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Best Paper Trading Platforms of May 2024

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT

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

March 25, 2024

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 trading 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.

Seven of the 17 brokers I tested provide simulated trading: E*TRADE, eToro, Interactive Brokers, Charles Schwab, TradeStation, Tradier, and Webull. I researched their minimum deposits and average balances, and I checked for any ongoing fees. I’m happy to report that you can have an account packed with hundreds of thousands, no, even millions of dollars for free. Just don’t try to spend it.

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 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

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

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

  • Terrific user experience across all devices
  • Zero-cost option trading
  • 44 cryptocurrencies
  • Limited investment options
  • 1% markups and markdowns on crypto trades
Visit Site

Get up to 75 free fractional shares!

Charles Schwab
5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best for complex trading layouts

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

Charles Schwab’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

  • TD Ameritrade’s excellent thinkorswim trading platforms now available
  • Trading-friendly app and browser enhancements
  • Exceptional high net worth services
  • No cryptocurrency trading
  • Mutual fund fees are complex
Visit Site

Trade with thinkorswim®, now at Schwab.

Interactive Brokers
4.5/5 Stars 4.5 Overall

Best for foreign investing

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

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

  • Astounding array of customizable tools
  • Allows trading in foreign markets
  • Convenient apps for individual investors
  • Restrictive trading permissions
  • Main platforms might feel cold
Visit Site

New clients, special margin rates.

5/5 Stars 5.0 Overall

Best for new options traders

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

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

  • 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
4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

Best for automated trading

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

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

  • 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.

4/5 Stars 4.0 Overall

Best investment community

Minimum Deposit$100.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.00

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

  • Takes social investing to the next level
  • 26 coins to choose from
  • User-friendly website and app
  • Limited investment choices
  • You can't go short or borrow on margin
Visit Site

Deposit $100 and get a $10 bonus!

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Winners Summary

Best for beginners - Webull

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
Webull logoWebull $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 Get up to 75 free fractional shares! Visit Site

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. Read review.

Webull mobile gallery

Webull web platform

Best for complex trading layouts - Charles Schwab

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
Charles Schwab logoCharles Schwab $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Trade with thinkorswim®, now at Schwab. Visit Site

Charles Schwab's feature-rich thinkorswim trading platform, which allows simulated stock trading, gives you streaming CNBC and its proprietary video content for free. Like E*TRADE (below), Charles Schwab has two mobile apps. The stellar thinkorswim mobile app is where you’ll find the “paperMoney.” Read review

Charles Schwab mobile app gallery

Charles Schwab thinkorswim desktop gallery

Best for foreign investing - Interactive Brokers

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
Interactive Brokers logoInteractive Brokers $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 New clients, special margin rates. Visit Site

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. Read review

IBKR Mobile app gallery

IBKR Trader Workstation (TWS) gallery

Best for new options traders - E*TRADE

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
E*TRADE logoE*TRADE $0.00 $0.00 $0.65 Read Review

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 simulated 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. Read review

Power E*TRADE Mobile app gallery

Power E*TRADE web trading platform gallery

Best for automated trading - TradeStation

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
TradeStation logoTradeStation $0.00 $0.00 $0.60 Trade Stocks, Options, & Futures. Visit Site

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. Read review

TradeStation mobile gallery

TradeStation trading platform

Best investment community - eToro

Company Minimum Deposit Stock Trades Options (Per Contract) Offers Visit Site
eToro logoeToro $100.00 $0.00 $0.00 Deposit $100 and get a $10 bonus! Visit Site

eToro offers almost the same ease of use as Robinhood (which doesn’t offer a stock market simulator) 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. Read review

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.

Are paper trading and stock simulators the same thing?

Yes. There are several names for practice investing. Whether it’s called virtual investing, a paper trading account, or a stock market simulator, they all refer to accounts allow users to invest fake money using real market data.

Is paper trading good for beginners?

Yes, paper trading helps beginners become familiar with the mechanics of researching, buying and selling investments, and several brokers that offer simulated stock trading made our shortlist of best trading platforms for beginners. 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.

Does Fidelity offer simulated/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 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.

Track your trades: Read about the best trading journals on our sister site,

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, futures, and options on 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, head of research at, 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.
  • Out of the tested brokers that offer paper trading, we evaluated the data, tools, education, and research.
  • We used paper trading accounts to assess ease of enabling paper trading and overall ease of use.
  • We considered the best use case for each broker.

How we tested

Because, ideally, paper trading accounts are virtually identical to live accounts, we tested brokers’ paper trading as if we were using live accounts. Admittedly, we may have taken more stock risk in these accounts, as there’s nothing to lose. uses a variety of computing devices to evaluate trading platforms. Our reviews were conducted using the following devices: iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, MacBook Pro M1 with 8 GB RAM running the current MacOS, and a Dell Vostro 5402 laptop i5 with 8 GB RAM running Windows 11 Pro. In testing platforms and apps, our reviewers place actual trades for a variety of instruments.

As part of our 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 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.

Trading platforms tested

We tested 17 online trading platforms for this guide:

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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.

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.