cTrader is a multi-asset forex and CFD NDD trading platform developed in 2011 by Spotware, a FinTech company founded in Cyprus. cTrader was designed to facilitate ECN/STP trading, enabling clients’ orders to be routed directly to liquidity providers, resulting in more efficient and transparent executions. Its automated investing and copy trading features, in addition to its sleek and intuitive design, make it a serious competitor to the industry recognised MetaTrader 4 and 5 platforms.
In this tutorial, we conduct a review of the platform’s mobile app, copy trading, robots, charting functionality and download options, including a direct comparison of cTrader vs MT4 and MT5.
Brokers with cTrader
What Is cTrader?
cTrader’s core capability is the execution of trades and technical analysis. Using the platform, investors can trade stocks, indices, commodities, forex, ETFs and cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, though specific markets depend on the broker.
The Active Symbol Panel provides details of selected assets and allows investors to make trades from this view. Trades can also be executed via the QuickTrade feature with either a single or double click, depending on user configuration.
Traders can create Market, Limit and Stop Orders with QuickTrade settings, applying Advanced Take Profit and Stop Loss levels. Limit orders are applied using the Market Trade checkbox and Trailing Stop Losses can be enabled to automatically update every time the price moves in the trader’s favour.
Furthermore, the platform supports simultaneous order processing, allowing multiple orders to be filled at once without a queue.
Accounts & Login
The platform supports demo and live accounts, both of which can be set up as hedging or netting accounts. Demo accounts are a great way for traders to test their strategies using virtual funds, in an environment reflecting the same appearance, features and functionality as the live account. Customers can sign up for a cTrader ID profile on the platform website, which will synchronise all of their trading accounts. This means users can access any broker’s version of cTrader, via the single ID login. If users wish to delete their demo or live account, they will need to contact the relevant broker.
The platform is available to download on Windows desktop, tablet and mobile, or can be accessed via web login (currently cTrader Web version 4.0). Spotware recommends downloading the platform on Windows 7 to Windows 10 operating systems only, as any previous versions such as Windows XP may result in low functionality. There is currently no desktop version available for Linux Ubuntu or Mac users including Mac OS X, but cTrader web is accessible via any HTML-5 compatible browser. The investing solution has put emphasis on supporting the Safari browser to give Mac users a high-quality trading experience.
The webtrader provides access to all the standard desktop features, with identical manual trading and charting but without the need to download software. However, keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys cannot be used in the web version.
The platform can also be used with VPS (Virtual Private Servers) to reduce latency and increase reliability, which is particularly suited to traders using bots.
Charting & Technical Analysis
The platform offers high-quality technical analysis, via a clean and easy-to-use interface. 9 chart types are available, including Candlesticks, Heiken Chart and Renko Chart. An impressive 54 timeframes and 6 zoom levels allow traders to analyse markets from a range of perspectives.
Additionally, single chart, multi-chart and free-chart modes are available, which provides full control over how charts are viewed. Detach mode can be applied on top of any of these, which allows traders to open standalone charts (for example in a separate tab on Windows), and is therefore extremely useful when using multiple screens. Users also have the option to remove the cTrader logo.
Traders have access to a large library of over 70 built-in indicators when they login to the terminal, including Linear Regression, Pivot Points, Hull Moving Average (HMA) and Stochastic Oscillator, enabling forecasting of future market positions. Additional free and paid-for indicators can be downloaded from cTrader’s library.
Free indicators include:
- Heiken Ashi
- NNFX Information
- Lot Size Calculator
- Position Size Calculator
- Exponential Moving Average (EMA)
Paid-for indicators include:
- Forex Trading Session indicator
- Support and Resistance indicator
- Risk and Reward risk management tool
Additionally, traders can pay for volume profile and volume indicators, Harmonic Pattern indicators, news indicators and indicator alerts.
Custom period charts can be purchased too, which allow the user to select the number of ticks displayed instead of the conventional cTrader time-based view. For example, 2000 ticks reflects the equivalent number of trades.
The drawing toolbar for the trading platform allows the user to attach drawing objects to charts, such as the Risk and Reward calculator and Fibonacci tools. Up to 50 chart templates can be created and saved for use in the future, which can be accessed from any version of cTrader.
The terminal offers a host of additional features that enhance the overall trading experience:
- AutoChartist – Scans the forex, cryptos, metals, energies, indices and stocks markets to find the best trading opportunities in real-time. Using well-known chart patterns such as Fibonacci and Triangles, the AutoChartist shows traders high-level patterns, without the need to set up bespoke indicators and timeframes.
- cTrader Analyze – Provides detailed analysis of trading activity including profitability and performance statistics, enabling traders to review their strengths and weaknesses. Traders also have the option to export trading historical data in Excel or HTML format.
