Best Trading Platform

In order to find the best online stock trading platform you first need to decide what type of stock trading you will be doing. Different trading methods require different tools and/or software packages. Make a list of trading tools that you need that best fits your trading style. Then do a search for the online broker that has the stock trading software that best suits your needs.

The first question to ask yourself is "what type of trading am I going to do?"  There are basically 3 types:

1.  The day trader that profits on the intraday movements of stocks (also daytrading or scalping).  Typically positions are not held overnight and are closed by end of the day's trading session.

2.  Swing trading which generally holds positions anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The service is primarily swing trades with some longer term holding positions.

3. Then there is the long term (or intermediate) investor where you are holding positions from a few weeks to months or even a year or longer.  Long term buy and hold investing is not performing as well as swing trading.    Swing and long term investors will generally benefit from the same stock trading software. Day traders need different features.

For the day trader, you need a platform that can execute stock trades fast and efficiently. Timing is very important so being able to buy and sell stocks quickly is a must.  You will also need a scanner in order to find intraday trade ideas. A news feature along with this is important so you can try to understand why it is moving before you enter your trade. 

Commissions are important for the online day trader to consider. Because of the numerous intraday stock purchases you will likely be doing, you want to be sure to find an online broker with a low cost for stock trades. Lastly, and one that is most often overlooked, is to find a broker that has a good inventory for shorts. Many of the larger firms do not have many shorts available. Since there are many intraday ideas to trade both on the long side and the short side, you want to be sure you are able to take the trades you find.

We prefer the NinjaTrader's platform and it's very well developed.  It has many indicators to setup on your charts.  You can use different datafeeds for stock,futures and forex quotes.  In fact, we designed our Lightning Trading System to use on NinjaTrader. 

Swing traders and long term investors are going to want to have a platform that has a good variety of custom orders. Since you probably won't be sitting in front of your computer 24/7 you want the capability of having custom orders already set. There are some brokers that do not offer this. It's always best to enter your stop loss orders in your brokerage account.  Also, consider putting some profit targets when your initial order is filled so you can move on and not worry about it.   It is a "set it and forget it" mentality and whatever happens in the news your order can execute whether bad news affects it or it continues to move up in price.

Other features in a platform may include watchlists, heatmaps, scanners, and newsfeeds as well. Commissions aren't as high of a priority as is the case with day traders since you probably wont be doing as many trades. Be sure to look at the availability of shorts because this will be important for swing traders as well.

By making a list, researching, and possibly seeking advice online through trading blogs and trading forums, you will be able to come up with the best trading platform that suits your needs. Everyone is different so there isn't a one-size fits all online broker. Take your time and weigh all the options because this will be an important step in your successful career trading stocks.

TradeStocksAmerica Staff

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