MetaTrader 4 is a sophisticated platform for currency traders developed over a decade ago by MetaQuotes Software Corporation. Higher versions of MetaTrader exist, but the fourth edition continues to set the standard thanks to an unprecedented amount of automating abilities.
Unlike TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim or Power E-Trade, MetaTrader is provided by a number of different forex brokerages for customer use, often alongside their own proprietary trading platforms. International customers will have no problem finding a brokerage that supports MetaTrader, but like most things forex, U.S. traders have to work harder to find one.
Quick look – Best MT4 Brokers
What is MetaTrader 4?
MetaTrader’s first iteration ran back in 2002 when Russian software firm MegaQuotes Software upgraded its FX Charts program into a high-tech and efficient forex trading platform. MetaTrader 4 was the final product and its much-anticipated release happened in 2005. Not only could experienced traders plot complex currency moves, they could also write entire programming scripts and arrange automated trading systems. MetaTrader platform navigation is remarkably simple. All the features are available to you with just a few clicks (or taps if you’re using your mobile device). The program opens with four different currency pair charts, all completely customizable. Choose whether you want candlestick charts or line graphs, add a few of the 30 available technical indicators and track the four currency pairs you’re most interested in.
What really separates MetaTrader from other forex trading platforms is its Expert Advisors (EAs). These advisors aren’t investment experts or customer service reps, but programs written by traders to carry out specific trades automatically. MetaTrader uses a proprietary programming language called MQL4, similar to the C-languages used in computer coding. Using MQL4, forex traders can build automated trading systems that act with minimal human intervention. With MetaTrader, you can literally trade currencies in your sleep. Not familiar with programming languages? MetaTrader Market has thousands of robots and indicators available to download, although not all of them are free. Search through trade categories like Hedging, Arbitrage, Scalping, Trend Following, and even Martingale to find an EA robot that suits your strategies. Download, test and implement automated robots without ever closing the MetaTrader platform.
Using MetaTrader 4 with a Brokerage
MetaTrader has two different versions, one for clients and one for brokers. The broker platform is used as a server to facilitate trading and prevent malicious cyber attacks. The brokers are licensed to supply customers with the client version, which is linked to brokerage accounts. Choosing the right brokerage is a critical aspect of any type of forex trading, especially if you want to use platforms like MetaTrader.
Some forex brokers base their entire trading operation around MetaTrader and use it as account management software, trading platform and gateway for real-time pricing and news feeds. MetaTrader is the same platform across brokerages, but that doesn’t mean all supporting brokers have the same trading rules. You’ll still need to make sure the broker has the currency pairs you want to trade as well as a reasonable schedule of fees and commissions.
Our Picks - Top Brokers Featuring MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 4 isn’t of any use without a forex broker that supports it. Thankfully, Benzinga has compiled a list of five respectable brokerage houses using MetaTrader 4 as a platform. All five companies on this list are registered with the National Futures Association (NFA), which regulates futures and forex trading in the United States. Transparency is important in the forex markets and NFA-registered brokers can give you peace of mind.
FOREX.com is the other United States currency power broker, and like OANDA, it rolls out the red carpet to support MetaTrader 4. You’ll get 50:1 leverage on major pairs involving USD and EUR. A standard account is only charged on spreads and the commission account provides reduced spreads for a $5 per $100,000-unit trading commission. FOREX.com offers rewards to its most active traders, who can benefit from reduced costs and the ability to earn interest on idle cash.
When you use MetaTrader through FOREX.com, you’ll get a Reuters news feed and all the same research available on the broker’s own platforms. All Expert Advisors are supported for fully automated trading and you’ll have access to FOREX.com tools like Autochartist Trade Ideas. High-volume traders enjoy special perks as well, like 15% cash back rebates on fees, 1.5% interest on daily margin balances and free VPS hosting.
Unlike many MetaTrader providers, there’s a reliable line to customer service. FOREX.com supports both MetaTrader Web and Mobile, so all your devices can connect to your brokerage account.
OANDA is one of Benzinga’s highest-rated forex brokers and its support for MetaTrader 4 is one reason it gets high marks. Not only can you use the platform to trade, but you can find some features unique specifically to OANDA. Like most U.S. brokerages, max leverage is 50:1 and traders can choose between commission and spread and spread-only account types.
To get started, you’ll need to open and fund an account with OANDA and can then transfer funds to the MetaTrader subaccount and download the software. Once your funds appear on the MetaTrader platform, you’re ready for business.
As you use MetaTrader on OANDA, be sure to take advantage of the unique features it offers. OANDA fully supports EAs and even has a self-designed tool called the Orderbook Indicator. OANDA’s Technical Analysis tool is also available as a proprietary plug-in on MetaTrader 4 and the mobile app is fully supported.
OANDA is one of the best options for United States forex traders thanks to its low spreads and no minimums. Supplemented with the power of MetaTrader, OANDA is a cheap and efficient broker for currency traders.
3. Ally Invest Forex
When Ally Financial purchased TradeKing in 2016, it was rebranded Ally Invest, and a terrific discount brokerage was created in which investors could trade stocks, bonds, options, futures and currencies. Ally Invest offers the lowest commissions on equity and fixed income trades in the industry, so it’s no surprise that its forex platform is fair and efficient as well.
Ally Invest Forex supports both MetaTrader Web and Mobile, but also Meta Charts, which enhances the platform with professional charting studies. Over 50 technical tools are available with Meta Charts, which helps turn MetaTrader into a powerfully predictive platform. Expert Advisors are also fully supported.
Ally Invest Forex does not charge commission on any forex trade and only receives compensation through the spread. Over 80 currency pairs are available to trade and margin requirements of 2% are available on EUR/USD, USD/CAD and EUR/CAD.
4. ATC Brokers
ATC Brokers is a California-based forex brokerage where customers can buy and sell currencies and metals. While certainly geared more towards professional and institutional forex traders, the broker does have features that can benefit novices thanks to its version of MetaTrader: MT4 Pro.
MT4 Pro is ATC Brokers’ own proprietary spin on MetaTrader. It comes with all the functionality of the original platform (including Expert Advisors) with a few added bells and whistles for extra customization. The Profit and Loss screen tracks your account balance over time and Winners/Losers keeps track of how many trades went in your favor. Time Analysis lets you view how long your trades remain open and categorizes each trade based on timeframe.
ATC Brokers has an account minimum of $3,000 to get started and commissions are $1 for every 10,000 units. Minimum trade size is 1,000 units and the maximum is unlimited. Demo accounts are available for beginners as well.
5. IG Markets
IG Markets is a London-based forex brokerage that recently opened up operations to U.S. customers. The company touts MetaTrader 4 as its enhanced trading platform and fully supports Expert Advisors. IG Markets has 18 extra features for MetaTrader 4, including an upgraded trade terminal with six pair screens, stealth orders and an alarm manager to handle alerts. IG also boasts some of the fastest speeds with 0.05% downtime on average using MetaTrader 4.
Spreads are low and IG does not charge commission on forex trades. Popular currency trades like EUR/USD or USD/JPY could see spreads as low as 0.8%. Margin requirements are superior to some of the other brokers on this list too. For example, IG Markets is the only broker that offers maximum leverage (50:1, or 2% margin) on USD/DKK. Over 80 currency pairs are available to trade and accounts that trade over $1 million USD are eligible for rebates.
MetaTrader 4 is a great tool for forex traders, but make sure you find a suitable brokerage to use it with before you start planning out any trades. If you’re new to currency trading, be sure to check out the demo version and play around with some fake cash first. If you’re an experienced trader and have a compatible brokerage in mind, MetaTrader 4 could be a perfect match.