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Best Trading Platforms for Stock Trading

December 07, 2023

Updates: Since TD Ameritrade is now owned by Charles Schwab, we moved it to the bottom of our summary table (November). We finished testing, bringing our total platforms count to 18 (October).

To buy shares of stocks like Apple (AAPL), Nvidia (NVDA), or Tesla (TSLA), you'll need to set up an investing account with an online broker. Online brokers not only enable you to trade stocks online, they also provide trading tools, market research, and education to help you make informed investing decisions.

Every stock trading platform is unique. Today — with every online retail broker offering $0 stock and ETF trades — deciding which one is right for you comes down to differences in the overall trading experience. Here's a look at our top trading platform picks for online stock trading.

Why you can trust

Since 2009, we've helped over 20 million visitors research, compare, and choose an online broker. Our writers have collectively placed thousands of trades over their careers. Here's how we test.

Best Stock Trading Platforms

Company Overall Overall Score Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Offers Visit Site
Fidelity logoFidelity 5/5 Stars 98.7% $0.00 $0.00 Trade at Fidelity. 1 Visit Site
E*TRADE logoE*TRADE 5/5 Stars 96.6% $0.00 $0.00 Open and fund & get up to $600 or more. Visit Site
Charles Schwab logoCharles Schwab 5/5 Stars 96.6% $0.00 $0.00 $0 Online Trade Commissions Visit Site
Merrill Edge logoMerrill Edge 4.5/5 Stars 94.0% $0.00 $0.00 Read Review
Interactive Brokers logoInteractive Brokers 4.5/5 Stars 93.5% $0.00 $0.00 New clients, special margin rates. Visit Site
Firstrade logoFirstrade 4.5/5 Stars 87.6% $0.00 $0.00 Read Review
tastytrade logotastytrade 4/5 Stars 84.9% $0.00 $0.00 Open and fund & earn up to $5,000* Visit Site
Ally Invest logoAlly Invest 4/5 Stars 84.6% $0.00 $0.00 Read Review
Webull logoWebull 4/5 Stars 84.5% $0.00 $0.00 Get up to 70 free fractional shares! Visit Site
Robinhood logoRobinhood 4/5 Stars 84.5% $0.00 $0.00 Read Review
TradeStation logoTradeStation 4/5 Stars 82.0% $0.00 $0.00 Trade Stocks, Options, Futures, & Crypto. Visit Site
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing logoJ.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing 4/5 Stars 81.8% $0.00 $0.00 Read Review
Vanguard logoVanguard 4/5 Stars 80.3% $0.00 $0.00 Read Review
Tradier logoTradier 4/5 Stars 77.0% $0.00 $0.00 Read Review
eToro logoeToro 4/5 Stars 76.7% $10.00 $0.00 Deposit $100 and get a $10 bonus! Visit Site
SoFi Invest logoSoFi Invest 3.5/5 Stars 73.7% $5.00 $0.00 Get yourself up to $1,000 in stock Visit Site 3.5/5 Stars 69.7% $0.00 $0.00 info Read Review
TD Ameritrade logoTD Ameritrade 5/5 Stars N/A $0.00 $0.00 Read Review
View More
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best overall, lowest fees

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

Our top pick overall for 2023, Fidelity is a value-driven online broker offering $0 trades, industry-leading research, excellent trading tools and an easy-to-use mobile app. Read full review

  • Excellent research and mobile app
  • Top-notch education
  • Decades of reliable client service
  • No dedicated mobile app for active trading
Visit Site

Trade at Fidelity. 1

5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best for mobile trading

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

E*TRADE is a top-performing broker whose highlights include $0 trades, two excellent mobile apps and the Power E*TRADE platform. Crypto, however, is not available. Read full review

  • Watch lists are the best in the business
  • Smooth mobile navigation
  • High-quality high-net-worth Morgan Stanley proprietary research
  • Cryptocurrencies not currently available
  • Margin rates are high compared to other brokers
Visit Site

Open and fund & get up to $600 or more.

