Trading platforms form the crucial bridge between you and your chosen financial market. As such, whether you’re interested in stocks, forex, commodities, or cryptocurrencies – you need to find a suitable free trading platform that meets your needs.
Here at TradingPlatforms.com, we strive to bring you the very best trading sites of 2021 and beyond. This includes trading platforms that offer the best fees and commissions, the most diverse asset classes, and of course – the strongest regulatory standing.
Read on to find out which trading platforms stand out from the crowd!
Best Online Trading Platforms 2021 List
Below you will find a quickfire list of the top trading platforms to consider in 2021. Scroll down to read our full review of each free trading platform provider!
- eToro – Overall Best Trading Platform
- CedarFX – Global Trading Platform with Zero Commission
- Robinhood – Best Trading Platform for Buying US Stocks
- Libertex – CFD Trading Platform with Zero Spreads
- TD Ameritrade – Best Trading Plating for Asset Diversity
- Interactive Brokers – Best Trading Platform for Seasoned Investors
- Plus500 – Trusted CFD Broker with Tight Spreads
- IG – Best Trading Platform for Forex
- Fidelity – Best Trading Platform for Long-Term Investors
- Charles Schwaab -Best Trading Platform for Mobile Investing
- Capital.com – New Online Broker with AI Trading Platform
Best Trading Platform Reviewed
With hundreds of providers active in the online space, choosing the right free trading platform for your needs is no easy feat.
For example, not only does the platform need to have a great reputation and support your chosen financial market – but it also needs to offer competitive fees and top-notch customer support. You also need to consider metrics surrounding trading tools and features, educational resources, and chart reading indicators.
To help point you in the right direction, below you will find a selection of the very best trading platforms of 2021.
1. eToro – Overall Best Trading Platform 2021
Upon researching hundreds of online providers, we found that eToro is the one of the best trading platforms to consider in 2021. First and foremost, the broker is perfect if you are just starting out in the world of online trading. This is because the platform is really simple to use and it supports small stakes.
For example, the minimum deposit is just $200 and you trade from $25 upwards. In terms of what assets you can trade, eToro supports several asset classes. This covers 2,400 stocks across 17 different markets. For example, you can buy shares in companies based in the US, Canada, UK, Hong Kong, and heaps of European exchanges.
eToro also allows you to access over 250 ETFs and 16 cryptocurrencies. If you’re looking to for a commodity trading platform, eToro supports everything from gold and silver to oil and natural gas. And of course, eToro also offers a huge forex trading facility. Most importantly, each and every financial market at eToro can be traded on a commission-free basis. You don’t need to pay any ongoing fees either, so eToro is a great trading platform for those seeking a low-cost provider.
An additional reason why eToro makes the number one spot on our list as the best trading platform for beginners is that it offers passive investing tools. For example, through its CopyPortfolio feature, you can benefit from a professionally-managed investment strategy. This means that the team at eToro will buy and sell assets on your behalf.
There are many strategies to choose from, such as a focus on tech stocks, cryptocurrencies – eToro is actually our best recommended bitcoin trading platform. You then have the eToro Copy Trading tool. This is where you will select a seasoned trader that you like the look of, and then copy all of their ongoing trades.
For example, if the trader allocates 3% of the portfolio into Apple stocks and 2% into IBM, your portfolio will do the same. When it comes to the fundamentals, eToro allows you to deposit funds with a debit card, credit card, bank wire, or an e-wallet like Paypal and Skrill. The trading platform is regulated by the FCA (UK), CySEC (Cyprus), and ASIC (Australia), which illustrates that it takes client safety seriously. For those in the US, eToro is registered with FINRA.
|Stock trading fee||Free|
|Forex trading fee||Spread, 2.1 pips for GBP/USD|
|Crypto trading fee||Spread, 0.75% for Bitcoin|
|Inactivity fee||$10 a month after one year|
- Super user-friendly trading platform
- Buy stocks without paying any commission or share dealing charges
- 2,400+ stocks and 250+ ETFs listed on 17 international markets
- Trade cryptocurrencies, commodities, and forex
- Deposit funds with a debit/credit card, e-wallet, or bank account
- Ability to copy the trades of other users
- Regulated by the FCA, CySEC, ASIC and registered with FINRA
- Not suitable for advanced traders that like to perform technical analysis
Your capital is at risk.
2. CedarFX – Global Trading Platform with Zero Commission
CedarFX is our pick for the best trading platform available in the US and beyond. This is a relatively new broker, but it has the perfect combination of great asset diversity, low fees, and some fantastic trading features.
For starters, CedarFX offers everything from stocks and forex to commodities, futures, and indices. As it’s a CFD trading platform, you can easily trade all of these instruments without having to own the underlying assets. So, you can trade just about any instrument you like on CedarFX.
One of the benefit of trading CFDs on this platform is that you can trade with leverage of up 1:500, which is super high. The minimum contract size is also just 0.01. Another great thing about this broker is that it doesn’t charge any commissions whatsoever. The main trading fee to consider is the spread, but spreads are kept super low at CedarFX.
