CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 69.50% of retail investors lose their capital when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

cTrader vs MetaTrader 4: Which platform to choose?

One of the first decisions that new traders in particular have to face is choosing which trading platform to use to enter the market. This, of course, depends on the broker's offering. At Purple Trading, we offer both the very popular and notorious MetaTrader 4 platform and the more modern and feature-packed cTrader trading platform. Which one is better for you? Read on and find out!

Trading platforms can be compared from many different perspectives, each time with different results. This is quite normal, as each trader is suited to something a little different depending on how they trade.

So while choosing the MetaTrader 4 as a trading platform is a no-brainer for traders who have been trading for some time simply because it has been with them from the beginning, the new generation of traders may not like its graphical design and (un)intuitive controls. They will then quite logically choose, for example, cTrader or another modern trading platform.

But how to get an objective result and determine which trading platform is better? In this article we will try to compare MetaTrader 4 with cTrader. In doing so, we will stick to the following categories:

 

  • Charting

  • Entering trading orders

  • Creating and using Expert Advisors

  • Using trading tools

But first, a little bit of context

The MetaTrader 4 trading platform from MetaQuotes was released in 2004, making it one of the longest running platforms on the market. It was also one of the first platforms to allow trading directly by placing orders on the chart, which most of us can't imagine trading without today.

Another interesting fact is that the MT4 platform gave rise to the term EA/Expert Advisors and thus enabled the so-called Algotrading which is partially or fully automated form of trading that is quite popular today.

In 2010, a successor was created in the form of MT5, which sought to build on the previous success of MT4 and offered more advanced trading features. The truth is, it didn't quite succeed and MT4 kept its rightful place as the most popular and widely used platform in the world. Thus, many traders continued to use the still somewhat outdated platform, but they could not afford to let it go.

A year later, in 2011, Spotware launched its cTrader trading platform as an answer to the "outdatedness" of the MT4 platform. This platform is considerably more modern and technically proficient. All this without compromising the intuitiveness of controls or clarity of charts. In fact, cTrader has been inspired by the shortcomings of MetaTrader 4 and already offers features that its rival does not abound in.

But by that time, the trading community has been firmly accustomed to MetaTrader 4 for several years and getting anyone to switch from the platform they are used to and on which their trading strategies work is not all that easy.


Trading platform MetaTrader 4 is still frequently used among majority of traders

cTrader vs MetaTrader 4 comparison

Charting

 

As we have already mentioned, MT4 was the first platform to offer the ability to enter the market directly via a chart, thus greatly simplifying trading and perhaps indirectly contributing to the popularity of the profession. Which in itself is an achievement for which the developers of other trading platforms (as well as brokers) should be eternally grateful.

When it comes to working with charts, the MetaTrader 4 trading platform offers a classic in the ability to open an unlimited number of trading instruments’ charts. These are lined up in a row on the bottom bar of the terminal, from where you can conveniently browse them through. In addition, each of the instruments can be opened in 9 time frames (M1, M5, M15, M30, H1, H4, D1, W1, MN).

Compared to the MT4 platform, cTrader offers 26 time frames (M1 to M10 and then the standard M15, M30, etc.), which is something that especially scalping traders will appreciate since they trade on lower time frames.

Working with charts is also made more convenient with the more modern cTrader, as each of the charts of your chosen instrument can be detached and then placed anywhere on the free area of your monitor(s). This gives you the opportunity to set up your working environment as conveniently and efficiently as possible. Simply stack your charts with other correlated instruments or other economic indicators to get a perfect overview of the instrument of your choice.

Entering trading orders

 

Both the MetaTrader 4 and cTrader trading platforms offer the ability to enter the market with a single click. However, this is where the similarities between the two platforms end. The one-click order entry in MT4 is quite limited and only allows you to set the size of the trading position in lots.

In contrast, one-click entry in cTrader allows you to adjust the stop loss or take profit level by clicking and dragging the mouse cursor on the chart, in addition to the pre-set position size. A very nice feature of cTrader is that it automatically distinguishes between a stop or limit order depending on which side of the current price your order is on. These features make cTrader a platform in which order entry is both more intuitive and more sophisticated.

Of course, this does not mean that traders with the MT4 platform are doomed to suffer when it comes to entering orders into the market. In fact, the main advantage of MT4 is its combination of modifiability and popularity. Therefore, if you use MetaTrader 4 to trade, many freely available plug-ins and tools are available to enhance your order entry to a similar level to that offered by cTrader.

Creating and using Expert Advisors

 

When MetaQuotes created the MetaTrader 4 platform in 2004, it enabled the creation of EA (expert advisors) using its own programming language MQL4. Expert Advisors are programs that enable so-called algorithmic trading - automatic trading according to parameters set by the trader. Depending on the program’s level of autonomy when entering trading positions, we can talk about automated or semi-automated EA.

At the time of writing this article, 18 years have passed since 2004, which is enough time for a large community of MT4 platform users to emerge. Members of the MT4 community actively help each other with programming EAs or providing them with their own trading robots. However, one should tread lightly here, as a large number of these often untested and unlicensed programs, freely available on the Internet, can cause considerable losses to your trading account. However, as long as you reach for verified tools, everything should be fine.

The cTrader trading platform allows the creation of so-called cBots in the C# programming language. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. It depends on whether you can code or not. Traders who do not know programming languages do not have the benefit of reaching a large community of users with cTrader. In addition, the ability to create cBot using one of the tools available online, as in the case of MT4 and EAs, unfortunately, does not yet exist.

