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Best Paper Trading Platforms

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT

Written by Sam Levine, CFA, CMT
Edited by Carolyn Kimball
Fact-checked by Steven Hatzakis

July 11, 2023

The best online brokers 2023 review, our 13th 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.

Do you want to invest in stocks with no risk? Just open a standard investing account with a broker that permits paper trading. Paper trading, otherwise known as simulated or virtual trading, lets beginners experience what it’s like to actually buy and sell stocks, options, and other investments. And novices aren’t the only ones playing with Monopoly money; experienced traders use virtual portfolios to test out new strategies or try out trading platform features.

Is virtual trading the same as investing with your own money? Yes and no. The simulated accounts at the brokers we list here act almost identically to real money accounts so, yes, it’s the same online experience. But the real difference will be in how you experience virtual trading. Real profits and real losses feel very different than losing fake money. It’s one thing to lose $100,000 of simulated simoleons and quite another to drop $100 of your own personal cheddar.

Seven of the 17 brokers we tested in the 2023 Annual Stockbroker Review provide simulated trading: E*TRADE, eToro, Interactive Brokers, TD Ameritrade, TradeStation, Tradier, and Webull. None of them require minimum deposits, average balances, or charge ongoing fees. It’s the sweetest deal on Earth. You can trade a million bucks on sophisticated trading platforms with no risk or cost. Simulated trading is also great for stock-picking contests among friends.

Best Paper Trading Platforms

Here are our top picks for brokers that let you invest fantasy funds.

4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

Best for beginners

Webull offers attractive, easy-to-use downloadable platforms with a short learning curve that will have beginners quickly up and running. Its charts are also a standout. Read full review

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Get up to 12 free fractional shares

TD Ameritrade
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best for complex trading layouts

TD Ameritrade’s powerful thinkorswim trading platform, one of our perennial top picks among online brokerages, offers loads of features, including virtual trading. Streaming and video content is also strong. Read full review

Interactive Brokers
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best for foreign investing

Interactive Brokers is a longtime global leader, particularly for the breadth of tradeable instruments. Paper trading is available on the IBKR Mobile app as well as the pro-grade Trader Workstation platform. Read full review

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New clients, special margin rates.

5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best for new options traders

If you have an interest in options trading, E*TRADE’s options tools will have you upping your game. For paper trading, download the Power E*TRADE app rather than the flagship app. Read full review

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$0 Commissions* for ETF, stocks & more

4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

A window into automated trading

Many serious traders use TradeStation because of its proprietary programming language, which allows automated trading. Its mobile app is friendlier to beginners than its complex desktop platform. Read full review

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Trade Stocks, Options, Futures, & Crypto.

4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

The herd is the word

Paper traders, like real-money traders, can benefit from eToro’s strong community features. You can read posts from fellow individual investors and dip a toe into the world of copy trading. Read full review

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Deposit $100 and get a $10 bonus!

Webull – Best for beginners

Webull’s downloadable desktop and browser-based trading platforms are attractive, clear, and a joy to use. You can have multiple charts on the screen at once and layer your workspace with tabs. None of the tools are overly complicated. Webull has a $2.99 monthly charge for real-time quotes (if you want them). You can turn on simulated trading using the mobile app’s “paperTrade” button in the Shortcuts section of the account homepage.

Webull mobile gallery

Webull web platform

TD Ameritrade – Best for complex trading layouts

TD Ameritrade logo

TD Ameritrade was bought by Charles Schwab in 2020. We expect both TD Ameritrade and Schwab clients will see significant changes in tools and services as these two juggernauts combine. Something we don’t expect to go away – and hooray for this – is TD Ameritrade’s feature-rich thinkorswim trading platform, which allows virtual trading. Thinkorswim also gives you streaming CNBC and its proprietary video content for free. Like E*TRADE (below), TD Ameritrade has two mobile apps. The stellar thinkorswim mobile app is where you’ll find the “paperMoney.”

