There is plenty of free forex trading platform available with online brokers, but not all are good choices. Our experts look at the best trading platforms for CFD and currency trading you can use for free.
See the best free forex trading platforms below
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Some Forex Trading Platforms Can Be Costly. These Are The Best Free Platforms:
MetaTrader 4 is the most renowned trading platform in the world of forex trading and considered the benchmark among forex traders. Developed in 2005 by MetaQuotes, this platform is provided by over 85% of forex brokers. MT4 continues to lead market share even after the release of MetaTrader 5 in 2010.
Source: Finance Magnates Intelligence
MetaTrader 4 provides retail traders with a substantial range of technical and analytic tools to trade forex. MT4 has one of the largest trading communities which allows countless opportunities for social trading, add-ons and automation tools.
Another advantage is the ease you can switch to other brokers, as so many brokers offer the platform. This gives flexibility should you not wish to be locked into a broker’s ecosystem.
While MetaTrader 4 is generally considered the best platform in the market, there are weaknesses to note.
Pepperstone is the best MetaTrader 4 forex broker based on:
Pepperstone offers its STP/ECN style Razor Account for traders looking to benefit from tight spreads. Across the range of major currency pairs available on MT4, Pepperstone achieve lower average spreads in comparison to other brokers.
Data taken from broker website. Accurate as at 04/06/2021
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Pepperstone also provides competitive commission fees. The below table shows the commission fees for each currency. If you are with Pepperstones’s Active Trader program, then further discounts are available.
Speed testing revealed Pepperstone as the fastest forex broker through an analysis conducted in 2020. On average, it took 85ms to execute trades using Market Order Execution. Faster speed reduces execution lag time meaning less slippage and therefore more accurate pricing and a better chance of complete order fill.
Pepperstone stands out the best brokers for MetaTrader 4 as it offers ‘Smart Trader Tools’. This is a collection of tools such as expert advisors and indicators which will help get more out of the Pepperstone MetaTrader 4 trading experience.
Since its founding in Australia in 2010, Pepperstone has grown to become a widely accepted and reputable forex broker. Originally regulated under ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) Pepperstone now also has the following tier-1 regulators.
Pepperstone offers fee-free funding and minimum deposit amounts of GBP 200, AUD 200, or USD 200 to open an account.
The broker has a strong reputation for excellent customer service which is backed with a number of awards over the years, including:
The Pepperstone customer service team has experience trading themselves, so are equipped to help with all your trading support needs.
Pepperstone is the best forex broker for trading on MT4 due to:
View Pepperstone Review >>Visit Pepperstone >>
MetaTrader 5 Metaquotes successor to MetaTrader 4. This platform is an improved version of MetaTrader 4, as it has the same user interface but offers more features. Key improvements on MetaTrader 4 include:
Most notably, MT5 is built for assets that require trading through exchanges. This means MT5 is a better option if you wish to trade stocks and stock CFDs.
While MetaTrader 5 is an improved platform compared to MetaTrader 4 and despite being around since 2010, MetaTrader 4 continues to be more popular among forex brokers, including Ox Securities. In 2018 MetaQuotes announced development will cease for MT4 and new MT4 licences will not be made available to brokers. This announcement should see more brokers take up MT5 in future and this should accelerate the growth of the platform.
Below shows the details of a ForexMagnates MetaQuotes study which shows MT5 is beginning to gain traction in the market.
MetaTrader 5 offers 38 technical indicators, 44 graphical tools and 21 timeframes you with your analysis. Perhaps the biggest benefits of MetaTrader 5 are:
Features of MT5 include a broader range of timeframes, several pending order types, netting and hedging mode options, depth of market function, and partial order filling policies.
A major change to the MetaTrader 5 platform is the programming language, known as MQL5. While MQL5 is a superior language than MQL4, it has the following cons:
MetaTrader 5 community and marketplace is much smaller than with MetaTrader 4. This means there are fewer candidates for social trading and less choice of products from the MT5 marketplace.
Many apps built to integrate with MetaTrader 4 may not yet have compatibility with MT5.
