Not every trader is searching for long-term holdings for a retirement account—some traders are more interested in earning a profit by buying and selling assets on a daily basis.
Day trading is the process of buying and selling stocks (usually done online) within a 24-hour span. We’ve created a list of some of the best trading platforms for day traders, along with a list of characteristics you can use to identify the next great day trading interface.
Best Day Trading Software:
- Best Resources: TD Ameritrade
- Best for High-Volume Traders: Interactive Brokers
- Best for Intermediate Traders: E*TRADE
- Best for Premium Features: Charles Schwab
- Best for Advanced Traders: eOption
- Best for All Trading Levels: Tradespoon
- Best for Alternative Data: Yewno|Edge
- Easiest to Use: TradeStation
Advantages of Day Trading
Professional day traders are drawn to the benefits of day trading, which can include:
- Work-from-home opportunities. Day traders are often attracted to the freedom of location—especially for parents of young children, those who care for family members or students.
- Virtually unlimited earning potential. Forget waiting for a raise or fighting coworkers for a promotion. So long as you choose liquid assets that can be easily bought and sold, the only limit to your income is the successfulness of your trading strategy.
- Independence. Day traders never have to worry about someone stealing their idea at a meeting or dealing with a difficult boss. Many day traders report a huge amount of personal satisfaction from being personally responsible for all of their income and losses.
Possible Disadvantages of Day Trading
- Capital losses. Even if a majority of trades are profitable, day traders may see commissions, fees, and minor losses slowly chip away at their profits, which results in less money earned.
- A lack of guaranteed income. If you have a family to support, guaranteed income is likely very high on your list of needs to provide for your family. The unpredictability of the market and the potential for trading loss can cause undue amounts of stress.
- High barrier to market entry. Pattern day traders must have at least $25,000 in their accounts before they may begin trading on the margin (even if their brokerage’s minimum is lower than this amount) according to regulations from the SEC.
- Psychological addiction. It can be easy to get addicted to the action. The connection between trading and gambling addiction is so strong that Gamblers Anonymous has a recommendation that traders hold a stock for at least 18 months before selling, if they hold stock at all.
What Makes a Good Day Trading Software?
Before you choose what day trading platform, you should know what separates great brokerages from okay ones.
- Low fees and commissions: Unlike investing for retirement (which typically involves purchasing a stock or fund and holding onto it for years), day traders make a large number of trades per month, sometimes executing upwards of ten trades a day. This means that fees and commission prices should be more important to day traders than long-term buyers. Even a few dollars’ difference in commission price can make a huge impact for active traders.
- A comprehensive and responsive platform: Day traders (especially those that scalp and sell as soon as their assets become profitable) rely on quick movements to make money on their trades. The best day trading platforms are responsive and employ an up-to-date research center to help traders plan more effectively and quickly buy and sell their shares. Trading platforms should be easy to use and intuitive—check out a few YouTube tutorials before making a commitment to ensure that you understand where the most important tools on your platform are located and how to operate them.
- Minimum account balances: Most platforms have some type of minimum balance, ranging from $500 for basic accounts to $10,000 for professional trading platforms. Make sure you have enough capital to meet the account minimum before you sign up for a platform.
- Great research tools: Research tools, like market analyses, expert editorials, and market movement news can also be particularly beneficial for day traders. The best trading platforms also offer daily news and research over a breath of multiple asset types and industries to offer you a full picture of how the market will move on a daily basis.
- Mobile compatibility: Do you frequently trade on the go? Some brokerages offer mobile trading platforms for smartphones and tablets that will allow you to trade away from your desktop—an invaluable benefit for full-time traders who want to watch their charts 24/7.
The Best Day Trading Software
If you’re going to start day trading be sure to check out the best online platforms to buy, sell and trade.
1. TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade offers a large number of tools and platform options to make day trading simple and profitable.
The brokerage’s online desktop platform offers a host of learning tools for new traders, including a full library of educational videos and articles, portfolio planning tools and even a chatbot that can answer questions on demand.
TD Ameritrade’s expert-level thinkorswim platform offers advanced charting software, customizable trading indicators, and practice trading with a dummy account called paperMoney.
Mobile traders will fall in love with the TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader app, which offers almost the same functionality of its desktop counterpart.
Unfortunately for day traders, this extensive research database and tools come at a price—TD Ameritrade customers will pay $6.95 per trade, which is quite high and can seriously cut into profits. However, the platform has a $0 account minimum and charges no annual or inactivity fees.
2. Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers’ platform was created with the active, professional day trader in mind. The platform is not intended for casual or long-term traders.
