The 10 Best Online Trading Platforms for Investors

Investing in the stock market has never been more accessible thanks to online trading platforms. With just a computer and internet connection, anyone can open an account and start trading stocks, ETFs, options, futures, forex and more.

But with countless trading platforms to choose from, how do you decide which one is right for you? In this comprehensive guide, we review and compare the 10 best online trading platforms for investors of all experience levels.

What to Look for in an Online Trading Platform

When researching trading platforms, here are some key factors to consider:

  • Fees and commissions – What are the costs per trade or monthly fees? Look for $0 trades and low management expenses.
  • Investment choices – Does the platform offer stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures and forex? The more choices, the better.
  • Trading tools – Robust research, charts, level 2 quotes and screeners help make informed decisions. Educational resources are also valuable.
  • Platforms and technology – Is the web and mobile app experience user-friendly, reliable and fast? Can you trade on desktop, web and mobile?
  • Customer service – What support options are available 24/7? Look for live chat, email and phone assistance.
  • Security – Check for $500,000+ SIPC insurance, account protection and encryption measures.

By comparing brokers across these criteria, you can find the ideal platform that matches your trading requirements and strategy.

The 10 Best Online Trading Platforms

Based on the key factors above, here are the top 10 best online trading platforms:

1. TD Ameritrade – Best Overall

With fantastic tools, great service and $0 commissions, TD Ameritrade takes the top spot.

Fees – $0 stock, ETF and options trades. No account minimums or inactivity fees.

Investment Choices – Stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, futures and forex. Access thousands of CME Group futures.

Tools – Thinkorswim platform with exceptional research, charts and screeners. Trade Architect and Mobile Trader apps.

Technology – Easy-to-use web and mobile platforms. Advanced traders can use Thinkorswim.

Service – 24/7 support via live chat, email or phone. Branches nationwide for in-person help.

Security – SIPC insured for $500,000. State-of-the-art encryption and security measures.

With $0 commissions across stocks, options and ETFs, robust trading platforms and excellent customer service, TD Ameritrade earns the top spot for best overall trading experience.

2. E*TRADE – Best for Options Trading

E*TRADE delivers an excellent options trading platform alongside $0 stock and ETF trades.

Fees – $0 commissions for stock, ETF and options trades. No account minimums and low margin rates.

Investment Choices – Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options and futures. Access over 30 global markets.

Tools – Power E*TRADE platform and OptionsHouse mobile apps. Option Strategy Lab helps build strategies.

Technology – Sleek desktop and mobile apps. Advanced charting and screening capabilities.

Service – 24/7 phone, live chat and email support. Local E*TRADE branches available.

Security – FDIC insured bank account up to $1.25 million. Money transferred to SIPC insured brokerage.

ETRADE is a top choice for active options traders thanks to the advanced Power ETRADE platform, tools and low commissions.

3. Fidelity – Best Research and Education

Fidelity lives up to its name by offering exceptional research, education and retirement services.

Fees – $0 stock and ETF trades. $0.65 per options contract. No minimums for retail accounts.

Investment Choices – Stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds and CDs. 2,900+ mutual funds with no transaction fees.

Tools – Excellent proprietary research and reports. Standard trading platforms with basic tools.

Technology – Easy-to-use website and mobile apps. Active Trader Pro platform for advanced traders.

Service – 24/7 phone and live chat support. 200+ local investor centers for on-site help.

Security – SIPC insured for $500,000. Industry leader in cybersecurity measures.

Fidelity stands out for its retirement services, education and market research capabilities. The website and apps make trading accessible for beginners.

4. Charles Schwab – Best for Beginners

Charles Schwab provides an excellent overall experience with great research, education and service.

Fees – $0 stock and ETF trades. $0.65 per contract for options. Low expense ratios on mutual funds.

Investment Choices – Stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds, futures. Large selection of commission-free ETFs.

Tools – StreetSmart Edge and mobile apps. Market research and risk analysis tools.

Technology – User-friendly website and mobile app. Customizable trading platform.

Service – 24/7 live chat and phone support. 355+ local branches nationwide.

Security – FDIC insured to $250,000. SIPC insured securities up to $500,000.

With great research, education and service alongside $0 stock and ETF trades, Schwab is perfect for beginners learning the ropes.

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5. Interactive Brokers – Best for Advanced Traders

Sophisticated traders who value direct market access and advanced tools should look at Interactive Brokers.

Fees – Low commissions starting at 0.005 per share. Lower pricing for high volume traders.

Investment Choices – Stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds on 135+ markets globally.

Tools – Advanced desktop, web and mobile platforms with superior tools and charting.

Technology – Traders Workstation platform delivers direct market access. Leading API services.

Service – 24/7 email and chat support. Phone support weekdays. Helpful daily market commentary.

Security – SIPC insured up to $500,000. Regulated in multiple jurisdictions globally.

With direct market access, low pricing, an advanced trading platform and excellent tools, Interactive Brokers offers a lot for active, professional traders. But the complexity may be overkill for casual investors.

6. Merrill Edge – Best for Bank of America Customers

For Bank of America customers, Merrill Edge offers a nice package with $0 online trades and excellent research.

Fees – $0 online stock, ETF and options trades. Only $0.65 per contract with 30+ trades per month.

Investment Choices – Stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds and fixed income. Good selection of commission-free ETFs.

Tools – Strong proprietary research and analysis. Decent desktop and mobile platforms.

Technology – Streamlined website and apps. Nothing too complex or advanced.

Service – 24/7 customer service and support via phone, chat or email. In-person if you have a Bank of America account.

Security – Securities insured up to $500,000 by SIPC. Bank deposits insured by FDIC up to $250,000.

With $0 stock and ETF trades, great research and reduced option commissions, Merrill Edge is a strong choice for Bank of America customers. But trading tools and technology lag some competitors.

