Please Log In to leave a comment

ThinkMobiles is one of most trusted companies conducting IT & software reviews since 2011. Our mission is to provide best reviews, analysis, user feedback and vendor profiles. Learn more about review process.

Best stock trading platforms

Disclosure:

We may receive compensation when you click on links. Neither our writers nor our editors get paid to publish content and are fully committed to editorial standards .

Stock trading is buying/selling shares of companies on organized trading platforms (stock exchanges). Incidentally, stock exchange quotation is often cited to determine the real value of business entities. Online trading via the Internet is a thing too, which has been made accessible through special software. And that’s our topic today – an introduction to stock trading platforms.  

We’ll highlight several trading platforms, which come as desktop apps, web portal or mobile apps, and we’ll extract key metrics. Please note that data may differ at the time of you reading this post, as markets are volatile and brokers make regular changes to terms and conditions. For example, the number of available stocks on a platform directly depends on a stock exchange it is connected to. Or commissions and fees, that can be manifold and hidden.

Also, besides minimum deposit to start trading, most broker platforms require $2,000 for margin trading (industry standard minimum), but try not to disclose it at the initial stage. Before we describe trade platforms, probably it makes sense to drop a glossary of terms.

Stock exchange terms:

  1. ADR (American Depository Receipt) – a certificate for a foreign company stocks, as a deposit it a US  bank.
  2. AON – All or None – an additional condition for limit orders, indicating consent for full order execution only (no partial closure).
  3. Average price – an average price of one stock at open position.
  4. Averaging down (averaging) – adding a certain amount of assets at a higher price to a losing position in order to improve the average price.
  5. Ask (ask price) – a stock selling offer.
  6. Bear – a trader waiting for his assets to drop in price.
  7. Bear Market – market with a price downward trend.
  8. Beta – an indicator of stock price volatility in relation to other assets on the market, a measure of market risk.
  9. Bid (bid price) – a stock buying offer.
  10. CFD – Contract for Difference – security trading without owning an asset.
  11. Commodities – physical goods, e.g. gold, oil, gas, sugar, cocoa, etc.
  12. Currencies (Forex) – foreign exchange market trading, bidding on exchange rate fluctuations. 
  13. Cryptocurrencies – digital assets used as a virtual currency that is unregulated by central banking systems.
  14. Derivatives – a financial security representing the right and obligation to buy/sell assets at a certain price and conditions.
  15. Fractional share – a portion of stock that is less than one share.
  16. Hedging – hedge accounting – a risk reduction method using derivatives.
  17. High – the highest price for a certain period.
  18. Indices (ETF – exchange traded fund) – investment fund up for trading, like stocks.
  19. IRA (Individual Retirement Account) – account managed personally.
  20. ISA – Individual Savings Account – offers tax-free investments of personal costs in shares, funds, deposits, etc. 
  21. Leverage – a ratio of loaned and own assets.
  22. Long position (long) – a long-term investment with expectation of price increase.
  23. Low – the lowest price for a certain period.
  24. Margin account – trading with money borrowed from a broker at a certain interest rate.
  25. Options – contracts granting a right, but not an obligation, to buy/sell assets at a certain price and period.
  26. Overnight fee – an interest charged for holding a position overnight.
  27. Portfolio (account) – personal account on a trading platform, displaying all assets and transactions.
  28. Scalping – a slang name of a trading strategy profiting from a small price increase.
  29. Short position (short) – a short-term investment with expectation of price drop.
  30. SIPP – retirement account for UK citizens under 75 years.
  31. Spread – a bid-ask price difference for a given asset at the same time.
  32. Stamp tax (stamp duty, STT) –  a tax charged upon purchasing real-estate, land, shares, etc. on certain conditions in some countries.
  33. Stocks – equities confirming part ownership of a company.
  34. Swap – a contract for exchanging assets and liabilities between two parties, usually followed by a stipulation to switch the positions back.
  35. Zero-commission – no commission/fee condition.

