Best Day Trading Platforms of 2021

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Day trading is a fast-paced, high-risk and high reward form of stock trading that involves making multiple transactions on the stock market in one day. Because it’s a volatile form of trading that can cause massive gains as well as massive losses, day traders need the best day trading platform to make quick transactions and monitor market trends in real-time. To have the best chance at day trading success you’ll want to choose the best day trading platform.We used our proprietary SimpleScore methodology to make our recommendations on the best day trading platforms in several categories.

In this article

    The best day-trading platforms of 2021

    The best day-trading platforms at a glance

    PlatformJ.D. Power Customer SatisfactionOptions and Futures PriceOther Investment Product AvailableMobile App Rating
    TD Ameritrade778/1,000Options: $0 + $0.65 per contractStocks Options ETFs Mutualfunds Bonds Forex3.85/5
    RobinhoodN/AOptions: FreeStocks Options ETFs Cryptocurrencies4.55/5
    Interactive BrokersN/AOptions: $0 + $0.65 per contractFutures: Varies.Stocks Bonds Options Futures Mutual funds ETFs Forex3.55/5
    Fidelity790/1,000Options: $0 + $0.65 per contractStocks ETFs Options Bonds Mutual Funds4.7/5
    Edward JonesN/AN/AStocks Bonds CDs Mutual funds ETFs UITs2.7/5
    Chase772/1,000Options: $0 + $0.65 per contractStocks ETFs Options Fixed income Mutual funds4.6/5

    Data accurate as of July 27, 2020. Mobile app ratings are an average of Google Play and iOS Apple App Store ratings.

    Best for charting – TD Ameritrade

    Day trading is often compared to swimming with the sharks, but at TD Ameritrade, the ThinkorSwim platform can help you come out alive and profitable.

    Stock Trading Fee
    $0
    Option Trade Fee
    $0.65 fee per contract
    Customer Satisfaction Score
    778/1,000
    SimpleScore
    4.4 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore TD Ameritrade 4.4
    Mobile App 4
    Products 4
    Resources 5
    Support Channels 5
    Customer Satisfaction 4

    There’s not much missing from TD Ameritrade, making it one of the most well rounded day trading brokers we’ve seen.

    TD Ameritrade brings a huge wealth of research and amenities that any trader, from novice to expert, is going to appreciate. From the free and extensive research and education to one of the best trading platforms available (ThinkorSwim), along with a number of other technical analysis tools that look at the market in unique ways, TD Ameritrade really shines. In fact, it gives you more information and training than pretty much any other day trading sites. If there is one downside to trading with TD Ameritrade it’s the lack of customization available in its trading platforms. Novice traders won’t really miss this, but experienced traders may become frustrated when they can’t customize things to their own liking.

    Best for options traders – Robinhood

    As the pioneer of commission-free trading Robinhood makes it possible to steal from the rich and give to yourself.

    Stock Trading Fee
    $0
    Option Trade Fee
    $0
    Customer Satisfaction Score
    N/A
    SimpleScore
    2.5 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Robinhood 2.5
    Mobile App 3
    Products 2
    Resources 3
    Support Channels 2
    Customer Satisfaction N/A

    Free options trading from the pioneer of commission-free trading is just one reason to choose Robinhood over other day trading platforms.

    With its online-only approach this is the broker for those who don’t want to feel constrained by the traditional approach to trading. The app itself is a joy to use, and the web-based trading platform is quite beautiful to look at, making Robinhood a fun broker to trade with. The addition of cryptocurrencies is welcome as is the ability to trade fractional shares down to 1/1,000,000 of a share. You could make the case that Robinhood is ideal for younger traders, although age is certainly no barrier to trading through this innovative broker. One caution is that during the massive market volatility in March 2020, Robinhood experienced three separate platform outages, one of which lasted 16 hours. If you fear getting trapped in a trade, these outages could be a valid concern. Keep in mind that market activity in March 2020 was far from usual.

    Best for advanced traders – Interactive Brokers

    So it isn’t commission-free trading, but the huge range of offerings at Interactive Brokers is like a buffet for a day trader.

    Stock Trading Fee
    $0
    Option Trade Fee
    $0.65 per contract
    Customer Satisfaction Score
    NA
    SimpleScore
    4 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Interactive Brokers 4
    Mobile App 3
    Products 5
    Resources 5
    Support Channels 3
    Customer Satisfaction N/A

    With a wealth of trading tools, education and fundamental research Interactive Brokers could well be the best broker for day trade.

    Interactive Brokers has long been one of the favorite choices for advanced and active traders. And the IBKR Pro account remains an excellent choice for the active trader — like day traders. With per share commissions of just $0.005/share ($1 minimum), a huge range of assets available, and stunningly low margin rates, Interactive Brokers is a perfect place to day trade. And let’s not forget about the powerful IB Desktop Trader Workstation, which is considered one of the best trading platforms available. It doesn’t slack on fundamental research either, with a huge array of research reports, including data from Thomson Reuters on over 30,000 companies. The only downsides are a website that isn’t the most intuitive in locating information provided by the broker and an inactivity fee for traders who don’t generate a minimum of $10 per month in commissions.

