Paper trading platforms are offered by online brokers and they allow you to buy and sell financial instruments in a risk-free manner. This allows you to practice your trading endeavors without risking any funds and get used to how the broker in question works. The best paper trading platforms are also valuable when it comes to testing our new investment strategies and systems.
In this guide, we review the best paper trading platforms to consider in 2021.
In This Guide
We found that the following online brokers offer the best paper trading platforms. You can read what each demo trading account offers by scrolling down.
67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
76.25% of retail investor accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs with this provider.
Your capital is at risk.
83% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
Your capital is at risk
When searching for the best paper trading platform for your needs – there are many things that you need to consider. For example, does the paper trading platform mirror live market conditions and how much will you be given in demo funds?
If at some point you are also planning to trade with real money – you also need to take a closer look at what the broker itself offers.
Taking all of this into account, below we discuss the best paper trading platforms currently in the market.
Not only does eToro offer the best paper trading platform of 2021 – but it also the best all-around broker in the online space. First and foremost, once you have registered an account at eToro – which takes less than a few minutes, you can then start using the demo trading platform straight away.
This means that there is no requirement to make a deposit in order to gain access. The paper trading platform at eToro comes pre-loaded with a demo balance of $100k. Most importantly, the eToro demo facility mirrors live market conditions. This ensures that you can get to grips with how the online trading scene works in the most effective way.
Plus, you can switch between demo and real mode at any time, so there is no time limit on the paper trading facility. In terms of what you can trade, eToro supports more than 2,400 stocks and 250 ETFs, so it’s a great option for a stock demo account. This consists of more than 17 international marketplaces – including the US, UK, Hong Kong, and much of Europe.
You can also trade cryptocurrencies, hard metals, energies, forex, and indices. Each and every financial instrument available at eToro can be traded commission-free. There are no ongoing platform fees and non-USD deposits cost just 0.5%. Once you are ready to start trading with real capital, eToro supports debit/credit cards, bank transfers, and e-wallets like Paypal.
You can trade directly from within your web browser – so there is no requirement to download any software. eToro is also available on a dedicated iOS and Android mobile app. The platform is heavily regulated – which includes licenses with the FCA (UK), CySEC (Cyprus), and ASIC (Australia). eToro is also registered with FINRA (USD).
Launched in 1975 - TD Ameritrade needs no introduction in the online brokerage scene. With more than 11 million clients now using the platform - this top-rated platform gives you access to every asset class under the sun. In particular, TD Ameritrade is behind one of the most intuitive trading platforms in the space - thinkorswim.
This trading platform - which can be accessed via desktop software, online, or via a mobile app - comes packed with advanced tools. This includes fully customizable screens, technical indicators, fundamental news feeds, and economic data.
Crucially, the thinkorswim paper trading platform is pre-loaded with $100k in demo funds. This means that you can use the thinkorswim paper trading facility to test out advanced strategies and systems without risking any of your capital.
Take note, however, if you wish to benefit from real-time pricing quotes - you will first need to deposit $500 into your TD Ameritrade account. If not, there will be a slight delay in the market prices you see on-screen. Nevertheless, TD Ameritrade gives you access to thousands of financial markets - covering the likes of stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, futures, options, and forex. This is a huge asset class compared to similar platforms such as Charles Schwab, you can read our TD Ameritrade vs Charles Schwab review comparison for more detail.
When buying and selling US-listed stocks and ETFs in real mode - you won't pay any trading commission. Perhaps the main drawback with TD Ameritrade - other than not being suitable for newbies, is that the account opening process can be a bit long-winded. You can read more about that in our Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade comparison review. As such, expect to wait a few days until your account is fully active.
TD Ameritrade fees
MetaTrader 4 (MT4) is one of the most popular third-party trading platforms in the online arena - with support offered by over 1,000 brokers. For us, Libertex is arguably the best paper trading platform that is compatible with MT4 - not least because it offers ZERO spreads on all markets.
