Between 54-87% of retail CFD accounts lose money. Based on 69 brokers who display this data.
MT4 is among the most popular trading platforms among retail traders thanks to its ease of use, widespread adoption among brokers and large range of indicators.
We’ve broken this comprehensive guide to MT4 down into five sections, which you can jump to using the quick links below:
1. What to look for in an MT4 Broker
2. Pros and cons of MT4
3. MT4 features (EAs, charts, indicators & more)
4. MT4 Tutorial: Getting started
5. The past, present & future of MT4 & MT5
6. Full list of MT4 brokers
Whichever MT4 broker you choose you’ll be using the same MT4 platform to trade on, so what actually differs by using one broker compared to another?
There are five key differences between the plethora of MT4 brokers, which we’ve expressed below as questions for you to consider:
In our view, the most important consideration when choosing a broker is how reputable they are, which is why we have only featured brokers regulated by a major financial regulator, such as the Financial Conduct Authority or CySEC. These regulators impose stringent measures on brokers to protect their clients.
Each broker determines which assets are available to trade via their MT4 terminal. While it’s common for most brokers to offer all major and minor currency pairs, some brokers offer a wider variety of other asset classes, such as exotic pairs, stocks, and cryptocurrencies. If you have a particular set of instruments you want to trade in mind, it’s worth checking that your broker offers this on their MT4 platform.
Every broker has a different set of spreads, commissions, swap rates and fees, which together will vary how much it will cost you to trade with them. It’s always worth doing the math to calculate how much you’ll likely pay per trade with each broker.
For your convenience, we’ve already run these calculations in our reviews of each broker. You can read these by clicking ‘Broker reviews’ in the navigation menu at the top of this page.
As with all transactions you make, there must be both a buyer and a seller for a trade to take place. When you open a buy position in MT4, your broker has to match you up with a seller of that same instrument.
Most brokers will perform that role for you by taking the opposite side of your trade so that you can execute the trades you wish – brokers that do this are called ‘market makers’.
Other brokers, often referred to as ECN brokers, match you up with another trader or a bank who want to trade in the opposite direction to you.
There are pros and cons to both types of execution. ECN brokers often have high minimum deposits and have pricing that is better suited for high-volume professional traders, while market makers tend to be more suited to traders wishing to trade smaller amounts. You can follow these links to learn more about market makers and ECN brokers.
Your broker will impose certain limits, such as minimum and maximum deposit amounts, maximum open trade amounts, and minimum trade sizes.
If you’re looking to trade with particularly high or low amounts of money, it can be worthwhile to check that your broker allows this, as MT4 can display errors if you try to open trades or deposit amounts that are incompatible with the limits set by your brokerage.
Of course, there are other things to take into account, such as whether the broker is in your timezone (as the time in MT4 is set to your broker’s timezone and cannot be changed) or whether the broker accepts your preferred funding methods, but these factors pale in importance in comparison to the points above.
In general, the MT4 platform’s advantages outweigh its disadvantages, although it does have some less favourable characteristics. Here’s a rundown of some of the key pros and cons of the MT4 platform to consider:
Out of the box, MT4 comes with a variety of functions designed to help traders test, automate and manage their trading strategies with ease.
Seven key features we’ll look at in more depth are:
EAs or “Expert Advisors” are programmed plug-ins that give a trader the possibility of automating their trading strategy by creating a trading programme, or ‘robot’, which operates automatically based on market conditions and the status of technical indicators supported by the trading platform.
EAs can be programmed or obtained from a third party for a wide variety of trading styles, with MT4’s official website stating that over 1,700 trading robots and 2,100 technical indicators are now available in their community marketplace. The price of EAs range from free of charge to thousands of U.S. dollars for the more successful ones, although traders can rent some of the more expensive EAs if they cannot afford to purchase.
Traders can also program plug-ins using the MT4 platform’s built-in programming function.
By clicking the F4 button from within MT4, the MetaQuotes Language (MQL) interface opens in a new window. This feature allows a programmer to create brand new expert advisors, indicators and scripts.
Furthermore, traders can modify existing plug-ins, provided they have the appropriate permissions to do so and the EA is not locked. It is also possible to use DLL (dynamic link library) protection to lock your EAs and prevent them from being decompiled and the code modified or copied without permission.
The testing and optimisation of any programmed expert advisors (trading robots) can also be done using MT4’s very useful backtesting feature.
You can access this function by clicking Ctrl+R on your keyboard, or by clicking View > Strategy Tester with a mouse. Strategy testing requires historical data from the M1 time frame, which can be viewed using MT4’s History Centre.
It does take time to learn how to use this testing feature, so only experts who know how to test strategies can usually perform this complex function properly, and even they will need to educate themselves or be taught how to do it by someone more experienced.