For traders using the MetaTrader 5 platform, IC Markets is the most suitable broker due to:
IC Markets is an excellent choice of broker for MetaTrader 5. The brokers offer the following notable features
IC Markets is known for the excellent spreads it offers for the major currency pairs. The broker outperforms many other forex and CFD providers in this area based on ECN style account types. ECN spreads means prices are set by liquidity providers competing against each other, which ensure they offer the best possible prices.
Compare MT5 Brokers >>
Commissions with IC Markets are also relatively competitive. Fees are in USD by default unless your ‘home’ currency is listed below.
IC Markets charges no hidden fees such as inactivity fee, deposit or withdrawal fees.
IC Markets also accept payment in BitCoin Wallet, POLI, BPay, FasaPay, Klarna and UnionPay.
Lowest Spreads + Low Commissions = IC Markets MT5 Fees
IC Markets brokerage fees are the best for all brokers the Compare Forex Brokers team has reviewed.
Data collected in 2020 revealed an average trade execution speed of 36.5ms for IC Markets through the MT5 platform. This can be considered blazing fast by any measure. IC Markets is able to achieve this by placing their server at the Equinix NY4 data centre where over 600 over financial providers are also located.
IC Markets fast execution combined with STP trading execution with low commission fees helps explain why this no dealing desk broker is a popular choice for algorithmic trades.
60% of IC Markets trades are algo trades based on execution speeds.
Traders wanting even fast execution can sign with a VPS provider which can reduce speeds to 1ms latency.
Forex, indices, commodities, bonds, futures, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are all available through IC Markets, making them the broker offering one of the most CFDs to be traded on the MT5 trading platform. As a key feature of MT5, traders can access share CFDs through IC Markets on the ASX, NYSE, and NASDAQ.
IC Markets have 60 forex pairs, 19 commodities and 120 share CFDs.
As an innovative social trading platform, ZuluTrade is quickly becoming a widely popular feature for copy traders. IC Markets offer ZuluTrade along with their suite of other tools including ZuluRank (to analyse traders on performance and reliability), ZuluGuard (to protect accounts running out of capital), and a simulation tool (which allows traders to learn and test the process of copy trading).
IC Markets also offer MyFxBook AutoTrade as an alternate social trading option to ZuluTrade.
This mirroring service integrated with the IC Markets MetaTrader 4 account, making copy trading very straightforward. One of the key features of MyfxBook is MyfxBook’s algorithms that are used to ensure only the best social signals (MyfxBook call them ‘systems’) are available for copying. The platform also has measures in place to ensure traders that can be followed trade with the intention of being successful and not for commission profits.
Overall, IC Markets is the best broker for MT5 due to:
cTrader is the 3rd most popular available trading software for free. Developed by Spotware, the platform is available on desktop, Web Trader and mobile devices. cTrader is especially popular with scalpers due to its fast processing speed.
While cTrader market share data is not available, the table below shows the popularity of the 3 leading trading platforms based on their respective community websites and app downloads.
cTrader is known for its large number of indicators, timeframes, and exceptionally fast execution speed. The main advantages of cTrader include:
In addition to these features, cTrader has its own version of Expert Advisors called cTrader Automate (formerly cAlgo). Coders will appreciate the use of C# which is a language well understood by programmers. Traders needing further help can take have access to resources such as cTDN forums and cTrader Developer Network.
As mentioned, cTrader is a close competitor but remains the third most popular trading platform behind the MetaTrader platforms mentioned previously. The smaller market share implies a smaller online community of traders. In terms of accessing liquidity and trade execution speeds, the Spotware server is located in the UK as opposed to MetaQuotes which is in the USA. This may not be an issue for some traders.
FxPro is the ideal forex broker for trading with cTrader based on several key factors:
FxPro never interferes with pricing through the trading process. The broker uses liquidity from other traders taking the other side of the trade, where this cannot be achieved the broker uses STP to complete the trade. This system means FxPro can allow fast trade execution speeds of 11.06ms.
Quotes shown through FxPro are therefore extremely accurate to the price the order is filled to. When comparing trading platforms on FxPro, spreads can range from 1.58 pips to 1.51 pips for MT4 and MT5, respectively. For cTrader, however, spreads are on average around 0.37 pips. Trading costs are optimised by using cTrader through FxPro.
FxPro is able to deliver 7000 orders each second and achieves superior speed compared to MetaTrader.
