11 Best Online Trading Platform
Trade exchange and investments are what most individuals leverage to grow their retirement savings. But if you want to start a career in this field, it’s not easy. Back in the day, if you wanted to trade yourself directly with the exchanges, you would need to be fully licensed and work with a firm that had purchased access.
However, thanks to the internet, entering the world of the stock exchange has been made easier and accessible for everyone through online trading. An average Joe can now start trading online. Furthermore, with fierce competition has drastically reduced the cost per trade.
What makes a good online trading platform? What should you look for in choosing the one that would meet your investment needs?
We have gathered the best online trading platform to make it easier for you to start your online investment.
1. TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade is one of the biggest names when it comes to online platforms that provide services to online brokers. There are several platforms that you can choose from – ranging from their basic website to the intricate ones designed for very active online traders.
- Extensive numbers of available resources and updated news to keep you in the loop of online trading.
- It provides a wider variety of asset classes to help novice investors settle in easily.
- Additional support channels such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Twitter.
- Commission on ETF trades and stock is $0 as of October 2019.
- Since it provides multiple features, users may have to utilize more than one trading system.
- Some users may find it hard to find the tools that they want.
- With tons of content and tools available on their website, you may need to spend more time finding a particular item.
- Though they have eliminated base trading commissions on ETFs, equities and options for U.S.-based customers, their margin interest rates still remain high.
This online trading platform uses technology to help online investors make better trading decisions. The minimum investment amount may vary by trading class, ranging from $500 to $2000.
If you’re a less active trader, this may not be the right platform for you. Users of TradeStation must trade at least 5,000 shares or make at least 50 options trades per month, They must also need to maintain a $100,000 balance if they don’t want to pay huge platform fees.
- TradeStation has a very simple coding language called EasyLanguage making it easier for traders to create buy and sell strategies for certain equities.
- With more than 40 years of historical data, you can analyze various strategies and study technical trends.
- TradeStation is known to be one of the most helpful platforms that carry active forums in the trading world.
- They provide free trading to active duty military.
- It does not offer commission-free ETFs. It does not provide any in-depth research on ETFs either.
- Needs additional subscription or financial outlay to access many features of TradeStation.
- Pricing plans may provide potential commission confusion.
3. Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers has been one of the favorite platforms of advanced traders. To cater to casual investors though, the company has launched IBKR Lite as the second tier of service. This new service offers novice investors unlimited, commission-free trading on ETFs and US-listed stocks.
- Casual investors and advanced traders can take advantage of low commissions. Casual investors enjoy the free trades that IBKR Lite offers. Advanced traders, on the other hand, will enjoy the low exchange-traded funds commission at just $0.005 per share.
- Interactive Brokers also offer a low margin rate. The maximum margin rate for IBKR Lite is 2.5% while 1.5% for IBKR Pro customers.
- Rather than paying for a full-priced share, you have the ability to purchase a portion of the stocks owned by the company.
- You can trade on 120 markets in 31 countries, with 23 currencies available.
- IB provides a wide selection of news services and research, in which many of them are for free.
- There are inactivity fees for IBKR Pro customers. If your account has a balance of $100,000 or less and doesn’t want any of these fees, you must have at least $10 a month in trade commissions.
- A huge portion of the platform is catered to broker, institutional and proprietary trading accounts and new investors may find this confusing.
4. Charles Schwab
Founded in 1971, Charles Schwab has gone a long way into becoming one of the biggest US-based discount brokers. With its long track record and banking background, many investors feel safe and confident using this online platform.
- Charles Schwab offers high-quality research and covers a lot of tools, including detailed fundamental data and trading ideas.
- It has low trading fees and no inactivity fee.
- The customer support team provides answers and solutions in a timely manner.
- Native mobile apps and mobile web platforms offer the same functionality.
- You may need to use different platforms to access other features.
- Geared towards utilizing a financial investor.
- Low interest paid on the cash balance.
5. Zacks Trade
Created by Len Zacks, Zacks Trade is an online trading platform that caters more towards multi-security investors and active day-traders. Just like with several investment platforms, Zacks Trade also offers the ability to buy stocks and bonds. What sets them apart is its users access to two incredibly in-depth and complex platforms. This enables experienced traders to make more aggressive trades.
- Zacks Trade has cheaper trading commissions compared to other online trading platforms.
- Investors have access to 26 news reports and research for free, including Zacks Investment Research.
- You can easily trade securities on over 90 different exchanges in 19 countries.
- It offers two tools – downloadable ZacksTrade Pro and the web-based ZacksTrader.
- Aside from their phone and chat lines, Zacks Trade also provides its users access to a broker for free.
- May not be the best platform for novice traders.
- The platform and website are slow and clunky.
