Compare 5 best trading platforms in the United States for 2024

In this guide, our expert team breaks down and reviews the best brokers and stock trading platforms for beginners in the United States.
By:  & 
Updated: Dec 1, 2023
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Trading has surged in popularity in the U.S., with more individuals looking to take control of their finances. However, the myriad of trading platforms available can be overwhelming for beginners. This guide will explore the top 5 trading platforms in the U.S. and provide tips for choosing the right one to suit your needs.

This guide will explore the top trading platforms in the United States and provide tips for choosing the right one for you. We scrutinised fees, fine print, assets, brand reputation and more to uncover the 5 leading brokers in 2024.

Best share trading platforms in the United States 2024

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Our rankings reveal that the best online broker in United States is Plus500 .

Having assessed 100+ online brokers, this list represents the three services that top our rankings as United States’ overall best trading platforms. 

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1
Min. Deposit
100 €
Best offer
User Score
9.9
Trade +2000 CFDs on Shares, Options, Commodities & more
Unlimited risk-free Demo Account
0 commissions & attractive spreads with up to 1:5 leverage
Start Trading
Payment Methods:
Bank Transfer, Debit Card, PayPal, Credit Card, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Trustly, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Discover, Bank Transfer: SEPA, Bank Transfer: FPS, skrill
Full Regulations:
ASIC, FCA, FSA, MAS, CySEC #250/14

Buy or sell stock CFDs with Plus500. 82% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

2
Min. Deposit
0 €
Best offer
User Score
9.9
TastyTrade allows you to buy and sell U.S. stocks without paying any commission fees.
Whether you’re a short-term trader or a long-term investor, TastyTrade accommodates various investment horizons.
Explore over 8,000 U.S. stocks and consider exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for broader exposure to the market.
Start Trading
Payment Methods:
Wire Transfer, Check, ACH
Full Regulations:
3
Min. Deposit
0 €
Best offer
User Score
9.9
Allows commission-free trading of individual stocks and over 2,000 ETFs.
TradeStation’s platform supports options, futures, and futures options trading.
Traders benefit from award-winning software with advanced analysis capabilities and customization options.
Start Trading
Payment Methods:
Wire Transfer, Check, ACH
Full Regulations:

Top 5 online brokers in the United States, reviewed

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1. Plus500. Best for international CFD trading*

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From 0.08%

Fees

$100

Minimum deposit

3,000

No. assets

Yes

Demo/virtual account

Pros & Cons

Free demo account for every user Secure broker, licensed by top-tier regulators Wide variety of CFDs to trade Several good risk management tools
No support on trading information and education Website isn’t brilliantly designed to help users find answers to their questions No MetaTrader trading platform compatibility

Overview

We love Plus500 because it is one of the industry’s most transparent and reliable brokers. Its fees are clear and you’ll know exactly what you will be paying before you make a trade. Its technology driven platform gives access to CFDs on over 2000 stocks.

Plus500 has something for all types of stock trader, no matter what level of experience. Its zero commission and tight spreads make it a top choice for day traders and its trading academy is packed with educational content, perfect for beginners just starting.

For accurate instrument availability, visit plus500.com.

The fees: There are no commission fees on any trades with Plus500 and it makes it money through the Bid/Ask spread. Spread starts from 0.01% and varies depending on the instrument. Additional fees include overnight funding depending on trade size and guaranteed stop orders, which add a minimum of 10% to the spread. There is an inactivity charge of £10 per month for accounts not logged in for three months. 

*Based on a comparison of 60+ leading brokers and trading platforms.

Highlights

Visit Plus500 Plus500 Review

Buy or sell stock CFDs with Plus500. 82% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

2. TastyTrade: Best for options trading like a pro

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TastyTrade logo

...

Fees

...

Minimum deposit

20

No. assets

No

Demo/virtual account

Overview

We love TastyTrade because it’s an options trading platform built by market experts. TastyTrade is the latest piece of trading software built by the industry veterans who created thinkorswim, another hugely successful broker that made professional trading accessible to the everyday trader.

