Forex traders want the best forex trading platform available. Forex is a fast-moving market, and trading it successfully requires fast, reliable trading tools.
There are many different forex trading platforms to choose from and many different elements to consider in making your choice. No one platform is perfect. The best choice varies according to each trader’s specific needs and preferences. For example, if you only trade a couple of the major pairs, such as Eur/Usd and Gbp/Usd, then you’re not going to be bothered by the fact that a broker only offers trading in a limited number of currency pairs. On the other hand, if you’re interested in also trading other financial securities, such as gold or cryptocurrencies, then the range of trading assets available on a platform will be an important consideration for you in choosing a broker.
Choosing a platform for forex trading that offers what you want often involves balancing factors such as charting capabilities, currency pairs and other securities offered for trading, trading fees, and minimum deposit requirements.
Finding the Best Forex Trading Platform – Things to Consider
Here’s a simple rundown of the various factors to consider when comparing various trading platforms for forex traders.
Reliability and Fast Trade Execution
What’s one of the worst things that can happen to you as a forex trader? – In the midst of a fast-moving market, you’re ready to enter an order to open or close a trade…but then your trading platform goes down and it’s half an hour or more before you’re able to put in your order. And, trading an often volatile market, forex traders want lightning quick trade execution whenever they enter an order.
Securities Available for Trading
As already noted, one key thing to consider is whether a trading platform provides you access to all the financial instruments that you want to trade. Some brokers only offer trading in a very limited number of currency pairs. If you plan to trade some of the more exotic pairs, such as Usd/Sgd, better check to make sure you have access to trade it.
Some forex brokers are strictly forex brokers – they don’t offer exposure to trading any other financial asset. However, some brokers offer a wide selection of assets for trading, including commodities, futures, and cryptocurrencies.
Trading costs are a critical consideration for forex traders because most of them do multiple trades per month, which means incurring multiple trading fees. Make sure that you understand a broker’s fee structure so that you can evaluate how well it minimizes trading fees for your personal trading style.
Minimum Deposit Requirements
Most forex brokers have very low minimum deposit requirements, but some require initial deposits up to several thousand dollars. If you’ve only got a limited amount of trading capital, then checking minimum deposit requirements is important.
Since the vast majority of forex traders are technical traders, a broker’s charting program is one of the main factors for choosing a broker. And one of the first considerations is, “How easy is the charting program to use?” TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim program offers excellent, advanced charting tools – however, some traders complain that the program has a steep learning curve, that it takes quite some time to learn how to use it effectively.
Things to look for in charting tools:
- Available technical indicators
- Charting timeframes available for analysis
- How customizable charts are
- Advanced charting tools (for example, some chart programs offer the ability to apply both technical and fundamental indicators to charts)
Bid and Ask Spreads
Bid and ask spreads are always important, since they reduce profits and increase losses. They’re particularly crucial for scalpers or day traders who do multiple trades per day just looking to capture a few pips worth of profit. Some brokers have fixed bid-ask spreads, and others have variable spreads. Spreads can vary widely between different currency pairs and for other traded securities.
Trading Platform Access
Some traders are perfectly happy trading through their broker’s downloadable trading platform software. However, other traders need an excellent mobile trading app or access to web-based trading through the broker’s website.
When you have a question or a problem, you don’t want to have to wait a day or two to get a response to an inquiry. Forex traders want top-notch customer service that they can access quickly and easily.
The Five Best Trading Platforms
Again, what’s the best forex trading platform for you will depend on your personal trading style and needs. For instance, if you’re a fundamental analysis trader, then having easy access to extensive market news and analysis is a major plus.
Keeping in mind the needs and wants of many different types of forex traders, we put together the following list of the Top 5 Best Forex Trading Platforms:
- BD Swiss – Best Overall
- Oanda – Best Charting Tools
- Ally – Best Customer Service
- TD Ameritrade – Best Mobile App
- Forex.com – Best Trading Education Resources
Who better to handle your investments than Swiss bankers, right?
That BD Swiss is favorite with forex traders is attested to by the fact that they serve more than a million clients in more than 150 countries. They’re particularly noted for outstanding customer service, with an average response time of just over 30 seconds.
BD Swiss makes trading easy, with more than 150 available methods for making deposits or withdrawals – and typically processes withdrawal requests within just a few hours.
In addition to providing excellent market news and commentary resources, BD Swiss also offers exceptional online trading education, including live seminars with forex trading pros.
Traders have a choice of trading and charting programs to use – BD Swiss’s own proprietary web trading platform and mobile app, or MetaTrader’s popular MT4 and MT5 programs.
BD Swiss offers one of the widest selections of trading assets found anywhere. In addition to virtually every possible currency pair, they also offer trading in commodities, stock shares and indices, and cryptocurrencies.
