Expert Advisors (EAs)

Expert Advisors (EAs) are programable trading robots available on MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5. This tutorial will explain how Expert Advisors work and how to set them up on MT4 and MT5. We also cover the pros and cons of trading forex, stocks and more with EAs.

Expert Advisor Brokers

#1 - AvaTrade

Why We Chose AvaTrade

AvaTrade is a leading forex and CFD broker, established in 2006 and regulated across 9 jurisdictions. Over 400,000 users have signed up with the broker which processes over 2 million trades each month. The firm offers multiple trading platforms, including MT4, MT5, and a proprietary WebTrader. 1250+ financial instruments are available for day trading, alongside a comprehensive education center and multilingual customer support.

"AvaTrade offers the full package for short-term traders. There is powerful charting software, reliable execution, transparent fees, and fast account opening with a low minimum deposit."

- DayTrading Review Team
  • Instruments: CFDs, Forex, Stocks, Indices, Commodities, ETFs, Bonds, Crypto, Spread Betting
  • Regulator: ASIC, CySEC, FSCA, ISA, CBol, FSA, FSRA, BVI, ADGM
  • Platforms: WebTrader, AvaTradeGO, AvaOptions, MT4, MT5, AlgoTrader, TradingCentral, DupliTrade
  • Minimum Trade: 0.01 Lots
  • Leverage: 1:30 (Retail) 1:400 (Pro)

Pros

  • Automated trading is supported through MetaTrader Expert Advisors (EAs), as well as the AvaSocial and DupliTrade tools
  • There's a great range of fee-free deposit methods, including bank wire, credit cards and popular e-wallets like Skrill
  • WebTrader is well-suited to beginners and features a strong suite of technical analysis tools and market research for day traders

Cons

  • There’s an above-average $50 inactivity fee after three months, though this won't impact active day traders
  • It’s a shame that there are no rebate schemes for serious traders looking for additional perks - CMC Markets would be a better choice here
  • There is no ECN account with raw spreads

#2 - OANDA US

Why We Chose OANDA US

OANDA is a popular brand offering exceptional execution, low deposit requirements and advanced charting and trading platform features. The top-rated brand has over 25 years of experience and is regulated by trusted agencies, including the NFA/CFTC. Around the clock support is available for short-term traders, alongside flexible contract sizes and automated trade executions.

"OANDA remains an excellent broker for US day traders seeking a user-friendly platform with premium analysis tools and a straightforward joining process. OANDA is also heavily regulated with a very high trust score."

- DayTrading Review Team
  • Instruments: Forex, Crypto
  • Regulator: NFA, CFTC
  • Platforms: OANDA Trade, MT4, TradingView, AutoChartist
  • Minimum Deposit: $0
  • Minimum Trade: 0.01 Lots
  • Leverage: 1:50

Pros

  • OANDA is a reliable, trustworthy and secure brand with authorization from tier-one regulators including the CFTC
  • The broker offers a transparent pricing structure with no hidden charges
  • The proprietary OANDA web platform continues to deliver a highly competitive charting environment, including 65+ technical indicators powered by TradingView

Cons

  • There's only a small range of payment methods available, with no e-wallets supported
  • The range of day trading markets is limited to forex and cryptos only
  • It's a shame that customer support is not available on weekends

#3 - Pepperstone

Why We Chose Pepperstone

Established in Australia in 2010, Pepperstone is a top-rated forex and CFD broker with over 400,000 clients worldwide. It offers access to 1,300+ instruments on leading platforms MT4, MT5, cTrader and TradingView, maintaining low, transparent fees. Pepperstone is also regulated by trusted authorities like the FCA, ASIC, and CySEC, ensuring a secure environment for day traders at all levels.

"Pepperstone stands out as a top choice for day trading, offering razor-sharp spreads, ultra-fast execution, and advanced charting platforms for experienced traders. New traders are also welcomed with no minimum deposit, extensive educational resources, and exceptional 24/7 support."