    Best for client satisfaction – Fidelity

    Fidelity is no class clown, it gets top marks in nearly every category that matters for a day trader.

    Stock Trading Fee
    $0
    Option Trade Fee
    $0.65 per contract
    Customer Satisfaction Score
    800/1,000
    SimpleScore
    4.6 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Fidelity 4.6
    Mobile App 5
    Products 4
    Resources 5
    Support Channels 5
    Customer Satisfaction 4

    From low costs to solid trading tools to deep research, Fidelity has everything a day trader needs.

    Fidelity has long been known as one of the best when it comes to lowering fees and costs, and it continues that tradition today. Even more impressive is that despite keeping costs low it is still able to provide tons of research and education for clients. And while you can trade exclusively online at Fidelity, it also has physical branches for times you might want face-to-face support. That surely beats other day trading sites. The trading platform provided is very powerful and loaded with the features a day trader needs. The one downside is that Fidelity doesn’t offer futures trading, but if you don’t need it you won’t miss it.

    Best full-service broker – Edward Jones

    If you want personal, professional advice on investing Edward Jones is great, but for day trading, it’s what we consider daylight robbery.

    Stock Trading Fee
    $4.95
    Option Trade Fee
    N/A
    Customer Satisfaction Score
    NA
    SimpleScore
    3.3 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Edward Jones 3.3
    Mobile App 1
    Products 5
    Resources 4
    Support Channels 3
    Customer Satisfaction N/A

    As a full-service broker focused on investing Edward Jones isn’t really suitable for day trading, and is expensive to boot.

    Edward Jones stands out by offering full service financial advisors for their clients rather than simply letting them go at it all alone. With over 17,600 financial advisors who work with clients on a one-on-one basis, you can be sure to get personal and professional advice about your investing. When it comes to day trading, Edward Jones might not be as useful since the focus of the firm and its advisors is on long-term buy-and-hold investing. And as a full-service broker, Edward Jones is loaded with fees and commissions, making your trading profits vanish into their pockets rather than yours. If you want to buy and hold for decades Edward Jones could be a good fit, but if you want to day trade you need to look somewhere else for a broker.

    Best for convenience – Chase

    Chase You Invest is ideal for new investors and its all-encompassing mobile app is the gold standard for day trading platforms.

    Stock Trading Fee
    $0
    Option Trade Fee
    $0.65 per contract
    Customer Satisfaction Score
    772/1,000
    SimpleScore
    4.2 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Chase 4.2
    Mobile App 5
    Products 4
    Resources 5
    Support Channels 3
    Customer Satisfaction 4

    Great for new investors with a mobile app that really shines, Chase misses out when it comes to more advanced traders.

    Chase provides an easy-to-use platform that’s ideal for new investors, but might be lacking for more experienced investors. Stock offerings are excellent, but there are no futures or currencies, which is a disadvantage of this investing platform. One place Chase shines in its mobile app, which connects not only the Chase You Invest trading account, but also all other Chase accounts. Customer support is lacking, with no 24-hour or weekend support. We also really miss the option for a downloadable trading platform with more robust technical analysis tools.

    What is day trading?

    Day trading is a trading style in which positions are opened and closed on the same day. It is a fast-paced type of trading, where traders are typically making their trading decisions based on the technical analysis of price action. In many cases, day traders also use margin to increase buying power and magnify their gains — and their losses. In order to be successful with day trading, it is necessary to develop a strategy that lays down the rules of when to buy and sell, as well as risk and money management strategies.

    [Read: Best Online Brokers for Beginners]

    How day trading platforms work

    At their most basic day trading platforms do one simple thing — they allow traders to buy and sell some asset, whether that’s stocks, currencies or commodities. So they will display the asset and its price, as well as the price to buy or sell, called the bid and ask.

    Bid and ask

    The bid is the most any buyer is willing to pay for an asset. The ask is the least any seller is willing to accept for the asset. The difference between the two is known as the spread. In general the smaller the spread is the more liquid the asset is. For example, roughly half of all currency exchanges are between the Euro and the U.S. dollar. By extension the EUR/USD spread is the lowest of all currency pairings.

    In addition, there will be some way to specify how much to buy or sell, what type of order is being placed and a way to place the order.

    Types of market orders

    Market: An order to buy or sell immediately at the market price.
    Limit: An order to buy or sell at a specific price to open a new position.
    Stop or Stop Loss: An order to buy or sell at a specific price to close an existing position.
    Once an order is placed and executed, the platform will track the purchase price and current price, letting the trader know their open profit or loss. The trader closes the position by selling the asset (or buying if the initial transaction is a short sale).
    Short Sale: Borrowing an asset from the broker in order to sell it. Profits are made if the price of the asset falls, allowing the trader to buy it back at a lower price.

