The old adage says, “You need money to make money.” This is especially true when it comes to investing. However, having a stock trading app is also beneficial.
It makes no difference if you want to buy and sell a few stocks a year, trade a few options contracts every couple of weeks, or sit in front of a computer Monday through Friday and make a living off day trading. If you wish to trade, you’ll do it through an account, which you’ll access via a desktop, online, or mobile trading app.
However, how frequently you intend to trade and what you intend to exchange are important considerations. The best stock trading apps for a novice investor will seem very different from the best stock trading apps for a seasoned or even professional trader. They will have varied features, prices, and interfaces.
Today, we’ll walk you through the top trading apps available. You’ll notice that many of these are from established online brokers; this is because these organizations typically provide the most comprehensive apps for stock and options traders.
Robinhood is a pioneer of commission-free trading, jumping into the investing public’s consciousness in 2013 when they rolled out commission-free trading. They remain a standout option for cost-minded investors thanks to their continued $0 commissions on stocks, ETFs, and options, as well as for its fractional trading, which allows people to invest with as little as $1.
More importantly, though, Robinhood has evolved from a bare-bones app appealing to mostly beginner investors to a fuller-featured account suitable for a wider range of experience levels.
For instance, Robinhood now offers individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and Roth IRAs via Robinhood Retirement. Functionally, it comes up short compared to many other IRA providers because of its investment options. It offers just stocks and ETFs; like with its brokerage account, mutual funds aren’t available. Options aren’t currently available, though Robinhood has explicitly stated that options will be made available soon.
However, Robinhood Retirement still stands out from the pack because it’s the only IRA that offers a 1% match on contributions. The match, which typically hits your account almost immediately, applies to any contributions up to the IRS’s annual limits but does not count toward your contribution limit. And while you can choose your investments yourself, Portfolio Builder can provide you with a custom recommended portfolio made up of five to eight ETFs.
Robinhood has long catered to younger investors with its gamified interface and growing library of educational content. But over the years, it has added a boatload of other features for new and experienced investors alike.
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Advanced Charts, for instance, provides simple and customizable charts with a variety of technical features. Robinhood’s Options Strategy Builder simplifies the options-trading process by helping you build a strategy based on what you expect your target stock or ETF will do in the future. Robinhood also offers 24/7 commission-free cryptocurrency trading with Robinhood Crypto (though you’ll still have to pay a spread), allows extended-hours trading, and lets users earn interest through stock lending.
Webull first hit the investing world in 2018 and made a splash by offering free stock trading, as well as commission-free trading of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and options. And since then, it has become one of the best stock trading apps for intermediate traders, though many of its features are helpful to beginner investors as well.
For one, Webull remains friendly to wallet-conscious traders today. It costs nothing to open a Webull account. Stocks, ETFs, and options still trade commission-free. Many options have $0 contract fees. And Webull has no deposit minimums. On top of that, it offers fractional shares, which allows investors to start buying for as little as $1.
Webull also is available across just about every platform, allowing you to research, trade, and track your stocks on your smartphone, tablet, or desktop.
Webull provides traders with a number of useful features and tools, including:
- Customizable screeners for both stocks and ETFs
- Preset lists–including Top Gainers, Top Losers, Most Active, and Best-Performing Industries—traders can use to identify opportunities
- Free real-time stock quotes
- 12 charting tools and more than 50 technical indicators
- Real-time stock alerts you can set to notify you of events such as significant price action or certain technical conditions
- Numerous order types—simple orders such as limit and market orders, sure, but also group orders such as bracket, OTO, and OCO orders
- Quant ratings that help you to evaluate stocks through numerous lenses, such as growth, value, income, quality, and momentum
These tools make Webull one of the best stock research and analysis apps for traders.
3. TradeStation Select
TradeStation Select is a powerful trading system that includes a full-featured desktop app, a robust web trading platform, and a highly rated stock trading app—all of which include numerous tools for trading stocks that are useful to seasoned professionals.
Much like every other online discount broker found on this list, this free stock trading app helps traders avoid commissions. Specifically, TradeStation offers zero commissions on stocks, exchange-traded funds, options, futures, micro futures, and futures options.
But the reason traders opt for TradeStation isn’t just the cost—well, lack of it—but its advanced trading features and services.
TradeStation is one of the most high-powered stock trading platforms on this list. That’s because opening a TradeStation brokerage account provides you with free access to the TradeStation Analytics platform, which includes tools such as:
- Matrix: TradeStation packs market depth, advanced order entry, and order tracking all in a single window, then combines it with one-click trading and extremely fast order execution. TradeStation calls it the “Swiss Army Knife of trading tools,” and it’s an apt description.
- RadarScreen: Identify trading opportunities with RadarScreen, a real-time screener that can monitor as many as 1,000 tickers. You can also use RadarScreen to rank those stocks based on your own custom criteria, or based on more than 180 preset (but customizable) fundamental and technical indicators.
- OptionStation Pro: This app provides a more visually appealing, and easier-to-understand, method of exploring the options markets. You can build option chains, model options positions with 3D graphics, and quickly place your trades.
