Founded in 2003, NinjaTrader offers software and brokerage services for active traders. With a funded account, the NinjaTrader platform is free to use for charting, market analysis, and live trading (the SIM version is free even without a funded account).

To access the platform's premium features—such as advanced order types, automated trading, and backtesting—you'll need to lease or buy the software (from $60/month to lease; $1,099 one-time payment to buy). The Order Flow+ suite of premium features, which allows you to analyze trade activity using order flow, volume bars, and market depth, is available only with a lifetime license.

The NinjaTrader platform is ideal for active traders who want lots of technical analysis tools. The platform boasts excellent charting, real-time analysis, customizable technical indicators, Chart Trader (a chart-based order entry tool), and thousands of apps and add-ons from 3rd-party developers.

As a brokerage, NinjaTrader offers access to the futures and forex markets. The company has partnered with several supporting brokerages, including Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade, to give traders access to other markets, including options on futures, CFDs, and equities.

Pros

  • Excellent charting, great technical analysis tools, as well as partial and full strategy automation 

  • The NinjaTrader Ecosystem offers thousands of apps and add-ons from third-party developers

  • Learn the platform and practice trading before risking real money 

  • Platform guides, video library, and free daily webinars

Cons

  • Basic platform features are free with a funded account, but you'll need to pay to access premium features

  • Easy setup for futures and forex traders, but you'll have to use a supporting broker to trade equities

  • NinjaTrader brokerage clients can use the CQG mobile app, but there's no app (yet) if you're using another broker

Trading Experience

The NinjaTrader platform has clean, fully customizable charts. It's easy to change colors (for background, crosshair, gridlines, text, etc.), fonts, and bar spacing/width as well as the overall layout of your chart windows. You can easily insert technical indicators, strategies, and drawing tools, which are all customizable within the chart. The platform supports a great selection of bar types—including time-based, tick, volume, range, Heiken Ashi, Kagi, Renko, and Point and Figure bars—plus a good variety of chart styles, such as candlesticks, OHLC (with variants), Kagi Line, and Mountain.  

You'll have access to several easy-to-use order entry interfaces, including Chart Trader, a terrific tool that allows you to place and manage trades directly from a chart (NinjaTrader was one of the first platforms to offer this).

The platform supports all the usual order types, including market, limit, stop market, and stop-limit orders as well as advanced OCO (one cancels other) orders. If you're interested in automated trading, NinjaTrader's ATM Strategies provide discretionary traders with semi-automated features to manage their positions. Alternatively, you can fully automate a strategy using a "point and click" construction for non-programmers, or by using NinjaTrader's C#-based trading framework.

Trading Technology

NinjaTrader uses CQG Continuum as its primary data provider for live brokerage accounts, although Rithmic is supported as well. Monthly data fees are required with a full market depth option, or you can get top of book data for reduced fees (this is a new option that NinjaTrader released in mid-2019).

Data fees depend on the exchange. For example, full market depth data on CME is $7 per month. If you need access to more instruments, you can opt for the CME bundle, which includes CME, CBOT, NYMEX, and COMEX, for $21 per month.

You can play, pause, and rewind historical price data on a tick-by-tick basis using NinjaTrader's Market Replay feature—a tool that's helpful for backtesting, trade practice, and other trade-related research.

Usability

With a funded account ($400 for futures; $50 for forex), the NinjaTrader platform is free to use for charting, market analysis, and live trading (you don't need a funded account to use the platform for SIM trading). The installation process is straightforward, and as soon as you launch the platform, you can open charts, customize colors, and add indicators and strategies. To insert a symbol to a chart, just type it into the chart. And if you're trading futures, rolling is super easy: Select Tools>Database>Rollover feature.

The platform is robust with lots of tools and resources, and it takes some time to learn how to use all the features. Fortunately, NinjaTrader hosts free daily webinars to help you get started. Topics include connecting to data, one-click order entry, how to set up a workspace, basic chart creation, advanced settings, and strategy automation.

