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Best Trading Platforms for Beginners 2022

Chris McKhann

Written by Chris McKhann, Blain Reinkensmeyer
Edited by Carolyn Kimball
Fact-checked by Logan Schmitt

Published January 10, 2022
Last modified September 13, 2022

The StockBrokers.com best online brokers 2022 review, our 12th annual, took three months to complete and produced over 40,000 words of research. Here's how we tested. Our editorial content is independent and unbiased; here's how we make money.

The best trading platforms for beginners all offer three essential benefits. First, the platform itself should be easy to use and beginner-friendly. Second is the provision of a variety of educational materials to get new investors off to a strong start. And third, the best platforms deliver access to quality stock market research.

For our 2022 Review, we tested and scored 15 trading platforms, focusing on features that are essential for beginning investors. In addition to in-depth testing of each learning center, we looked at which brokers offer unique features like webinars, live seminars, videos, progress tracking, paper (or virtual) trading and interactive educational elements such as quizzes.

Best Trading Platforms for Beginners 2022

StockBrokers.com 2022 Review

Here are the best online stock trading sites for beginners:

  • Fidelity
    - 5 Stars - Best overall for beginners
  • TD Ameritrade
    - 5 Stars - Excellent education
  • E*TRADE
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    - 5 Stars - Best for ease of use
  • Merrill Edge
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    - 4.5 Stars - Best client experience
  • Webull
    - 3.5 Stars - Best investor community
Fidelity
starstarstarstarstar Overall

Best overall for beginners

Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.65

Fidelity is a winner for beginners, thanks to its plethora of educational resources that includes a Learning Center stocked with videos, infographics, and even podcasts. Fidelity also offers an innovative Youth Account – a first-of-its-kind brokerage account for teens aged 13 to 17. Read full review

Pros
  • Excellent mobile app for investors
  • Our top pick for order execution, no payment for order flow (PFOF)
Cons
  • Margin rates can be higher than those of peers
  • Mobile app may fall short for active traders
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Trade at Fidelity. 1

TD Ameritrade
starstarstarstarstar Overall

Excellent education

Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.65

TD Ameritrade delivers $0 trades, fantastic trading platforms, excellent market research, industry-leading education for beginners, and terrific customer service. Read full review

Pros
  • Excellent education for beginners
  • thinkorswim platform suite is our top desktop platform for 2022
  • Futures and forex trading available
Cons
  • $6.95 fee per trade for penny stocks
  • No access to international stock markets
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Trade Stocks & ETFs Commission Free

E*TRADE
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starstarstarstarstar Overall

Best for ease of use

Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.65

Earning a recommendation based on its trading platform alone, E*TRADE is great for any beginner stock trader. Power E*TRADE is easy to use and offers features including paper (practice) trading and note-taking. Its educational content, though plentiful, can be a challenge to navigate. Read full review

Pros
  • Power E*TRADE offers great selection of trading tools
  • Our top pick for mobile trading and ease of use
Cons
  • $1,000 minimum for streaming data
  • Range of educational materials is limited compared to peers
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Open and fund & get up to $600 or more.

Merrill Edge
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starstarstarstarstar_border Overall

Best client experience

Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.65

Merrill Edge offers $0 trades with industry-leading research tools (especially ESG research) and customer rewards. Learning about investing is a pleasant experience, thanks to excellent organization, quality and in-house curated content. Read full review

Pros
  • Excellent tools for ESG research
  • Robust rewards program for Bank of America customers
Cons
  • Penny stocks and OTC securities are not available
  • Fractional share trading is not available
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Invest in a new account and get up to $600.

Webull
starstarstarstar_borderstar_border Overall

Best investor community

Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.00

Webull offers a unique community experience and easy-to-use trading platforms that will satisfy most young investors. Its educational materials, however, are lacking compared to leaders in this area. Read full review

Pros
  • Easy-to-use trading platforms
  • Offers cryptocurrency trading
Cons
  • Trails the best brokers in trading tools, research and education
  • No phone support offered
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Get 12 free stocks when you open & fund.

Other Trading Platforms

In addition to our top five trading platforms for beginners in 2022, we reviewed 10 others: Ally Invest, Charles Schwab, Firstrade, Interactive Brokers, J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing, SoFi Invest, TradeStation, Tradier, Robinhood and Vanguard. To dive deeper, read our reviews.

Best Platforms for Beginners: Pricing Comparison

Here's a comparison of pricing across Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE. For more comparisons, use our online broker comparison tool.

