The decision to start day trading is a serious one that can quickly become overwhelming. Online Trading Academy specializes in educating and training individuals about stocks, forex, futures, and options as well as investment strategies based on the student’s trading style. The website offers a variety of free and paid courses in addition to its Extended Learning Track, or XLT, offerings.

In February 2020, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it had sued Online Trading Academy (OTA), alleging that "OTA uses false or unfounded earnings claims to sell 'training programs' costing as much as $50,000." In April 2020, the FTC further announced that "a federal court has granted the Federal Trade Commission’s request for a preliminary injunction to halt the alleged illegal practices of Online Trading Academy." In September 2020, OTA entered a settlement agreement with the FTC, requiring the financial education website to offer debt forgiveness to thousands of consumers and pay more than $10 million in reparations to the injured parties.

Key Takeaways

  • Online Trading Academy specializes in educating and training individuals about stocks, forex, futures, and options.
  • Students can participate on-site at any of the 40 Financial Education Centers worldwide or take online courses at home. 
  • Online Trading Academy allows prospective students to sample the program via free courses before committing to its fee-based training.
  • Completing Online Trading Academy courses does not guarantee a return significant enough to offset the initial cost.
  • To make the most informed decision, prospective students should also explore educational offerings provided by leading brokerage houses.

Online Trading Academy launched in 1997 as one of the largest trading floors in the United States, providing managers and high-performing traders with daily coaching sessions on trading with higher consistency and profitability. In 2001, the organization switched its focus to an education model, building a community of over 200,000 investors.

The Pros

The reasons for choosing Online Trading Academy as an educational resource certainly add up. For almost two decades, the organization has equipped a growing community of traders and investors with the skills necessary for making informed investment decisions. From live online courses to learning the popular TradeStation platform, there is no shortage of class offerings. Online Trading Academy also allows interested individuals to sample the program via free courses before deciding to commit to its fee-based courses. Additionally, the organization boasts an extensive list of more than 100 dedicated instructors with real-world trading experience.

The Cons

As robust as the program may be, it’s not without its potential downsides. Courses cost thousands and possibly tens of thousands of dollars, which may be the most significant deterrent for prospective students with financial constraints. Others may be unwilling to outlay that much money on an education that cannot guarantee a significant enough return to offset the initial cost. Online Trading Academy's disclosure even states that students should consider trading accounts speculative, meaning one cannot be guaranteed protection against a financial loss.

How it Compares to Competitors

Online Trading Academy has an ongoing support system for exclusive students that allow for better feedback and interaction between instructors and students. Many of Online Trading Academy's competitors, such as Trading Advantage and Open Trader, seem to have very similar services, but none list their prices. Visitors have to enter in their contact information to receive additional information. One can be confident that these offerings will be priced comparably to Online Trading Academy's offering. A request for personal information to determine how much the courses cost may strike a prospective student as questionable. Still, it doesn’t necessarily mean the program isn’t on the up and up.

Alternatives

There are many choices out there when it comes to investing and trading education. One option is to explore offerings provided by leading brokerage houses like Fidelity, Charles Schwab (SCHW), TD Ameritrade (AMTD) and E-Trade (ETFC). Not only do these companies have a considerable number of online tutorials for their clients, but they also host periodic on-site seminars in their branches, along with webinars for new and experienced traders. Local investment clubs are an affordable, easy way to build a trading knowledge base through conversations with those already doing what you seek to learn. There are various websites out there that offer free tutorials and more in-depth videos for a small price. Fortunately, there's no shortage of options when it comes to finding educational trading and investing resources.

The Bottom Line

Online Trading Academy is a reputable organization that has been in the business of educating people about investing and trading for two decades. Its on-location and online offerings are in-depth, and the organization gives students the flexibility to maximize learning possibilities in whatever environment suits them best. However, prospective students need to consider Online Trading Academy's steep price tag and many substitutes before deciding to sign-up. Fortunately, there are numerous, more cost-effective alternatives out there for traders to consider. One such option is Investopedia Academy's "Become a Day Trader" course taught by David Green, a 30-year Wall Street trading veteran.