Best Paper Trading Platforms

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Contributor, Benzinga
July 10, 2023

Benzinga readers often choose Interactive Brokers & eToro as the best paper trading options

At one time, and because of the risk management challenges involved, listed options trading was mostly done by professionals and market makers with limited public participation. Today, you can open an online options trading account and learn options trading via Internet courses.

Although the risks remain the same, you can refine your knowledge of options trading by using a paper trading options simulator that lets you practice without committing any funds much like you might use a forex broker’s demo account. Keep reading to find out which paper trading options platform would suit you best. 

The Best Platforms for Paper Trading Options

Several online brokerages offer paper trading platforms. Each broker has different requirements and offerings, so you should choose the broker that best fits your situation and needs carefully. Below are listed Benzinga’s picks for the best platforms for paper trading.

1. Best for Active and Global Traders: Interactive Brokers

  • Securely through Interactive Brokers’ website
    Securely through Interactive Brokers’ website
    Best For:
    Active and Global Traders
    Read Review

Interactive Brokers’ Trader Workstation (TWS) is one of the most advanced trading platforms you can find online. The platform offers hundreds of tools for technical analysis capable of analyzing a wide range of markets and tradeable assets. Interactive’s TWS Paper Trader virtual trading platform offers almost all of the features of the TWS platform and lets you begin paper trading with $1,000,000 in virtual money. 


  • IBKR offers paper trading on a massive scale that can help you see the long-term impact of your investment choices
  • The Paper Trader has all the tools you should expect to see on the platform, meaning you can truly practice
  • IBKR is highly regarded, meaning that you’re learning from the best possible platform


  • Remember that IBKR can offer a wide range of tools and support, but that might feel like a bit much for some investors

2. Best for Copy Trading: eToro

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

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

eToro is one of the largest and most prominent online brokers in the world. However, eToro does more by allowing you to copy the trades of the best investors, using social trading to your advantage.

The CopyTrader feature allows you to copy the buy and sell orders of known crypto professionals, allowing you to learn how to trade and benefit from their expertise. Prices with eToro are competitive, and the platform offers several educational options that help you learn how the markets work.

Plus, you can use the CopyTrader feature along with other self-directed options that help you add more diversity to your portfolio. Remember, with the CopyTrader, there are also no management fees, making it even cheaper to add to your portfolio.


  • eToro focuses heavily on the modern, new trader, helping you learn more about investing
  • There are several types of assets available, meaning that your paper trading is that much more effective
  • You can use eToro on your browser and transition to the mobile app, if you like


  • As with many platforms, services that do incur fees could add up quickly

***Disclaimer: eToro securities trading offered by eToro Securities, Inc. (“the BD”), member of FINRA and SIPC. Investing involves risk and content is provided for educational purposes only, does not imply a recommendation and is not a guarantee of future performance.

3. Best Mobile Platform: Thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade


The impressive thinkorswim trading platform by TD Ameritrade offers 2 different paper trading accounts. One consists of a standard margin trading account, while the other is an individual retirement account (IRA) more suitable for investors. Both paper trading accounts come funded with $100,000 of virtual money. 

The thinkorswim platform is one of the most sophisticated option trading platforms in the business, and those with paper-trading accounts get access to most of the features traders with live accounts to enjoy.


  • Paper trading accounts rise to six figures, making it easier to study how long-term investments will work
  • You can learn how to invest cash in your IRA account
  • Margin trading is available, allowing you to see how professionals manage their portfolios


  • Keep in mind that those with accounts at TD Ameritrade will fall under the Schwab umbrella, and this may not fall in line with your needs

4. Best for Options Trading: Tradier


Tradier uses application programming interface (API) technology to give you access to several different options trading software and platform choices, including a paper trading choice.

With Tradier, you’re not locked into only one platform, so you can integrate other platforms into your Tradier workstation while taking advantage of Tradier’s low commissions and fees.


  • Commissions and fees are low, meaning that you can start saving money once you’ve practiced as a paper trader
  • The API integration technology is powerful in that it helps you connect to the places where you prefer to invest


  • Platform integration, while helpful, may overcomplicate paper trading if you’re still learning

5. Best for Professional Traders: TradeStation

Once the platform of choice for many professional traders, TradeStation’s GO account offers new traders access to most of the same stock screeners and features of their professional platform, also available on their paper trading platform. 

