Best Day Trading Platform for Day Traders 2019 – Top 3
As a day trader, your long term success depends mainly on using the best day trading platform at any time.
What you need are extraordinary low costs, excellent stock analysis tools, and the best possible stock screener functionalities.
New to day trading? Read my guide “Day Trading for Beginners”
I know, there are a few other articles about the best day trading platforms available. But ask yourself two questions:
- Are those people who have written the articles really day traders?
- Have they ever traded at all?
Probably not, but I am in this business for more than 20 years. I know exactly what day traders looking for.
My top list with the best day trading platforms does only contain three different brokerages.
That’s because you cannot use any web- or app-based brokerage platform for day trading.
I am still impressed by what most big finance sites recommend to their readers to make money selling accounts.
You will never make money with a web-based platform.
Because along with the already mentioned requirements, there is one more important thing:
Why Speed Matters When Talking about the Best Day Trading Platform
Order execution speed is so important when day trading. Some milliseconds can make a massive difference for your day trading profits.
As a day trader, you are trading volatile markets.
You consider trading low float stocks.
You are ready to trade fast day trading strategies like the gap and go pattern.
Coming to late can mean that your trade execution price is 5 cents worse (or more) than it should.
Imagine you are trading with 1,000 stocks per order.
What if you miss your original order entry price by 5 cents?
Then you just lost $50 only with your first order compared to those day traders, who are using the best day trading platforms.
The average day trader executes at least 100 orders per month.
If you fall behind $50 per trade, then you literally lost $5,000 just because of using a slow brokerage.
Wouldn’t you feel better having those $5,000 on your account? Now we speak! So here are the top three-day trading platforms of all times.
Best Day Trading Platform – Top 3
Brokers with the best day trading platforms are:
- Interactive Brokers: Overall best for day trading and trade automation
- TD Ameritrade: Best retail day trading platform
- Lightspeed Trading: Best for institutions and companies
Account Minimum for active day trading: $25,000 (day trading in the US requires a minimum of $25,000)
Interactive Brokers Commissions:
$.0035 per share (minimum of $0.35 per order)
- 1 share: $0.35
- 100 shares: $0.35 per Order
- 500 shares: $1.75 per Order
- 1,000 shares: $3.50 per Order
Interactive Brokers does not offer a per trade plan. They just provide the lowest costs per trade.
Routing- and regulatory fees, as well as routing rebates, apply to all orders depending on your trading style.
In average, those will be about $.002 per share (no minimum).
Alternatively, you can choose the “all inclusive” fixed pricing structure which includes both – the commissions, routing and regulatory fees for a price per share of $.005 with a minimum of $1 per trade.
Best Trading Platforms offered by Interactive Brokers with the best price-performance ratio:
- Traderworkstation = $0 per month if at least $10 commissions paid
Market Data Examples:
- $10 per month for all equities markets, waived if at least $30 commissions paid
or Level 2:
- NYSE Open Book: $11 per month
- NASDAQ Level 2 w/Book Depth: $15 per month
Interactive Brokers Advantages:
- Automated trading based on Trade Ideas signal via API possible (Brokerage Plus)
- Listed at IEX (Symbol: IBKR)
- Overall pricing structure easy to understand
Interactive Brokers Disadvantages:
- Filtered market data
- The trading platform is not that handy for beginners
- One single trader will probably never reach the lowest commission rates
Conclusion: Interactive Brokers is an excellent and probably the only choice for day traders who like to automate their trading.
Trade Ideas, my favorite stock scanner can be connected to Interactive Brokers via Brokerage Plus+.
Also, long term investors chose Interactive Brokers for a good reason.
So for me, Interactive Brokers is the best choice for investors and automated trading enthusiasts. Just for everyone who understood that the fee structure is important.
If you compare Interactive Brokers with Lightspeed Trading then IB lacks only in one aspect. Lightspeed is a bit more beneficial in terms of the data feed because the market data is unfiltered. Thats it.
Interactive Brokers is the way to go when it comes to the best day trading platform.
