Ninjatrader Brokerage Review - Is it the trader for you?
If you've considered getting into futures or forex trading at all, you've probably heard of Ninja Trader. Because it has an open-source framework, it has thousands of add-on apps and hundreds of developers working on it constantly.
For this reason, it's very popular. But is Ninja Trader the right platform or brokerage for you?
Read on to find out the benefits and disadvantages to using Ninja Trader platform and/or brokerage.
Ninja Trader was released in 2004. Its parent company is headquartered in Denver, CO.
It has over 40,000 users and more than 400 developers. It is similar to MT4 in the sense that it is “open source”. But while MT4 is primarily used by forex traders, Ninja Trader is more popular with the futures trading community.
Ninja Trader can be used for free on a demo account. But if you want to use it to make live trades, you have to either use Ninja Trader Brokerage and pay extra per contract or else lease or buy the platform and use an outside brokerage.
This is a big difference between Ninja Trader and other platforms because most other platforms can only be obtained through an affiliated brokerage.
Who Should Consider It?
If you want to trade futures or forex but do not want to be tied down to a particular broker's proprietary platform, Ninja Trader might be the right software for you. If you like the software and don't want to pay an upfront fee to own or lease it, you may also want to use Ninja Trader brokerage.
If you are an experienced trader who wants to have a lot of scripts to use, Ninja Trader is a great platform. This is especially true for the old version, Ninja Trader 7. But Ninja Trader 8 also has a lot of scripts available. And they are growing every day as programmers port over the scripts from the old version.
If you are a beginner, you probably want to stay away from Ninja Trader 7 because it is very difficult to learn.
However, the company has made great strides toward the new version being more newbie-friendly. In addition, the company does offer plenty of video tutorials for NJ7 on their YouTube page if you want to learn the old version.
So this platform isn't necessarily bad for beginners. But it is aimed more at the experienced trader who likes to use a lot of scripts.
Likes & Dislikes
- Free simulation version using either random data or live data updated once per day.
- Highly customizable. Floating windows and many types of indicators can not be found in other platforms.
- Older version has steep learning curve while newer version has less scripts available.
- No mobile platform (yet).
In forex, Ninja Trader can be used to trade any major or minor currency pair and many exotic ones as well.
For example, the company lists commission rates for the Turkish lira, Mexican peso and Swedish krone. These exotic currencies can be traded using Ninja Trader brokerage, which is offered through an agreement with forex.com.
While most traders won't have an interest in these, it's nice to know they are available. You never know when you might be in a weird mood and want to trade something new.
In order to trade forex, Ninja Trader brokerage requires a $2,000 minimum deposit through forex.com.
If you buy or lease the platform and use an outside broker instead, you may be able to start trading with a smaller amount of capital. Check with your individual broker to make sure.
In futures, Ninja Trader can be used to trade a wide variety of products from different exchanges. Whether you want to trade Fed Funds Futures, S & P 500 e-minis, Comex gold, CBOT 30-yr. T-Bond contracts, CME live cattle, or whatever...Ninja Trader has what you need.
There are a total of 224 types of contracts on the “instrument list” inside the software. So if you're the kind of trader who likes to jump around from one product to another, you're definitely not going to get bored with the options available.
Futures can be traded with a minimum deposit of $1,000 through Ninja Trader brokerage. This is done through an agreement with Phillip Capital and Dorman Trading.
The trading platform also has support for stocks. So if you can find an outside stock broker that allows you to use Ninja Trader, it is theoretically possible to do so. However, I am not aware of any that will allow you to do this.
Owning Ninja Trader
The Ninja Trader platform can be purchased with a “lifetime membership” for $999. If you have a lifetime membership, you get access to all of the updates and support you need for the rest of your life. You can also use the software on any of the brokerages that allow it.
If you don't have $999 up front, you can break the payment down into four monthly installments of $299 each ($1200 total).
If you decide to use Ninja Trader brokerage, a person who owns the software only pays $0.53 commission per futures contract and $0.04 commission per forex lot.
Most traders will not want to buy a lifetime membership to the platform. But if you are a professional trader or if trading is a substantial part of your life, you may benefit from it over the long-run because it will save you money on leasing and/or commissions.
Leasing Ninja Trader
Another option is to lease the platform. In this case, you only have to pay $50 per month. This is a lot better than $299 in the short-run. But of course over a lifetime it's a lot more expensive.
If you lease the software and use it with Ninja Trader brokerage, you have to pay slightly higher commissions than you would if you owned it: $0.73 per futures contract and $0.05 per forex lot.
Leasing Ninja Trader is best for traders that are very serious and may even be thinking about trading full-time, but who may not want to invest $999 in capital right away.
If you decide to lease Ninja trader, you can always buy it later if you want.
Using Ninja Trader for Free (Live Trading)
If you don't want to lease or buy Ninja Trader, you can always just use it for free and only pay for commissions.
But of course, there are several “catches” to doing this.
First, you can only use Ninja Trader to do live trades for free if you use Ninja Trader brokerage through Phillip Capital, Forex.com, or Dorman Trading. If you want to use an outside broker, this option is not available.
Second, you get charged more for commissions if you don't lease or buy the platform: $0.95 per futures contract and $0.06 per forex lot.
If you are an experienced trader with a lot of capital, these extra commissions can eat away your profits fast.
But if you are a beginner or don't have enough capital to make much more than $50/per month trading, then it is probably worth paying these commissions rather than leasing the software.