The broker also offers extensive educational and developmental tools to help new traders excel in their trading. TradeStation offers a wide range of tradeable assets and charges $0 commissions on stocks and most ETFs.  


  • The large range of tradable assets makes it much easier to invest in a diverse portfolio
  • You can paper trade on this platform before deciding what type of account you prefer to maintain


  • Because this is a choice platform for professional traders, you may not want to start your investing journey here
  • Remember, not all assets that you would think incur $0 commissions are, in fact, free

6. Best for Short Selling: TradeZero

  • securely through TradeZero's website
    securely through TradeZero's website
    Best For:
    Overall Global Broker for Short Selling
    Read Review

When you are looking for an online trading platform, TradeZero ensures that you can trade both on your desktop or mobile device. Free trading options are available, and you can also take advantage of low fees for other trades.

24/7 customer support is available along with a secure platform that adheres to all federal standards. You can invest using the free app, or you can move up to a Pro account for $59 per month. There are powerful charting and technical analysis options, and you can even use free limit orders along with no pattern trading rules to invest with the strategy you prefer.


  • The low pro account fee helps you get the support you need without overspending on that support
  • You can paper trade here and get customer support at the same time, learning how best to manage your portfolio
  • There’s no urgent need to step up to a Pro account, if you don’t want to


  • Even though the platform offers 24/7 support, there’s no guarantee that you can reach the exact person you wish to speak with when you reach out to the platform

7. Best for Beginners: Olive Invest

Olive Invest was designed to make options trading easier for the investor, using AI and machine learning technologies to produce better strategies. You don’t have to do the math when Olive can do it for. Plus, you get recommendations for trades made by professionals, allowing you to take a profitable path so that you can focus on income generation, increasing profits or specific entries into the market. 

Best for beginners, anyone can use this platform to refine their options trades. Additionally, there are several educational tools on the site that teach you about the options market—one that’s often misunderstood by the public.

As a part of the refining process, you can use paper trading to study, learn and practice how you would prefer to make investments. This is an important part of any trading journey because it teaches you what a real world situation would look like without putting up your own money.

Remember, Olive Invest isn’t a brokerage. You connect through a secure API to your broker and make trades based on the recommendations you get. After a 2-week trial, you can purchase access to Olive for a monthly or yearly rate in an effort to improve your portfolio.


  • Because you can connect to the places where you prefer to trade, Olive is giving a whole new look at how to invest
  • You can learn quite a bit about the options market before you invest your hard-earned money


  • While the trial period is two weeks, you may not yet know if you want to commit on a monthly or yearly basis, thus impacting the price you will pay
  • Because this is not a brokerage, remember that you must know the terms and conditions of the platform to which you connect

What is Paper Trading?

Paper trading dates back to well before the advent of online trading, and the activity’s name reflects how traders would practice writing trades on paper before committing any money to the activity. New options traders can learn basic strategies through paper trading, while seasoned traders sometimes paper trade to test new options positions and strategies.

In practice, paper trading traditionally consisted of writing down hypothetical buy and sell decisions on a piece of paper instead of actually placing real trade orders through a broker. This process was as simple as jotting down trades in a notepad or using a spreadsheet to enter trades and then analyze positions.

With today’s technology, traders can paper trade options using either a market simulator or real-time market prices and software that emulates a trading platform. A modern options paper trading platform typically lets options traders enter and exit the market and assess their net positions virtually in real-time. This process provides a useful practice opportunity, as well as important insights into how their trading strategy and virtual options positions would perform in an actual funded account.  