- DayTrading Review Team
  • Instruments: CFDs, Forex, Currency Indices, Stocks, Indices, Commodities, ETFs, Crypto, Spread Betting
  • Regulator: FCA, ASIC, CySEC, DFSA, CMA, BaFin, SCB
  • Platforms: MT4, MT5, cTrader, TradingView, AutoChartist, DupliTrade
  • Minimum Deposit: $0
  • Minimum Trade: 0.01 Lots
  • Leverage: 1:30 (Retail), 1:500 (Pro)

Pros

  • Now offering spread betting through TradingView, Pepperstone provides a seamless, tax-efficient trading experience with advanced analysis tools.
  • There’s support for a range of industry-leading charting platforms including MT4, MT5, TradingView, and cTrader, catering to various short-term trading styles, including algo trading.
  • Pepperstone emerges as a low-cost broker, especially for serious day traders with spreads from 0.0 in the Razor account and rebates of 25%+ through the Active Trader program.

Cons

  • Despite enhancements to its range of markets, crypto offerings are relatively limited compared to other brokers such as eToro, with no option to invest in real coins.
  • Pepperstone’s demo accounts are active for only 30 days, which may not be not long enough to familiarize yourself with the different platforms and test trading strategies.
  • There’s no simplified proprietary trading platform, nor are there any social trading features, which could be a disadvantage if you are new to day trading.

#4 - XM

Why We Chose XM

XM is a globally recognized forex and CFD broker with 10+ million clients in 190+ countries. Since 2009, this trusted broker has been known for its low fees on 1000+ instruments. XM is regulated by multiple financial bodies, including the ASIC and CySEC.

"XM is one of the best forex and CFD brokers we have tested. The flexible account types will suit a variety of short-term trading styles while the $5 minimum deposit and smooth sign-up process make it easy to start trading."

- DayTrading Review Team
  • Instruments: Forex, Stock CFDs, Turbo Stocks, Indices, Commodities, Precious Metals, Energies, Shares, Crypto, Futures
  • Regulator: ASIC, CySEC, DFSA, FSC, FSCA
  • Platforms: MT4, MT5
  • Minimum Deposit: $5
  • Minimum Trade: 0.01 Lots

Pros

  • Accessible trading accounts with a $5 minimum deposit and fast account opening
  • Powerful MT4 and MT5 platforms are available with 60+ and 80+ technical charting tools
  • XM is a hugely respected broker authorized by tier-one regulators

Cons

  • There is weak regulatory oversight through the global entity
  • PayPal deposits are not supported
  • There's $5 inactivity fee after only 3 months, though this won't affect active traders

#5 - IC Markets

Why We Chose IC Markets

IC Markets is a globally recognized forex and CFD broker known for its excellent pricing, comprehensive range of trading instruments, and premium trading technology. Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Australia, the brokerage is regulated by the ASIC, CySEC and FSA, and has attracted more than 180,000 clients from over 200 countries.

"IC Markets offers superior pricing, exceptionally fast execution and seamless deposits. The introduction of advanced charting platforms, notably TradingView, and the Raw Trader Plus account, ensures it remains a top choice for intermediate to advanced day traders."

- DayTrading Review Team
  • Instruments: CFDs, Forex, Stocks, Indices, Commodities, Bonds, Futures, Crypto
  • Regulator: ASIC, CySEC, FSA
  • Platforms: MT4, MT5, cTrader, TradingView, TradingCentral, DupliTrade
  • Minimum Deposit: $200
  • Minimum Trade: 0.01 Lots
  • Leverage: 1:30 (ASIC & CySEC), 1:500 (FSA), 1:1000 (Global)

Pros

  • You have access to over 2,250 CFDs across various markets, including forex, commodities, indices, stocks, bonds, and cryptocurrencies, allowing for diversified trading strategies.
  • As a tightly regulated and widely respected broker, IC Markets prioritizes client security and transparency, helping to ensure a reliable trading experience globally.
  • IC Markets offers fast and dependable 24/5 support based on firsthand experience, particularly when it comes to accounts and funding issues.