TD Ameritrade thinkorswim mobile app gallery

TD Ameritrade thinkorswim desktop gallery

Interactive Brokers – Best for foreign investing

Interactive Brokers logo

Interactive Brokers can trade everything under the sun and probably the sun itself, if you could figure out its ticker symbol. Sure, that’s an exaggeration, but IBKR is known for its broad investment selection and global reach. U.S. clients can invest in 33 countries. Experienced and professional investors rely on IBKR’s highly sophisticated Trader Workstation, but beginners may find it frustrating if they try to do too much at once. Luckily, paper trading is also available on the flagship mobile app, IBKR Mobile.

IBKR Mobile app gallery

IBKR Trader Workstation (TWS) gallery

E*TRADE – Best for new options traders

If you already know the difference between a put and a call option but want to continue developing your options chops, Power E*TRADE is a winner. Though it’s perfectly fine to trade virtual stocks, the options tools will make you feel like you have a stock analyst behind you (in a good way, not a creepy way). It’s neither overly complicated nor so basic that it’s useless to experienced investors. Bloomberg video is free on Power E*TRADE. Real-time quotes are free with a $1,000 balance.

E*TRADE offers mobile virtual trading on its Power E*TRADE mobile app, but not on its flagship mobile app, so make sure to download the correct app if you want to paper trade.

Power E*TRADE Mobile app gallery

Power E*TRADE web trading platform gallery

TradeStation – A window into automated trading

TradeStation was an early disruptor in the online brokerage business by offering a suite of professional-quality tools to individual investors. Many serious traders use TradeStation because of its proprietary programming language, which allows automated trading. The complicated desktop platform is still TradeStation’s signature product, but its mobile app is much friendlier to newcomers.

TradeStation mobile gallery

TradeStation platform

eToro – The herd is the word

eToro logo

eToro offers almost the same ease of use as Robinhood (which doesn’t offer virtual trading) but goes a step further by combining brokerage with a Twitter-like news feed. Instead of relying on Dow Jones or the talking heads on CNBC or Bloomberg for ideas, you can read posts from fellow individual investors, many of whom are seeking to build their followings. Some of the user posts are thoughtful and well-researched but, as you should expect with any public platform, some aren’t. You can paper trade on eToro’s mobile app, too.

eToro mobile gallery

eToro web platform

What is paper trading?

Paper trading is trading with a simulated portfolio instead of real money. It allows novices to become comfortable investing real money and helps experienced investors evaluate complex trading strategies before putting money at risk.

Sam Levine demonstrates paper trading on TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim platform.

What is the best paper trading account?

In our analysis, Webull offers the best experience for beginners. It’s easy to open an account and information is presented in an appealing but not condescending way. Seasoned investors will likely appreciate the sophisticated tools available at TD Ameritrade (which was bought by Charles Schwab) or Interactive Brokers.

Is paper trading good for beginners?

Yes, paper trading helps beginners become familiar with the mechanics of researching, buying and selling investments. But investing fake money (and, especially, losing it) feels far different compared to investing your own money. You will learn more if you start off with paper trading, then invest small amounts of your own money by buying fractional shares.

Can you paper trade for free?

Yes. Paper trading is often bundled with other services in broker accounts. Most U.S. brokers do not charge monthly account fees or require minimum deposits, making paper trading free. You will have to open a standard brokerage account, but you do not need to deposit anything into it. Some brokers may charge for real time data, but delayed data is fine for paper trading.

Can you make money paper trading?

You may make paper profits, but you will not be able to exchange them for real money. You may, however, look for stock picking contests that offer cash prizes.

Can I paper trade with options?

Brokers that allow options trading in live accounts and offer paper trading will likely allow you to trade options in the paper account for practice, a very good idea for new options traders.

What is the best paper trading app?

