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Understanding what features are important to you as a trader is important when you select a day trading platform. As a day trader, you are likely comfortable paying $4, $5, $6, or even $7 per trade. You want low-cost trades, but a feature-rich platform and great trading tools are important to you too; therefore, you are willing to pay more.
To day trade, you have at least $25,000 to comply with the Pattern Day Trader rule. Traders must also meet margin requirements. The government put these laws into place to protect investors. Bottom line, day trading is risky.
Our 2019 Picks for Top Day Trading Platforms
Best Day Trading Platforms 2019
- Interactive Brokers - Best rates, professional platform
- Fidelity - Competitive rates, balanced platform
- TradeStation - Great platform, flexible rates
- TD Ameritrade - Best platform, expensive rates
- Charles Schwab - Competitive rates, balanced platform
Day Trading Platform Features Comparison
Is there a specific feature you require for your trading? Popular tools used by day traders include ladder trading, level II quotes, trade hot keys, direct market routing, stock alerts, streaming time & sales, and strategy backtesting, among many others. Lucky for you, StockBrokers.com operates the largest verified database on the web for online brokerages.
Taken from our online brokerage comparison tool, here's a comparison of the most popular day trading platform features.
Day Trading Q&A
How much money do I need to day trade?
To day trade, traders must maintain an account balance of at least $25,000 to comply with the Pattern Day Trader rule, which grants them access to 4:1 margin during the day. It is important to remember, day trading is risky.
What is a pattern day trader?
FINRA rules define a pattern day trader as, "Any customer who executes four or more 'day trades' within five business days, provided that the number of day trades represents more than six percent of the customer's total trades in the margin account for that same five-business-day period."
What is a day trade?
FINRA rules define a day trade as, "The purchase and sale, or the sale and purchase, of the same security on the same day in a margin account. This definition encompasses any security, including options. Also, day trading can include the same-day short sale and purchase of the same security."
How do I choose a day trading platform?
All in all, finding the right platform for day trading first requires understanding the laws and making sure you have at least $25,000 for Pattern Day Trader status. Next, ask yourself, “How important are low trading commissions?” and, “How important are tools?” Assume that lower trade costs usually mean less quality in such areas as research, trading tools, mobile trading apps, or ease of use. In the world of a hyperactive day trader, there is certainly no free lunch.
Which brokers offer market rebates for adding liquidity?
Interactive Brokers, Lightspeed, TradeStation, Cobra Trading, and SpeedTrader all offer what are known as “unbundled” rates, which means they pass 100% of all market rebates (or charges) for adding (or taking) liquidity back to their clients. Many market exchanges (examples include Citadel, Bats, and KCG (Virtu)) will pay your broker for routing your order to them. These rebates are usually no more than a tenth of a penny or two per share, but they add up. See: Order Execution Guide.
Using a broker such as Lightspeed, routing a 1,000-share buy limit order on the NYSE will currently net you $0.0014 per share. Lightspeed’s base rate is $.0045 per share, so the original $4.50 trade now becomes only $3.10, thanks to a $1.40 rebate from the NYSE. This represents a savings of 31 percent. Note, however, this goes both ways, as routing a straight market order to the NYSE instead would incur a charge of $.0027 per share, thus increasing the cost of the trade.
- Order Execution Guide
- Best Stock Brokers for 2019
- Best Discount Brokers
- Best Brokers for Options Trading
- Best Brokers for Penny Stocks Trading
- Compare Online Brokers
Summary: Best Day Trading Platforms
|Online Broker||Trading Platform||Minimum Deposit||Commissions||Active Trading|
|Interactive Brokers||Trader Workstation (TWS)||$0||$0.005 per share||5 Stars|
|Fidelity||Active Trader Pro||$0||$4.95||5 Stars|
|TradeStation||TradeStation 10||$500||$5.00||5 Stars|
|TD Ameritrade||thinkorswim||$0||$6.95||4.5 Stars|
|Charles Schwab||StreetSmart Edge||$0||$4.95||4.5 Stars|