While TastyTrade offers stock and ETF trading, its core functionality lies in options and futures contracts. Notably, they recently added the ability to trade spot Bitcoin ETFs, catering to the growing interest in cryptocurrency. However, keep in mind their focus is on US markets; you won’t find international stocks or mutual funds here.

What truly sets TastyTrade apart are a competitive pricing structure and its dedication to options education. They heavily invest in educational content through their platform, tastylive, offering free webinars, tutorials, and resources specifically geared towards options trading. This focus is crucial as options involve a steeper learning curve compared to stock investing.

The fees: There are zero commissions on straight up stock & ETF trades. Stock options are charged a $1 fee to open and zero commission to close a position. Futures start from $0.25 per side. Crypto trades cost 1% of the total position on open and close.

Highlights

Visit TastyTrade TastyTrade Review

3. TradeStation: Best for fast & reliable trading with institutional-grade tools

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TradeStation_Logo

...

Fees

...

Minimum deposit

20

No. assets

No

Demo/virtual account

Overview

We love TradeStation because TradeStation it offers rapid trade execution in a simple, convenient package that’s packed with trading tools. TradeStation is a well-established online broker known for its powerful desktop platform and extensive toolkit for active investors.

Once catering primarily to professionals, TradeStation has expanded to accommodate individual investors seeking a feature-rich trading experience. It now offers a wide range of assets, including stocks, ETFs, bonds, options, and futures contracts. This variety allows users to implement diverse trading strategies. They also recently introduced commission-free trading for stocks and ETFs under a specific share threshold, making it attractive for active day traders.

The true strength of TradeStation lies in its desktop platform. It’s highly customizable, enabling users to design personalized layouts, technical indicators, and even code their own trading strategies. Another huge benefit is the fact that TradeStation offers paper trading, allowing you to test and refine your strategies before risking real capital.

The fees: Stocks & ETFs are commission free. Stock options come with a $0.60 fee per contract, while futures contracts start from $0.50 per contract, per side. Investing in bonds and mutual funds is significantly more expensive.

Highlights

Visit TradeStation TradeStation Review

4. eToro. Best for beginners, copy-trading & demo-account

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0% commission

Fees

$100

Minimum deposit

4,000

No. assets

Yes

Demo/virtual account

Pros & Cons

Great for beginners, simple to set up and get started Competitive, industry-leading commissions Popular ‘Copy Portfolios’ function lets you follow top traders Excellent customer service, with live chat support provided
Comparatively high fees for withdrawals and account inactivity Does not integrate with the MetaTrader platform High spreads on some assets

Overview

We love eToro because you can trade more than 3,000 stocks, commission free. When you buy stocks on eToro, you’re buying the underlying asset, which means you can earn dividends. Or you can trade fractional shares, which means you can invest in even the most expensive stock from just $10.

As well as being a broker that offers lots of investor protection, eToro offers a very social trading experience. You can easily see what’s trending on the stock market every day, browse the latest analyst opinion about every one of those stocks, and copy other people’s trade suggestions from your desktop or the eToro app.

The fees: Stock and ETF trades are commission free. Stock CFDs are charged a 0.15% spread and overnight fees can apply. You can deposit money for free but you have to pay $5 per withdrawal, and there’s a minimum withdrawal of $30. A $10 per month activity fee is charged if you don’t log in for a year.

Highlights

Visit eToro eToro Review

eToro offers real assets only, no CFD products. eToro securities trading offered by eToro USA Securities, Inc. (‘the BD”), member of FINRA and SIPC. Investing involves risk, and content is provided for educational purposes only, does not imply a recommendation, and is not a guarantee of future performance. Invezz.com is not an affiliate and may be compensated if you access certain products or services offered by the BD.

5. Public. Best for sharing beginner trading ideas

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public.com logo

...

Fees

...

Minimum deposit

...

No. assets

No

Demo/virtual account

Pros & Cons

Commission free stock and ETF investing Share and compare your portfolio on a social trading platform Trade crypto, fractional shares, and alternative investments
You can't trade on margin or use leverage No forex, options, funds, metals, or bonds

Overview

We love Public because it’s a social platform where you can share trading tips and get ideas from other people. Public offers 9,000+ financial instruments, including cryptocurrencies and stocks from around the world.