However, what really sets CedarFX apart from other online trading platforms is its unique green initiative. For every lot traded on the platform, CedarFX plants ten trees, and it’s planted over 115,212 trees so far! In a world in which climate change is a hugely concerning issue, what better way to do your bit than by having trees planted for every trade you make?
There’s also the option to go for an Eco Account. Whereas the standard account has zero commissions, the Eco Account trades $1 commission for each trade. CedarFX matches the commission and donates all funds to Ecologi, an organization dedicated to various carbon reduction projects around the world.
Back to the trading side of things, trading on CedarFX takes place via the MT4 platform, so you’ll have access to a fantastic variety of trading tools. You can even use the CedarFX MT4 demo account to try the platform out before you deposit any funds. This broker has also won the Best Trade Executions award from the 2020 Forex Awards.
CedarFX is also a good choice if you’re looking for fast payouts, as all withdrawals are processed within 24 hours. If you ever need support, CedarFX offers a 24/7 customer service live chat. Finally, CedarFX is also a very safe and secure trading platform, so you can trade in confidence.
Read our CedarFX review to learn more.
|Stock trading fee||Variable spread|
|Forex trading fee||Spread, 1.1 pips for GBP/USD|
|Crypto trading fee||Spread, 125.8 pips for Bitcoin|
- Plants trees for every lot traded
- Zero commission on all instruments and low spreads
- Great asset diversity
- Up to 1:500 leverage
- Fast withdrawals
- Extremely fast trade execution
- $10 minimum deposit
- Only offers CFDs
Your capital is at risk.
3. Robinhood – Best Trading Platform for Buying US Stocks
If you’re based in the US, then there is every chance that you have heard of Robinhood. Launched in 2013, this online trading platform is now home to over 10 million clients. Primarily, investors in the US use Robinhood to buy stocks in a simple and cost-effective way.
In fact – and much like eToro, Robinhood allows you to buy stocks on a commission-free basis. In total, the platform offers more than 5,000 stocks – most of which are US-listed. This covers both primary exchanges – the NYSE and NASDAQ.
Additionally, Robinhood also offers in the region of 250 non-US stocks. However, if international shares are what you are after, other trading platforms in the space have a much larger portfolio of companies. Nevertheless, Robinhood is also worth considering if you are looking to invest in ETFs or cryptocurrencies or looking for a penny stock trading platform due to its user-friendly layout.
Furthermore, the platform is also home to a popular stock options trading facility. This is perfect for those of you looking to access the US stock markets in a more sophisticated way. Once again, the aforementioned asset classes can be accessed on a commission-free basis. When it comes to funding your Robinhood account, this free trading platform only accepts US bank transfers.
Depending on your chosen account type, your deposit might be processed instantly. For example, if you are on the free account, the first $1,000 of your chosen deposit amount will be credited instantly, and the rest might take an extra couple of days. Either way, there is no minimum deposit amount at Robinhood, which is great if you want to trade with small amounts.
We should also note that a lot of users opt to trade on the Robinhood app. Available on both iOS and Android devices, this gives you access to the very same account features as you will find on the main website. Finally, as a US-based broker, Robinhood is heavily regulated. This includes the authorization from both FINRA and the SEC.
|Stock trading fee||Free|
|Forex trading fee||N/A|
|Crypto trading fee||Free|
|Inactivity fee||No inactivity fee|
|Withdrawal fee||No withdrawal fee|
- Hugely popular trading platform in the US
- Buy over 5,000 US-listed stocks
- ETFs, cryptocurrencies, and stock options also supported
- Does not charge any commissions
- No minimum deposit in place
- Very simple to use and ideal for newbies
- Heavily regulated in the US
- Only 250-ish international stocks offered
- No debit/credit card or e-wallet deposits
Your capital is at risk.
4. Libertex – Low-Cost CFD Trading Platform with ZERO Spreads
Libertex is a CFD trading platform that is popular with UK traders that seek low fees and commissions. At the forefront of this is the platform’s zero spread offering. This means that irrespective of which asset you decide to trade, there is no gap between the buy and sell price, making it the best CFD trading platform around.
Consequently, this allows you to benefit from industry-leading quotes. Additionally, although Libertex charges a commission on each side of the trade, this is often very low. In fact, commissions often sit below 0.1% per order.
As a prime example, popular forex pair NZD/USD can be traded with a commission of just 0.012%. In terms of supported markets, Libertex offers CFDs on stocks, commodities, and currencies. As a CFD specialist, you can apply leverage on any trade of your choosing.
This falls in line with European trading limits, meaning you’ll be capped to 1:30 on major forex trading pairs and less on other instruments. All CFD markets at Libertex also come with the option of going long or short. This allows you to profit from both rising and falling markets. Libetex offers two trading platforms that you can choose from.