- ChartShots – Allows users to share their trading strategies and analysis with other traders. Clicking once with the tool enables screenshots to be shared via a unique URL, which can then be embedded in web pages and blogs, or shared on social media.
- FXStreet Economic Calendar – A fully integrated calendar that provides comprehensive, accurate and frequent forex updates. Information is provided for an impressive 1000 events from 42 countries, in addition to a countdown prior to the event or data release.
- Live Market Sentiment Indicator – Displays the ratio of long versus short positions of all other trades, for all brokers that support cTrader. This tool helps traders to decide whether they should enter or exit a market.
- Visual Mode – Enables the viewing of trades in action, which is useful when running a backtest (a way of doing market replay). Downloadable simulator bots can also be used to test strategies in replay mode including bar replay if preferred.
cTrader Automate (formerly cAlgo) is the platform’s algorithmic automated trading functionality, which allows users to create robots and indicators, carry out manual backtesting of cBots, set email notifications and provide code samples.
Using C# programming language and the Visual Studio built-in code editor, traders are able to create cBots. These are bespoke strategies that can execute market orders independently, equivalent to the MetaTrader 4 Expert Advisors (EA).
C# is a high level, object-oriented programming language like Python, although it has a steeper learning curve. Employing a mainstream programming language is a huge advantage for cTrader, as it means there is a large pool of developers available to develop bots. If traders aren’t familiar with C#, they have the option to download free and paid-for cBots from the cTrader community website. Paid-for examples include the popular Grid Trading Strategy robot, various moving average bots (which can execute trades or just act as a signal provider) and scalping bots. Traders can also access open-source code on Github.
cTrader Copy, formerly known as cMirror, is the platform’s trade copier solution to PAMM. Investors have the opportunity to copy strategies from a large pool of professional traders and can exit at any time, unlike PAMM which gives traders less control over their money.
The copy terminal enables anyone to become a Strategy Provider and broadcast their trading strategy for a commission that they choose (up to a limit of 100 USD per million). As cTrader Copy is a cross-broker community, traders have access to a wide range of Strategy Providers that includes those that are not signed up to the same broker.
cTrader does not charge an additional commission, meaning investors have access to better value services while Strategy Providers have the opportunity to earn more revenue from their trading strategies. Traders can also message Strategy Providers directly to ask questions before committing, and save strategies in their favourites.
cTrader Mobile App
Customers can trade from any location using the cTrader mobile and tablet app, available for iOS and Android operating systems in 22 languages. It is free to download from the App Store and Google Play.
Much of the functionality available on the web-based and desktop platform has been read across to the app, including the ability to trade using either QuickTrade or order tickets. Technical analysis is also possible, with 26 timeframes and over 50 indicators available. Additionally, it offers useful gestures such as pinch to zoom and double-tap to re-centre.
Traders have the option to use asset overview screens, live market sentiment and links to external news sources, to keep them informed whilst trading. Trading schedule and trade statistics can also be viewed. Customer support is available via a live chat service on the app.
Help & Resources
The cTrader website has well-organised resources including a forum, help centre and library of custom indicators and bots. The forum can be used to post technical questions to the customer services team or other users, for example if cTrader is not connecting.
The help centre provides high-quality step-by-step guides of the platform functionality for desktop, web and mobile versions. A user guide manual is also available to download as a PDF.
A suggestions group allows users to provide feedback of functionality they wish to see implemented on the cTrader platform in the future. This results in regular improvements to the terminal’s functionality, with software versions 3.5, 3.6, 3.7 and 3.8 released in recent years.
Additionally, cTrader has a YouTube channel which hosts a large selection of videos discussing its features and how to carry out specific trades such as partial closes. Platform content is also provided by other YouTube channels, such as the cTrader Guru.
cTrader Vs MetaTrader 4 & 5
A key difference between cTrader and MetaTrader 4 and 5 is its popularity among the trading community. In this section we directly compare the cTrader platform features with MT4 and MT5, so you can decide which is better for your needs.
When considering if MetaTrader 4 or MetaTrader 5 is better, several factors come into play. MT4 is specifically designed for CFD forex instruments, unlike MT5 which is a multi-asset trading platform. A comparison of cTrader vs MetaTrader 5 shows that they offer trading on similar assets including stocks, commodities, cryptos, forex and CFDs.
Depth of Market
cTrader is superior to MetaTrader with regards to the availability of level 2 depth of market data, also known as the order book. Market depth provides information about the number of orders pending at a given price, thereby giving traders an advantage.
While MT4 was not set up with depth of market, it is available via some brokers with plugins. MT5 does offer the market depth feature, however it is not as sophisticated and its availability is not guaranteed for all instruments.
