Brave souls with the means and risk tolerance to day trade need a different strategy than buy-and-hold investors do. In addition to focusing on fees — which can really add up when you’re making hundreds of trades each day — day traders also need fast and reliable trading networks to respond to split-second shifts in equity prices. For the Best Brokers of 2019-2020 rankings, GOBankingRates determined the Best Day Trading Platforms to help you choose the right one for your needs.
Best Day Trading Platforms of 2019-2020 Guide:
- Best Day Trading Platforms of 2019-2020 at a Glance
- In-Depth Look at the Best Day Trading Platforms
- How We Picked the Best Day Trading Platforms
- Day Trading Platforms FAQs
Best Day Trading Platforms at a Glance
Refer to this table to quickly compare the Best Day Trading Platforms:
|Best Day Trading Platforms of 2019-2020|
|Broker||Trade Commission||Minimum Deposit/Balance||Fees|
|Interactive Brokers||$0 stock trades for U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs with IBKR Lite; minimum $0.35 for IBKR Pro||$0|
|TradeStation||$0 up to 10,000 trades made via mobile app or web||$500|
|eOption||$0 per stock or ETF trade; $1.99 option trade + $0.10 per option contract||$500|
|T. Rowe Price||$19.95; $9.95 for accounts with 30 or more trades per year and for Select Client Services clients; some $0 commission ETFs||$2,500|
Investors considering day trading — whether as a hobby or a profession — should understand the risk. The practice requires time, money, patience and a significant amount of research — first, on the best broker for day trading, and then on the best stocks and securities to trade. This Best Day Trading Platform list will get you started on the former.
Founded more than 40 years ago, Interactive Brokers has a proven track record for day trading software in a world full of new imitators. The Interactive Brokers Group and its affiliates average more than 859,000 trades per day.
Why It’s a Best Day Trading Platform: Interactive Brokers offers a great low-cost investment platform for new and advanced traders. New investors can use their simulated trading system to get comfortable with day trading, and courses are available for individuals looking to expand their trading skills. Traders can use options, exchange-traded funds, futures, forex and bonds.
- Competitive commissions schedule with $0 stock and ETF trades for IBKR Lite accounts
- Very low margin rates and investors can earn interest on their cash balances
- Allows trading in 125 markets and 31 countries, and in 22 currencies
- Inactivity fees and additional costs for investors under certain account thresholds
- IBKR Pro prices can be complex without advanced knowledge of trading
- Educational resources not as advanced as competitors’
Promotions: Earn up to $100 in share credits by playing simulated sports betting
Cost and Fees: $0 per stock and ETF trade; options trade $1 plus $0.25 per options contract
Account Minimum: $0
To learn more about Interactive Brokers, visit its website.
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Merrill Lynch’s famous brokerage services merged with Bank of America’s retail banking services in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Today, BAML has evolved into a powerhouse financial institution that provides a robust day trading platform for investors.
Why It’s a Best Day Trading Platform: Merrill Edge combined with a Bank of America account can qualify you for unlimited free trades per month with Preferred Rewards. The platform doesn’t charge annual or inactivity fees, and it has thousands of well-known mutual funds available to investors.
- Access to Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research, one of the world’s top research groups
- Fully customizable dashboard makes tracking trades easy
- Walk-in customer service and support at 2,500 Bank of America branches
- Low-cost advantages favor qualified investors with higher balances
- Only Bank of America customers receive the best perks
Promotions: Get up to $600 when you invest in a Merrill Edge self-directed account using the promo code 600ME.
Costs and Fees: $2.95 per trade plus $0.65 per options contract; $29.95 per broker-assisted trade plus $0.65 per options contract and $0.01-$0.03 transaction fee per $1,000 in principal
Account Minimum: None, but some customers with qualifying account balances above $20,000 get free trades
To learn more about Merrill Edge, visit its website.
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Founded in 1975, TD Ameritrade is a public online brokerage that processes 500,000 trades each day and houses more than $1 trillion in client assets. Widely considered one of the top trading platforms, it provides access to advanced research and custom charts with straightforward pricing.
