As you start to research investing, you’re bombarded with a slew of information about how to invest, different investing strategies, and the types of stocks you should be looking for. Many investors research for weeks or even months before risking their first dollar.
When you decide that it’s time to pull the trigger and make your entrance into the stock market, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. You’ve done the research, chosen a strategy, and picked some investments you believe will perform well. But there’s no assurance that things will go as you plan — especially if it’s your first time putting money in the stock market.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had somewhere you could practice your investing strategy before risking your own money?
Trading simulators are all over the Internet. These platforms allow you to test your investment ideas in real-time with virtual currency, meaning that you’re not risking a dime.
What Is a Trading Simulator?
A trading similar is essentially a copy of the stock market on a virtual trading platform. These simulators provide real-time market data like you would generally see in your active trading account.
But there’s one big difference.
In your active trading account, your trades are made using your money. So, when you lose, you lose real money. With trading simulators, you’re trading with virtual money, or paper money, that has absolutely no value.
With this virtual money, you can make investments in the market in the trading simulator in real time. If your trading strategy is successful and you’re making plenty of virtual cash, then it’s time to try your hand in the real world with real money.
If your trading strategy leads to losses the majority of the time and you’re blowing through your virtual money, there’s no harm done. It’s time to tweak your strategy and put it to the test in the virtual world until the tweaks create a winner.
Beyond developing an investing strategy, seasoned investors often use trading simulators to tweak successful strategies given changing market conditions and gauge whether these adjustments will lead to larger returns than those being created at the moment.
The Best Trading Platforms That Let You Simulate Trading
There are several trading simulators online today, most of which are free. Some simulators are offered by brokerages looking to earn your business by providing you the tools you need to succeed, while others are offered by trade signal services, investing education platforms, and automated trading services for the same reason.
1. thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade is one of the most popular discount brokers online today, with its new trading platform, thinkorswim, being designed by traders for traders. As you would expect from a leading brokerage and intuitive trading platform, thinkorswim comes with one of the most intuitive stock market simulators online today. Here’s why:
- Charting: An online trading platform doesn’t become one of the best in the business without offering intuitive charting abilities. Among a wide range of trading tools, the charting offered by thinkorswim is comprehensive, offering all of the best technical indicators and an easy-to-read setup that brings simplicity to the trading process.
- A Wide Range of Assets: If TD Ameritrade offers it to trade for real through thinkorswim, you can practice trading it through paperMoney, the platform’s trading simulator. This includes a wide range of assets like stocks, ETFs, currencies, options, and futures.
- Long and Short Trading Strategies Supported: Long trading strategies are bets that a security will increase in value, but what if declines happen? To profit from those moves, short selling is the way to go. The TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform and trading simulator let you practice short selling too, supporting your trading strategy whether you’re looking to learn how to profit from rising stocks or falling stocks.
- Stock Screener: In order to test your trading strategy, you’ll need to find the best stocks to add to your watchlist to deploy your strategy with. The stock screener offered through the thinkorswim platform gives you the ability to quickly pinpoint the stocks that fall into the categories you’re looking for based on a wide range of factors including growth, valuation metrics, average volume, and countless others.
- Ease of Use. The thinkorswim trading simulator is designed by one of the most popular online brokerages. So, it’s only fitting that the trading simulator and trading platform include all the tools you need to be successful in a layout that’s easy to understand and use, making it a perfect option for new investors.
There’s no question the thinkorswim trading platform and paperMoney simulator are some of the best tools on the market today. Not only does the simulator offer a real-time way to test your strategies in the open market, but it also gives you the ability to do so with a wide range of assets and makes finding and assessing opportunities simple with best-in-class trading tools and charting.
You can see it for yourself by signing up for the trading simulator for free without so much as a requirement to open a brokerage account.
TradeStation is one of the most popular online brokers for active traders. The platform is free to use if you make at least five trades by the 12-month anniversary following the date you open your account or maintain an average end-of-month equity balance of at least $2,000.
