When looking for the best stock broker, few things are as important as the cost of commissions and fees. However, it’s also important to remember that trading platforms that allow you to get the most out of your investments are sometimes worth paying extra.
Here’s a trading platform comparison of the features each trading software offers to help you determine the best online brokerage for you.
Top Trading Platforms and Tools
Online trading requires getting the right information at the right time to make informed decisions, and if certain trading technologies help you improve your returns when you buy stocks online, they can easily pay for themselves. If you have a portfolio with $100,000, a top trading platform that helps you generate an additional 1 percent in returns is still a deal as long as your annual commissions are within $1,000 of competing online stock brokers.
Even if you can’t quantify better returns, the long-term benefits of better understanding your investments shouldn’t be discounted. A platform with an interface that helps you feel more engaged and connected with your investments is definitely worth the cost if it means you start saving and investing more.
Novice investors are likely going to value an easy, intuitive interface that lets them see how their money is performing and why that’s important, but an active trader is going to see a lot more value in a platform that accesses a variety of up-to-the-second data feeds.
Fortunately, many online brokers offer an array of different platforms fine-tuned to different types of users, so you should have plenty of options for finding the investing software that suits you.
1. TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform gives advanced traders elite-level tools to plan and execute trades, while its basic web platform offers a variety of traditional research and tools in one place for fundamental investors. You can also use Social Signals to cull insights from Twitter, Portfolio Planner to manage your investments and paperMoney to test out hypothetical strategies before putting your money on the line.
2. Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers offers six different platforms that give you access to trading via downloadable software, its web platform or with your mobile device. With these multiple access options, you’ll get the PortfolioAnalyst tool and Probability Lab, which helps you explore options trading without understanding the complicated mathematics involved.
3. Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab lets you trade online at Schwab.com, but it also has StreetSmart Edge, a customizable platform that you can adapt to your personal investing style. In addition to multiple data feeds and tools to help you select investments, the Gain/Loss Analyzer can help you understand past performance and apply the lessons to future trades.
Maximize Your Money: The Best Online Stock Brokers for Beginners
E-Trade’s more complex platform OptionsHouse gives experienced traders advanced charting and pro-level idea-generation tools to make the most of their money. However, even on the basic web platform you’ll still get access to third-party research, investing tools and screeners, and retirement planning and educational resources.
TradeStation offers its platform via desktop, web platform and on mobile, so you can use it from almost anywhere. You’ll get access to TradeStation’s blog and market insights as well as TradeStation Analytics, a desktop analysis platform that includes real-time market scanning tools.
Active Trader Pro gives Fidelity customers the chance to get advanced tools for trading options, and the less active trader can still access mutual fund research and screeners in addition to Fidelity’s market insights through the web platform.
7. Merrill Edge
In addition to the basic web platform, Merrill Edge MarketPro includes a number of charting and analysis tools to help you read the markets in real time. And with either option, you’ll have access to comparison tools and calculators to help you gauge which investments are right for you.
8. T. Rowe Price
T. Rowe Price’s online trading platform comes with tools to compare and research mutual funds, investment calculators to help you understand where your money is going and access to the Morningstar Portfolio Manager to see important ratings on different mutual funds and ETFs.
Vanguard has a basic online trading platform that comes with mutual fund and ETF screeners to help you decide on which fund is right for you. That’s in addition to a variety of other investment comparison tools, including investment calculators to help you determine which investments will be right for you.
10. Ally Invest
Ally Invest has an online trading platform that offers a variety of charts and investment calculators to help you understand your investments and select the right new funds for your portfolio. All that plus their market insights and blog.
Click to see the best investment brokers for your money.