The determination of which forex trading platform is the “best” will of course be subjective. Depending on the type of trader that you are (short term scalping? going long with the trends? highly analytical? In need of the platform to provide your analytics?) and the type of trading strategy that you use, what’s best for you might not necessarily be what’s best for someone else. It’s a personal choice that has everything to do not only with the platform itself, but also with the forex broker offering the platform in question, and as such, the best type of forex platform for you will be closely tied to the choice of the best broker for your needs.
If you’re a frequent reader of our articles, then you already know that we’ve spent a good bit of time trying to inform our readers about the differences between the different types of forex brokers and the importance of finding the one who represents the right fit for you in terms of trading styles, services and fees. In the context of retail forex trading, the broker and the platform he offers can essentially be viewed as virtually indistinguishable entities, because it is through the platform that the retail forex trader interacts with the broker, through the trader’s use of the platform that fees are calculated and through the platform that the trader will gain access to the complete palette of services offered by the broker.
It’s a given that any online forex trading platform that would hope to be in the running for the title of “best” would, at a minimum, offer their services at a tight spread, at least for the major liquid currency pairs. With so many competitors vying for retail traders’ business, it’s too easy for a platform to price itself out of the market. In addition, in order to even make it onto the short list of best platforms, any online forex trading software package should, at the very least, offer a simple, user-friendly and customizable interface, with easy-to-use functionality; simple and clear processing procedures; the ability to familiarize yourself fully with the platform’s range of services by offering you the opportunity to trade virtually in a demo account; professional, courteous and responsive customer service; a secure trading environment incorporating firewalls and layers of encryption; and consistently rapid trade executions. If these features are not offered by any platform you may be considering, move on to other candidates.
Assuming, then, that you’ve eliminated all platform contenders who do not meet at least these basic criteria, it’s time to look more specifically at the scope and nature of services offered by the remaining variety of online trading platforms in order to hone in on those that might be best-suited for your particular needs. It’s obvious of course that there is no point in considering any platform that does not provide you with the latitude to trade in your chosen currency pairs: while this may not be a consideration for those retail forex traders concentrating exclusively in the major pairs, traders who dabble in the exotics will have no use for such generalists. Make certain that any platform you’d consider utilizing allows for charting in a variety of time frames (at the very least, ensure that the platforms in question allow you to chart in your preferred time frames: if you trade quickly, charting increments of less than five minutes, or if you trade long, charting in increments of hours, find a platform that has the capability to support your preferences). If you rely heavily on a particular type of charting, be certain to check whether the platform you’re considering allows you to create charts utilizing your chosen methodology: at the very minimum, any platform worth considering should allow you to create basic candlestick, bar and line charts—at no additional cost to you. The same is true of your preferred indicators: the platform must allow for their usage and further, must allow for the usage of multiple overlaid indicators simultaneously so that you have the flexibility and the reassurance of additional confirming data. If any of these platform “musts” are not offered by the provider free-of-charge, keep looking.
It’s a plus if the platform allows you the latitude to use trailing stops, and even better if you’re permitted to put guaranteed stop losses in place. If you’re not the type of trader who stays glued to their trading screens all day, then you’d benefit from a platform that offers its retail trading clients the ability to interface from a mobile device, of which there are many (and growing); if you’re not the type of trader that likes to make their own trading decisions, then a platform which provides an automatic assistant (or forex trading “robot”) may be just the thing for you. The ability to see real-time news that may have an effect on the currency markets is an additional nice feature offered by many providers, as is the opportunity to receive printouts in hard copy.
If you’ve gotten this far, then there’s just a few more details to consider before going firm with any particular forex broker and platform. It’s imperative that you understand the type and amount of leverage that is offered (or required) by the broker, and equally imperative that before moving forward, you take the time to assure yourself that the broker is regulated and reputable. There’s no point in going to all this effort only to have a problem when it’s time to access the balance in your growing forex trading account. In the same vein, be certain that you understand and can accept the platform’s payment mechanisms, both in terms of account funding as well as in terms of withdrawals: this means understanding not only fees, but timing and any other “hidden” charges as well.
Your chosen trading platform is, essentially, your office workstation and as such, should reflect all of the personality and idiosyncrasies of your personal trading style. If the provided features are convenient and easy to use and support your trading in the style to which you should be accustomed, then you’ve set yourself up to be the best trader you can be. Now that you know what to look for, get out there and find the best online forex platform for your needs.