New to Benzinga?


Already have an account?

Best Stock Trading Software

It goes without saying that stock trading requires intuitive, seamless trading software to relieve any trader’s stress-induced, “Gotta sell now!” moments.

Trading software, a set of computer programs that facilitate trading in financial instruments such as stocks and currencies, also helps improve stock-picking decisions through fundamental and technical analysis features. Some software also allows transaction processing.

Recommended Broker

If you are looking for an online broker with excellent stock trading software, Ally Invest is a great option. They have an excellent platform that runs on all devices and amazing tools to find research for trading. New customers can earn up to $3,500 in cash bonuses and trades as low as $3.95.

Brokerages offer the trading software either for free or for discounted pricing. Sometimes it is offered as an incentive to elicit a certain quantity of trading volumes. Independent vendors also supply software to assist traders.

Trading software components

Historical and real-time data: Real-time data is data and information instantaneously provided or with a short delay from the time of dissemination of information. Although many websites promise free real-time quotes, they invariably might be delayed by up to 20 minutes. Real-time data is important for traders, as even a small variance between the quote and the actual price of the security may lead to trimming of profits or even a loss. Historical quotes are also important, as the price of a security moves in identifiable patterns and trends which tend to repeat over time.

Analytical methods and strategies:  In active trading, as opposed to the long-term buy-and-hold strategy, traders use several strategies, including day trading and swing trading. In day trading, the position is closed out within the same day.

Swing trading involves holding a security for one to several days in a bid to profit on the swings or price changes. Usually, swing traders use some set rules drawn up based on fundamental or technical analysis, or both. Trading software offers traders the power to control and manage open positions. Some of the order types are market order (buy/sell at current price) or pending order (where transaction goes through at a predetermined price). A pending order can be a buy limit, buy stop, sell limit or sell stop. A trader can also attach a stop loss or take profit order to a pending order.  

Live news/breaking news: The market is fickle and it moves on a host of developments, including economics, geopolitics and corporate news. Since stocks are highly volatile, so profit-making requires traders to react instantaneously to market-moving news through a live news source. 

Stock screener: Stock screeners are tools used by traders to filter stocks based on some user-defined criteria.

Backtesting software: This allows testing of given trading strategy using historical data, which serves as a method for verifying the effectiveness of the strategy. It is simulating the trading strategy over a specific period of time and then analyzing the results from the perspective of return and risk.

Factors to consider

Specific trading needs require you to answer a few questions about yourself. Are you a long- or short-term investing/day trader? A swing trader/quantitative trader or scalper using automated trading software? For the most part, some things remain consistent needs:

  • Features that are easy to locate
  • Functionalities that are sufficient for your trading needs
  • Stability of the platform (ensuring that it works on your computer without crashing)
  • Ease of use
  • Good support from the software vendor
  • Cost

Best overall

Among the different trading software available, either through retail purchase or accessible through brokers, TradingView seems to make the cut for the best trading software. In terms of cost, ease of use, fundamental analysis as well as social integration, it ranks above the rest.

Best for price

Costs per year are $9.95, $19.95 or $39.95, depending on whether you purchase Pro, Pro Plus or Premium.

MetaStock D/C costs $499 for software and $299/year for Datalink for North/South American stocks and mutual funds. MetaStock Real-time costs $100 per month.

Classic (delayed charts) – $50/month
Signature (streaming real-time data) – $160/month
Elite (advanced charting) – $325/month (streaming real-time data and advanced charting)

It costs $999 for the software. If leased, the software costs $180/quarter, $330/six months or $600/year.

TradeStation Analytics
$244.99/month for non-professional traders
$359.99/month for professional traders

Check out Benzinga’s in-depth analysis of TradeStation.

Overall, TradingView ranks first in the cost-effective category, followed by MetaStock.

Best for technical analysis

TradingView’s charting package offers 100+ built-in technical indicators for market analysis, which covers most popular trading concepts and indicators. It also offers 5,000+ custom-built indicators.

The programming language TradingView allows you to create and share custom studies and signals, as it facilitates modification of any study’s code and can create any custom indicator from scratch.

MetaStock’s technical analysis tool offers 300 intraday indicators and built-in tools.

Meanwhile, eSignal offers user-friendly, advanced charting with customizable studies. The Elite version offers advanced charting, including advanced GET studies.

NinjaTrader’s technical analysis software is considered the best for beginners, with the platform offering 300+ options for add-on products. A third-party integrated library is also available with NinjaTrader.

TradeStation offers a lot of indicators, strategy components and analysis tools and also allows you to modify and customize the existing indicators to create your own indicators and strategies.

MetaStock takes the top honors in terms of technical analysis, although taking into account the cost, TradingView is also preferred.

Best for fundamental analysis

TradingView and MetaStock score over most others, with their real-time scanning and filtering and fundamental watchlists. Apart from fundamental data on companies, they also provide economic data, both domestically and globally, and also facilitate a comparison of economic data.

Best for social integration

TradingView takes all when it comes to social integration, as the platform has fully-integrated chat application, chat forums and a provision for sharing your analysis with others that works with a single click. The platform allows you to connect to millions of traders from all over the world.

Conversely, MetaStock doesn’t allow social elements. On the other hand, eSignal, through its association with Market Prophit, provides sentiment indicators for traders through social media data and analytics.

Best for backtesting

QuantShare tops the list in terms of its backtesting software, with a wide range of possibilities for designing and backtesting trading systems. Its Portfolio Backtester is touted to be one of the most advanced and fastest in the market.

MetaStock and NinjaTrader platforms offer fairly viable and widely-used backtesting software.

Best for order trade management

Trade management refers to everything a trader does after the execution of a trade to maximize profits and minimize the risk, while order management pertains to actions done before a trade is executed.

EquityFeed, with its “Chart Montage” functionality, takes the pole position in terms of software for managing orders and trade. TradingView is not far behind, as its platform allows placing trades on charts, does profit and loss reporting, as well as analysis.

Meanwhile, MetaStock is not too popular for trade execution off the charts, and its integrated profit and loss analysis is also limited.

Best for ease of use

TradingView is the best trading software from the ease-of-use perspective. With a single click on the logo, the software is ready to go, without putting an user at a disadvantage of having to install or configure data feeds.

As with anything, ultimately, the choice boils down to a trader’s specific needs.

Final thoughts

As with anything, ultimately, the choice boils down to a trader’s specific needs. Identify what’s most important to you and act on your priorities – whether it’s price, functionality, data or anything else. You want your software to work for you; you’ll be able to make the best possible trades, act swiftly, and, hopefully, make money.