Bid and ask spreads start at 0.0. You can’t ask for better than that.
(Note: If you’re a resident of the US, then, unfortunately, you can’t open a forex trading account with BD Swiss. The burdensome US regulation of forex trading has led BD Swiss – and many other forex brokers, including some that, like BD, are among the best – to stop accepting clients in the US. The other four firms reviewed here do still – bravely – offer forex trading services to US residents.)
Oanda is one of the oldest and most-respected forex trading firms. Here’s one feature you probably won’t find anywhere else – access to 25 years’ worth of historical exchange rates.
Oanda offers trading in 70 currency pairs, more than enough to satisfy the trading desires of most forex traders. It offers tight bid-ask spreads, and the option of trading with the MT4 platform or Oanda’s web-based or mobile trading apps.
Oanda is strictly a forex trading broker, so it doesn’t offer access to trading other securities. However, it does offer generous sign-up bonuses, along with trading rebates or commission discounts for active traders.
Go to the website’s “Market Pulse” section for forex market news and to take advantage of both fundamental and technical analysis.
In addition to MT4 charting, Oanda also offers access to TradingView, which provides a very sophisticated charting program that’s widely used by not only forex traders, but by stock, futures, and cryptocurrency traders as well.
Ally first made a name for itself as one of the earliest financial firms offering online banking. It has since expanded its services to offer a wide array of investment choices, including forex, stocks, bonds, commodities, and cryptocurrency. The company is known for providing outstanding customer service.
Ally’s forex trading fees are built into the bid-ask spread (no commission fees), but it still manages to offer competitive spreads.
Ally provides excellent charting capabilities, with direct access to extensive market analysis, including in-depth research. It’s trading platform even offers a probability-of-trade-success calculator.
Traders can trade the forex market through either MetaTrader’s MT4 software or Ally’s mobile app.
If you want a solid, all-around broker for trading multiple financial securities, with an unquestionably sterling reputation, then you may want to check out TD Ameritrade.
Founded in 1975, TD Ameritrade has established an excellent reputation as one of the major discount online stock brokerage firms, successfully competing with firms such as E*Trade. Over the years, it has kept pace with financial market trends by adding trading in futures, forex, and cryptocurrencies. (In fact, it’s one of only a handful of traditional stock brokerage firms that offers access to forex trading.)
One of TD Ameritrade’s claims to fame is its proprietary trading platform, Thinkorswim. Although some traders say that the program is initially a bit hard to learn, it’s so good that even many traders who trade through other brokers open a TD Ameritrade account just to get access to Thinkorswim. In addition to offering some of the most advanced charting and analysis tools to be found anywhere, Thinkorswim also provides access to a wide range of investor education resources, including online courses, one-on-one coaching, and live workshops.
TD Ameritrade’s mobile trading app has received a lot of positive reviews for being very intuitive and easy to use.
TD Ameritrade does offer a wide range of currency pairs for trading, but not as many as firms like BD Swiss and Oanda. But as long as you’re just looking to trade the major pairs and the more popular crosses and exotic pairs, it should work fine for you.
With a name like Forex.com, they almost have to make the list, right? Fortunately, this forex broker makes the list for several good reasons.
Like Oanda, Forex.com was one of the early pioneers in retail forex trading, opening its doors in 2001. Because it was founded when retail traders knew very little about forex trading, Forex.com developed an extensive library of trader education resources, including courses and webinars. That’s made it a continuing favorite choice of beginning forex traders.
Its trading platform was designed to cater equally well to the needs of both institutional and retail traders. The platform includes Forex.com’s web trader and mobile apps, MT4 software, and also Ninja Trader, one of the more popular alternatives to MetaTrader’s MT4 and MT5 programs. The Forex.com mobile app is among the most sophisticated – it’s available for both Apple and Android phones, and includes all the trading tools that are available with the company’s web trader platform.
In addition to forex trading, the firm also offers trading in precious metals and in futures and futures options.
Forex.com features competitive bid and ask spreads, starting as low as 0.2 pips for Eur/Usd. It also offers a monthly rebate program based on your volume of trading.
Best Forex Trading Platforms – Summary
In the end, what the best forex trading platform is comes down to a personal choice – that is, what platform offers the best fit for your forex trading? Do you find the charting software easy to use and well-suited for doing the type of analysis you depend on? Are you satisfied with the broker’s fee structure? Are there extras included that you want, such as trading rebate programs or educational resources? Does the platform provide access to trading other securities that you invest in? Is the trading platform reliable, and does the firm provide good customer service?
Other than actually picking trades to make, the choice of a trading platform to make your trades through is likely the most important choice you’ll make in your forex trading. Take your time and research several different brokers before making a decision. Also, there’s no reason you can’t open a forex trading account with a couple of brokers, and then try them both out to see which one you like the best.