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Trading and accessing client information via mobile devices is a trend that is rapidly gaining momentum around the world, and brokers are betting big on the future. Not surprisingly, every online broker has resources devoted to mobile development as the demand for information, entertainment, and social and commercial services skyrockets on the Internet.
Despite the fact that most brokers have had mobile apps for many years, there is still plenty of room for brokers to innovate. Many online brokers are wagering that mobile investing isn’t just about viewing a portfolio, maintaining a basic watch list, and placing simple trades. Instead, they are working to bring the full trading experience to mobile, including trade tools, advanced order types, detailed charting, complex options, cloud syncing, screeners, and much more.
No single broker has “cracked the code” to the ultimate mobile investor experience yet, but our top finishers this year are certainly close. With 50 different variables being assessed for mobile trading alone, scoring high marks is no walk in the park. We conducted all our tests on iOS devices, and focused primarily on the iPhone.
Best Stock Trading Apps
Here are the top five brokers for mobile trading, based on 50 variables.
- E*TRADE - E*TRADE Mobile
- Fidelity - Fidelity Mobile
- TD Ameritrade - Mobile Trader
- Interactive Brokers - IBKR Mobile
- TradeStation - TradeStation Mobile
Mobile Trading Broker Apps
Looking at the results, E*TRADE is our winner, earning 96% of the possible points in this category. E*TRADE, like TD Ameritrade, provides two separate apps, E*TRADE Mobile, which most of their customers use, and Power E*TRADE, which is built for more active traders.
E*TRADE Mobile shines for its diverse set of features and tools. In fact, our testing found that E*TRADE lacks only one feature: portfolio asset allocation charts. Some functionality, for example fully customizable stock screening, is offered only by one other broker, Interactive Brokers. The app’s weakness is found in its charting package, which only includes 11 optional technical indicators. Nevertheless, there is a lot to like.
In second place is Fidelity. Fidelity’s mobile experience is cleanly designed, bug-free, and delivers a phenomenal experience for investors. While active traders may be left wanting more, for the majority, Fidelity delivers, winning our award, No. 1 Investor App, in 2019.
Finishing third, TD Ameritrade stands out for offering two separate apps, Mobile and Mobile Trader, for traditional investors and active traders, respectively. Mobile Trader, which won our #1 Trader App award, is the ultimate experience for traders, providing a comprehensive offering. In terms of charting, no one comes close to matching Mobile Trader’s rich tool set and over 400 optional technical indicators. The app syncs entirely with thinkorswim, which is our #1 Desktop Platform pick in 2019.
Mobile trading with Alexa, Facebook, Twitter, and more
On the innovation front, TD Ameritrade was one of the first brokers to offer an Alexa Skill, and in August 2017, it became the first broker to integrate with Facebook Messenger, embracing the future of artificial intelligence (AI) with its own chatbot. The latest addition in 2018 was Apple Business Chat, which I am using more and more frequently to grab quick stock quotes. Bottom line, if you appreciate technology and AI, you will enjoy TD Ameritrade.
Speaking of Alexa, for the millions of Americans who own an Amazon Alexa device, TD Ameritrade, alongside Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and Interactive Brokers, all have approved Alexa Skills. Our testing this year did not incorporate testing specific Alexa features; however, based on Amazon’s ratings, it appears TD Ameritrade has the lead in delivering a diverse quality experience.
Best brokerages for mobile trading at a glance (Overall)
Mobile trading app features
Across the industry as a whole, although some functionality such as real-time streaming quotes, charting with multiple indicators, and synced watch lists are now pretty much industry standards, other functionality remains less common. Only 25% of the industry offers conditional orders, just 19% of the industry supports viewing open orders on a stock chart, and still only 44% of the industry supports basic stock alerts.
The process of placing orders continues to become easier for customers, thanks to innovations with order entry functionality. Placing regular stock trades and single-leg options trades is now a breeze, regardless of the broker used, and for brokers who offer complex options trading, it is mostly painless. Filling in an order ticket for a four-legged spread trade can be tricky on a PC, let alone trying to trade one on a tablet or smartphone. Several brokers are taking innovative steps to make the process seamless, and we will be very excited to see which route becomes the industry standard over the next few years.
The world of mobile trading continues to evolve rapidly. While online brokers have come a long way from where they were even a year ago, there is still considerable scope for innovation.
Best Mobile Trading Brokers Summary
|Online Broker||Best For||Minimum Deposit||Options Rates||Mobile Score|
|E*TRADE||E*TRADE Mobile||$500||$6.95 + $0.75 per contract||96%|
|Fidelity||Fidelity Mobile||$0||$4.95 + $0.65 per contract||95%|
|TD Ameritrade||Mobile Trader||$0||$6.95 + $0.75 per contract||94%|
|Interactive Brokers||IB TWS||$0||$0.70 per contract||92%|
|TradeStation||TradeStation Mobile||$500||$5 + $0.50 per contract||87%|