This includes Meta Trader 4 and its own platform that was built in-house. Both options can be accessed online or via a mobile app. In the case of a MT4 Trading Platform, this can be downloaded to your desktop device – which is the route you will need to take if you want to install an automated robot.
If you like the sound of Libertex, you can open an account in minutes. The minimum deposit is just £100 and you use a debit/credit card, bank account transfer, or an e-wallet. Once you have funded your account for the first time, all future deposits come at a minimum of just £10.
When it comes to safety, Libertex is regulated by leading EU license issuers CySEC. Plus, Libertex has been offering online trading and financial services since 1997. As such, the provider has an accomplished track record that now spans over two decades.
|Stock trading fee||Commission. 0.034% for Amazon.|
|Forex trading fee||Commission. 0.008% for GBP/USD.|
|Crypto trading fee||Commission. 1.23% for Bitcoin.|
|Inactivity fee||$5 a month after 180 days|
- Zero spread CFD trading
- Very competitive commissions – starting from 0% upwards
- Good educational resources
- Long established broker
- Compatible with MT4
- Great choice of markets
- CFDs only
83% of retail investors lose money trading CFDs at this site.
5. TD Ameritrade – Best Trading Platform for Asset Diversity
While the likes of eToro and Robinhood are considered newbies in the trading platform space, TD Ameritrade is a US brokerage powerhouse that has been active since 1975. Put simply, if there is a financial market that you want to invest in, chances are, you’ll find it at TD Ameritrade.
For example, in the stock department alone you will find thousands of shares across both US and international marketplaces. This also includes the ability to invest in newly launched IPOs. If passive investing is what you are after, TD Ameritrade is home to over 11,000 funds. This is very impressive especially compared to other platforms available, you can see it more clearly in our TD Ameritrade vs Charles Schwab review.
This covers ETFs, index funds, and mutual funds – so there’s something to suit all financial goals. We also like the fact that TD Ameritrade offers access to the US bond market, alongside retirement-based financial products like annuities and tax-efficient portfolios.
Outside of the traditional asset space, TD Ameritrade also offers a day trading platform. This includes everything from forex and cryptocurrencies to commodities and futures. When it comes to fees, this will depend on the specific financial market that you plan to access.
For example, With that being said, if you are looking to focus on either stocks or ETFs – TD Ameritrade charges no commission whatsoever. Options are also competitive prices, with the trading platform charging just $0.65 per contract (with no exercise fee). In terms of getting started with this popular broker, TD Ameritrade can be accessed online or via its mobile app.
Either way, there is no minimum deposit in place and you can fund your account by executing a bank transfer. This is usually instantly processed by TD Ameritrade. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, TD Ameritrade is regulated by all relevant bodies in the US – so you should have no concerns regarding the safety of your money.
TD Ameritrade fees
|Stock trading fee||Free|
|Forex trading fee||Spread. 1.2 pips average during peak hours.|
|Crypto trading fee||N/A|
|Withdrawal fee||Free for ACH, $25 for wire transfer|
- Established US brokerage firm
- Huge asset library that includes thousands of stocks and funds
- Trade forex, futures, cryptocurrencies, and more
- Commission-free trades on US stocks and ETFs
- Fast bank transfer deposits
- Strong regulatory standing
- Great research materials
- Best suited for experienced traders
- No deposits via debit/credit card or e-wallet
Your capital is at risk.
6. Interactive Brokers – Best Trading Platform for Seasoned Investors
In a similar nature to TD Ameritrade, Interactive Brokers is an established brokerage firm that has been offering trading services since the 1970s. The Interactive Brokers platform is arguably the best option on the table if you consider yourself a seasoned investor.
This is because it comes jam-packed with advanced trading tools and features. This covers valuable resources for performing both fundamental and technical research. In terms of assets, this top-rated trading platform covers thousands of financial instruments. In fact, this covers 135 markets in over 33 countries.
For example, you can buy stocks that are listed in North America, Europe, Asia, and more. The trading platform supports fractional ownership too, meaning you can purchase a ‘fraction’ of a stock. Index funds and ETFs are also supported for those of you looking to take a diversified approach to invest.
Additionally, if you are interested in taking a more sophisticated approach to trading, Interactive Brokers offers markets on futures, options, and forex. In terms of fees, the pricing structure employed by Interactive Brokers is a bit confusing at first glance. This is because there are different fees depending on your chosen asset and the account typer you sign up for.
With that said, if you are on the IBKR Lite account you choose to buy stocks or ETFs listed in the US, then you won’t pay any commission. If you like the sound of Interactive Brokers, this heavily regulated trading platform does not have a minimum account balance policy in place. You can easily deposit funds by transferring funds from your bank account.
