What are the best day trading platforms?
So, you’ve decided that you want to start day trading. You’ve always been intrigued by the high-class lifestyle you’ve seen expert traders living and you’ve done your research. There’s nothing stopping you from being a successful day trader now.
Well, there is one thing.
In order to trade actively in the stock market, you’ll need a brokerage account and trading platform that supports day trading. With so many to choose from, where do you start?
Best Online Trading Platforms for Day Trading
There are several trading platforms out there, each with their own unique tools, fee schedules, and overall trading experience. Expert day traders will tell you that choosing the best trading platform is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a beginner. When making this decision, it’s important to consider:
- Minimums. Some trading platforms will come with minimum deposits and balances that may hinder access for newcomers with relatively small portfolios.
- Tools. Trading is a very technical process that requires the use of tools like technical indicators and charting capabilities. As such, the platform you choose should offer a robust set of trading tools to give you the best chance of success.
- Assets Available to Trade. There are several different assets you may want to trade, ranging from stocks to exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to commodities, currencies, options, and futures. Before choosing a platform to work with, you should consider the assets available.
- Margins. Traders use margins as a way to expand their earnings potential, but margins are loans that aren’t available on all trading platforms. If you plan on taking advantage of margins, it’s important to make sure the platform you choose supports them and understand the interest rates they charge.
- Cost. While some trading platforms are completely free, others will charge fees to access premium features or the platform as a whole. Undue expenses will cut into your profitability, making it important to consider any fees associated with the platform before signing up.
- Customer Support. Finally, when you have questions about your money, it’s important that someone is there to answer them. The best platforms are coupled with a customer support team that’s knowledgeable and available to answer your questions.
The platforms below have become trader favorites as a result of the tools they offer, often at steep discounts to the competition.
1. Interactive Brokers
Industry-Leading Trading Tools and Charting Capabilities; More Than 100 Order Types
Interactive Brokers has been successfully serving the investing community since 1978. The company has created one of the most comprehensive day trading platforms on the market today — one that’s focused on providing industry-leading tools and margins at ridiculously low rates compared to the competition.
The platform, known as the Trader Workstation, is equipped with industry-leading trading tools and charting capabilities and more than 100 order types, giving traders complete control throughout the trading session.
Here are the key stats that makes this traditional brokerage firm one of the best online brokers around today:
- Minimum Deposit: There is no minimum deposit to get involved, making Interactive Brokers accessible to everyone.
- Tools: The charting capabilities offered through the platform are second to none, giving the trader access to all indicators needed for quality technical analysis. Beyond the charting capabilities, the platform supports backtesting, making it possible to see how a new trading strategy you’re considering employing would have performed in real-time market scenarios based on previous market data.
- Assets Available to Trade: The platform offers access to a wide range of assets, offering everything from stock trading to forex trading to commodities, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, hedge funds, and options trades, making it one of the most diverse platforms on the market.
- Cost: When trading domestic stocks on the platform, you’ll gain access for free with no minimum balances or inactivity fees, but you will still be required to cover regulatory fees, which work out to a small fraction of a penny per trade. When trading international stocks, you’ll be charged commissions at a fixed rate based on the country the stock is being traded in, according to the company. Interactive Brokers also offers highly competitive rates on options contracts, forex, and other assets traded on the platform.
- Margin Trading: Margins are where this particular platform really shines. Not only are these specialty accounts offered, they come with industry-leading margin rates, ranging from 0.5% to around 9% depending on the asset being traded and the size of the margin loan. This gives you the opportunity to access leverage at a discount to industry averages.
- Available Order Types: Using the Trader Workstation developed by the firm, traders have access to more than 100 order types and algorithms, giving you the maximum number of ways to take advantage of opportunities in the market.
- Customer Support: Interactive Brokers’ customer support is exactly what you would want to see. The staff is knowledgeable and eager to answer your questions.
Overall the trading experience offered through this platform is second to none. Designed for the most active traders, the platform comes with best-in-class trading software, technical indicators, and charting capabilities. Combine this with industry-leading low margin fees, a multitude of order types, and an intuitive mobile application that allows you to take your trading on the go and you have one of the best platforms available.
