Best trading platform for CFDs
Contracts for Difference (CFDs) are highly leveraged financial products that offer exposure to risk for the sophisticated investor. If you’re familiar with the CFD product but aren’t sure what trading platform is best for you, you’re in the right place. In this article we look at what is the best trading platform for CFDs and where you can find them. If you’re a bit unclear on CFDs, I suggest you head over to my article what is a CFD.
In this article I am defining ‘platform’ as the trading software that you use to access CFD markets; not to be confused with the brokers themselves. For brokers, check out my upcoming article ‘best CFD brokers available in the Australian market’. However, they are a slightly intertwined subject as different online brokers offer both similar and separate trading platforms.
I’ve focused this article largely on the third-party platform, MetaTrader as it is one of the most advanced trading platforms available either as a downloaded terminal fully-functional style or through its Webtrader browser based form. It’s also available across a number of brokers as you can see in the below table either as MetaTrader 4 (MT4) or MetaTrader 5 (MT5).
Platforms by broker at time of article (this is not intended to be a complete list of available online brokers or platforms)
|Pepperstone||MT4, MT5, cTrader|
|Mitrade||Mitrade WebTrader, Android & iOS|
|AxiTrader||MT4, MT4 WebTrader, APIs|
|IG||MT4, ProReal Time, iOS, Android|
|IC Markets||MT4, MT5, Android, iOS, cTrader, MT webtrader|
|XM||MT4, MT5, MT WebTrader|
|Think Markets||ThinkTrader, Trade Interceptor, iOS, Android, MT4, MT5|
|Avatrade||MT4, MT5, WebTrader, MacTrading, Ava TradeGo|
|FP Markets||MT4, MT5, Webtrader, IRESS, Android, iOS|
Integrated with the IG, ProRealTime is a leading web-based charting package. It allows the usage of over 100 indicators on properties such as price and volatility. Importantly, it’s fully integrated with IG trading, meaning if you are with IG, it may prove to be very beneficial to your trading. ProRealTime offers the ability to build your own algorithms for 24 hour a day trading. The platform is customisable for time frame and has an editable workspace.
With it’s algorithmic trading tools it has handy assisted creation tools or allows coding from scratch. Backtesting is available.
Webtrader is a simple platform that can be reached through your browser with no need to download software. It’s designed for novice traders. It allows real time viewing of what’s being traded in the market, ease-of-use and push notifications.
cTrader is IC Markets and Pepperstones’ platform for trading CFD pairs. It boasts low latency on trades, for high frequency trading and automated trading. Latency to major VPS providers is advertised at under 1ms. cTrader through IC markets offers low commissions and ‘market leading spreads’. Major currencies are supported.
Now known as Think Trader, it’s available on desktop, mobile and tablet. It features real-time financial news and is mostly based around being a trade-on-the-go style platform. Alerts, opportunities and updates are all available through Think Trader.
IRESS is a huge platform with many heads, and is utilised by FP Markets as a CFD platform. It’s offered as a terminal solution, web based platform, or mobile solution.
Again offering desktop, web trading and mobile applications, TradeStation offers on the go management of trades, customisable charting, scanning tools, order management and reliable trade execution.
And now for the big one: MetaTrader
One of the most widely used and advanced Third Party platforms for trading, MetaTrader 4 & 5 are available for CFD trading on Forex, Stocks and Futures through most CFD brokers.
Predominately aimed at advanced users, MetaTrader 4 allows the implementation of trades with a considerable amount of complexity available. MetaTrader is aimed at Forex users.
Online quotes and interactive charts are handled with ease in Metatrader 4, and these form the basis for more advanced technical indicators and objects. Metatrader 4 has its own programming language (the MQL4 language) and a code base that includes thousands of useful indicators such as trend indicators, oscillators and volume indicators. These are all design to help you pick up on market trends and directions according to your own trading parameters.
On both demo and free accounts MetaTrader 4 allows you to copy other trader’s deals. This is especially handy if you don’t have time to analyse the market yourself – you merely copy other traders. Simply select a provider, subscribe to a signal and your terminal copies the provider’s trades.
MetaTrader 4 has a built in market for new indicators, robots or expert advisors. This feature is within the platform itself and allows you to use expertise and trading applications with ease.
MetaTrader 4 through its language MQL4 allows you to create Algorithmic trading. Not only can you use this code language to program your own trades, you can post code in the free library to share or sell it within the Market mentioned above.
MetaTrader 4 for iOS and Android
Metatrader 4 offers an App to allow you to keep track and trade on the go with 24/7 access.
Alerts and Financial News
MetaTrader 4 has an extensive News and Alerts functionality to keep up with the latest events affecting your underlying assets.
Similar and from the same stable as MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 not only does Forex but also Stocks and Futures. It’s a powerful trading system, supporting two types of accounting for your orders – netting system and hedging option system. It supports instant, request, market and exchange order execution modes – and all types of trade orders. This comes in handy for successful strategy on financial markets.
MetaTrader 5 is hugely functional when it comes to technical analysis – up to 100 charts of currency or stock quotes are available at the same time, giving you visibility across the markets. Again, as in MetaTrader 4, a code base and market are available along with the advanced MQL5 trade programming language. Freelance programmers are also available for hire.
Like MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 allows you to keep abreast of economic events with an economic calendar, financial news and alerts. These allow you to use your fundamental analysis to keep ahead of the market.
Just like MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 allows copy trading – subscribe to the signal of a successful trader, and their trades are reproduced for you. Fantastic if you can’t keep up to the latest information, the trades are done for you within the platform.
Mobile and Web trading
An iOS and Android app for trading is available with MetaTrader 5. Importantly, where it’s not possible to traid via mobile or a desktop terminal, MetaTrader 5 offers a web based platform for trading.
Using the MQL5 language you can create your own algorithmic trading application or robot, which operates using your strategy automatically. If you’re not keen on programming, nothing to worry about – the MetaTrader 5 market allows you to choose from thousands of existing applications, some free from the code base and others that can be bought or rented. Again custom freelance programming is available.
Want to keep your robots or signals running 24/7? Remote Server applications are available through MT5.
In Summary, which is the best trading platform for CFDs?
Which trading platform and indeed which is the best trading platform for CFDs will depend on a number of different variables depending on your situation.
If you’re relatively new to the markets, you may find WebTrader most suitable for it’s ease of use.
If you’re into technical analysis and charts as part of your trading strategy, ProRealTIme may be an option.
For High frequency low latency trading, cTrader may suit your needs.
For on the go, the various broker apps may be best.
If you’re planning on becoming a serious trader, I’d look at learning MetaTrader 5 with its algorithmic trading and advanced signals; as you advance in trading I have no doubt you will find it highly functional.