Feature Fidelity logoFidelity TD Ameritrade logoTD Ameritrade E*TRADE logoE*TRADE Merrill Edge logoMerrill Edge Webull logoWebull
Minimum Deposit $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
ETF Trade Fee 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Mutual Fund Trade Fee $49.95 $74.95 $19.99 $19.95 N/A
Options (Base Fee) $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.65 $0.65 $0.65 $0.65 $0.00
Futures (Per Contract) N/A $2.25 $1.50 N/A N/A
Broker Assisted Trade Fee $32.95 $25.00 $25.00 $29.95 N/A
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Best Platforms for Beginners: Education Comparison

Here's a comparison of the most popular educational features offered by beginner trading platforms. To compare 150+ features and fees side by side, check out our online broker comparison tool.

Feature Fidelity logoFidelity TD Ameritrade logoTD Ameritrade E*TRADE logoE*TRADE Merrill Edge logoMerrill Edge Webull logoWebull
Education (Stocks) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Education (ETFs) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Education (Options) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Education (Mutual Funds) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Education (Bonds) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Education (Retirement) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Retirement Calculator Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Investor Dictionary Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Paper Trading No Yes Yes No Yes
Videos Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Webinars (Archived) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Progress Tracking Yes Yes No No No
Interactive Learning - Quizzes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
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Which online broker is best for beginners?

Based on our extensive testing, Fidelity takes the top spot this year as the best all-around choice for beginners, due to its fantastic ease of use and top rankings in education and research. Add in the option to trade fractional shares and its unique youth account offering (which captured our innovation award), and we have a winner.

Which trading platform is best for beginners?

The best trading platform for beginners is Power E*TRADE. E*TRADE offers Power E*TRADE as both a browser platform and mobile app. The availability of paper trading, as well as HTML5 charts with automated technical analysis and screening tools for both stocks and options, make Power E*TRADE an excellent option for beginners.

What is the best stock trading app for beginners?

For beginners, our favorite trading apps are Fidelity and TD Ameritrade. Fidelity provides the best market research and stock analysis, alongside an in-depth learning center.

TD Ameritrade offers the most comprehensive selection of trading tools, and provides access to its entire educational video library for beginners, which is easily navigable by topic.

How do I start trading for beginners?

To start trading as a beginner you must have a brokerage account, an investment strategy and an expected time horizon that you plan to hold. Scan the market for trading ideas while taking baby steps to size your trades appropriately.

Trading platform: A demo or virtual account from a broker is a great way to learn the trading software you are using and understand how order types can help you manage risk while entering and exiting positions.

Trading strategy: After opening a brokerage account, there are several decisions you will need to prepare for when trading as a beginner, such as what to trade and when to trade it, and how much money to budget.

Time frame: Whether investing for the long term as a passive investor or trading more actively, you must focus on present market conditions and recent price activity when deciding how long you want to hold.

Baby steps: Fractional shares are another way to ease your way into the world of stock trading while taking less risk, allowing you to focus on percentage returns before taking steps to increase your trading budget.

Interested in more stock trading education? Dive deeper with StockTrader.com's 10 Great Ways to Learn Stock Trading .

How do beginners trade stocks?

Here are common steps for beginners when learning how to buy stocks online:

  1. Account setup: Open a self-directed brokerage account.
  2. Navigate platform: Learn how the trading software works (website, mobile app or desktop).
  3. Budget: Decide on a monthly amount you can afford to risk.
  4. Strategize: Develop an investing style, such as buy and hold or short-term trading.
  5. Manage risk and reward: Incorporate rules using order types (stop and limit orders).
  6. Set goals: Focus on percentage returns and decide on your time horizon.
  7. Find stocks to trade: Analyze news and research to find investment opportunities.
  8. Avoid concentrated positions: Don’t put too much into a single position.
  9. Index funds: Consider incorporating low-cost index funds such to gain broad market exposure.

How do you buy stocks online?

To buy stocks, first, you need to open and fund an online brokerage account. Next, research which stock you want to buy. Last, go to the order ticket, enter the stock symbol — along with the number of shares — you want to buy, then place your trade.

What is paper trading?

Paper trading, or virtual trading, is a trading platform feature that enables the trading of stocks, ETFs, and options with virtual currency (fake money). This helpful learning tool is popular with beginners and is a great way to practice stock trading without risking real money. The two top-rated brokers that offer paper trading are TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE.

What are fractional shares?

A fractional share is a portion of a full share of a publicly-traded company. Fractional shares enable investors with smaller budgets buy a stake in companies with high stock prices. For example, instead of spending over $3,000 to buy one Amazon (AMZN) share, a trader could purchase a $100 fractional share – and then own a proportional fraction of that share (in this example, roughly 1/30th of a share). Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Interactive Brokers, Webull, SoFi Invest and Robinhood offer fractional shares.

