By Kathleen Brooks, Brian Dolan

One way to follow the market from a distance is to set rate alerts from either your charting system or your trading platform. A rate alert is an electronic message that alerts you when a price you’ve specified is touched by the market in a currency pair you specify. Rate alerts are a great way to keep tabs on the market’s progress.

Rate alerts on charting systems usually have the capability of alerting you to price developments only while you’re logged on to your computer or using your smartphone or tablet and the charting service.

With charting systems, you’re able to work on other tasks on your computer and keep the charting system minimized or in the background, which means you can use these at your job. If your requested price level is hit by the market, the chart system will typically start beeping or flashing and send a pop-up message.

Some forex brokers, including FOREX.com, can send rate alerts via email and text message direct to your smartphone. Many brokers now also have a large presence on Twitter and Facebook, so it’s worth following your broker on social networks as well.

Rate alerts are a convenient way to follow the market remotely, but they don’t take the place of live orders and should never be substituted for stop-loss orders. By the time you respond to a rate alert and log on to the trading platform or call your broker’s trading desk, prices may have moved well beyond your desired stop-out level, leaving you with a larger loss than you anticipated.

Rate alerts are a nice little extra service, but only orders represent obligations on the part of your broker to take an action in the market for your account.