Neither CashBlog nor its writers are financial advisors. Nothing published on our website is financial advice. Our articles are strictly educational.
Thanks to the early success of Robinhood’s venture into mobile trading, stock trading apps have become ubiquitous across the broker landscape. Equipped with the power and advanced functionality of desktop and web platforms, stock trading apps are in huge demand by the younger generations that grew up with smartphones. Now, investors on the go have the technology to hold their financial futures in the palm of their hands.
But as the landscape becomes more saturated with next-level trading apps, investors and traders must dig deeper to ascertain which ones offer the capabilities they need to trade efficiently and make money in the stock market. Many features, such as real-time streaming quotes, market analysis, stock alerts, synced watch lists, advanced charting, educational resources, and zero commissions and fees, are baseline components of any serious trading app.
However, to stand out in a crowded field, the best stock trading apps must have excellent design and deliver a full-featured online trading experience across multiple usability categories with a highly intuitive workflow. That’s when you start separating the best from the rest.
We reviewed a couple of dozen of the more popular stock trading apps based on those criteria and narrowed the list of the best apps in six categories.
The Best Stock Trading Apps
Best for User Experience: thinkorswim (TD Ameritrade)
Best for Research and Education: StreetSmart Edge (Charles Schwab)
Best for Investment Selection: Interactive Brokers
Best for Beginning Traders: Robinhood
Best for Intermediate Traders: Webull
Best for a Highly Customized Trading Experience: Tradier
Best Stock Trading App for User Experience: thinkorswim (TD Ameritrade)
For nearly four decades, TD Ameritrade has set the standard for innovative platforms touted for their clean designs,
TD Ameritrade has always set the standard for high-end technology platforms with sleek designs, intuitive navigation, and bountiful features—all found in its advanced stock trading app, thinkorswim.
- Leading innovator of web and mobile platforms
- High-quality research and education resources
- Wide range of assets supported, including futures, options, forex, and crypto
- Zero commissions (non-OTC stocks) and account fees
- No account minimums
- Thinkorswim may be too complex for novice traders
- OTC trade commission of $6.95 per trade
- The cost of broker-assisted trading is on the high end of the spectrum
TD Ameritrade has long been known for its leading-edge technology trading platforms packed with the very best features and tools. It has managed to carry that through to its mobile trading platform consisting of two types of trading apps—the regular TD Ameritrade app, best suited for new investors or casual traders, and its highly acclaimed premium thinkorswim app for feature-hungry active traders.
Both apps are powered with the most comprehensive research and analysis tools, and both offer live feeds and charts. But the thinkorswim app is loaded with many more bells and whistles to enhance the stock trading experience.
Both of TDA’s apps are feature-rich, with everything investors of any stripe or experience need. But while the regular mobile app is straightforward, the thinkorswim app can present a challenge for less experienced traders. Thinkorswim adds many features, including advanced charting and trade tools, synced watch lists, profit and loss calculations, a live news stream, and chat support with live interactions with a trading specialist.
If you need help getting a basic setup in place initially, you can easily import the setup of other stock-trading professionals, like this one. It lets you hit the ground running while giving you all the bells and whistles of the trading app.
There is even a trading chat room offered by thinkorswim that you can use to access support and talk to other traders.
What sets thinkorswim apart from the rest in the usability category is that it mirrors the desktop version entirely. That means the app provides all the capabilities of the desktop version in the palm of your hand. For example, the charting tool includes indicators numbering more than 400 on the desktop platform, satisfying the pickiest trader. Watchlists sync with the desktop and web versions making it easy to work between devices.
TDA doesn’t charge commissions on most trades, but you will incur fees for trading OTC stocks ($6.95 per trade), options ($0.65 per contract), futures ($2.25 per contract), and mutual funds ($49.95 per buy). Should you need online assistance from a broker, you will be charged $25.
The thinkorswim stock trading app offers real-time data, but it’s only updated every second. That might sound reasonable enough to most people, but if you’re a day trader or a scalper, that could make a big difference. That’s why thinkorswim is best suited for people using swing trading strategies or longer-term trades.
TD Ameritrade is known for its user-friendly platforms suitable for beginning to advanced investors. But the thinkorswim stock trading app should be left to advanced traders.
Best Stock Trading App for Research and Education: StreetSmart Edge
Charles Schwab has been a perennial technology leader in the online brokerage space. So it’s unsurprising that its mobile apps are consistently ranked among the best, including the advanced StreetSmart Edge for active traders.
- Trading app is highly customizable with a robust ETF screener
- High level of functionality
- Superior customer service
- Zero commission and account minimums
- Access to world-class research, education, and analysis tools
- Vast number of tools and resources can be overwhelming
- No automatic cash sweep
Since its founding in 1971, Charles Schwab has been committed to providing clients with an unparalleled investing experience marked by low costs, leading-edge technology, superior customer service, and world-class stock research and educational tools. Thankfully for active traders, that has all translated to its mobile stock trading app StreetSmart Edge.