- EasyLanguage: Want to take your trading to the next level? Create your own trading tools, indicators, even applications, with this trading-focused programming language—a language TradeStation already uses in every one of its indicators, strategies, and user functions.
TradeStation is one of the best stock trading apps for advanced traders, but even experts might need a hand every now and then—and less experienced traders very well might need assistance. Fortunately, TS offers personalized support from the company’s brokerage professionals.
While TradeStation is commission-free, it’s hardly cost-free. For instance, all stock options trades still require a 60-cent contract fee. Futures trades are charged $1.50 per contract per side, micro futures trades are charged 50 cents per contract per side, and futures options are charged $1.50 per contract per side.
Crypto trades have tiered pricing depending on volume size (unless made within a TradeStation IRA, which has just one pricing tier regardless of size). Margin rates, currently in the double digits, are high compared to peers. And mutual fund fees are a steep $14.95 per trade—no big deal for traders, who likely would avoid them anyways, but a hurdle for anyone looking to buy and hold mutual funds in their TS account.
4. J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing acts as an investing solution offered from Chase and is accessible through the Chase Mobile® app or Chase.com. You can use this investing app to make unlimited commission-free trades in thousands of investment options, including a wide range of stocks, ETFs, fixed income, mutual funds and options.
The investing app allows you to utilize tools to build your portfolio including screeners and watchlists—both useful for building diversified portfolios and staying on top of market activity.
The app provides personalized news and J.P. Morgan Research and market analysis to empower informed investment decisions. You can leverage these resources to design your own target allocation for your investments.
Consider using J.P. Morgan’s Self-Directed Investing platform if you’d like the flexibility to invest as much as you want without paying any commissions on equity and options trades. Some regulatory fees and fund expenses may apply.
You can choose an account that’s right for you: an individual taxable account, Traditional IRA or Roth IRA. All carry a $0 minimum.
Open your J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing account today and get up to $700 when you open and fund an account with qualifying new money:
- $700 when you fund with $250,000 or more
- $325 when you fund with $100,000-$249,999
- $150 when you fund with $25,000-$99,999
- $50 when you fund with $5,000-$24,999
5. Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers, founded in 1978, is one of the largest U.S. electronic trading platforms, offering traders access to stocks, bonds, funds, options, cryptocurrencies, foreign exchange, and more.
IB’s Trader Workstation (TWS) is Interactive Brokers’ flagship desktop program—a trading platform with roots back to 1995. But since then, the company has launched a number of other access points for brokerage accounts, including:
- IBKR Mobile: A powerful app for iOS and Android that allows people to trade on the go
- IBKR GlobalTrader: A simplified app for iOS and Android that targets global traders, allowing deposits in up to 23 different currencies
- Client Portal: A lighter web-based platform allowing clients to manage their account, evaluate performance, and read market news
- IBKR EventTrader: A web-based platform allowing investors to trade “event” contracts (yes-or-no questions like “Will the S&P 500 Index close above 3,900 today?”)
- IBKR Impact: A mobile app that helps investors select holdings most in line with their values.
But Workstation remains the workhorse. The platform supports investments across 150 global markets, and offers a wide variety of features, including real-time monitoring, risk management tools, paper trading—all packaged under a heavily customizable layout.
While TWS users can still select the original view, they can build their own bespoke view through Mosaic. Functions such as stock monitoring, order entry, charts, and more appear as “tiles,” sized and arranged however you want them, and you can save custom layouts designed for one or more monitors.
Trader Workstation also lets investors:
- Create example watchlists
- Use preset scans or build your own
- Create real-time trading alerts using price, time, margin, and volume
- Access more than 100 order types and algorithms to execute better trades
- Read breaking news from Reuters, Dow Jones, and other financial news outlets
- Access research from Morningstar, Zacks, and other firms
Interactive Brokers offers two primary plans—IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro—and both have no account minimums and zero maintenance fees. They also provide investors with access to many of the same features, including the Client Portal, Trader Workstation, and IBKR Mobile platforms; advanced order types; fractional shares of U.S. and European stocks and ETFs; paper trading; and Risk Navigator, which evaluates your risk in single positions or across your entire portfolio.
IBKR Lite is most suitable for beginner and intermediate investors, offering unlimited commission-free U.S.-listed stock and ETF trading, and fixed pricing for non-U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs, mutual funds, options, and futures.
IBKR Pro, meanwhile, is meant for advanced investors and active traders. While it does charge commissions on even U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs, it provides better execution for trades via its IB SmartRouting, which seeks out the best available prices for stocks and options across exchanges and dark pools—possibly resulting in lower spreads that offset the commissions you pay. It also offers better margin rates than Lite, though both platforms’ rates are among the best on offer.
The best stocking trading app for you depends on your experience, trading goals, and desired level of educational support. Beginners benefit from low fees, simple interfaces, and educational tools. They’re all the more useful if they can double as stock news apps. Social features can also help beginner investors stay more involved.
Firstrade is a popular choice for beginners because it combines many of the above elements, including free trading of stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds; well-designed mobile apps; educational resources; and bonuses for new users.
Of course, you can sign up for more than one app—in fact, some people prefer test-driving numerous investment platforms to see what they’re most comfortable with. And many apps allow you to try them out before having to fund the account with real money.