2. TD Ameritrade thinkorswim
Robust Trading Tools; Variety of Assets Available to Trade; Low Costs, Including $0 Commissions
TD Ameritrade is one of the most popular brokers on Wall Street and among the online trading community, and for good reason. Founded in 1975, the company has decades of experience catering to the needs of the investing community. From a trading perspective, the company’s thinkorswim platform was designed by traders, for traders, making it one of the most comprehensive offerings online today.
Day traders enjoy the thinkorswim platform because it comes with a robust set of trading tools, a long list of assets available to trade and a low-cost experience, allowing them to retain more of the money they earn in their trading activities.
Here are the key stats:
- Minimum Deposit: The platform comes with no minimum deposit. However, if you plan on trading on margins and taking advantage of certain option privileges, you’ll need to deposit a minimum of $2,000.
- Tools: This platform offers extensive analysis tools with all the technical indicators a trader would need.
- Assets Available to Trade: The company is best known by stock traders, but if you’re into options trading or want access to a host of other trading opportunities, you won’t be disappointed. The platform gives you access to stocks and options, as well as ETFs, mutual funds, futures, forex, bonds, and CDs.
- Pricing: One of the factors that has made this online broker so popular is its low cost structure. The company doesn’t charge commissions on stock, making these trades free with the exception of minor regulatory fees. The company offers industry-low fees on options, futures, and other assets tradable on the platform.
- Customer Support: TD Ameritrade has been leading the charge for decades, which would have been impossible without exceptional customer service. The customer support staff at the company is highly educated and ready and willing to answer any questions you may have.
- Simulated Trading: The virtual account offered by the firm comes with $100,000 in virtual cash, allowing you to test your strategies without risk.
- Margin Trading: TD Ameritrade does offer access to margins, but it’s important to pay attention to the fees paid. This firm charges around 9% interest, making margin trades rather expensive on this platform compared to the 3% and 4% charged by Interactive Brokers. So, if you’re into margin trading, you may want to consider another broker.
- Available Order Types: The platform offers all the basic stock orders, including market orders, stop orders, and limit orders. You’ll also have access to a long list of advanced types like one-cancels-other (OCO) orders, bracket orders, and stop limit orders.
Although the platform may not be the best for traders looking to take advantage of margins due to high interest rates, it has become a popular option among many traders as a result of its compelling tools, long list of advanced order options, and incredibly low fee schedule. Add in a free virtual account, exceptional customer support, and a long list of assets available to trade, and you have one of the best platforms online today.
Industry-Leading Trading Technology and Tools; Sophisticated Charts and Indicators
Founded in 1982 as Omega Research, Inc, TradeStation has a long history of providing quality services to the active trading community. The company is best known for its top-notch technology that gives the trader the upper hand in various financial markets. Here are the key stats:
- Minimum Deposit: There is no minimum deposit to take part in the company’s platform. However, if you plan on trading margins, your initial deposit will have to be at least $2,000. Failure to maintain these account minimums will result in an inability to trade on the platform.
- Tools: The company’s claim to fame is its intuitive trading technology. The platform comes with some of the best tools traders could ask for, including customizable charts, all the indicators you will ever need, and much more.
- Assets Available to Trade: The company offers trading in stocks, options, futures, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, initial public offerings (IPOs), and mutual funds.
- Cost: The platform offers zero trading commissions, regardless of which financial product you trade. When it comes to other assets like options and futures contracts, TradeStation’s fees are some of the lowest in the industry. Margin fees are reasonable, especially for traders with large account balances, with interest rates ranging from 3.5% to 9.5%. If you’re trading with a small account balance, the margin fees are relatively expensive, but the larger your balance gets, the more reasonable they become.
- Customer Support: You don’t become one of the best in the business without providing quality customer support. The company’s support staff is available from 8am to 5pm Eastern time, Monday through Friday. The staff is well-trained and ready to answer any questions you may have.
- Simulated Trading: The platform comes with a demo account, allowing you to test your strategies without risking your first dollar. The simulator is the same as the real-life trading platform, offering all the intuitive tools you would expect to need during live trading and making it one of the best trading simulators available.