In other words, the quote that you see on-screen is applicable for both the bid and ask price - so you don't need to pay any spreads whatsoever. This is ideal for day trading strategies that seek to target smaller margins. Plus, on many markets, Libertex doesn't charge any trading commissions.
Once you have opened an account with Libertex - you can then sign into MT4 with your login credentials. In doing so, you will instantly have access to €50,000 in paper trading funds. This will allow you to test out the ins and outs of what MT4 has to offer - in terms of its advanced order types, technical indicators, and chart drawing tools.
Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, you can also deploy a fully automated forex EA or forex robot. All you need to do is download the respective software file and install it into MT4. Then, you can activate the robot via MT4/Libertex and see how it performs in live market conditions - in a completely risk-free manner.
If you then decide to use Libertex will real money - the minimum deposit is just €/$100. You can add funds with an e-wallet, debit card, credit card, or bank wire. The platform supports a vast range of CFD trading instruments - covering stocks, commodities, digital currencies, indices, ETFs, and more.
We should also note that Libertex is a good option if you are planning to trade with leverage. The broker offers up to 1:600 to professional clients, and less if you are a retail investor. In terms of reputation, Liberext is regulated by CySEC and was first launched over two decades ago. As such, you will be using a highly trusted broker with a long-standing track record in this space.
83% of retail investors lose money trading CFDs at this site.
The mobile trading sector is growing at a significant rate - with most online brokers now offering an application for both iOS and Android. If you're based in the US and looking for the best paper trading app in the market right now - consider Webull.
This super user-friendly brokerage app is ideal if you are looking for a simple way to buy and sell stocks. This is because the app does not charge any stock trading commissions. This is also the case with cryptocurrencies, ETFs, and options.
In order to use the Webull paper trading platform, you will first need to open an account. This is standard-practice and requires some basic personal information from you. Once you are set up, you'll then need to navigate to your account menu and select the 'Paper Trading' button.
Your account will then turn into 'Demo Mode' - which comes pre-loaded with a $1 million paper trading balance. You can switch back to 'Real Mode' at any given time. Although Webull offers zero-commission trading, it is important to remember that a monthly fee does apply.
This starts at just $1 per month on Standard Account - which needs to be paid even if you are only using the paper trading facility. As such, you should only use the demo account at Webull if at some point you are planning to use the app to buy and sell assets with real money. There is no minimum deposit at Webull - which is great if you eventually plan to trade with small amounts.
Your capital is at risk when trading at this site with real money
If you're a complete beginner and looking for the best paper money trading platform to learn the ropes of online investing - Capital.com is well worth considering. This popular CFD broker offers a super-basic trading platform that is perfectly suited to newbies.
Once you have registered an account, you can then start using the paper trading facility. This is available through the Capital.com web trading platform or via MT4, albeit, if you're a beginner it's best to opt for the former.
Either way, the demo facility at Capital.com mirrors live trading conditions. You will have access to thousands of stock CFDs from a magnitude of markets - as well as ETFs, indices, cryptocurrencies, commodities, and forex. All assets at Capital.com can be traded commission and with tight spreads - should you wish to upgrade to a real money account.
What we also like about Capital.com is that it offers a huge library of educational tools. This allows you to use the paper trading platform in conjunction with guides, video explainers, and mini-courses. And, when you eventually feel comfortable to start trading with real capital - the minimum deposit is just £/$20.
This top-rated CFD broker supports a wide range of payment types - including debit/credit cards, several e-wallets, and bank transfers. Take note, if opting for the latter, the minimum deposit jumps up to £/$250. Finally, your money is safe at Capital.com - as the platform is regulated by the FCA and CySEC.
76.25% of retail investor accounts lose money trading CFDs with this provider.
Established brokerage firm Interactive Brokers offers one of the most extensive asset libraries in the online investment scene. Put simply, you will have access to over 135 markets from 33 different jurisdictions. This covers virtually every asset class imaginable.
In particular, you can invest in a full suite of long-term investments - such as stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, index funds, and even IPOs. Before we get to the fundamentals, we should note that you will be eligible for an Interactive Brokers paper trading simulator as soon as you register.