A great feature of the platform worth mentioning is the ability to place simulated trades, complete with an imaginary account and profit/loss summary. Sim trading can be especially helpful to newer traders who haven't had much practice placing trades—and dealing with the inevitable mistakes that happen, such as costly order entry mistakes (e.g., hitting BUY instead of SELL, trading more contracts than intended).

Mobile and Emerging Tech

NinjaTrader brokerage clients can use the companion CQG mobile app, available for both iOS and Android. While the app doesn't use the NinjaTrader platform, it offers an intuitive interface with real-time quotes, charts, and analytics. It boasts easy-to-use trading and order management tools, advanced order types, dozens of indicators, and customizable charts styles and intervals.

NinjaTrader has indicated it will likely offer a dedicated mobile app in the future, but it hasn't made any announcements yet.

Range of Offerings

The NinjaTrader brokerage supports futures, options on futures, and forex trading. If you want to trade equities on the NinjaTrader platform, you can go through one of NinjaTrader's supporting brokers, including Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade. You can sign up for a NinjaTrader brokerage account, or one of its partner brokers, on the NinjaTrader website.

News and Research

Besides advanced charting and market depth tools, there are limited resources for research or insights within the platform. As we have already noted, NinjaTrader is oriented toward a niche of investors focused on active futures and forex trading. From that perspective, the NinjaTrader platform has all the tools and features it needs to be successful. The platform, indicators, and other features are customizable at a very granular level, which is important for active or professional traders. Again because NinjaTrader is primarily a futures and forex brokerage, financial statements, news, and economic data that you might find in other professional platforms are missing. While the technical data is comprehensive, you'll have to use another resource for fundamental information if you need that type of analysis.

Portfolio Analysis and Reports

The NinjaTrader platform is geared toward active traders—not long-term investors. As a result, it doesn't offer any portfolio analysis tools or reports that would help buy-and-hold investors make decisions about asset allocation or specific holdings.

Customer Service and Help

NinjaTrader provides 24/5 and weekend technical support, along with a 24-hour trade desk for emergencies and live orders. Live chat help is available on weekdays on the NinjaTrader website, and the response times were reasonable. Visit NinjaTraders Contact Us page to call, email, or submit a support request.

NinjaTrader's support forum, which you can access through the NinjaTrader website, is a good place to find answers to questions or post a question if you're having trouble finding information. The forum is divided into five sections: News and Announcements, NinjaTrader 8 (the current release), NinjaTrader 7 (legacy release), NinjaScript File Sharing, and Suggestions and Feedback.

Education

NinjaTrader and the community's ecosystem has a wide selection of educational videos, webinars, and documentation. Vendors provide much of the education, which includes promotional material for vendor systems, add-ons, and plugins, but we didn't see this as a negative. The existence of a robust ecosystem of other users and professional developers will likely keep the flow of education and ideas fresh. NinjaTrader offers several daily webinars and recorded videos intended to help you get the most out of the platform. The video library is broken down into several sections, including Order Entry, SuperDOM, Market Analyzer, Charts, and Strategy Backtesting and Optimization to make it easier to find what you're looking for. A limited amount of non-platform related educational content is on the NinjaTrader blog. All of NinjaTrader's educational offerings can be accessed for free by anyone—clients and non-clients alike.

Costs

Fees and Commissions
Account Minimum $400 for futures; $50 for forex
Futures From $0.59 per contract (from $0.09 per Micro contract)
Forex Bid-ask spread cost
Broker Assisted Trades Free emergency trade desk
Platform/Maintenance Fee Platform: from $60/month. Inactivity fee: $25/month

What You Need To Know

NinjaTrader offers great-looking charts with excellent customization and functionality. The platform and brokerage are both geared toward active futures and forex traders who need a solid technical analysis platform.

NinjaTrader's "sim trading" feature is an excellent tool for newer traders looking to gain experience in the order-entry arena, and the ecosystem is a valuable resource for finding indicators and strategies. The partial and full strategy automation features are useful additions to the platform, and it's possible to work with a NinjaScript programmer to design your own technical indicators and strategies. Of course, you can do this on your own if you have experience coding and want to learn something new.