8 best stock trading platforms

Desktop (Windows), Web, Mobile app (Android, iOS), Demo account

Interactive Brokers, founded in 1977, is the largest electronic brokerage company in the United States by the number of daily transactions. The company is rather keen on innovative trading technologies than high profits. It is very diverse and colossal in features and information, novice traders can find it difficult to comprehend.

Base currencies Stocks available Technical indicators Minimum deposit Min. stock commision Leverage on shares
23 10,000+ 118 $0 $0,005 2:1

IB provides an opportunity to trade on more than 135 platforms in 33 countries. Accounts: individual ($10,000+), IRA ($25,000+, only for US citizens), portfolio ($1,100,000+). There are no minimum deposit requirements. Margin trading is allowed to persons from 21 years of age and with a minimum deposit of $2000. Hedging, scalping and day trading strategies are allowed regardless of account type.

To register an account, you must provide: ID, place of residence, employer contacts, bank account data. Account verification takes up to 2 days. Depositing and money withdrawal can be done through bank transfer only. Accounts with $100,000 and more, or bring a commission of at least $10 per month, are not being charged a maintenance fee. For others the inactivity fee is $10.

Interactive Brokers offers its own stock trading platforms, such as TWS. Various analysis, risk management tools and other useful functions are integrated. If you find it overwhelming, check the Client portal with help materials, or use IBKR WebTrader. Overall, Interactive Brokers is for professional use with tools that are usually available only to the institutional traders.

IB also provides the opportunity to earn up to $200 for each new fetched client. It is also worth mentioning that IB has several partner brokers, or joint projects, representing IB: TradeStation Global, LYNX, etc. Commissions and conditions differ from IB, yet funds are stored at IB accounts.

Pros: Powerful trading software Excellent for market and portfolio analysis Low fees

Cons: IB Trader Workstation will be difficult at first Small or inactive accounts may receive maintenance fees

02 of 08

eToro

Web, Mobile app (Android, iOS), Demo account

Founded under the RetailFX name in 2007, eToro has established itself as a leading social brokerage company with $800M value and 11 million users. Currently, eToro is one of stock trading platforms for investors to buy and sell financial assets, as well as for social trading. It is an excellent choice for those who have no experience in trading, and/or passive investors.

Base currencies Stocks available Technical indicators Minimum deposit Min. stock commision Leverage on shares
10 2,400+ n/a $200 0% 20:1

Users have the option to entrust eToro to purchase stocks on their behalf, even fractional shares. On this broker you are exempt from paying commissions, extra charges, fees. Moreover, if necessary, eToro pays the stamp duty and transaction taxes, thereby allowing additional savings of 0.5% in the UK, 1% in Ireland, 0.3% in France and 0.1% in Italy.

CFD trading is also supported. This implies advanced trading functionality, including leverage, orders for short positions, etc. For transactions with indices and commodities, a 0.09% commission called a spread is charged for each party (seller and buyer). Also, there are fees for fund transfers and overnights (read more).

eToro European and UK divisions offer leverage on stock trades up to x5, in Australia – up to x10. To get started, the required minimum is $200. This online trading platform charges a $25 fee in addition to possible bank withdrawal fees, which is one of the highest among European brokers. Withdrawals smaller than $50 are not permitted, by the way.

Pros: Social trading platform (copy strategy) Easier to master compared to other services

Cons: Multiple fees Minimum functionality Algo-trading and API not available

Read next: 8 best CFD platforms.

03 of 08

Plus500

Desktop (Windows), Web, Mobile app (Android, Windows Phone), Demo account

Plus500 was launched in 2008 in Israel with a starting investment of $400,000. The company provides online trading services on CFDs, is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is regulated by financial authorities in the UK, Australia, Cyprus, New Zealand, Israel, Singapore. Note that Plus500 does not encourage scalping strategies. Most importantly this platform is for CFD trading only. There are no commissions as such, everything is included into the spread.