Cons

  • There are fees for certain withdrawal methods, including a $20 wire charge, which can eat into profits, especially for frequent withdrawals.
  • While IC Markets offers a selection of metals and cryptos for trading via CFDs, the range is not as extensive as brokers like eToro, limiting opportunities for traders interested in these asset classes.
  • The breadth and depth of tutorials, webinars and educational resources still need work, trailing alternatives like CMC Markets and reducing its suitability for beginners.

How Expert Advisors Work

Expert Advisors are trading algorithms, also known as bots, that can be deployed on the MT4 and MT5 platforms. EAs are built in the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and can be used to trade forex, indices and commodities, amongst others. They are essentially designed to execute positions and strategies based on pre-determined criteria.

The built-in MetaEditor facilitates the development and testing of automated trading strategies on both MetaTrader platforms. And importantly, 950+ bots are available for free from Code Base while 1,700+ paid-for Expert Advisors can be purchased from the MetaTrader Market. Alternatively, EA developers can sell individual robots via the Freelance service. Paid for bots range from $10 up to several thousand US Dollars.

Expert Advisors

Parameters

Fundamentally, Expert Advisors follow a long list of yes/no rules that they consider when either alerting you to a potential trading opportunity or automatically executing positions themselves.

For those interested in the fully automated route, EAs can be left to open and close positions around the clock, seven days a week. Of course, regular monitoring and refinement are advised as profits aren’t guaranteed.

Pros

Versatile

One of the key selling points of Expert Advisors is that they can be used to develop a range of complex trading strategies, based on an unlimited set of criteria. They can be applied to scalping strategies, intraday trading systems, and swing trading setups. Importantly, they can also be tested against historical market data to gauge results.

Emotion

Another significant advantage is that Expert Advisors take the emotion out of trading. Algorithms are not affected by recent trades that have gone sour. Instead, they make decisions based entirely on logic and pre-agreed parameters.

Time

EAs can save time. Instead of manually monitoring the forex or stock market and entering and closing positions all day, an Expert Advisor can do it for you. This frees up more time to explore new markets and develop fresh strategies.

Price

Finally, EAs can be cost-effective. Users can download free bots from Code Base or pay for more advanced algorithms from the MetaTrader Market. You can also pay for bespoke bots to be built using the MetaQuotes Freelance service.

Of course, as with most things, good EAs are likely to come with a hefty price tag and even those do not guarantee consistent returns.

Cons

24/7 Trading

To run a forex EA around the clock, you will need to set up a Virtual Private Server (VPS), which often comes at a cost.  And even then, it’s best to keep regular checks on progress to avoid risking substantial losses.

Profits

Unfortunately, there are scams and misrepresented EAs on MT4 and MT5. Often promising high returns with limited evidence to support claims and no track record of profits, these are to be avoided.

Beginners should carefully review bots before downloading a free solution or paying for an EA. The Code Base and Market both publish important metrics about the Expert Advisors available, including a rating, setup guidance, risk parameters, and suitable markets.

News

Expert Advisors are entirely data-driven so they don’t always respond to news events as you would expect. They aren’t able to predict all market reactions and trends so they cannot be left entirely to their own devices.

Getting Started

How To Enable Expert Advisors In MT4

Open up the MetaTrader 4 terminal and select the ‘Options’ menu under ‘Tools’. A window will then appear with the Expert Advisor section. You can then click to ‘Allow automated trading’. The platform should then enable the use of EAs.

Using Expert Advisors On MT4

To add Expert Advisors to your forex MT4 account, open MT4 and locate ‘File’. Next, click ‘Open data folder’ and choose ‘MQL4’. You should then be able to choose between ‘Expert Advisors’ and ‘Indicators’, depending on the type of input you want. You can then copy over the desired file or bot. Once complete, restart the MT4 terminal and the EA should be available in the ‘Navigator’ window.

