The Best Online Brokers for Day Trading and Trading Platforms

If you’re an active trader ready to beat the market, you need to find the lowest priced account that maximizes the premium features you’ll actually use so that fees don’t add up quickly over time.  Some active traders aren’t just in it for the lowest prices or fanciest data – they want the best trading technology can provide.

The Best Automated Trading Platforms

combine ease with good pricing and fast trade execution

Commission per trade: $9.99
Account Minimum: $500
Promotion: Fund an account with $10,000, receive 60 days of free trades and up to $500
Commission per trade: $9.99
Account Minimum: $5,000
Promotion: No platform fees if you trade over 60,000 shares a year or have over $1 million in the account
Why We Love Them
Etrade’s open XML-based API lets you trade automatically with your own custom solutions. You can also use ready-made apps from third party services. Learn More… With TradeStation’s Chart Analysis and RadarScreen, you can easily set your strategy or indicator to automate your trading thus reducing the delays that occur in discretionary manual market entry and exit. Learn More… 

NerdWallet’s Picks: Day Trading

least expensive prices coupled with the most powerful trading platforms

Commission per trade: $4.75
Annual Fee: $0
Promotion: 150 free trades within 90 days of funding your new account (with a minimum balance of $5,000, must use Promo Code: FREE150)
Commission per share: $0.0035
Annual Fee: $120
Promotion: No platform fees if you trade over 60,000 shares a year or have over $1 million in the account
Why We Love Them
Advanced trading platform with a flat commission for high-volume traders. Learn More… The most affordable trading platform for the most active traders. Learn More… 

NerdWallet’s Picks: Lowest Margin Rates

most competitive margin rates with the lowest account minimum requirements

Maximum Margin Rate: 3.50%
Account Minimum: $2,000
Annual Fee: None
Promotion: Trade free for 60 days when you open a new account
Maximum Margin Rate: 1.64%
Account Minimum: $10,000
Annual Fee: $120
Promotion: No platform fees if you trade over 60,000 shares a year or have over $1 million in the account
Why We Love Them
Best overall user experience and customer service. Learn More… The lowest margin rates for large trade volumes. Learn More… 

NerdWallet’s Picks: Best for Options Trading

best all around prices and features for options trading

Commission per contract: $0.60
Account Minimum: $10,000
Promotion: 30 days of unlimited free options trading when you open an account
Commission: Up to 5 contracts for $5 OR $8.50 + $0.15 per contract
Annual Fee: $0
Promotion: 60 days of free trades when you fund a new account
Why We Love Them
The most advanced, complex options trading platform. Learn More… Browser-based tools specifically designed with options traders in mind. Learn More…

Finding the Right Broker

If you’re an advanced trader and already know exactly what you need, you can plug your preferences into NerdWallet’s free brokerage comparison tool to compute your total trading costs and find the best priced account for you.  These brokerage accounts offer the best all around prices and features for options trading.

You can compare and contrast pricing at all online brokerages available to make sure you’ve found the best price available.

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  • A LITTLE HELP PLEASE?

    HELLO, AS AN IND. BEGINNING STOCK TRADER, I’M SEEKING A TOP RATED ONLINE BROKERAGE/ADVISOR, THAT MAINLY DISPLAYS CURRENT BEST BUY TARGETS. AS I’M WILLING TO RELY ON THEIR MUCH GREATER TRADING KNOWLEDGE. PLEASE REFER YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS TO ME AT WALTS2013@hotmail.com. THANK YOU VERY MUCH !

    • daddi

      read read read technical analysis, paper trade, know where it is coming from, know the news about it then buy the cheapest stick to pick it up or whack it

    • Steven

      Best info I have found is at Investopedia great resource for new traders chauck full of very useful info.

    • Derrick Jarvis

      Why are you yelling lol.

  • Trade Alerts

    TDAmeritrade is awesome, pricey but thinkorswim is pretty cool. cheers

  • Mich

    >.< I don't see merrill edge… Must have picked a bad platform.

  • rjshap

    AutoShares offers a great selection of autotrading services and online trading accounts

    • Maxime Rieman

      Note: Robert Shapiro (rjshap) is an employee of AutoShares

      • netrider

        Nice save Maxime….

  • Jonathan

    Merrill Edge MANUALLY REVIEWS YOUR TRADES (did it to me again just now and that’s why I’m closing all my accounts with them and not bringing in my wife’s $). They have made me miss trades 2 times now, costing me $ and time. These guys are toaster salesmen compared to real brokers.

    • Chris

      I got away from ML because I had the chance to buy Google ipo and they kept telling me no and its a bad idea and such. Then later I wanted to do a diff situation and they told me its probably not a good idea as I have strong assets.

  • Jen

    Hi, what do you think of the program, Call and Put? Not sure if i should go ahead with this.