Interactive Brokers fees
|Stock trading fee||Free|
|Forex trading fee||Commission + spread. Commission is 0.08 to 0.20 basis points. 0.1 pip GBP/USD.|
|Crypto trading fee||Commission. $15.01 per Bitcoin futures contract.|
|Inactivity fee||$20 per month|
- Huge library of traditional stocks, index funds, and ETFs
- Really advanced trading features and chart analysis tools
- More than 135 markets across 33 countries
- Trade CFDs, futures, options, forex, and more
- No minimum deposit
- Buy US-listed stocks and ETFs commission-free
- Not suitable for newbie investors
- Fee structure is a bit confusing
Your capital is at risk.
7. Plus500 – Best Online Broker Platform for Forex CFDs
If you’re based in Australia and looking for the best forex trading platform in the market – Plus500 is well worth considering. This popular online platform gives you access to an abundance of currency pairs at super competitive fees.
This includes dozens of majors, minors, and exotics. Best of all, you can trade forex on Plus500 without paying any commission. In terms of spreads, the provider uses a dynamic system, albeit, this is usually very competitive on major pairs during standard market hours.
For example, Plus500 offers a best-rate spread of 0.01% on the likes of EUR/USD. Although this top-rated Australian trading platform is great for forex, the provider offers thousands of other markets. This includes lots of cryptocurrency CFDs, commodities like gold, oil, and natural gas, and heaps of stocks.
Supported stock CFD markets include Australia, South Africa, the US, the UK, Germany, France, and more. On top of offering low fees and a huge CFD asset library, Plus500 is also popular with traders that seek leverage. Although the platform comes packed with real-time pricing charts and several order types, Plus500 is a bit weak when it comes to technical analysis.
This could be problematic if you are an advanced day or swing trader, as there is no support for MT4, MT5, or any third-party platform for that matter. Nevertheless, Plus500 allows you to open an account in minutes. Once you upload your Australian ID – which is usually verified straight away, you only need to meet a minimum deposit of $100.
Supported payment methods at this top-rated trading platform include debit/credit cards, Paypal, and a bank transfer. There are no fees to deposit or withdraw funds on Plus500, nor are there any account fees. Finally, Plus500 is authorized by several authorities, including ASIC, the FCA, and MAS.
|Stock trading fee||Spread. 23.51 pips for Amazon.|
|Forex trading fee||Variable spreads|
|Crypto trading fee||Spread. 4.11% for Bitcoin.|
|Inactivity fee||£10 per month after three months|
- A commission-free trading policy
- Thousands of CFD markets
- Tight spreads
- In-house trading platform, available on web browsers and mobile phones
- Plenty of features including risk management tool, price alerts, and trader’s sentiment tool
- Heavily regulated including a license by ASIC
- No social trading tools
- CFDs only
76.4% of retail CFD accounts lose money.
8. IG – Best Trading Platform for Forex
While much of the focus thus far has been on traditional assets like stocks and ETFs, some of you might be looking for the best trading platform for forex. If so, it’s well worth checking out IG. Put simply, this trusted online trading platform offers a huge forex department that covers over 80 currency pairs.
It goes without saying that this covers all major and minor pairs – such as EUR/USD, GBP/USD, and AUD/NZD. However, IG also gives you access to a wider selection of exotic currency pairs, too. This includes pairs that contain the Russian ruble, Indian rupee, Philippine peso, Brazilian real, and more.
On top of offering a diverse number of forex markets, you will also find that IG is competitively priced. For example, you can trade major forex pairs from just 0.8 pips. As all forex trading fees at IG are built into the spread, there are no commissions to be made aware of.
In terms of the trading platform itself, IG gives you two options. If you consider yourself somewhat of a newbie, then you might be best suited for the native trading platform built by IG. This can be accessed online or via the IG app. Or, if you’re a fan of third-party platform MT4, this is fully compatible with IG.
This means you’ll have access to heaps of technical indicators and the ability to deploy an automated forex trading robot. IG is also worth considering if you are looking to trade forex on margin. In fact, major forex pairs on the trading platform require a margin of just 2%, which equates to leverage of 50x.
If you want to get started with IG, the minimum deposit is $250. You can choose from a debit card payment or bank transfer. Finally, although IG is an international brokerage firm with its headquarters in the UK, it is authorized and licensed by all relevant bodies in the US. As such, Americans can trade forex at IG in a safe, secure, and heavily regulated environment.
|Stock trading fee||Commission. 2 cents per share for US stocks, 0.10% for UK and EU stocks.|
|Forex trading fee||Spread. 1.4 pips for GBP/USD.|
|Crypto trading fee||Spread. 36 pips for Bitcoin.|
|Inactivity fee||£12 a month after 24 months.|
- Best trading platform for forex
- More than 80 currency pairs offered
- Spreads start at just 0.8 pips and no commissions charged
- Trade on the IG website or via the app
- MT4 is supported
- More than four decades in the brokerage space
- Easily fund your account with a debit card or bank transfer
- A minimum deposit of $250
- No traditional stocks or ETFs for US traders
Your capital is at risk.
9. Fidelity – Best Trading Platform for Long-Term Investors
If you are looking to create a long-term investment plan from the comfort of your home, Fidelity could be the best trading platform on the table. This is because it offers a significant number of traditional markets and investment strategies.