Why It’s a Best Day Trading Platform: The platform is suitable for investors of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced. Its Thinkorswim platform provides educational tools around pattern day trading and technical analysis. And there’s no annual or inactivity fee.
- Step-up levels give more experienced traders access to options, futures, forex, American depository receipts and initial public offerings
- Deep array of custom and third-party research that sets it apart from rivals
- No account minimum
- Reliable 24/7 customer support
- Simplified commission structure for traders of all skill levels
- There’s a $75 fee for an outbound full account transfer
Promotions: New account holders can earn cash bonuses from $100 to $600 depending on the deposit size.
Costs and Fees: $0 per trade plus $0.65 per options contract
Account Minimum: None
To learn more about TD Ameritrade, visit its website.
Best known for its mutual funds, Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro uses advanced real-time analytics to help traders identify new opportunities, define entry/exit strategies and measure risk and reward in an instant. The platform allows Active Trader Pro users to create and save up to 50 orders to place when they are ready to execute a trade.
Why It’s a Best Day Trading Platform: This is a solid day trading platform for active traders seeking premium research, low fees and a wide array of funds. Fidelity’s Trade Armor tool helps investors visualize risk against reward to identify the best entry and exit points of a trade.
- Vast selection of no-fee mutual funds — over 3,500 in all
- Commission-free ETFs
- A wide selection of research reports and providers to help traders find ideas
- Qualifying deposits for cash bonuses are high
- Index funds cater to passive investors who aren’t day trading
- High broker-assisted fees
Promotions: Get $20-$30 off various tax preparation programs, such as TurboTax and TaxAct.
Costs and Fees: $0 per trade plus $0.65 per options contract; margin rates begin at 5%
Account Minimum: None
To learn more about Fidelity, visit its website.
Schwab Trading Services is a robust trading platform with a deep bench of research providers, access to real-time streaming data and more than 300 articles, videos and guides for traders of any experience level.
Why It’s a Best Day Trading Platform: Charles Schwab offers a reliable platform for beginner investors while still catering to individuals who are seeking ETFs and index funds.
- No inactivity fees
- Massive research catalog for traders of all levels
- Reputable customer support
- A wide array of mutual funds cater more to traditional investors than to day traders
Costs and Fees: Free Schwab ETF trades, but otherwise, $0 per trade plus $0.65 per options contract; additional $5 service charge per automated phone trade; additional $25 service charge per broker-assisted trade
Account Minimum: None
To learn more about Charles Schwab, visit its website.
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TradeStation is a top day trading platform for traders who like data, visualization and customization. The platform includes trading tools like Tools Matrix, RadarScreen and Option Station Pro.
Why It’s a Best Day Trading Platform: The site has complex research functions and best-in-class options trading capabilities. It also offers Master Class, TradeStation’s interactive in-person training event designed to turn beginning day traders into knowledgeable investors.
- Leading technology platform with more than 270 indicators and signals
- Great mobile app
- Discounts for very active traders
- Higher trading fees than other platforms on this list
- Charges an annual fee of $50 on accounts that fail to meet equity minimums
- No 24/7 customer service
- Free Online Trading Academy for active military, veterans and first responders
- Interest on equities account when you opt into the lending program
- Interest on qualifying deposit into an equities or futures account
Costs and Fees: $0 per trade up to 10,000 trades using mobile app or web plus $0.50 per options contract with TS GO or $0.60 per contract with TS Select
Account Minimum: $500
To learn more about TradeStation, visit its website.
If you’re an options trader, eOption is geared toward you. Opening shop in 2007, the platform touts low commissions, free access to its eOption Trader Platform and expertise in handling options traders among its biggest draws.
Why It’s a Best Day Trading Platform: The $1.99 plus $0.10 per contract isn’t among the better rates for options contracts you’ll find currently, but eOption scored well for excellent educational and research tools, including content on options strategies provided by the Options Industry Council.