- Margin Trading: The platform offers access to margin accounts as long as you maintain a minimum balance of $2,000 in your trading account. As mentioned above, margin fees aren’t very appealing with smaller account balances, but as your balance rises, they become more and more competitive.
- Available Order Types: Through the platform, you’ll have access to all the basic types of orders including market, stop market, limit, and stop limit orders.
All told, TradeStation has earned its position as one of the best brokers for day traders. Not only does the company offer an intuitive trading platform, it offers an ecosystem of trading technology, real-time data, and access to several financial markets, all with market-leading low fees.
No Account Minimums; $0 Trading Commissions; Long List of Assets Available to Trade
E*Trade, an online brokerage subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, has decades of experience providing quality services to the investing and trading community, and a parent company with a history dating back to the early 1930s.
With no account minimums, zero trading commissions, and a long list of assets available to trade, including highly diversified prebuilt portfolios, the platform has quickly grown to become one of the most popular online.
Here are the key stats:
- Minimums: There is no minimum deposit required to open an E*Trade account, making it accessible to everyone. The company requires a minimum balance of $2,000 be maintained for margin accounts.
- Tools: The platform’s trading tools easily compete with the best. As with other platforms on this list, there is no shortage of chart capabilities, technical indicators, or real-time data.
- Assets Available to Trade: The platform provides traders with access to stocks, options, futures, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, and CDs. You’ll also have access to a long list of prebuilt, well-diversified portfolios.
- Cost: The company offers zero commissions on trades of United States stocks, options, and ETFs. Options and futures contract fees are also highly competitive. Margin rates range from 5.45% to 8.95% depending on the size of your account.
- Customer Support: Backed by the investment professionals at Morgan Stanley, the customer support offered to traders is some of the best in the business. With offices open around the clock, there will always be someone available to answer your questions.
- Simulated Trading: Traders who use the platform will also have access to the company’s trading simulator, giving them the ability to test their strategies before using them in real-time.
- Margin Trading: The company offers margin accounts with reasonable interest rates that improve as the balance in your account increases.
- Available Order Types: E*Trade supports all of the basic order types a trader would expect to have access to while working in the stock market.
All in all, there’s good reason for E*Trade’s leadership in the trading platform space. The platform hits nearly all the nails on the head to provide a simplified, intuitive approach to day trading.
5. Fidelity Investments
Easy-to-Use Platform; Competitive Margin Rates
Founded in 1946, Fidelity Investments is one of the oldest companies on this list with a long history of doing right by those that choose to invest and trade with them. With competitive margin rates and an easy-to-use platform, the company has become a force to be reckoned with.
- Minimums: There is no minimum deposit or account balance required to use the trading platform. However, if you want to take advantage of personalized planning services or wealth management services, you’ll have to maintain a minimum account balance of at least $25,000. For margin accounts, you’ll be required to maintain a minimum balance of $2,000.
- Tools: The platform comes with all of the tools you’ll need to be successful, from customizable charts to indicators, and even back-testing and modeling.
- Assets Available to Trade: The Fidelity platform supports stocks, options, futures, and forex trading. You’ll also have access to ETFs and mutual funds.
- Cost. Fidelity is known for some of the lowest-cost financial products available. The company doesn’t charge any trade commissions, and contract fees are minimal. Moreover, its margin rates are competitive, regardless of the size of your account.
- Customer Support: Fidelity offers world-class customer support, including round-the-clock support through a chatbot. If you’d rather speak to a live person, you’ll also have access to human support at all hours.
- Simulated Trading: At the moment, the platform doesn’t offer a paper trading account. However, the company does allow you to “test drive” its platform for a short period of time, giving you access to all features of the Active Trader Pro platform for a limited time for free.
- Margin Trading: Not only does the platform offer margin trading, it does so at competitive rates ranging from 4% to 8.325%.
- Available Order Types: The platform offers access to all of the standard order types you would expect to see. It also offers a wide range of advanced order types, giving you more control over what happens during the trading session.