For example, you can buy and trade stocks from 25 different countries – which subsequently allows you to build a highly diversified, international portfolio of equities. The platform also gives you access to US-listed IPOs. If you’re more of a passive investor,
Fidelity offers thousands of ETFs, mutual funds, and fixed-income bonds, making it a great option if you’re searching for a good ETF trading platform. Fidelity is also great if you’re planning to set up a nest egg for your golden years. This is because it offers everything from annuities and IRAs to life insurance and retirement plans. We also like Fidelity for its comprehensive news and research facility.
For example, you can read market insights, sign up for news alerts, and access real-time quotes. For those of you with little knowledge of the financial markets, there is also the Fidelity Learning Center. When it comes to fees, stocks, ETFs, and options listed in the US can be traded commission-free, which is great.
There are no trading fees on Fidelity mutual funds either, as long as you keep hold of your investment for at least 60 days. If not, you’ll be charged $49.95 to exit your position. If opting to trade with margin, fees are also competitive at 4% upwards. Irrespective of which asset class you plan to trade, Fidelity does have a minimum account balance policy in place.
|Stock trading fee||Free|
|Forex trading fee||N/A|
|Crypto trading fee||N/A|
- Great selection of long-term investment products
- Access US-listed stocks, ETFs, and options commission-free
- Covers thousands of markets in 25 different countries
- Excellent reputation and heavily regulated
- No minimum account balance
- Top-rated research and educational materials
- Advanced analysis tools available for seasoned pros
- Account opening process can be slow
- No debit card deposits/withdrawals
Your capital is at risk.
10. Charles Schwaab – Best Free Trading Platform App
Although Charles Schwaab is considered an ‘old-school’ brokerage firm, it actually offers one of the best free trading platform apps in the space. This starts at the very offset with advanced security controls that strive to keep you and your Charles Schwab account safe.
For example, you can choose to only accept account logins through fingerprint or face ID, alongside a preset passcode. In terms of tradable markets, Charles Schwab offers a huge number of financial instruments. This includes each and every stock that is publicly-listed in the US – plus OTC (Over-the-Counter) shares and IPOs.
The free trading platform also supported fractional ownership, meaning that you can buy shares from just $5 via the Schwab Stock Slice feature. International stocks at the platform are facilitated via American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) and foreign ordinaries. Outside of the stock department, this top-rated trading platform also allows you to invest in ETFs, index funds, mutual funds, bonds, and more.
Again, this can all be accessed with ease via the Charles Schwab mobile app. Much like the other trading platforms we have discussed today, Charles Schwab allows you to buy US-listed stocks and ETFs without paying any commission. Plus, there are no minimum deposits or ongoing account fees. If you’re a seasoned trader, Charles Schwab is also a great option.
This is because you will have access to several platforms – some of which comes jam-packed with advanced technical indicators, chart drawing tools, and market insights. When it comes to research, Charles Schwab has integrated its trading platform with 14 top-rated providers. This includes the likes of Thompson Reuters, Moody’s, and Morningstar.
Charles Schwab fees
|Stock trading fee||Free|
|Forex trading fee||N/A|
|Crypto trading fee||N/A|
- Trusted US-based trading platform
- Top-rated investment app available on iOS and Android
- $0 commission on stocks and ETFs
- All US stocks covered, plus heaps of international shares
- Industry-leading research facilities
- 3 trading platforms to choose from
- No account fee or minimum deposit
- Mutual funds cost $49.95 per investment
- High margin trading fees
Your capital is at risk.
11. Capital.com – Best Online Broker for AI Trading
Capital.com is a relatively new trading platform that has been making waves in the market. To start with, this app offers over 3,000 instruments, including a great variety of stock CFDs. This includes over 3118 shares and 85 cryptocurrencies, which is a great amount, so you can trade companies from all over the world. It also offers ETFs, indices, commodities, and forex.
This online trading broker is also very cheap, with no commissions and low spreads. Another plus is that Capital.com offers spread betting as well as CFDs, meaning any earnings you make from spread betting are tax-free.
Perhaps the best thing about this stock app is its excellent trading tools and features. It has an innovative AI-powered trading platform with personalised trading insights, tech indicators, analytic tools, and advanced charts, and it also has excellent educational resources, including webinars.
Capital.com is licensed by the FCA, so it’s a very secure trading platform. Although it doesn’t offer PayPal, it does offer some great alternative payment methods, including Apple Pay, Sofort, and Trustly.
|Stock trading fee||Spread. 1.83 pips for Amazon.|
|Forex trading fee||Spread. 0.8 pips for GBP/USD.|
|Crypto trading fee||Spread. 100 pips for Bitcoin/USD.|
- Low spreads
- Over 3,000 shares
- Spread betting
- AI trading platform
- Can’t own stocks
- Doesn’t accept PayPal
Your capital is at risk. 71.2% of retail investors lose money trading CFDs at this site.
