You might have heard that things are a bit tumultuous in the world lately.
Because of this there are a lot of people developing a sudden interest in the foreign currency market.
There is never a dull moment on the foreign currency market. Whether it is war, famine, pestilence, or death, there is always something or someone causing turmoil in the world. And like most entrepreneurs, you are probably looking at that turmoil and thinking: “How can I take advantage of this?”
MetaTrader is an application that facilitates the trade of foreign currency. When things go especially wrong or especially right in the world, the currency of a given country is one of the first places you will see its effect. But using MetaTrader (specifically MetaTrader 4, its latest iteration) is not that simple.
You cannot simply install MetaTrader and start trading foreign currency. You need a licence, and a licence requires brokers. But why should you trust MetaTrader 4? What does it do? How does it work?
Table of Contents:
What MetaTrader 4 Does
Basically, everyone that trades foreign currency uses MetaTrader to do it. Even platforms that do not have you interface with MetaTrader directly will connect through MetaTrader’s network and tools.
So, why is this? What is with the ubiquity of MetaTrader? Well, it has to do with how foreign currency works in the first place. Foreign currency is complicated, and MetaTrader was the first to really get an app together that could handle its rapid changes and nuanced complexity.
Essentially, when you buy foreign currency, you are buying “pips” of foreign currency. If you imagine a currency like the French franc, that currency has a physical component. Whoever holds the physical franc is the owner of that franc. A single pip is a percentage of that franc.
The exact value of a pip changes from currency to currency. It is rare for a pip to represent exactly one percent, just because of the way buying currency works. To complicate matters further, when you buy multiple pips, you are not buying multiple percentage points of the individual franc you own.
Rather, you are buying small percentages of many different francs. This is much more valuable, as it means you spend the same amount of money for a greater interest in all existing francs.
What MetaTrader 4 does that is so special is keeping a highly accurate tally of all the foreign currency in circulation, as well as who owns it, and how much they own. It is hard for any other foreign currency app to break into this market, as the market benefits from there being only one app tracking this information. After all, you do not want one app saying one thing and another app saying another thing.
How Do You Get MetaTrader 4?
So, you have an idea of what is happening when you trade foreign currency. But how do you actually get the app?
We mentioned that you could not just download it, and you need a licence. Licences are given out by brokers.
These brokers are regulated bodies that are profit-seeking, while at the same time helping your country’s government keep track over who is trading in the market. Most brokers offer licences for a variety of different products, usually their own apps, for trading.
If you want to trade on the foreign currency market, then you are going to need to show that you are not a volatile trader. This is not hard. As long as you have not committed any serious fraud in the last few years, you can usually get approved rather easily. Every broker will have different standards though.
So, given that, you are probably wondering which brokers you have to talk to in order to get a licence. We have that covered for you. We have gone over tons of different brokers from all over the world. Here are our top 12 best MetaTrader 4 brokers.
12 Best MetaTrader 4 Brokers
|*1. Pepperstone||★★★★★||Open Account|
|2. BDSwiss||★★★★★||Open Account|
|3. Admiral Markets||★★★★★||Open Account|
|4. Black Bull Markets||★★★★★||Open Account|
|5. MultiBank Exchange||★★★★★||Open Account|
|6. IC Markets||★★★★★||Open Account|
|7. FxPro||★★★★★||Open Account|
|8. CityIndex||★★★★★||Open Account|
|9. Swissquote||★★★★★||Open Account|
|10. Forex.com||★★★★★||Open Account|
|11. XTB Online Trading||★★★★★||Open Account|
|12. Saxo||★★★★★||Open Account|
* Pepperstone disclaimer: Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75.6% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
1. Pepperstone – Best CFD Broker
There is a method of trading called “contract for differences” or “CFDs” that you might have heard of. If you look on the websites of some foreign currency brokers, you will see it mentioned. It usually appears in the form of a warning: “50% to 70% of retail CFD accounts lose money. Trade at your own risk.”
For a new trader, this warning can be paralysing. But just because something is risky does not mean it should always be avoided. In fact, CFDs get most of their value from the fact that they are risky.
