The Investopedia Simulator is designed to help anyone learn the mechanics of buying and selling securities in a risk-free environment. This learning tool simulates the activities investors experience when placing orders through a broker. The Simulator provides real-time tracking for the changes in simulated investment value by showing users the performance of their investments.
You can get started by creating an account, researching stocks, options, and cryptocurrency, and executing trades. The Investopedia Simulator will track the value of your portfolio as you add or close positions. You can also compare your results to the performance of other practicing investors through Simulator games that you can join or start yourself.
- The Investopedia Simulator is a virtual trading tool designed to help potential investors improve their skills at trading and investing.
- It has powerful tools for conducting research and placing simulated trade orders.
- It tracks the value of investing positions close to real-time, with a very short delay.
- Simulator users can participate in games in which they compare their own investment performance to those of others.
To access the Simulator, you will need to create an account by clicking Get Started. The account is free and only requires that you specify your email, username, and password. It is useful to know that the email you provide won’t be flooded with spam because the Simulator is designed just for learning.
When you create your account, you will be automatically logged in. A new account has a default virtual balance of $100,000. This virtual money has no connection to real cash, but it can buy virtual shares that track the same as real shares.
It is easy to discover how the Investopedia Simulator works just by exploring the interface and trying out its functions. Note that there are two different environments to explore: Stocks and Crypto. Once you're logged in, you'll be taken to Your Portfolio. On the top right, you'll see the two options you can toggle between and then start trading.
Stocks Simulator Interface
The Stocks interface is divided into four functional areas: portfolio, trade, research, and games. The portfolio tab allows you to track simulated value changes for all positions you initiate. The trade tab lets you see price quotes and place orders like the functionality of an actual broker. The research tab helps you study price charts and review company information behind the stocks available for simulated trading. Lastly, the games tab allows you to join up with simulated investing competitions or even start one of your own.
Each of these functional areas can be explored quickly. It’s also comforting to know that any information you might need for defining unfamiliar terms is only a click away on the Investopedia site.
Researching What Stocks to Trade
Investors like to know the nature of their investment choices. Some prefer to conduct thorough due diligence by reviewing the business statements of a company before deciding to buy stock. This kind of fundamental analysis helps investors have the confidence to put money into a stock and leave it there for months or years with a long-term investing strategy. Other investors are comfortable simply reviewing price charts and conducting technical analyses of stocks.
Both types of analysis can be conducted quickly by looking in the research section. Simply clicking on one of the ticker symbols displayed on the research pages will take you to a summary page complete with an interactive chart, company profile, and fundamental data.
The research page also has a powerful stock screener built into it. This allows you to specify one or more attributes of companies you’d like to research. The functionality of the screener is very deep, but you don’t have to know everything about it to generate a list of possible stocks to review.
Executing a Virtual Stock Trade
Selecting the trade tab gives you access to executing trading orders. Here, you will first want to specify whether you are making a stock or option trade. Next, you specify the ticker symbol of the stock you want to trade or the underlying stock of the option contracts you want to trade. Either way, a price quote and chart will appear so that you can review the price at which the stock is currently trading.
When you have reviewed the price information, you can specify the action you want to take with your order: buy, sell, short, or buy to cover. This is the same functionality that exists on retail broker accounts with margin trading. However, only the most common three order types used in retail broker accounts are available: market, limit, or stop orders.
To execute an order, you might specify an action (buy), an order type (market), and a quantity of shares. There is a show max link available to allow you to see the maximum number of shares you can buy based on the available virtual cash in your Simulator account. If you buy the maximum shares possible, you will have put all your virtual cash into that company. If you want a portfolio with more than one stock position, you should avoid buying the maximum number of shares.
It is important to remember that the Simulator runs on data that is delayed by 15 minutes. That means it will take 15 minutes for any order you place to show up in your portfolio list.
Tracking Changes in Stock Value
The portfolio tab lists the positions you are holding and the current value of those positions based on market data. It gives you a quick snapshot of the account’s total balance as well as the total for each individual position. Quick stats show you how much gain or loss your account has made today, the annualized return you are making, and the remaining cash and buying power in the account.
