What criteria should I use for choosing a commodity trading platform?
It is in the best interests of brokerage firms to make it as easy as possible for their clients to trade. After all, they generate revenue on each transaction and the more convenient it is to enter an order, the more commission they could earn. Accordingly, brokerage firms have worked hard to provide each type of trader an attractive trading solution.
Unfortunately, finding the appropriate platform for your circumstances can be a cumbersome task. Platforms come in all sizes, costs, and specialties, but not all brokerage firms offer all platforms. Further, even platforms developed by third-party vendors likely have different data providers and will certainly have differing margin rules across various brokerage firms. This is because the brokers and exchanges set margin policy, not the platform. Thus, traders should consider their choice of brokerage house and platform within the same process.
Several futures trading platforms are offered to clients for free. In fact, most brokerage firms will offer at least one no-cost order entry solution. In the past, free platforms were challenged in features, but now, there are some highly capable complimentary offerings. Many include real-time and streaming quotes on options and futures, and perhaps even a nice charting package.