If you want to open an account with Interactive Brokers, you’ll need to pay a $10 monthly inactivity fee if you do not keep at least $100,000 in your account or you do not accumulate at least $10 in monthly trade commissions.
While $10 may not sound like a lot, consider the fact that other brokers charge between $4 and $7 per trade and Interactive Brokers’ commissions are the lowest in the game.
You can expect to pay $0.005 per share traded with a minimum of $1 and a maximum of 1% of the trade value.
Interactive Brokers even offers additional discounts for the highest-volume traders. The broker’s Trader Workstation is extensive and overwhelmingly large number of intricate features, including volatility measurement tools, customizable alerts and watchlists, and “heat maps” of market segments that experience unusual activity.
With a massive selection of stocks, rock-bottom fees, and high-level trading tools, Interactive Brokers is a powerful tool in the hands of an experienced day trader—but may be overly complicated and expensive for new traders.
You might remember E-Trade from the brokerage’s “trading baby” commercials that were popular in the early 2000s—but the platform has expanded its offerings exponentially since that time.
E-Trade now offers three platforms aimed at a specific segment of traders: E-trade Web, OptionsHouse and E-Trade Pro. E-Trade Pro offers the highest number of features and analysis tools, but access is restricted to those who hold an account with at least $250,000 in capital.
The E-Trade mobile app is simple, yet responsive, and allows traders to place orders and track real-time stock quotes with little lag or delay.
E-Trade’s commissions are a bit more expensive than most at $6.95 a trade, but new traders can often get 60 days of free trading when they open an account with at least a $10,000 minimum deposit.
4. Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab offers a brokerage suite perfect for traders of all skill levels, capital, and research needs. New day traders will appreciate Charles Schwab’s easy-to-use Trade Source trading platform and 24/7 customer service options while seasoned veterans will love the broker’s customizable StreetSmart Edge platform and extensive research options, live news and earning reports and in-house equity ratings.
The broker’s mobile app also offers above-average functionality, with a fast and responsive interface and simple trading options.
However, it’s important to note that opening an account with Charles Schwab requires an initial minimum deposit of $1,000—though this fee is often waived with promotions and monthly $100 deposits.
eOption is the broker for day traders who are concerned about costs above all else.
At just $3 commission per trade and a $500 minimum balance, eOption’s costs are hard to beat without moving up to a professional-grade broker like Interactive Brokers.
eOption offers both a desktop and mobile platform, each with full trading functionality, live streams, and up-to-date quotes.
However, the platform compensates for this low commission in other ways—“inactive traders” who make fewer than two trades per year or who have less than $10,000 in capital in their accounts will face a $50 annual fee, and the broker cuts many of the research and analysis tools that characterize more expensive options.
eOption is best for advanced brokers who use outside charting and research tools and only need the trading platform to execute their buys and sells.
Tradespoon is designed for both beginners, advanced and intermediate traders looking to further their growth on the platform.
Tradespoon is dynamic in the sense that it offers traders the educational resources necessary to enhance trading intelligence.
Its user-friendly software entails screenings of the market in its entirety, which is favorable in terms of both optimal and stock trading.
Tradespoon also offers one-on-one mentoring, so you’re never left in the dark. With one-on-one assistance, you’ll be able to ease into the profitable opportunities of the market.
Yewno|Edge is a research platform that leverages Yewno’s proprietary AI and Knowledge Graph Technology to enhance traditional technical and fundamental stock research with alternative data.
Its modular and component-based approach allows you to build and customize a workspace that has all the important data-points you’ll need to monitor your portfolio in real-time. Switch between idea generation workspace with Stock Screener and Strategy Builder to learn about the concepts you care about and identify new opportunities.
TradeStation’s platform used to only be best for professional traders who needed a highly technical platform. Now, with TradeStation’s new TS GO account option, novice traders will have access to professional-grade stock screeners and extensive educational and development tools to help them develop as investors.
Another strength of TradeStation is the number of offerings available to trade. From stocks to ETFs to futures contracts to cryptocurrencies, TradeStation offers a wide variety of tradable assets. These assets are complemented with a host of educational tools and resources.
Furthermore, as is the case with other brokerages on this list. TradeStation offers $0 commissions on stocks and most ETFs.
Compare the Best Day Trading Software
Get a condensed look at the best day trading platforms available.
Trading by Day
The nearly unlimited earning potential of day trading is a quality that attracts a large number of investors—but great volatility also comes with great risk.
If you’ve considered embarking on a day trading path, ensure that your retirement funds are secured in a top-rated index funds first to protect yourself and your family against excessive loss.