Best Trading Platform Fees Comparison
So we’ve now reviewed the best trading platforms, but how do they stack up against one another in terms of fees? If you’re looking for the cheapest trading platforms with the lowest fees and no overnight fees, check out the table below.
|Trading Platform Fees||Stock trading fees||Forex trading fees||Overnight fees|
|eToro||Free||Variable spread||Overnight fees for CFDs. No overnight fees for non-leveraged stocks, ETFs and crypto.|
|Robinhood||Free||N/A||No overnight fees.|
|Libertex||0%-0.46% commission||Commission||Yes. Taken at end of each trading day at 9 pm GMT as interest, which may be positive or negative. For CFDs, the overnight fee is triple when holding from Friday to Monday.|
|TD Ameritrade||Free for US stocks, $6.95 for international stocks||Variable spread||No overnight fees.|
|Interactive Brokers||Free for US stocks, £6 for UK stocks & variable commission for other stocks||Commission||Yes. Vary depending on the instrument.|
|Plus500||Variable spread||Variable spread||Yes. Applies to all instruments.|
|IG||£0 – £10 commission||Variable spread||Yes. Applies to forex, stocks, commodities, and indices.|
|Fidelity||Free for US stocks, variable commission for international stocks||N/A||No overnight fees.|
|Charles Schwab||Free||From £9.99 per month||Yes. Vary depending on the instrument.|
|Capital.com||Variable spread||Variable spread||Yes. Based on leverage for stocks, crypto, and thematic assets. Based on the entire value of position for forex, commodities, and indices.|
How to Choose the Best Trading Platform for You
With so many trading platforms in the market, finding a suitable provider can be a time-consuming process.
After all, you’re going to be investing your hard-earned money, so you need to be 100% confident that your chosen trading platform is right for you and your financial goals.
The good news is that by ticking off a ‘checklist’ of key metrics, finding the best trading platform of 2021 doesn’t have to be monotonous.
The most important factors that need to be considered are as follows:
While you might be tempted to choose a trading platform based on fees or supported markets, your first port of call should be the safety of your funds.
Once again, this is because you will be required to entrust your chosen platform with your capital. As such, you should check to see which financial bodies the provider is licensed by.
The best online trading platforms in the space will be regulated by the likes of FINRA and the SEC in the US. Other leading bodies include the FCA and ASIC of the UK and Australia, respectively.
If you’re wondering why you should stick with online trading platforms that are authorized and regulated by the aforementioned bodies, check out the benefits below:
- Your capital will be kept in segregated bank accounts. This means that the free trading platform cannot use your money to fund its own operations and crucially – to cover its debt obligations.
- Regulated brokers must comply with anti-money laundering laws. This means all traders using the platform will need to have their identity verified, subsequently keeping crime away.
- The trading platform will have its books audited by the respective license issuer(s). This ensures a fair and transparent trading environment for all.
Ultimately, choosing a trading platform that is not regulated – or one that is licensed in a shady offshore location, means that your funds are at risk.
The online trading scene is enjoyed by investors of all shapes and sizes. For example, while some of you might simply be looking to buy stocks, others might be interested in trading futures or options. With this in mind, you need to check whether or not the provider offers your chosen market.
The best online trading platforms for beginners that we have discussed today offer markets on the following core asset classes:
- Stocks and Shares
- ETFs, Index Funds, and Mutual Funds
- Forex and Commodities
- Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies
You can easily explore whether your preferred financial market is supported by the trading platform by checking out their website.
It goes without saying that the best trading platforms in the online space offer really competitive fees. In some cases, platforms offer a simple, transparent pricing structure. However, we have also come across providers that present a confusing, overly complicated fee system. This can make it difficult to know exactly what you are paying.
To help clear the mist, the main fees charged by trading platforms are outlined in more detail below:
The most important fee that you need to look at is that of the platform’s trading commission. Now, this can come in two different forms. For example, some trading platforms charge a flat fee. This means that you might pay $15 to buy a stock and another $15 when you cash out.
In other cases, you might pay a variable fee. For example, the trading platform might charge 1% on all buy and sell positions. So, if you bought $500 worth of stocks, you’d pay a commission of $5. Then, if you closed your stock position when it was worth $600, you’d pay a commission of $6.
With that being said, if you read through our list of the best online trading platforms for beginners further up, you would notice that most of our chosen providers allow you to invest commission-free. This means that you can buy stocks, ETFs, and other asset classes without needing to worry about commissions or fees.
If you are a long-term investor that is looking to hold stocks or funds for several years, you don’t need to pay too much attention to the spread. But, if you are a short-term trader that is looking to buy and sell forex, commodities, or cryptocurrencies – then the spread is crucial.
For those unaware, this is the gap in pricing between the buy and sell rate of your chosen asset. In some cases, this is calculated as a percentage. However, if you’re trading forex, the spread is displayed in ‘pips’. As we covered earlier, the likes of IG offer spreads of just 0.8 pips on major pairs, which is very competitive.
