Best Online Trading Platforms: Top Picks for 2024

Active or short-term traders need a broker with a top trading platform to get the best price every time they trade.

Unlike buy-and-hold investors, active traders live and die by their ability to get a low price. Therefore, finding a broker with a top trading platform is crucial for those looking to actively trade the markets.

The best trading platforms offer traders a way to quickly and intuitively place orders, track a watchlist of stocks and funds, receive alerts for securities that may be interesting trades, and provide tools to analyze complex options trades.

Additionally, a top trading platform may even provide streaming news and can help secure the most attractive price possible, resulting in a better trade execution.

Best Online Brokerage Trading Platforms in March 2024

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab is a highly recommended online brokerage trading platform for both beginner and active traders. The platform offers an entry-level trading platform that provides traders with a company’s financials, analysis of trends, and watchlists.

Additionally, the platform offers the highly regarded thinkorswim trading platform, which comes in desktop, web, and mobile versions. The thinkorswim platform offers charting, screening, live financial news, and many other features. Charles Schwab offers excellent customer service and a variety of other great features.

Cost per stock/ETF trade: $0

Cost per options trade: $0.65 per contract

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is a popular platform among active traders due to its good trade execution and ability to transact in almost any market. The broker’s Trader Workstation is a fully featured platform that offers customizable charts, real-time data, streaming news, option analytics, and more.

Interactive Brokers offers a Pro tier with per-share pricing and a Lite tier with commission-free trading on stocks and ETFs. The platform also offers the IMPACT mobile app, which helps traders sift through ESG investments. Discounts are available for traders who trade significant volume.

Cost per stock/ETF trade: $0.005 per share, with $1 minimum, or free on Lite tier

Cost per options trade: $0.65 per contract


TradeStation is a platform that should make it to a trader’s shortlist for potential brokers due to its volume discounts and powerful trading platforms.

The flagship desktop app provides a high-caliber experience, with built-in charting indicators, over 180 technical and fundamental indicators, the ability to create your own indicators, and decades of historical data for backtesting strategies.

The platform also offers a web-based platform with streaming real-time quotes, dozens of technical studies, watchlists, and more.

Cost per stock/ETF trade: $0

Cost per options trade: $0.60 per contract


E-Trade’s Power E-Trade platform is a high-powered set of features for active traders in both web and mobile versions. The platform offers more than 100 technical studies and dozens of drawing tools to help traders analyze the markets.

Traders can overlay technical patterns on the charts to assess where the security may go in the future, calculate risk-reward and breakeven on options trades, and look for unusual activity that might lead to an attractive opportunity.

The platform also offers Bloomberg TV right onto your device and one of the best prices in the industry.

Cost per stock/ETF trade: $0

Cost per options trade: $0.65 per contract, or $0.50 for more than 30 trades per quarter

Fidelity Investments

Fidelity Investments offers Active Trader Pro, a trading platform that incorporates a number of its other tools and features. Traders can build stock charts, analyze the action with dozens of technical indicators, place multiple trades at one time, and stream Bloomberg TV right to their desktop.

The platform also offers real-time news, earnings reports, and other economic news, so traders can stay on top of the market. Traders have immediate access to tools such as Real-time Analytics, which offers trading signals when a stock crosses key technical levels, and Trade Armor, which visualizes trading opportunities.

The platform comes in a customizable layout, or traders can opt for one of the preset layouts. Fidelity Investments has helpful and responsive customer service.

Cost per stock/ETF trade: $0

Cost per options trade: $0.65 per contract

Merrill Edge

Merrill Edge’s MarketPro trading platform offers a ton of elements that active traders can appreciate. The platform’s dashboard is highly customizable, allowing traders to set everything up to play to their strengths with an easy drag-and-drop interface.

Other features include access to Nasdaq Level II quotes, over 100 technical studies to help traders analyze the trading action, and charting tools that use streaming data.

Merrill’s offering also allows traders to set trade alerts, create watchlists, and access all the other core platform functions. Merrill Edge’s strong research combined with its platform makes it a winning combo.

Cost per stock/ETF trade: $0

Cost per options trade: $0.65 per contract


Lightspeed is a favorite of active traders and offers a number of trading platforms, though most require a monthly subscription. The broker’s core platform is available free in web and mobile versions and offers watchlists, customizable charts, and technical studies.

Those looking to move up to an even more powerful platform have at least four other options, including Lightspeed Trader, Sterling Trader Pro, and Eze EMS. Each offers streaming Nasdaq Level II quotes, watchlists, advanced charting, and technical studies. Some of the platforms include research, customizable order routing, and market scanners to find where the action is.

Monthly pricing starts at $130, though the lowest-cost option (Lightspeed Trader) lets traders fully offset the subscription cost with at least $130 in commissions in the prior month. Truly active traders can rapidly cut their commission fees with volume-based pricing.

  • Cost per stock/ETF trade: $0.0045 per share, with $1 minimum and volume discounts
  • Cost per options trade: $0.60 per contract, with $1 minimum and volume discounts

Ally Invest

Ally Invest’s trading platform has a lot that active traders will like. Traders can easily track stocks they’re interested in by creating watchlists and monitor the profits and losses of their active positions. Eight different chart types are available, and traders have access to 117 chart studies and 36 drawing tools to help analyze trade ideas.

There’s also a probability calculator that assesses how likely traders are to meet their goals. The mobile app shouldn’t slow traders down and will help them keep trading even when they’re on the go. Ally doesn’t charge commissions for stock or ETF trades, and its commission on options trading is slightly below the industry standard.

  • Cost per stock/ETF trade: $0
  • Cost per options trade: $0.50 per contract


Tastytrade is a brokerage for traders, and its trading platform is available in web, desktop, and mobile versions. Traders get access to hundreds of indicators and charts, in-app research, watchlists, and a live “follow feed” that tracks a select range of tasty traders. Traders can see their moves and trade alongside them if they like.

The commissions structure is attractive for traders as well. Commissions on stocks and ETFs are at the industry-standard of $0, but options cost $1 for a round-trip contract – so no incremental fee to close out a position – and they’re capped at $10 per leg per order. So 20, 30 or 40 basic contracts still cost traders just $10.

  • Cost per stock/ETF trade: $0
  • Cost per options trade: $1 for a round-trip contract, capped at $10 per leg per order.

Bottom Line

When choosing a broker, traders need to consider more than just the trading platform. Other important factors include the broker’s research offerings, costs (including volume-based discounts), and customer support.

By taking these factors into account, traders can ensure they are getting the most value for their money and have a better overall trading experience.

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