When choosing an online broker, day traders place a premium on speed, reliability, and low cost. Features designed to appeal to long-term, infrequent traders are unnecessary for day traders, who generally start a trading day with no positions in their portfolios, make numerous transactions, and end the day having closed all of those trades. Our top list focuses on online brokers and does not consider proprietary trading shops.

Best Online Brokers for Day Trading:

Interactive Brokers: Best Broker for Day Trading

4.6
  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Maximum $0.005 per share for Pro platform or 1% of trade value, $0 for IBKR Lite
Read full review

Why We Chose It

Selecting brokers in the day trading category is a challenge because our top two competitors, TradeStation and Interactive Brokers, are both incredibly robust. However, Interactive Brokers (IBKR) has repeated as our overall winner and the majority of our subcategories for trading on the strength of its market reach internationally, its asset depth, and the fact that all of this can be accessed through the feature rich Traders Workstation (TWS). Interactive Brokers also has the best margin rates in the industry, and that will be a key factor for day traders using leverage to amplify returns on their positions. On top of all this, IBKR added direct cryptocurrency trading capability in September 2021. So, although you do need to use an application program interface (API) to get some advanced algorithmic trading features and backtesting that TradeStation has in-platform, Interactive Brokers simply offers many more opportunities to create positions across assets and borders at every hour of the day.

Pros
  • Wide range of markets and assets

  • TWS has customizations and tools that will satisfy even the most sophisticated traders

  • Best margin rates for traders

Cons
  • Some nominal fees persist

  • TWS can take some time to learn

  • Some advanced algo trading will require an API (although same is true of many, many other competitors)

Interactive Brokers: Best for Advanced Day Traders

4.6
  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Maximum $0.005 per share for Pro platform or 1% of trade value, $0 for IBKR Lite
Read full review

Why We Chose It

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) remains our pick for advanced day traders, continuing another multi-year run. In this category, we assume advanced day traders are willing to bring third party solutions to make up for the gaps in back testing and automation in exchange for the wider access that Interactive Brokers provides in terms of international exchanges, an extensive selection of stocks on the easy-to-borrow list, and incredibly low margin rates. Advanced cryptocurrency day traders are now able to engage in direct coin trading as of September 2021, and everyone else will find that Interactive Brokers has all the assets, reach, and tools they need, along with a very attractive margin rate.

Pros
  • Superior order execution

  • Contingent orders for every conceivable situation

  • Low margin interest rates

  • Cryptocurrency joins a long list of tradable assets

Cons
  • IBKR's SmartRouter not available to IBKR Lite clients

  • TWS can take some time to learn

  • No backtesting of custom trading algorithms or automated trading

Interactive Brokers: Best Charting Platform for Day Traders

4.6
  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Maximum $0.005 per share for Pro platform or 1% of trade value, $0 for IBKR Lite
Read full review

Why We Chose It

When it comes to charting, Interactive Brokers and TradeStation are incredibly robust and customizable. Interactive Brokers wins our best charting platform for day traders primarily because more assets are contained within those charts. Rather than having to move between platforms, day traders can chart (and trade) futures, debt instruments, options, stocks, and more. So while other brokers like TD Ameritrade and TradeStation have robust charting, Interactive Brokers is made more functional by the wider selection of assets you can run through it.

Pros
  • Flexible tools and high level of platform customization

  • Trade directly from chart and create views to fit any specification

  • Chart and trade assets from markets across the world in one platform

Cons
  • Traders will likely need IBKR PRO rather than LITE for access to backtesting

  • TWS is complex, so it can take some time to fully adjust and customize

Webull: Best Low-Cost Day Trading Platform

3.6
  • Account Minimum: None
  • Fees: $0 commission to trade stocks, listed options, and ETFs
Read full review

Why We Chose It

Webull is essentially a no cost broker, not a low cost broker. Webull offers no-fee trading of US listed options in addition to stocks and ETFs. There is no account minimum and the margin rates are competitive. Day traders may be disappointed with a limited range of assets, but fixed income is likely the only one that will be missed in a multi-asset trading set-up. For some traders, this asset limitation may be offset by the inclusion of cryptocurrency trading. Moreover, Webull’s trading platform is actually quite robust considering it all comes for free.

Pros
  • Easy account setup and options approval, and no fees or minimums

  • Free real-time streaming quotes

  • Access to extended hours and pre-market trading

  • Competitive margin rates

Cons
  • Potential lag on execution due to payment for order flow (PFOF)

  • No access to fixed income, mutual funds, foreign exchange, or futures markets

  • Trading platform is intuitive, but not as customizable as some competitors' platforms

How Day Traders Use Their Online Broker

Day traders may place their trades manually, often from a chart, or set up an automated system that generates orders on their behalf. Fundamental data is not a concern, but the ability to monitor price volatility, liquidity, trading volume, and breaking news, is key to successful day trading. 

Day traders often prefer brokers who charge per share (rather than per trade). Traders also need real-time margin and buying power updates. Each broker ranked here affords their day-trading customers the ability to enter orders quickly by customizing the size of trades and turning off the trade confirmation screen. We sought brokers who allow traders to place multiple orders simultaneously, designate which trading venue will handle the order, and customize trading defaults.

Are You a Day Trader?

A key consideration for day traders is trading platform quality, which can impact things such as execution speed and price quotes. Day traders, especially those who trade using their own algorithms, need flawless data feeds or they risk entering orders based on errors in the data. In an environment where high-frequency traders place transactions in milliseconds, human traders must possess the best tools. Most brokers offer speedy trade executions, but slippage remains a concern. Traders should test for themselves how long a platform takes to execute a trade.

Commissions, margin rates, and other expenses are also top concerns for day traders. Even if a day trader can consistently beat the market, the profit from those positions must exceed the cost of commissions. For a high volume trader, commission costs can easily run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars per day. Traders can check these rates by contacting the broker or checking the broker website, but most offer special rates for highly active day traders.

It is also important for day traders to consider factors such as customer service and the broker’s financial stability. Customer service is vital during times of crisis. A crisis could be a computer crash or other failure when you need to reach support to place a trade. The best brokers offer dedicated account representatives for highly active day traders to assist in this regard. 

The financial strength of the firm is also important since small brokerages can and do go out of business, but the main player in whether or not you can recover your assets is the clearing firm. Take a look at FINRA's BrokerCheck page before signing on with a small firm to make sure they have not had claims filed against them for misdeeds or financial instability.

Take the Next Step to Invest
×
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.
Service
Name
Description

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. Our reviews are the result of months of evaluating all aspects of an online broker’s platform, including the user experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on its platforms, costs and fees, security, the mobile experience and customer service. We established a rating scale based on our criteria, collecting thousands of data points that we weighed into our star-scoring system.

When choosing an online broker, day traders place a premium on speed, reliability, and low cost. Features designed to appeal to long-term infrequent traders are unnecessary for day traders, who generally start a trading day with no positions in its portfolios, make a lot of transactions, and end the day with having closed all of those trades. The ability to monitor price volatility, liquidity, trading volume, and breaking news is key to successful day trading. Traders need real-time margin and buying power updates. Each broker ranked here affords its day-trading customers the ability to enter orders quickly by customizing the size of trades and turning off the trade confirmation screen. We sought brokers who allow traders to place multiple orders simultaneously, designate which trading venue will handle the order, and customize trading defaults.

Click here to read our full methodology.