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How to Choose a Trading Charting Platform | Beginner Trading Guide

You’ll need a charting platform that shows you the price movements of different assets for analysing the markets. 

These are usually offered free by brokers, even with a demo account, and there are also free and paid options available without a broker. 

Choosing the right software package can be difficult and confusing as the correct platform for a trader depends on their trading styles and requirements. 

A new trader shouldn’t simply look for the best package, since a best package doesn’t really exist. Instead, the focus should be on which is most suitable for their needs. Therefore, before you start looking for a charting package, ensure that you have a good idea of your requirements.

Things to Look For When Choosing Charting Software

Fit For Use

This is by far the most important aspect of choosing a charting package.

Ensure the package you select meets your requirements to trade effectively. Different packages offer different options regarding elements such as tools and indicators. 

Also, it can be worth checking that you’re not paying for an ‘overkill package’ for the type of trading you intend to do. There are platforms available with many advanced features that are generally unused for most trading methods. These platforms are usually more complicated and expensive. 

Pricing

The package's cost will make a big difference for traders. 

Many charting packages will at least have free options available and will be sufficient for most private traders, this will come down to the method of trading you are learning. 

However, many will have restricted features or limitations until you pay for the full package. If you’re looking for premium software, you want to ensure that it has all of the features you require without overpaying for ones you don’t. Be sure to check the package features, usually found directly on the website of the developers. 

Ease of Use 

You’re likely going to be spending a lot of time working with whichever software you choose whilst dealing with some complex trading processes. The last thing you need is an over-complicated software package that requires too much mental effort to perform simple tasks.

Most charting software will feel quite foreign at first. However, you will become more comfortable with it over time. You want an intuitive package that you can use effectively without spending too much of your learning time familiarizing yourself with the platform.

Customisability 

You want the ability to customise your charts how you see fit in terms of both aesthetics and tool/indicator settings. Some trading platforms will allow you to input custom-built trading indicators and even apply algorithmic versions of your trading method for more advanced traders.

Alerts 

Alerts are incredibly useful in trading for helping you to stay organised and on top of the markets. Some platforms may offer alerts for free, and some may have a limited number available for free and for some, this will only be available for paying customers.

Most of the information above will be available on the website of the platform. However, if you have any questions, you should contact them directly.

Our Recommended Charting Platforms

MetaTrader 4 & MetaTrader 5

Both MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 platforms are free to use. All you need to do is to connect to a data feed via your broker account. To see more on choosing the right broker for you, see guide, INSERT BROKER GUIDE LINK

Once you’ve opened an account with a broker and downloaded the platform, to link to your broker account, go to File>Open New Account> Search the name of your broker.

Select ‘Connect with an existing trade account’ > Input login and password. These details are usually sent to you via email by your broker.

Then you will have access to the list of assets provided by your broker. 

Generally, there isn’t much reason for choosing MT4 over MT5, and I recommend you stick with MT5, aside from accessing a trading simulator, which we will come onto later.

MetaTrader is a great platform for beginners and advanced traders as it is simple enough that it doesn’t require much time to become familiar with the software. Still, it has many advanced features such as custom indicators and algo trading mode. You can also place as many horizontal price alerts as you want at no extra cost.

For more information on MetaTraders list of features, click here,

It includes most of the tools/indicators for most technical analysis based trading methods, including the more advanced techniques such as order flow trading. However, for this, a platform that specialises in this field is recommended. Our recommendation is mentioned later in this guide. 

MetaTrader has more recently worked out some bugs for those trading from Mac’s/Macbooks which has made the platform much more accessible for those trading via OS devices. 

You can download the platform here, but brokers often have their own branded version you can download from their website. Download links:

TradingView

In terms of user-friendliness, TradingView is about as simple as charting software gets’ and the time required to become fluent with the platform is minimal. Also, the aesthetics/design of the platform looks great when compared with Metatrader.

There is also no need to connect a broker account with TradingView to access market data you simply need to create an account with TradingView and you’re free to start analysing markets.

However, there are some limitations with TradingView.

TradingView offers free and paid versions, each with different restrictions. Therefore, to fully use the platform's capabilities, you may need to part with some cash. 

The differences between plans can be found here.

The free account will likely be sufficient for new traders to trial the platform before committing any capital to unlock restricted features. However, as you become more advanced and begin to trade more markets, you may want to look to upgrade to gain access to live data, more charts per tab and alerts. 

Finally, if you’re looking to execute your trades via TradingView, this is only possible if you hold an account with a small number of integrated brokers. 

Click here for list of integrated brokers.

How to connect to your broker through TradingView

Click in the Trading Panel

Click connect on your selected broker. You will see a pop up box. First accept the terms and conditions. From here you will be redirected to input your login details.

To sign up to TradingView click here.

To download the TradingView desktop app click here.

Soft4Fx

A trading simulator allows you to go back in time and trade past market data in live market conditions. There is no better way for gaining experience in the markets over a short space of time. 

To see more on the benefits of trading simulators, watch the following video. Every Beginner Trader NEEDS This Tool

There are a few different trading simulators available online. However, the one we recommend is Soft4Fx.

To sign up for Soft4Fx click here.

This option, unlike the demo account, will cost extra money. However, in our opinion, it is well worth the investment for accelerated progression in trading.

All you will need is a MetaTrader 4 account to access the software. If you don’t already have an account, simply open a free demo account with any broker. 

For computer requirement and installation instructions click here.

If you do not want to invest the extra cash, you can try some free alternatives, such as the replay function available on TradingView. For more information see,

How to Improve Your Trading with Past Chart data (3 Options)

Sierra Charts

Unless you want to trade based on order flow analysis, we recommend sticking with TradingView or MetaTrader.  

Sierra Charts is a much more advanced platform with tools/features that the others do not. However, it is also much more challenging to navigate, and unless you require the specific features that the other platforms do not, it will be overkill for you. 

Details on the packages and pricing for Sierra Chart are found here.

If you require order flow data, then Sierra Chart is the number one platform for you. 

It is a paid service with prices that vary depending on the level of data and features you require. The customizability is complicated, but it is one of the platform's most significant advantages.

Details on your initial setup and connecting to a data feed here

Sierra Chart offers a two week free trial to new users that can be found here.

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