Fidelity isn’t just a leader in the investing and trading space, it’s a pioneer, offering access to a wide range of financial products at fees that are hard to compete with. This, combined with the company’s intuitive tools and advanced order types, makes the platform a great pick for any trader.
Access to Fractional Shares; $0 Commissions
Founded in 2013, Robinhood is a relatively young trading platform, but it has quickly garnered the attention of the masses by offering zero commissions, fractional shares, and easy access to the market for all. Here are the key stats:
- Minimums: There are no minimum balances or deposits required to use Robinhood. However, the company gives new members free stock with a deposit of at least $10.
- Tools: The platform offers a basic trading chart and some data, like the price-to-earnings ratio for the stocks you’re interested in. However, if you’re looking to do detailed technical analysis, you’ll have to use other charting software. Ultimately, the platform was designed for the new-to-the-market investor. As a result, it’s lacking some tools that expert investors would want to have access to.
- Assets Available to Trade: The platform supports trading in stocks, options, and cryptocurrencies.
- Pricing: Robinhood is a commission-free broker. Options contract fees are also pretty minimal. What’s most impressive is that the interest rate on margins is just 2.5%, easily among the lowest in the industry.
- Customer Support: Unfortunately, this is another area where the platform falls short. Although you can contact customer support by email at any time, finding a phone number is nearly impossible. The company offers an online help center and a form that dials down your support topic pretty quickly, but most people want a person to talk to when it comes to questions about their money.
- Simulated Trading: The platform does not offer a trading simulator.
- Margin Trading: As mentioned above, not only does the platform offer margin trading, it does so at some of the lowest rates across the industry, making margins accessible to more traders and allowing them to retain more of their profits.
- Available Order Types: The platform supports five types of orders: market, limit, stop, stop limit, and trailing stop orders.
In the end, the platform is a great option for beginners to the stock market, those looking for industry-low margin rates, or people who want to take a simplified approach to trading. However, if you’re looking to trade assets like futures, cryptocurrencies, and mutual funds, or you want access to in-depth technical analysis tools, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Premier Platform for Cryptocurrency Trading
Founded in 2006, eToro is an Israeli broker that has made a name for itself around the globe. Although the company offers access to a wide range of assets, it has become the go-to source for cryptocurrency trading, quickly shifting focus as these digital currencies became popular. Here are the key stats:
- Minimums: The platform doesn’t require that you maintain a minimum balance, but your deposits must be at least $50 for online banking and debit card transfers. For wires, the minimum required deposit is $500.
- Tools: Known for top-of-the-line technology, the platform offers a wide range of indicators and other tools expert traders will want to have access to as they trade. Beyond indicators, the platform has unique features including Copy Trading, which allows you to copy the portfolios of other traders on the platform. Moreover, if your portfolio is copied by another user, you get paid.
- Assets Available to Trade: As cryptocurrencies became more popular, the company worked to become the premier platform for these offerings. Aside from crypto, you’ll have access to trading stocks, contracts for difference (CFDs), and forex.
- Cost: There are no commissions charged on any trades using eToro, but there are fees baked into the spreads associated with your trades. The wider the spread, the bigger the fee; eToro breaks down these expenses on its website. It is worth mentioning that if you set it and forget it, you’ll be charged an inactivity fee of $10 per year after one year with no activity in your account.
- Customer Support: The platform comes with some of the best customer service you’ll find in the business. All representatives are knowledgeable and seem eager to help. You can contact support either by phone or by opening a ticket within the platform.
- Simulated Trading: The practice account offered through the platform is funded with $100,000 of virtual cash and features all the tools a live trading account has, making it easy to test your strategies and seamlessly use what you’ve learned in a real-world setting.
- Margin Trading: eToro discusses margin trading on its website, but doesn’t offer any insight as to what fees are charged or minimum balances required to access margins, making using the platform for this purpose a bit iffy.
- Available Order Types: The platform offers eight order types including market, limit, time-in-force, fill-or-kill, immediate-or-cancel, good-till-cancelled, good-till-date, and iceberg orders.
eToro has quickly risen to be one of the most popular platforms among traders, especially those involved in trading forex and cryptocurrencies. Because the company doesn’t support the trading of futures or options, it’s not the best fit for everyone, but is a great choice for beginner traders or even experts looking to get involved in trading currency and digital currency.