Base currencies Stocks available Technical indicators Minimum deposit Min. stock commision Leverage on shares
10 1,900+ 20 $100 0% 10:1

Long positions are rewarded. There are 5 free payouts per month. The withdrawal methods are typical and take up to 2 days, if it is less than $100, the fee is $10. Inactivity fee – more than 3 months of pause – is $10. A trick here is no obligation to constantly trade, it is enough to log in once in a while.

Plus500 platform offers all the necessary functionality for analysis and trading. A simple and convenient interface is available in more than 30 languages. Note that users cannot adjust the leverage, which is why beginners with small deposits can lose funds really quickly.

A nice bonus – you can configure notifications of price changes by email, SMS or push notifications. Mobile version is very similar to a web portal. As for the desktop app, there is only one version – for Windows 10 OS, and it can be downloaded from the Microsoft store on PC.

Pros: Reliable broker Sophisticated stock trading platform No trading commissions

Cons: Impossible to adjust leverage Scalping is prohibited

04 of 08

ETX Capital

Web, Mobile app (Android, iOS), Demo account

ETX is an acronym for the services it offers: Electronic and Telephone Trading, Execution Services. This UK company, founded in London back in 1965 under a different name, is now one of the leading online stock trading platforms, offering spread betting and CFD trading services. It can be a gateway to MT4 platform, as well as their own TraderPro service. We like the latter one in particular, due to narrow spreads. 

Base currencies Stocks available Technical indicators Minimum deposit Min. stock commision Leverage on shares
3 6,000+ 60 £100 0,05% 10:1

EXT TraderPro is a web platform that will be user-friendly after just a few minutes of use. Users can search for assets by name or browsing categories – search works really fast. One can also set price alerts via email and push notifications to the phone. At the same time, information on commissions and swap payments is lacking, and tools for market research are inferior to competitors.

3 base currencies are available: GBP, EUR and USD. The minimum deposit to open an account is £100, and you can make a deposit from a bank account under your name. Users have access to roughly 6,000 stocks from 20 countries, large companies and IPO (Initial Public Offering) included. The minimum transaction size is £1 (read more). Some assets can only be sold by telephone. Withdrawal from the ETX Capital is free for up to 5 times a month. 

ETX Capital is available for customers from the USA, Australia, Singapore, South Africa and 18 European countries. Scalping is prohibited by the terms of services. It is also forbidden to use any electronic device, software or algorithm, aimed at manipulating or exploiting unfair scenarios or loopholes. ETX reserves the right to seize profits raised in such illicit ways.

Pros: Excellent phone support (English only) Over 50 years on the market Quick and frequent withdrawals

Cons: Limited number of market research tools Algo-trading and API not available

05 of 08

Saxo

Desktop (Windows, Mac), Web, Mobile app (Android, iOS), Demo account

Saxo Bank is a Danish investment bank, founded in 1992. It specializes in online investments on the international capital markets, and also provides trust management services. Their core product is the White Label Partnership (WLP) – Saxo Bank works with more than 85 partners and serves customers in 177 countries.

Base currencies Stocks available Technical indicators Minimum deposit Min. stock commision Leverage on shares
19 19,000+ 50 $600-10,000 $0,02 5:1

Saxo has 19 base currencies, over 19,000 stocks available on 37 stock exchanges. The minimum deposit to start trading is relatively high and ranges between $600 and $10,000, depending on place of residence. At the same time, a demo account with a virtual $100K is available. 

To deposit funds you can use a bank transfer or credit cards (not available in some countries). Withdrawals take about 1 business day with no additional fees. You cannot open an account if you are a resident of the USA, Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Syria or North Korea.

The inactivity fee also depends on your place of residence. For the UK customers it is £25 for a non-trading previous quarter. SIPP and ISA accounts are exempt from it. For non-British customers it is $100 after 6 months of inactivity. Trading fees may also vary by country (read more). If you trade stocks, ETFs or bonds, you pay an additional 0.12% per year. If you prefer to trade stocks with a margin or short sale, the only way to do this is to trade CFDs.