You might be surprised to learn that a lot of brokers in the online space charge transaction fees when you deposit and/or withdraw funds. Once again, the amount that you pay – if at all, will vary from platform to platform. Furthermore, you might be charged a flat rate or a percentage based on the amount you deposit.
On top of commissions, spreads, and transaction fees, there are several other charges that you might need to be made aware of before joining your chosen trading platform.
- Inactivity Fee: Some trading platforms will charge you a fee every month if your account is marked as dormant. This is usually after 12 months of inactivity but can be much sooner. Always check this if you have funds in your trading account.
- Margin Fees: If you are planning to trade with margin, then you must be aware of what funding rates the broker charges. This is usually a percentage amount that is charged for each day that you keep the position open.
- Account Fees: It is also important that you check whether or not your chosen trading platform charges ongoing account fees. if they do, this is likely to be charged on a monthly basis.
Ultimately, while attempting to understand trading platform fees can be a daunting process, it is crucial nonetheless.
Trading Tools and Features
If you’re looking for a barebones trading platform that allows you to buy and sell assets – you might not be overly concerned with what side-features are offered. However, this shouldn’t be overlooked, as there are many useful trading tools that you might be missing out on.
Having the ability to buy fractional shares is really important if you are a retail client with a limited budget. After all, you might not want to fork out over $3,000 for a single Amazon share or $1,700 for a slice of Google. With this in mind, fractional shares allow you to buy a ‘portion’ of one stock.
For example, our top-rated trading platform eToro allows you to invest in any of its 2,400 stocks from just $50. This means that if you were to invest $50 into a stock that is priced at $500, you would own 10% of the respective share. This is not only great for investing with small amounts but creating a diversified portfolio.
Irrespective of which trading platform you decide to sign up with, you will need to place an ‘order’ to execute a position. This is because the broker needs to know what you wish to accomplish from your trade. While all trading platforms will offer ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ orders, there are other order types that you will likely want at your disposal.
For example, the best online trading platforms also offer ‘stop-loss’ and ‘take profit orders. Both of these are crucial for trading in a risk-averse manner. Then you have that all-important ‘trialing stop-loss’ order. Offered by trading platforms like eToro, this allows you to keep a profitable position open until it goes down by a certain percentage.
If you are looking to actively trade the financial markets but don’t have the required experience or know-how, it’s well worth considering a platform that offers a Copy Trading feature. In its most basic form, this allows you to copy a trader like-for-like in a 100% passive nature.
For example, eToro is home to thousands of verified investors that have signed up for the best Copy Trading platform. You can browse through the profile of each trader – looking at key metrics like past performance, average monthly returns, risk rating, preferred asset class, and average trade duration.
Then, when you find an individual that you wish to copy, it’s then just a case of meeting a $200 minimum. Once confirmed, each and every position that the trader places will then be mirrored in your own trading account. And of course, you can stop copying the trader at any given time.
If you’re a seasoned trader then you will know that the MetaTrader (MT) series is hugely popular. For those unaware, both MT4 and MT5 are third-party trading platforms that sit between you and your chosen brokerage site. Many traders opt for a broker that offers access to these platforms, as they come packed with advanced tools.
For example, both MT4 and MT5 offer:
- Dozens of technical indicators
- Chart drawing and customization tools
- Real-time pricing quotes
- Mirror trading
- Ability to deploy automated robots
- Mobile functionality
Not all trading platforms offer support for MT4 and/or MT5, so you’ll need to check this out if this is something you are interested in.
The financial markets can and will move at an incredibly fast pace. As such, you’ll want to be in the know-how when a key development occurs. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to choose a provider that offers alerts. For example, the best online trading platforms allow you to set up pricing notifications – which can be sent out via the provider’s app or through email.
This gives you the added benefit of being made aware when an asset hits a specific price target. For instance, you might want to manually trade GBP/USD when the pair reaches 1.36. Additionally, the best trading platforms allow you to set up volatility alerts. This means that you will receive a notification if one of your selected assets experiences a volatile upward or downswing swing.
Education, Research, and Analysis
We find that the best online trading platforms in the online space take things to next level by offering a comprehensive education facility. This means that you can learn the fundamentals of buying and selling financial instruments without needing to use an external provider.
Some of the most useful educational resources offered by top-rated trading platforms include:
- Guides and blogs on key trading terms
In addition to educational resources, we find that the best online trading platforms also offer lots of research and analysis tools. Regarding the former, this might include real-time financial news stories, trading insights, and a breakdown of market sentiment. When it comes to analysis, the best online trading platforms offer advanced chart reading tools – such as technical indicators.
If you are looking to trade online for the very first time, then you need to ensure that you choose a provider that offers a seamless user experience. While this isn’t usually a concern when using the provider’s main desktop website, the end-to-end experience can be hit or miss when it comes to its trading app.
