A great trading platform can be a game changer for people of all experience levels. Fortunately, there are plenty of varied offerings for those who want to find just the right mixture of features to suit their specific investing, buying, and selling styles in order to secure long-term success. While shopping for your ideal platform is a bit like hunting for a new car, it’s essential to stick with the top-tier choices in today’s marketplace.
Everyone has their own set of musts when they first get serious about setting up shop and finally getting involved in the markets. Trading enthusiasts of all stripes need to know whether particular providers have what it takes to help them earn a profit consistently. What kinds of things do people want to know about? A short list of the common typical concerns includes the following:
- Minimum balance for opening an account
- Ease of use
- Number of technical and fundamental analysis tools
- Educational resources
- News feeds
- Ability to write programs for robo traders
- Reputation of the brokerage firm
- Ease of download
- Associated fees
- Charting capability
- Back testing features
- Auto trading features
- Money management functionality
Whether you have just become interested in the markets or have been around in the game for years, it’s imperative to review the details of the top five platforms before making your own decision about how to move forward. The really good news is that you can test drive most of the better products and practice using a demo account to get a feel for how well one or another system works for you. Here are pertinent features and overviews of some of the best-rated and most popular options to help you narrow down your choices.
Both individuals and companies use E*TRADE for a wide range of banking and broker-related services. The company has built a solid reputation as a leading discount firm and was one of the earliest businesses to offer online securities trading to its customers. After more than two decades in business, E*TRADE has survived multiple economic upheavals, like the 2008 financial meltdown and others. Today, the dual platform arrangement is ideal for new and experienced clients. Investors and trading enthusiasts with long and short time horizons are comfortable on the platforms, one for advanced users and one for newcomers. Their educational materials are superior to most other members of the niche. Features of the platforms include the following:
- Mobile apps
- Various account categories
- Functions to suit all types of investors
- Available financial services
- Sophisticated analysis in Power E*TRADE
- E*TRADE Web is geared for simpler buying and selling practices
- There’s a Complete View & Trade Ticket that comes with trailing stop orders
- Options contracts available with simulated risk scenarios
- There are proprietary items like Strategy Optimizer, and a streamlined probability calculator
2. MetaTrader 5 (MT5)
Suitable for beginner, advanced, and day trading practitioners, MetaTrader 5 offers a wide variety of functions and assets, including commodities and equities. Its sister product is MT4, which is more geared toward devotees of forex. There are online, mobile device, and web versions available that all come with strategizing databases, virtual hosting, trading bots, and copy trading capability. You can use an mt5 download link, and the system is free via your brokerage firm. What are the primary benefits for users? Here’s a quick rundown to keep in mind:
- A comprehensive economic and business calendar
- There are 21 different time frames
- Top-notch collection of analysis tools
- Eight kinds of pending orders available
- The interface is extremely user-friendly and simple to navigate
- Many assets available
- Use Code Base to create an Expert Advisor
3. Charles Schwab
Suited for all experience levels, with complete access to more than 30 global asset markets as well as options and stocks from the US. Account minimums and commissions are nonexistent. There are three platforms based on the trader’s experience and an excellent educational section for those new to buying and selling securities, particularly future. What are the main advantages of the Charles Schwab system? The company advertises its proprietary SmartStreet Edge, which is a very capable all around order entry and trade management system that works well for beginners and experienced clients. There are informative podcasts and helpful infographics, along with dozens of other educational resources. If you want to place orders, oversee in-process positions, track up to the minute opportunities, or just view your account, the Schwab Mobile App is ideal for people who are on the go and want to see all their information at a glance.
4. Ally Invest
The Ally platform’s features are easy to learn, and the company offers a full set of useful charting features. Focusing on US markets, Ally has positioned itself to serve sophisticated and beginning investors. The mobile app has a stellar reputation for its clean interface and easy to use features. The information and education center are slightly tilted toward newer users, but the low prices for extra services and a huge library of relevant technical tools are second to none. Ally’s advantages include the following:
- No fees for advisory on Ally’s managed portfolios, which come with a low minimum opening balance
- A simple interface with a short learning curve for newcomers
- Generous collection of analysis tools.
- Many techniques for screening exchange traded funds (ETFs) for quick identification of potential opportunities
If you’re looking for a broker geared toward sophisticated users, professionals, and company-based investing agents, Lightspeed is it. Nearly all the tools can be fully customized. With higher than normal commissions, Lightspeed is still an excellent value for those who want access to a huge collection of analysis algorithms and discounts on high-volume buying and selling.
For futures and options enthusiasts, prices are well priced considering that all of Lightspeed’s functions can be set to work with the most popular browsers. You’ll enjoy Lightspeed if you want the very best in charting tools for professionals, tools that work equally well on mobile and web-based connections, competitive rates on futures transactions, and low prices on high-frequency trading of options.