The web trading platform is called SaxoTraderGO, whereas the desktop version is SaxoTraderPRO. Both platforms look similar by default, but the PRO version provides research materials and advanced settings. Here you have the opportunity to create your own working environment by arranging and/or scaling windows. Up to 6 windows simultaneously, for traders with multiple monitors.

The search function is fast, results are grouped by asset class, there are filters to narrow the search by specific countries. We’d also like to point out the transparency of fees – in the order panel you’ll see the Trade Ticket window with all details, costs, margin requirements, etc.

Pros: Transparent fees Safe trading Educational section for traders

Cons: Large initial deposit High trading fees

06 of 08

Webull

Desktop (Windows, Mac), Web, Mobile app (Android, iOS), Demo account

Webull Financial LLC has been a registered brokerage dealer since 2017, being a member of US federal and private agencies like SEC, FINRA, SIPC. This is one of the stock trading platforms with the possibility to trade without commissions. Its nearest competitor is probably Robinhood (see further down).

Base currencies Stocks available Technical indicators Minimum deposit Min. stock commision Leverage on shares
1 ~7,000 40 0 0% 4:1

There is no minimum deposit for regular trading. Margin trading requires a minimum account balance of $2,000. If the balance is lower, your position will be automatically liquidated. A fee for withdrawing funds via bank transfer is $25 in the USA and $45 for international banks. Transfers of amounts over $25,000 are not subject to commission. There are no Webull transaction fees, but there are FCA trading fees, clearing fees, etc. (read more).

Despite all the positive aspects, we’ve found a lot of negative reviews about Webull managers, who do not generate income, but only drain the deposit in most cases. We can neither confirm or deny this, just be cautious.

Interest rate on margin trading is accrued daily and paid monthly. The margin rate is variable and is determined by the size of the margin loan. The data on the US market (NASDAQ, AMEX, NYSE) is provided free of charge and in real time. Data on the international markets requires a paid subscription. Tools for technical analysis are in place, interface is not too complex, all works stable. In general, this platform is aimed at US citizens and traders dealing with US stocks.

Pros: Transparent conditions Suitable for beginners Fewer commissions

Cons: For US residents mostly Negative reviews Big fees for depositing and withdrawing

07 of 08

Dukascopy

Desktop (Windows, Mac, Linux), Web, Mobile app (Android, iOS), Demo account

Founded in 2004, Dukascopy is a Swiss bank with the European license and a full range of banking services. As for trading, it focuses mainly on contracts for difference (CFDs), including CFDs on stocks. The number of stocks is limited, and purchasing stocks takes place via a CFD transaction anyway. Read about Dukasscopy commissions and fees.

Base currencies Stocks available Technical indicators Minimum deposit Min. stock commision Leverage on shares
23 500+ custom $5,000 $10 10:1

Their trading platform is called JForex 3 and contains 250 indicators (and more to configure), all kinds of graphs, real-time feed. The broker also provides access to MetaTrader 4, which is a larger and globally acknowledged trading site. JForex 3 allows hedging, a demo account is available too. The minimum deposit, though, is quite high – $5,000.

Pros: JForex proprietary platform by a real Swiss bank Extensive research and analytic tools Good customer support 24/6

Cons: Large initial deposit High commissions for low deposit traders

08 of 08

Robinhood

Web app

Robinhood Markets Inc. is a financial company, registered in the United States in 2013. It’s a bit unconventional, no central office, only a web portal allowing to trade without commissions. There’s also a mobile app – Robinhood Financial for stocks, ETFs and options. In March 2020, Robinhood went through technical disruptions that affected many users and now the company has a dozen of lawsuits to deal with.

Base currencies Stocks available Technical indicators Minimum deposit Min. stock commision Leverage on shares
2 5,000+ n/a 00 0% n/a

The platform is free, there is no minimum deposit. At the same time, customers have to pay $5 per month for Robinhood Gold (after 30 days for free) to be able to trade with the margin and gain access to the research. It is also worth noting that Robinhood is only trading a subsection of stocks, not the whole market. Long positions only.