Pepperstone is a foreign currency broker that specialises in CFDs, and to understand what they do to stand out you have to know how CFDs work.
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75.6% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
You see, the contract established by CFDs basically says that whether a currency is worth above or below a certain amount determines whether you get paid.
A buyer establishes a contract for differences with a seller. In this contract the buyer identifies a currency that the seller owns and promises to buy it at a certain amount at a later date. When this date comes, whether they have to pay for more or far less than what that currency is worth, they must pay.
The issue that many new traders find with CFDs is that they are hard to execute. They are inherently competitive, which means that the buyer and the seller will usually be betting against each other.
Pepperstone’s focus on CFDs has it recognized by traders as a CFD community. It has tools for connecting buyers and traders, as well as news and analytics on the CFD trade at large.
The risk of CFDs puts a stigma on them in some parts of the market. By allowing CFDs to be traded easily, Pepperstone helps remove that stigma. Community, communication tools, and the ability to write and read articles on developments in the CFD market are all critical tools in making use of CFDs.
Once more we come to a broker that has a clear focus, and once more it is limiting to the broker. Of course, not every broker needs to serve the broadest possible customer base. It just needs to be said that Pepperstone’s CFD focus results in it having access to fewer straightforward trades than others.
This is because CFDs are a completely different security than your normal foreign currency pips. That means that even though Pepperstone has access to a number of different markets, the trades that it shows you will always be the CFD trades first. This can make its foreign currency trades seem small.
And while CFDs might have a lot of potential for profit, they are actually just as risky as all those warnings say they are. Pepperstone might not be a good place for beginners as a result. In fact, there will be experienced traders who will want to stay away from it too.
2. BDSwiss – Best For Transparency
Whether you are a new trader or an old hat with a million tricks up their sleeve, you are going to be looking for the same things when you go to a new MetaTrader broker: First, do they connect to every region you need them to connect to? And second, do they show their commission prices up front?
The importance of these questions will be obvious to even the most uninformed trader in the world, but still people do not think about them, and it costs them every day. BDSwiss is one of the best MetaTrader brokers out there because they strike that perfect balance between regions and commission prices.
There are MetaTrader brokers that offer lower commissions, and there are MetaTrader brokers that offer no commissions. But what BDSwiss offers is transparency. There are no hidden fees on their accounts, nor are there arbitrary fees. All of the fees they charge represent risk and effort for them.
But on top of that, they also connect to tons of markets all over the world. Europe, Asia, Oceania, North America, and even select countries in South America and Africa.
There are some foreign currency traders that will swear up and down that any platform with commission fees is ripping you off. We disagree, but we see where they are coming from.
BDSwiss charges you to trade. The big difference between their commission fees and other brokers’ commission fees is that they do not charge you for succeeding at trading. The more you make, the more you make. They do not charge higher commissions the more money you bring in.
Besides that, the expansive market options might be dizzying to some newer brokers. This is obviously not that much of a disadvantage, but foreign currency is complicated enough as it is. Wide markets mean more metrics to track and more opportunities to get side tracked from your strategy.
3. Admiral Markets – Best Income Trading
While there are many different kinds of trading strategies out in the world, they all fall under one of two categories: They are either focused on an income, or they are focused on growth.
Growth strategies are all about finding investments that will grow over long periods of time.
We are talking time scales in the excess of ten to fifteen years. Not everyone wants to make money ten years from now. For a lot of people, trading is about putting food on the table or paying their rent.
Admiral Markets is great because it gives you a lot of tools for the other kind of strategies: Income strategies. They do this in a variety of ways. To start with, they are based in Europe. While the United States might be the stock market capital of the world, Europe has it beat in foreign currency trade.
The diversity of assets, speed, and leverage that Admiral Markets offers has very little competition. It makes day trading with European foreign currency possible. Day trading is when you make a purchase and then sell it on the same day. This style of investment requires the speed Admiral Markets provides.
They also have other methods of trading available, even to people who only have a MetaTrader licence. These include things like CFDs, stocks, and ETFs. These are definitely more advanced tools to use, but if you have the capital following your foreign currency trades then it is hard not to be tempted.