Alongside a community of other investors all sharing their ideas, Public offers real time news and information so that you can see the full picture before you invest. And the assets don’t just include your run-of-the-mill assets; you can make alternative investments in things like handbags and comic books as well.

The fees: There are no fees for investing in stocks during regular trading hours in the US – 9.30am-4pm EST. There is a $2.99 fee for trades outside of regular hours.

Highlights

Visit Review
Cryptocurrency execution and custody services are provided by Apex Crypto LLC (NMLS ID 1828849) through a software licensing agreement between Apex Crypto LLC and Public Crypto LLC. Crypto trading on Public platforms is served by Public Crypto LLC and offered through APEX Crypto. Please ensure that you fully understand the risks involved before trading.

More about stock trading platforms in the United States

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What products can I trade with a United States online broker?

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Many leading U.S. online brokers provide access to trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, forex, futures, and certain cryptocurrencies – catering to all investor types. Here’s a closer look at each available asset type with an American broker. 

Stocks

Also known as equities, these represent fractional ownership in publicly traded companies listed on U.S. exchanges like the NYSE and Nasdaq. Trade thousands of U.S. and international company stocks.

ETFs

Exchange traded funds track indexes or sectors, allowing diversified exposure. Trade domestic and global ETFs covering equities, fixed income, commodities etc.

Options

Contracts giving you the right to buy (calls) or sell (puts) the underlying asset by a date at a set price. Useful for hedging and speculating.

Mutual Funds

Professionally managed portfolios invested in different assets based on stated goals. Provides instant diversification.

Bonds

Fixed income debt securities issued by governments and corporations paying interest. Provides stability and income.

Futures

Contracts to buy or sell an asset at a future date for a predetermined price. Used to hedge commodity prices.

Other assets

To invest in other financial assets from United States, you may be better off using a different type of trading platform. For example, for trading currency pairs you want one of the best forex brokers in usa, for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, the best crypto exchanges in United States. The best crypto exchanges in United States offer a range of financial assets, including many of the options above.

How to choose a stock trading platform in the USA

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As a beginner, picking the right trading platform involves evaluating key factors and considerations in detail. We asked our stock market experts what to look for when choosing a trading platform in the United States and you can find their tips below. 

Regulation and security

An important first step is verifying the platform is a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) / Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) registered broker-dealer, adhering to strict regulatory requirements around investor protection and privacy. Look for robust security features like 2-factor authentication, encryption, biometric logins and insurance protections in case of broker insolvency. 

FDIC insurance on cash up to $250,000 means your funds are protected up to a certain amount. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) is another regulatory agency in the US that provides protection up to $500,000.

Range of available assets and markets

Consider which asset classes you want to be able to invest in and trade – stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, forex etc. The best online brokers should provide access to relevant American and international securities aligned with your strategy and interests. Having your preferred markets and financial instruments available in one place is convenient.

Intuitive technology and interface

The brokerage firms platform’s web and mobile app interface should be well-designed, intuitive and easy to navigate. You want to be able to execute trades, access tools and analyse markets seamlessly when starting out. Poorly designed technology can hamper your efficiency as a beginner trader.

Trading tools and resources

Look for platforms that offer insights, analytics, charting tools, trading alerts, risk management features, screeners and scanners. Educational resources are also helpful when getting started. These trading tools help accelerate your learning and inform trading decisions. Ensure they are beginner-friendly.

Costs, fees and incentives

Fees are an important factor to consider when choosing the best online trading platforms. Compare commission charges, brokerage fees, monthly account costs, data fees, and other expenses. Look for low overall costs. Check incentives, too – some platforms offer free trades, signup bonuses or rewards programs which benefit new traders.

How to open an American online broker account. 

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Opening a trading account in the United States to start investing or trading financial securities like stocks and currencies has never been simpler. By following these key steps, you can set up an account easily as a beginner and begin exploring the platform’s features.