    [Read: 12 Things You Need to Know Before Investing in Stocks]

    Commissions

    Commissions were once common for stock trades, and traders had to account for these commissions when determining if a trading strategy was profitable or not. Usually commissions were about $0.65 per trade. However, over the years these commissions slowly reduced as brokers used lower commissions as a way to differentiate themselves and attract more clients.

    The real revolution in commissions occurred in March 2015, when online broker Robinhood launched as the first commission-free broker. By late 2019 major traditional brokers were all following suit and as of July 2020 there are few brokers who charge commissions on stock trades.

    Fast trades

    Day traders are also typically fast traders. In some cases they may open and close a position in a matter of minutes. And they could place dozens of trades in a single trading session. These fast trades typically generate small profits for the trader, which is why they will use leverage to increase the potential profits. It is also why so many trades need to be made. Making $1 on a trade isn’t so great, but if you place 25 trades in a single day and you leverage those trades by a multiplier of five or 10, you can make a decent profit.

    [Read: Investing Is Not a Video Game, So Don’t Play It Like One]

    How to choose the best day trading platform for you

    1. Know what’s important to you in a day trading platform. Is it speed of execution, education and trading resources, the ability to use margin, or something else? A good place to begin is with day trading reviews like the one you’re reading now.
    2. Narrow down the list of potential brokers. Start by checking the regulation of each broker as well as any insurance it offers on accounts. This is one way to begin to establish trust.
    3. Look at the fees and costs associated with each broker. This can include minimum deposit amounts, margin rates, costs for additional products and services, any commissions, the typical spreads, and account maintenance fees.
    4. Next, look at what current clients are saying about the broker. What do they claim are the best and worst features of the broker? Do client reviews differ from what the broker claims? This could be a red flag.
    5. Evaluate the remaining available brokers based on your criteria for what makes a good broker. You may need to make some compromises when choosing the broker. For example, speed of execution might be the most important thing to you, but you might choose a broker with slower execution speed in order to get proprietary market research and a more powerful trading platform.
    6. Once you’re down to two or three potential day trading platforms go ahead and take each for a test drive. Open a free account and test all the features you can get access to without making a deposit. Look at news feeds and research, see what’s available in charting features, find out what order types are available and whether there is a real-time price feed. Make sure the broker offers all the assets you want to trade.
    7. At this point you’ll likely want to choose the best day trading platform for you. Open an account if you haven’t already and make a small deposit. See how easy it is to make deposits and withdrawals to confirm you want to stay with the broker you’ve chosen.

    Day trading and stocks FAQs

    Traders based in the U.S. must have a minimum account balance of $25,000 to day trade. If the balance of the account drops below $25,000 at any time a deposit needs to be made to bring the balance back above that level before day trading is allowed again.

    Because day traders often use margin and leverage when trading there is a very real risk of “blowing up” one’s account, or suffering a complete and total loss of capital. Day trading can also take a toll on your health because it is a very stressful occupation. There is also a very real risk of psychological addiction similar to a gambling addiction.

    There is no fast track to learning how to day trade. If you choose this career you need to learn the characteristics of your chosen market or assets expertly. This education will continue during your entire career. You’ll also need to learn about technical analysis, chart patterns, how to develop your own trading strategies, risk management and money management. Much of this information you’ll be able to find online, but some parts of learning to day trade will simply come down to sitting in front of a screen and trading.

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best stock trading platforms and brokerages of 2020.

     

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

    However, it’s also possible for brands to have multiple SimpleScores, as we measure each category individually with a separate set of criteria. For example, when we apply our methodology to Chase’s stock trading product, it scores a 3.6 out of 5. On the other hand, when we compare Chase checking accounts, it scores a 4.4 out of 5.

    Questions about our methodology?

    Email Hayley Armstrong at hayley@thesimpledollar.com.

    Mobile app rating

    We took an average of each stock brokerage’s iOS App Store and Google Play ratings and scored brands based on the result.

    Additional products

    Investing is not just about stocks. We rated brands based on their product variety including ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs and options. The more products means higher the score.

    Resources

    We rated brands based on how many educational and investing resources are available. This includes Morningstar reports, market trends, how-to guides and more.

    Customer support

    When you run into trouble with your stock investment account, how can you get in touch for support? We award brands with more channels of support with higher scores in this aspect.

    Customer satisfaction

    We leveraged J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study to rate each brand’s customer satisfaction. As always, a higher customer satisfaction rating means a higher SimpleScore.

    Steven Walters

    Contributing Writer

    An avid traveller and hiker, Steve has been writing in the personal finance, investing, and blockchain spaces for nearly a decade. His writing has been featured on Financial Samurai, Free Money Finance, Coin Bureau, and a number of other personal finance and investing sites.

    Reviewed by

    • Courtney Mihocik
      Courtney Mihocik
      Loans Editor

      Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and debt consolidation loans. She is a former writer and contributing editor to Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, and elsewhere.