After all, if mobile investing is your thing, you will be required to enter buy and sell positions on a small screen. As such, it’s crucial to check how easy the app is to navigate. Not only should this include finding assets and performing research, but entering and exiting orders, checking the value of your portfolio, and depositing/withdrawing funds.
The good news is that in most cases, the best trading platforms will design apps for both iOS and Android devices. In other words, the app will have been built from the group up and crucially – optimized specifically for your operating system. If the trading platform in question offers demo accounts, then you can test this out yourself without needing to risk any money.
You will need to add some funds to your trading account before you can start buying and selling assets from the comfort of your home. As such, it’s really important to check what payment methods the provider accepts.
In most cases, you will be able to transfer funds from your personal bank account. While some platforms allow you to do this instantly, others require 1-2 working days to process the payment. This is why it’s worth considering a trading platform that also offers debit/credit cards – as the payment is almost always added to your account straight away.
If using our top-rated trading platform eToro, not only can you deposit funds with Visa and MasterCard, but also e-wallets like Paypal, Neteller, and Skrill.
There can be a huge disparity in the level of customer service your chosen trading platform offers. For example, some providers only allow you to obtain assistance via email or an online support ticket. These platforms should be avoided, as it can often take days to receive a reply.
Instead, stick with trading platforms that offer customer support in real-time. The best contact method is that of live chat, albeit, telephone support is also popular.
You also need to explore what days and opening hours the customer support team works. Most platforms don’t offer support over the weekly as the vast majority of financial markets are closed. Usually, support is offered on a 24/5 basis.
How to Get Started with the Best Trading Platform
So far, this guide has discussed a selection of the best online trading platforms in the online space. We have also explained the many important metrics that you need to consider before choosing a provider.
To conclude, we are now going to walk you through the process of getting started with a trading platform. For this, we have opted to show the required steps with top-rated provider eToro – which offers commission-free trades across thousands of markets.
Step 1: Open an Account and Upload ID
Regardless of which trading platform you decide to join, you will need to start the process off by opening an account. At eToro, this can be achieved in just a few minutes.
To get the ball rolling, head over to the eToro website and click on the ‘Join Now’ button. You will then be prompted to enter your personal information – such as your full name, nationality, home address, and date of birth. The trading platform also needs your email address and telephone number.
Step 2: Confirm Identity
eToro is not only regulated by the FCA, CySEC, and ASIC – but it is also registered with FINRA. As such, it is legally required to verify your identity before you are able to make a withdrawal. With this in mind, it’s best to quickly get the verification stage out of the way now.
All you need to do is upload a clear copy of the following two documents:
- Valid passport or driver’s license
- Utility bill or bank account statement (issued within the last 3 months)
In most cases, eToro will automatically validate the documents – so your account should be verified instantly.
Step 3: Deposit Funds
Now it’s time to find your newly create eToro trading account.
You can choose from several convenient payment methods, including:
- Debit cards
- Credit cards
- E-wallets (Paypal, Skrill, or Neteller)
- Bank transfer
eToro charges a currency conversion fee of 0.5% on all non-USD deposits. The minimum deposit stands at $200.
Step 4: Browse Supported Trading Markets
Now that you have funded your eToro account, it’s time to search for the asset that you wish to trade. If you know which market interests you, simply search for it.
If you want to view which assets are supported, click on the ‘Trade Markets’ button. You will then see asset classes that you can trade – such as stocks, cryptocurrencies, ETFs, forex, and commodities.
Step 5: Place a Trade
Now that you know which asset you wish to trade, you need to place an order. In our example below, we are looking to trade Bitcoin.
As you can see, we entered our stake of $25 into the ‘Amount’ box. If you want to set up a stop-loss and/or take-profit order, go ahead and enter your price targets.
Once you are ready to place your commission-free order, click on the ‘Open Trade’ button.
All in all, there are now hundreds of trading platforms to choose from. With this in mind, you need to perform lots of research to ensure that you find a provider that meets your needs.
For example, while some of you might be looking to focus primarily on low fees, others might be searching for a platform that offers a specific market or asset class.
Ultimately, we found that eToro ticks all of the right boxes in what you should be looking for in an online trading platform. For example, it’s heavily regulated, offers thousands of markets, and you trade without paying any commission or ongoing fees.
eToro – Best Trading Platform with 0% Commission
Your capital is at risk.
75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
What is the best trading platform for beginners?
eToro is the best trading platform for 2021, due to its low fees, wide range of assets, great security and innovative copy trading tools.
Which cryptocurrency trading platforms allow US citizens?
The likes of eToro, Robinhood and Webull are all good options for crypto trading if you're based in the US.
Do I need ID to use an online trading platform?
Yes, mostly regulated trading platforms require you to upload ID so they can verify your account and ensure you're not underage.
How much does it cost to trade online?
This varies a lot. Some trading platforms like eToro allow you to trade stocks and other assets with zero commission, but some brokers charge hefty fees for their trading services.