Admiral Markets gives you a lot to work with, but it is not a broker that is going to hold your hand. Many brokers have a knowledgebase of some kind on their website. Admiral Markets provides nothing like that. No tutorials, no research, no analytics. It is a broker meant for traders who already trade.
They are well regulated, which means you can rely on them not to hide any fees in their contracts. All the same, they provide a lot of risky securities. There is no regulation protecting you from losing all your money betting big on these securities, so be aware of what is at stake with them.
4. Black Bull Markets – Best Broker for Trading in Asia
Pop quiz, hotshot: Where is the best place in the world to trade foreign currency in Asian markets? Is it Hong Kong? Beijing? Tokyo? Surprisingly, no; brokers based in those cities and countries actually have less leverage due to being so close to the currencies they can trade in the region.
The best place to trade foreign currency with Asia is Australia. For that reason, Black Bull Markets is an ideal broker to deal with if you are interested in those markets, as they are based in Australia.
But just because they are based in Australia does not mean they are limited to trading AUD for everything. No, in fact they have a good number of European trading avenues as well. This means that if you happen to be sitting on a few pips of Swiss or Swedish currency, it will transfer over to them.
When you deal with them using this currency, it becomes more valuable than it would be if you dealt with a European or North American broker due to their 1:500 leverage. This makes it easy to get a good deal, make a tidy profit, and (perhaps best of all) do it all on low commission fees.
Dealing with Black Bull Markets is great if you are showing up with a lot of money, but it is definitely not a good starting point for new traders. Their low yield accounts are highly limited. If you are looking to invest anything shy of £2000, then they will give you very few tools to make a profit.
This is an issue that some traders will never notice, but anyone who is new to trading or not wanting to get highly invested will find them basically impossible to use.
The same can be said for their commission structure. There is a good middle point of profits for them, but trade too low or too high and they will charge you for it.
5. MultiBank Exchange – Best Alternative Securities Broker
When you are trading foreign currency, you are probably not doing it just for fun. You are probably doing it to make money. But the money-making process can, and often is, more complex than just moving currency from point A to point B. Many people look for ways to translate that currency.
“Translating” currency means using those foreign currency pips as currency in their own right in order to buy something that is more concrete than the foreign currency itself. That means things like stocks, bonds, commodities, and other securities that are less volatile than foreign currency.
MultiBank Exchange is a broker that helps you do that. Their focus is on allowing you to trade foreign currency, and then helping you turn that foreign currency either into real money you can pocket, or other securities that are more easily and intuitively handled.
This makes it a great starting point for beginner investors, or even veteran investors who simply have more experience in other markets, as both can benefit from the knowledge they lend you.
Let’s be real: MultiBank Exchange’s website looks like it time travelled from 1999. This does not mean it is a bad broker, it just means that it gives a bad first impression. Although it does mean that some people are going to, through no fault of their own, think that MultiBank Exchange is a bad broker.
If it was not for MetaTrader’s interface being so good, you might not even know what MultiBank Exchange has to offer you. Besides that, their website also makes it difficult to find their commission fees. This is a reason to be wary of them. They are low, but they definitely have account fees too.
6. IC Markets – Best Copy Trading
When retail investors begin trading it is easy for them to think that the only course of action open to them is trading on the open market in the same way that a day trader does. But that is not the case.
There is a method of choosing trades called “copy trading” that has boomed in popularity with the growth of online trading.
Copy trading is older than online trading, and it was generally seen as a tool for extremely low risk investments. That is because you do not need nearly as much trading skill to do it.
How copy trading works is that it begins with someone else doing a trade. This “someone else” can be another trader, a huge corporation, a governmental body, or just about anyone else. It just has to be someone that you trust. Then, you just copy the trade that the other person made.
Since copy trading has become so popular, brokers like IC Markets have popped up to support the strategy. But how do they support copy trading? It sounds as easy as mimicking someone’s trades.
It is true that copy trading is easy mechanically. It only has one choice you need to make in order for your trades to be profitable: Who are you copying? But because that is the only choice you have to make it becomes proportionally critical to make it well.