While Schwab’s Schwab Mobile is a tremendous all-around stock trading app for most investors, its premier advanced trading app, StreetSmart Edge, is designed specifically for experienced traders of stocks, options, futures, forex, and crypto. Traders can customize their workflows, access sixteen predefined screens, and filter screens with more than 150 criteria. Users can also access institutional-level features such as Level II quotes, national best bid and offer (NBBO), and global accounts. It even offers voice control to make trades, get quotes, set alerts, and ask questions.
Schwab does not charge any fees for using StreetSmart Edge or commissions on most trades. Though it does charge for OTC trades ($6.95 per transaction), options ($0.65 per contract), futures ($2.25 per contract), and mutual funds ($49.95 per buy). Should you need online assistance from a broker, you will be charged $25.
There is no minimum balance requirement except for margin accounts.
Schwab’s StreetSmart Edge app is designed for active traders who want access to all their trading needs at their fingertips. Casual traders or long-term investors will get more value out of Schwab’s Mobile app.
Best Stock Trading App for Investment Selection: Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers has built a high-powered trading platform that caters to experienced traders who want access to the broadest range of investment options.
- Access to securities on 150 exchanges in 33 countries
- Wide range of assets supported, including futures, options, forex, and crypto
- Institutional-level research and tools
- Powerful trading platform with robust tools and features
- Offers no-transaction-fee mutual funds
- Low commissions and margin rates
- Complicated pricing structure
- Website is difficult to navigate
- Charges subscription fees for some research
Founded in 1978, Interactive Brokers (IBKR) has established a stellar reputation among serious traders, amassing a clientele numbering well over a million. Its reputation was built on its powerful flagship trading platform Trader Workstation featuring best-in-class scanners, screeners, and analysis tools.
Much of that power was translated into the feature-rich IBKR Mobile app that mimics most of the functionality of the desktop platform. The mobile app is available in Lite and Pro versions offering most everything discerning traders need, such as advanced trading shortcuts, option exercise and spread templates, charting, scanners, research, and news. The app allows users to prefill order tickets with order presets for fast and efficient trade entries.
The IBKR Mobile app allows users to extend their trading reach directly to more than 150 worldwide markets, including 30+ markets for options trading. Trading in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin is facilitated 24/7.
While the research available on the IBKR platform is world-class, much of it is only available on a subscription basis for a fee. Some third-party research, such as Morningstar, is available for free. But if you want exclusive IBKR research, you can sign up for a free trial to see if it’s worth the cost.
Regarding costs, the good news is that IBKR is transparent about its fees and expenses. The bad news is that it’s still challenging to understand. While there is no cost for downloading and using the app (other than possible fees for research), traders using the IBKR Pro app pay commissions based on a schedule. However, even with that, traders do enjoy a substantial break on commissions. The fixed commission plan charges one-half cent per share ($1 minimum per trade), and higher-volume traders can pay lower commissions starting at just $0.0035 per share ($0.35 minimum per order).
Casual traders can opt for the IBKR Lite plan that charges no commission on stock trades in exchange for fewer features and higher margin loan rates. A significant portion of the costs incurred by Pro users can be offset through substantially lower rates on margin loans.
Lite users are charged a flat rate of $0.65 per options contract, while Pro users are charged based on a variable pricing structure or monthly contract volume.
Due to the complexity of the trading platform and the tiered commission plan, the IBKR Mobile app is most suited for advanced traders who don’t need much hand-holding. Inexperienced or casual traders should look elsewhere.
Best Stock Trading App for Beginning Traders: Robinhood
Founded in 2013, Robinhood quickly made its mark among the younger generations due to its fast, intuitive, and smartly designed mobile trading app.
- Intuitive, easy-to-use app
- Zero commissions on trades
- Fractional shares
- Penny stock trading
- Crypto trading
- No minimum balance required
- Over-the-counter penny stocks not available
- No mutual funds
- Web platform has limited capabilities
Robinhood’s simple and streamlined trading platform has attracted millions of younger investors who favor its intuitiveness and ease of use. The trading app allows commission-free trading in stocks, ETFs, options, and alternatives such as gold and cryptocurrencies.
While users shouldn’t expect to find much in the way of sophisticated trading tools, they can benefit from real-time quotes, trade monitoring, watchlists, and basic market research tools. For those who just need an easy way to buy stocks for beginners, Robinhood is a great option.
For $10 a month, users can access Robinhood’s Level 2 service with access to more tools and research. Users also have access to Robinhood’s web platform to make trades. However, in a reverse twist, the web platform lacks many of the features available on the mobile app.
There’s not much to discuss regarding costs, as Robinhood charges no fees or commissions at all, including for penny stocks. The downside is no access to over-the-counter (OTC) or Pink Sheet penny stocks. However, you can trade penny stocks listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges.
Robinhood is the best platform for new investors to learn about investing and develop their trading acumen at no cost. It’s good for those who might be using a stock picking service to get trade ideas, and who just need an outlet to follow the trades.
Best Stock Trading App for Intermediate Traders: Webull
Where the Robinhood trading app leaves off for beginners, Webull takes over for intermediate traders, with a slick interface and solid array of tools for sharpening their trading skills.