This comes pre-loaded with a paper balance of $1 million and all buy/sell positions mirror live market conditions. If you already have an account with Interactive Brokers, you can switch over to demo mode at any given time. Either way, even if you blew through your $1 million demo fund balance, you can reset it whenever you wish.
Once you have tried the Interactive Brokers paper trading platform out and wish to start investing real capital - there is no minimum deposit required. You will, however, need to transfer funds from your bank account - as Interactive Brokers does not support debit/credit cards or e-wallets.
When it comes to fees - and like most US-based brokerage sites these days, you can buy and sell American stocks without paying any commission. Other markets will attract a dealing fee that will vary depending on your account type of the respective asset or exchange.
We also like the fact that Interactive Brokers offers a fractional trading facility. In simple terms, this means that you can invest in any stock of your choosing from just $1 - irrespective of the share price. Fractional ownership at Interactive Brokers is also available on US-listed penny stocks - as long as the respective company has daily trading volume of $10 million or more.
Interactive Brokers fees
Much like Capital.com, Plus500 is a popular online trading platform that specializes in CFDs. As such, if you're from the US - you won't be eligible to open an account. Nevertheless, if CFDs are permittable in your country of residence - Plus500 is well worth considering.
This is because the platform gives you access to thousands of markets across dozens of asset classes. For example, you can trade CFDs in the form of futures, options, stocks, ETFs, forex, and cryptocurrencies.
You can also trade commodities like hard metals, energies, and agricultural products. All of these CFD marketplaces at Plus500 can be traded commission-free and with competitive spreads. Plus, Plus500 offers leverage of up to 1:300 to retails. Your personal limits will, however, also be determined by your location.
When it comes to the Plus500 paper trading facility, you can register for this specifically by selecting the 'Demo Account' option. In doing so, you can start trading risk-free without needing to make a deposit. On both the real and demo accounts, Plus500 allows you to seamlessly switch between its desktop platform and mobile app.
The latter is available on both iOS and Android devices and comes with all of the same account features as found online. If you decide to upgrade to a real money account, Plus500 requires a minimum deposit of just £/$100. Supported payment methods include debit/credit cards, bank wires, and Paypal.
72% of retail CFD accounts lose money.
If you have a bit of experience in the online trading space and wish to buy and sell financial derivatives - TradeStation is well worth considering. In fact, even if you have never traded futures or options previously - TradeStation is still a good option as it offers a free demo simulator.
This means that you can enter positions in a completely risk-free environment - which is a great way of learning the ropes of complex financial derivatives. In terms of supported markets, TradeStation covers dozens of asset classes across both futures and options.
This includes indices, currencies, interest rates, metals, energies, agricultural products, and more. If you decide to upgrade to a real money account, you can trade options from just $0.50 per contract. Futures are also competitively priced at just $1.50 per contract. We should also note that TradeStation is strong in areas other than just financial derivatives.
For example, you can also invest in stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, and even IPOs. This means that the broker is suitable for both short-term and long-term trading strategies. TradeStation is also a good option if you wish to create a retirement plan. This covers Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SEP IRAs.
Your capital Is at risk.
If you're new to paper trading platforms in general - the sections below will explain how things work. After all, in the vast majority of cases, you will still need to open a brokerage account to gain access to the respective paper trading facility.
Put simply, paper trading is the process of buying and selling financial instruments in a risk-free manner. This is because you will be trading with 'demo funds' as opposed to real money. This means that you can learn the ropes of how trading works - as the best demo accounts will mirror live market conditions.
As we covered earlier, most online brokers will require you to open an account before you can use its paper trading platform. In some cases, this is simply a case of supplying some personal information and contact details. Crucially, this means that you can use the demo facility without needing to upload any ID or make a deposit.
You will usually be given a fixed amount in paper trading funds. For example, both eToro and TD Ameritrade will pre-load your demo account with $100k in virtual money. Webull and Interactive Brokers go further by adding $1 million in paper funds. With that said, you likely won't need this much - as you'll want to paper trade with stakes that mirror your actual investment budget.