In contrast, cTrader is accurate and comprehensive, offering three depth of market views:
- Standard – Ability to get current price and liquidity, but no option to trade
- Price – Provides more detail and users are able to place trades from this view
- VWAP – Useful when trading large volumes, as it allows the investor to see the average price for the volume traded
Technical analysis functionality is important when it comes to deciding on whether to use cTrader or MetaTrader. While MT4 and MT5 have 30 and 38 built-in indicators respectively, cTrader offers a massive 70 pre-installed indicators. Additionally, cTrader offers 26 timeframes, in comparison to MT5’s 21, and MT4’s less impressive 9.
The cTrader user interface is also preferable to MetaTrader, as it is less dated, less cluttered and more intuitive. cTrader is let down by its lack of ‘go-to-date’ feature, which has been requested by the online community but not yet implemented. Instead, users have to manually scroll back and forth through time, unlike MetaTrader where the date can simply be entered.
Developers have increased flexibility using cTrader compared with MetaTrader, due to its Open API 2.0, which is a free and publicly accessible API. This grants users the ability to build their own applications such as trading platforms, alert systems and charts based on cTrader’s technology, which can then be connected to a live account.
Additionally, cTrader provides the industry-standard FIX API interface to every client, for no additional cost, unlike MetaTrader which relies on a bridging solution from a limited number of brokers. FIX follows a set process for the transfer of financial information that allows for the rapid transfer of large amounts of information, resulting in lower execution times.
A key advantage of the cTrader platform is its use of the mainstream C# programming language, meaning there are a range of developers with C# skills to write bot algorithms. MetaTrader on the other hand, uses MQL4 and MQL5 programming languages, for MT4 and MT5 respectively. As well as not being mainstream programming languages, they are also not compatible with each other.
However, this is counteracted by the much larger and more mature online MetaTrader community. MetaTrader users have access to a far greater selection of automated trading tools and custom indicators, as well as online support forums. Paid-for algorithms can convert MT4 bots to cTrader, although there is currently not a cTrader to MT4 copier bot available.
cTrader would benefit from a full trade manager solution integrated with the platform, which is already available with MetaTrader.
cTrader Vs TradingView & NinjaTrader
As well as choosing whether to trade with cTrader or MetaTrader, it’s also worth comparing the Trading View and NinjaTrader platforms.
TradingView offers a wide range of markets in addition to a social network. However, it comes with a yearly subscription fee unlike cTrader, which has no cost associated with its core functionality (spread betting is a low cost add on). NinjaTrader offers advanced charting, automated trading and a larger online community, though users must also pay a fee to be able to trade.
Overall, when comparing cTrader to TradingView and NinjaTrader, it is a toss-up between a free platform and a more experienced online community.
Pros Of cTrader
The functionality offered by the cTrader platform is impressive, and outdoes MetaTrader in several areas:
- Automated trading based on mainstream C# programming language
- FIX API for all clients resulting in reduced latency
- Weekly demo contests available at brokers
- Wide range of technical analysis tools
- Integrated AutoChartist tool
- Increased depth of market
- Modern user interface
Cons Of cTrader
However, there are some areas where the investing solution falls behind its competitors:
- Smaller online community means a reduced selection of custom indicators and bots available for download
- A limited selection of brokers to trade with
Final Word On cTrader
cTrader is a free online platform with excellent automated trading and copier tools. Its intuitive user interface and integrated AutoChartist tool make it a suitable platform for beginners. Additionally, its rich charting and cBot capability makes it a good choice for experienced traders, too.
Traders may feel let down by the lack of online content including custom trading and indicator bots when comparing cTrader with the popular MetaTrader 4 and 5 platforms. This is due to the reduced number of brokers offering cTrader and therefore the smaller and less experienced online community.
What Is The cTrader Platform?
What Is A cTrader Account?
A cTrader ID account is a profile assigned to a trader, where all of their accounts are synchronised. This means users can access any broker’s version of cTrader with unified credentials.
How Much Does cTrader Cost?
cTrader does not charge a license fee for use of its platforms. However, brokers charge different fees and commissions when using cTrader and so clients should check with their broker directly.
How Do I Download cTrader?
cTrader is available to download to Windows desktop from the Spotware website. Users can also download the cTrader app to their iPhone or Android device, from the App Store or Google Play.
What Is The Difference Between cTrader, MT4 And MT5?
MT4 is designed for forex trading while MT5 and cTrader offer multi-asset market access. cTrader has a wider selection of built-in indicators through a more modern interface, while MetaTrader has a larger selection of online resources including trading bots and custom indicators.
Which Brokers Offer cTrader?
What Leverage Does cTrader Offer?
The downloadable cTrader platform supports leverage up to 1:1000 for all symbols and accounts, though brokers will apply individual leverage limits.