On the contrary, the advantage in this situation is the fact that the creation of cBots is done in the C# programming language, which is widely used among programmers. Thus, users of the cTrader trading platform can contact the programming community directly to have a cBot created by an experienced developer. However, this will not be free of charge.

So as far as the creation of EA is concerned, MetaTrader 4 wins.

cTrader

The undeniable advantage of the cTrader platform is its mobile version

Trading tools

 

Both the MetaTrader 4 trading platform and its more modern competitor cTrader offer a wide array of trading tools for more accurate and efficient trading, especially with the help of technical analysis.

For both platforms, you will find many indicators and other indicators right in the basic version. And if you are missing a tool, you can most likely find it freely available on the Internet. Of course, MT4 here again benefits from its large community of users who offer tools on various forums and advise each other on their use. However, cTrader also doesn't lag behind with its offer of indicators, which can be found directly on the official website of its developers at Spotware. In addition, a large number of the indicators come with instructions, so getting them up and running should be a little easier.

However, what makes Spotware's platform stand out above the competing platform from MetaQuotes are 2 key tools in particular. These are the market depth indicator and the economic calendar. Both of these tools are available to traders in the basic version of the cTrader platform.

Thanks to the market depth indicator, you have the opportunity to see the detailed distribution of the number of BUY/SELL orders at different price levels at a glance and adjust accordingly, for example, when opening positions with higher volumes. Thanks to the market depth, the trader has a better overview of the liquidity and can thus eliminate the slippage (the difference in the price of order entry and execution) as much as possible. Market depth can also be one of the factors that give a trader a hint as to which direction the value of a given instrument may go in the future.

If you also use fundamentals for your trading (which we highly recommend), you will agree with us that the economic calendar is one of the most important tools for timing your market entry correctly. The developers at Spotware, the company responsible for the cTrader platform, are aware of that and have made the economic calendar an integral part of the cTrader trading platform.

Thus, it can be said that for this round, the cTrader is a winner again. And the reason is simple - cTrader platform offers its users enough trading tools in its basic version so that they do not have to leave the platform at all when trading (either fundamentally or technically) and can find all the information they need right within it. However, this does not mean that MetaTrader 4 is ill-equipped. However, to match cTrader, it needs to be enhanced with a certain amount of plug-ins and freely available tools, which may not suit everyone.

cTrader vs MetaTrader 4 comparison: key takeaways

The MetaTrader 4 trading platform is rightfully one of the most popular trading platforms on the market and no other platform is likely to dethrone it from this position. After all, it was the MT4 that was at the beginning of not only the trading careers of most seasoned traders who then continued to teach the less experienced ones but the MT4 even stood at the beginning of retail trading as we know it today.

Be that as it may, the fact remains that this platform was created in 2004, which is often evident in its outdated graphic design or not very intuitive controls. Last but not least, it is also worth mentioning that as of 2021, MetaQuotes has stopped releasing newer versions of MT4, so this platform is not being updated and stagnates.

In contrast, the much younger cTrader from Spotware is a dynamic platform, whose creators claim that every further update is built upon the feedback from cTrader users. Thus, it is a modern, nimble and intuitive platform that will appeal especially to all new traders who have not had time to get used to the much-loved MetaTrader4.

However, we at Purple Trading do not want to take sides with either platform, so we would sum up today's platform battle with the sentence "MetaTrader4 walked so cTrader could run." That is to say, cTrader owes much of its quality to its generation older rival, from whom it has had the opportunity to take inspiration and build on its successes.

 

Comparison of cTrader and MT4 platforms in points

 

 

MT4

cTrader

Modern design

X

Intuitive controls

X

Sophisticated order entry

X

High degree of modifiability

X

Compatibility with most freely available trading tools

X

Suitable for beginner traders

X

 

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Frequently asked questions

Where do I download the MT4 trading platform?
Show answer

You can download the MT4 trading platform for free via a link that will be a part of the Welcome email. 
 
If you don’t feel like searching your inbox for the Welcome mail, you don’t need to. Just download the MT4 HERE
 
We offer MT4 in versions for PC (Windows, Linux, MAC) or Android and iOS mobile operating systems.

Where do I download the cTrader trading platform?
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cTrader trading platform can be downloaded for free HERE. We offer cTrader in versions for PC in the form of a desktop application (Windows), web application, available in any web browser (Windows, Linux, MAC) or Android and iOS mobile operating systems.
Why do I need the MT4 or cTrader trading platform?
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MetaTrader 4 and cTrader trading platforms are primarily intended to be used by active traders for opening, management, and closing of their trading positions. You can also use the platforms to find information about trading instruments, generate reports from the trading history and create automated trading systems (ie. AOS, ATS, EA). 
BUY/SELL LIMIT
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A waiting order which enables buy/sell orders to be executed once the price is higher/lower than actual available market price. After activation, it is executed as a MARKET type order.
BUY/SELL STOP
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A pending order which enables buy/sell orders to be executed once the price is higher/lower than actual available market price. After activation, it is executed as a MARKET type order.
EA - Expert Advisor
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An automated trading system.
Slippage
Show answer
A slippage in order filling. It expresses the difference between the asked price at trader’s side and the price at which the order is executed in the market (in market execution, it is the best available price in the market at that time). Slippage can have positive as well as negative value.