IC Markets provides you with data and analytics of who is profiting the most from their trades, as well as trackers to see how much those trades are influencing the market. After all, lots of people copy trade; if everyone copy trades the same company, then those trades will become more expensive.
Most brokers that deal in niches have the same issue: They only deal in that niche. This is not exactly the case with IC Markets, but you can begin to see how the focus on copy trading affects their design.
For instance, they feature an account “quick start” option. Rather than opening up all sorts of trading, it immediately guides you down the route of copy trading. Since copy trading is so similar to normal trading this is not a bad thing, especially for new traders. Experienced traders will hate it though.
This speaks to the limitations of the broker in general. They do not feature other securities, meaning that you better be interested in trading foreign currency and nothing else. Still, this makes trading with them simple since there is nothing else in your way.
7. FxPro – Best Multiplatform Broker
One of the easiest mistakes to make when entering into the digital marketplace is the conflation of brokers and platforms. The reason this is so easy is that brokers frequently end up developing their own platforms, while at the same time integrating tools from other platforms to facilitate their own.
This gets confusing when it comes to foreign currency; MetaTrader is the best, and in some ways only, foreign currency platform. Yet you can use the eToro platform, the IG Traders platform, and so on to trade foreign currency. What is really going on there is that those platforms are using MetaTrader.
It does not look like it, but MetaTrader helps tons of different platforms do business. But not every platform covers every market, and people rarely use MetaTrader in isolation. This is a problem that FxPro seeks to solve. FxPro is two things: a trading platform, and a platform organiser.
Not every trade, market, and security is on every platform. FxPro helps you fill those gaps by consolidating every platform that you have an account on. By doing this it helps you figure out where the trades are that you are looking for. It also comes with a densely packed research knowledgebase.
This knowledge base helps you with figuring out exactly which trades you should be looking for. Once you have set yourself to sail on the sea of securities, this can help you find a port in a storm.
It can even provide insight into what is available on platforms you do not even have an account on. Shining a light on these things makes it great for when you need a new platform, or need to trade a new security, since it allows you to vet your platforms for your preferences before you invest in them.
Giving a person access to multiple platforms at once is bound to make them confused. FxPro might be a great tool for helping you find the platform you need, and it definitely a necessity if you are switching between platforms, but it is a highly complicated tool for doing both jobs at once.
It is complex because it tackles a complex problem. But at the same time, it also has other issues. The biggest is its commission fees and account fees. Both of these are above normal industry standards.
Moreover, this is a broker you are supposed to use in conjunction with other accounts. That means you cannot consider their fees in isolation. You are likely going to deal with these fees along with others.
8. CityIndex – Best European Union Broker
It does not take a genius to see that there are some curious things about the way the European Union works. The official currency of the European Union is the Euro. Everyone knows this. But while the Euro is great for international trade, many countries still have their own local currencies.
This means that while nations outside the European Union might trade in the Euro and little to no other currencies from within Europe, those currencies are ripe for the picking on the foreign currency market.
CityIndex is a broker with access to all those markets. From old German Deutschmarks and Spanish Pesetas to French Francs and British Pounds still in official circulation, these markets are diverse. Some are more easily overlooked than others, and few brokers outside CityIndex focus on them.
On top of this, CityIndex also brings in commodities and stocks from these markets. Naturally, these are tradable with these unusual currencies as well. Some of them are only listed by CityIndex and only tradable for these currencies! This makes it a highly exclusive broker, if for a limited use.
Their research portal makes sure that you can find your way around easily. It is not that different from a normal trade platform, but it is easy to get lost since it focuses on such a small group of securities.
Chances are that you have already deduced the drawback of CityIndex: It might give you access to currencies and other securities that are otherwise hard to come by, but it is a relatively small pond you are working with. This puts a limit on your risks, but also on the rewards you can reap from it.
This makes it good for new traders, though there are commission fees to take into consideration. They are nothing higher than the industry standard, but they are there while other brokers do not have them.
In general, CityIndex is a broker with a unique focus that is held back by what it is focusing on: Currencies that are basically dead (the Deutschmark and Peseta are not technically “real” currencies anymore, for example) and securities from markets that will modernise within ten years.