FxPro is regulated under several key global markets, including the European Union (FCA and CySEC), South Africa (FSCA), Dubai(United Arab Emirates), and the Bahamas, making the broker a suitable choice for traders worldwide depending on the entity that matches their location. This also provides traders with more options regarding trading conditions, such as leverage and negative balance protection, which can help protect retail investor accounts.
Over 250 financial instruments including forex pairs, futures, spot indices, shares, metals, and energies are offered by FxPro on the cTrader platform. The extensive range of trading instruments is another feature alongside training courses, news, analysis, and trading tools provided by FxPro that enhances the trading experience with cTrader.
FxPro is the best-suited broker for cTrader due to its high-standard infrastructure (with co-location servers), fast execution speeds, tight spreads, and a wide range of financial instruments. A few noteworthy features of FxPro include:
View FxPro Review >>Visit FxPro >>
eToro is a multi-asset trading platform that incorporates social and trading features. As a social trading platform, eToro stands out from competitors in the copy trading field for 3 reasons:
The eToro trading platform offers a large range of CFD trading tools. These include cryptocurrencies, stocks, forex, commodities and ETFs. and are available with zero commission costs. Traders can choose between a windows download, WebTrader and iOS or Android app for mobiles.
eToro offers two notable social trading features.
This gives users the ability to follow and copy other traders in eToro’s social network. This allows you to spend more time doing other things while traders you copy do all the research and investing. Traders with little trading experience can benefit, as they can learn from and copy more experienced and successful traders.
With CopyTrader™ you can define the funds that will be allocated to each trader you copy and use risk management tools such as stop losses to protect your investments.
This feature works like an index where you can copy a portfolio compiled from some of the best traders in the eToro community. There are two types of CopyPortfolio™ programs:
eToro regularly rebalances these portfolios to ensure you are receiving the best possible portfolio.
The eToro platform is user-friendly, however, it has some peculiarities that increase the learning curve. The eToro uses its own terminology, which can be confusing at first. Features one needs to learn to include how risk scores are calculated, performance since inception, and trade lot sizes. eToro also does not provide win-loss or profit-risk ratios under the performance analysis of traders. To master the eToro platform will require more investment in time than most other platforms.
Furthermore, eToro is a dedicated social trading platform, meaningless emphasis is placed on providing technical indicators and graphical tools are provided which some traders might find limit their ability to make informed decisions.
The mass popularity of eToro is governed by several key unique features:
eToro hosts the best social trading platform. Opening an account automates a demo account with $100,000 of virtual funds to practice with before clients can start trading with real money. The social element of eToro includes research features, news, posts and articles. The eToro platform is a hub for learning and gaining insight from traders around the world, which is invaluable for successful trading and education.
With millions of traders across the globe using eToro, the trading community has been built to the best in its field. Traders can utilize the trading community by copying trades in real-time, reading live news feed and comments, and gaining an understanding of different strategies. eToro’s Popular Investor Program also allows experienced traders to earn an additional income through other traders copying their movements.
As of 2021, eToro offers 47 currency pairs along with other tradable financial instruments, including Cryptocurrencies, ETFs, commodities, indices, and shares. eToro allows traders to access the widest variety of global share CFDs.
eToro is available through the web platform as well as the mobile app. With over 10 million clients worldwide, eToro is the benchmark for social trading and also allows traders to earn rewards for clients copying their trades on a range of financial markets. eToro is registered under CySEC, FCA and ASIC. eToro is only available for cryptocurrency trading in the USA as it is currently without a CFTC license and does not offer cryptocurrency trading as part of eToro UK for regulatory reasons.
Plus500 is a CFD provider offering its proprietary trading platform for traders to access an array of tradable financial instruments. Clients can trade and monitor a multitude of instruments with ease as a result of the innovative Plus500 trading platform design.
The ease with which clients can trade multiple financial products is one of the main benefits of Plus500. With split-screen display and informative real-time quotes, the Plus500 trading platform is user-friendly, organised, and informative, enhancing the trading experience.
The other notable feature of the Plus500 platform is the availability of risk management. Risk management tools such as negative balance protection, guaranteed stop-loss orders, detailed analysis, and trader guides can all help protect investors’ funds. Risk management tools are important as leverage are complex instruments.