The best paper trading software providers are suitable for investors of all skill-sets. There are many benefits to using such as platform - which we elaborate on in more detail below.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of using a paper trading platform is that you can learn how to trade in a risk-free environment. After all, it's great to build your investment knowledge by reading books, taking courses, and watching videos. But, the only true way of getting to grips with trading is by actually doing it yourself.
For example, you will learn how to enter trading orders - such as buy/sell and limit/market positions. You can also build your skills in risk-management through stop-loss and take-profit orders. In many cases, you can use your chosen paper trading balance for as long as you wish with no time limit in place.
With hundreds of trading platforms active in the online space - knowing which provider to sign up with can be a challenge. This is because there is often very little to separate brokerage sites - with many now offering low-cost trading services to the retail investors.
This is why the best paper trading platforms are so invaluable - as you test a new broker out before making a financial commitment.
For example, you can see how much liquidity the platform offers, what the spreads are like, and how easy it is to place orders. And of course, demo accounts give you a clear indication of how user-friendly the platform is. Once you have tested the broker out in demo mode and are sure the platform is right for you - you can then proceed to open a real money account.
Automated trading is getting more and more popular in the online investment scene. Put simply, this allows you to buy, sell, and trade financial instruments in a 100% passive manner. The most common way of doing this is via a trading robot software file that you install into MT4.
Once you active the robot in MT4 and link it to your chosen brokerage site - it will then start trading on your behalf - 24 hours per day. However, many trading robots are incapable of making consistent gains - meaning you are putting your hard-earned capital at risk. This is where the best paper trading platform providers can assist.
Put simply, by using a broker that supports MT4 - such as Libertex or Capital.com, you can test out a new automated trading robot risk-free. In an ideal world, you will allow the robot to trade with your demo account funds for a few weeks to determine how effective it is. If you end the trial period with notable gains, only then might you consider using the robot with real capital.
Another benefit that the best paper trading apps provide is that you can test out the best forex signals in a risk-free environment. For those unaware, signals are trading suggestions sent to you by experienced investors that research the market on your behalf.
The signal might, for example, tell you to go long on Bitcoin when the digital currency breaches a price of $58,500. The signal service will also provide you with the required stop-loss and take-profit order prices. When joining a new signal provider - it would be foolish to start trading the suggestions without testing the service out first.
Instead, it's a wise idea to place the suggested orders via your chosen paper trading platform. If, after a few weeks, you find that the trading signals are profitable - you might then consider using placing orders with real money.
If you are using a paper trading platform with the intention of becoming a better all-round investor - there are several strategies that you can take to ensure you get the most out of the demo account facility.
First and foremost, it's important to deploy a bankroll management strategy when using a paper trading platform. This should mirror the investment budget that you have in place - when you eventually get around to trading with real capital.
Instead, in this scenario, you would be better off setting aside $1,000 from your paper trading balance and using this as your buffer.
It is also important that you learn risk-management strategies when using a paper trading platform. This will set you in good stead for when you eventually get around to trading with real capital. There are two such strategies that you can take in this respect.
Firstly, ensure that you keep your stakes sensible - and in relation to your perceived investment budget. For example, if you have $1,000 available then you should probably limit your stakes to 1% - or $10 per trade. Similarly, if you build your $1,000 up to $2,000 - your maximum stake would then increase to $20.
Secondly, make sure that you always deploy a stop-loss and take-profit order when using a paper trading platform. The former will automatically close your position when it goes down by a certain amount - say 3%. The latter will close your position when a certain profit target is triggered - say 10%.
Leading on from the above section on risk-management, you should always enter a paper trading position with clear targets and goals in mind.
Either way, by always calculating your potential risks and rewards on a trade - you have a clear entry and exit strategy in place.
This guide has not only discussed the best paper trading platforms to consider in 2021 - but some useful strategies that will ensure you make the most of your demo account endeavors.
To conclude, we are now going to show you how to get started with the best paper trading platform provider in the market - eToro. You won't be required to deposit any funds at this brokerage site to use its trading simulator - and getting started takes minutes!
