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Best Trading Platforms for Investors

Trading platforms are essential tools for investors looking to actively buy and sell securities like stocks, options, ETFs and more. With the right trading platform, you can execute trades efficiently, access detailed market data, and take advantage of helpful trading resources all in one place.

But with so many choices, how do you determine the best trading platforms for your needs? In this guide, we’ll highlight the top stock trading platforms based on factors like costs, investment offerings, tools, technology, and more.

Best Trading Platforms for Beginners

Just getting started investing? Look for an intuitive trading platform that offers education and virtual trading.

Robinhood

Robinhood is hugely popular with new investors thanks to its user-friendly mobile interface and $0 commission fees. You can invest in stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrencies with no account minimum. While Robinhood offers limited charts and research tools, it’s an excellent starting point for new investors.

Key Features:

  • $0 trades with no account minimum
  • Fractional share investing
  • Basic charts and alerts
  • Easy to use mobile app
  • Educational content for beginners

Webull

Webull provides an excellent mobile trading platform for active investing while also catering to new traders. You can practice trading risk-free with their paper trading feature. Extensive charting tools, alerts, screeners and analysis help inform your trading.

Key Features:

  • Paper (virtual) trading to build skills
  • Technical and fundamental analysis tools
  • Customizable charts, alerts, screeners
  • Educational resources and community forums
  • $0 trades on stocks and ETFs

Best Trading Platforms for Active Traders

Serious traders need platforms with advanced screening, charting, and analytics. These brokers cater to high volume traders.

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers offers an advanced trading platform for sophisticated investors trading stocks, options, futures, forex and more globally. Low commissions and in-depth market research make it ideal for active traders.

Key Features:

  • Trade on over 135 markets globally
  • Advanced trading platform with technical analysis
  • Low commissions, tiered pricing based on monthly trades
  • Sophisticated trading algorithms and automation

TradeStation

TradeStation provides an institutional-grade trading experience with powerful analytical tools, customizable charts, strategy building and backtesting capabilities. The platform is geared for active stock, options and futures traders.

Key Features:

  • Advanced charts, screening, trade analytics
  • Build/backtest automated trading strategies
  • Active trader pricing tiers
  • Integrated trading and analysis

Best Trading Platforms for International Trading

Invest globally by trading international stocks on these platforms.

Fidelity

Fidelity lets you trade stocks from over 25 countries across Europe, Asia Pacific, North and South America. Access international IPOs and foreign ordinary shares trading in the U.S.

Key Features:

  • Trade stocks on 25+ international markets
  • Access to foreign ordinary share trading in the U.S.
  • International retirement accounts available
  • $4.95 – $12.95 trading fee per trade

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab offers trading in stocks, ETFs and mutual funds across a wide range of global markets. Execute seamless currency conversions.

Key Features:

  • Trade stocks in over 25 countries worldwide
  • Access to foreign mutual funds and ETFs
  • Automatic currency conversions
  • $4.95 – $12.95 trading commissions per trade

Best Low Cost Trading Platforms

Keep more money in your pocket with these brokers offering $0 trades and no hidden fees.

Fidelity

Fidelity offers $0 commission trading on stocks, ETFs and options making it one of the lowest cost brokers. Take advantage of fractional share investing as well.

Key Features:

  • $0 commissions on stocks, ETFs and options trades
  • Fractional share investing available
  • Cash management account with debit card

Vanguard

Vanguard offers discounted trading commissions on over 3,200 non-Vanguard ETFs. Get commission-free trading on all Vanguard funds and ETFs.

Key Features:

  • Discount commissions as low as $2 per trade
  • 100+ commission-free Vanguard ETFs and mutual funds
  • $0 stock and options trades for highest tier accounts
  • No minimums or inactivity fees

Key Features to Evaluate in Trading Platforms

When choosing a trading platform, consider things like:

  • Investment assets – Stocks, options, mutual funds, ETFs, bonds, futures, forex
  • Trading technology – Order execution, available order types, mobile app
  • Tools & analytics – Charting, screening tools, trading signals, news, research
  • Costs – Account minimums, commission fees per trade, account fees
  • Security – Encryption, SIPC insurance, account protection

Assessing the Top Stock Trading Platforms

With so many choices, it can be hard to determine the best trading platform for your needs. This table summarizes the key differences between the top stock trading platforms across a few factors:

BrokerCostsTools & ResearchTrader FocusEase of Use
Robinhood$0 tradesBasicBeginnersVery easy
Webull$0 stock/ETF tradesAdvanced chartingActive tradersEasy
Interactive BrokersLow commissions, tiered pricingAdvancedSophisticated tradersModerate learning curve
TradeStationDiscounted active trader pricingRobust analyticsActive tradersModerate, powerful platform
Fidelity$0 trades on stocks, ETFs, optionsFundamental & technical dataActive tradersEasy to moderate
VanguardDiscounted commissionsBasicLong-term buy & holdSimple

Choose the Right Platform for Your Investing Goals

The bottom line is that the best trading platform for you depends on your investing style and needs.

Beginner investors will find user-friendly apps like Robinhood and Webull ideal to start trading stocks and ETFs while learning the ropes.

Active and professional traders need platforms like Interactive Brokers and TradeStation that offer robust analytics, screeners, charting tools and customizable trading capabilities.

Those focused on long term, buy-and-hold index investing can take advantage of the low costs and wide fund selection offered by brokers like Vanguard.

Take some time to thoroughly evaluate brokers across the factors that are most important to you. Signing up and trying demo accounts is a great way to get hands-on and ensure the platform provides the experience you need to trade effectively. The right trading platform will give you the edge to build your wealth through investing.

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