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Best Online Trading Platforms in 2020

Kane Pepi

Author: Kane Pepi

Are you looking to find the best trading platforms of 2020? If so, you’ll know first hand that there are now hundreds, if not thousands of investment brokers operating in the space. As such, knowing which platform to go with is no easy feat.

The best starting point is to consider what it is you’re looking for in a broker. For example, are you looking for a platform that offers thousands of financial instruments, or are you more concerned with fast withdrawals? Similarly, if you’re looking to trade high volumes, you’ll likely want to stick with platforms that offer low fees.

Either way, we would suggest reading our in-depth guide on the Best Trading Platforms of 2020. Within it, not only we will list the best three platforms currently in the market, but we’ll also provide you with the ins and outs of what you need to look out for prior to joining a new broker.

Note: You need to ensure that you are from an eligible country prior to opening an account with a new trading platform. This is especially true if you’re based in the US, as brokers need to be regulated by the relevant licencing bodies.

On this Page:

    Our Recommended Trading Platform 2020:

    • Trade Stocks, Forex, Crypto and more
    • Only $200 Minimum Deposit
    • Fully Regulated
    • Easy to Use Trading Platform
    75% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

    What Criteria are Used to Rank the Best Trading Platforms?

    ❓How many financial instruments does the broker list?

    ❓How much does the broker charge in trading fees and commissions?

    ❓What deposit and withdrawal methods does the broker support?

    ❓How long does it take to get your account verified?

    ❓What trading features and charting tools does the broker offer?

    Top 3 Trading Platforms Online

    Fully in-line with the criteria outlined above, we have listed the best 3 trading platforms currently active in the market. We have included an option for both beginners and more advanced traders, so be sure to read through the pros and cons listed beneath each broker.

    1. eToro – Best Trading Platform for Beginners

    eToro has grown to exponential heights over the past few years, with the online investment platform now home to millions of retail traders. First and foremost, eToro lists thousands of financial instruments for you to trade.

    This includes traditional stocks and shares from heaps of international exchanges, as well as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. If you’re keen to trade CFDs (contract-for-differences), you’ll be pleased to know that eToro lists most asset classes. This covers precious metals, energies, futures, options, and even government bonds.

    When it comes to fees, eToro does not charge any commissions to trade. Instead, it covers its costs from the spread. You will have the option to deposit funds with a range of everyday payment methods, such as a debit/credit card, bank account, or e-wallet.

    Finally, eToro is well known for bringing the ‘Social Trading‘ phenomenon to the online brokerage space. This allows you to copy the trades like-for-like from experienced investors. Crucially, this means that eToro is suited to both newbie and more advanced traders.

    Key Points:

    💳 Supports multiple payment methods including e-wallets

    💳 No trading fees other than the spread

    💳 Fast registration and KYC process

    💳 Thousands of financial instruments to choose from

    💳 Perfect for beginners

    2. e-Trade – Best for Advanced Traders

    If you find that the likes of eToro are too basic for your trading needs, then it might be worth considering e-Trade. The platform allows you to trade thousands of securities without needing to pay any fees or commissions.

    This covers everything from stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options, and futures. As a seasoned investor, you’ll be pleased to know that e-Trade offers a number of advanced trading tools. This includes more than 100 technical chart indicators, drawing tools, and the option to fully customize your trading screen.

    We also like the e-Trade mobile trading platform. This is great if you have a tendency to open and close trades while on the move. Although the platform is suited to experienced investors, we also like the fact that there is no account minimum. This allows you to fully test out the broker with small amounts prior to committing long term.

    Key Points:

    💳 More than 4,000 financial instruments supported

    💳 100+ technical indicators and drawing tools

    💳 No fees or commissions other than the spread

    💳 Fully optimized mobile platform for trading on the move

    💳 Great reputation – especially with US investors

    3. TD Ameritrade – Best for Longer-Term Trades

    While the trading platforms we have discussed thus far focus on short-term trading, you might want to consider the merits of TD Ameritrade if you’re looking to hold on to your investments long-term.

    The U.S. based broker is one of the most recognized trading platforms globally, with a reputation that exceeds 45 years. You will have the option of buying and selling heaps of traditional securities. This includes direct access to major stock exchanges such as the NYSE, Nasdaq, and the LSE. The broker also offers mutual funds, bonds, futures, options, and even a fully-fledged forex department.

    If you’re a qualified investor, you’ll also be able to invest in IPOs through TD Ameritrade. In terms of fees, TD Ameritrade offers commission-free trading on its ETFs and mutual funds. The only caveat to this is that you’ll need to hold on to your investment for at least one month. If you don’t, you’ll pay a rather hefty $13,90 per trade, so only use the broker if you’re looking to play the long-term game.