MT4 features charts for all assets traded on the platform for a range of time frames. Traders can find built-in tools to add lines, indicators, arrows and text notes to the charts, as well as use or develop plug-ins to perform customised forms of technical analysis.
MT4’s charts feature three popular methods of representing prices or exchange rates:
Other methods of price representation, such as Renko and point and figure charts, can be added using external plug-ins. For example, candlestick and bar charts can be used to show the open, high, low and closing price for the chosen time period at a glance, while multi-period candlestick patterns can be further analysed to signal possible future market moves.
Charts remain an important component of trading because they enable traders to perform technical analyses.
The MQL Community was launched by MetaQuotes as a response to requests by many MT4 users to serve as a one-stop shop for all tools, indicators, scripts, expert advisors and other add-ons for the MT4 platform.
This community marketplace website integrates with the MT4 platform so that traders wishing to buy a strategy, indicator or forex robot can actually do so directly from MT4 using the “Market” tab in the Terminal window. Traders can purchase or even sell their add-on software for MT4 on the MQL Community website.
Note that plug-ins written for MT4 do not work with MT5 and will need to be re-written to do so. Payments for products on the MQL Community can be made from your trading account balance, as MT4 integrates directly with the MQL Community website.
MT4 offers a social trading feature called Trading Signals, which allows you to copy the trades of another trader automatically in real-time. Signal providers sometimes provide these for free, while other times there is a fee required to copy their trades.
To copy another trader, you’ll need both an active MT4 live account and an account on MQL5.com with sufficient funds. You will then be able to see a list of signals providers in the ‘Signals’ window that you’re able to subscribe to.
Scalping, an intraday trading strategy that takes advantage of small moves in the market, can be implemented quite successfully on the MT4 trading platform due to its fast “one click” trading feature.
However, the use of this strategy may not be allowed by an online broker that has an explicit prohibition on it, or a broker might impose a required holding time for trades that could make the strategy less viable.
Hedging remains possible in the MT4 trading platform, although similarly to scalping, certain brokers and jurisdictions can have different rules when it comes to whether or not traders can hedge positions in this way.
For example, many UK MT4 brokers allow their UK clients to hedge trades using MT4, and they also net out the trader’s margin requirements accordingly. This means that if the trader hedges a trade, the margin for the original trade gets reduced upon establishing a hedge, since the hedge trade fully or partially eliminates the risk of the initial position.
The assets you’re able to trade on MT4 will depend on which broker you use.
You can view what your broker allows you to trade by pressing Ctrl+U on your keyboard when in MT4. Alternatively, you can click on “View” in the top navigation bar of MT4, followed by “Symbols” to see this information.
While the list of instruments you can trade on MT4 will depend on which broker you use, here are six typical assets and asset classes that you might expect to see.
In this section of our MT4 guide we’ll explore how to get started with MT4, from opening an account and installing MT4 on your devices, to making your first trade and learning the MT4 user interface.
To get started with MT4 you’ll need to create an account with a broker, many of which we’ve compared in our list of MT4 brokers above.
A live account, as the name suggests, is an account where you trade with real money.
Unlike an MT4 demo account, which can be opened directly from the MT4 terminal, you cannot open a live account directly from MT4. Instead, you’ll need to open this account through your brokerage.
When you open a real account with your broker, you should be given a set of MT4 login credentials which you’ll need to enter in MT4 by clicking the ‘Login’ command and entering in the details.
How to open a demo account
Demo trading refers to the practice of using virtual money to trade an asset and is often used by new traders to practice, or by experienced traders to test a new trading system.
To open a demo account in MT4:
Once you’ve opened an account with a broker, you’ll need to install MT4.
There are several ways to access MT4. The most popular is the standard desktop version for Windows computers which runs on the desktop as software and can be downloaded from your broker’s website.
Using MT4 on a Mac
It is possible to run MT4 or MT5 on a Mac (or Linux), but this requires an extra piece of open-source software called Wine. We’ve included a more in-depth tutorial on how to do this in our MetaTrader 4 Mac article.
To install MT4 on a Mac computer, Wine’s developers recommend using another free application known as “Play on Mac” that is based on Wine. Traders can use this additional software to easily install Windows applications like MetaTrader 4 onto a Mac. MetaQuotes’ MetaTrader 4 website gives very detailed instructions for the installation of the MT4 software using Play on Mac.
In addition to the ability to install MT4 on Macs, MT4 can also be installed on Linux based machines. Traders can use another version of the Wine software to get their Linux operating system computer to run applications developed for Microsoft Windows like MT4.
Using MT4 in the browser
MT4 now has a web-based version that runs directly in your Internet browser, preventing you from having to download and run the desktop client.
To use the web-based version of MT4, all you need is the URL that connects to your broker’s MT4 server. This enables you to trade from virtually anywhere that has an Internet connection without the burden of carrying around a physical computer with the desktop client installed. The browser-based version also support display on smartphones and tablet devices with Internet access.
