The best trading platforms and market software

Trading software

A trading platform is market software used by an investor or trader to view market price data and place orders with a broker. Market price data can be retrieved either from your broker or from independent data providers such as Reuters or Bloomberg. In this section we explain how to choose the best online trading platform.

Typically, an online broker will offer its clients a branded trading platform that is more or less its own, but there are also independent solutions that can connect to several online brokers. An independent platform can be a good choice for the experienced trader, while using a broker's own platform is the easiest way to get started for beginners.

Features of online trading platforms

The best online trading platform will have a combination of features to help traders analyse the financial markets and place orders fast. In particular, a top platform will offer excellent implementation of these features:

  • Access to current and historical market data - A trader needs to be aware of market price changes as early as possible to be able to act before an opportunity is missed or a loss materialises. Historical data is necessary for technical analysis and for the backtesting of strategies. However, not all online trading platforms have a backtesting feature, so check before committing to specific software.
  • Charts and other visual aids - Market trends and sentiment are best visualised using charts and through the plotting of relevant technical indicators on these same charts.
  • Order execution - Once you've decided to place an order, it should be executed in the market immediately. An excellent online brokerage platform will fulfil the order in less than a second. Traders who use automated trading want even faster execution, which is usually in milliseconds, depending on the strategy used and his or her price sensitivity.
  • Automated Investing - A trading platform with automation capabilities allows traders to intervene in the market even if they're not sitting in front of their computer. The traditional "stop loss" function is a simple form of automation, but there are more sophisticated platforms that allow you to program your own robot to execute elaborate strategies or to react much faster than you can manually.

Can I try an online broker for free?

A demo account is a great way for a beginner to practice trading and test a broker or trading platform without using real money. A demo account uses virtual, fake money, allowing you to try out the features of the online broker's platform and familiarise yourself with the price action of the markets.

A word of warning though - even the best training platform can't replicate the real pressure that comes with the risking of real money, but it's a great way to learn the basics and get started risk-free.

Learn more about demo accounts

The best trading software

MetaTrader 4

MetaTrader 4 is trading software developed by MetaQuotes. Over the last ten years, MetaTrader 4 has been the most popular trading platform among both forex brokers and traders. The trading software gained much ground between 2007 and 2010, when many forex brokers started to use it as an alternative to their own proprietary software.

MetaTrader 5

Is it time to switch to the MetaTrader 5 trading platform? The MT5 platform was launched in 2010, but it failed to convince traders who still massively use MT4. However, since 2016, MetaQuotes has been encouraging brokers and traders to migrate to MT5. Both trading platforms are very similar, but MT5 has some extremely useful new features.

MetaTrader vs cTrader platforms

The choice of the platform depends on your personal preferences. EA-focused users will be more attracted to MT4 due to its greater availability, its number of online resources and its larger community. cTrader will attract traders who want to make changes to the interface and use more sophisticated types of trading orders. Click here to compare the two platforms.


cTrader is an ECN forex trading platform developed by the Spotware company. Since its initial launch, cTrader has become one of the world's leading platforms for several major ECN brokers (such as Pepperstone) and a serious competitor to the popular MetaTrader platform.


XStation 5 is the XTB brokerage's proprietary trading platform. This innovative, intuitive and fully customisable trading station adapts to your investment style.


ActTrader trading software was created in 2000 by ActForex when the retail forex industry was still in its infancy. ActTrader is therefore one of the first trading platforms of its type. The trading terminal also enables traders to automate trading strategies without any programming knowledge via a visual interface.

Forex Tester 2

Forex Tester is software that simulates the Forex market with unmatched realism. It allows one to: 1) test trading strategies (manual or automatic) using data from recent years and 2) learn how to trade faster than with a demo account.


TradingView is a platform for technical analysis and for trading on financial assets using charts, indicators and figures. The platform is also a social network for traders and investors who want to share trading tips and strategies.