Charles Schwab
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best desktop stock trading platform

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

As the granddaddy of discount brokers, Charles Schwab understands how to deliver value to its customers, providing a comprehensive roster of tools, advice and actionable ideas at reasonable cost. Read full review

  • Vast menu of investment offerings
  • Excellent research and content for long-term investing
  • Cryptocurrency isn’t offered
  • Mutual fund fees are complex
  • Content has a less friendly approach than some competitors
Visit Site

$0 Online Trade Commissions

Merrill Edge
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best for high net worth investors

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

Merrill Edge and its parent, Bank of America, make for a well-rounded offering, with $0 trades, robust research, reliable customer service; and its Stock Stories and Fund Stories are an industry standout. There are some gaps in investment offerings, including crypto and futures. Read full review

  • Portfolio Story, Dynamic Insights, and the Stock and Fund Stories are groundbreaking features
  • High-quality proprietary research
  • Some site elements slow to load
  • No crypto, futures, forex or penny stocks
Interactive Brokers
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best for professional traders

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

Interactive Brokers is a go-to choice for professionals because of its institutional-grade desktop trading platform, high-quality trade executions and rock-bottom margin rates. Read full review

  • Astounding array of highly customizable tools
  • Allows trading in foreign markets
  • Apps are convenient for individual investors
  • Restrictive about trading permissions
  • Main platforms might feel cold
Visit Site

New clients, special margin rates.

4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best for Chinese-speaking clients

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

Firstrade scored well in our 2023 Annual Review for ease of use, and is a great choice for Chinese-speaking investors. However, it lags behind the competition in certain areas, especially platforms, tools and education. Read full review

  • Excellent for Chinese-speaking investors
  • Has bolstered its options education and trading capabilities
  • Easy-to-use mobile app
  • Trading platform and tools trail the best brokers for 2023
  • Investor education is thin
4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

Best desktop options trading platform

Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.50 info

Tastytrade isn’t for every investor, but its platform is ideal for frequent options and futures traders, offering efficient workflow, useful risk management tools, killer design, and online content that make you feel like you’re on a trading desk. Read full review

  • Excellent layout
  • Clear expertise with active trading
  • Great stock options pricing
  • Maverick approach makes initial learning curve a bit steep
  • Few choices for long-term investing
Visit Site

Open and fund & earn up to $5,000*

Ally Invest
4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall
Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.50

For current Ally customers looking to invest in stocks, Ally's universal-accounts experience and easy-to-use website offer a convenient solution. Its website is far stronger than the mobile app. Read full review

  • Excellent banking via Ally Bank
  • Universal account management
  • $0 stock and ETF trades alongside a $0 minimum deposit
  • Trails industry leaders in areas including platforms, tools, research, and education
4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall
Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.00

Webull is an excellent choice for beginning and intermediate traders. The user experience is outstanding, and Webull has better charts than its natural competitor, Robinhood. Options contracts are commission-free, but crypto markups and markdowns are on the high side. Experienced investors may eventually miss the features, research, and investment choices available at leading brokers. Read full review

  • Terrific user experience across all devices
  • Zero-cost option trading
  • 44 cryptocurrencies
  • Stock and market research content is thin compared with industry leaders
  • Limited investment options
  • Charges one percent markups and markdowns on crypto trades
Visit Site

Get up to 70 free fractional shares!

4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall
Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.00

Robinhood is very easy to use and its educational content is a joy to read. But, in today’s competitive market for your investing dollars, there are several more compelling options among brokerages. Read full review

  • Famously easy to use
  • Extensive crypto support with zero commissions and no markups or markdowns
  • Learn section has some excellent writing
  • Charges $5 monthly fee for data and research that’s free at many other brokers
  • Limited investment choices
  • Not enough tools for active trading
4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

Best trading platform technology

Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.60

TradeStation supports casual traders through its web-based platform and active traders through its desktop platform. We like the web-based platform and mobile app, but the flagship desktop platform could use a refresh. TradeStation ranked among Best in Class in the Commissions and Fees and Investment Options categories in our 2023 Annual Review of online stockbrokers. Read full review

  • Web trading platform is well thought-out
  • TradeStation Crypto is powerful and intuitive
  • User experience can be frustrating
  • No third-party fundamental research
Visit Site

Trade Stocks, Options, Futures, & Crypto.