6. Fidelity Investments
Fidelity is one of the world’s largest investment brokerages today, with $0 trading commissions and zero-fee index funds. For investors who want to be fully hands-on with their portfolio, Fidelity provides comprehensive self-directed investment tools. On the other hand, they also provide portfolio advisory services, a dedicated Robo-advisor platform, and wealth management to those who want their portfolios professionally managed.
- They offer one of the lowest fees and commissions which is highly beneficial for high-frequency traders.
- Fidelity provides a wide variety of educational resources and trading tools.
- Easy accessibility with around 140 branch locations in and around most major metropolitan areas in the US.
- Users have access to self-employed retirement plans such as SIMPLE IRAs and SEP and small business 401(k) plans.
- They have a high fee structure for portfolio advisory services and wealth management.
- High annual fee side for Fidelity Go Robo-advisor.
Robinhood is a solid choice when it comes to online trading platforms. It provides 100% commission-free stock, ETFs, cryptocurrency trades, and options. And what’s even better? They have a $0 account minimum too. This platform is perfect if you want to trade without having to pay any commissions or fees (and who really wants to pay commission ?).
The platform was initially available through a mobile app, however, a website version was launched in November 2017. Both the website and app are simple and easy to use.
- The platform is very easy to use which makes it suitable for beginners.
- No commission charges for trading ETFs, stocks, cryptocurrency or options.
- It provides a bare-bones trading experience that may not be favorable for investors who want a robust trading platform.
- Research tools and educational resources are severely lacking.
- Users can hardly customize or personalize the experience of both the app and website.
E*Trade is one of the original online trading platforms and therefore one of the most popular. The platform is not only user-friendly but it also provides tools and resources needed for investors to make better investment decisions. Ironically, even though it was one of the first online trading platforms that forced major changes in fee structure for the industry, it is no longer the cheapest option out there.
There is no minimum amount needed to sign up with E*Trade. There is no basic management fees and annual charges either.
- Wide selections of available tools and resources.
- Low costs and fees.
- Phone support is available 24/7. They also have local branches throughout the country.
- Two platforms are available – E*Trade Web and E*Trade mobile app.
- Above-average margin interest rates.
9. Ally Invest
Ally Invest ranks high amongst the list of stockbrokers for both new and seasoned traders. What makes this platform appealing? Aside from its zero required minimum and commissions, Ally Invest also offers a great selection of trading features. In addition, they take pride in their excellent customer service and online banking.
Although it is relatively newer to the industry, Ally Invest has clearly made a name for themselves. They now have more than 250,000 customer accounts and hold more than $4.7 billion in assets.
- Free trading commissions for ETF trades, options, and online stock.
- Zero account balance minimum.
- The platform provides a customizable dashboard and real-time streaming quotes and data. In addition, users have access to all of the broker’s tools.
- High-quality investing research and tools.
- They don’t have any physical branches.
- Transfer of funds into your account could take 5-10 business days.
Lightspeed Trading is a discount broker that serves both high-velocity stock and options trader. The platform comes in 5 different varieties: Web/Mobile Trader, RealTick Pro, Livevol X, Sterling, and LS Trader.
The platform is driven to cater to professional traders. To open an account, new customers must have a minimum balance of $10,000. It doesn’t mean that amateurs can’t use this platform though. However, you must purchase 500-plus options contracts or make more than 250 stock trades a month to derive the most value.
- Offers low commission for ETFs and stocks for $4.50 per trade.
- It has multiple trading platforms.
- Trades are completed very quickly.
- This platform is not for inactive traders.
- Requires a high minimum account balance.
- It does not have a mobile app.
As the name suggests, eOption is a straightforward options-based trading platform that focuses on low fees, easy trades, and automated trading options. This platform attracts frequent day traders and swing traders with its lower-than-average commissions. eOption is a good choice for traders who are price sensitive and want to minimize fees and commissions cutting into profits. This is also an ideal platform for traders who prefer an automated trading experience, international traders in search of various support options and active traders who are making multiple trades a day or week.
- Low cost to trade options at $1.99 plus 10 cents per-contract fee.
- Automated newsletter trading.
- Easy to use platform.
- Non-U.S. investors are allowed to open an international account.
- Fairly standard features of the platform which may be disappointing to some active traders.
- Educational resources available may not satisfy the needs of novice investors.
Our recommended best online trading platform amongst the list above is TD Ameritrade. Their top of the line trading platform, excellent resources, and aggressive pricing structure make them our pick. Regardless if you’re just starting with your online trading journey or are already an expert, TD Ameritrade has something for you.
Users of TD Ameritrade are getting a lot of value for their money and get access to many fantastic services for free: trading tools, high-quality research, hands-on investing courses, and portfolio-building guidance.
If you want to learn more about the world of online trading, A Beginner’s Guide to Day Trading Online by Toni Turner is a perfect read. This book contains tools, trading tactics and strategies to help you make better trading decisions.