Robust Trading Tools and Charting Capabilities; Best-in-Class Customer Support
Founded in 2017, Webull is by far the youngest trading platform on this list, but it’s also one of the most popular. Like Robinhood, the platform was designed for millennial traders, and it similarly offers newcomers access to free shares. The platform is also known for robust trading tools, charting capabilities, and an industry-leading support staff. Here are the key stats:
- Minimums: There is no minimum amount of money you have to deposit or keep in your account to use the platform, but if you want access to margins, you’ll need to maintain a minimum balance of $2,000. The platform offers one share of free stock to everyone who opens an account, plus a second share of free stock if you make an initial deposit of at least $100.
- Tools: One of the factors that catapulted the platform to the top so quickly is its extensive list of tools. With more than 50 indicators and 12 charting tools, the company offers everything even the most experienced trader would want. Moreover, the platform includes access to a quality stock screener, making it easy to find the types of opportunities you’re looking for very quickly.
- Assets Available to Trade: The platform supports trading stocks, options, and cryptocurrencies, but if you’re looking for futures or forex, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
- Cost: This is where things get very interesting. Most platforms on this list offer free trading of stocks, but options and other assets come with fees. That’s not the case with Webull. When trading on the platform, you’ll never pay an options contract fee or any other trading-related fee unless you use margins. Margin interest rates range from 3.99% to 6.99%, making them some of the lowest in the industry.
- Customer Support: The platform comes with an extensive help center, and if that’s not enough to answer your questions, an industry-leading support team is available by either phone or email.
- Simulated Trading: The platform comes with a free trading simulator that makes testing new strategies before risking your hard-earned money a breeze.
- Margin Trading: Webull offers margins on all the assets available on the platform, with interest rates among the lowest in the industry.
- Available Order Types: Through the platform, you’ll have the ability to place five different types of orders: market, limit, stop, stop limit, and stop loss.
There are several reasons that such a young platform has risen through the ranks to become one of the most highly trusted platforms among traders. Not only does the company offer commission-free trades, zero contract fees, and market-leading margin rates, it does so while providing some of the best tools available online today.
9. Ally Invest
Access to Automated Trading; Intuitive Technical Analysis Tools
Founded in 2005, Ally Invest has more than a decade and a half of experience serving the investing community. With intuitive tools and even automated trading, the company offers one of the most popular trading platforms available today.
- Minimums: There are no minimums in terms of deposits or account balances. Simply open an account and deposit what you feel comfortable with to start trading. If you intend to trade with leverage, you’ll need to maintain a minimum balance of $2,000.
- Tools: The platform comes with some of the best indicators and technical analysis tools for traders. Users also enjoy automated trading capabilities and educational materials.
- Assets Available to Trade: Ally Invest gives you access to trading stocks, ETFs, options, bonds, forex, and mutual funds.
- Cost: Like most on this list, there are no commissions on stock and many ETF trades. Moreover, you won’t pay options contract fees if you’re into trading options. Margin rates range from 3.25% to 7.75%, making them highly competitive.
- Customer Support: The customer service team at Ally Invest is one of the best in the business. The team can be reached by phone or email, including a phone line for the hearing impared.
- Simulated Trading: The platform does not offer a virtual trading simulator.
- Margin Trading: Margin trading is available on all assets offered through the platform at reasonable rates compared to others in the industry.
- Available Order Types: There are six different types of orders offered through the platform, including market, limit, stop, stop limit, and good-till-canceled orders.
Not only does the platform come with all the tools you would expect from a top-notch broker, it does so while charging industry-low fees and offering best-in-class customer service, making it one of the best platforms available for traders.
10. Zacks Trade
Provides Access to Extensive Market Research; Tools Designed for the Most Active Traders
Zacks Investment Research is a well-respected analyst firm that’s been on Wall Street since the late 1970s. In 1992, Zacks launched its investment management firm. Today, Zacks Trade has become one of the top platforms for traders and will likely continue to hold that position for some time due to the access it provides to extensive research alongside trading tools designed for the most active traders. Here are the key stats:
- Minimums: The firm recommends all investors start out with a minimum of $2,500, but says on its website that you can fund your account with little money as you’re comfortable with. For margin accounts, you’ll need to maintain an account balance of at least $2,000.
