Best Online Stock Trading Platforms

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Contributor, Benzinga
December 19, 2023

Benzinga's top picks for the best online trading platforms are Interactive Brokers, moomoo or Webull.

Trading stocks means you can end up with a mixed bag of emotions. You might be excited at the prospect of watching your money grow, overwhelmed at the number of stock options available to you or even frustrated if you’re having trouble making your 1st buy. The best online stock trading platforms can help.

You don't want to pile on the feeling of being overcharged by your brokerage account. Commissions, account maintenance charges and other hidden fees can quickly add up and eat into your profits. As a new trader, you may already feel especially hesitant to start investing. You might not be sure which platform to trust and which is worth the price. 

Luckily, most brokerages have recognized this fear and created free options to help new traders save more money when getting started. Take a look at our top picks to compare services and find your match today.

Best Online Trading Platforms

We've compiled a list of the best online trading platforms to get started trading stocks for free.

1. Best for Active and Global Traders: Interactive Brokers

Created for experienced, professional day traders, Interactive Brokers offers users 19,000+ no transaction fee funds.

However, Interactive Brokers has earned a special place on our list for its incredibly low-cost stock trading and investing. And Interactive Brokers got rid of account minimums for individual investors. 

Though not free, users pay just $1 maximum per stock trade and $0.70 per options contract. These commissions are an average of about $4 lower than most competitors, making it 1 of the lowest-cost trading platforms on the market with no minimum balance requirement.

If you’re an active investor and you’re looking for individual trades, Interactive Brokers is the closest you’ll get to free trading at a professional level. Moreover, you will enjoy industry-leading margin rates and a high APY on uninvested cash that sits in your account.

Pros

  • Great for international traders
  • Low fees
  • Works well for professional traders

Cons

  • The sheer scope of the platform might feel overwhelming for less experienced traders

2. Best for Active Traders: Moomoo

Moomoo is an intuitive investment and trading platform with easy-to-use and professional tools, data, and insights that equal a pro-level trading experience for all traders, no matter their level of expertise. 

When you open a brokerage account with Moomoo Financial Inc, features will include:

  • Real-time Level 2 stock and options market data for funded accounts
  • Advanced technical indicators 
  • Unique charting tools
  • Advanced options orders
  • Full extended trading hours from 4 AM to 8 PM EST 
  • Multi-market quoting
  • Low fees, $0 commission on U.S. Stocks, and $0 equity options contract fees
  • 5.1% APY in the Cash sweep program for new and qualified customers

Users can reach out to the Moomoo customer support team by phone during trading hours or via email. FAQs in the Help Center can also answer specific questions.

The site and app also helps users learn with a nice educational offering and a community with more than 20 million users worldwide.

Pros

  • Commission-free trading 
  • A competitive 6.8% margin rate
  • 5.1% APY in the Cash Sweep program for new and qualified customers
  • Free Level 2 data for funded brokerage accounts
  • Advanced charting tools with 100+ indicators, 37+ drawing tools and 20 candle patterns
  • Extended trading hours for all users and 24/7 chat support
  • No minimum deposit to open an account

Cons

  • No fractional stocks
  • No crypto
  • No support for mutual funds or retirement accounts

3. Best for Intermediate Traders and Investors: Webull

Webull is a mobile app-based platform that features commission-free stock and exchange-traded fund (ETF) trading. It’s regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Webull offers economic calendars, ratings from research agencies, margin trading and short-selling. Its intuitive trading platform is complete with technical and fundamental analysis tools. Its a solid option for active intermediate and advanced traders.

You'll enjoy commission-free trading for more than 5,000 different stocks and ETFs. There are no maintenance or software platform fees, and no charge to open or maintain an account.

Pros

  • Properly regulated
  • A range of commission-free assets
  • Works well for moderate and advanced traders

Cons

  • May seem complex for novices to use

4. Best for Futures Trading: TradeStation

TradeStation is for advanced traders who need a comprehensive platform. The site/app offers an impressive range of investable assets. Frequent and professional traders appreciate its wide range of analysis tools. TradeStation’s app is also equally effective, offering full platform capabilities.

TradeStation offers 2 distinct account types: its basic TS GO account for new traders and the more in-depth TS Select for advanced traders who need comprehensive tools and research options.

There’s no minimum account balance required to open a TS GO account. TS Select accounts require a $2,000 minimum deposit.