So, the platform isn’t necessarily geared toward passive or long-term investors. Nonetheless, day traders love the platform, which comes with a free trading simulator. Here’s why the TradeStation simulator is well worth looking into:
- Access to Cryptocurrency. TradeStation offers a wide range of assets in both their live trading accounts and their demo accounts, or simulator accounts. Along with traditional assets like stocks, options, and currencies, TradeStation traders also have access to cryptocurrency. Keep in mind that while you can trade cryptocurrency on the TradeStation platform, cryptocurrency is not supported as part of the trading simulator.
- Trading Tools. The paper trading platform offered by TradeStation comes with all the trading tools that you’ll find on its live trading platform. This includes compelling charting and indicators and the ability for brokerage account holders to jump back and forth to test their strategies in real time.
- Community Forums. TradeStation also offers a wide range of community forums, allowing new investors and traders to connect with the pros. These connections are invaluable whether you’re learning options trading, stock trading, or trading in any of the other assets offered on the platform. Newcomers to the stock market and particular asset classes will find ideas, opportunities, and strategies strewn throughout the TradeStation community forums.
- An Intuitive Mobile App. Whether you’re taking advantage of a real-life account or a paper trading account, you’ll have access to an intuitive mobile app that comes with all the tools you need to test and execute your trading strategies.
While TradeStation — as its name suggests — is designed for traders and not necessarily for long-term investors, if you plan on active trading, it is a great broker to work with. Moreover, the company’s stock market simulator offers all the tools you’ll need to test your strategies and make sure they’re effective before you start trading.
All in all, if you’re looking for a top-notch stock market simulator, TradeStation may be just what you’re looking for.
NinjaTrader is yet another highly-trusted broker specifically focused on active traders. If you plan on jumping into the world of day trading, the company’s simulator is a great way to try your strategies with virtual money rather than risking the real thing. Some of the perks you’ll enjoy when you launch the NinjaTrader stock market simulator include:
- Turn the Clock Back. Perhaps the most unique feature of the trading simulator offered by NinjaTrader is the ability to look into past performance by turning the clock back. With the simulator, you can see how your trading strategy would have done on a historical basis, as well as in real-time. This strategy backtesting capability isn’t a common tool and will prove to be overwhelmingly valuable when testing your strategies.
- A Robust Set of Trading Tools. Any quality trading platform is going to provide a robust set of trading tools, including easy-to-read charts, all of the indicators traders look for, and the ability to set up trading algorithms. As you would expect, all the tools offered by NinjaTrader are also available through its stock market simulator.
- Real-Time Stock Screener. Stock screeners are important tools for traders, giving them the ability to pinpoint opportunities in the stock market that would go unseen otherwise. NinjaTrader’s stock screener is intuitive, making it simple to find your next opportunity.
- Trade Cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is still relatively new. As a result, it may be difficult to find simulators that give you the ability to test your trading strategy on cryptocurrencies as well as more traditional investment vehicles like stocks and options. NinjaTrader offers the best of both worlds.
The one downside to the NinjaTrader trading simulator is that you’ll have to download the simulator software, unlike other simulators that are available for use online. With the exception of that one pitfall, NinjaTrader’s simulator is one of the best in the business and well worth diving into, especially since it’s free.
4. Warrior Trading
Warrior Trading is a trading education and signal service that has garnered quite a bit of attention. The company also offers a trading simulator that easily earns its position as one of the top paper-trading platforms online today. Here’s why:
- Advanced Reporting Metrics. The reporting metrics on the Warrior Trading paper-trading platform are second to none. They give you the ability to not only test your trading strategy but also to dive into detail with regard to what aspects of the strategy are performing well and what aspects aren’t.