- $0 stock and ETF trades
- No annual fee as long as you made two trades in the last year
- Strong educational and research resources
- No 24/7 customer service via phone
- No live chat customer service
- $500 account minimum
Costs and Fees: $0 per stock or ETF trade; $1.99 + $0.10 per contract on options trades
Account Minimum: $500
To learn more about eOption, visit its website.
In business since 1986, SogoTrade is a cost-effective option for active traders. It offers prepaid trades, allowing you to lock in a better price if you’re ready to buy in bulk upfront — something that is relatively unique in the current market.
Why It’s a Best Day Trading Platform: As long as you average at least 150 trades a month, the $2.88-per-trade rate from SogoTrade is reasonable. Even if you’re not sure about how much trading you’ll do, you might use the prepaid option to get frequent-trader prices while still moving at your own pace.
- Trades as low as $2.88 apiece for frequent traders and prepaid customers
- Robust research tools
- No account minimum
- Few educational resources
- No 24/7 phone or live chat customer service options
Costs and Fees: $2.88 per trade for frequent traders; $4.88 for accounts with under 150 trades per quarter
Account Minimum: $0
To learn more about SogoTrade, visit its website.
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T. Rowe Price
A storied Wall Street institution, T. Rowe Price brings more than 80 years of experience to the table for its clients. Account features include a wealth of potential resources, from its research tools to options for trading over the phone.
Why It’s a Best Day Trading Platform: T. Rowe Price has research and analysis tools available through its platform that should help you identify potential trades, and its alerts will help you execute them on time.
- Robust research tools
- Available mobile app
- Even at $9.95 per trade — the price for customers with at least 30 trades in the last year — commissions are among the industry’s highest
- No 24/7 phone or live chat options for customer service
- Limited educational resources
Costs and Fees: $19.95 per trade, falls to $9.95 for accounts with 30 or more trades in the last year or that qualify for Select Client Services
Account Minimum: $2,500
To earn more about T. Rowe Price, visit its website.
Firstrade: Best for Low Fees
Founded in 1985, Firstrade offers free trading and no account minimums, making it one of the best low-cost options out there. The company’s profits all come from the interest charged on its margin accounts and by using routing venues to fill orders.
Why It’s a Best Day Trading Platform: No account minimum and free trading are hard to beat, and the platform still guarantees the execution of trades within 0.1 seconds.
- $0 commissions
- No account minimums
- Live chat with a person available for customer support
- Limited educational and research resources
- No 24/7 phone customer support
- Up to $200 in transfer fee rebates when switching to Firstrade from another broker
- $25 wire transfer fee rebate when wiring funds from your bank
Costs and Fees: $0
Account Minimum: $0
To learn more about Firstrade, visit its website.
How We Picked the Best Day Trading Platforms
GOBankingRates determined the Best Day Trading Platforms by analyzing 23 of the largest and up-and-coming online brokers, using the following criteria:
- Cost to trade equities, such as stocks and ETFs
- Opening minimum investment requirement
- Access to current and historical market data
- 24/7 phone customer service
- Live chat with a human representative
- Mobile app availability
- Educational resources, such as webinars, blogs and courses that teach investing and trading
- Research and tools, such as multiple trading platforms, in-depth market analysis and screener tools for stocks, ETFs and bonds
Each broker was scored based on these individual categories, which were then summed up for a final score. Because these day trading platforms are for experienced investors with high trading volume, the cost to trade and research tools were weighted double for the final scoring, while 24/7 phone customer service and live chat were weighted a quarter.
Day Trading Platforms FAQs
Although day trading can be highly lucrative for the lucky few, most people lose money. Increase your chance of trading profitably by arming yourself with information before you jump in.
What Is Day Trading?
Day trading is the polar opposite of the usual investing advice that says to hold onto your equities over the long term. With day trading, the investor looks to earn a profit in a very short time — perhaps just seconds, but by definition, always within the same day, using the same brokerage platform.
