No, MetaTrader 4 is not a broker. It is a Trading Platform (software)
Why do people think MetaTrader 4 is a broker?
It is understandable people might think MetaTrader 4 is a broker as it is the worlds most popular trading platform, used in many trading screenshots online and examples in YouTube videos.
A analogy to help people understand the relevance of a trading platform, is how you might connect to the Internet:
“The Internet” is like the “Financial Markets”.
An ISP (Internet Service Provider) is a like “Broker”, for a fee or commission they will enable you to connect to the Internet. MetaTrader 4 is like your Modem (router) to enabling you to connect to and use the Internet, i.e trade the financial markets.
MetaTrader a Trading Platform
MetaTrader 4, commonly referred to as MT4, is a trading platformthat can be installed on Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone and Linux. With native versions of each.
MT4 is best used on Windows, I have found there are a few issues on the Mac version and it is less responsive, so I’d recommend using Windows to use MT4.
When you become more experienced at trading, or If you are running trading scripts and trading bots (in MetaTrader these are known as EAs or Expert Advisors) it’s highly recommend you use a VPS (Virtual Private Server) which will allow you to run the MetaTrader 4 platform 24/7 and enable you to turn your computer off and keep MT4 trading.
There is also a “web trader” version of MT4 available allowing you to use MetaTrader within most web browsers. This is offered by most brokers, but it a version of MT4 with limited features.
Essentially you log into MT4 using the username and password provided by your broker. You commonly use your brokers backend system to fund (and withdraw) funds from your account.
Once you login to MT4 the funds will be available via your broker account.
Different Versions of MetaTrader 4
Brokers provide MetaTrader4, among other thrid-party trading platforms, such as cTrader or even MetaTrader 5, a newer, but less popular MetaTrader version of MetaTrader made by MetaQuotes.
It’s important to note, MetaTrader 4 is by no means exclusive, although many brokers marketing material would suggest it is, this is just marketing spin.
Awards for “best trading platform” when a brokers primary trading platform is MT4 is normally based on what plugins and tools are offered or latency (speed) offered by the broker, generally if your connection to the markets is quick, an “award” for best trading platform is not something that should sway your decision when choosing a broker.
As mentioned brokers may have different plugins and add-ons for MT4 they offer to their customers, like Autochartist or “MT4 Supreme Edition” but essentially it’s just MT4 with add-ons. MT4 is, essentially, the same across all brokers.
MetaTrader 4 Brokers - What Does this Mean?
Some brokers have no proprietary software and are completely reliant on third-party trading platforms, like MetaTrader, to connect their clients to the markets.
These brokers are commonly referred to as “MetaTrader Brokers“.
Brokers Pay A License For MetaTrader 4
Brokers pay a license that enables them to use MT4, this is dependant on the amount of users they have and the “add-ons” and “white label” functions they use.
The cost of a MetaQuotes license can be $100,000 it depends on users and the deal the brokers have licensed with MetaQuotes.
MT4 Being Phased Out For MT5
What’s interesting is that MetaQuotes are no longer providing new brokers MT4 licenses and no more additional MetaTrader 4 licenses to brokers, although it is still by far the most popular trading platform.
Due to this MT4 accounts are becoming sought after by seasoned traders and some brokers are offering traders incentives to traders to switch to using MetaTrader 5.
MetaQuotes themselves want customers and brokers to start using their newer platform MetaTrader 5 (MT5) and will stop offering support to MT4.
MetaTrader 4 Download
Due to the above limitation of MT4 it is no longer easy to download MT4 directly from the MetaQuotes website, the links are all still available but it will download MT5 when you click the links.
MT5 is find If you’re just starting trading, and can do all MT4 does. Most seasoned traders have been using MT4 so prefer it offers.