As investors become more experienced, many are moving beyond traditional buy-and-hold investing and transitioning into trading. It’s not an investment strategy for everyone, but like everything else in life, you can get better with time and practice.
If you’re a trader, we’ve prepared this list of the 10 best trading platforms for 2022 to help you find the right one for you.
The table below provides a summary of the main features offered by each trading platform. Scan the table to get a basic idea of what each has, then scroll down and read our summary reviews with more information on each.
Our Picks for Best Online Trading Platforms
Here is our ranking of the 10 best trading platforms for 2022:
Below are summary reviews of each trading platform to give you a better idea of which will work best for you.
Best Online Trading Platforms – Reviews
- Offers a full range of asset classes and account types
- Superior suite of tools, research, and investor education
- Provide some of the best customer service in the industry, including 24/7 live contact
- Commission-free stock options
- Does charge a trading fee for over-the-counter (OTC) stocks
- No human financial advisors or robo-advisor
Minimum initial investment: $0
Financial products: Stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, options, and futures
Fees: $0 on stocks, ETFs, and options (+ $0.65 per option contract); $6.95 for OTC stocks; $74.95 for mutual funds, but offers 4000+ no-transaction-fee funds
Bonus: Up to $1,000 if you are referred by an existing Schwab client
Charles Schwab gets our vote as the best trading platform overall. That evaluation is supported by the fact that Schwab is the largest retail brokerage firm in the world. This platform also ranges from very good to excellent in virtually all categories. It’s well suited to every type of investment, including active trading.
One of the things we most liked about the platform is its wealth of educational resources, which provide real-time data on both its mobile platform and desktop version.
- Active Trader Pro is considered one of the best investment trading platforms in the industry
- Offers virtually every type of asset class, many with no fees
- Industry-leading customer service, including local branches for face-to-face contact
Minimum initial investment: $0
Financial products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options, and futures
Fees: $0 on stocks, ETFs, and options (+ $0.65 per option contract); 3000+ no-transaction-fee mutual funds
Bonus: Up to $100 for new and existing clients
Fidelity is the second largest retail investment brokerage firm, and Schwab’s primary competitor. Much like Schwab, Fidelity does just about everything well. They also provide customer service that’s at the top of the industry. Not only is phone support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but they also have 140 local branches around the country, in case you prefer face-to-face contact.
- Offers comprehensive financial services, including banking, loans, and its own robo-advisor
- Low pricing for both options trading and mutual funds
- Charges a commission of $4.95 + $0.01 per share on low-priced stocks
Minimum initial investment: $0
Financial products: Stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options, and FOREX
Fees: $0 for stocks, ETFs, and options (+ $0.50 per contract); $1 for bonds; $4.95 for mutual funds; $4.95 + $0.01 per share for stocks priced under $2.
Bonus: $100 to $3,000 for new accounts with deposits ranging from $10,000 to $2 million plus
Ally Invest offers self-directed investing that not only offers commission-free trades in stocks, ETFs, and options, but also lower pricing than the competition for most other investments.
But what really makes Ally Invest stand out is comprehensive financial services. They provide banking and lending through Ally Bank, but also offer their own robo-advisor, in case you want help managing at least some of your portfolio.
- Offers a wide range of research subscriptions, both free and premium
- They do charge a small commission on stock trades, not a standard practice
- Requires a minimum initial investment of $2,500
Minimum initial investment: $2,500
Financial products: Stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds, crypto
Fees: $0.01 per share ($1 minimum per trade) for stocks and ETFs greater than $1 per share; otherwise, 1% of the value of the trade; for options, $1 for the first contract, then $0.75 per additional contract; $27.50 for mutual funds
Zacks Trade is designed with active traders in mind. That’s because the company offers some of the best research in the industry. This includes Zacks Investment Research, which has three different premium subscription plans.
Though you will pay for these plans, Zacks Trade offers some of the best investing advice in the industry. For example, individual stocks are rated as Strong Buy, Buy, Hold, Sell, or Strong Sell, which will give experienced traders a substantial trading advantage. This is a platform designed for active, serious investors.
- Zero commissions on mutual funds and options, as well as stocks and ETFs
- Customer service is limited to Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Eastern time
Minimum initial investment: $0
Financial products: Stocks, bonds, options, ETF, mutual funds
Fees: $0 stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options
Bonus: Two stocks worth up to $200 when you open an account and fund it with at least $100
Firstrade provides all the services of other investment brokers on this list, but it’s especially strong if you want to trade options and mutual funds. That’s because the company doesn’t charge commissions on either asset class. That includes the per-contract fee typically charged throughout the industry. And for mutual funds, you’ll have your choice of more than 11,000.
- Probably the best trading platform in the industry
- Full-time customer support available 24/7
- Wide range of assets to trade
- Doesn’t currently offer a sign-up bonus
- $6.95 commission charged on OTC stock trades
- No fractional shares
Minimum initial investment: $0
Financial products: Stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, and FOREX
Fees: $0 on stocks, ETFs, and options (+ $0.65 per option contract); $6.95 for OTC stocks; $49.99 per trade on no-load mutual funds
TD Ameritrade has what might be the best trading platform in the industry. Its think or swim trading platform offers live in-app chat, over 400,000 indicators directly from the Federal Reserve, social media trending, and even a practice trading account.