Step 1. Research trading platforms extensively

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Compare multiple brokerage firms in detail, evaluating their fees, account types, tradable assets, platform tools, educational resources, regulations, insurance, brand reputation and customer reviews. Take your time to thoroughly analyze different options to find the best match for your investing needs and goals as a beginner.

Step 2. Prepare necessary documents and information

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Have your valid passport, driver’s license, Medicare card, utility bills and any other identifying documents required ready. Double-check they are valid and match the name you want on the account. Also, prepare your contact details, banking details and funding source (credit card, connected bank account etc) as this is all necessary to open a brokerage account.

Step 3. Sign up online

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Once you have shortlisted a brokerage account, go to its website and click on ‘open account’ or ‘join now’ and fill in the application form. Enter all your details accurately and completely. Choose the right account type for your needs. Set a strong password and use a secure email address only for trading purposes.

Step 4. Verify your identity

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After signup, you must complete identity verification by uploading scanned copies of documents like passport, driver’s license, utility bill etc, as prompted. You may also need to complete facial verification and scans through the investing account platform’s webcam. Ensure you complete every identity check accurately as per their requirements.

Step 5. Deposit funds to start trading

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Once your account is verified and approved, log in and deposit funds via electronic bank transfer, credit card or payment app based on available methods. Ensure you meet any minimum deposit requirements. Once funded, you can start live trading.

Step 6. Explore and get familiar

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Use any demo accounts or paper trading accounts available to understand the platform’s interface and get comfortable before putting real money at risk. Take your time to navigate and test different features and tools. It’s also a good idea to check out the educational resources available and buy and sell stocks using demo funds. 

If your online brokerage account also has a mobile app, you should take the time to download it to your mobile device. Mobile apps are offered by most of the best trading platforms and are an excellent way to trade or check your investment portfolio while on the go.

How to buy stocks in the United States

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Every stock trading app in the United States is designed to help you invest with minimal fuss. Follow this six-step guide to learn how to buy shares online in the United States for the first time.

  1. Find a broker. Use the tips in our guide above to find the best American stockbroker and create an account. 
  2. Search for stocks. Use the platform’s search bar or screening tools to find and research potential stocks to invest in based on your strategy. To select stocks, consider the company’s financials, industry trends, analysts’ ratings, and more.
  3. Validate account. Ensure your trading account is funded with cleared cash and authenticated through any required identity or security processes when signing in. Having a valid cash balance ready to trade is critical.
  4. Enter order details. Specify key details like ticker code, number of shares, order type (market order, limit order etc.), and duration (day order, good-till-cancelled etc.). Double-check order accuracy before placing it.
  5. Review costs. Preview order costs like brokerage fees based on your account type and size of a transaction. Ensure you have enough buying power to cover.
  6. Place order. If ready, place the buy order and monitor progress. Depending on liquidity, order type and other factors, it may take seconds or minutes to fully execute.

Once filled, the stock purchase will show in your account portfolio and deduct cash from your balance. Take time to review order receipts and portfolio holdings regularly.

Quick answers to key questions

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Here are quick answers to some key questions about trading platforms in the United States:

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Yes, trading stocks, options, ETFs, forex, and cryptocurrency is completely legal for U.S. citizens over 18, subject to taxation and financial regulations.

How are trading platforms regulated in the USA?

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Trading platforms and brokers must register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to legally operate in the U.S. 

These bodies enforce strict standards around accounting, transparency, capital requirements and more to protect investors. Accounts also have SIPC insurance up to $500,000 for cash and securities. The best online brokerage firms have their regulatory information clearly available on their websites.

Do I need to pay tax on stocks in the US?

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Yes, capital gains from selling stocks and other securities for a profit over their purchase price are subject to capital gains tax, either short term at income rates or long term with preferable rates. Taxes are reported to the IRS annually.

What are the costs of trading in the United States?

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Common costs include commission fees from $0 to $5 per trade, account maintenance fees, data subscription costs, SEC and FINRA fees, transfer fees, inactivity fees, and interest on margin borrowing. Frequent traders pay more overall.