Although a renowned CFD broker and trading platform, Plus500 does have some drawdowns. Algorithmic and automatic trading is not available on the Plus500 platform. They are also missing several key advanced analytical tools that can be found on other platforms, and are relatively limited in trading indicators, timeframes, and platform customisation options. The limit on platform customisation is due to the nature of Plus500 being proprietary with a closed ecosystem, meaning traders will not be able to modify codes, expand add-ons, or switch brokers.
Plus500 has a number of notable features which include:
Plus500 employ guaranteed negative balance protection and guaranteed stop-loss orders for traders to limit the risk they take with trading. Furthermore, Plus500 offers an extensive range of trade sizes, meaning different levels of risk can be taken on as seen appropriate.
As with many trading platforms, Plus500 offers a demo account for traders to practice with before opening a live account. The Plus500 demo account comes with no time limit to practice and EUR 40,000 (or equivalent) virtual currency, which automatically refills when the account drops below EUR200.
The high-risk nature of forex and CFD trading means that demo accounts play an important role in introducing new traders to leveraged instruments without risking their capital.
As a global operator, Plus500 is expanded in subsidiaries known as Plus500AU, Plus500UK, Plus500CY, and Plus500SG for their regulating entity in Australia, UK, Cyprus, and Singapore, respectively. Each may contain its own PDS, so it is suggested for new traders to be aware of this before beginning their trading journey with the relevant Plus500 subsidiary.
Plus500 is a standout broker and trading platform due to:
View Plus500 Review >>Visit Plus500 >>
The NinjaTrader trading platform is registered under NFA and is based in the USA. Since its development in 2004, the NinjaTrader trading software has progressed a range of advanced forex charting tools. As a trading software program, NinjaTrader is required to be connected with a market data provider to receive information on global markets.
NinjaTrader is an appealing software for traders due to its real-time charting capability. Traders can customise charts with trading indicators, drawings tools, and detailed bid-ask quotes. The Market Analyser from NinjaTrader allows traders to scan forex markets and generate alerts for specific currency movements. Automated trading and advanced trade management can be achieved through the software’s strategy builder.
Traders may be limited to the choice of the broker, as NinjaTrader is only available through a handful of providers on web devices, not mobile. With fewer users and professional app developers in comparison to MetaTrader and cTrader, the trading community within NinjaTrader is relatively inferior.
FXCM is the best broker for traders looking to utilize the NinjaTrader software based on:
FXCM offers a range of tradable instruments, all with no commissions. CFDs include:
The ability to trade CFDs through FXCM is enhanced by advanced technology to ensure 89% of orders having next to no slippage.
As mentioned, charting and trading tools through this software are exceptional. With detailed forex trading facilities, webinars, demo account services, and the active trader program, FXCM is a very suitable broker for traders using NinjaTrader. Furthermore, FXCM offers award-winning customer service and is regulated through the UK, Australia, Canada, and the USA.
Additionally, traders based in Ireland and the UK have the option of spread betting through FXCM. Demo accounts, historical market data, third-party apps, indicators, and automated trading strategies are all available on NinjaTrader 8, offered by FXCM fin 2021.
As mentioned, NinjaTrader is only available through a select few brokers. Of these brokers, FXCM is the most widely regulated and can, therefore, offer the software platform to traders around the world. Although FXCM has relatively high trader fees, their VIP account offers substantial savings and, as such, is predominantly recommended for high-volume traders.
View FXCM Review >>Visit FXCM >>
Next Generation is a powerful mobile and web trading platform offered exclusively by CMC Markets. This award-winning trading platform is equipped with:
Next Generation offers a number of features that make it stand out compared to other platforms. These include:
Although the Next Generation is an extremely sophisticated trading platform, it does not offer social trading and automation. Furthermore, Next Generation is a proprietary trading platform, meaning it is difficult for traders to change between platforms.
CMC Markets is the exclusive provider of the Next Generation trading platform. As one of the highest-ranking forex brokers, CMC Markets offers a large range of currency pairs and CFD instruments, as well as a platform for stock trading.
Next Generation has been developed as a WebTrader platform and app for Mobile and tablets using iOS and Android.
CMC Markets is renowned for its large variety of CFDs available. There are not many brokers that offer 330 spot and forex currency pairs. While CMC Markets count both sides of the pair (i.e. AUD/USD and USD/AUD) even if you half the count, it is still more than nearly all brokers. The brokers offer competitive spreads and no commissions on all major, minor, and emerging currency pairs.