If you’re new to trading, you’ll love TradeStation’s Simulated Trading tool. It allows you to practice entering buy and sell orders using TradeStation’s suite of charting and analysis tools and using your trading strategy without risking any of your own money.  

Pros

  • Full capabilities for traders
  • Paper trading options
  • Advanced charting and analysis tools

Cons

  • High minimums for Select users

5. Best for Mobile Users: Plus500

The CFD market is quite unique, and while it can be risky, you still need a good place to trade. Which is where Plus500 steps in to give you a beautiful dashboard, easy account management and information on every CFD out there.

Based in Europe, Plus500 specializes in CFDs based on a range of assets like stocks, but there are also CFDs for indices, crypto and forex. If you’re an expert who knows what to do when CFDs are on the table, this is a great place to go because you won’t be bogged down by info for beginners, who may want to trade elsewhere.

Pros

  • The platform is easy to manage and navigate as you deal with these complex assets
  • The mobile experience is just as good as the desktop experience

Cons

  • You should read the disclaimers and make sure that you’re comfortable with the risk you’re taking on

6. Best for Long Term Investors: Magnifi

Magnifi is a marketplace that allows you, as the investor, to use common trading tools and AI to make the best decisions for your portfolio. Because you can pull up all the information you need on a given asset, you can easily invest in the assets that will give you the results you deserve and better match your strategy.

Search for the investment options that meet your needs, invest in specific categories or scan for assets in a price range that’s affordable for you.

Best for long-term investors and those who require a bit of client support, you can also learn more about investing from this platform, utilize the AI-powered investing assistant, enjoy commission-free investing, try the mobile app and take advantage of over 15,000 possible investment options. This makes Magnifi a good place to trade for both seasoned and novice traders.

Pros

  • AI investing assistance
  • Easy to find asset information
  • Over 15,000 asset options

Cons

  • Works better for long-term holders

7. Best for Demo Accounts: eToro

  • eToro Stocks
    Best For:
    Demo Accounts
    securely through eToro Stocks's website

    eToros securities trading offered by eToro Securities, Inc, (“the BD”), member of FINRA and SIPC. Investing involves risk.

eToro is already popular among crypto investors, and it brings more diversity to your portfolio by allowing you to invest in stocks and ETFs. With stock trading, you can add your stocks to an existing crypto portfolio, bringing more variety to your investments and allowing you to see all your holdings in one place.

Stock trading at eToro also includes:

  • Investing in full stocks or fractional shares for as little as $10
  • Engaging with real, experienced investors on strategy options
  • Reviewing detailed charts and technical analysis
  • Zero commissions

Pros

  • No commissions
  • Start with a small minimum balance
  • Work with real experts

Cons

  • Certain types of assets may not be available

8. Best for CFDs: RoboForex

RoboForex is a global multi-asset trading platform that runs on MT4 and MT5. It operates in various countries and claims more than 10,000 users. Traders can trade forex and contracts for difference (CFDs) — and do so in multiple languages. The platform was started in 2009 and is located in Belize.

Pros

  • Service in multiple languages
  • Not as busy as other platforms
  • CFDs available

Cons

  • CFDs can be very risky investments

9. Best for Day Traders: Mondeum Capital

Mondeum Capital is a broker-dealer that helps day traders to compete in the marketplace. Mondeum provides modern technology that is paired with:

  • Competitive pricing
  • Quality customer care
  • Functionality built specifically for self-directed active traders
  • Next gen trading solutions
  • Simple account onboarding
  • Easy funds transfers and withdrawals

If you’re an experienced investor, you can easily open an account with Mondeum and implement your trading strategies. While Mondeum’s offering is currently limited to U.S. stocks and ETFs, it’s a great place to build a strong portfolio that’s designed for high-volume asset management. Plus, Mondeum plans to expand its offerings in the future.

Pros

  • Easy to set up an account
  • Next gen trading solutions
  • Easy to manage your money on the platform

Cons

  • May overwhelm novice investors

10. Best for Short Selling: CenterPoint Securities

CenterPoint Securities is a site/app that offers trading tools and research options for intermediate to advanced traders, high-volume traders, momentum traders and short sellers. Short sellers on CenterPoint can take advantage of a massive short inventory and advanced order routing so that your orders process as quickly as possible. This makes it easier for you to access discounts that are out there for more active traders, and you can choose between Pro, Web and Mobile account types, depending on how you prefer to manage your portfolio.