Expert Advisors on MetaTrader 4

If the Expert Advisor is available in Code Base, then the process of adding it is far simpler. Just find the desired EA or indicator and hit the ‘Free download’ or ‘Buy Expert Advisor’ buttons. Once downloaded, you can activate the EA by dragging it onto your chart and setting your variables.

How To Enable Expert Advisors In MT5

Open the MetaTrader 5 terminal and select the ‘Platform option’. Next, navigate to the ‘Expert Advisors’ tab in the pop-up menu and make sure the ‘Automated trading’ box is ticked. Once ticked, EAs can be used on your desktop or mobile MT5 application.

Setting up Expert Advisors on MT5

Using Expert Advisors On MT5

Similar to MT4, open the terminal and select ‘File’. Next, click on the ‘Open data folder’ and choose ‘MQL5’. You can then select either ‘Expert Advisors’ or ‘Indicators’. From there, you can copy over the file. Now you simply need to refresh the application and the new EA should be available in the window. Once visible, you can drag and drop the bot onto your chart to adjust any parameters.

Testing EAs

The good news is that most Expert Advisors on Code Base and the MetaTrader Market have user reviews. Many of the premium bots and indicators for sale also come with a free demo solution so that you can backtest algorithms against historical market data. Robots are usually scaled back in terms of features with the simulator, but they still give you a good indication of future performance.

Helpfully, Code Base and the Market both list the best performing Expert Advisors in 2024 and split out bots by different markets and strategies, such as forex or gold and day trading or longer-term investing.

Creating Your Own Expert Advisors

Established traders may want to build their own bot for personal use or sell their algorithm. For this, users will need to develop bots in the respective platform programming language. For MetaTrader 4, this is MQL4 while for MetaTrader 5, this is MQL5.

EAs are developed in the intuitive IDE (Integrated Development Environment) alongside MetaEditor. These are important tools that help you build, test and refine MT4 and MT5 robots to operate on forex, stock or commodity markets. Fortunately, there is a host of useful tutorials and guides online, as well as MQL4 and MQL5 forums. Other useful tips and recommendations on building your own trading bot can be found at IG and Pepperstone.

Once you have built your Expert Advisor, you can put it to work on your account, offer it as a free download on Code Base, or sell it on the MetaTrader Market.

Bottom Line

Expert Advisors are algorithms that automatically monitor the markets and execute trades based on pre-defined criteria. EAs can be used for trading popular financial markets, including forex, on both MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5. A collection and database of useful tutorials and bot builder programmes are available online, especially on the MetaTrader website.

To download an EA today, head to Code Base or the MetaTrader Market.

FAQs

Are Expert Advisors Safe?

There is no guarantee of consistent profits when trading with EAs. Whilst some of the best bots do generate decent returns, these can be pricey and often out of reach for beginners. Always check reviews of free bots before hitting download and be wary of installing Expert Advisors from third-party websites, as they could contain malicious code or be operating a scam.

Do Forex Expert Advisors Really Work?

Some FX Expert Advisors produce regular returns trading major, minor and exotic currency pairs. Of course, they will only operate effectively if trade parameters have been set up correctly. Check user reviews before downloading any free forex EAs and also backtest bots against historical data before risking funds.

Are Expert Advisors Profitable?

Some EAs have cracked creating impressive returns while others produce consistent losses. How successful a bot is ultimately depends on how well it has been developed and refined. The best performing EAs can be found on the MetaTrader Market but may come with a hefty price tag, sometimes costing thousands of dollars.

What Platforms Can You Use Expert Advisors On?

Expert Advisors are primarily available on the MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5) platforms. With that said, automated trading systems and services can also be found on other popular terminals, including cTrader.

Are Expert Advisors Allowed In Trading Competitions?

This is entirely dependent on the company running the competition. EAs are allowed in the FTMO trading competition, for example, however some companies restrict their use. As a result, it’s best to check terms and conditions before signing up. Importantly, it is worth noting that retail Expert Advisors are legal in most major trading jurisdictions.