One of the most important decisions new traders face is choosing which platform to use. For short-term traders who want to execute and monitor their positions in real time, this means having everything you need exactly where it’s needed. As there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, the best trading platforms for spread betting and CFD trading are generally those that most suit a user’s lifestyle and trading profile.

This guide will discuss three primary platform types offered by investment brokers, detailing the merits and weaknesses of each. By developing an understanding of these platforms, traders can learn how to select an appropriate broker that caters to their needs.

The best trading software to download

The first platform type we’ll cover in this article relates to downloadable software. Favouring high-frequency traders, and those requiring advanced technical insights, the field is dominated by MetaQuotes - a software company famed for creating the gold standard of desktop trading platforms - MT5.

trading

What is MT5?

Metatrader 5, typically abbreviated to MT5, is a highly regarded piece of software which has become the industry standard for traders worldwide. By downloading and installing MT5, short-term traders can enjoy optimal trading conditions, including powerful technical tools and indicators, as well as lighting-fast order execution.

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, MT4, the platform benefits from several upgrades, many of which relate to its automated trading capabilities. This means that end users can write their own trading scripts and robots, with the ability to make trades once specified criteria are fulfilled. This functionality is typically employed by institutional traders, but that’s not to say retail traders can’t enjoy these advantages as well.

For those new to the trading industry, the learning curve for using MT5 can be prohibitively steep. With its legacy user interface and lack of customisation options, the software probably isn’t the ideal entry point for newcomers. Thankfully, there’s enough of a variety of platforms out there to help provide a useful stepping stone to MT5, and similarly sophisticated platforms.

Web platforms: the download-free trading solution

If you’re looking for a streamlined trading experience available directly from your internet browser, then a web platform may be your best bet. Spared the hassle of downloading and installing software onto your computer, traders can instead plan and execute trades using any compatible web client.

While different providers might offer more comprehensive packages, web platforms are typically more lightweight than downloadable platforms like MT5. Nevertheless, with solid technical analysis tools and rapid price execution, most traders can enjoy a compromise-free trading solution available across devices. Supporting an extensive list of order types, and access to an exhaustive asset selection, such platforms certainly pack a punch when it comes to short-term trading.

For novices, these web platforms typically include easy-to-follow tutorials, and benefit from additional features like price alerts and watchlist monitoring, so that you’ll never miss a beat. While advanced traders might feel underserved by their charting functionality and algorithmic trading options, web platforms provide a greater degree of ease and convenience, which can be effectively utilised in tandem with software like MT5.

Trade anywhere, at any time, with a mobile app

These days, traders don’t need to be glued to their desks. The fintech boom has ushered in a whole new wave of mobile applications enabling users to execute and monitor trades from the palm of their hand. With apps ranging in complexity, from the effortlessly simple to the technically advanced, it’s now possible to take your trading on the move, especially if you are day trader.

Catering to Android and iOS users, these smartphone applications provide everything from technical analysis to in-app customer service. Targeted at a new generation of traders, millennials and succeeding generations have been the driving force behind this trend, with mobile trading only increasing in popularity.

While it’s true that many trading apps provide something of an all-in-one experience, we believe it’s best to use such platforms as an extension of other, more detailed platforms. Setting price alerts? Fine. Monitoring open positions? Easily achieved. Drawing Fibonacci retracements onto a 12-Month candlestick chart? Perhaps not.

For those new to trading, apps can provide a fun and interactive way to learn. This is also aided by the demo accounts that brokers typically offer. Supplied with a windfall of practice funds, traders can learn to hone their craft and develop their trading techniques, in a safe, risk-free environment.

How to choose a broker

Once you’ve selected a preferred trading platform, the next step is to seek a suitable broker. To inform your choice, it's generally good practice to browse ratings and reviews, and - if possible - to trial a company’s products and services using a demo account.

If you’d like to verify a broker, the FCA maintains an official Financial Services Register, which provides up-to-date information on licensed companies and individuals.

Registered providers must uphold stringent rules and regulations regarding consumer protection and fund security, helping you to trade with confidence.

Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. The vast majority of retail client accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs. 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.

Marketing for CFDs and spread betting is not intended for US citizens as prohibited under US regulation.