- Tools: The platform is fully customizable, making it a perfect fit for active traders. Zacks Invest gives access to all the trading indicators you could imagine as well as other nifty tools. For example, members gain access to the firm’s extensive research, which is done by some of the top analysts in the business.
- Assets Available to Trade: Traders who use the platform have access to stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and forex markets.
- Cost: When trading on the platform, you’ll pay competitive commission rates that vary from asset to asset. For example, on stocks and ETFs, you’ll pay $0.01 per share with a minimum commission of $1 per trade. On options trades, you’ll pay $1 for the first contract and $0.75 per contract after that. Margin interest rates clock in at 2.75% to 3.59%, making the platform one of the most competitive in the business.
- Customer Support: Zacks’ customer service is second to none. Users have access to the customer service team via phone or email from 9am to 6pm Monday through Friday.
- Simulated Trading: Zacks Trade doesn’t offer a virtual trading account, but does point investors to resources that do.
- Margin Trading: With some of the lowest margin rates in the industry, the platform is a great option for margin traders.
- Available Order Types: The platform gives active traders the ability to place all the standard types of orders you would expect and then some. In fact, the platform offers nearly 30 different types of orders.
All in all, Zacks is a great trading platform with all the bells and whistles you need to become a successful trader. While the relatively high suggested initial deposit is a turnoff for some, low margin fees, exceptional tools, and several types of orders make the platform well worth diving into.
Provides Traders with a Wealth of Data and Technology; Powerful Stock Screener
Finally, founded in 2003, NinjaTrader was one of the pioneers in the online trading space. The company’s focus on data and technology gave it the ability to quickly climb into the leadership position and hold onto its spot for nearly two decades to date. Here are the key stats:
- Minimums: The platform requires an initial deposit of $400 and investors are expected to maintain a $400 minimum balance.
- Tools: NinjaTrader’s focus since inception has been on trading technology and providing traders with the tools necessary to give them a leg up in the market. As a result, the platform is jam-packed with features that allow you to curate data, screen for the best stocks, analyze opportunities with indicators, analyze order flow, and much more.
- Assets Available to Trade: As a broker, NinjaTrader supports futures, options on futures, and forex. In addition, the company has partnered with Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade to offer access to other assets like stocks and ETFs.
- Cost: NinjaTrader offers a free service, but if you want access to the extensive tools available, you’ll need to pay a membership fee, which ranges from $60 per month to $1,099 for a lifetime license.
- Customer Support: NinjaTrader offers some of the best customer service in the trading industry. You can contact them by email or phone, and the company even has an emergency trade desk that provides support around the clock.
- Simulated Trading: The platform comes with a trading simulator complete with all indicators and tools that you get when using a live trading account, making it easy to test and backtest your strategies before risking your hard-earned money.
- Margin Trading: The platform is margin friendly, with rates ranging from less than 1% to more than 6% depending on the asset being traded, making it incredibly competitive.
- Available Order Types: The platform offers several types of orders, including the traditional types like market, stop market, limit, and stop limit orders. It also includes several advanced types of orders like market-if-touched, one-cancels-other, and simulated stop orders.
The NinjaTrader platform is a great fit for the active trader looking for access to the advanced trading technology that will allow them to take their trading activities to the next level. At the same time, the company offers low margin rates, an extensive suite of tools and order types, and top-notch customer service, making it one of the best in the business.
When you choose a trading platform to work with, it’s unwise to pick the first one you come across. After all, you’re not just picking a run of the mill company to work with, you’re deciding who to trust with your money, who will provide you with the tools you need to succeed, and who you will turn to when you have questions about the trading process.
The platform you choose should be competitively priced, offer all the tools you need to succeed, and provide access to a knowledgeable support staff. By taking the time to do the research and use only quality platforms, you’ll be giving yourself an upperhand in the market.