Like most online brokers offering paper trading facilities - eToro initially requires you to register an account. All you need to do is supply some personal information - such as your name, address, nationality, date of birth, and email address.
To prevent people from opening up multiple demo accounts, eToro will also ask you to verify your mobile number. Make note of your username and password too - as you'll need this to log in to your paper trading account.
Once you have registered - you can then start using the eToro paper trading simulator straight away. First, you'll need to click on the 'Real' button on the left-hand side of the dashboard and then click on 'Virtual Portfolio'.
A pop-up box will then advise you that you are switching over to virtual portfolio mode. Simply confirm this by clicking on 'Go to Virtual Portfolio'.
A pop-up box will then advise you that you are switching over to virtual portfolio mode. Simply confirm this by clicking on 'Go to Virtual Portfolio'. Once you do, at the bottom of the screen you will notice that you have $100,000 in virtual equity.
If you have never used eToro before - you should note that although you are in virtual mode, everything you see on-screen mirrors that of the real money account. The only difference is that any orders you place will be done so with your virtual account balance.
To start paper trading, you will first need to select a market. You can browse what markets eToro supports by clicking on the 'Trade Markets' button - which you will find on the left-hand side of the dashboard. You can also find a market by using the search box at the top of the page.
Once you click on the market that you wish to trade, you will then need to set up an order. First, choose between a 'buy' and 'sell' order - which tells eToro whether you think the asset will rise or fall in value.
Next, it's also wise to enter a stop-loss and take-profit order value. As we explained earlier, this will allow you to get to grips with risk-management when paper trading. You also have the option of applying leverage.
To clarify, in the example order box above - we are doing the following on an Amazon stock paper trade:
Finally, to place our paper trading order - we click on the 'Set Order' button.
Once you feel comfortable with how eToro works and are ready to upgrade to a real money account - all you need to do is switch back to 'Real Portfolio'. Then, it's just a case of making a deposit. You can do this instantly by using a debit/credit card, Paypal, Skrill, or Neteller. When your account is funded and you are in real mode - you can start trading with your balance.
The best paper trading platforms that we have discussed today are suitable for both newbies and seasoned pros. If you fall into the camp of the former - you will be able to learn how trading works without needing to risk any capital.
In fact, in most cases, you are not required to make a deposit to gain access to the demo account. If you're an experienced investor - the best paper trading platforms allow you to test out new strategies or even automated robots risk-free.
Either way, if you're looking to get started with the best paper trading platform right now - you could be placing your first trade with eToro is less than 5 minutes. Simply register an account and you will have access to a $100k paper trading balance!
Paper trading refers to the process of using 'demo funds' to trade financial instruments. This is something offered by many online brokerage firms. The best paper trading platforms will mirror real-world market conditions.
We found that the best paper trading platform for day trading is eToro. This is because you will have access to a $100k paper trading balance which you can use across thousands of markets. This includes stocks, ETFs, indices, crypto, commodities, and forex.
Yes, if your chosen paper trading broker offers leverage - it is likely that you can apply this to your positions in demo mode. As always, leverage limits are dictated by several factors - such as your country of residence, the asset being traded, and whether you are a retail or professional client.
Yes, paper trading platforms are ideal for signals - as you can test out the provider without risking any money. In an ideal world, your chosen signal provider will offer a free trial, which you can then use in conjunction with a paper trading platform.
If you are using a paper trading platform - this means that you are not trading with real money. As such, any profits that you make are virtual and thus - will not be liable for capital gains tax.
Although Robinhood is often the go-to broker for newbies, it is surprising that the provider does not offer a paper trading facility. Instead, you can only trade with real money.
Kane Pepi is a British researcher and writer that specializes in finance, financial crime, and blockchain technology. Now based in Malta, Kane writes for a number of platforms in the online domain. In particular, Kane is skilled at explaining complex financial subjects in a user-friendly manner. Kane has also written for websites such as MoneyCheck, InsideBitcoins, Blockonomi, Learnbonds, Buysharesand the Malta Association of Compliance Officers.
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