Online trading - Best online trading platform 2023 in the market
You can’t use a screwdriver to bang in a nail, you need the right tool to do the job properly; the same applies to trading platforms. The perfect platform for one type of trading is often completely useless for another.
It’s a tool you are going to be using every day, so you need to find the best online trading platform. As well making sure it’s up to the task, you must also find a platform that you feel comfortable and confident using and this guide will help you do exactly that.
Here’s what we intend to go through:
- Show you how to define your online trading needs
- Describe some of the online trading platforms currently available
- Explain the importance of using a demo to gain free online trading experience
What is an online trading market?
In order to thoroughly understand how online trading platforms work and which trading platform is most suitable for you, it’s essential that you understand what an online trading market is. As the name suggests, an online trading market refers to trading that takes place on the internet. In other words, it refers to digital trading platforms where buyers and sellers meet to buy or sell financial instruments.
The online trading market has seen exponential growth over the last two decades, as an increasing amount of population has gained access to computing devices and internet connections. People enjoy the online trading market because digital trading is super accessible and offers numerous tools to assist people with their trades.
Unlike the ’80s, people no longer have to buy and sell financial assets via fax machines, telephone, or email. Nowadays, trading financial instruments are accessible to anyone over the age of 18.
All you have to do to join the online trading market is find a trading platform you would like to use, and sign up instantly. Once you’ve signed up with a high-quality trading platform, you’ll be able to fund your account and make investments conveniently.
First steps to finding the best trading platform
It is important to understand that not all platforms are suitable if you are serious about a specific trading market. If you are still unsure at this stage about the type of trading you want to be involved in then we always think that a good starting point is to ask yourself a few where, when, how, why types of questions:
- What defines your work space, an office with a desktop, or are you going fully mobile?
- Which online trading market are you most interested in?
- Do you find it easy to find your way around new software?
- Is your PC and/or mobile device suitable to run the platform?
- Will you want to try out a demo version first?
- Are there add-ons you want to use, like EA software or signals?
The list above is just a starting point and we are sure that once you answer those questions, more will spring to mind which will help you to have a much better idea of your online trading needs.
What is an online trading platform?
A trading platform is a complex piece of software which allows you to interact with your broker. The part that is visible to you is just the interface, where you can open, close and manage your trades, but there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes.
There are also several different types to select from and some are only suited to one specific online trading market, so it is a good idea to know what you are looking for at the outset. For example, if you are a complete beginner, you are likely to be seeking a platform that is relatively straightforward to use.
At the other end of the scale, a professional trader who needs or prefers a specialist platform will have to lease it from a broker, meaning an additional cost factor to take into account. In fairness, most traders end up compromising slightly, perhaps because they have a preference for a certain broker.
Different types of online trading platform
Not all online trading platforms are equal, as you will see when you read through this next part of our guide.
MetaTrader Platforms – the MT4 and MT5
Both of these platforms were developed by software design specialists Metaquotes and the MetaTrader MT4 version was first launched as far back as 1998, although there have been a fair few updates since that time. The MT4 was developed specifically for Forex trading and to this day remains the most popular platform for traders in that market.
The MT5 was launched in 2010 with the intention that it would eventually supersede the MT4. Interestingly, although the MT5 has more functionality and can be used to trade other financial products as well as Forex, it has never enjoyed the same level of popularity with the online trading community.
There are several things that recommend both the MT4 and MT5:
- Vast library of add-ons, many free available direct from MetaQuotes for both platforms
- Free, unlimited demo versions of both platforms are available from the developer, no need for a broker account
- Native app versions are available for both iOS and Android devices
- Easily ‘tweaked’ to add EA, advanced analytics and much more if you have the technological knowhow
Some brokers use their own adapted versions of these platforms as an option, or in some cases as their main platform, because they are so versatile for their applicable markets.
The WebTrader is a browser-based platform originally developed by BDSwiss in 2012. It is available to any online brokerage that obtains a licence to use it, after which it can be adapted as the broker sees fit, dependent on the trading needs of its clients.
In the same way as the MetaQuotes platforms, WebTrader is often developed further by brokers to make it unique to their operation. For example, free software may be added to the basic platform as an incentive for new clients.
Points in favour of the WebTrader platform:
- Very easy to learn and use
- Available for any device and suitable for use in any browser
Trading platform specialists Spotware, who are based in Cyprus, released the first version of the cTrader in 2010, primarily for CFD trading purposes, where it became an instant hit with retail traders, quickly earning a reputation for ease of use and accessibility.
The cTrader platform is completely versatile meaning you have the freedom to use it as a browser-based format, download native apps for iOS or Android or install it on your PC or Mac. In a similar way to MT4/5, you can also download a demo version from the developer.
What many traders like is the incredible amount of additional features that already come as standard with cTrader, making it the ideal tool for the day trading markets.
These are just a few of the many benefits of cTrader:
- Fast entry and execution of orders
- Asynchronous order processing
- Level pricing
- A good range of advanced order types
Advanced and Bespoke Platforms
You are certain to encounter a number of bespoke-developed platforms too. Most often they are provided by brokers who offer stock trading opportunities or alternative options like copy trading or social trading availability.