9. Swissquote – Best Broker for Institutions
For this reason, it is rather uncommon for a broker to do as Swissquote does. Swissquote is a broker focused on helping institutions invest their capital in foreign currency. Or rather, it is focused on facilitating investments of all kinds—foreign currency, cryptocurrency, and CFDs of those as well.
It has accounts for individuals as well, but in both cases, you will have the ability to make use of both trading assistant bots and trading support teams. These will help you find the trades you need to make at every step of the way and in whatever environment or industry you are looking to make them.
Institutions manage their funds differently than individuals. Laws have changed in many countries to try and rectify this, with the rules of finance slowly treating institutions more and more like they are people.
But as long as the tax laws, the laws on money movement, and the laws on insider trading are the way they are, then institutions using their money to make investments will be a complicated business.
Swissquote is, as their name implies, a Swiss company. The Swiss have long been known for their shrewd business practices that are focused on discretion and serving as tax havens for their clients.
As you might imagine, this can complicate proceedings with certain business partners and certain trades. While they offer financial advice and opportunities for businesses that no other broker can offer, they will also refuse to take part in certain, highly specific, trades should they violate their rules.
Figuring out which trades they will not do and why is an adventure in financial law, as there is no set and easy way to discern it. Aside from that, they also charge larger commissions than most brokers, even on the individual accounts. There are definitely better brokers for individual accounts.
10. Forex.com – Best Material Currency Broker
Not everyone likes to talk about this, but many currencies in the world are “staked” at the American dollar. That means that they track their value relative to the American dollar. When the American dollar goes up, so do they. And when it goes down, they go down as well. But not all currencies do this.
Much of the “Euro zone” is characterised by staking relative to the Euro. More interestingly, African currencies are usually staked to a “material standard”. This material is usually gold, but depending on the country it can be tin, aluminium, or even diamonds. It is usually whatever the country exports.
This appears to be a small difference in how these currencies get their value, but it has a huge impact on how the currencies are traded amongst themselves. Forex.com is a broker that helps bridge these gaps.
Trading between the Eurozone and currencies on any given material standard usually means finding a commodity of that material to serve as a “translator” currency. Forex.com has access to all three of these things—the Eurozone, to help serve you, the African currency for your seller, and the translator.
Of course, this also comes with a knowledge base to walk you through this process. Getting into this many markets means a lot of twists and turns regarding finance law. No country, especially a small country based on mineral extraction, wants to oversell their minerals, after all.
That is the main barrier keeping outsiders from trading African currency: Since it so often requires the part or whole trade of the mineral itself, it falls under strict supervision to make sure no group or groups end up occupying all of the minerals that a country uses to give value to their currency.
If trading in this sort of marketplace sounds complicated, then you might be amused to know that this is deliberate. Forex.com does a lot to ease the pain of learning these rules by providing great research portals and articles. But while they are good articles, only so much can be done to make it easier.
It does not help that the articles are not the most engaging to look at. It is a stuffy and technical knowledge base, appealing to only the most dedicated of traders. This holds appeal to some people, but every step of the way is more and more hostile to newer traders.
Forex.com can be used for a wide variety of trades but using it for its intended purpose is likely to only appeal to people who believe they can make a serious profit in those regions.
11. XTB Online Trading – Best New Broker
The reason why you will see so many brokers focus on a single specialisation is that traders tend to focus on single specialisations.
But what if you want to try a bit of everything? MetaTrader focuses on foreign currency, but it is not exclusively foreign currency. What if you want more than that?
XTB is the best new broker out there. “New” in this case means that they are less than ten years old. Most brokers got their start as paper brokers from before the rise of the internet. If not that, then they are companies that were founded during the recovery of the 2008 recession.
Then there are the brokers that set up shop in the mid 2010s. Unlike the brokers who rose to prominence after the 2008 recession, these ones did not have as much of an opportunity to seize. As a result, many of them closed their doors soon after. But not XTB. And there is a reason for that.