What is a market order?

A market order is an order to buy or sell a security (such as a stock) at the current best-available market price. Market orders are the most common type of order, as they are the fastest and easiest way to buy and sell shares.

What is a limit order?

A limit order is an order to buy or sell a security at a pre-specified price or better. Since limit orders are fixed to a pre-specified price, they will only fill when the limit price is reached. Limit orders are best when you know the exact price at which you want to buy or sell a stock.

Is online trading safe?

Online trading is safe if you use a regulated online stock broker and never invest more than you are willing to lose. Trading stocks online is inherently risky. Start with a small amount of money, read investing books, and keep it simple by buying and holding for the long term rather than trying to time the market.

StockBrokers.com 2022 Overall Ranking

Here are the Overall rankings for the 15 online brokers who participated in our 2022 Review, sorted by Overall ranking.

Feature Fidelity logoFidelity TD Ameritrade logoTD Ameritrade E*TRADE logoE*TRADE Charles Schwab logoCharles Schwab Interactive Brokers logoInteractive Brokers Merrill Edge logoMerrill Edge Firstrade logoFirstrade Ally Invest logoAlly Invest TradeStation logoTradeStation J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing logoJ.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing Tradier logoTradier Webull logoWebull Robinhood logoRobinhood Vanguard logoVanguard Sofi Invest logoSofi Invest
Overall starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Customer Service starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border star_borderstar_borderstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border N/A starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border
Commissions & Fees starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border
Research starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border
Platforms & Tools starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstar_borderstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstar_borderstar_borderstar_borderstar_border
Mobile Trading Apps starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Offering of Investments starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border
Education starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstar_borderstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Ease Of Use starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar_border starstarstarstarstar_border
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Read Next

Explore our other online trading guides:

Also explore educational content for various topics at our sister sites:

Methodology

For the StockBrokers.com 12th Annual Review published in January 2022, a total of 3,075 data points were collected over three months and used to score 15 top brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

In order to assess the overall trading experience and to evaluate the ease of use of online trading platforms for beginner traders, we test across a wide range of devices and operating systems.

Testing was done on devices for both Apple and Android operating systems. For Apple: iPhone XS with the most current iOS. For Android: Samsung Galaxy S9+, 6.2" 4K Super AMOLED (2960x1440) 64-bit Octa-Core Snapdragon 835 Processor 2.7GHz, 6GB RAM 6.2" with the most current operating system.

Our research team rigorously tests the most important features sought by beginner traders, such as the quality and variety of educational resources, the ease of use of any available trading platforms and the value of the broker’s actionable market research. We looked at which brokers offer unique features like webinars, live seminars, videos, progress tracking, paper (or virtual) trading and interactive educational elements such as quizzes.

As part of our annual review process, all brokers had the opportunity to provide updates and key milestones and complete an in-depth data profile, which we hand-checked for accuracy. Brokers also were offered the opportunity to provide executive time for an annual update meeting.

Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.

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About the Author

Chris McKhann
Chris McKhann

Chris McKhann has been in the industry for more than 20 years. He has worked for many of the top names in the online trading space, including TD Ameritrade and optionMONSTER, which later became part of E*TRADE. His work has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Financial Times, Forbes, CNBC, Nasdaq.com and Nikkei. He has also been an advisor and outside trader for several hedge funds. He was one of the first traders to delve into the VIX tradable products and to write about them (back in 2006). Chris is also an educator who teaches high school statistics, finance and computer science.


Blain Reinkensmeyer
Blain Reinkensmeyer

Blain Reinkensmeyer has 20 years of trading experience with over 2,500 trades placed during that time. He heads research for all U.S.-based brokerages on StockBrokers.com and is respected by executives as the leading expert covering the online broker industry. Blain’s insights have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among other media outlets.


Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is managing editor for Reink Media and the lead editor for the StockBrokers.com Annual Review. Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.


Logan Schmitt
Logan Schmitt

As Data Management Analyst for Reink Media Group, Logan Schmitt handles data collection and validation for RMG’s suite of personal finance websites, meticulously verifying the thousands of data points collected during the StockBrokers.com Annual Review and performing regular audits to ensure the highest level of accuracy. She specializes in data integrity and analysis.


1 Fidelity Sell orders are subject to an activity assessment fee from $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of principal. Options trading entails significant risk and is not appropriate for all investors. Certain complex options strategies carry additional risk. Before trading options, please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options. Supporting documentation for any claims, if applicable, will be furnished upon request.
TD Ameritrade, Inc. and StockBrokers.com are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other’s services and products.
*Webull Disclaimer View Disclaimer.
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