Pros and Cons of Paper Trading

Paper trading can offer considerable benefits to new and seasoned traders alike, although some key limitations to paper trading could become evident once the trader begins to operate in a funded account. Benzinga has listed below some of the pros and cons of paper trading that you might want to become familiar with before opening a virtual options trading account: 


  • Lack of stress: Because you don’t have any funds committed to your trading, you usually won’t be affected by the two most common emotions involved in trading: fear and greed. Due to the lack of pesky emotions, such as the fear of losing money, the paper trader can concentrate on risk management and how their positions behave in the market without being as influenced by the emotional element of trading. 
  • No risk: Since paper trading does not require funding of any kind, you cannot lose money from poor paper trading decisions, a bad strategy and/or unfortunate market timing. By eliminating the financial risk factor, paper trading allows you to analyze the flaws in your trading process and hone your strategy further. This can give you an edge that you can later benefit from when trading in a funded account. 
  • Practice: Practicing option trading in a virtual account gives you considerable insight into how you and your strategy will behave when operating in a live funded account. By paper trading on an options trading platform, you’ll gain experience in all aspects of trading, including making trading decisions, entering orders, timing and establishing positions, managing risk, and taking profits or losses as you close positions out. 
  • Confidence: Making virtual money from trading complex options positions can give novice options traders more confidence when trading in a live account. One of the key elements to successful trading is feeling secure in your trading decisions, so developing confidence in a paper trading account can benefit you when trading in a live account.
  • Statistics: Trading for a month or more in a virtual account will generate realistic statistics about your chosen strategy so you can determine whether it is likely to be profitable or not. This allows you to find and address weaknesses in the strategy and gives you the opportunity to make appropriate changes to enhance your strategy’s success.


  • Emotional and risk-taking differences: Paper trading allows traders to take risks they would not otherwise consider since no monetary gain or loss is involved. Traders using a virtual account may expand their profits with little consideration of the actual risk of loss they take with a funded account, while losses can also lose their emotional sting since only virtual money is being lost.
  • Lack of dealing spread accuracy: Since paper trading involves using only virtual money, dealing spreads may not be as accurate as you would experience when trading in a live account.
  • Overlook market correlations: When paper trading individual stocks and options, a trader might overlook the influence of the broader stock market that can occur when volatility increases. Results obtained trading individual stock options in a real trading environment may therefore differ due to stock market correlations. 
  • Unrealistically easy execution: Trading on paper lets you quickly pick your position entry and exit points, but this might not happen as smoothly when you go to execute a real trade due to slippage and requotes. Markets can also shift direction without warning as economic information is released or when large transactions are executed. Unless you use a no-slippage broker, there is no way to know what kind of slippage your orders might experience, so the results of paper trading may be less than accurate. 

Who Should Try Paper Trading?

People who would most benefit from paper trading options include:

  • New traders: People with no experience in the market would gain invaluable trading experience by paper trading for several months or more. The experience and knowledge gained after paper trading could prepare a novice for trading options in a live, funded account.
  • Those with no options experience: Many traders and investors have little or no options trading experience. These market participants could benefit considerably from paper trading using an options simulator to practice before starting to trade in a live brokerage account. 
  • Experienced options traders: Traders with experience could paper trade to test new options strategies, try out a different underlying market, or see how an existing options trading plan might perform under different market conditions. 

Sharpening Your Trading Skills

Benzinga has presented above some of the best options for trading options in a virtual account, although the best broker to choose will depend largely on your financial situation and your specific needs and preferences as an options trader. 

For example, if you want to trade options on multiple assets actively in several world markets, then Interactive Brokers could work better for you than other platforms. On the other hand, if you want to learn how to use one of the very best online option trading platforms available, you could gravitate toward using the very impressive thinkorswim platform from TD Ameritrade to get started paper trading options.

For more information about the pros and cons of individual option brokers and their trading platforms, you can check out Benzinga’s best options broker review.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is paper trading a good way to learn?


Paper trading can certainly enhance your skills as a trader, allow you to practice, help you become more familiar with a market and highlight potential trading issues, so it is a great way to learn how to trade. The more familiar you become with any market, the more likely you will be able to trade that market profitably, although your experience trading in a virtual account may differ from trading in a live account for several reasons. 


Can you make money from paper trading?


No, you cannot make money by paper trading, although you can develop a successful track record. You can also make money if you apply the knowledge you gained from paper trading in a live account. 


What platforms can you paper trade on?


Interactive Brokers, eToro and TD Ameritrade are all great broker options for paper trading.