Being unique, they do not necessarily cater for everybody’s needs or suit all strategies such as swing trading which many traders believe is best confined to professional platforms due to the diversity needed.
Some brokers develop and offer a unique market-specific trading platform alongside a selection of generic platforms, giving you the opportunity to choose the best one for your needs.
Invariably these are bespoke platforms which have considerably more built-in functionality for professional traders, together with the opportunity to import the specialist software needed for particular trading styles or strategies. In any event, there is always a cost factor involved to use them and you would need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages according to your needs and budget.
With the increasing trend towards mobile trading, it is typical for brokers to offer mobile accessibility to trading accounts. However, not all options are as good as others and some may not provide sufficient functionality for certain types of trading or a particular strategy.
If your broker offers only a web-based option, then it needs to be mobile-optimised rather than just mobile-friendly. The former is a web platform built to suit mobile devices whereas the latter is a bare bones option meaning you can access the platform as a mini version of the main platform, which does not always make using it easy.
Lastly, avoid at all costs any standalone trading apps, or suffer the consequences. These are not valid online trading platforms and if there’s no website, there’s no security, no comebacks and for you, no money left when it disappears untraceably into the ether.
We cannot stress strongly enough that you should only ever download an app that is offered by either a software developer or a licensed broker.
Do I need a demo platform?
We always recommend making full use of any available platform demo. Many brokers allow free unlimited use of their simulation platforms and for those of you who are just starting out, that means free online trading experience, plus the chance to get used to your platform before risking any of your own capital.
Even the most experienced traders can also make good use of demos to experiment with either a new strategy or making use of them to try out a different financial instrument. For example, if you routinely trade stock CFDs, you might want to investigate crypto trading without the element of risk.
It’s also worth noting that a limited number of brokers are even more generous with regard to their demos. Some will allow you to retain your demo platform alongside a live trading account and others even permit you to have multiple demo platforms on the go simultaneously, which is the best of all worlds for any trader.
What to do next
At this point your next move will depend on the amount of trading experience you already have. If you are a complete beginner, then it is well worth heading over to our online trading academy and learning as much as you can before you start looking for a brokerage.
Those of you with some online trading experience will be closer to knowing which platforms are likely to fulfil your needs and can move on to looking at the types of trading software you can add, such as EA, advanced analytics and automated trading packages. For you, the trading strategies you implement and whether they fit the bill for a platform will be a key factor.
As we have already explained, some platforms are only suitable for trading certain assets. For example, if you only intend to trade in Forex currency pairs, then the MetaTrader MT4 is certainly a worthy contender, with plenty of opportunities to customise and add to its functionality.
However, if you decide to diversify into additional financial markets, you would need to run a second platform alongside the MT4, opt for a lesser, multi-asset platform or pay to lease a suitable one. The latter might be ideal, but won’t be the most financially viable one for the majority of you.
There is one more thing to point out to those of you who intend to trade mostly from a mobile device. Not all mobile apps enjoy the same levels of asset availability as those found on a broker’s main platform. If you generally trade mainstream assets, this is not likely to be a problem, but if your strategy explores more unusual trading opportunities, you could end up disappointed.
The inevitable compromise
In reality, the chances of finding the best broker and the best online trading platform in the same place are limited and inevitably there will need to be a compromise to be made in this respect. Perhaps now is a good time to revisit the questions we suggested earlier in this guide, as well as add to them, to further define your requirements.
Aside from the physical factors such as whether your device can run the platform adequately, the main things to remember when you consider a trading platform are that you must feel comfortable and confident using it; long and tedious days are ahead for you if you do not give those things priority.
We hope that the information in this guide has given you some useful information and will enable you to look at online trading platforms in a more focused way. There really is no single ‘best’ platform out there, except the one that works for you.
Online Trading Platforms FAQs
The best day trading platform is one that fulfils your needs and that you feel comfortable using, meaning there are lots of different factors to consider. Why not read our trading platform guide which will help you to make that decision. You can find it here along with lots of other helpful trading information.
The facility of a free demo platform can be used to advantage by all traders from complete beginners right through to advanced day traders. The answer to your question and many others can be found by reading our detailed guide to finding the best day trading platform here at nextmarkets.
It will benefit you immensely to read our day trading platform guide, which you will find here on our platform. In the guide you will find lots of information about different types of platform, along with the best way to choose one that matches your needs.
Almost every modern broker that provides retail day trading opportunities implements high levels of security to its platforms, regardless of how you access them. So the question is more about which type of platform suits your trading needs. Find out more by checking out our special guide to day trading platforms here at nextmarkets, you won’t be disappointed.
You can only buy cryptocurrency from a crypto exchange, not from a trading platform. However, as a day trader, you can trade in crypto derivatives. If you have any questions about derivatives, what they are and how they work, then read our guides before you do anything else. Just go to our website to find all of the information you need.