Day traders can earn a profit in one of two ways — by purchasing equity at a low price and selling at a higher one or by selling short to profit from a price decline. The latter is particularly risky because it involves trading borrowed shares that must be returned regardless of whether the investor makes or loses money on the deal.
How Do I Learn How To Day Trade?
Learning to day trade is a commitment that requires an extensive understanding of terminology as well as fundamental and technical analysis and research. Consider using educational tools like videos and other tutorials provided by an online brokerage.
A large number of “financial experts” on the internet sell day trading courses and investment advice. Do your research on their track record and examine their backgrounds before buying any trading course or research.
Who Regulates Day Trading?
Day trading is regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. FINRA sets rules on margins and deposits to protect the other party from risks associated with the day trader’s transactions.
Is It Illegal To Day Trade?
It is not illegal to day trade. But FINRA requires that brokerage customers maintain a minimum balance of $25,000. Day traders also need a margin account to serve as collateral to ensure that any losses are properly covered while a trade closes.
Does Day Trading Work?
Although day trading is tempting, it is considered extremely difficult. Ninety percent of traders lose money, according to ElliottWave International. And 80% of day traders quit within two years. Therefore, day trading is not advised for people who are trying to save for retirement, unless they have a suitable nest egg.
What Are the Risks of Day Trading?
Day traders can lose a lot of money quickly. Many challenges day traders face stem from a lack of risk-management strategies. Traders should also beware of slippage — an event in which you get a price for different security than the one you intended to buy or sell.
How Much Money Do I Need To Day Trade?
You’re required to have a balance of $25,000 on the days you partake in purchases and sales occurring on the same day.
How Do I Choose a Day Trading Platform?
Day traders should examine GOBankingRates’ Best Day Trading Platforms and consider their own experience trading stocks, options and other securities.
What Are the Best Strategies for Day Trading?
Day trading strategies that can give investors an edge include a trend-based scalping strategy called momentum trading as well as news trading — making trading decisions based on economic news reports — and breakout trading based on movement outside of expected pricing and volume. Day traders should manage risk by using rules like stop-losses and capping tradeable capital at 1% per position.
What Is a Margin?
Margin is money you put aside as collateral for buying and trading in a single session using the money borrowed from your brokerage. This capital is used to cover a deposit and mitigate the other party’s risk while a transaction is being processed.
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Garrett Baldwin is a former editor of Futures Magazine, a Chicago-based publication for active investors. He has an MBA in finance from the University of Indiana.
Joel Anderson contributed to the reporting for this article; he has been writing about investing topics for over a decade. His work has been featured on a number of investing sites, including CNBC, MSN and Equities.com.
Andrew DePietro contributed to the reporting for this article. He was the lead researcher for GOBankingRates and a finance writer with years of experience covering investing, taxation, Social Security, entrepreneurship, real estate and housing markets.
Methodology: To determine the Best Brokers of 2019-2020, GOBankingRates analyzed 47 active U.S. brokerages and investment companies across eight categories: (1) Best Online Brokerages, (2) Best Online Stockbrokers for Beginners, (3) Best Robo-Advisors, (4) Best Investment Apps, (5) Best IRA Providers, (6) Best Roth IRA Providers, (7) Best Brokers for Day Traders, (8) Best 401(k) Companies.
Data for Best Brokers was compiled from and verified against the individual institutions’ websites between July 1, 2019, and Aug. 2, 2019. That data has been updated as of Dec. 7, 2019, but the rankings are based on the original data. Costs, terms and conditions are subject to change at the discretion of the individual financial institutions. Some information might reflect short-term or promotional offers only, and it is possible additional terms and conditions must be met in order to obtain any benefits mentioned. Availability might vary by region, minimum investment amounts and other factors. Please verify the terms and conditions before opening an account.
GOBankingRates is a personal finance website owned by ConsumerTrack Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions and other financial services organizations. Some brokerages mentioned in Best Brokers are clients of ConsumerTrack Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement. For more information, see the complete methodology for the rankings.