Using the MT4 mobile app
MT4 has both an iOS and Android app, which despite offering fewer features than the desktop or web-based MT4 platforms, can still be used for mobile trading and account management when connected to the Internet.
Available as free apps downloadable from the Google Play or iOS App Store, the MetaTrader 4 app only allows the more basic aspects of trading, such as order placement and simple technical analysis and charting.
If you’re an Android user without access to the Google Play store you can also download the MetaTrader 4 APK directly from MetaQuotes here.
While learning how to trade on MT4 is far beyond the scope of this article, we do highly recommend watching this 3-minute video by XTB which covers some of the most important functions to know inside the MT4 platform.
As you might have seen in the video above, there are five sections inside the MT4 terminal that are useful to be aware of.
1. Main menu bar – The Main Menu bar contains various shortcut functions useful for traders. They can open a new chart, place a new order, activate or deactivate a forex robot, and select which charts to display from this bar. A trader unfamiliar with the platform can also simply mouse over each button to find out its name and function.
2. Market Watch window – The price quote for each asset tradable on a particular version of MT4 is displayed in the Market Watch window.
3. Chart window – The Chart Window provides a place for the display of one or more MT4 charts. Adjust the time frame or period for any chart by using the relevant button on the main menu bar above it. MT4 also includes all the most popular chart periodicities ranging from one minute to one month. Tick charts are also available, as are custom chart types — like point and figure charts — if you install the necessary plug-in. Each chart in the Chart Window also includes one or more indicator boxes where you can display technical indicators, like the Relative Strength Index or RSI for example, which cannot be properly shown superimposed over the price action itself.
4. Terminal window – This window includes the set of tabs that show several important MT4 displays many traders use frequently. They include the trade tab, the exposure tab, the account history tab, the news tab, the alerts tab, the mailbox tab, the market tab, the signals tab, the code base, the expert’s tab and the journal tab.
5. Navigator window – This provides a menu structure shortcut used to call up indicators, EAs and scripts quickly and apply them to charts. This menu also shows your broker, server and trading account numbers.
As the name implies, MT4 is the fourth platform in the MetaTrader series designed by MetaQuotes Software Corp. It’s been in use since 2005 and is widely considered to be the current market standard for trading platforms among retail traders today.
While MT4 was later upgraded to MT5, it never really took off except among a minority of traders who were unable to use hedging strategies in MT4 due to regulatory environments.
As a result, MetaQuotes offered a re-design of MT4 that combined many features of the new MT5 platform with the old MT4 to create a brand new platform. In 2018, MetaQuotes stopped issuing licenses to new brokers wanting to offer MetaTrader 4 to their clients in an attempt to increase adoption of the newer MT5 platform.
You can see our MetaTrader 5 brokers list here.
London Capital Group
ATFX Global Markets
Boston Merchant Financial
FX Global Markets
MultiBank Exchange Group
One Financial Markets
Super Trading Online
SVS Securities XO
Forex.com scored best in our review of the top brokers for mt4, which takes into account 120+ factors across eight categories. Here are some areas where Forex.com scored highly in:
Forex.com offers one way to tradeForex. If you wanted to trade EURUSD
The two most important categories in our rating system are the cost of trading and the broker’s trust score. To calculate a broker’s trust score, we take into account a range of factors, including their regulation history, years in business, liquidity provider etc.
Forex.com have a AAA trust score. This is largely down to them being regulated by Financial Conduct Authority, segregating client funds, being segregating client funds, being established for over 19
Want to see how Forex.com stacks up against IG and ThinkMarkets? We’ve compared their spreads, features, and key information below.
|USD/JPY Spread||0.90||0.70||0.10||DAX Spread||250.0||1.0|
|FTSE 100 Spread||150.0||1.0|
|Platform||MT4, Web Trader, NinjaTrader, Tablet & Mobile apps||MT4, Mac, Web Trader, L2 Dealer, Tablet & Mobile apps||MT4, Mac, Web Trader, Tablet & Mobile apps|
|Services||Forex||Forex, CFDs, Spread Betting, Share dealing||Forex, CFDs|
|Base currency options||USD, GBP, EUR||USD, GBP, EUR, CHF, JPY, SGD, AUD||USD, GBP, EUR, CHF, JPY, SGD, AUD, CAD, NZD, CNH|
|Funding options||Bank transfer, Cheque, DebitCard,||Payoneer, Credit cards, Bank transfer, PayPal, MasterCard, BPAY, DebitCard,||Payoneer, Credit cards, Bank transfer, Neteller, BPAY, UnionPay, FasaPay, DebitCard,|
Between 54-87% of retail CFD accounts lose money. Based on 69 brokers who display this data.