Otherwise, TD Ameritrade offers trading in virtually all asset classes, most commission-free, (options trades have a $0.65 fee per contract) as well as 24/7 phone support.
But you should be aware that TD Ameritrade has been acquired by Schwab. And while the company will function as an independent entity, it’s expected to be fully merged into Schwab sometime during 2023.
- Best bonus offer in the industry
- Trade all types of securities with little to no fees
- 24/7 customer service
- Wide selection of research tools
- Charges $6.95 for OTC stock trades
- High margin rates
Minimum initial investment: $0
Financial products: Stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, currencies, options, and futures
Fees: $0 on stocks, ETFs, and options (+ $0.65 per option contract); $6.95 for OTC stocks; 4,000+ no-transaction-fee mutual funds, otherwise $19.99 per trade
Bonus: $50 to $3,500 for deposits ranging from $10,000 to $2 million plus
E*TRADE isn’t one of the larger investment brokers, but it offers what’s perhaps the best bonus in the industry. Open a new account and fund it with at least $10,000, and you’ll be eligible for a $50 bonus. The bonus works on a sliding scale, paying up to $3,500 for new accounts depositing $1.5 million or more.
E*TRADE is also an excellent trading platform, offering all types of securities with low or no fees across the board. The company offers a wide variety of investment products, ranging from simpler online brokerage accounts to options best suited to advanced investors.
- Choose your investments and have your portfolios managed via a robo-advisor
- Create an unlimited number of portfolios
- You cannot actively trade individual securities
Minimum initial investment: $0 to open an account, but $100 to begin investing
Financial products: Individual stocks and ETFs
Fees: No management fee, no transaction fees
Bonus: $30 to $500 when you open a new account and deposit between $1,000 and $50,000 or more
Technically speaking, M1 Finance doesn’t let you trade individual stocks or other securities. But they do allow you to choose your investments in stocks and ETFs. Once you do, your portfolio’s fully managed by the M1 Finance robo-advisor. It’s an excellent choice if you want to choose your own securities, but you don’t want to manage your portfolio.
You can hold as many as 100 individual investments in a single portfolio, which is referred to as a pie. You can have an unlimited number of pies. They may not be suitable for short-term trading, but it may be useful to assemble a group of stocks that you feel has good short-term potential.
- Designed specifically to be a trading app
- Trade cryptocurrencies along with stocks and ETFs
- No account minimum
- Limited investment menu that excludes common assets, like bonds and mutual funds
- Does not offer IRA accounts
- Limited customer support, educational resources, and trading tools
Minimum initial investment: $0
Financial products: U.S. stocks, American depositary receipts (ADRs), options, and cryptocurrencies
Fees: $0 on U.S. stocks, options, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies
Robinhood is a relative newcomer in the investment brokerage space, but it’s attracted a lot of investor interest in very little time. It’s designed to be a trading app, making it easy for investors to trade on the go. For that reason, Robinhood offers a limited selection of investments, including U.S. stocks, ADRs, options, and cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency is what makes Robinhood stand out from the rest. If you’re an active trader and are looking to expand into crypto as well, you’ll be accommodated with this broker. You can trade Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and other cryptocurrencies commission-free.
- Good for beginners because it helps you to accumulate the funds you’ll need to invest
- Fully managed account, consisting of a mix of ETFs
- Doesn’t offer trading in individual securities
Minimum initial investment: $5
Financial products: Mix of ETFs in a portfolio
Fees: $3/month for an individual plan; $5/month for a family plan
Bonus: $10 to open a new account after making your first investment of $5
While Acorns isn’t a trading platform, we’ve included it in this list because it’s the perfect account for beginners. That’s because not only does it invest your money for you, but it also gives you the ability to accumulate those funds.
You can deposit money into the account, but you can also take advantage of the “round-ups” process. By connecting the Acorns app to your debit card, transactions will be rounded up to the next whole dollar, with the change transferred to your investment account.
Meanwhile, your account will be invested in a mix of ETFs. You can choose conservative, moderately conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive, or aggressive investment mixes.
Online Trading Platforms 101
How to start using an online trading platform
Online trading platforms are incredibly easy to open. You can usually do so online in just a few minutes. However, it may take you several days to fund your account to begin investing.
Some platforms even help you learn how to start investing in stocks. Even so, make sure you thoroughly understand how the platform works and what resources it offers before you make your first trade.
If you intend to actively trade stocks, you should do so with only a small portion of your total portfolio. The bulk of your funds should be invested in long-term investments that will provide greater stability and predictability.
Consider holding a chunk of your money in a managed investment account, like a robo-advisor. You can select from the best robo-advisors to find the one you think will work best for you. Two of the biggest are Betterment and Wealthfront. Before settling on a robo-advisor, first check out our comparison of the two, Betterment vs. Wealthfront.
