5 Best Stock Trading Platforms

Breaking Down The Top 5 Stock Brokers.


If you’re looking for a legit stockbroker to buy, sell and trade stocks online, this guide is for you!

A few years ago, trading stocks was a complex (and costly) process. You had to visit a physical office, place your trade requests through a personal broker, and part with a huge commission.

But times have changed, and the industry has evolved.

Online brokers and agencies have primarily replaced the middlemen. You can now trade popular growth stocks like Shopify (SHOP), Square Inc. (SQ), Netflix (NFLX), Fiverr International (FVRR), or Amazon.com (AMZN) affordably and with a few clicks.

Self-Directed Investing

Investing yourself requires some trading knowledge and a level of dedication, but it gives you more control over your own portfolio.

No personal interaction is necessary with online stock trading. You just type in your order, hit the buy or sell button, and your order is in place!

Fewer parties mean fewer expenses, which translates to stock trades at lower prices.

And competition in the stockbroking industry has never been tighter.

The best stock trading platforms are slashing prices left, right, and center to stay ahead of their already-affordable competition. Some go as far as lowering their commissions and fees to zero in some instances.

What Is The Best Stock Trading Platform To Use?

There are dozens of great trading platforms in the market, all with unique and interesting features.

So which is the best stock trading platform to go with? Well, stock trading is subjective in many ways. The broker your colleague loves may not work for you, and that’s why there are a number of options available to you.

The best broker will depend on what you’re looking for in an online investing service.

If you’re an active trader who wants to be on top of the stock markets and seize daily opportunities, you will need a broker with strong trading platforms, faster execution, and low fees.

We tried and tested all top discount brokers and took into account trading platforms, research tools, execution, pricing, and customer support.

On these measures, the following brokerage firms earned their place on our list of the best stock trading platforms:

1. Interactive Brokers

interactive brokers best stock trading platforms

Topping our list is Interactive Brokers, a leading stock trading platform with high-powered features, a vast investment selection, and excellent research tools for professional and active investors.

Operating since it was established in 1977, the award-winning investment company is regulated by SEC, FINRA, FCA, and other international financial regulation commissions.

If you’re an active trader who enjoys trading on a daily basis, you will enjoy the many features Interactive Brokers offers – streaming news feeds, customizable charts, real-time monitoring.

The platforms on IB compete with some of the best stock brokers in the world. You can trade on 135 markets in 33 countries using 24 currency types.

While Interactive Brokers charge trading fees, they’re comparatively low and meet the needs of most active traders.

Pros

  • Geared toward swing traders
  • Low margin interest rates
  • Outstanding analysis tools
  • Very accessible mobile app
  • Around the clock phone, email, and chat support

Cons

  • Navigating the website can be difficult

2. TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade Best Online Stock Trading Platforms

TD Ameritrade offers a robust online platform for trading stocks.

The broker has been a major player for decades, and its recent merger with Charles Schwab creates an enormous investment firm.

With a Robo-advisor, charting, and handy tools, you can also use TD Ameritrade to research stocks.

The high-powered thinkorswim downloadable platform gives traders access to elite-level trading tools. You can easily set up your preferred trading default, news feed, and layout to enjoy the unmatched power of a fully customizable trading experience.

TDAmeritrade’s customer support is unparalleled. They boast 24/7 support via phone, email, social media, live chat, text, plus in-person meetings at 250+ branches.

Pros

  • No commission feeds on online stocks or ETF trades
  • Customizable for your trading preferences
  • Extensive research options
  • Excellent customer care
  • Excellent education for beginners

Cons

  • No access to international stock markets

3. TradeStation

logo

TradeStation has a strong combination of advanced tools and comprehensive research that appeals to advanced, active traders. 

The discount broker’s TS GO and TS Select plans allow users to make commission-free trades on stocks, options, and ETFs on their web and mobile-based platforms.

TradeStation’s upgraded TS Select plan requires a $2k initial investment but gives you free trades from the powerful TradeStation 10 Desktop platform and unrestricted access to their full suite of tools.

The TradeStation Simulator lets you test-drive new strategies in real-time before you put actual money on the line.

Fees include a $35 IRA annual account fee, a $50 IRA account termination fee, a $50 inactivity fee, and a $125 outgoing account transfer fee.

If you’re apprehensive about being left to invest on your own, rest assured that TradeStation offers phone support and an online chat option.

Pros

  • High-powered trading platform
  • Commission-free stock, ETF, and options trades
  • Active trader community

Cons

  • Plans and pricing can be confusing

4. Fidelity Investments

Fidelity Best Online Stock Trading Platform

Fidelity – one of the earliest online brokers that disrupted the old full-service broker order – stands out from the crowd for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the broker has a long history as a reputed discount broker with 38 million individual investors and $11.1 trillion in total customer assets.

Secondly, Fidelity offers some of the best research and tools for investors planning for retirement

Pricewise, along with most of the industry, there are no account minimums, and Fidelity won’t charge you any bank fees and other services that other brokers routinely charge for.

Fidelity’s programs are geared toward day traders and more experienced investors. Its Portfolio Builder generates strategies based on fundamental data and research.

Wealth-Lab Pro (a testing tool that lets you test out trading strategies) and other tools to help you research market trends.

Fidelity’s stock loan program lets investors choose which stocks in their portfolios can be loaned out.

Pros

  • Exceptional rating for trade executions and accuracy
  • Active Trader Pro for advanced traders
  • Real-time analytics
  • No-fee, no-minimum accounts

Cons

  • You may have to sign in to multiple platforms to access different trading tools
  • No account bonuses
  • No custom screening on mobile

5. Charles Schwab

Scwab Best Stock Trading Platform

With no account minimums and a variety of trading tools streamlined in both desktop and mobile platforms, Charles Schwab excels in online trading with full-service options.

The San Francisco-based broker accommodates both active traders and self-directed investors.

Charles Schwab also operates Schwab Bank, which allows its brokerage clients to link their trading accounts with a checking account.

If you’re trading on a budget, you’ll be glad to know that they don’t charge any stock, options, or ETF trading commission fees in the United States.

Schwab also offers fractional shares. Rather than paying the full share price, investors can buy a small slice of a stock.

The StreetSmart Edge screener allows you to simulate trades using data with customized charts and real-time news. By seeing projections of stock performance, you’ll be in a better position to make informed decisions.

One major downside to using Charles Schwab is that they use wheel-based routing to execute orders. While this method is generally accurate, you may find that your stocks are routed to third-party wholesalers.

Pros

  • Strong technology with an appeal to all investing levels
  • No commission fees
  • Easy refund process if you’re discontented
  • Checking account with no ATM fees
  • Responsive mobile app

Cons

  • Mobile app lacks alerts, streaming quotes and options chains

Honorable Mention: Robinhood

robinhood stock trading platform

Our list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Robinhood – a newcomer online brokerage that has made a quick splash.

The app was among the first online brokers to offer commission-free trading on stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies. They have since amassed millions of devoted followers.

The signing up process is a breeze, and after linking your bank account, you will get one free stock with a value ranging from $2.50- $225.

Their premium tier (Robinhood Gold) gives you access to margin trading and some research. The opt-in service carries a $5 flat monthly fee.

The major downside to Robinhood is that it lacks technical analysis indicators and tools for seasoned traders.


Conclusion

Self-directed stock trading offers a lucrative investment opportunity that can grow your account faster than the general market.

Picking the right online trading platform is the first step to success with stock trading.

We handpicked the brokers mentioned above to ensure you get a reliable and suitable platform for both your budget and your needs.

Additionally, while you are deciding which online trading platform to use, here are 10 trading tips.

Happy trading!