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Our research

Why you should trust us

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT, the lead writer for, has over 30 years of investing experience and actively trades stocks, ETFs, options and futures. He's held roles as a portfolio manager, financial consultant, investment strategist and journalist. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) designations and served on the board of directors of the CMT Association.

Blain Reinkensmeyer has been investing and trading for over 25 years. After having placed over 2,000 trades in his late teens and early 20s, he became one of the first in digital media to review online brokerages. Blain created the original scoring rubric for and oversees all testing and rating methodologies.

For this guide:

  • Whenever possible, we used our own brokerage accounts for testing. For several brokers, we used a test account that was provided to us.
  • We collected 3,528 data points (196 per broker).
  • We tested each online broker's website, browser-based trading platform (where applicable), downloadable desktop trading platform (where applicable), and of course, the mobile app (or apps in the case of several brokers).
  • We met with the product teams of nine online brokers.

How we tested

Our writers maintained active, funded online brokerage accounts for testing. In certain circumstances, a demo account was provided by the broker.

As part of our annual data check process, we sent a data profile link to each broker summarizing the data we had on file and the data they provided us last year, with a field for entering any data that had since changed. For the brokers that filled out these profiles, we audited the information for any discrepancies between our data and the broker’s data to ensure accuracy.

As part of our annual review process, all brokers had the opportunity to provide updates and key milestones in a live meeting that took place in the fall. Meetings with broker teams also took place throughout the year as new products rolled out. Insights gathered from these calls helped steer our testing efforts to ensure every feature and tool was assessed.

Once our data collection, auditing, and trading platform testing was completed, we entered our final 1-10 opinion scores of each broker's key area (Commissions & Fees, Platforms & Tools, Research, Mobile Trading, Education, and Ease of Use). We then ran all the collected data through our proprietary scoring engine to determine each broker's Overall percent score and rating.

Trading platforms tested

We tested 18 online trading platforms for this guide:

What is a trading platform and how does it work?

A trading platform (online brokerage account) allows you to buy and sell investments via computer or mobile app. The brokerage custodies (holds) your assets (investment dollars) for you and provides activity reports and account statements. It also credits any interest accrued and dividends to your account. To open an online broker account in the United States, you will need a Social Security number and you will be required to enter basic financial information such as your name, address, phone number, and trading experience.

In the United States, to provide online trading services, brokers are regulated by both FINRA and the SIPC. The SIPC insures $500,000 per account including up to $250,000 in cash against theft or the firm going belly-up. It’s important to remember, however, that insurance does not protect any investor against losses due to market fluctuations.

How much money do you need to start investing?

Most trading platforms in the United States don’t require minimum account balances. Now you can open an account, fund it with a dollar or two, and buy a fraction of a share of stock. You can also practice investing with no money at all at a broker that offers virtual trading, also called paper trading. See our top broker picks for paper trading.

Should I hire a financial advisor or trade on my own?

There are two types of stock brokers. Online stock brokers, meaning companies like E*TRADE and Fidelity, allow you to buy and sell stocks. Traditional stock brokers — individuals who pass a series of exams and work at brokerages — buy and sell stocks on behalf of clients. Traditional stock brokers often work for corporations.

If you are looking to buy and sell stocks on your own, you are looking for an online broker. When you open an account with a regulated brokerage, you can deposit money and make investments in the stock market.

If you want someone to manage your money for you, you will want to hire a financial advisor. To get started, start a financial advisor search on our sister site,

Best overall trading platform, lowest fees - Fidelity

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
Fidelity logoFidelity $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Trade at Fidelity. 1 Visit Site

Fidelity is our top trading platform pick because it provides industry-leading research, excellent trading tools, and an easy-to-use mobile app. Our research found that Fidelity offers the lowest fees thanks to its order routing practices and commitment to not accepting payment for order flow.