- Current Market Conditions. The trading simulator at Warrior Trading is a culmination of a collaboration with Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange. This collaboration has led to Level 2 Quotes, which, when combined with Warrior Trading’s technology, gives you the ability to see what your trading strategy would do in real time as if you were participating in real trading.
- A Compelling Trading Experience. Warrior Trading isn’t a stockbroker. The company makes its money by educating new traders on the market and about the concepts of trading while providing one of the best signaling services on the market today. Ross Cameron, the founder of Warrior Trading is a day trader himself, and he and his team know what it takes to generate a compelling trading experience. This is exactly what they’ve done with their stock market simulator, giving you a risk-free way to test your strategy in a platform that’s easy to use and understand.
- Made for New and Experienced Traders. The vast majority of trading simulators are geared toward the new trader. The brains behind Warrior Trading are expert traders who see the value in using simulators to test their own new strategies. Although the simulator is easy to use and a perfect fit for the new trader, it’s also quite a bit more intuitive than most competing simulators, making it a strong fit for experienced traders as well.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the stock market or you’ve made millions and see the value in testing new strategies before deploying them in the real market, Warrior Trading’s stock market simulator fits the bill.
The platform provides a compelling trading experience while providing reporting that’s second to none, giving you the ability to dive into the details of your strategy and ensure that every aspect of your strategy is helping you to create profits.
5. Wall Street Survivor
Wall Street Survivor is a financial education platform that uses concepts and principles from games in order to teach users how to live a more appealing financial lifestyle, including investing to build wealth. Wall Street Survivor offers a detailed trading simulator that gives you the ability to trade and invest with virtual money to help you learn how to trade and invest with no real-world risk.
- Trading Games. Humans are competitive creatures. It’s enjoyable to compete in games and test your skills against your peers. Wall Street Survivor gives members the ability to set up trading games to compete with others to see who has the best strategy. Not only can you create your own trading game, but you can also join games by choosing from a massive list on the simulator platform.
- Options Trading. While most simulators are geared toward traditional stock trading, Wall Street Survivor’s trading simulator covers the full gamut of the stock market, including futures and options trading.
- Shorting and Covering. The simulator offered by Wall Street Survivor supports buying and selling stock in the traditional sense as well as shorting and covering. To take advantage of downward swings in the market, Wall Street Survivor allows you to test short-selling strategies.
- Compelling Charting and Trading Tools. You can’t test trading strategies in the stock market without quality charting and a long list of trading indicators. The simulator at Wall Street Survivor offers everything you need to test your strategy as though you were actually trading using it.
Wall Street Survivor is a great pick for those looking to test their strategies while working toward greater overall financial well-being. Not only does the platform teach the concepts of successful investing and trading, but it also goes into financial planning, setting you up for what you need now and what you’ll need in the future.
MarketWatch is one of the most trusted websites centered around the stock market today. The company offers real-time quotes, news, signal services, and much more. Part of its offering is a stock screener that stands up well to any of its competition. Here’s why:
- Trading Games. Like some of its stock simulator peers, MarketWatch gives its users the ability to create and join stock market games to put their strategies to the test against those used by their peers.
- Full Quote Overview. As a news and analysis provider, MarketWatch has something that most other simulators don’t have. You have the option to see a full quote overview within the simulator. This gives you quote information like all other simulators would, but you also have access to MarketWatch’s vast database of news and analysis while making your trading decisions.
- Quality Trading Tools. As one of the biggest stock market-centric websites in the world today, MarketWatch knows what tools traders need to succeed in the market, and the company provides every single one of them, ranging from quality charting to a vast list of indicators, analysis, and news.
- Stock Screener. Sometimes finding an opportunity in the stock market is the hardest part of the trading process. MarketWatch offers up some of the most robust stock screeners online today, even giving you the ability to screen in the premarket and after hours.
Founded in 1997, MarketWatch has quickly become one of the most reputable Wall Street-centric websites in the world. With a strong history of quality analysis and a mission to bring wealth to the masses, MarketWatch has earned its reputation as a leader, and it offers up a stock simulator with all the features you would expect to see from a company with such a high-end reputation.
