Day Trading Software Review
Why Use Day Trading Software?
Best Day Trading Software: OptionsHouse is the recipient of our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award because it provides a low-cost day trading platform that is simple to use and filled with features. This platform is designed for advanced and high-volume traders. It provides a full feature set with tools for setting up watch lists, alerts and option chains. You can access real-time market data, and forecasting and charting options are available to help you create strategies and make smart trading decisions.
Best Low-Cost Day Trading Software: If you wish to keep your costs low, Fidelity, our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award winner, is one of the best options available. Fidelity offers low prices for trading stocks online. You pay a set price of $4.95 per trade. When trading options, you pay $4.95 per trade, plus an additional $0.65 per contract.
Fidelity charges $11.45, much less expensive than other companies we reviewed. Unfortunately, to open an account with Fidelity, you must have a minimum deposit of $2,500, which is one of the highest minimum deposit amounts we saw from any company we reviewed.
Best Trading Tools: TD Ameritrade is one of the best day trading platforms due to its exceptional tools and feature set. Using TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform, you can trade stocks, options, ETFs and futures. It offers more than 300 technical indicators, far surpassing any other day trading platform we reviewed. You have access to dozens of visual chart options and forecasting tools to help you create strategies based on a security’s likely future position. You also have access to real-time market news to help you make the best decisions regarding your trades and the current market.
How We Ranked the Best Day Trading Platforms
When looking for the best day trading platforms, we only considered companies that were well-known among online stock brokers and that provide a full online platform and a mobile app. Additionally, all the trading platforms we evaluated offer options trading and provide a full feature set with analytical tools. These guidelines ruled out companies such as Motif and Robin Hood, which do not offer options trading and have limited with investment choices.
What We Tested and What We Found
When testing day trading platforms, we contacted each broker in the comparison and received access to the full platform, not a demo. This allowed us to test and utilize all the features and tools available in the software.
When testing, our reviewers used both the desktop platform and the mobile app from each company in our comparison. Our reviewers, who have different experience levels in stock trading, noted their observations while using each program.
During testing, our reviewers first began with basic tasks such as making a simple trade and setting up watch lists and alerts. They then began to utilize more advanced features and tools offered by each platform such as making more complex trades and setting up option chains. They also used the analytical charts within the platform and tested how simple it was to connect to a bank and to tax programs. They went through the same process when testing the mobile apps as well.
When the testing process was complete, the reviewers gathered their information and compared results. The following is what they found:
Ease of Use: The best software is very straightforward and simple to navigate. You need to find information easily and place trades quickly, and the best applications should provide an interface that allows you to do just that. The best software lets you modify windows and information according to your specific needs. Some day trading software is very static and some features require more steps than are necessary.
Mobile Apps: A mobile app should provide most of the features found on the main platform. You should easily be able to place trades, set up alerts and watch lists, and fund accounts, all while away from your computer. Some mobile apps are very limited in their capabilities and waste time due to poor functionality.
Other Factors to Consider
A comprehensive and simple-to-use platform is crucial when looking for the best day trading software. However, these should not be your only determining factors. Here are several additional aspects we considered when looking for the best day trading software.
Pricing: The price for making trades varies, typically from $4.95 to $8.99 per trade. Options trades will have an additional fee, as low as $0.40 per contract.
We found that many online brokers have recently lowered their prices to stay competitive. However, look out for companies that charge hidden account fees or maintenance fees. Some companies may boast low prices but will require you to make a minimum number of trades before you can receive the low prices they are marketing.
In addition to these fees, you should consider the margin rates from each company. While we did not include the margin rates into our scoring, these rates vary greatly from one company to another. The interest you will pay depends on your account balance, with higher balances receiving much lower interest rates. Additionally, these rates are subject to change and will fluctuate depending on numerous economic factors.
Trading Tools: We looked at several specific trading tools offered by each broker. One such feature is the number of technical indicators the online broker provides. Some companies offer very few technical indicators while TD Ameritrade offers more than 300. We also looked for forecasting tools provided by each broker as well as risk vs. rewards calculators.
Educational Resources: We also evaluated the educational resources and options available from each online broker. While most day trading platforms offer a handful of articles, blog and tutorials, we also looked for webinars and video guides. The best services also provide instructional courses and FAQs on both financial topics and how to fully utilize the software. During our research and testing, two platforms, Fidelity and E*TRADE stood out with the quality and quantity of their educational resources.
Features for the Advanced and High-Volume Traders
Advanced and high-volume traders need more than the basic features. If you want to execute complex trades, look for trading software with the following features:
Portfolio Management Tools
High-volume traders need automated tools that track their performance. They need the tools to stay on top of their accounts, balances, history and positions. Many platforms provide account summaries with detailed information about orders, gains and losses, balances and restrictions, all in one place. It’s also useful to view real-time tax details and other balance displays.
Create Multiple Orders Simultaneously
This feature will vary with each platform, but some day trading software will let you create 20 or more orders at once with a multi-trade ticket.
Access to Real-Time Market News
The market fluctuates constantly, and you need to stay up to date to make the best trading decisions. Many of the platforms we reviewed offer streaming capabilities on both your desktop and your mobile device.
Many platforms are static and simplistic and offer very few customization features. If you are managing a significant amount of information, you need a platform that lets you view the information you care about. Some software also allows you to create shortcuts, making it even easier to place trades and access information.
More Day Trading Software Recommendations
Best Mobile Trading App: E*TRADE provides one of the most detailed and comprehensive mobile apps we reviewed. The mobile app provides many of the features and tools you will find on the platform, and its interface is extremely straightforward. It is also compatible on a variety of devices, including iPhones, Androids and the Windows 8 Phone.
Best Simulated Trading Tools
If you are anxious about using a new day trading platform when your own money is on the line, simulated trading tools are vital. Many brokers offer some type of simulated trading program, but optionsXpress provides a detailed and extensive feature. You are given $25,000 of virtual cash to make trades with. While in the simulated trading program, you can use many of the platform’s tools and features, including forecasting and risk vs. reward analysis. You can become fully immersed in the software without taking any risks.
Day trading can be an excellent way to make money, but you need to have the right tools and resources to make it happen. We tested and evaluated these day trading platforms to find the best and most comprehensive solution.