XTB offers an absolutely staggering range of products. Foreign currencies, cryptocurrencies, stocks, bonds, ETFs, options, binary options, CFDs… If there is security in existence, then XTB has it.
This is what kept XTB’s head above water when other brokers were drowning. But that is not all: It also has its own trading software that can be used on multiple devices with ease. And of course, accessible on all of those devices is the knowledgebase XTB provides.
When you have this many different securities it is critical that you have some tool for clarifying where to start and how they work. You can be a perfect expert in how foreign currency works and still be baffled about how bonds work. This is what makes XTB great for learning about new markets.
On top of all of that, XTB also provides cash back to its more prolific traders. With all of these features, any trader that has been in the market for more than a day is probably wondering: What’s the catch?
The first issue with XTB is that even on their account creation page their commission and account fees are not very clearly explained. Also, for all of the markets they are able to access, they do not have the certifications or regulations placed upon them that you will find elsewhere.
Now, does this mean that XTB is a scam? No, absolutely not. We would not recommend that if it were the case. Tons of people use XTB and do not report any issues. It is, by all accounts, safe.
However, it cannot be placed higher on the list for a few reasons: Despite all that it gives access to, it is new and unregulated. Many new and unregulated brokers shut down and run with the money that their clients have tied up in their accounts even after years of service.
You have to watch out for brokers like these, especially in the world of foreign currency and CFDs, both of which are known for being more risky and less well-regulated than stocks in some countries.
By all appearances, XTB might have been one such broker. So many people are using it now, however, that even if they were a broker that planned on running with their clients’ money, they could never get away with it. This is a highly untrustworthy appearance for a broker to have for years.
XTB is currently trustworthy due to its reputation, and huge enough to be a great boon to any trader who wants to use it. But you should be cautious of any broker that looks similar to it.
12. Saxo – Best Management Services
If you could make money off of the foreign currency market without actually having to work in foreign currency trading, would you?
This is the question that Saxo asks you right up front, as it offers what it calls “account management services”. These are actually based on the old way brokers worked.
How brokers used to work is that you would give a broker an amount of money, and then that broker would use that money to buy and sell securities to make a profit.
Sometimes the client would give the broker instructions on how to make the trades, but most of the time they would not.
The broker would take a commission fee, as well as a cut of the profits he made with your money. This is the service that Saxo essentially offers you. This is a mostly bygone way of trading since the internet allows people to do so much trading on their own, but it still exists in a lot of ways.
The management services that Saxo offers are generally regarded as highly reliable, trustworthy, and skilled. It is important to point this out, as it is the main concern people have with having your account managed by a broker like this. And you know what? That is exactly the right concern to have.
Part of the reason people do not trust the stock market is because there have been decades of brokers preying upon people looking to grow their savings on the stock market. The first thing you should know about Saxo is that they will not misuse your money, nor use you to make a quick commission buck.
It should be noted that Saxo does afford you options to trade yourself using the licences that they provide. The issue is that the tools they offer you are lesser than those used by their account managers.
This is meant to incentivize you to use their management services, but all it really does is incentivize you to use a different broker. It results in a totally gimped experience, where you trade slower, with fewer securities, and with a knowledge base that barely supports analysis of most industries.
Saxo’s focus on their account managers means that it is great for people that have money to invest, but not the time to learn how to invest it. Everyone else will find it lacking.
For every motivation, level of wealth, and degree of knowledge that you could possibly have, there is a broker that is willing to serve you. What you should take away from this list is not that there is one best broker and eleven runners up, but that there are lots of different ways of trading that they each serve. So, keep an open mind when you are trading.
Many of these brokers will have sections of their knowledge bases dedicated to “inspiration”. This surprises many people, as it is not a word commonly associated with the act of investing money. But investment can be about intuition as well as strategy.
Getting inspired in the marketplace means seeing things that you did not see before. That means reflecting on your assumptions and adapting to new information. Do not write off any broker just because they do not tailor their experience to your pre-existing notions of how trading works.
Rather, consider what you might learn about trading through seeing the market through the eyes of someone who uses that broker regularly. Then, you will begin to learn how to advance your strategy.