When trading CFDs, CMC has the following notable features
CMC Markets also offers forex currency indices, where traders can speculate on a range of different indices with low spreads and margin rates.
CMC Markets can effectively measure exchange rate indices through a trade-weighted index. By providing this data, CMC Markets allows traders to observe the weighting of currencies depending on their use in international trade, as well as a range of percentage weightings for popular forex indices.
Overall, the Next Generation platform provided by CMC Markets is of a high standard due to:
CMC Markets is the largest forex broker with the most currency pairs and CFD instruments on offer. With various trade size options, proven financial experience, sophisticated technology, risk management, no minimum deposit amount, and highly regarded customer service, the CMC Markets Next Generation feature is a suitable trading platform for all kinds of traders.
View CMC Markets Review >>Visit CMC Markets>>
TradingView is an advanced online platform designed for charting, social networking, and trading ideas. The TradingView system allows traders around the globe to share and discuss ideas and trade scripts to help each other learn. TradingView is foremost a charting and networking platform, as opposed to the other traditional trading platforms explored in this review.
TradingView is an exceptional platform for charting and social trading. With various features and drawing tools on offer for the analysis of a range of CFDs, TradingView is considered a useful addition to trading resources. Traders can also use the stock screener to analyse and identify potential trades. Furthermore, all the analysis and insight can be shared through the widely used TradingView social media interface.
As mentioned, TradingView is not a traditional trading platform and is therefore predominantly limited to the charting features and social aspect it offers. Traders cannot buy or sell financial instruments without integrating the TradingView system with a trading platform through a broker. TradingView offers a free and paid subscription, with the latter only having a handful of additional features.
The best broker for integration with TradingView is Oanda. Suitable through the web, desktop, and mobile app, Oanda offers its trading platform known as TradeStation. Several features include:
Autochartist is a valuable tool that utilises automatic chart pattern recognition software. Some key features of the software include live market screening, customizable alert signals, market volatility analysis, historical performance data, economic calendar and news, and more. Oanda offers its clients access to the Autochartist software for free.
Oanda accepts a range of deposit and withdrawal methods from both major and minor currencies, including debit card, bank transfer, cheques, and automated clearinghouse. Oanda does not require any minimum deposit amount for funding, as they do not enforce any such policy.
Oanda is considered the best broker for TradingView due to:
The advanced price technology and strong financial regulation make Oanda a trustworthy broker for TradingView integration.
View Oanda Review >>Visit Oanda >>
IG’s proprietary cutting-edge trading platform is UK’s “best multi-platform provider” as awarded at the ADVFN International Financial Awards 2020. IG trading platform is an easy-to-use online platform with browser-based execution. Traders can access spread betting, CFD trading and share dealing.
IG platform provides a smart way to trade on a secure and attractive user interface with “browser-based research tools.” The platform is free of charge, available for all types of traders, with key features such as trading directly from the charts, array of complex order types, direct market access and capable of fast order execution of 14ms with an average of 7 million orders executed per month.
All traders can enjoy advanced charting software solution and have greater control over risk through sophisticated risk-management tools.
The most popular trading tools and features that empower the IG platform include:
The first drawback is the missing desktop version. Additionally, the platform doesn’t support add-ons, which may be an inconvenience for traders trying to switch from other platforms. Other than that, the web-based platform is well suited to cover all your trading needs under all market conditions.
Along with its educational resources, IG is known for its sophisticated trading tools within a large choice of trading platforms, including its core platform and specialist platforms (L2 Dealer, ProRealTime, and MetaTrader 4). Their core platform is renowned for:
Available on web, mobile, and tablet devices, the IG trading platform comes with many award-winning features and tools such as watchlists, price alerts, orders, and Autochartist. These monitoring tools can be valuable for tracking and controlling trades throughout the day.
Additionally, IG provides access to Reuters News (a streaming service to provide clients with news and insight), Autochartist (an automated monitoring tool that can be programmed to provide chart pattern alerts), and Trading Central (a technical analysis tool that updates traders on markets).