Fidelity provides a ton of news and market commentary, along with extensive research on a wide array of investment options. If you’re new to investing, you’ll appreciate a huge library of helpful articles, too. Read full review.

Fidelity Mobile app gallery

Fidelity research gallery

Best desktop stock trading platform - Charles Schwab

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
Charles Schwab logoCharles Schwab $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 $0 Online Trade Commissions Visit Site

Charles Schwab acquired TD Ameritrade in October 2020 and, as of fall 2023, is in the process of migrating all customer accounts to Schwab. The great news is that TD Ameritrade's trading platform, thinkorswim, is, as of October 2023, available to all customers of Charles Schwab.

Whether you are day trading, options trading or futures trading, we found thinkorswim desktop to be a winner in our comparison testing. Meanwhile, for casual investors, thinkorswim web gives traders an easy way to quickly manage their account while accessing essential trading features. Read full review .

thinkorswim gallery

Best platform for mobile trading - E*TRADE

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
E*TRADE logoE*TRADE $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Open and fund & get up to $600 or more. Visit Site

E*TRADE won our Best Web Trading Platform and Best Investor App awards in 2023. Offering not one but two apps, our takeaway is that E*TRADE Mobile provides usability and depth for what matters most to casual investors: portfolio management, quotes, watch lists, market research. For active traders, tools such as Live Action Scanner are top-notch, making the Power E*TRADE Mobile app another great trading platform option. Read full review.

E*TRADE Mobile apps gallery

E*TRADE Mobile, one of two strong apps the broker offers. Press play for a tour of its features.

Best trading platforms 2023 summary

Here are the best online brokers for 2023, based on over 3,000 data points.

  • Fidelity
    - Best overall, lowest fees
    - Best for mobile trading
  • Charles Schwab
    - Best desktop stock trading platform
  • Merrill Edge - Best for high net worth investors
  • Interactive Brokers
    - Best for professional traders
  • Firstrade - Best for Chinese-speaking clients
  • tastytrade
    - Best desktop options trading platform

Read next


Schwab Acquisition of TD Ameritrade

About the Editorial Team

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT
Sam Levine, CFA, CMT

Sam Levine has over 30 years of experience in the investing field as a portfolio manager, financial consultant, investment strategist and writer. He also taught investing as an adjunct professor of finance at Wayne State University. Sam holds the Chartered Financial Analyst and the Chartered Market Technician designations and is pursuing a master's in personal financial planning at the College for Financial Planning. Previously, he was a contributing editor at BetterInvesting Magazine and a contributor to The Penny Hoarder and other media outlets.

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 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 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.

Steven Hatzakis
Steven Hatzakis

Steven Hatzakis is the Global Director of Research for Steven previously served as an Editor for Finance Magnates, where he authored over 1,000 published articles about the online finance industry. Steven is an active fintech and crypto industry researcher and advises blockchain companies at the board level. Over the past 20 years, Steven has held numerous positions within the international forex markets, from writing to consulting to serving as a registered commodity futures representative.

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.

E*TRADE: *Other fees apply.

Disclosure: *The $5,000 bonus offer is available with a $1,000,000 to $4,999,999 deposit. Visit for full details, terms, conditions, and restrictions. Offer expires 03/31/2024. tastytrade, Inc. is a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA, NFA, and SIPC.

*Webull Disclaimer View Disclaimer.

Securities trading offered by eToro USA Securities, Inc. (“the BD”), member of FINRA and SIPC. Cryptocurrency offered by eToro USA LLC (“the MSB”) (NMLS: 1769299) and is not FDIC or SIPC insured. Investing involves risk, and content is provided for educational purposes only, does not imply a recommendation, and is not a guarantee of future performance. is not an affiliate and may be compensated if you access certain products or services offered by the MSB and/or the BD.