One of the most important decisions new traders face is choosing which platform to use. For short-term traders who want to execute and monitor their positions in real time, this means having everything you need exactly where it’s needed. As there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, the best trading platforms for spread betting and CFD trading are generally those that most suit a user’s lifestyle and trading profile.

This guide will discuss three primary platform types offered by investment brokers, detailing the merits and weaknesses of each. By developing an understanding of these platforms, traders can learn how to select an appropriate broker that caters to their needs.

The best trading software to download

The first platform type we’ll cover in this article relates to downloadable software. Favouring high-frequency traders, and those requiring advanced technical insights, the field is dominated by MetaQuotes - a software company famed for creating the gold standard of desktop trading platforms - MT5.

trading

What is MT5?

Metatrader 5, typically abbreviated to MT5, is a highly regarded piece of software which has become the industry standard for traders worldwide. By downloading and installing MT5, short-term traders can enjoy optimal trading conditions, including powerful technical tools and indicators, as well as lighting-fast order execution.

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, MT4, the platform benefits from several upgrades, many of which relate to its automated trading capabilities. This means that end users can write their own trading scripts and robots, with the ability to make trades once specified criteria are fulfilled. This functionality is typically employed by institutional traders, but that’s not to say retail traders can’t enjoy these advantages as well.

For those new to the trading industry, the learning curve for using MT5 can be prohibitively steep. With its legacy user interface and lack of customisation options, the software probably isn’t the ideal entry point for newcomers. Thankfully, there’s enough of a variety of platforms out there to help provide a useful stepping stone to MT5, and similarly sophisticated platforms.

Web platforms: the download-free trading solution

If you’re looking for a streamlined trading experience available directly from your internet browser, then a web platform may be your best bet. Spared the hassle of downloading and installing software onto your computer, traders can instead plan and execute trades using any compatible web client.

While different providers might offer more comprehensive packages, web platforms are typically more lightweight than downloadable platforms like MT5. Nevertheless, with solid technical analysis tools and rapid price execution, most traders can enjoy a compromise-free trading solution available across devices. Supporting an extensive list of order types, and access to an exhaustive asset selection, such platforms certainly pack a punch when it comes to short-term trading.

For novices, these web platforms typically include easy-to-follow tutorials, and benefit from additional features like price alerts and watchlist monitoring, so that you’ll never miss a beat. While advanced traders might feel underserved by their charting functionality and algorithmic trading options, web platforms provide a greater degree of ease and convenience, which can be effectively utilised in tandem with software like MT5.

Trade anywhere, at any time, with a mobile app

These days, traders don’t need to be glued to their desks. The fintech boom has ushered in a whole new wave of mobile applications enabling users to execute and monitor trades from the palm of their hand. With apps ranging in complexity, from the effortlessly simple to the technically advanced, it’s now possible to take your trading on the move, especially if you are day trader.

Catering to Android and iOS users, these smartphone applications provide everything from technical analysis to in-app customer service. Targeted at a new generation of traders, millennials and succeeding generations have been the driving force behind this trend, with mobile trading only increasing in popularity.

While it’s true that many trading apps provide something of an all-in-one experience, we believe it’s best to use such platforms as an extension of other, more detailed platforms. Setting price alerts? Fine. Monitoring open positions? Easily achieved. Drawing Fibonacci retracements onto a 12-Month candlestick chart? Perhaps not.

For those new to trading, apps can provide a fun and interactive way to learn. This is also aided by the demo accounts that brokers typically offer. Supplied with a windfall of practice funds, traders can learn to hone their craft and develop their trading techniques, in a safe, risk-free environment.

How to choose a broker

Once you’ve selected a preferred trading platform, the next step is to seek a suitable broker. To inform your choice, it's generally good practice to browse ratings and reviews, and - if possible - to trial a company’s products and services using a demo account.

If you’d like to verify a broker, the FCA maintains an official Financial Services Register, which provides up-to-date information on licensed companies and individuals.

Registered providers must uphold stringent rules and regulations regarding consumer protection and fund security, helping you to trade with confidence.

Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. The vast majority of retail client accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs. 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.

Marketing for CFDs and spread betting is not intended for US citizens as prohibited under US regulation.