As mentioned, IG offers two account types – standard (spreads but no commissions) and ECN-style (spreads and commissions). The analysis shows that IG offers the lowest average spreads on their standard account as compared with many other brokers.
Compare Broker Spreads >>
Overall, IG is an exceptional broker with an advanced trading platform. Some highlights include:
View IG Markets Review >>Visit IG Markets >>
ThinkOrSwim is a trading platform offered through TD Ameritrade that provides access to commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options. With desktop, web, and mobile compatibility, ThinkOrSwim is a cutting-edge platform designed by traders. ThinkOrSwim is equipped with up-to-date news, analysis, and a network for live streaming insight.
ThinkOrSwim is designed by traders for traders. Knowing this, the platform is considered efficient and equipped with the necessary technical tools to optimize the trading experience. Additionally, the platform is available through desktop, web, and mobile devices, meaning clients can trade on the go.
The Forex Trader is the dedicated interface optimised for the foreign exchange market that has the following key features:
TD Ameritrade also combines the platform with extensive research capabilities, providing traders with education and news to enhance their trading journey.
ThinkOrSwim is exclusively offered to US-based traders through TD Ameritrade. As a lesser-known trading platform, the limited popularity restricts the level of networking and access to social trading. Furthermore, with such an overwhelming number of available tools, traders may be required to utilize more than one trading system to access these tools.
TD Ameritrade is a US-listed broker offering the ThinkOrSwim trading platform exclusively. TD Ameritrade is a suitable broker based on:
TD Ameritrade enhances trader usability on the ThinkOrSwim platform through various forms of technology for trading forex. The desktop program, website feature, and mobile trading app are all presented with an account dashboard, balances, positions, and more. The trading platform is designed to provide traders with an easy-to-use experience and enhance their levels of trading with powerful analysis tools and real-time data.
With an array of educational resources such as immersive courses, articles and videos, informative webcasts, networks, and events, TD Ameritrade is helping traders and investors grow their knowledge and experience in understanding how CFDs work.
ThinkOrSwim provided through TD Ameritrade is an efficient and cutting-edge software that allows clients to trade over desktop, web, and mobile devices. TD Ameritrade is renowned for its exceptional investment products, interactive education, powerful tools, commission-free pricing, third-party research, accolades, and dependable support.
MetaTrader 4 was built especially for forex traders and is considered by many to be the ‘gold’ standard for forex platforms. This platform has over 50% market share and is offered by over 80% of brokers, including most ECN style brokers.
The best MT4 broker is Pepperstone based on spreads, execution speeds and features.
Online trading can only be accessed via an electronic trading platform that a broker will supply to you. Most trading platforms provided by brokers are free of charge, but some come with a monthly/annual price tag attached to them.
Usually, the free trading platforms will only cover the basic needs complemented by some more advanced features. MetaTrader 4, MetaTrader 5 and cTrader are among the most popular free trading platforms.
On the other hand, a paid trading platform will cover proprietary trading tools and more complex features tailored for all trading styles. The only downside with a paid platform is that traders need to pay for the licence to use the platform. Some of the most popular paid platforms are TradingView, NinjaTrader and Trade Station.
The right trading platform will vary from person to person. When choosing a platform, you need to consider your trading needs and the type of trader you are. Questions to ask include:
Overall, the best free forex trading platform is MetaTrader 4 offered through Pepperstone. With outstanding popularity, this software is the highest regarded in the foreign exchange market. MetaTrader 4 is reliable and equipped with many necessary features, such as accurate quotes and automated trading facilities. Pepperstone is the top forex broker for the MetaTrader 4 platform due to its low spreads and fast trade execution speeds. Furthermore, Pepperstone offers a high standard of customer service and a range of educational resources to help traders achieve their trading goals.
Note: Platforms with a broker’s UK subsidiary cannot offer cryptocurrency due to FCA regulatory policies.
Justin Grossbard has been investing for the past 20 years and writing for the past 10. He co-founded Compare Forex Brokers in 2014 after working with the foreign exchange trading industry for several years. He also founded a number of FinTech and digital startups including Innovate Online and SMS Comparison. Justin holds a Masters Degree and an Honours in Commerce from Monash University. He and his wife Paula live in Melbourne, Australia with his son and Siberian cat. In his spare time, he watches Australian Rules Football and invests on global markets.