The Age Old Question
There is one very important question on every forex traders mind. Which platform is better, cTrader vs. MetaTrader 4. This is an age-old question that has plagued the forex community for years. Both platforms have their advocates and dedicated users who will never be persuaded that another platform is better than the one they trust and love. Things got even more complicated recently when the MetaTrader 5 platform started coming into play. We recently looked at MetaTrader 5 in a previous post, focusing on the platform from a manual traders perspective. Let’s dive in and explore the difference between MetaTrader 4 and cTrader.
A Brief History of MetaTrader 4
MetaTrader 4 is the fourth generation of the trading platforms developed by MetaQuotes Software. The first few trading platforms built by MetaQuotes were well received by the market. This was due to the fact that they were functional, reliable and were inexpensive in comparison to other options available in the early 2000s. However, it was MT4 that took the forex trading world by storm. The platform made it easy and relatively cheap to launch a forex brokerage. The notion of cheap is in the context of the huge amount of revenue that could be made. Because MT4 was attractive to brokers, they made it attractive to traders.
How did MetaTrader 4 Become so Popular
At the time, the conditions were perfect for MT4 to rise to success. Regulations were much looser than it is now. There was a lack of competition on the market and building a platform in-house can cost millions and take years. Online marketing was new and inexpensive. The world was transforming into a digital age where everyone is connected via the internet and smartphones. There are billions of people and everyone is out to make a quick buck. MT4 was definitely a good platform and in a lot of respects, it still is. One of the primary reasons MT4 became the de facto standard for forex brokers is in our opinion still, right time, right place.
Introduction to MetaTrader 4
No one can argue that MT4 was ahead of its time. It was light and worked well on the average person’s desktop. The platform was first released in 2005 and eventually discontinued in 2018. It has enough of everything to satisfy almost any manual trader. When it was first released it was available on Windows desktop. By the end, the platform was available for Mac, Linux, web browsers, iOS and Android. The ability for traders to extend the capabilities of the platform really helped it to take off. The platform offered MQL4 also known as MetaQuotes Language version 4. This could be used to build custom indicators and trading robots known as Expert Advisors. MetaQuotes also introduced a number of initiatives that helped create a strong community of traders, the main ones being a forum and a marketplace. Over the years, many platforms have tried to compete, the only one still here and thriving today is cTrader.
The Comparison: cTrader vs. MetaTrader 4
Let’s take a good look and compare the two trading platforms in some key areas of trading. Neither platform can be entirely summed up in one article. They both offer automated trading features which is an entire subject in itself. For this article, we look mainly at manual trading features. Let’s see which is better, cTrader vs. MetaTrader 4.
Availability and Accessibility
One area where MetaTrader 4 triumphs over cTrader is availability and accessibility. There are far more brokers offering the MT4 platform. While sources vary and an exact figure is hard to come by, the number is understood to be around 1,200 brokers. Whereas, according to our complete list of cTrader brokers, there are just 40 cTrader brokers. Also, the MT4 platform has a native version for MacOS and Linux. Unfortunately for cTrader users on Macs they are pushed to using the web-based version or find compromises. While a number of workarounds exist, it’s never the same as native experience.
Interface and Tools
Everyone should be able to agree that cTrader prevails as the most stylish trading platform. Besides just looking good, the user experience is very important. cTrader comes with a lot of advantages in this area. cTrader comes with a light and dark theme, customizable chart backgrounds, different layout options and a full-screen mode. Moreover, the cTrader platform offers different font sizes, customizable hotkeys, changeable time zones and a whole bunch of other options that let you customize the behaviour of the platform depending on how you click and where. MetaTrader, on the other hand, is rather rigid in terms of customization. The design feels old and almost offensive. Customizing the workspace has a lot of limitations and doesn’t touch on many of the areas where cTrader does. In this case of cTrader vs. MetaTrader 4, cTrader is a c
In terms of what the charts can and can’t do, both platforms pretty much match up. They both allow you add and remove elements, customize colours, zoom in and out etc. What sets the two platforms apart is the number of indicators, chart types and timeframes available. cTrader offers a whopping 8 different chart types, these are Bar Charts, Candlesticks, Dot Charts, Heikin Ashi, HLC Chart, Line Chart, Renko, Range Bars. It’s worth noting that MT4 does have a few extra objects available such as Fibonacci Arcs and Timezones. See the table below for a comparison.
cTrader is an advanced trading platform with a big focus on catering to manual traders. This means the platform offers a wide range of advanced order types. MetaTrader 4 offers the basic order types which are Market Orders, Stop Orders and Limit Orders. Whereas cTrader offers some more advanced combinations which are Market Range Orders and Stop-Limit Orders. Additionally, cTrader offers options to choose the trigger side on Stop Orders, including Stop Losses. This means that you can choose the Bid or Ask or the second Bid or Ask price, regardless of your order direction.
Another big advantage of cTrader is that you can enter your Take Profit and Stop Loss levels for Market Orders. On MT4 this can only be done the pending orders. Also, cTrader has advanced protection settings which let you scale out of positions at certain levels and move your Stop Loss to break even point.
MetaTrader 4 certainly owns the automated trading community. One of the toughest areas for cTrader to penetrate was the EA community which was well established long before cTrader came to the market. Over the years cTrader has extended the scope of their API thus broadening what’s possible for robot developers. While there are a number of consultants and custom indicators available for cTrader, it’s nothing compared to MT4.
One big difference between the two platforms is that cTrader has a lot of interactive and tradable elements. The position watch area is actionable, letting you modify and close your positions and orders with a single click. The Marketwatch section is also tradeable, letting you select a volume and buy or sell. The Depth of Market ladder is also tradable. Chart Trading is another area that makes cTrader an amazing platform. You can manage your positions, orders and price alerts just by dragging and dropping elements on the charts. On MT4, you can only create new orders from the Order form and quick trading buttons on the charts which are open. This makes it less easy to react to fast-moving markets.
cTrader as a platform really does have traders safety in mind. There are so many features that carefully thought through and are designed to help manage risks. There are so many tooltips, risk calculators, alerts and much more. The general feeling you get is that this is a platform built for traders. We’ve been trading on cTrader for many years and what we have seen is staggering. It’s evolved from something good to something amazing. If you are a manual trader who needs a solid charting package and an interface that allows you to be agile, then cTrader is the right direction to go.
If you are new to Forex trading then it’s definitely not worth your time to learn MT4 since the platform is nearing its imminent death. cTrader is much more friendly to new traders as well. Also if you are being pushed toward MT5 by your broker or just considering ditching MT4, it’s certainly worth giving cTrader shot before making any decision.