5 Best Trading Platforms for Beginners 2021

The StockBrokers.com best online brokers 2021 review (11th annual) took three months to complete and produced over 40,000 words of research. Here’s how we tested.

As a new investor, the best trading platform for beginners offers three essential benefits. First, the trading platform is easy to use. Second, the platform provides a variety of educational materials to encourage learning. Third, the best platform provides access to quality market research.

For our 2021 Review, we tested and scored 11 different trading platforms. Focusing on beginners, alongside testing each learning center in-depth, we also checked to see which brokers offer unique features like webinars, live seminars, videos, progress tracking, and even interactive education, e.g., quizzes.

Best Trading Platforms for Beginners 2021

Here are the best online stock trading sites for beginners:

  • TD Ameritrade – Best overall for beginners
  • Fidelity – Excellent research and education
  • Robinhood – Easy to use but no tools
  • E*TRADE – Best web-based platform
  • Merrill Edge – Great research tools

Best overall for beginners – Open Account
Exclusive Offer: Get up to $375 and trade commission-free with TD Ameritrade.

TD Ameritrade delivers $0 trades, fantastic trading platforms, excellent market research, industry-leading education for beginners, and reliable customer service. This outstanding all-around experience makes TD Ameritrade our top overall broker in 2021. Read full review

Excellent research and education – Open Account
Trade Commission-Free: No commissions to trade online U.S. stocks, ETFs, and options.1

Fidelity is a value-driven online broker offering $0 trades, industry-leading research, excellent trading tools, an easy-to-use mobile app, and comprehensive retirement services. Serving over 32 million customers, Fidelity is a winner for everyday investors. Read full review

Easy to use but no tools

For investors looking to conduct the bare-bones basics, Robinhood gets the job done well. That said, Robinhood provides little to no market research or trading tools to help beginners make informed investing decisions. Read full review

Best trading platform for beginners – Open Account
Current Offer: Open an E*TRADE account & get $50 or more w/ code: WINTER21

Earning a recommendation based on its trading platform alone, E*TRADE is great for any beginner stock trader. Power E*TRADE is easy to use and offers features including paper (practice) trading and note-taking. Power E*TRADE is available for both the browser and as a trading app. Read full review

Excellent research tools

Merrill Edge offers $0 trades with industry-leading research tools (especially ESG research) and excellent customer service. Better yet, for current Bank of America customers, Merrill Edge’s Preferred Rewards program provides the best rewards of any bank broker we tested in 2021. Read full review

Best Trading Platforms Pricing Comparison

Here’s a comparison of pricing across TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, Robinhood, E*TRADE, and Merrill Edge. For more comparisons, use the online broker comparison tool.

Feature TD Ameritrade
Open Account
Open Account
Robinhood E*TRADE
Open Account
Merrill Edge
Minimum Deposit $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Stock Trade Fee (per trade) $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
ETF Trade Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Mutual Fund Trade Fee $49.99 $49.95 N/A $19.99 $19.95
Options Base Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Options Per Contract Fee $0.65 $0.65 $0.00 $0.65 $0.65
Futures (per contract) $2.25 N/A N/A $1.50 N/A
Broker Assisted Trades Fee $44.99 $32.95 N/A $25.00 $29.95

Best Trading Platforms Beginner Education Comparison

Here’s a comparison of the most popular educational features offered by beginner trading platforms. To compare 150+ features and fees side by side, check out our online broker comparison tool.

Feature TD Ameritrade
Open Account
Open Account
Robinhood E*TRADE
Open Account
Merrill Edge
Education (Stocks) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Education (ETFs) Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Education (Options) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Education (Mutual Funds) Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Education (Fixed Income) Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Education (Retirement) Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Paper Trading Yes No No Yes No
Videos Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Webinars (Monthly Avg) 500 15 0 25 1
Webinars (Archived) Yes Yes No Yes No
Live Seminars Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Progress Tracking Yes Yes No No Yes
Interactive Learning – Quizzes Yes Yes No Yes Yes

Which online broker is best for beginners?

TD Ameritrade is the best all-around choice for beginners because it provides the best combination of ease of use, educational content, and research tools new investors need to succeed. Better yet, stock trades are free ($0).

What is paper trading?

Paper trading, or virtual trading, is a trading platform feature that enables trading stocks, ETFs, and options with fake money. Popular with beginners, paper trading is a great way to practice trading without risking real money. The two top-rated brokers that offer paper trading are TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE.

Which trading platform is best for beginners?

The best trading platform for beginners is Power E*TRADE. E*TRADE offers Power E*TRADE as both a browser platform and mobile app. Power E*TRADE is excellent for beginners because it provides paper trading, HTML5 charts with automated technical analysis, and screening tools for both stocks and options.

How do you buy stocks online?

To buy stocks, first, you need to open and fund an online brokerage account. Next, research which stock you want to buy. Last, go to the order ticket, enter the stock symbol along with the number of shares you want to buy, then place your trade.

What is the best trading app for beginners?

For beginners, our favorite trading apps are Fidelity and TD Ameritrade. Fidelity provides the best market research and stock analysis, alongside an in-depth learning center. Meanwhile, TD Ameritrade offers the most thorough selection of trading tools while providing its entire educational videos library for beginners with simple filtering by topic.

What are fractional shares?

A fractional share is a portion of a full share of a publicly-traded company. Fractional shares enable investors to purchase shares of a company they might not otherwise be able to afford. For example, instead of needing over $2,000 to buy one Amazon (AMZN) share, a trader could purchase a $100 fractional share (1/20th of a share). Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Interactive Brokers, and Robinhood are the only online brokers that offer fractional shares trading.

What is a market order?

A market order is an order to buy or sell a security (e.g., stock) at the current best available market price. Market orders are the most common type of order because they are the fastest and easiest way to buy and sell shares.

What is a limit order?

A limit order is an order to buy or sell a security at a pre-specified price or better. Since limit orders are fixed to a pre-specified price, they will only fill when the limit price is reached. Limit orders are best when you know the exact price you want to buy or sell.

Is online trading safe?

Online trading is safe if you use a regulated online stock broker and never invest more than you are willing to lose. Trading stocks online is inherently risky. Start with a small amount of money, read investing books, and keep it simple by buying and holding for the long term.


To recap, here are the best trading platforms for beginners.

Read Next

Explore our other online trading guides:


For the StockBrokers.com 11th annual best trading platforms review published in January 2021, a total of 2,816 data points were collected over three months and used to score brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

Participation is required to be included. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and offered executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.

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