The web platform is suitable for users, who are just starting their attempts to trade through a line chart. A few seconds delay in price won’t be good for active trading. Anyhow, over 10 million of users are using Robinhood. Deposit fees are as follows: $25 for US transfers, $50 for international transfers, $35 for overnights (Robinhood fees and taxes). Generally speaking, Robinhhod may appeal to investors from the USA, who are not keen on active trading.

Pros: Small trading expenses No minimum deposit

Cons: Lack of fundamental analysis tools No short sales and OTCBB For US residents only

Summary

Desktop Web Mobile Base currencies Stocks Indicators Min. deposit Min. stock commission Max. leverage
IB ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ 23 10,000 118 0 $0,005 2:1
eToro ✔️ ✔️ 10 2,400 n/a $200 0 20:1
Plus500 ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ 10 1,900 20 $100 0 10:1
ETX ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ 3 6,000 60 £100 0,05% 10:1
Saxo ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ 19 19,000 50 $600 $0,02 5:1
Webull ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ 1 7,000 40 0 0 4:1
Dukascopy ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ 23 500 custom $5,000 $10 10:1
Robinhood ✔️ ✔️ 2 5,000 n/a 0 0 n/a

Tips for beginners. If you are a novice trader with no experience, be ready to spend a lot of time on this. First you need to study the functionality of stock trading platforms, which will take 3-6 months, and understanding the market will require even more time. If possible, use a demo account and start with powerful platforms such as TWS by Interactive Brokers. Do not use margin trading at the beginning as it is the fastest way to lose capital. Do not use so-called “signals”, that are often just scammers earning money by referral programs.

Read next: Stock trading mobile apps review.

FAQ

Q: What is a stock?
A: A stock is a security, providing its owner with the right to receive a part of its profit, as well as the right to manage the company. The main purpose of buying stocks is to make a profit. You can gain it by receiving dividends or income from the difference between the purchase and the sale prices of the stock.

Q: What trading strategies are there?
A: The two most popular trading strategies are short and long positions, and sometimes interim trading between them. A long position is when a trader buys an asset expecting the future value growth. Short position is appropriate when a trader foresees a decline in the asset price. This method allows you to bet on the shortest possible intervals, even within a minute.

Q: How much can you earn by trading stocks?
A: Impossible to tell. It all depends on the market and the strategy you use. One of the simplest techniques will be investing in the long term (long position), which can last from a month to decades. This method will not bring much profit, yet it does not require effort and time. Scalping (short position) is a very interesting trading strategy that, if applied correctly, can help quickly increase capital, but it takes a lot of time and concentration.

Q: How does stock trading work?
A: First you need to understand that stock trading can be done both through the stock market and through CFDs. By purchasing stocks, you become the owner of the stock and co-owner of the business, as a result of which you receive dividend yield, lower expenses payment. On the other hand, drawbacks include high initial deposits, high commissions, lack of leverage, commissions for foreign stocks. To make an overly simplified example of CFD stock trading, let’s say we’ve got 5:1 leverage. We buy $55 worth of stocks in the form of USD/AMD currency pair, and 1 hour later the stock price is $56. We close the deal (sell stocks) and get a $5 profit.

Q: What is a trading platform?
A: A trading platform is a computer program allowing trading over the Internet on stock exchanges. Broker companies provide a trading platform through which the process of buying and selling takes place. Users can also automate some processes, receive market data quickly, etc.

Q: How to calculate commissions and fees?
A: Unfortunately, there is no universal formula or calculator for all trade platforms. Each broker has its own fees, commissions and conditions. If a broker has two platforms, commissions will be different. Especially if a broker suggests using MetaTrader, there will always be more commissions than on another platform. As a rule, the larger the deposit is, the more favorable conditions are.

