Trading platforms compared: MT4 and cTrader

Trading platforms compared: MT4 and cTrader

When you make your decision to start trading in the financial markets, you are going to choose between the different trading platforms. There are several trading platforms that are popular today, but that does not mean that all of them are equally good.

In the following, we are going to showcase the differences between MetaTrader 4 and cTrader and point out the strengths and weaknesses of each platform. It is important to choose the platform that suits you best because this will be your portal to the financial markets.

The way each platform is designed, the programming language they use for scripting, and the functions in each of them differ. In this MT4 vs cTrader guide, we are going to dive into these two platforms and see which might be best for you.


Things You Need to Know About MT4 and cTrader

  • MetaTrader 4 is the predecessor to MetaTrader5. MT4 was created in 2005 and both are developed by the same company, namely MetaQuotes
  • cTrader was created to compete with the MetaTrader platform and was developed by Spotware Systems in 2011, and offers a more sophisticated look
  • cTrader uses the C# programming language for its scripting, while MetaTrader uses MQL5, a specialized version of C++
  • Both trading platforms allow traders to add more indicators, which makes the trading experience more customized to the user

Main Differences Between MetaTrader 4 and cTrader

These two pieces of software are the most used trading platforms in the world, and at least one of them can be found on any broker’s website. The MetaTrader has been around for quite a while, and cTrader was launched to compete with the MetaTrader platforms.

cTrader was launched around the same time as MT5, which came to market in 2010.  The launch of these two platforms in such a short space of time saw many traders having to make a choice between sticking to the old guard or casting their lots with the new kid on the block. As many traders were used to MT4, the predecessor of MT5, they just stuck with what they know and kept following the MetaTrader brand. Still, many traders decided to look past the launch of these newer platforms and just stick to the tried and tested MetaTrader 4.

In fact, many traders now prefer cTrader over MetaTrader's software due to the dynamic look and feel that it offers, and the advanced toolset it presents. Meanwhile, those who stick with MetaTrader prefer the simple and basic old-school style that it is famous for.

Design & navigation

When we compare cTrader to MT4, the first thing someone might notice is how each platform looks. MetaTrader 4 looks a bit outdated and more like Windows 95 than an up-to-date trading platform, with old-looking tabs and options.


However, this view is simpler and can be a better option for new traders to get themselves familiar with trading platforms.

In addition to that, since it is older than cTrader, those who started trading using MT4 prefer to stick with what they are already familiar with, as they can easily find the indicators and the charting options, without having to adjust their mindset to a wholly new trading platform.

On the other hand, cTrader offers a modern platform that is clean and easy to use. It is also possible to change the theme between light and dark modes, and the interface can be customized to incorporate whatever the trader prefers to see.

cTrader does not stop at the fancy design. It also offers plenty of indicators and charts similar to MetaTrader 4, and this balance makes the platform very appealing which is why it is being used by a huge number of traders around the world.

If you go to any broker’s website or compare the best trading platforms, you are very likely to see almost everyone putting cTrader or MetaTrader at the top of the list, as they are the most used trading platforms out there today.

Charts & time frames

Apart from how each platform looks, we also need to look into the functionality of each. We need to consider what types of charts are offered, the available timeframes, and the indicators that can be found on each platform.

Different charting options help traders visualize price movements in greater detail, and it can help the user to conduct some price analysis.

Both trading platforms offer almost similar charting options. MetaTrader 4 offers 3 chart types (Line chart - Bar chart - Candlestick chart) while cTrader offers 4 types of charts (Bar Chart - Candlesticks Chart - Line Chart - Dots Chart).

Timeframe options enable traders to expand the chart time, for detailed price movement over 1 minute, 1 day , 1 month, and more. 

MetaTrader 4 offers 9 different time frames (1-minutes, 5-minutes, 15-minutes, 30-minutes, 1-hour, 4-hour, daily, weekly, and monthly) while cTrader offers a wider range of 26 timeframe options.

Regarding the indicators, they might differ based on the source which you download the trading platform from. For example, MT4 usually comes with 30 built-in indicators. However, if downloaded using a specific link from a broker, you might have more indicators incorporated by default.

cTrader comes with 70+ built-in indicators. However, both trading platforms allow traders to create their own indicators or download ones built by members of their respective communities.

There are more downloadable indicators for the MT4 platform, as MetaTrader is older and has a bigger fan base. 