7. TradeStation – Best for Active Traders

TradeStation offers advanced active traders customizable trading technology alongside low margin rates.

Fees – $0 stock trades and great margin rates. $0.50 per options contract. Inactivity fees apply.

Investment Choices – Stocks, ETFs, options, futures and futures options. 40+ international markets.

Tools – Robust Web and desktop platforms with advanced charting, scanning and analysis tools.

Technology – TradeStation platform ideal for active traders. Great trading automation capabilities.

Service – 24/7 email support and live chat weekday support. Video tutorials online.

Security – SIPC insured account up to $500,000. Regulated in multiple jurisdictions.

With solid trading technology, excellent trading tools and good margin rates, TradeStation earns its reputation among active traders. But it may be overkill for casual investors.

8. Ally Invest – Best for Low Fees

Ally Invest offers a great value investing experience with quality tools, low margin rates and a managed portfolio service.

Fees – $0 stock and ETF trades. $0.50 per contract for options trades. Low expense ratios on 30+ commission free ETFs.

Investment Choices – Stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, forex and bonds. Access to IPOs through an account of $2,000+.

Tools – User-friendly web and mobile platforms with solid tools, research and charts. Managed portfolios available.

Technology – Streaming quotes and advanced charting on desktop and mobile platforms.

Service – 24/7 live chat and phone customer service and support.

Security – SIPC insures securities up to $500,000. Additional asset protection measures in place.

With $0 stock and ETF trades, low margin rates and managed portfolios, Ally Invest offers a lot for low fees. Customer service could be better though.

9. Webull – Best for Mobile Trading

Mobile traders should look at Webull for an easy-to-use and well-designed app alongside $0 commissions.

Fees – $0 stock, ETF and options trades. No account minimums or maintenance fees.

Investment Choices – Stocks, ETFs, options, ADRs and cryptocurrencies. Fractional share trading available.

Tools – Advanced charts, screeners and paper trading on mobile apps. Minimal desktop experience.

Technology – Intuitive and easy-to-use mobile app. Desktop platform lacks features.

Service – Email and chat support available 24/7. Minimal phone support.

Security – SIPC insured up to $500,000. Additional clearing firm coverage up to $150 million.

For mobile-first traders, Webull offers a nicely designed app for free trading. But active traders may want more robust desktop-based tools.

10. Public – Best for Social Trading

Public combines free stock trading with a community feed for discussing ideas and strategies.

Fees – $0 stock and ETF trades. $0 per options contract. No account minimums.

Investment Choices – Individual stocks and ETFs. No mutual funds, bonds or forex.

Tools – Minimal screeners and research. Focus is chatting and sharing ideas in the social community.

Technology – Slick mobile app tailored to millennials. Web experience is lackluster.

Service – Email support available. Responses can be slow outside business hours.

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Security – Apex Clearing insures securities up to $500,000. Additional SIPC insurance up to $1.15 million.

Public offers an engaging mobile concept for basic trading and social investing. But active traders will want more advanced functionality.

Choose the Best Trading Platform for You

With commission-free trading becoming the norm, most major brokers offer similar capabilities around stocks, ETFs and options. The key differences come down to trading tools, investment choices, costs, technology and customer service.

Ask yourself:

  • How actively will I trade? If frequently, look for low commissions, margin rates and advanced tools.
  • What assets do I want to invest in? Brokers offer different selections of stocks, funds, options, futures, forex and cryptocurrencies.
  • Is great service important? Look for responsive customer support via phone, chat, email and local branches.
  • Do fees matter most? Seek rock bottom pricing through $0 trades and commission-free products. Just know you may sacrifice some tools.

By matching an online trading platform to your priorities as an investor, you can enjoy a smooth and productive experience. This guide highlighted the 10 best trading platforms across all the categories that matter. Use it as a starting point, compare your top choices, and you’ll find the right broker on your investing journey.

Best and Most Trusted Forex Brokers

Based on regulation, award recognition, mainstream credibility, and overwhelmingly positive client feedback, these six brokers stand out for their sterling reputations:

NoBrokerRegulationMin. DepositPlatformsAccount TypesOfferOpen New Account
1.RoboForexFSC Belize$10MT4, MT5, RTraderStandard, Cent, Zero SpreadWelcome Bonus $30Open RoboForex Account
2.AvaTradeASIC, FSCA$100MT4, MT5Standard, Cent, Zero SpreadTop Forex BrokerOpen AvaTrade Account
3.ExnessFCA, CySEC$1MT4, MT5Standard, Cent, Zero SpreadFree VPSOpen Exness Account
4.XMASIC, CySEC, FCA$5MT4, MT5Standard, Micro, Zero Spread20% Deposit BonusOpen XM Account
5.ICMarketsSeychelles FSA$200MT4, MT5, CTraderStandard, Zero SpreadBest Paypal BrokerOpen ICMarkets Account
6.XBTFXASIC, CySEC, FCA$10MT4, MT5Standard, Zero SpreadBest USA BrokerOpen XBTFX Account
7.VantageASIC, CySEC, FCA$50MT4, MT5Standard, Cent, Zero Spread20% Deposit BonusOpen Vantage Account
8.FXTMFSC Mauritius$10MT4, MT5Standard, Micro, Zero SpreadWelcome Bonus $50Open FXTM Account
9.FBSASIC, CySEC, FCA$5MT4, MT5Standard, Cent, Zero Spread100% Deposit BonusOpen FBS Account
10.BinanceDASP$10Binance PlatformsN/ABest Crypto BrokerOpen Binance Account
11.TradingViewUnregulatedFreeTradingViewN/ABest Trading PlatformOpen TradingView Account

“If you don't find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”

- Warren Buffett

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