You should also consider adding a few alternative investments to your portfolio mix. For example, consider holding some money in real estate through a real estate crowdfunding platform. You can check out Jeff’s results from his article My Fundrise returns.
You may also want to consider dabbling in cryptocurrency, aside from the traditional stock market The best way to do that is to learn how to invest in Bitcoin. It’s the single largest crypto, and its volatility alone creates tremendous profit potential.
What is the difference between online stockbrokers and trading platforms?
The difference between online brokers and stock trading platforms can be very subtle, especially if you aren’t well acquainted with using either.
What is a brokerage account? Generally speaking, we can think of brokerage accounts as being more in the category of full service. Most of the trading apps listed in this guide are, in fact, online stockbrokers that offer trading platforms.
But probably the two best examples are Schwab and Fidelity. As the two largest retail investment brokerage firms in America, these are essentially full-service stockbrokers. But as has become the industry standard, they charge no commissions on securities trades, like stocks, ETFs, and options. But each offers a comprehensive trading platform, as well as access through a mobile app.
Trading platforms tend to be more limited in scope. First, they are usually a service offered by a stockbroker. Essentially, the trading platform is something of a dashboard from which you can track and gather information about the market and individual securities, as well as execute trades.
But there are some investment services that function more as standalone trading platforms than full-service brokers. The most prominent example from our list is Robinhood. It functions primarily as a trading platform, providing both limited information and resources and investment options.
You may be surprised to learn that some of the best investment apps don’t even involve stocks and similar securities. Examples include Betterment, which is strictly a robo-advisor, and Fundrise, which is a real estate crowdfunding platform.
How much money do I need to start trading online?
One of the biggest surprises for new investors who want to begin online investing is that you don’t need a lot of money. Notice that, from the list of the 10 best trading platforms for 2022, fully nine required no money at all to open an account. Only Zacks Trade requires funds to open an account.
Moral of the story: don’t let a lack of money keep you from investing!
It’s important to learn why you must start investing now, even if you have little or no money. The reality of investing is that the sooner you start, the more you’ll end up with. For that reason alone, you should start right now, even if you only have a few dollars available to invest each month.
Start by investigating the best online stock brokers for beginners. Pick one and get started, even if you’re not sure it’s the absolute right choice. At a minimum, it will enable you to begin building up your investment nest egg.
Later, when you’re more familiar with the investment process, you can transition over to a broker with the right mix of services for your investment personality.
What is the best online trading platform?
We made that choice easy for you by listing what we consider to be the top 10 best trading platforms for 2022, but we don’t want to promise that our ranking will be best for everyone.
Yes, Schwab and Fidelity are superior trading platforms, as evidenced by the sheer number of people and assets invested with each. But that doesn’t mean either will be the absolute best choice for you.
If you’re an active trader, you may be better served with Zacks Trade. As a beginner, with no investment experience whatsoever, Acorns may be your best choice. While it will enable you to get your feet wet with investing, it will also help you to build up the funds needed to invest.
Carefully review the features and summaries we provided on each of the 10 platforms. Look for the features that most interest you, whether that’s research tools and charting to analyze performance and optimize your trading strategy, or a user-friendly interface well suited to beginner investors.
How We Found the Best Online Trading Platforms
To compile our list of the 10 best trading platforms for 2022, we relied heavily on the following criteria:
- Minimum initial investment: $0 is preferred, and is the requirement for most of our recommendations.
- Financial products: The more offered, the higher we ranked the broker.
- Fees: Most brokers today offer commission-free trading (or low-cost trading), which is true of most of our choices. Of course, some platforms charge account fees or minimum deposits, so we also looked for those with otherwise low fees.
- Bonus: Many trading platforms offer sign-up bonuses, which give you an instant gain on your money. That includes most of the trading platforms we’ve included on this list.
- Special features: This is the purpose of our “best for” classifications. And though we identified the single best feature of each broker, we also listed additional specializations in the summary reviews.
And though we didn’t reflect it in the summary reviews, we did consider the general reputation of each broker.
Best Trading Platforms FAQs
What are the best trading platforms?
But once again, the best trading platform will be the one that’s best for you. That may take some experimentation. Use any of the 10 on our list as a starting point, then reconsider your decision as you move forward.
What trading platforms allow day trading?
If you are going to day trade, make sure you do it with only a small amount of your portfolio. For stability purposes, most of the rest should be invested in the best short term investments, as well as longer-term investments focused on growth.
Important note: day trading is severely restricted in retirement accounts, if it is permitted at all. Be sure you understand your broker’s rules before starting.
How can I switch trading platforms?
Transferring retirement accounts is more complicated. For tax purposes, the best strategy is to set up a trustee-to-trustee transfer. It may take longer, but it will keep you out of trouble with the IRS.
What are the best trading platforms for beginners?
From there, you can decide what your next trading platform will be. It will still be an experiment if you’ve never traded before, but at least you’ll understand the basics of investing.
Summary of the Best Online Trading Platforms
Once again, here is our recap of the 10 best trading platforms for 2022:
Any of these platforms will be a good choice if you’re a self-directed investor, and especially if you trade frequently. But you can choose the one that provides the specific services that will best meet your needs.