Q: Minimum deposit and withdrawal
A: In order to start trading stocks, you need to open an account. After account validation, you will need to make a starting deposit ranging from $0 to $10,000. The average is up to $250. Money can be deposited in many ways - bank transfer (1-3 days), Visa or MasterCard, cryptocurrency, PayPal. Withdrawals are done upon request, and often you must first sell all the assets.

Q: What are dividends?
A: Dividends are the part of the profit that the company distributes among stockholders.

Q: What is the best strategy for trading?
A: Each trader chooses the best strategy based on personal preferences - what stocks to trade, long-term or active trading, entire deposit, portfolio, etc. It also depends on broker conditions, commissions, spreads, etc. Many platforms prohibit scalping, that is, multiple purchases and sales during the trading day.

Q: How much time does stock trading require?
A: It depends on strategy and a platform/broker of choice. You can make 10 or more transactions per day, or you can make a purchase once and leave it for several months/years with a potential growth.

Q: Is it profitable to invest in stocks?
A: It can be, especially investing in promising companies.

Q: Which leverage is better to use?
A: If you are asking this question, it’s better not to use it at all. In extreme cases, we recommend using maximum 10:1.

Q: Is it safe to entrust money to a broker?
A: It is safe if you personally manage the account, and a broker is regulated by financial institutions. Do not entrust funds to discretionary management.

Q: How to buy stocks?
A: Choose a trading platform, sign up, place a deposit, then find and purchase stocks. The cost of different stocks varies, for example 1 Tesla stock is ~$800, while an average stock of most companies is ~$10. There are also fractional shares (part of the whole stock) yet not with every broker.

Q: Stocks vs CFD
A: By investing in stocks, you own the asset, pay the stamp duty of 0.5%, get stockholder rights and may receive dividends. With CFDs (derivative products) a broker usually agrees to pay the investor the difference in the value of the security between the open and close prices. With CFDs, you can take a long or short position to profit from rising and falling markets. By purchasing stocks, you can only profit from rising prices.

Q: Stocks vs options
A: By investing in options you can earn more money with less deposit for a shorter period of time. You can also invest in stocks using options. Options are primarily for the active traders.

Q: Stocks vs ETF
A: ETF is not just one security, but a whole portfolio compiled by professional participants. All that is needed to get the benefits from ETFs is to choose your stock exchange investment fund. Also the investor does not have to pay for portfolio management.

Q: Stocks vs Forex
A: FX is a round-the-clock market, while stock trading is mostly limited in time. When trading FX, a higher leverage is available - up to 1:500, while with stocks this value is not more than 1:10. The main advantage of stock trading is the small number of parameters that a trader focuses on.

Q: What is the stock market?
A: The stock market is a financial and economic instrument, regulating the circulation of securities by purchase, sale, exchange or pledge. In addition to stocks, bonds and bills are also traded at the stock market.

Q: How does a broker company earn?
A: The main income of all brokers is based on spreads, guaranteed stop limits, commissions, inactivity payments, etc.

Q: What is a portfolio?
A: A portfolio in finance is an array of investments by individuals or business entities.

Q: Is stock trading safe?
A: Any kind of trading carries increased risks of loss, thus it is not safe.

Q: How long does it take to start earning?
A: No one can guarantee quick and stable income. A trader can increase capital in a couple of days, but without stop limits he can also lose a deposit totally. It takes 1-2 years of active trading to understand the market, study the trading platform and all functions, learn how to do fundamental analysis, etc.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Viktor Korol

Leading software analyst in fintech, crypto, trading and gaming. An active trader and cryptocurrency investor.

Viktor Korol gained a passion for IT as early as school, when he began creating multimedia websites, and managing online gaming projects later. Viktor has been publishing articles and help guides for beginner administrators. For 3 years he also worked as a telecom operator and thus gained expertise in network technologies and maintenance. His graduation degree is in Software and Automated Technologies. In 2019, Viktor was appointed a software analyst at ThinkMobiles.

Last articles

Did you like the article?

0
Comment
Share on:
Share on Facebook
No Comments

Please ask questions and discuss