    Key Points:

    💳 45 years in the retail and institutional trading space

    💳 Lists most asset classes

    💳 Qualified traders can invest in IPOs 

    💳 No trading fees if you hold on to your ETF or mutual fund for at least 30 days

    💳 Heavily regulated

    What to Consider When Choosing a Trading Platform?

    Although we have listed our top three trading platforms to consider in 2020, you still need to perform your own research. This is to ensure that the trading platform meets your individual needs prior to depositing funds. You should make a number of considerations such as the trading fees charged, deposit methods supported, number of financial instruments listed, eligibility requirements, and more.

    To help you along the way we have listed the main factors that you need to consider when choosing a new trading platform.

    • Regulatory Considerations – Does it Hold a Trading License?

    Regulation in the online trading arena is awfully complex. The main reason for this is that depending where the broker is located, they will be required to hold certain licenses. For example, trading platforms typically need licenses for both their securities and CFD offerings.

    Moreover, if the trading platform seeks to accept customers from the US, then it needs to ensure that it has the required regulatory standing. Key licensing bodies to look out for include the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC)

    • Platform Fees and Charges

    On top of the platform’s regulatory standing, you also need to spend some time assessing fees. This starts at the very offset with deposit fees for your chosen payment method. You should then explore how the platform charges you to make trades. Some platforms will charge a fee for each trade that you make, while others will charge an annual maintenance fee. A number of brokers now offer commission-free trading, although you will still pay fees indirectly via the spread.

    • Financial Instruments Coverage

    Once you’ve looked at regulation and fees, you then need to explore what financial instruments the platform supports. If you’ve got a specific niche that you like to trade – such as forex, commodities, or stocks, then choose a broker that specializes in your chosen asset class. If not, then you are best off choosing a trading platform with a highly extensive listing of assets.

    • Payment Methods

    Newbie traders often overlook the payment department. Firstly, you’ll need to see what payment methods the broker supports to deposit and withdraw funds. This should include the likes of debit/credit cards and a bank wire. A number of brokers are now supporting popular e-wallets such as PayPal and Skrill, too. You should also assess whether or not a minimum deposit or withdrawal amount is specified by the platform.

    • Customer Support

    Having access to top-grade customer support is crucial when trading online. We prefer platforms that offer live chat, as it’s by far the easiest way to contact customer service. We also like to see the option of telephone and email support. Most importantly, we prefer trading platforms that offer customer support around the clock. This ensures that you will always be able to speak with a support agent regardless of your location.

    • User-Friendliness

    If you’re a seasoned investor, then this particular metric likely won’t concern you. However, if you’re just starting out in the world of online trading, then it’s crucial that you stick with platforms that cater to newbies. This should include a simple deposit and withdrawal process.

    • Technical Indicators

    Experienced traders know first hand the importance of technical chart indicators. As such, if you’re a seasoned investor with the ability to read charts, you’ll want to choose a trading platform that offers heaps of technical tools.  This includes the likes of Parabolic Stop and Reverse, Exponential Averages, Bollinger Bands, and Fibonacci Levels.

    Am I Eligible to Join a Trading Platform?

    Although the best trading platforms typically have a global presence, not all nationalities will be supported. This is usually dictated by the licenses the platform holds. In particular, investors from the US are often prohibited from joining an online broker because the platform is not regulated by the SEC. We would suggest checking whether your country of residence is supported before attempting to open an account.

    If your country is supported, you will also need to ensure that you are aged 18 years or older. Regardless of which broker you use, you will need to go through a KYC (Know Your Customer) program before you can deposit funds. This is to ensure that the trading platform remains compliant with its licensing bodies. The KYC process requires you to verify your identity and country of residence. You can do this easily by uploading a copy of your government-issued ID and proof of address.

    What Financial Instruments can you Trade?

    One of the most important factors that you need to assess before joining a new brokerage platform is the type of instruments that you can trade. This should include asset classes such as stocks and shares, futures, options, commodities, mutual funds, and cryptocurrencies. You also need to explore how many instruments you can trade within each asset class.

    We’ve listed the most common asset classes that the best trading platforms typically list below.

    • Trading platforms for stocks

    Stocks and shares are still the most popular asset class traded in the online space. This covers blue-chip companies like Apple, IBM, Netflix, Facebook, Ford Motors, and British American Tobacco. Most trading platforms will cover the major stock markets such as the NYSE, Nasdaq, JSE, and the LSE. Some trading platforms will also support less liquid stock exchanges. This could include markets in Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong, or Canada.