Plus, you can use the built-in scanners, custom alerts and short locates tools to make better decisions on the fly, especially as the short selling market accelerates around strong, new targets.

11. Best for IPO Investing: SoFi Active Invest

SoFi Active Investing is aimed at young investors. It offers free trades of stocks and exchange-traded funds, the ability to buy and sell cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and fractional shares of companies such as Amazon and Netflix.

Young investors can also gain from its member benefits, including free educational seminars and meetings with financial advisors. SoFi has no account minimum, so it's easy to get started today.

Pros

  • Partnered with a massive banking platform
  • Allows you access to popular assets
  • Bundle with other financial accounts

Cons

  • May not find all the assets you’re looking for

12. Best for Trading Ideas: Public.com

Public.com is the only brokerage platform that lets you buy, sell, and hold stocks and ETFs alongside crypto and alternative assets—like art and collectibles. There are no account minimums, and all accounts are cash accounts—no IRA or 401(k)s at this time—which makes for simpler investing and easier decision-making. 

For every stock or ETF you want to buy, you can see all the information for that asset, a chart that tracks its trajectory, and historical data that allows you to learn and understand trends. This can also include access to advanced data, custom company metrics, and expert analyst insights through their Public Premium membership. It’s all about helping you be a better investor. Public.com even has a social feed to help you exchange ideas and opportunities with their active community of over one million investors.

If you’re a new investor, you can choose to build your portfolio around different themes—from Green Power to Meatless Revolution, Reduce and Reuse, Water Works, Cannabiz, and Self-driving cars. They also have a ton of educational resources if you’d like to understand more about the markets and what makes them move. Just remember to only spend money you’re comfortable losing if some of those investments don’t work out.

Pros

  • Offers several account types
  • Unique range of assets available
  • Social feed helps you share ideas

Cons

  • No retirement accounts available

13. Best for Beginners: Robinhood

The gold standard of free stock trading, Robinhood is a unique app that allows users to buy a wide range of exchange-traded funds and stocks.

The mobile trading app has also introduced cryptocurrencies with its 2019 update—though this option is not available in a number of U.S. states, including New York, Washington, Nevada and others.

The platform charges $0 in commissions and there are no account maintenance or inactivity fees you’ll have to worry about. If you’re looking for research and tools, Robinhood offers company information, charts, and other tools. The broker nonetheless offers exactly what it promises—truly free trades and over 5,000 equities to choose from.

The platform appeals to this demographic by offering the bare essentials of investment products and services. That means that those seeking to purchase and sell bonds, options contracts or mutual fund shares will have to look elsewhere. At the moment, the only vehicles available to Robinhood Investors are domestic exchange stocks and ETFs.

Pros

  • Zero commission
  • No maintenance fees
  • Retirement and precious metal investing options available

Cons

  • Has a history of halting trades on popular assets

14. Best for Funding Investing: Charles Schwab

If you’re looking to invest in ETFs for free, Charles Schwab has 1 of the most comprehensive selections available.

Schwab offers 200 commission-free ETFs. Users can build a comprehensive and diverse collection of funds without paying the fees that come along with buying individual stocks. Charles Schwab also offers over 4,000 commission-free mutual funds, a selection on par with competitors.

While accounts with Charles Schwab typically come along with a $1,000 account minimum, the firm frequently runs promotions that offer to waive this minimum if you sign up for an automatic $100 monthly investment.

Though buying ETFs and mutual funds is free, it’s important to note that traders are subject to a $5 commission when buying or selling individual stocks and options.

Pros

  • Free ETF trading
  • Commission-free mutual fund options
  • Low monthly minimums

Cons

  • The scope of the platform may confuse some novices

15. Best for Overall Global Broker and Short Selling: TradeZero

When you use TradeZero, you gain access to a mobile app and desktop application that gives you all the information you need to invest wisely. There are no-fee and low-fee trading options, and you can register for a ZeroPro account for just $59 per month which gives you access to even more trading functionality.

With 24/7 customer service, you can get answers to all your questions at any time. Additionally, you gain access to advanced charts, indicators, news items, alerts and much more.

