Online-based, zero-fee trading has become the new standard. There are plenty of online trading platforms and brokerages available but the promos, terms, and new account bonuses can obfuscate actual value. Some online trading platforms offer better features for certain styles of trading, however, which can be clear winners based on one’s needs.
In this short review, we’ll cover some of the most popular trading platforms available. There are only brief notes regarding the discerning features, pricing, and availability. In all cases, the services should be personally evaluated based on a trader’s specific needs and financial state. The information presented here is informational only and not intended to be financial advice.
eTrade – Best Overall Features
eTrade is an online trading platform that has offered low-cost trading to individuals for decades. They have a wide range of easy-to-use tools such as screeners, news aggregation, and proprietary research data. They offer commission-free trading, no account minimums, and support stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, ETFs, and futures all available for trading through their website or mobile apps.
Interactive Brokers – Best Algo Trading
Interactive Brokers offers traders access to a wide range of international markets and plans for cryptocurrency support in the near future. Their Lite plans offer beginner investors commission-free trading but restrict access to certain features such as API access, Back-testing, and access to their web-based trading platform. These features, as well as tiered-based commissions, are available on Pro plans.
TD Ameritrade – Best Beginner Trading
TD Ameritrade offers a platform with a strong focus on educational materials useful for beginner and advanced traders. They offer new accounts without deposits for those that want to take advantage of their robust learning platform. TD Ameritrade’s online trading platform is heavily invested in being seamlessly integrated with their mobile apps, though some tools are not accessible from both.
Alpaca – Best API Access
Alpaca is a relative newcomer to the online trading platform market. They offer robust API access suited for algorithmic trading and backtesting. They offer commission-free trading for stocks, ETFs, and provide integrations for other popular services such as Trading View, Quant Rocket, Blueshift, and MetaTrader5. They offer APIs for trading, brokerage services, and market data. They offer limited tradable assets and market access currently.
Robinhood – Best Low-Cost Trading
Robinhood offers a commission-free online trading platform with an accompanying mobile application. There are no account minimums, no trading fees, and this platform offers the ability to trade cryptocurrency. Robinhood pioneered the commission-free trading business but falls short when comparing tradeable assets, features, or available APIs for programmatic trading strategies.
Webull – Low-Cost US-Based Trading
Webull is a US-based brokerage platform that offers commission-free trading, has no account minimums, and provides seamless account opening. Webull is mostly for US-based traders and foreign accounts are subject to higher fees and withdrawal charges. Webull offers access to their trading platform without account creation for new users to get a feel for the UI, features, and usability before signing up.
The exchanges and brokerages listed here are all top-tier in terms of features, trading fees, and available securities. Some platforms like Robinhood and Webull offer the trading of digital assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum — assets not available from all other platforms. Other platforms like eTrade offer fully-developed financial planning services such as retirement planning, 401k management, and others.
The names listed here are among the best online trading platforms and brokerages but top-level features and reputations only. The only way to determine if a platform is right for one’s needs is to try it first-hand. Fortunately, the market is competitive enough that opening new accounts is free, usually comes with partial initial deposit match bonuses, and can be opened in a few hours’ time.