How much money do I need to start trading in the United States?

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Minimums range from $0 to fund an account to $500 to properly build a balanced portfolio. Ideal starting capital is $2,000+ for flexibility. Consider account tier levels which provide lower fees and more features with higher balances.

Can I trade using leverage with an American trading platform?

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Many leading brokers offer leverage via margin accounts, allowing borrowing against cash balances for amplified trading. Leverage up to 2:1 is common. Higher leverage is riskier. Approval is required.

Can you trade stocks outside the United States when using an American broker?

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Yes, many leading US brokerages offer access to trade stocks on major international exchanges, including:

  • Canadian exchanges like the Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture.
  • Major Asian exchanges like the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Hong Kong Exchange.
  • European exchanges like the London Stock Exchange, Euronext, and Deutsche Börse.
  • Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
  • Leading South American exchanges like Brazil’s B3.

Access to global exchanges varies by broker – interactive brokers offer trading on over 135 international markets. Compare international trading capabilities when choosing a brokerage.

Note that additional fees, reporting requirements, trading hours differences, and foreign currency considerations apply when trading international securities. Do thorough research when expanding beyond domestic stocks.

Do different states have different rules for trading and investing?

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For the most part, the rules around securities trading are consistent across all U.S. states as they are set at the federal level by the SEC and FINRA. However, some additional state-level conditions may include.

  • State registration requirements – Most states require investment professionals to register in their jurisdiction, even if federally licensed.
  • Local taxes – Some states impose additional taxes on capital gains or income from investments that differs from federal tax.
  • Blue sky laws – Rules on securities offerings and sales that provide added investor protections. Can prohibit certain risky offerings.
  • Money transmitter laws – Many states require licenses for brokers handling client fund transfers.
  • Trust account requirements – Some states impose client fund handling and account segregation rules.

So while the core regulations are similar nationwide, traders should be aware of any incremental state-level registration, taxes, or legal conditions applicable in their jurisdiction. But overall, the key trading rules set by federal regulators apply equally across the U.S.

How did we choose the best online trading platform in United States

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Our reviewing panel is made up of industry experts, including our Data Analyst, Dan Ashmore, CFA, our Senior Editor of News, Jayson Derrick, and expert trader, Prash Raval. The panel also includes an independent fact-checker, Richard Stutely.

Here are the key factors that played into our final ranking of the best share trading brokers in United States.

  • Fees. We prioritised American brokers that charge low trading fees, don’t charge for deposits or withdrawals, and don’t charge any hidden fees.
  • Device availability. An online trading platform that is available across all devices as a mobile app deserves a boost. In a mobile world, you need the best stock trading app in United States to work across mobile, tablet, and desktop. 
  • Platform security. All services we recommend are regulated by respected financial institutions and provide investor protection in the event that anything goes wrong.
  • Free demo accounts. All the best stockbrokers in United States should offer the chance to test their service before you pay for it. We gave the brokers with the best demo accounts a boost in our rankings.
  • Access to global markets. International stock brokers in United States that allow you to invest in global markets, particularly popular ones like the United States, scored well in our reviews.
  • Trading and analysis tools. Trading platforms that offer analysis tools make it easier to do all your research and trading in one place. Any broker that offered this convenience scored well.
  • Third-party integrations. You should use a piece of downloadable, third-party software like MetaTrader 4, MT5, or cTrader to place your trades. The best trading software in United States should integrate with these services and those that did so received a higher ranking. 
  • Customer reviews. Finally, we looked into customer reviews, to make sure that we only recommend the best investment platforms in United States where the majority of American customers had a positive experience.

Find out more about how we rate, rank, and review platforms.

Choose the best US stock trading platform

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Sources & references
Risk disclaimer
James Knight
Editor of Education
James is the Editor of Education for Invezz, where he covers topics from across the financial world, from the stock market, to cryptocurrency, to macroeconomic markets.... read more.
Prash Raval
Financial Writer
Prash is a financial writer for Invezz covering FX, the stock market and investing. For over a decade he has traded spot FX full time while... read more.