    Learn more about buying stocks and shares here.

    • Commodities Trading

    Commodities trading is a multi-trillion dollar industry that typically operates on a 24/7 basis. This covers precious metals such as gold and silver, and energies like oil and gas. Commodity prices are mainly affected by real-world news events, so it’s crucial that you are kept abreast of current affairs. For example, if tensions in the Middle East are on the rise, the price of oil will likely increase.

    • Indexes

    If you’re keen to invest in the stocks and shares space, but you can’t quite decide on which equities to back, it might be worth considering an index. These cover the wider stock markets, subsequently allowing you to invest in hundreds of companies via a single trade. For example, the FTSE 100 covers the 100 largest companies traded on the London Stock Exchange, and the S&P 500 covers the 500 largest companies listed in the US.

    • Futures and Options

    Futures and options allow you to place more sophisticated trades on your chosen asset class. They essentially allow you to speculate on the future price of an asset without actually owning it. For example, if you feel that the price of natural gas is due to increase within the next couple of months, you can purchase a 3-month futures contract.

    • ETFs

    In a similar nature to futures and options, Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) allow you to invest in an asset without actually owning or storing it. ETFs will track the real-world movement of a particular asset such as gold or US dollars, and you can go both long and short. As such, ETFs are perfect if you want to profit from an asset when the markets are down. One of the most anticipated ETFs is that of Bitcoin, although it could be some time before we see one.

    • Trading platforms for bitcoin and cryptocurrency

    Although cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have only been around for 11 years, the industry is now a multi-billion dollar market. As such, a number of online platforms now allow you to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies at the click of a button.  The easiest way to do this is via a cryptocurrency CFD. This will allow you to invest in cryptocurrencies without needing to worry about the hassle of storing it in a private wallet.

    Learn more about cryptocurrency trading here.

    Summary – Choosing a Trading Platform

    In summary, there are now thousands of trading platforms operating in the online space. Never before has it been so easy to buy and sell assets from the comfort of your own home, and most platforms even allow you to trade while on the go via a mobile phone. However, with so many brokers offering their services, knowing which platform to open an account with can be challenging.

    With that being said, we hope that you now have a firm understanding of what you need to look out for when choosing a new trading platform. Whether it’s regulation, low fees, deposit methods, the number of financial instruments, or withdrawal times, we’ve covered all bases.

    Ultimately, you need to ensure that the trading platform is right for your individual needs prior to parting with your money.  The most efficient way of achieving this is to start with small amounts as a means of testing the broker out. Once you’re happy with the service being offered, you can then make a larger commitment.

    Our Recommended Trading Platform 2020:

    • Trade Stocks, Forex, Crypto and more
    • Only $200 Minimum Deposit
    • Fully Regulated
    • Easy to Use Trading Platform
    75% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

    FAQs

    How do I find a trading platform that is suitable for newbie traders?

    A number of trading platforms now market their services to newbie traders. For the purpose of this guide, we have recommended eToro. Not only does the platform make it easy to trade, but you can also copy the trades of other investors.

    How are trading fees calculated?

    There are a number of different ways that trading platforms calculate fees. This can be a fixed fee every time you place a trade, or an annual maintenance fee. Some brokers will not charge any trading fees per-say, although you'll pay in the form of the spread.

    What is leverage?

    If an online trading platform offers leverage, this means that you can trade with more than you have in your account. For example, if you apply leverage at a ratio of 10:1, you would only need to fund your trade with 10% of the total investment size.

    Will I need to provide ID when I join a trading platform?

    In order to remain compliant with its licensing bodies, online trading platforms must confirm your identity before allowing you to trade. You can do this by uploading a copy of your ID and proof of address.

    Are commission-free brokers <em>really</em> free?

    In reality, there is no such thing as a 'commission-free broker'. Although you might not pay any commissions, you will pay fees indirectly via the spread. You can calculate this by working out the percentage difference between the 'bid' and 'ask' price.

    How do I withdraw funds from a trading platform?

    Most trading platforms require you to make a withdrawal to your bank account.

    What is the fastest way to fund my trading platform account?

    If you're looking to deposit funds instantly, you'll need to use a debit or credit card.

     

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    All trading carries risk. Views expressed are those of the writers only. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The opinions expressed in this Site do not constitute investment advice and independent financial advice should be sought where appropriate. This website is free for you to use but we may receive commission from the companies we feature on this site.
    Kane Pepi

    Kane holds academic qualifications in the finance and financial investigation fields. With a passion for all-things finance, he currently writes for a number of online publications.

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