More about Interactive Brokers: Interactive Brokers Review
Well, as a day trader, you need a company that provided exactly the tools you need to day trade. It is useless to go with a brokerage like Ally Invest.
Don’t get me wrong.
Ally Invest is great. But they only have a web interface where you can enter your order. This is okay for investors but not for day traders.
So what is your alternative if you neither like to go with Lightspeed nor with Interactive Brokers?
Well, finally you might end up with one of the biggest brokerages in the United States - TD Ameritrade.
With a market cap. Of more than 30 billion USD, the online broker which is listed with the stock symbol AMTD is the best way to go.
However, you pay a ridiculous amount of money trading with TD Ameritrade compared to Lightspeed Trading and Interactive Brokers.
The pricing is $6.95 per trade!
Compared to IB and Lightspeed, where the typical minimum is only $1 per trade, you are going to pay way too much.
The only benefit I see is that the trading platform thinkorswim is included in the price.
See also: How to use thinkorswim
And for that reason it can be beneficial to go with TD Ameritrade if you are a day trader, but not an active day trader.
Let’s assume that you day trade only 10 times per month and your trade size is 1,000 stocks per trade.
So you will have 10 buy orders and 10 sell orders for a total of 20 trades per month.
Here is the math:
20*$6.95=$139 (day trading platform, fees, commissions, etc. all included).
So if you are more of an investor looking interested in doing some day trades, then TD Ameritrade is the best online stock broker for beginners.
See also: TD Ameritrade Review
Account Minimum for active day trading: $25,000 (day trading in the US requires a minimum of $25,000)
Standard Lightspeed Commissions:
$.0045 per share (minimum of $1 per order)
- 1 share: $1
- 100 shares: $1 per Order
- 500 shares: $2.25 per Order
- 1,000 shares: $4.50 per Order
Alternative: Per trade plan standard commissions: $4.50 per trade (instead of per share pricing).
The per trade plan only makes sense if your average trade volume per trade is >1,000 shares. Otherwise, the per share plan is more beneficial.
Best Trading Platforms offered by Lightspeed with the best price-performance ratio:
- Lightspeed Trader $130 per month (minus commissions paid)
- Sterling Trader $230-$260
Market Data Examples
- $10 per month for all equities markets
or Level 2:
- NYSE Open Book: $15 per month
- NASDAQ Level 2 w/Book Depth: $16 per month
Lightspeed Trading Advantages
- Fast order execution
- Unfiltered market data
- Service desk with traders at the other end of the line
- Competitive pricing structure
- Two great trading platforms
- Together in the daytradingz.com group, we can get commissions as low as $.001 per share traded
Lightspeed Trading Disadvantages
- $130 commissions needed per month to get the Lightspeed Trader monthly fee waived
- No API for automated trading with Trade Ideas
Conclusion: Lightspeed Trading is the right choice for day traders that need fast order executions, multiple routing options, a reliable day trading platform. But compared to Interactive Brokers, Lightspeed Trading has some disadvantages too.
More about Lightspeed Trading: Lightspeed Trading Review
Best Day Trading Platform Summary
So which way to go?
My personal favorite is Interactive Brokers.
But you should not rely on my words alone and build your own opinion.
All three companies offer a platform demo. Give it a try and find out which one suits you the best.
If you are still uncertain how to proceed, then the best way to go is to open an account with both brokerages, execute some trades and decide based on the experiences made.
Also, make sure to give both companies a call. The more competent your questions are being answered, the better it is.
Remember, you going to day trade thousands of stocks. It is crucial to have someone on the phone immediately.
If you are mainly interested in investing then consider reading this article:
Anyway, this article here is about the best day trading platform.
When you are either an active day trader or if you plan to become an active day trader, then Interactive Brokers is the only realistic option you have.
And please do me one favor. Forget about those brokerages like TradeZero offering to trade without fees! As a day trader, they are entirely useless for you! The same goes for investment apps like Robin Hood and Webull. They are beneficial for investors, but not for day traders.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Find the Best Online Broker?
First of all, you have to ask yourself what securities you want to trade and in what frequency.
