Last Updated on May 3, 2020
Hundreds of online day trading platforms—both broker-owned and private firm-owned—are available in the marketplace. They enable the placement and execution of trades/orders. Whether you’re looking to make returns on stocks, forex, cryptocurrencies (crypto), or hybrid securities, there’s a trading platform ready to partner with you.
You’ll have to consider a lot of prerequisite factors and weigh them against what you’re looking for in a trading platform. Your bare necessities criteria must precede the research on and choice of the best day trading platform to make it a straightforward exercise.
You can also rely on regulatory recommendations. Ideally, platforms licensed and operating under established regulators such as the Financial Conduct Authority, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Financial Services Board are a safe choice. But how do they fair according to your checklist? Additionally, trading platform reviews on credible information sources: the likes of Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, etc., can be a good indicator that a platform is worth checking out.
Best online brokers for day trading in May:
- Fidelity – Best overall
- Interactive Brokers – Best for high volume
- Tradestation – Best for options
- TD Ameritrade – Best trading platform
- E-Trade – Best for research
If it’s your first time shopping for a trading platform, here is a clue for you: some platforms offer the best market research and trading signals. Others are more favorable in terms of allowing $0 minimum account balances for day traders as well as provisioning for free trades. You’ll also come across platforms that give deposit discounts depending on the type of account you open and the dollar amount you top up.
As you ponder on all these elements and components of a day trading platform, make the wise move and prepare your tailored bare minimum requirements for your ideal trading platform. It’ll help you avoid unnecessary predicaments. Check out the list below for top ranking trading platforms.
Join TD Ameritrade and get access to stocks, futures, options, crypto, and fixed-income securities markets. The recent reduction in trading fees from $6.95 per stock trade to zero makes this platform one of the best for discount trading.
On PC, you get a skillfully crafted software named thinkorswim. The thinkorswim setup mirrors the TD Ameritrade Mobile app for easy of synchronization from device-to-device. TD Ameritrade is also big on innovation.
They use artificial intelligence (AI) to integrate account functionality with supporting technologies such as voice assistants and social media platforms. To top it up, they have an in-house media network that provides quotes and market analysis. With over ten million active trading accounts and about $1 trillion in financial assets, TD Ameritrade ensures you don’t run out on day trading opportunities.
If you are looking for professional help in day trading planning, excellent market research, and above-average trading tools, look no further than Charles Schwab. It’s also the number one recommendation for beginner day traders. From stocks to bonds to options and futures, Charles Schwab offers diverse securities for you to day trade.
You get to trade stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) at $0 while options attract a $0.65 trading fee. All trades happen on the Schwab website (StreetSmart.com), StreetSmart Edge platform (PC version), or their mobile app. However, for any futures trades, you must explicitly use the StreetSmart Central web-based system. You can’t trade forex on this platform.
Both the trading tools and features are user friendly. The webinars provided and trader education support makes Charles Schwab a darling for budding day traders and trading strategy back testers. They’re a full-service online broker platform with commendable phone customer service and an extensive network of branches.
You need to have a minimum account deposit of $500 for the TS (TradeStation) Go account pricing structure or $2000 for the TS Select structure. The platform follows what seems to be a pattern of $0 charges on all stock and ETFs trades. TradeStation charges you a $0.50 fee for options per traded contract and $14.95 for mutual fund day trades.
You can choose to trade on the web-based platform or execute your orders through the PC version. Alternatively, make all your day trading moves on the TradeStation mobile app. The platform scores low on fundamental research of securities. That’s a flaw you can offset with their rich charting feature, real-time price watchlist, and securities scanner.
Fidelity’s twenty million retail traders and $2 trillion worth of financial assets make the trading platform popular with traders. It presents consistent opportunities to leverage volatility and trading volumes for your day trading needs across different markets. Fidelity is hands down the best place to trade for timely order execution and up-to-the-minute market research.
Stocks (including penny stocks) and ETFs cost zero dollars to trade. Similar to Charles Schwab, Fidelity doesn’t receive payment for order flow (PFOF), which saves you even more on trading costs. Typically, when you hold free cash in your account, it earns interest as follows on the platforms below:
- 01 percent on TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE
- 12 percent on Charles Schwab
- 58 percent on Fidelity
The interest rates can go up or down depending on current market rates. In addition to interest, Fidelity also automatically allocates all the free cash in your portfolio into higher-yielding assets. You’re almost guaranteed to stay winning with Fidelity’s rich research tools. They produce in-house market data and buffer their database with third-party stock and ETFs market reports. Fidelity should be high on a day trader’s list of best trading platforms.
It’s a bit of a stretch to say that a particular day trading platform is flawless. For instance, from the list above, Fidelity’s platform pays the highest interest rates, but TD Ameritrade has more technological capacity. And TradeStation requires fixed account opening balances while Charles Schwab doesn’t have a forex market. It all comes down to your list of features and markets that’ll be satisfactory to you. Look around, make the assessment, and sign up with your ideal choice.
What’s the Benefit of Using a Day Trading Platform?
The discount could also manifest in the form of a commission deduction on the volume traded: for instance, a $5 fee for the first 50 trades you make and a $3 charge after hitting 500 trades and over. Several day trading platforms excel in availing international markets, which makes for a lucrative variety of securities.
And if you’re a beginner, an active/hyper trader, or have a soft spot for rewards such as a referral program, waived maintenance fees, and priority customer service, find your perfect fit. No one trading platform will fulfill 100 percent of your day trading needs, but don’t set the bar too low.
For example, if you set out to find the day trading platform with the most conservative trading costs, you’ll find viable options. However, reduced costs could also mean compromising on platform features and trading tools.
Also, a section of traders prefers to work with a desktop/personal computer (PC) version of the platform. Others prioritize mobile app platforms for on-the-go trading. To make it even more interesting, software such as AlgoTrader and MetaTrader 4 and 5 enable you to connect to several stockbroker platforms without having an account with them. Moreover, they’re third-party platforms that facilitate live access to international markets.