Available order types

The trading orders that can be used with MetaTrader 4 and cTrader have several similarities, and there might be only a slight difference between them.

MetaTrader enables traders to use any of four order types through the following execution modes (instant - on request - by market). These order types are market order, pending order, stop-loss, and take-profit.

The pending order from MetaTrader is also split into 4 main types:

  • buy-stop
  • sell-stop
  • buy limit
  • sell limit

The buy-stop order is set to buy a certain asset once the price reaches a certain price point that is higher than the current price. While a sell-stop is an order to sell a certain asset once the price reaches a certain level lower than the current price.

The buy limit is set to buy a certain asset when it rebounds from a lower price than it is currently at. A sell limit is set to sell a certain asset when it rebounds from a higher price than the current one.

What cTrader is offering in terms of order types is very similar to the ones found in MT4 with one exception. cTrader allows its clients to use pending orders even when the market is closed.

Programming language

MetaQuotes' MetaTrader 4 programming language is called MQL4, which is based on the concept of the popular C++ programming language. It is used for writing creating new trading tools, like scripting your own indicators or setting up an automated trading bot.

As this trading platform has been around for more than 15 years, a lot of developers spent time writing scripts for additional features, auto traders, and indicators. As a result, there are thousands of scripts to be found online that can help you to improve your trading.

On the other hand, we have cTrader which uses C# as the programming language for scripting. This allows any C# developer with a bit of a trading background, to rapidly developed new indicators or trading bots for cTrader. As this platform has not been around for as long and has less of a following than the MetaTrader brand, you might find it easier to get help and information on scripting for MT4 as opposed cTrader. 

cTrader and MT4 pros & cons

Traders can choose either platform and will be able to do some decent trading. It all comes down to preference. So, to better understand which one might suit you better, we will put MetaTrader 4 and cTrader head-to-head in order to find out the advantages and the disadvantages of these platforms.

cTrader: advantages

  • Modern and advanced design
  • Can be modified for a customized look
  • Sufficient amount of built-in indicators, charts, and timeframes available

cTrader: disadvantages

  • The complex interface can become overwhelming
  • Hard to find additional tools due to it being less popular than MT4

MetaTrader 4: advantages

  • More popular with a bigger community that offers support
  • Offered by many brokers
  • A huge number of indicators can be downloaded
  • Can be modified for a customized look
  • Easy to use
  • Sufficient amount of built-in indicators, charts, and timeframe options

MetaTrader 4: disadvantages

  • The lack of variety in trading instruments, since it is specialized in Forex trading
  • The simple design can seem outdated
  • Uses a less common programming language

What Did We Learn From This Article Comparing cTrader vs MetaTrader 4?

  • MT4 has been around since 2005 and is more popular than cTrader, but the design seems a tad outdated
  • cTrader is relatively new, released in 2011, and offers a sophisticated look and design
  • MT4 offers 3 chart types, 9 timeframe options, and 30 built-in indicators
  • cTrader comes with 4 chart types, 26 timeframe options, and more than 70 indicators
  • MT4 uses a proprietary programming language for its scripting, while cTrader uses the C# programming language which is more common and can be used by many developers to create new features

FAQ on MetaTrader 4 vs cTrader

Is cTrader better than MT4?

It depends on your preference. The cTrader platform offers a more up-to-date look and feel. It also offers more chart options and timeframes, while coming with 70+ built-in indicators. However, given the fact that is much newer than MT4, it has less additional content and features that can be downloaded and installed.

What is the cTrader platform?

cTrader is a trading platform developed by Spotware Systems and was released in 2011. This trading software is very popular among Forex traders and comes standard with a good variety of charts, indicators, and timeframe options. Scripting on this platform is done in the C# programming language, allowing traders to develop their own scripts and bots.

Which is better, MetaTrader 4 or 5 or cTrader?

If you prefer a simple look that is not too complex and fairly easy to navigate, then you can go with MT4 or MT5. The old-school design of MetaTrader can be helpful for new traders who are still learning or just starting out. However, if you want to use a more sophisticated interface that helps you pull up many charts at the same time, and enables you to customize the view, then cTrader might be a better choice.

Is Metatrader 4 safe?

Yes, it has been in operation since 2005, and since then it has been used by most brokers and traders around the world. The information between its users and the server is encrypted, and your IP address is concealed, which helps you secure your money transfers and trading capital.