This article is about the best day trading platforms available. As you saw, there are only a few brokerage companies that fit the needs of day traders.
If your preference is to invest or swing-trade, then you should read this article:
If you feel uncertain if you should start investing in stocks, then you might better choose a demo account first: Free Paper Trading Accounts
Also, if you want to trade futures or forex, then you have to look specifically for a broker that’s the best one for this niche:
And if you have general questions about brokerage accounts, then you should read this comprehensive guide:
Before you open a brokerage account, you should better know exactly how and what you want to trade. At the same time, you have to be sure of your priorities.
It makes a big difference if you are a day trader, a swing trader, or an investor.
While a day trader needs execution in light-speed and the lowest possible rates, a swing trader has to be more flexible, and an investor has to be focused on the capital strength of the online brokerage.
Let me give you an example.
Pattern day traders, as the SEC defines them, need to have a minimum amount of $25,000 in equity on their accounts.
Besides this, day traders have to be approved for margin trading – even if their broker’s account minimum is lower.
If their brokerage is located outside the U.S., they are regulated, and the minimum is lower.
But other regulations may lead to other disadvantages.
So, please, be careful at this point.
There is a reason why the regulations were made as they are.
The SEC wants to protect the investors for a good reason.
It is a basic rule that the more money you deposit on your account, the more you should be focused on the financial strength of the online brokerage company that you have chosen.
Because in the case of a bankruptcy, an account with a deposit of $500 may be a small problem.
But if you intend to let your investment work for you - with the focus on your pension plan -, the bankruptcy of your brokerage will cause you a lot more trouble than you ever could imagine.
So, when you consider the importance of safety, paying marginally higher brokerage fees is not always a bad idea.
Is There One Brokerage Firm That Offers All I Need?
There is no single online brokerage and trading platform that covers everything - from trading stocks, options, and futures to trading forex and exotic financial products.
The good news is that there are excellent trading platforms for all kinds of preferences a trader may have.
So, if you define clearly what you want to trade, it will be much easier to make the right decision when you choose your online brokerage trading platform.
If you want to trade stocks, search for the best online stock broker.
If you prefer trading options, - yes, search for the perfect options broker.
I know, this may sound very simple.
And yes, it is simple, but sometimes these simple things have to be mentioned to be aware of them.
What Is the Role of Trading Education?
You need excellent skills before you invest and trade. Like in any other profession, the better you are educated, the better the results will be.
Free training resources are a significant advantage these days.
But everywhere on the internet, you will find necessary information about how to trade stocks, options, futures, and forex.
We are not living in 1990 anymore.
There are great trading educators and trading tools on the market.
See also: Day Trading Courses
And there is one trading educator I like to mention separately.
Ross Cameron, the founder of Warrior Trading, is the only trading educator I know that publishes his account statements online and recently grew his account from ~$500 to 1 Million USD.
See also: Warrior Trading Review
Now you may think: “Oh, no, this will cost a lot of time and money.”
But here you better ask yourself the following questions.
How much does it cost to study?
How much money does a company invest in your education for a job from 9 to 5?
It is the same in the financial markets.
Your training is, and trading tools may help you to improve your skills.
Ask yourself what you already know so far, what you want to learn and where you want to be and make sure to choose the way that offers the highest effectiveness and efficiency.
Keep your stress level low and choose the right trading platform to make sure that trading the financial markets will be fun.
It doesn’t help you and your family if you are stressed because you are losing money and because you are focused on the wrong things.
Trading may be a tough business when you walk in the wrong direction.
What Are the Best Trading Tools?
Lightspeed Trading, Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade provide excellent in-house trading tools.
But their tools like market scanners are not their priority.
The functionalities are good but not perfect.
As an investor, you can use the stock screeners provided by your broker.
As a day trader, you need more.
Trade Ideas is my favorite stock screener, and I don’t know how I should find the right stocks to trade without their stock screener.
I wrote a comprehensive Trade Ideas review that can be found here:
And Trade Ideas does not only provide a great stock screener. They also enable you to use trade automation, strategy detection, and much more.
Their technology is based on A.I. technology, and they also provide a free trading chat room.