- Easy-to-use, intuitive platform
- Wide array of trading and analytical tools
- Simulated paper trading
- No commission, account, or platform fees
- Access to stocks, ETF, option, ADR, and crypto exchanges
- Lacking research and educational content
- Limited OTC stocks
- No mutual funds
- Crypto markups and markdowns on the high side
Founded in 2017, Webull is a recent entrant into the stock trading field. But in that short time, the mobile app-based brokerage has gained a solid foothold among fledgling traders looking to build their trading acumen. Like Robinhood, Webull’s focus is on its app, making it as clean, intuitive, and easy to use as possible for the younger generations that grew up with smartphones.
Users have access to all the stock and option exchanges and 44 cryptocurrencies. OTC trading is limited to an approved list of 100 stocks, and mutual funds are unavailable.
However, unlike Robinhood, Webull has stocked its app with an impressive array of advanced trading tools such as charts, graphs, indicators, watchlists, and screens, which may be overwhelming for new traders. But Webull’s clean interface makes it easy to advance quickly up the learning curve.
While Webull doesn’t offer much in the way of third-party research, it does provide access to news, research, and analysis from popular industry sources such as Morningstar, Nasdaq, CBOE, and Dow Jones.
One of the best features is the Community, offering a social media feel to the trading platform where users can exchange Twitter-like comments on their trading activities.
New users have access to Level 2 quotes through a free data subscription. But once that expires, they must pay a monthly fee to continue. But, unlike Robinhood, which charges $10 monthly for its data subscription, Webull charges just $1.99 monthly. Also, trading just one options contract per month will get you free real-time options data.
Aside from that, users pay no fees for trades, platform use, or account maintenance.
Webull intentionally designed its platform for traders reaching the intermediate level so as to siphon off Robinhood users who hit their ceiling as beginners. It’s great for traders who have already taken stock trading courses and are at the point of needing something with more sophistication.
Best Stock Trading App for Customizable Experience: Tradier
Tradier doesn’t stand alone as a stock trading app for advanced active traders, but it does for giving traders access to dozens of customizable trading platforms or the ability to create one themselves.
- Advanced traders can choose from a wide variety of integrated platforms
- Users can create their own custom platforms
- Low, all-inclusive monthly fee covers all trading activities
- Real-time market data and execution
- Large number of integration choices can be overwhelming to all but the most advanced traders
- No access to crypto, OTC stocks, pink sheets, or futures
- No direct access to mutual funds
- Inactivity fees
As a standalone online brokerage broker, there is nothing remarkable about Tradier’s trading platform. It offers nearly everything traders need, such as real-time market data and a decent assortment of trading and analysis tools. But what differentiates Tradier from other advanced trading platforms is its use of Applications Programming Interface (API) technology that makes it possible to integrate its platform with more than 40 of the most popular trading platforms, allowing users to pick and choose the functionalities that best suit their style and skill set.
And, if you’re still unsatisfied with the choices, Tradier allows those with programming skills to develop a unique platform based on your own requirements.
The ability to reach into third-party platforms for tools, analysis, research, and a broader investment selection, helps users overcome any limitations on the Tradier platform, with its limited investment options, research, and educational resources. The only caveat is that many third-party platforms charge subscription fees which can add to your costs. But for advanced traders who don’t want any limitations, it’s a price they may be willing to pay.
While its own trading tools are simple but effective, Tradier’s charting tools are excellent for stock and options trading. Tradier also offers its market commentary through its exclusive OptionsBrewTV, found on the site’s home page or a YouTube channel.
Tradier does not charge commissions on stock or ETF trades. Its per-contract options fee is $0.35, or zero for frequent traders who pay a $10 monthly subscription fee. The broker-assisted fee is $10. Infrequent or casual traders should be aware of a $50 inactivity fee if their accounts dip below $2,000. These are Tradier prices. Users who tap into third-party platforms are subject to separate pricing.
For an additional $10 a month, users can access its proprietary TradeHawk platform offering additional advanced trading and charting capabilities and no-commission option trades. TradeHawk is also available for mobile devices.
Tradier Brokerage has no commissions on stock or ETF trades. While most brokers charge $0.65 for options trades, Tradier charges $0.35, or $0 with a $10 monthly subscription.
Tradier is best suited for active advanced traders who can benefit from a customizable trading experience with access to specialized platforms.
Bottom Line About Stock Trading Apps
Stock trading apps have proliferated in the last several years, making finding the right one for your particular needs more challenging. We did the research to narrow the choices to six of the best in six categories.
- For traders looking for a superior user experience with a slick design and easy navigation, the thinkorswim platform from TD Ameritrade is a top choice.
- Traders looking for a top resource for research and education should consider Charles Schwab’s StreetSmart Edge.
- Interactive Brokers is the top choice if having the broadest investment selection is a priority.
- Robinhood has always been and still is, the best option for beginner investors and traders.
- Webull matches Robinhood for its streamlined, user-friendly interface but adds an array of impressive toolsfor intermediate traders.
- With its customizable platforms, Tradier is a dream for the most advanced and active traders.
2 thoughts on “Best Stock Trading App”
Comments are closed.