set of currencies, the platform also allows you to create a “favourites” window, allowing you to always have easy access to your most-traded currency pairs. Here you can immediately see quotes when you launch the application, so you can make trades quickly.
cTrader is best for intermediate and experienced traders, and those who are used to MetaTrader may find it slightly easier to use, and the layout more clean. cTrader is popular, and you’ll find many useful reviews and tutorials online, including in the App Store and Google Play if you plan on using your mobile phone to trade.
cTrader for desktop is available on Windows, but also provides a web trading version that is compatible on any operating system with Firefox, Chrome or Opera. Mobile platforms are available on both Android and Mac OSX.
Commission and fees:
Commissions depend on the currency values and size of each trade. FxPro has a handy calculator to help you convert currencies and calculate how much commission you’ll pay on specific trades.