Pros

  • 24/7 customer support
  • Low account fees
  • No-fee trading on some assets

Cons

  • Certain assets may not be available to you

16. Best for Global Consumers: Revolut

Revolut is a unique money app that brings several financial services into one package. When you download the Revolut app, you gain access to a service that:

  • Lets you pay and get paid anytime around the world
  • Transfer money between apps
  • Invest in stocks and other assets
  • Exchange currency
  • Get a prepaid debit card in multiple countries
  • Travel with less stress
  • Budget and manage your finances

Because Revolut allows you to invest in stocks, you can take even greater control over your finances, making it possible for you to create new income streams and build your portfolio. Using Revolut makes it much easier to manage your money instead of using several different apps and trying to bring them together.

Pros

  • Helps you organize your funds
  • Makes travel easier
  • Simple money transfers

Cons

  • Not a true investing apps

17. Best for Those Seeking Trading Indicators: Global Trading Software

Global Trading Software offers a wide range of indicators, software and algorithms that will help you work with stocks, forex and crypto. Because priorities for traders will change based on the assets in which they invest, GTS helps you pivot based on the direction of your portfolio.

The beauty of this platform is that it works for both beginners and advanced traders. Plus, you can complete a full technical analysis, value trade, day trade, scalp, prop trade and much more. Investors can use MT4, TradingView, NinjaTrader and many more platforms with this software. There may not be 24/7 customer support, but the information you get is perfect for advanced traders who are trying to make the most of their portfolio every day.

Pros

  • You can tailor your experience to your strategy
  • You can learn about a range of assets so that you can diversify your portfolio

Cons

  • Remember that GTS cannot make decisions for you. It can only offer you unique trading indicators and information

Characteristics of a Successful Online Stock Trader

Though each user has his own individual set of financial and personal goals, the most successful investors enter the market with the following 3 characteristics:

  • Commitment to education: The most successful investors never buy stocks based on a “gut feeling.” They do their research, look at the history of the company and its leadership and make selections based on hard data and perspectives of industry experts. They also stay up-to-date on political happenings both at home and abroad and they factor in how new laws and regulations affect the market. Looking to increase your knowledge of the stock market? Check out our list of the best low-cost day trading courses you can sign up for right now.
  • Use of the right tools: The best stock speculators use the right tools at their disposal.
  • A realistic perspective: There are plenty of stock trading courses that teach traders the secrets that industry professionals “hide” from the general public and website pop-ups that say they are the next Amazon or Bitcoin buy. The best traders know that these are over-exaggerated claims at best and downright scams at worst. Before you start trading, check your goals and make sure they are realistic—the stories of overnight millionaires are few and far between.

Things to Look for in an Investing Account

Though most stock brokers charge account maintenance fees and commissions, you'll find a number of brokers that will allow you to trade for free. Some characteristics that all reliable free trading platforms share include the following.

Intuitive Trading Site

A brokerage firm isn’t very useful if you can’t understand how to get started. Watch a few YouTube tutorials or website overviews to get a feel for the platform before you commit desktop space and time to the broker. If the platform isn’t intuitive, check the brokerage’s customer service options. A responsive team of customer service professionals may be able to help you understand how to operate a more complicated platform.

Clear and Easy-to-Understand Trading

Though some investment platforms will allow you to trade for free indefinitely, some may only allow commission-free trades within a limited window after opening an account. When you sign up for an account on a free trading platform, make sure you read the terms of service to understand how many free trades you are entitled to with your account. Brokerages that try to hide this information may make their money “tricking” users into thinking that trades are free indefinitely, only to stick them with high fees later on by hiding a clause in the fine print.

Realistic Claims

Trading platforms that make unrealistic claims (like promising a dollar amount of returns or claiming that they have “secrets” that other brokers hide) are more than likely just trying to take your money with a hidden fee attached. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Choosing the Best Brokerage Account for Investment Management

Start with our top online broker platforms to find a service that works for you. A solid firm can also help you stay up-to-date on the market and make smart buying and selling decisions.

It's hard to find a completely free trading platform. However, any online platform worth using will offer you a free trial period to try the product and use its educational offering. Get your feet wet and try a few options to settle on your best fit today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

Can I use multiple online stock trading platforms?

A

There are no restrictions on the number of online brokerage accounts or platforms.

Q

What are the best online stock trading platforms for professional traders?

A

Benzinga recommends Charles Schwab, Webull and Interactive Brokers.

Q

What should I look for in an online trading platform?

A

Look for a platform that offers intuitive trading, transparency regarding fees, and claims that are not unrealistic.

About Sarah Horvath

Sarah is an expert in the insurance, investing for retirement and cryptocurrency space.