You can also review performance history over multiple time frames and review your individual trade history, too. The historical trade data can be sorted into stocks, options, and short-selling positions. There is also a small panel on this page that displays your rank among all other active Simulator users.
How to Use the Stock Simulator in the Classroom (Or With Friends)
Since its inception, the Investopedia Simulator has been a hosting site for thousands of investing contests among friends, colleagues, and classmates. Today, the Simulator’s functions make these games easier than ever to get started and conduct. Both stock and option trades can be included in the challenge for a wider range of experiences.
For use by friends, family, students, and the like, the Simulator uses the Investopedia Trading Game as the default starting contest. But you can join any one of the thousands of public games that run without an end date. In the Games section, you'll want to search for games in the Join Game section. If you want to challenge your classmates or use the simulator in a teaching environment, you will want to define some parameters before getting started.
You can be a member of multiple games simultaneously.
Create a Stock Trading Game
To get started, click Games and then click Create Game. Each game has optional features that increase the Simulator experience's realism. There are tooltips throughout the form that appears. You can click on the little blue "i" next to words to get a more detailed explanation of what each field is for. You will need to create or decide on the below items before getting started.
- Game Name: Make it something your group will remember and that is unique to your competition. School's might name a game after the school mascot, for instance.
- Game Description: What should the group know about the purpose and goals are for your game?
- Game Type: Do you want to make the game's membership exclusive to your group or do you want to make it something anyone can join. For schools or classes, you may want to go the Private route to make the leaderboard more clear.
- Starting Cash: By default, everyone gets $100,000 to start, but you can increase or decrease that to any amount between $1,000 and $1 million.
- Date Range: When will the game begin and end? To make a game endless, you will have to start with an end date, then go back and change this feature after the game has launched.
- Trading features: Do you want your group to be able to trade on margin, short sell, or trade options? Will you allow people to enter late? Will you allow them to view each other's portfolio's? Will you allow them to reset their portfolio in the middle of the game? You can toggle each of these features on or off.
- Advanced Game Rules: In this section, you can determine details like market delay, commissions, forced diversification, minimum pricing, quick sell restrictions, margin rules, and more. The default settings are very commonly used for basic games. Some advanced game rules can be modified after the game is created.
Once you're set, click Create Game. If you've selected a private game, you'll be asked to set a password. Write up instructions for your group that includes the game name, password (if you set one), and any other specifics you decided such as date range and starting cash.
To track your group's performance, check the Leaderboard under Games. This will show you the username, account value, daily portfolio change, and overall change from the start of the game.
Crypto Simulator Interface
The new crypto environment in the Investopedia Simulator allows you to look up and trade from 11 of the top coins on the market. That includes:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Tether (USDT)
- USD Coin (USDC)
- BNB (BNB)
- Binance USD (BUSD)
- XRP (XRP)
- Cardano (ADA)
- Solana (SOL)
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Polkadot (DOT)
When you click the Trade button, it brings up this list. You can see some important financial details about that coin, including current price (at a short delay), percentage change, market cap, launch date, circulating supply, total supply, 52-week high and low, today's high and low, and previous close.
Then within your crypto portfolio you can track the performance of your trades over hte course of the last week, month, three months, six months, and one year. Below that is some basic education around what is cryptocurrency and how it works.
Can You Take a Class on Trading Stocks?
Yes. Classes are available from companies such as Udemy or TD Ameritrade, or at the university level. Learning stock trading by reading a book or a simulator is possible, but gaining the practical knowledge, skills, and confidence to trade with your own money requires more extensive training with real-time support. That's what a high-quality online stock trading course can offer in combination with a stock simulator
Are There Other Stock Trading Simulators?
While Investopedia's is among the best options on the market, it is not the only paper-trading platform. TD Ameritrade offers Thinkorswim, and the SIFMA Foundation offers The Stock Market Game, for example.
What Does Paper Trading Mean?
A simulated stock trading platform is a paper trading platform. A paper trade is a simulated trade that allows investors to practice buying and selling financial assets without risking real money. They are an excellent way to test a new investment strategy or to learn how the financial markets work.
The Bottom Line
The Investopedia Simulator has been available in some form for nearly 20 years but has undergone refinement along the way. No matter what your level of investing experience, you can learn to be a better investor by using this tool to increase your skills.