HowTheMarketWorks.com was a pioneer in stock market simulators. In fact, it was one of the first to launch, and it has centered its entire business around the concept. As a pioneer in the space, it’s not surprising that the company offers one of the most robust simulators online today.
Here’s what you’ll enjoy when taking advantage of the HowTheMarketWorks.com stock market simulator:
- Trading Games. HowTheMarketWorks.com may have been the first platform that offered investors and traders the ability to compete with each other through virtual trading accounts. As with other platforms that offer trading games, you can create your own game or choose from a vast list of open games to join, driving education and strategy improvements through a little healthy competition.
- Trading Tools and Charting. HowTheMarketWorks.com offers a long list of robust trading tools and charting capabilities. Beyond charting, the simulator gives you access to stock market analysis and other materials designed to help you learn how the stock market works and how to exploit movements in the market to build wealth.
- Educational Materials. HowTheMarketWorks.com works for everyone, but it was designed for the new trader. The website was designed to teach you how the stock market works and how to make money investing and trading. With education being the center of attention during the development of the platform, the educational materials offered are second to none in the space.
- A Similar Feel to Online Trading Platforms. The stock market simulator available at HowTheMarketWorks.com has a similar look and feel to what you would find when you open a live account with an online trading platform, helping to familiarize you with the stock market and make you feel comfortable when you enter the real market.
For the beginner investor or trader, joining HowTheMarketWorks.com is worth the time simply for the free educational resources it provides. The robust stock market simulator is the icing on the cake.
However, there is one drawback. The simulator doesn’t support options and futures trading, nor currency pairs or commodities. The only assets supported at HowTheMarketWorks.com are stocks and ETFs.
8. Bear Bull Traders Simulator
Last but not least, Bear Bull Traders offers a unique trading simulator. Bear Bull Traders is a platform designed to teach new traders how to be successful in the market, particularly as day traders. As part of its education process, the company offers classes, and the trading simulator gives traders a way to practice what they’ve learned in a risk-free environment.
Here’s what traders love about Bear Bull Traders:
- Customize Your Setup to Your Trading Preferences. Depending on the way you trade, you’ll use different indicators and different trading tools in the process. Knowing this, Bear Bull Traders gives you the ability to customize the platform to meet your needs.
- Classes for All Experience Levels. The whole idea at Bear Bull Traders is to teach you how to be a more successful day trader. This is the case whether you’re a newcomer to the trading environment or an experienced trader. Bear Bull Traders offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced trading classes.
- The Platform Can Be Used for Live Trading. Once you’ve learned enough about the trading process and are ready to enter the trading environment, the Bear Bull Traders trading platform that has been used as a simulator also can be used for live trading in the real-world stock market. This provides a seamless transition from virtual to real trading, avoiding any confusion resulting from having to switch trading platforms.
- Compelling Trading Tools. Finally, as with other simulators on this list, the Bear Bull Traders stock market simulator provides an extensive list of trading tools, charting, and indicators, giving you all the tools you need to be successful in the stock market.
With the goal of making you a better trader, Bear Bull Traders is a perfect fit for the new trader. But the company didn’t leave out seasoned traders either, offering up advanced trading courses as well. With all the tools you’ll need and the ability to customize the platform to your unique preferences, the simulator at Bear Bull Trades is one of the best in the business.
Stock market simulators have become an important part of learning how to trade and invest. Through these simulators, you have the ability to put your investment strategies to the test without risking your hard-earned money.
As is the case with any product, not all simulators are the same. Some are designed for traders, some are designed for investors. Moreover, each simulator will have its own quirks that will appeal to some investors more than others.
Because most trading simulators are free, it’s a good idea to try out a few different options to find the one that fits your investing or trading style. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start testing your investing strategy!