Our hands-on testing and analysis finds that the best mobile apps for paper (or virtual portfolio) are:

  • Power E*TRADE — Tied with TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim mobile for being both convenient and rich in features. Best for practicing with a small number of stocks (especially if you really like the color purple).
  • TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim mobile — as easy to use as Power E*TRADE; also features a rich, very nice watch list.
  • TradeStation — Crisp views and nice chart trading.
  • eToro — Strong active investor community.
  • Webull — Excellent for beginners, though the paper trading setting is buried in the app.

Does Fidelity offer virtual/paper trading?

At this time, Fidelity doesn’t offer paper trading, but beginners aren’t left in the cold. Fidelity offers fractional shares of stocks and ETFs, which still allows novices to get started without risking too much money.

Does Schwab have virtual/paper trading?

Charles Schwab doesn’t have virtual trading, but it bought TD Ameritrade, which does offer virtual trading, back in 2020. It’s likely that Schwab will offer it soon through TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform. In the meantime, you can buy fractional shares of S&P 500 companies.

Does Robinhood have paper trading?

At this time, Robinhood doesn’t offer paper trading. Beginners can get started by buying fractional shares.

Will paper trading make me a better trader?

Paper trading is a good introduction to investing, and it’s very helpful for learning how to use a broker’s specialized tools. But you will experience investing differently when you have real money at risk. A $10 loss of real money feels vastly different than a $100,000 loss of nonexistent money. 2023 Overall Ranking

Here are the Overall rankings for the 17 online brokers whose offerings we analyze and test, sorted by Overall ranking.

Company Overall Commissions & Fees Research Platforms & Tools Mobile Trading Apps Investment Options Education Ease Of Use Visit Site
Fidelity logoFidelity 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars Visit Site
TD Ameritrade logoTD Ameritrade 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars
E*TRADE logoE*TRADE 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars Visit Site
Merrill Edge logoMerrill Edge 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars
Charles Schwab logoCharles Schwab 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars Visit Site
Interactive Brokers logoInteractive Brokers 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars Visit Site
Firstrade logoFirstrade 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars
Webull logoWebull 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars Visit Site
Ally Invest logoAlly Invest 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars
Robinhood logoRobinhood 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 2.5/5 Stars 2.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing logoJ.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars
tastytrade logotastytrade 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 1.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars Visit Site
TradeStation logoTradeStation 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars Visit Site
Tradier logoTradier 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 2.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 4/5 Stars 2/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars
eToro logoeToro 4/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 2.5/5 Stars 2.5/5 Stars 4/5 Stars Visit Site
Vanguard logoVanguard 4/5 Stars 5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 2.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 3.5/5 Stars 5/5 Stars
SoFi Invest logoSoFi Invest 3.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 2/5 Stars 2.5/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 3/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars 4.5/5 Stars Visit Site
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For the 13th Annual Review published in January 2023, a total of 3,332 data points were collected over three months and used to score 17 top brokers. This makes home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

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. All research, writing and data collection at is done by humans, for humans. Read our generative AI policy here.

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.

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.

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.

*Webull Disclaimer View Disclaimer.

E*TRADE: *Other fees apply.

Reink Media Group is compensated if you access certain of the products or services offered by eToro USA LLC and/or eToro USA Securities Inc. Any testimonials contained in this communication may not be representative of the experience of other eToro customers and such testimonials are not guarantees of future performance or success.

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.

tastytrade, Inc. (“tastytrade”) has entered into a Marketing Agreement with Marketing Agent (“Marketing Agent”) whereby tastytrade pays compensation to Marketing Agent to recommend tastytrade’s brokerage services. The existence of this Marketing Agreement should not be deemed as an endorsement or recommendation of Marketing Agent by tastytrade and/or any of its affiliated companies. Neither tastytrade nor any of its affiliated companies is responsible for the privacy practices of Marketing Agent or this website. tastytrade does not warrant the accuracy or content of the products or services offered by Marketing Agent or this website. Marketing Agent is independent and is not an affiliate of tastytrade. tastytrade was previously known as tastyworks, Inc.