Using Ninja Trader for Free
Finally, there is one way to use Ninja Trader totally free. All you have to do is download the software and set it up to use either the “simulated” data feed or the Kinetick End of Day data feed.
The simulated data feed randomly generates price data that is completely unrelated to the real world. But you can use it to practice as much as you want and pay nothing.
The Kinetick End of Day data feed provides end-of-day price data from the real world. Again, this costs nothing and can be useful if you just want to practice.
Because it only updates once a day, it's only useful to swing or position traders. But if you are one of these kinds of traders, you might want to try it out.
Overall, Ninja Trader offers pricing options for many different kinds of traders. This flexibility is nice regardless of which category you fit into.
When you open Ninja Trader 7 or 8, what you get is a set of windows that can be moved around your screen and put wherever you want. If you use multiple monitors to keep track of things going on in the markets, you can even send each of these windows to different monitors.
The heart of the software is the Control Center window. This can be used to open whatever other windows you need.
In Ninja Trader 7, opening a new chart requires you to click on file-->new-->chart.
You are then confronted with a dialogue box that gives you a list of instruments in the upper-left corner and buttons titled “new”, “ok”, and “close”. There is also a drop-down menu that says “Load the following chart template <none>”.
Clicking on the instruments causes them to be highlighted. But it is only if you click on “new” after highlighting one of these instruments that it appears in a separate area in the bottom-left corner of the dialogue box. It then finally produces a chart if you click on “ok”.
If the instrument you want to trade is not listed, you must type in the symbol for it in the upper-left corner and hit the button to search for it. This button is labeled “...”.
If you don't know the symbol for the instrument you want to trade, you are out of luck.
In Ninja Trader 8, creating a new chart is much easier to do. The box labeled “...” has been replaced with one labeled “instruments”. And if you type in the name of an instrument, the software will try to figure out what you are looking for and list it for you.
In addition, all of the instruments are listed in the default menu. So you don't even have to use the search bar if you already know what the symbol is for the particular instrument you want to trade.
Overall, either version of the platform has great usability in the sense that they are both very customizable, although NT8 is easier in the beginning.
Ninja Trader 7 has a white and grey theme that cannot be changed.
Ninja Trader 8 has five “skins” that you can choose. By default, “slate grey” is the one it loads up as (on the picture below). But you can change it to black, light, slate light or slate black.
I found that the “light” skin made the menus easiest to read and the “slate light” made it look almost like a copy of NT7. But you may find that you like “black” or “slate black” better.
It's all a matter of personal preference. But regardless of which skin you choose, it's nice that Ninja trader now offers them as an option.
The only problem with the skins is that you have to restart Ninja Trader every time you change them. This can be annoying the first time you try them out.
Overall, the design for Ninja Trader is very nice. There's not much to complain about here, especially in comparison with trading platforms without vast design options.
As stated before, Ninja Trader is very similar to MT4 in the sense that it allows scripts to be run inside the software. It does this using a programming language called “NinjaScript”.
While most traders won't want to take the time to learn how to code in this language, they may want to download scripts created by other traders who code in this language as a hobby.
The scripting ability of the software is useful even if you don't want to use all of its features.
Yet another way to customize your trading experience is to use the “chart trader”.
Clicking on this button at the top of the screen produces a column on the right side with “buy by market”, “sell by market” and other buttons associated with placing orders.
This can allow you to make orders much faster than you would if you had to type them into a dialogue box.
Another way to customize is to configure hot-keys to trigger various actions.
For example, you can use hot-keys to enter and exit trades, switch windows, and execute strategies. Lightspeed Trading is another option for those looking for hot keys and hot buttons for faster trading.
Pushing the “strategy” button will produce a list of automated strategies that can be used for trading.
There are only four of these strategies listed by default (Atm, Multi Instrument, MA Crossover, and Multi Time-Frame). But you can download more of them from the many Ninja Trader oriented websites.
That way, you can make money while you eat lunch or go out for coffee. What could be better than that? 😉
In addition to all of these features, the company also provides plenty of help to traders who want learn how to use the software. Their YouTube channel has over 90 videos explaining how to use various Ninja Trader tools.
They have live webinars every week where participants can not only see a presentation on how to use a feature of the software, but can also ask questions of the speaker.
Another way in which the company helps is that it provides text “help guides” and “connection guides” that are very detailed explanations of how to use different aspects of Ninja Trader platform or brokerage.
If the educational materials are not enough for you to figure out how to do what you want with Ninja Trader, the company offers platform support and customer service through e-mail 24 hours a day, five days a week.
For emergencies involving actual trades, the company offers 24/7 phone support.
I found that platform support got back to me within 30 minutes to an hour when I asked a question. So despite it only being available through e-mail, it wasn't slow.
Of course, if your problem is complicated, it may take several e-mails to find a solution. So the fact that there is no phone support for platform issues can slow you down. This has to be taken into account when considering Ninja Trader.
Then again, they do offer the emergency trading support by phone if something truly serious is going on. So this should be considered as well.
If these customer service options aren't right for you, they offer a forum where users can post questions and get answers from both company employees and other users. This can be especially helpful if you are writing scripts as it allows you to get multiple points of view on your problem.
Ninja Trader is a powerful platform and brokerage for trading futures and forex. It's hard to go wrong with software that has so many users and developers striving to help each other make it better.
If you are using the old version, it can be difficult for beginners. But experienced traders will usually be very happy with it. And even beginners may like it, especially if they get the new version.